Mr. FW Retired and We Paid off Our Mortgage: Frugalwoods FIRE is Complete

The Frugalwoods fam. Thanks to Littlewoods for the tremendous side eye…

Two sizable pieces of Frugalwoods-relevant news occurred this past spring:

  1. We paid off the mortgage on our primary residence in Vermont!
  2. Mr. Frugalwoods retired!

These both happened amidst the flurry of the pandemic, our stint as unintentional homeschoolers and, of course, maple sugaring season.

I promised to share the details once the sap stopped flowing, we got vaccinated and the kids went to in-person school (PRAISE BE). These two events are correlated since we didn’t want to carry a mortgage once Mr. FW retired early.

Does Liz Still Work?

Well, kinda. I continue to work part-time as a writer, but my income pales in comparison to what Mr. FW was pulling down, which makes his retirement the more seismic change for our overall household finances. I left my full-time office job back in 2015 and have been freelance writing (including writing a book) ever since.

I love what I do and have no plans to quit! But I also have no plans to work full-time. I like my part-time schedule because it allows me to be with the kids and spend a lot of time outside working on our homestead. At any rate, this is not about my favorite topic (moi…. ), so I’ll try to get back on point.

Reasons to NOT Pay Off a Mortgage

Longtime readers well know that I’m not a “pay off your mortgage at all costs” evangelist. In fact, I have many times counseled against it in Reader Case Studies over the years. I’m not philosophically anti-mortgage and think that in many instances, it makes a ton of sense to keep a mortgage because when you pay off a mortgage, you’re limiting the growth potential of your money.

Here are some reasons NOT to pay off a mortgage:

1) It’s a huge opportunity cost.

This thing is paid off, but at an opportunity cost

When you pay off a mortgage, you’re missing out on the potential investment returns you’d enjoy if your money was instead invested in, for example, the stock market or a rental property. A paid-off house essentially returns the rate of your mortgage interest rate.

For example: if your mortgage interest rate is fixed at 3.75% and you pay if off, you’re getting a 3.75% rate of return, which is honestly pretty low. By comparison, historical stock market trends demonstrate that–over many decades of investing–the market delivers somewhere in the range of 7% annually. That does not mean 7% every year, it means a 7% average over the lifetime of an investor.

2) A paid-off house is an illiquid asset.

You can’t use a paid-off house to buy groceries or fix your car or pay for health insurance if you’ve lost your a job. Yes, you might be able to get a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC), but that’s not a guarantee and certainly not if you’ve lost your job.

Can’t use a paid-off house to buy chicken feed

Tying up ALL of your excess cash in a paid-off house is a dangerous proposition. Sure, you could sell the house, but then you’ll need to pay for somewhere else to live.

Before even considering paying off a mortgage, you should have all of the following lined up:

  1. A robust emergency fund of, at minimum, three to six months’ worth of your living expenses, held in an easily accessible checking or savings account.
  2. No high interest rate debt.
  3. Retirement investments (i.e. a 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, etc) that are fully funded as appropriate for your age, goals and anticipated retirement date.

I would further argue that you should also have at least one other form of investment (in addition to your retirement). Along with the above, I have:

  1. A brokerage account of diversified total market, low-fee index funds, both domestic and international (aka stocks)
  2. 529 College Savings accounts for both of our kids
  3. A Donor Advised Fund (DAF) for making tax-advantaged philanthropic contributions
  4. An income-generating rental property

You certainly don’t need to have this entire second list of items lined up, but you should absolutely have the first three on lockdown. If you want to read more about how we manage our money, check out: How We Manage Our Money: Behind The Scenes of The Frugalwoods Family Accounts.

3) A mortgage is a nice hedge against inflation.

Inflation is when money becomes less valuable. The good thing about a mortgage is that it’s denominated in the dollars you originally paid for the house. Thus over time as inflation increases, which generally happens, the money you’re using to pay off your mortgage becomes “cheaper.”

So Why Did We Pay Off Our Mortgage?

