Wow! Can you believe it’s been two years since I retired????!!!!
In some ways it seems like yesterday and in others a decade (I can’t remember what it was like to work other than “not nearly as good as this”). 🙂
For those of you new to the site, here are the details of my retirement.
Since then I’ve given an update on things every six months just to let you know how it’s going.
Today we’ll do the two-year anniversary version with details of what’s happened since my last update in February.
To make this summary easier to read, I’ve put my thoughts into categories.
And be sure to read all the way to the end if you’re interested in meeting me.
Here we go…
- I am still as busy as ever, especially with running Rockstar Finance. It’s a fun busy though (for the most part) and I wish I had jumped into this lifestyle a decade earlier (which I could have since I was FI then.)
- It still remains fun to tell someone “I’m retired” and watch their reaction. I was chatting with a guy at the gym the other day (more locker room talk) and he asked me what I did for a living. I said I was retired and I thought he was going to have a brain meltdown. He shook his head several times like my dog used to when he had an itch in his ear. Ha!
- That said, these days I tell most people that I “run websites” or that I “own investment properties.” Both sound a bit pompous IMO but it makes more sense to the hearer and they don’t require as much of a follow-up explanation.
- I’m still getting up around 5:30 am, but it’s not as fun in the summer. I love coming downstairs when it’s a bit cold and still dark, greeted by my Christmas tree (yes, it’s still up and set on a timer so the lights are on until it gets light in the morning and once it’s dark at night). I also have a few other lights on timers just to keep anyone thinking of robbing the place on their toes. We did this when we went to Grand Cayman and I just decided to keep it going. Anyway, I do love the mornings as they are still quiet.
- I have a list of house projects but I’ve been slow to get to them. They’ll wait anyway, right? The latest we are having done by a company: putting in a whole-house fan.
Family and Friends
- My wife loves her part-time job at the church. She’s working 15 hours a week and would do it for free, but they prefer her to be on the payroll (for whatever reason). Anyway, she’s great with the kids (first grade) and is a natural teacher.
- I spent a lot of time and energy helping my son find a full-time job after H&M would not increase his hours (besides the store is in a dead mall and I’m not sure how long it will last). He and I put on the full court press and even went to a couple job fairs (I sat in the hallway but did all the coaching.) He eventually got a full-time spot as a lifeguard at The Great Wolf Lodge. We love the GWL. We used to take our kids there when we lived in Michigan and my daughter worked at the one here as a lifeguard as well. And great news, he got promoted after a few months! He’s now a supervisor (and dealing with complaints from both employees and guests — LOL, I told him to get used to it, that’s life in management!)
- My son is getting his car in the next couple of weeks when my parents visit. They are selling their 2016 Honda CRV (fully equipped) to him for $25k. Of that, he is paying half and we are paying half as he didn’t want to take our “free” deal. It should be a great car for him and serve him well for many years to come.
- My daughter came home in March for Spring Break and it was great to have her here. There will only be a few times from now on that we’ll all be together again, so we cherished the time.
- I spent much of the spring helping my daughter find a summer internship. She was accepted for a prestigious program at her university which we thought would help her get one, but turns out it really only provides housing in DC for the summer — the students still have to find the jobs themselves. So I went to my network, found someone who knew someone, got her an interview, coached her on it, and she ended up getting an internship with our congressman this summer. She earned it though — 3.95 GPA, great writer, very well spoken. I would hire her myself!
- My daughter had three weeks between school ending and her internship starting. She came home and we made the most of our time (I think we ate out 3/4 of the days she was here!) In early June I took her to DC and got her settled. She’s living a couple blocks from the Capitol and has really been enjoying her time in DC (except for the oppressive heat). She’ll be back home soon for a week, then she and I will drive out to Virginia (from Colorado) so she can have a car at school this semester. She’s been taking extra classes as well as summer classes and will graduate this December. Hopefully at my next update I’ll be telling you about her new job! 🙂
- My mom and dad decided to retire, but the process has been long and slow. They did buy an RV and have sold some of their household goods, but it’s still too soon to tell if they will get out of Iowa in time to avoid another harsh, Midwest winter. They should be here in a week or so for a visit while my daughter is home.
