Time to Make the Donuts…

We reached financial independence in 2018 and I was able to leave my job at the end of that year. The freedom to do what we choose ever since has been wonderful.

Our family of three moved to Panama in 2019 through 2022 because, well, why not?!

Then in 2023 while back in Ohio, we let our apartment lease lapse, bought an RV, and did a road trip for 9 months across the country. It was all about just trying something out of the box again because we can.

I absolutely get the frustration of wanting out of the rat race. I’ve been there. And it’s good to know that it’s possible for the average Joe or Jane like us to be able to get out of the race and focus on your dreams instead.

Here’s my story…

Retiring early. That’s the thought that would eat away at me all the time. Not because I didn’t want to work anymore, but because I wanted the freedom to work on what I wanted, when I wanted, and from wherever I wanted. Every day, I would wake up and think of one phrase…

“Time to make the donuts.”

If you don’t remember that commercial from the ’80s and ’90s, it was a phrase that Fred the Baker would mumble to himself as he woke up every day while getting ready to go to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. Every day, the same thing, day in and day out. That’s how I felt when I would go to work… time to make the donuts.

If you’ve ever had that feeling, you’re in good company… I get it. I started this site in 2015 to document our journey on the path to financial freedom and the adventures we’ve been on since. We reached financial independence and I left my job at the end of 2018. I’m now technically retired though I’ll likely continue to do all sorts of different and fun projects that will inevitably bring in some income.

I’m here to discuss some of the different strategies and nuances of reaching financial independence. I also like to throw in some posts about travel and other fun things that I think could be useful for you.

It’s time to take control of your life and work toward financial independence!

I worked at a technology company where I started as an engineer just before the year 2000. Somehow I have a knack for finding my way into middle management with almost every job I’ve worked. And that’s what I ended up doing at this company from 2005 until the end of my career in 2018.

Although I love technology, I started not enjoying my job after several years. But even worse, I actually hated having to go to work every day.

So, I needed to find a way out, and financial independence was the best path for us. There are several different strategies to take yourself on the route to financial freedom. For us, that path was (and still is) a mix of a few items:

  • Strong savings / Retirement accounts – Between savings and investment accounts, we finally got to the point of being able to put away about 60% of what we made. I made decent money, but I was far from having a doctor’s or lawyer’s salary. In other words, although a higher income is helpful, you can still do this on a modest income.
  • Not living an extravagant lifestyle – we take more vacations (cruises, Vegas, etc.) than a lot of people I know, but we base our trips on deals and aren’t spendthrifts on these trips. It’s all about choice and focusing on what’s important and ignoring the rest. We live pretty modestly and don’t throw money around on a lot of material crap… no keeping up with the Joneses in this household!
  • Real Estate – I dabbled in rental properties for a little bit. I bought a rental house in 2003 and didn’t know what I was doing. That was a tough lesson and we sold it in 2018. I also found a duplex that we bought in 2015 that cash flowed nicely (I learned a lot from that first house!). But when the housing market went crazy in 2020, I decided to sell the duplex as well for 60% over what we paid for it. Although rental property can be a fantastic way to grow your wealth, it wasn’t my cup of tea so I decided that I’m out Jack!

Although I wanted to become financially independent for a long time, a big catalyst for my determination was when my daughter was born in 2010. It killed me to have to go to work every day and not be able to spend as much time as I wanted with her. When I reached FIRE (financial independence / retire early), my daughter was 8. Several years have passed since then but playing such a big part of her life then and still being there for her today when she needs me is amazing.

Even more exciting is that kids watch and learn from their parents. Even when she was 7, my daughter was hoping to become an entrepreneur and become financially independent as well. We don’t push her into anything, but I do ensure that she understands some of the different options in life so she can make smarter decisions… she’s pretty darn awesome!

We decided to move to Panama in the summer of 2019. We took a vacation there in 2017 and decided that the low cost of living could stretch our dollar a lot further. So we sold everything we owned and came down with two suitcases each!

It was a wonderful adventure and we stayed until the spring of 2022, but eventually, we decided to move back to Ohio. I miss it a lot there so we’ll have to see what our future holds down the line. One day, we may move back there or even find a new country to live! In the meantime, we did a 9-month road trip around the U.S. for a different adventure. It was cool to do but we learned that we wouldn’t love doing this as lifers on the road. But we would never have known if we hadn’t tried it!

So that’s my story.

As a side note, cruises are my favorite type of vacation and when I’d look out at the ocean from the ship and see how beautiful it is, all I could think was…

Why am I wasting life sitting in an office chair at work?

So when I had my logo created, I had the waves with the sunset incorporated into it as a reminder…

Even the thought of cruising makes me want to get on another soon!

Look how cool this rainbow was off of our balcony on a recent cruise!

Financial independence is what some might call the “end game” but it’s what I consider the time to really start living. It gives you time to create your dream life and try all sorts of different things that you might not have had time for before.

As a final note, please know that the only money I make from this site is from the ads you see and affiliate links for any products that might be discussed. I will never take paid product endorsements – any affiliate links are for products that I use and enjoy or see true value in.

I would also recommend that you sign up to be on the mailing list. You’ll receive an email from me usually once every couple of weeks with any new articles that have been posted so you don’t miss out along with some things that don’t make it into the blog.

I’ll even send you a link with a few great tools for your financial independence toolbelt, like my bad @#$ recurring expenses spreadsheet template and asset allocation worksheet!

Sign up here and the rainbows and unicorns will start raining your way soon…

Thanks for your time and I wish you the best on your own route to freedom!!!

— Jim

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