Since I just outlined some very good reasons NOT to pay off a mortgage, why on earth did we do so?

1) Better than bonds.

Harvesting apples from our Red Duchess tree: tastier than bonds

Remember how I mentioned that when you pay off a mortgage, you essentially lock in your mortgage interest rate as your rate of return? That’s what we decided to do. Our interest rate was 4.0% fixed for 30 years. Thus, we locked in a 4% rate of return. Not a very high rate, you’re thinking, which is true if you compare this to average annual stock market returns. But, if you compare this to the current bond market, 4% is actually not bad.

The calculation we made (in spring 2021) is that paying off our mortgage in this interest rate environment is akin to a bond allocation for our portfolio. Bonds are typically safer, less volatile, lower return investments, much like a paid-off mortgage. In general, the safer the investment, the lower the rate of return you can expect.

2) Paying off your mortgage at the point of early retirement dramatically decreases your sequence of returns risk.

This is the primary reason undergirding our decision. In paying off our mortgage, we traded maximum possible end value for a reduction in variance. When you pay off a mortgage, you’re not going to end up with the highest dollar return at the end, but you’re also way less likely to run out of money. After you’ve finished the accumulation phase of life (i.e. when you retire), the importance of absolute rate of return is then, necessarily, balanced against the sequence of returns risk.

This represents a willingness to trade the potential of having a higher net worth at, say, age 80 than running out of money at, say, age 70. Further (and related to #1 above), if you haven’t paid off your mortgage AND are holding low-yield bonds, that position makes no sense because then you wouldn’t be benefiting from the higher appreciation of the stock market and you’d be open to sequence of returns risk.

If you simulate retirement over the course of known financial history, there is a very specific set of circumstances whereby a person fails (runs out of money) in retirement. The circumstance for failure is that you retire right before a stock market crash AND high inflation with low returns (i.e. the 1970s).

Littlewoods: apple harvest helper

The greatest danger to the next 50 years of your economic viability comes in the first few years after your retirement. For example, if you retire on Monday and start to take 3.5% of your investments annually to live on and then the stock market crashes by 50% on Tuesday, that 3.5% draw down is now 7%, which is a much riskier position.

The broader point is that, when you pull the trigger to retire, it’s likely the market will be high because that’s when you’re going to hit the net worth number you’re comfortable with. And so, a reasonable thing to do is to pay off a mortgage to lock in that savings going forward. By paying off your mortgage, you are reducing your reliance on market increases.

What’s Your Drawdown Percentage?

Right now it’s 0%. Our longterm plan is to take no more than 3.5% out of our investments annually. However, this percentage will fluctuate over time thanks to the income from our rental property and my freelance work. In years where the rental doesn’t incur capital expenditures and I continue to earn money, we won’t need to draw down anything. In other words, we will live off of our rental income and my income. Conversely, in years where I make less money and/or the rental needs major repairs (i.e. a new roof), we’ll likely need to pull out more than 3.5% in order to cover our expenses.

Ok enough from me. Early Retirement Now came up with this concept and did all the research behind it, so you should really go read what he has to say about it: The Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates – Part 21: Why we will not have a mortgage in early retirement.

How To Pay off a Mortgage

Croquet, anyone? With my $1 garage sale set

If you’re considering paying off your mortgage, and if you’ve met at least the top three criteria outlined above, you’ll want to plan ahead. You don’t want to liquidate stock and pay capital gains taxes in order to come up with the cash to pay it off.

Ideally, you want to slow or stop investing and keep money in your checking/savings account. In so doing, you are indeed missing out on potential market gains, but you’re also not going to incur capital gains taxes. Nor will you “lose” this money in the event of a market dip. In general, you don’t want to invest money you’re going to need in the near future.

For more on why to remain invested and not fear the dips, check out the cautionary tale in this Reader Case Study.