- Steve from Think Save Retire and his wife (not sure if he shares her name, so I’ll keep her safe too) visited us in late May. We had a nice dinner out, saw The Avengers together, had a great hike on the Seven Bridges trail, and shared an awesome Mexican lunch in just a few short days. It was such a fun time and great to see them. (For those of you who don’t know, Steve runs the tech side of Rockstar Finance, so we work closely together.)
- A few days later, old friends of ours from Grand Rapids, Michigan came out for several days. We knew them as both another homeschool family as well as our sons played basketball together. They packed in SO MUCH sight-seeing in a few shorts days and we were so glad to be able to host them.
- My Dad (different than my “Mom and Dad”) visited in late June. He comes once a year about this time just to see us. He uses it as a time to rest and relax so we didn’t do much other than visit and eat like pigs (I grilled out three times in five days).
- In May a neighbor across the street died of a heart attack. She had a brain tumor as well and it appeared terminal, but the heart attack took her first. She was a great lady and only a few years older than me. It was quite a sad event for our neighborhood (the people on the street know each other better than most neighbors) and a reminder how short life is. I’m so glad I retired when I did since none of us are promised tomorrow.
- I am still working out! Six days out of seven I get up, drink a glass of water and a cup of coffee, check my sites, and head off to the gym. (On the 7th day I just walk.) I do three days of cardio and three of weights. My fitness is still good but has dropped off a bit due to 1) poor eating habits (my weakness) and 2) an abdominal muscle pull that nagged me for a few months. My wife and I still walk twice a day on most days and I’m averaging about 15k steps a day so far this year.
- As you know, I had basal cell carcinoma early last year which means I get checked from head to toe every six months. On my last visit they found a mole on my back that they didn’t like, sent it to the lab, and they didn’t like it either. So we had it removed. Now if only I could get them to cut off a few pounds from around my waist!
- We’ve seen a fair number of movies in the past six months. Our two main theaters now have reclining chairs, the ability to reserve a seat, and discount days on Tuesdays (which is, of course, the day we go). Some of the movies we’ve seen: Ant Man, Jurassic World, Incredibles 2, Solo, Avengers, Black Panther, Ready Player One, Isle of Dogs, Pacific Rim, and Death Wish.
- My wife and I generally watch TV a few nights a week. Our standards include Hallmark movies, This Old House, Caribbean Life, and When Calls the Heart. We just started watching When Calls the Heart this last season (its fifth), then ordered all the past four seasons from the library and watched all of those!
- The World Cup was this summer and of course I had to watch it. I taped most of the games and then watched them when I liked. We were cheering for England since the US was not in it and we know the players from England quite well. They were never expected to win but gave it a good try and overall I was happy with the event. Now I’m hoping Denver gets some games for the 2026 World Cup so I can see some.
- The video game releases have been a bit sparse as of late, but I’m anticipating the upcoming versions of Spiderman and Assassin’s Creed in September and October. Plus I have several games I want to play through again. I spend a lot of time with games I really like (Batman, Horizon Zero Dawn, Assassin’s Creed, etc. — you can see the sorts of games I like) and play them through at least twice. I spend about 80 hours or so on each time through (I track it and play slow as I’m more of an explorer/stealth guy than a “charge” sort of fighter), so I do get my money’s worth.
- We have traveled a lot in the past six months. Our trips included: I made a trip to the Google headquarters in February (I was a guest of the ad provider here on ESI Money), my wife went to Pittsburgh in May to visit with her sisters, and I went to DC in June to drop my daughter off. Trips coming up include our road trip to Virginia, Orlando for the financial bloggers conference, and another trip to DC to use our timeshare promotion we paid for this fall. I’d also like to get back to the Caribbean in January but that remains to be seen.
- One of my more recent pleasures is that I joined Audible. I usually listen to podcasts when I walk, work out, travel, etc. but many of my favorites took time off for the summer and I wanted something different. So I joined and have been listening to books (mostly fiction) with great delight!
- To me, flying is always the worst part of any trip. One thing that’s made it easier is that I got my Known Traveler Number from TSA Pre-check (my daughter did as well). It was so nice speeding through security on the way to and from DC. Denver security can be a bear but with TSA Pre-Check, it was a breeze.
- Our net worth rises and falls with the stock market. So far we are up for the year but down from our peak. January was our all-time high, but the market has had its ups and downs since then, so we rise and fall with it. At this point I’m not too concerned with growing our net worth or even really maintaining it, I just need to manage it accordingly to make it last at least through our lifetimes (which should be easy if we keep spending less than we earn.)
