Retired Early to USVIs, Florida, and Spain: How They Did It

This is a conversation Eric had with Jeff, a self-described: financially independent, recreationally employed realtor. He and Eric crossed paths as Eric was researching his dream of retiring to the US Virgin Islands. Jeff and his wife, a Spanish teacher, lived in St Thomas for two years making content about their life there on two YouTube channels: How2Beach and TheRetirementality offering an honest review of the pros and cons of living on a tropical island. It helped change Eric’s mind about living there too!

Jeff went from broke at 38 to financially independent at 45. He and his wife have six rental properties in total and the income from those have enabled them to move around the world as they choose. As of early 2024, they’re preparing to relocate to Spain. 


Even though Jeff took risks many aren’t willing to take, we think his story is interesting because it proves there’s no one way to reach FIRE. Not only were they able to reach FI in a few short years, they did it on modest income (a teacher’s and a realtor’s salary). So, if you’ve considered what a life outside the mainland US might look like, we know you’ll find his story interesting.

Show Notes:

Be sure to check out Jeff’s two YouTube channels:


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Comparing our FIRE Portfolios + Asset Allocations (Part 2)

Choosing how to divide your assets among stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles is a good first step, but asset allocation also impacts your tax rate, portfolio performance, and long-term ease of maintaining it all. In part two, Eric and Jason dig further into their own portfolios from their respective sides of FI and discuss the role of bonds, risk, tools you can use to assess your portfolio and model performance, rebalancing, and an interesting – not often discussed – case for financial advisors.

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out here.

Note: This content does not constitute investment advice and is being presented for informational and educational purposes only.


Show Notes

Portfolio Charts offers a wealth of different portfolio visualization tools and calculators for deeper analysis of your asset allocation, and other personal finance elements. As Eric mentioned in the episode, you’re not likely to find another resource with so many different visualizations available.

Morningstar is perhaps best known as a resource for analysis + ratings for mutual funds. However, the site also has a variety of tools for portfolio analysis and exploration. Some functionality is provided free of charge, while others come with a premium subscription. Importantly, the latter is offered as a 14-day free trial so you can readily use these tools to analyze your asset allocation and then cancel without risk prior to billing.

Big ERN’s SWR Spreadsheet (Early Retirement Now) is a comprehensive planning tool largely aimed at investigating safe withdrawal rate. In line with Big ERN’s standard approach, this is a resource aimed at those desiring detailed, quantitative analysis, and is a bit more “in the weeds”. But having the ability to input your asset allocation along and projected rates of return, is vital to do truly informed modeling. Other tools may be easier starting points, but this one has lots of power when you’re ready to dig deeper.

M1 Pies (M1 Finance) are one of the visualizations Eric discussed to reference the investment approaches of others in the personal finance community, like JL Collins and Paula Pant, which we talked about in Part 1. These are M1 Finance’s flagship portfolio tool, allowing you to see the asset allocations of others and potentially invest in the same approaches.

cFIREsim – This popular tool is the “Crowdsourced Financial Independence and Retire Early Simulator”. cFIREsim is among our favorite sites for performing Monte Carlo analysis of a given FIRE strategy. While you can get started with just a handful of simple parameters, this site is extremely flexible and will allow you to do more complex modeling if that is of interest.

Portfolio Visualizer is a site containing a variety of modeling tools, including the one linked here which allows one to backtest different portfolio asset allocations. While past results are not necessarily predictive of future returns, this approach does allow one to understand the merit + drawbacks of various asset allocations. One useful approach this enables is to compare the performance of your current portfolio vs. a variety of others of your construction.


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site.

Talking with our Spouses About FIRE: 2 x Two Sides of FI (Parts 1 and 2)

Part 1:


Part 2:

Talking with a spouse or partner about FIRE isn’t always easy. In this two-part series, Eric + Jason bring their wives Laura + Lorri into the conversation to share their personal experiences. In part 1, they talk about getting onboard with FIRE, financial topics including budgeting and setting the FI number, as well as the emotional aspects of choosing the FIRE path. In part 2, they discuss how they share financial responsibilities, the importance of finding friend networks, talking to their children about FIRE, and their hopes for their post-FI lives.


Show Notes

After recording this episode, Jason realized just how right Lorri was regarding his (non-)efforts to make friends in their new town. That got him thinking about some of the events of the past year, leading him to write a blog post on the topic. We think it’s a good accompaniment to the conversation in these episodes and hope you enjoy it. Do you have any thoughts on making friends in a new town? Please share them in the comments!