Mr. FW’s Early Retirement

Ok enough about the mortgage. The second profound life change this spring was Mr. FW’s early retirement! With that, we’re now officially FIRE’d (financially independent and retired early), with the caveat that I continue to work part-time as a freelancer. Mr. FW loved his job as a software engineer and was with the same company for 14 years. He started on the ground floor as the fourth employee and one of his duties was to empty the office trash cans (although “office” is a strong word for the damp, carpeted room above a bar they initially worked out of). He’s proud of the work he did there and feels a strong sense of commitment to the organization. But after 14 years, he decided it was time to bow out and let others take the helm. We began working toward FIRE in April 2014 and, synchronistically, he retired seven years later in April 2021 at age 37.

What’s Mr. FW Doing Now?

One of Mr.FW’s new hobbies: drone photos of our property!!

What isn’t he doing would be the more apt question. He doesn’t have any plans to dive back into a “real” job and is enjoying the time, space and freedom of our homestead. He serves on two different non-profit boards in our community and also does a lot of hands-on volunteer work (he’s currently helping build a new accessibility ramp, entryway and front porch at our community library).

He tends our gardens and fruit orchards, he built our chicken coop this summer, he makes maple syrup, fells trees, splits firewood, repairs our many farm machines, mows our fields, hikes, picks berries. He parents our children, takes them to school and reads them books, brushes their teeth and sings them goodnight. He cooks dinner and cans tomatoes from our garden. He helps friends  and neighbors when they need it. He makes bonfires. He enjoys life and we enjoy him.

What About Health Insurance?

Mr. FW and the tractor: doing homestead stuff

Astute readers will note that Mr. FW’s job provided our health insurance. This coverage terminates at the end of this calendar year and so we’ll be signing up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the next open enrollment period. I can share what plan we select if that’s of interest to folks. This expense will start showing up in my Monthly Expense Reports in January 2022.

Privilege and Gratitude

FIRE is, above all else, a privileged position. It is not something we take lightly and we are profoundly aware of the incredible privilege and luck of being retiring so early. I’ve written before about the privileges my husband and I have–in this post as well as in my book–but it bears repeating. FIRE isn’t accessible to everyone. FIRE is fortunate. FIRE is unfair. FIRE is elite. I acknowledge all of this.

I am deeply grateful for the salaries and privileges my husband and I had because that’s what made this journey possible. No, we didn’t inherit money (nor will we) and no, our parents didn’t buy us houses or cars, but crucially, they did pay for our undergraduate education. I’ve come to view our launch into adulthood–debt-free and mostly broke–as one of the most formative elements of our FIRE journey. When we got married in 2008, we didn’t have much money, but we didn’t have any debt. Thus, everything we earned could go towards the future, not towards paying off the past. That’s a profound privilege and I am so thankful to my parents and my in-laws for that remarkable gift.

I would like to thank Littlewoods for her contribution to this family selfie…

For the most part, I don’t write all that much about FIRE because I feel it occupies a niche and rare space. I prefer to discuss personal finance more generally because: a) I think that’s more useful to more people and b) frankly, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that we’re financially independent. So while today’s post is allllll about the mortgage and the FIRE, this won’t become the focus of Frugalwoods’ work.

Rather, I’ll continue to devote a lot of space to Reader Case Studies and homestead musings and misadventures in parenting. I don’t think everyone needs to, or should, or even can work towards FIRE. It doesn’t have to be your goal. Your goal might be to get out of debt or to save up an emergency fund or start investing for your retirement and I want to be helpful to you in that process.

So please take this opportunity to let me know–in the comments–what sorts of topics you’d like to read about on Frugalwoods in the coming months. I get bored writing about myself (I mean, kinda…. ) and I want to dig into stuff that’s relevant to your life and your financial journey.

What do you want to read about on Frugalwoods this fall?

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298 Responses

  1. carl says:

    Big congratulations to Mr. FW! It’s been really fun to watch the trajectory of your lives!

    My first thought after reading this post was that perhaps your story is over now. Mr. FW is done, so the Frugalwoods have written their final chapter.

    Upon further consideration, it’s really just another beginning. Enjoy! Life is good.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you, Carl :)!!!!! And thank you for all of the inspiration and advice you’ve offered us over the years!