- Things have been going well with ESI Money. It’s on pace to generate $45k or so in revenue this year, which is really more than I ever hoped for or imagined. The site has been featured on many larger websites (you can see my guest posts and media mentions if you like) and it’s been great. I’ve also been pumping out the Millionaire Interviews like crazy as I want to get to 100 as soon as I can. That said, I always need/want more so send me an email if you’re interested in being interviewed.
- Rockstar Finance (which I bought in December) is doing well too. I’m not sure how it will net out, but revenue should be in the $70k range. I plan to give some details on my sites in the New Year. BTW, if you want to get an email every week day with the best personal finance posts, you can subscribe to the Rockstar Finance newsletter.
- One of the unexpected joys with Rockstar Finance has been the VIB Program we created in March. I have been working closely with some great up-and-coming bloggers who are both knowledgeable and passionate. It’s been great to mentor them and see their progress over the past few months, and I’m excited about what the future holds for them!
- I’m still on Facebook and Twitter and have ramped up my Pinterest game as well. You can follow me on any of these if you like.
- I update our retirement budget every month just to keep on top of things. Revenue has been higher than expected and costs have been lower, so things continue to be good on this front.
- I’m still pulling money out of Lending Club and Prosper. I’m down to about $30k with Lending Club and $14k with Prosper. I will keep withdrawing until nothing’s left.
- I am generating a lot of cash (since we make more than we spend) and it’s building up again. I have considered buying a condo or two in our town since 1) it could be a good investment and 2) our son and/or daughter may want/need it one day, but I haven’t found any that fit the bill. I thought I found a screaming deal (2 BR condo near us for $167k) but a few hours before we were scheduled to see it the realtor called and said she’d sent us a draft copy of the sell sheet. It wasn’t $167k but $267k and she thought maybe that would make a difference. Uh, yeah, it would. Needless to say, we didn’t see it.
So, that’s my retirement life so far.
I’m sure I’ve missed something or perhaps wasn’t as clear as I needed to be, so leave any questions below and I’ll answer them the best I can.
One more thing before I sign off…
In July I wrote an article for Business Insider that did quite well. As a result, I’ve received a TON of requests to meet in person to connect, help with money issues, give advice, and the like. As you know, I currently avoid meetings of all sorts and even if I took them the number of people interested would have me booked for quite some time. So, instead of having individual meetings, I’m considering a couple meet-ups over the course of the next few months.
One would be in my town of Colorado Springs, of course, and I haven’t even thought of a date for it yet (I need to see how many are even interested.) The other would be in Washington, DC (downtown) at the end of October.
I have zero details on either at this point — just wondering if anyone is up for it. If you are potentially interested in a meet-up in one of those places, drop me an email and I’ll keep you informed as things proceed.
Accidental FIRE says
Sounds like retired life is treating your well! I also had a basal cell cancer 2 years ago and I joked with people that I “won the cancer lottery” If you’re going to get a cancer, that’s the least dangerous one to get I think. But I’m more of a sunscreen Nazi than ever now.
Keep us DC people in the loop if you make it out here in Oct
Yes, my purchase rate of sunscreen has gone through the roof!
Hi ESI – how do I send you a question? I don’t see a contact area.
It’s in the navigation at the top of every page. 🙂
It links here:
The Physician Philosopher says
Sounds like we share many of the same interests. I, too, was pulling for England when the U.S. didn’t make it, though I thought it would be Belgium in the end. Got that wrong, too.
My youngest girl is about to turn two… and she is literally just like Jack-Jack from the Incredibles 2. Everyone always says, “Aww, she is so sweet.” To which my wife and I always reply, “That’s because she is happy right now… just wait til you upset her.” That’s usually about the time that she turns into a fire-breathing monster. We’ve even started calling her Jack-Jack when she starts doing that haha.
Thanks for starting the VIB program! It’s been a blast, particularly after joining the Silver VIB program. I’ve received a ton of help and recommend it to anyone that asks. The value has certainly been there for me.
Sounds like life is pretty awesome for you John. Working out 6 days a week is amazing. $45k revenue from ESI Money and $70k from Rockstar Finance is pretty awesome. Are you sure you’re really retired? :p
*calling the internet retirement police to take you way*
Fred Leamnson says
Your life is certainly full! I love that you’re working out like you do. Cathy and I are at the gym 4 – 5 days a week. We do a couple of types of yoga (helps our aging, arthritis filled bones) and aerobics and weights. It keeps us going for sure.