A fun story for you (not so much fun for us!) – you may have seen the earlier picture of all four of us together, in one place. That, along with this episode’s thumbnail, was a real photo from Jason + Lorri’s visit to Eric + Laura’s house in Maine – not photoshopped! Naturally you’re wondering why this episode was recorded in our usual remote format vs. in person. Well…we did record two hours of content when we were all together in Maine. However, a few technical issues meant that we decided not to use that footage. It still exists and perhaps will take on a new life someday as outtakes or otherwise. We’re really happy with how this two-part series turned out despite it being in our usual remote format, and hope you enjoy it too!

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

Retiring Early – So Why Am I Worried?

Retiring early is a dream for many but the decision to leave the workplace early can impact us in ways we may not have predicted. In this episode, we discuss the first year of Jason’s early retirement and Eric shares his own concerns as he approaches FI. For many, work provides a sense of purpose and identity, as well as validation, utility, not to mention financial security. What happens when that no longer exists? What takes its place? How does it impact your personal relationships and your personal sense of accomplishment? Much of the discussion about financial independence, retire early (FIRE) focuses on saving and investing, in this conversation we unpack what it means to leave work behind and fully embrace this life-changing transition. Join us for this conversation about life after FI.


Show Notes

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

Lessons Learned in 7 Years Earning Passive Income – A Path to FI (Part 2)

Passive Income Flatlay

Diversifying your sources of income is an important step on the path to financial independence. On average, millionaires have at least seven streams of income. In part 2 of our series on passive income (click here for part 1), Eric shares the lessons learned and mistakes made as he created passive income streams for his architecture practice. In 2020, 90% of his small business revenues came from passive sources, bringing him closer to reaching financial independence. Join us as we explore these topics and more in this second episode in our series about passive income.


Show Notes

For more details on all the sources Eric is employing today to achieve this 90/10 split between passive and active services income, the best source is his website: 30×40 Design Workshop. There you’ll find examples of his current offerings, including courses, digital assets, books, videos and even a few of the physical products he’s experimented with.

Eric’s Current Passive Income Streams:

Video content is at the heart of this passive income strategy. For an introduction to Eric’s YouTube content – made not just for architects – his studio + desk tour is a great choice:

To set the passive income flywheel in motion Eric relies on YouTube’s native function as a search engine and positions the video at the center of a hub-and-spoke approach popular with content marketers. The YouTube video captures search traffic, provides information and builds community. As viewers consume the content, the passive income earning assets are positioned contextually to support the information. In this way, a video can show a process and link out to all the tools necessary to recreate the results shown in the video. Some of the assets are products Eric has created, others are more integrated into the ecosystem, like ads. Each video will earn advertising revenue as it’s watched over and again and will also natively link out to content he’s created on his own site, see his blog for an example. The blog post contains even more helpful details and information as well as embedded affiliate links which earn commissions, and links to products he has on offer. They also crosslink to related video content which, in turn, sets the process in motion once again.

Passive Income-Earning Products:

For those unfamiliar, affiliate marketing is where vendors offer content creators a small commission – generally a small percentage of cart sales – for product referrals. Amazon Associates is one of the largest affiliate programs online and, once the content is created, is one of the most passive forms of income you can create. Joining is easy and direct and they offer commissions of up to 4% of total cart value, making the holidays a particularly lucrative time (see below). The Learn section of 30X40 provides a good introduction to how Eric approaches this key opportunity – one appropriate for all interest areas and content types.

Amazon associates revenue page from Nov/Dec 2020
Eric’s Amazon Associates Dashboard from Nov/Dec 2020

Each piece of content he creates aims first-and-foremost to be helpful and points to resources created to complement the information he’s sharing. From short form video lectures, to digital templates, courses, podcasts, products and everything in-between; he converts the by-products of the active design work he’s doing each day into assets which produce income even when he’s away from the studio. This income is then directed toward hyper-saving for his FI goals.


You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.

Passive Income = A Path to Financial Independence (Part 1)

Earning money while you sleep is the dream of passive income that few realize. In part, that’s because it requires a significant upfront investment of active work and time to build the assets necessary. For those seeking financial independence, passive income can be both an accelerator and a plentiful source of cash once you reach FI, and leave your primary career. In this show, we discuss Eric’s experience gained over the past eight years intentionally creating a diverse array of passive income streams. Today, 90% of his small business revenues come from passive sources, bringing him closer to reaching FI each day. Join us as we explore these topics and more in this first episode in a series about passive income.


Show Notes

Eric wrote some extensive show notes in the blog entry for Part 2 of this series on Passive Income. Be sure to check them out!

You can find information on the tools we mention in each episode along with additional information in the Resources section of this site. To navigate to this material at any time, just click the menu button at the top of any page on the site.