      • Jennifer says:

        I’ve been reading your fabulous posts for some time on the other side of the world, admiring your approach to life, family and finances. We too have paid off our mortgage and my husband is retired. He has just been diagnosed with a serious illness and we are aware that this, apart from the emotional heartbreak of such a situation, also has practical ramifications. At the moment we are looking at our finances and I realise that I am going to have to take over some aspects of life that my husband has always managed for us. I am frantically going through the jumbled pensions I have from years at work to untangle my side of things so we are all in order and can concentrate on the really important things such as spending time together and making the most of what we have. I wonder if you or any of your readers have had to pull up their sleeves and get organised in this way and may have some tips on how to approach it. We are very lucky in so many ways, no real debt, I’m still working, although I’ve cut down to three days since the diagnosis, and grown up family with our youngest just starting at uni this week. But any suggestions on how to tackle this would be so hekpful.

        • Akilah says:

          Hi. I love Frugal Woods -my favourite of all financial bloggers to be honest but you also sound like a good fit for Barbara Stanny’s monthly call. You can listen to audio replays as well where she gives advice to women who have similar stories. Ive been on calls where she advised people with this exact situation (taking over financials after years of it being taken care of for them) I cant remember her advice exactly but maybe also sign up for her newsletter if your in USA.

  2. Dana says:

    Yeah Frugalwoods!!! Big congrats to you. Enjoy this next phase of your journey!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations!! I’d love to know what parts of FIRE might be accessible to someone who might want to FI but not RE. I’d also be interested in an explainer of commonly used financial terms and advice. For example, I know how to invest in my 401k via my company, but what is a “brokerage account”, and how do I invest in one on my own?

  4. Jessie says:

    Great job! We also paid off our mortgage during the pandemic – I didn’t see you mention the tax benefits of keeping a mortgage (deduction) – when that no longer existed was when we decided it was time to pay it off. But I don’t think either of us has any interest in retiring before age 60! We like what we do 🙂

    • Erica says:

      When did that mortgage deduction no longer exist?

      • J says:

        The deduction itself still exists, but far fewer people are able to use it. After the 2017 Tax changes, the standard deduction basically doubled ($12.7K for MFJ to $24K for MFJ). In order to make it worthwhile to claim, your Schedule A Deductions need to be high than you standard deduction. Schedule A deductions include things like excess medical expenses, state and local taxes (SALT), mortgage deduction, and it used to include unreimbursed employee expenses and charitable contributions deductions. The latter 2 have been removed. So the sum of those items need to total more than your standard deduction. In addition, there was a cap limit implemented on the SALT taxes above. I don’t remember what it was, but it was a big penalty if you lived in a state with higher taxes. That was enough to bump others in those areas who might have still been able to itemize their deductions back into standard deduction territory. Thus, potentially increasing their overall tax liability. I believe the SALT cap is also one of those items that doesn’t reverse at some point in the future automatically. Many of the Corporate Taxes cuts were made permanent (unless Congress agrees to change them), while many of the tax cuts for individuals will automatically reverse in 2024 (ex: the marginal tax brackets we calculate our tax liability on will go back up to what they were prior to this Act).

  5. M. Clinch says:

    Congrats but be careful with the ACA. Those rates increase with age. Will be interested in seeing your ACA chosen plan.

    • Louise Norris says:

      They live in Vermont, which is one of just a few states where premiums do not fluctuate with age.

      But even if they lived elsewhere, premium tax credits would likely take care of that issue. For households that qualify for a premium tax credit, the tax credit will adjust annually to keep pace with the cost of the premiums (specifically, to keep pace with the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver plan). Most FIRE households do qualify for a premium tax credit, as eligibility is based on income, regardless of assets. So an older applicant will receive a larger tax credit than a younger applicant with the same income, because the tax credit has to cover a larger gross premium.