I love your site and, of course, Rockstar. VIB was just what I was looking for. Thanks for putting that together.
I’d love a meetup in DC. We’re in NOVA, so a downtown location would be great. I’m happy to help set it up if like.
Thanks for all you do for the blogging community.
I’ll put you down for DC and send a note if we do it. 🙂
Fred Leamnson says
Financially Free says
There’s a big difference between retiring from a day job you don’t like to being full time on “doing what you love”. I would also consider myself retired even if I spent 8 hours a day blogging, simply because that is what I enjoy.
You have provided a lot of great content to the FIRE scene over the years. Thank you for your continued efforts! Everything you reap now is very well deserved.
I wish I had retired a decade earlier!
Mrs. Farmhouse Finance says
Wow! I can’t believe it’s been two years already. It sounds like you’re living life to the fullest. Thanks for the update!
Razorback 14 says
Thank you for the update!!!!
So glad things are going well you and your family.
Only 29 more months until WE (my wife and I) retire —— so looking forward to the next phase of life.
Congrats on your 2nd Fire anniversary. It sounds like you are really busy and enjoying your life. It also sounds like you are going a great job as an advisor to your kids. I wish you continued success and enjoyment in retirement.
Congrats on 2 years! Sound like a great 6 months to me…filled with lots of family and travel. That’s the good stuff!
You should have an Iowa meetup. 😉
Haha! I think it would just be me and you. 🙂
Not true, young man! Many of us from the midwest would join you. By the way, when family ventures slow down…Habitat for Humanity has an RV division that would love us FIRE persons to join.! Carol and i love building homes for families we don’t know. Your heart becomes softer and life more gentle. You know? No building skills are required. Please consider it after Google provides you more info. You won’t regret it. I promise. ?
Mike H says
you are rocking it, ESI. Wonderful website income right there. Plus your rentals and dividends- you are killing it.
So when are you going to buy another site?
How about we climb Pikes Peak next year in late June?
No, not another site! That would probably put me over the edge!
They say September is the best month to do the Peak as the chances of afternoon storms are lower and it’s cooler. Would that work for you?
Mike H says
It’s pretty cool up at the top in June or July but I hear you on temperature at the lower level.
I was trying to combine it into one USA trip as a cousin of mine is getting married in July.
Leaving very early (well before dawn) ensures an early summit and to avoid the clouds that tend to build up by late afternoon.
Let’s base again early next year.
Amy @ LifeZemplified says
Wow, 2 years! I remember when you decided. So much good stuff here! Glad the kids and family are doing well. Sorry to hear about your neighbor though.
So looking forward to seeing you again in Orlando!
Me too! It will be a fun time at FinCon.
Thanks for the update. I was just thinking the other day the update was forthcoming soon.
Sounds like you’re having fun, are healthier and really enjoying your time with family, friends, and helping out others.
Now, making money while doing what you want is the icing on the cake.! Congratulations! , I think you made the right call to retire early even if you could have made more money working.
Take down that Christmas tree.
Haha! I love that thing!!!!
Mr Crazy Kicks says
Congrats on the two year anniversary! Time flies when you’re having fun and sound like you’re having plenty 🙂
Nice work with the sites too! Always nice to be making money while helping others in the process.
Ms. Fiology says
I love When Calls the Heart! I rarely watch TV but that is one of the few I have watched and loved.
Congratulations on 2 years and continued successes in your post-retirement endeavors. I know I glean from your writing in many ways so thank you.
I will be eagerly looking for VIP version 3.
Also, looking forward to meeting you at FinCon.
Mr. 39 Months says
Great update. Give me “fuel for the fire” as I move towards FI myself.
The big think I’m struggling with now (less than 2 years out) is what I will do, and how FIRE will affect my mindset. It is a concern of mine, and updates on your post-retirement lifestyle help me to deal with it.
JeffB M20 says
I have 686 days to go and I think the wife and I are going to become travel agents for friends and referrals. We love to travel and do all the research. I am hoping we can work under an established agency while getting the experience, but not sure how much we will have to book in trips. We want to do it for high end fun, not real work. Anyone out there with information is welcome to comment. Mainly we want to be certified so we have access to the airline/hotel and cruise systems to see what is available.