Unexpected Reactions to My Early Retirement

Contempt, concern, derision, surprise, envy, admiration, and support; these are just a few of the reactions Laura received when she announced she was retiring early, closing her biomedical research laboratory, and beginning a new phase of life beyond work. Some reactions were expected and some took us by surprise.

In this episode, Eric and Laura unpack these interactions and chart their next steps as they prepare to leave work and step into early retirement. If you didn’t see Part 1 of this conversation, you’ll want to check out One Step Closer to FI/RE – Giving Notice.

Laura + I want to thank the Two Sides of FI community for all your comments, personal messages, and words of encouragement as we’ve been navigating this transition. Thank you for being a part of our journey!

Links + Resources

One Step Closer to FI/RE – Preparing to Give Notice

Eric here checking in with a quick update and preface to our new video. Sorry for the gap in our publishing schedule, Jason has been off walking the Camino de Santiago from Portugal to Spain (you can follow along on his blog here) and I’ve been traveling to warm places to escape winter in Maine.

In this episode I asked my wife, Laura, to join me to discuss next steps as we near our FI number. Our discussion was recorded in the fall of 2023, as a behind-the-scenes episode. Just this past week (mid-March 2024) she gave her notice to her employer of 23 years and now we can finally share it publicly. We discuss our hesitations, how Laura’s thoughts have changed since first learning about the FI/RE movement, and ready ourselves for what’s ahead.

The reactions to her departure from her long-time job have been interesting. Most express surprise and offer enthusiastic support. Some respond with envy, “Must be nice…” and even concern, “Is everything okay?” And still others immediately reframe the conversation around their own plans for retirement either near or far in the future. There’s much to unpack here and I think it’ll make for a great episode when Jason and I reconvene.

Nevertheless, sharing this experience with the Two Sides of FI community feels incredibly rewarding. We’re thrilled to openly discuss our ‘secret’ here on our Maine island and your support has been invaluable to us!

Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Links + Resources

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.

How I Plan to Retire Early on a $50K Salary

Can you retire early without a high-paying tech industry salary? In this episode, we talk with Stephen about how he plans to do just that. At 30 years old, he’s earning $50k as a higher education administrator, yet he plans to retire with at least a million dollars by his early 50s. How will he do that? Join us as we discuss his plans, the role of financial discipline, why he doesn’t feel he’s overly frugal, and the challenges of his FIRE path.

Show notes may be found below the video


Show Notes

Essential Background:
Are you newer to the show? If so, you may not have seen our first two episodes, which include a lot of background on Jason + Eric’s lives. Check out Our Financial Past and our FIRE Present and Two Careers, Two Paths to Financial Independence, to learn how we got our own start in life and in the workplace.

Stephen’s Budget: Are you interested in more details on Stephen’s financial picture? He graciously shared the Sankey diagram below, which captures his Jan-Jul 2022 income and expenses. This visualization makes it easy to see both sides of the balance sheet, and provides a lot more detail on Stephen’s finances than we were able to achieve in our conversation.

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement is an article by blogger Mister Money Mustache, which many cite among their most important inspirations for getting on the FIRE path. As you heard from Stephen, MMM was one of his early sources as well.

Still doubting whether FIRE is achievable on a more traditional salary? See The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas Stanley), a profoundly insightful book for a very easy read. Dr. Stanley studied wealth and the habits of the wealthy for many years, capturing his observations in this work and others. Learn how frugality, living below one’s means, and investing, truly powers the path to financial independence.

The Simple Path to Wealth (JL Collins) is widely regarded by many in the FIRE community as the most impactful book to their own journey. This fast and easily digestible read is chock-full of investment guidance that you will understand immediately and can readily apply. There is no better starting point to your FIRE journey than this book.

We didn’t dig into it, but you may have heard Stephen refer to feeling “YNAB poor” in this episode. What is YNAB? You Need a Budget is a popular budgeting tool for many in the FIRE community. If manual spreadsheets aren’t your thing or you’ve struggled with budgeting in the past, this may be a good solution. YNAB has a generous, free 34-day trial so you can see how well it works to help you understand and control spending. (affiliate link; no credit card needed )


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