      • Linda says:

        Actually, that’s not quite the way it works out. If you have sizable assets that generate income (which you will if you’re thinking FIRE) that income counts and will push your overall income up — it’s not just W2 income. that matters.

        So that’s why I’m still working at 62. Downsized due to pandemic, I thought about retiring as I have the assets to live on until 100 — but after being a big saver my entire life, I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on premiums that would cost more than I was paying for COBRA — for just one person!. Yes, they gave me credits. But with my income, It also eliminated the lower costs plans from my selection. And while you may want to take a chance with the lowest cost health care in your 20s or 30s, that’s not my mindset in my 60s. True, I’m in NY, but even so. It’s also the reason I’ve continued to work.

        So my path was to scale work way back, to a much lower level and much lower paying position that allows me to work on the type of activities I enjoyed at my job — without the burden and stress of a higher-profile position with all the stress. As it’s currently a remote position, I get to be “with” people during the day, instead of being home alone being pandemic safe. My expenses are covered, I have employer-based healthcare and the chance to work at a job without the stress I had the past 30+ years. A win.

        And yes, I was shocked when I went to the site and saw the costs for me. You hear about how great ACA is and I suspect for those with little income, it works. But it wasn’t a smart financial choice for me. So it’s nothing something you can just assume; you need to see the numbers for yourself for your circumstances.

        • Louise Norris says:

          Yes, any income is counted, regardless of how it’s earned. So rental income would count, as would capital gains or withdrawals from non-Roth retirement accounts.
          But with the American Rescue Plan in place (and those provisions are expected to be made permanent), a household does not have to spend more than 8.5% of income on the benchmark plan (second-lowest-cost silver plan) in the marketplace.
          So premium tax credits are available to households with fairly sizeable incomes. It takes a very substantial amount of assets for the assets to generate enough income to make a household ineligible for premium tax credits.

        • Caroline Joanna Mary Bowman says:

          This is ”the dream”, and it’s made possible by your not absolutely needing desperately to work, i.e. because of your various sacrifices and prudence along the way. This is the pay-off, that you choose what you want to do and do what suits you. If in a decade or whenever, something happens that means you don’t want to work or where you want to pursue some non-remunerated goal, that option is always there. This is what I want for my life one day, that opportunity to decide for myself.

        • Alysta says:

          This is exactly right. If you can keep your income below $50-$60K/year (for single with 2 kids, not sure for married), ACA is best. But after that you will pay MUCH more with ACA. My income is lower for a few years while I pivot so I am using the ACA, but once I start making what I used to, I will go back to my group plan for my sole proprietor LLC.

    • Caesia says:

      Those rules actually very state by state. Premiums in VT do not vary by age.

    • K D says:

      It’s likely that with a low income the premiums will be subsidized. I believe income but not wealth is used to determine this.

      • Ben D says:

        The ACA looks at multiple income sources when determining subsidies. This includes realized capital gains and dividends on taxable investment accounts, pension payments, sales of rental property, almost any income that generates a 1099, (and I’m guessing affiliate marketing income from successful blogs), among other sources. Many of us walk a very fine line of falling off the “subsidy cliff” by earning one cent over 400% of poverty level. That would mean losing hundreds of dollars of subsidy assistance per month. I learned some tough (expensive) lessons in my early days after transitioning to ER. Healthcare can be an incredibly expensive “luxury” if you are not diligent and well-educated on how the ACA functions.

        • Laura Marie villotta says:

          That is not true. The ACA asked for my income and that was it. I am debt free mortgage and all at 49. I make decent money and pay nothing for a monthly premium. My kids get free vision too. I can add dental for $25/ month. I just started a new job and have declined insurance. I can invest that monthly premium and be much further ahead. Each state is different. Most people that have achieved FIRE are going to pay much more on the ACA because they have high income. This is why owning your own business sucks b/c you are hemorrhaging money for health insurance with very high deductibles.

