Late to the FIRE

I’d planned to get this blog out earlier today, but then this happened:

Yep, we got a tractor for our 30 acres in Tennessee. No house or barn yet, but we got a tractor!

My husband’s been doing a lot of work, reassembling a ’54 Ford Truck for our real estate lawyer, who is also a friend. He collects old tractors (in addition to cars and trucks) and gave us this one. It’s a 1955 Case Wide axle. Once they got the battery charged, it fired right up! And boy is that thing a beast. My husband’s not sure what he got himself into, but he’s looking forward to it.

Back to the title of this post, I’m talking about a different kind of FIRE than what happened to the rental house: Financially Independent, Retire Early.

You may have noticed that’s a common theme in the non-writing blogs I’ve been reading lately. But retirement? I’m fifty-one. That’s still a ways away, isn’t it?

Barring a surprise bestseller, I always thought I’d be stuck at my day job until my mid-sixties. But these blogs convinced me it doesn’t have to be that way. It turns out there’s a whole movement out there of people saving up enough money, making good investments, and quitting the daily grind as soon as their early forties–or even their thirties!

I first happened upon this by browsing Pinterest for land buying and home building pins. A pin about rental property caught my eye, and I clicked over because my husband and I own apartments. It was a blog called Afford Anything, and it blew my mind.

I don’t remember the particular article about rental property, but I quickly glommed onto the author’s story, then binge-read her whole blog (which she has a convenient link for). She graduated from college in the mid-2000’s with a journalism degree. She got a job for a local newspaper–which was quite a feat in itself, given that industry’s decline these days–paying a whopping $21,000 a year. But her dream was to travel the world, preferably without having to work while doing so.

She took on freelance writing and other side jobs, lived very frugally, and in two years had saved $25,000–and spent the next two years living the dream. But afterward, the last thing she wanted to do was return to being chained to a desk for 40 hours a week. Between a successful online business and income from rental property, she avoided that fate–and quite successfully. She still works, but it’s doing things she wants, because she wants–not because she needs the paycheck. She’s not yet forty.

I followed some rabbit trails and found a whole community of people working toward this goal, including some who’ve already achieved it. Some did so through a high savings rate while working a well-paying job; others by just living extremely frugally.

And again, I was kind of mind boggled, thinking, “People do this?” I know some people can retire early–say, in their fifties–but I thought this was only for highly-compensated executive types. Not regular people of regular means like these bloggers… and me? It never occurred to me. But it’s possible, with effort and a bit of work!

Except wait, I’m already in my fifties. That tractor has already left the farm…or has it?

It depends what you consider early. Most people consider 55 or younger to be early. If we weren’t building a dream house in Tennessee, I could hit that, thanks to our rental property and having had a 401k since I was 25 (albeit, not in high amounts, having begun my professional career as a lowly-paid graphic designer). As is, I still should be able to call it quits by the time I’m 60, with a bit more planning and attention. For now, it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.

What I’ve Been Reading: Trim Healthy Mama Plan by Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison. I’ve known for a long time that losing some weight would help me feel better and have more energy. I read about this a few weeks ago on another writer’s blog (I can’t remember whose), and it looks like a diet that might actually be workable for me. The basic concept is to center each meal with protein, then add either fats, or carbs–but not both at the same time (unless you’re in maintenance mode). Of course, it involves cutting out refined sugar and flour, and processed foods, just like the labor-intensive adrenal fatigue diets I’ve seen. And yes, this one is also good for adrenal fatigue, as mentioned several times throughout the book. My Once A Month Meals freezer cooking menus includes menus of both low-fat and low-carb recipes, so I could adapt it to this! It’s also not an all-or-nothing diet–even starting out with baby steps can help. We’ll see how it goes!

I’m reading a novel too–a really good one. I’ll discuss that next week, after I’m finished with it.


What I’ve been Writing: Uhhhh….. Not much. I did open the file a couple of times, and wrote a couple paragraphs, but that’s it. I really have to get out of this stuck spot. I think what I’m going to try is to just quick-cut end the scene, and jump to the next, which will be a fun one, I think. So my goal for this week is to do just that.

What about you–have you heard the term FIRE, or the people who retire early? Ever received a surprise gift like a tractor? Have you read anything good lately, whether fiction or otherwise? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.


9 Responses to \

  1. My husband will be retiring this June at 62. My plan is work another three years after that. Even then, at only 59 1/2, I’ll be scrounging to make ends meet. I’m not gonna worry about it. Life is too short. We’ve made alot of poor financial decisions over the years and my husband just cannot get into the save-money mode. Which leaves me to pocket everything I can. Back in 1999, I made a big investment mistake and have been gun-shy ever since to do anything but put my money in low interest savings accounts. And of course my retirement account at work.
    I do love the idea of FIRE, though. Best wishes on getting it to work for you.

  2. That’s amazing that the 1955 tractor fired right up! Wow, it’s huge! How will you get it to Tennessee? That will be an adventure!

    I hope you get to retire way earlier than planned, Jennette, so you can write whenever you want and do all the other things you enjoy. I’m reading Stephen King’s The Stand, new version with an extra 400 or 500 pages that weren’t in the original version. I’m actually listening to it with the text-to-voice feature. Saves lots of eye strain! Have a good week!

  3. That is one big tractor. Gonna park it in your front yard? Haha!
    You know what I’ve been up to–nothing. So glad I was able to see you on Saturday, though. It’s always fun catching up.

  4. Chris, it still sounds like you have a decent plan, even though it’s not what you might have hoped for. Thanks!

    Lynn, my husband has been angling for a new truck for awhile now. His current truck will definitely not make it to TN hauling that tractor–it barely made it home from about 10 miles away! I read the unabridged The Stand several years ago – some of my favorite scenes were the ones taken out of the original published version!

    Stacy – LOL! The tractor is behind the garage now. It was so much fun to see you Saturday!

  5. I’ve read a bunch of stuff about saving money and living frugally as well, but then again, I figure, life’s too short to not enjoy stuff right now because tomorrow is not a guarantee. It’s sort of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, as they say. We’ve been saving, but not a lot, but we also enjoy traveling and eating good food and going to the movies once in a while. I’m not sure I could live day after day living just on pennies and not really enjoy life in the right here an now. I especially feel this way since my cancer diagnosis. While I am a bit concerned about the future, I’m also trying to find a healthy balance between enjoying the good life right now.

    And, of course, now with all these astronomical medical bills, who knows what the future’s going to bring. I may be in the poor house by the end of the year.

    Interesting post. I love the tractor. You’ll use it a lot I’m sure.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. Jim left me with more financial resources than we had at any point in our marriage, and two teens moving toward more independent living.

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how best to utilize these assets to do what he wanted – give the kids and I some financial breathing room.

    We’ve always lived simply. I don’t have fancy tastes, or have a passion for clothes, shoes, or jewelry. I prefer buying used, and to pay in full. I like the stories in old things – like your tractor.

    So I have very little debt, and will have enough money to do some things with, and older kids.

    I really appreciate your posts on these topics. I haven’t historically been great with money, but I have been learning, and getting better, and these are well-timed as I seek a balance between investing in the future, and tending to the now.

  7. Patricia, working toward FI is certainly a balancing act. In a couple of the blogs I read, their authors were partway to their goal when they realized they weren’t happy, because they were too fixated on the future.

    My husband has already used the tractor, LOL!

    Shan, it sounds like your husband left you in a very good place financially. But it also sounds that you had your stuff together pretty well before that. And thanks for letting me know this is interesting!

  8. Cool tractor Jennette! Hey, I haven’t been around lately because I’ve been sick. I went back and read over your previous blogs over the last month and of course I understand adrenal exhaustion. But right now I have Lyme disease and because of the Lyme, it’s put me at borderline Addison’s. So I’ve been kaput girl. Beyond fatigue. Glad you’re taking care of yourself. It’s really important. And I’m happy you and hubby are moving forward on your projects. Take care! 🙂

  9. Karen, so nice to see you here! And UGH – so sorry about the Lyme disease! You just can’t get a break, can you? I hope you’re able to do something about it, and feel better. {{hugs}}