        • Louise Norris says:

          You’re correct that all sources of income are counted. But the “subsidy cliff” was eliminated by the American Rescue Plan, for 2021 and 2022. And it’s looking likely that Congress will make that permanent. Subsidies are now available even above 400% FPL, if the benchmark plan (second-lowest-cost silver plan) would otherwise be more than 8.5% of your income.

      • Eve says:

        Yes. In some states you can even qualify for medicaid, where it has an income check but not a wealth check.

        • Linda says:

          But your wealth(assets) may very well be generating income. For example, dividends from stocks, index funds, mutual funds ,etc. If you have been saving and investing for 25-30 years, it can very easily general $30-50K per year — which is going to be too high for the ACA to benefit you.

          • Louise Norris says:

            That is not too high for the ACA’s subsidies. Especially now that the American Rescue Plan has eliminated the income cap (400% of the poverty level) that applied in prior years. For now, that rule change is in place through the end of 2022, but it’s looking likely that it will be made permanent.

        • Tonya says:

          I think trying to qualify for Medicaid when you are FIRE is so unethical. This program is truly intended for the poor, not for people who are living off of their investment income and dividends.

          • Eve says:

            To each their own. I personally think healthcare should be included free for everyone. You think “rich” people don’t take advantage of all the legal tax loopholes because it’s not fair to “poor” people?

            And, Linda, you can control your “income” by using some money from your Roth, etc.

          • Caroline Joanna Mary Bowman says:

            I get that I’m not US-based and possibly don’t quite grasp the nuances, but ”unethical” seems to be quite a charge. Medicaid is intended for people on specific incomes. How they came to be there doesn’t form part of the calculation.

            By your rationale, if you have anything at all beyond a roof and the next meal, well, it’s unethical, because you know, you COULD cash in your savings or sell your car or whatever and *not* steal from the poor. Liz and Nate have worked to get to where they are, made sacrifices and choices in support of that, which is more than can be said for many people, be they on Medicaid or not.

            And anyway, what’s wrong with asking for something that you have contributed to, handsomely, for years and years? It’s hardly rampant socialism, is it? It looks a lot like they have given a LOT more than they’ve taken.

  6. Samantha says:

    I’d love to hear more about parenting two little girls. I have two girls myself but none of my friends have kids so it’s great to hear from someone else living with the ‘toddler ennui’.

  7. Jennifer R says:

    Congratulations! Sounds lovely. Thank you for all of the information that you provide!

  8. Rebecca says:

    Congratulations!

  9. Courtney says:

    I’ve continued to follow your blog, since the beginning, because of your acknowledgment of your privilege and how humbling and refreshing it is to hear someone own that in this space. I know so, so many people who do not recognize how they started ahead of others on the starting line by small, but important choices their parents made to benefit them and consequently judge others who don’t have the same financial success as they do. Often, when I tell people I grew up poor others will say they did too, but as they are telling me their stories I am shocked at how they think their middle class, but money was tight upbringing = poor. So many people do not truly understand how lucky their lot in life is. Thank you!

    • Diana says:

      I agree with this comment 100%. I just can’t with the whole “born on 3rd and thinks they hit a triple” thing. And the “I bootstrapped from a trailer park therefore it’s possible and reasonable and accessible for everyone do this too” is even worse. FIRE is out of reach for many people, for many reasons, and even if people reach it it doesn’t solve all their problems.

    • Lindsey says:

      I grew up very poor, as in eat hamburger one night and the leftover grease and bread the next night and sometimes my parents did not even have enough to eat grease and bread themselves. But the advantage we got that many others do not is that my parents were relentless about pushing us to do well in school because they considered that the only way to increase your choices in life. That and they taught me how to fix almost anything so I didn’t waste money buying new things. They also preached relentlessly that you set and goal and then you plot out exactly what you have to do to reach that goal, and you write it down and reread it once a week to remind yourself. Those gift of pursuing education, fixing instead of buying new and figuring out how to get from where you are to where you want to be were more valuable than if they had had the money to fund my college and grad school educations.

  10. Terre Tulsiak says:

    I am concerned about the blithe comment regarding the affordable care act insurance. When my husband retired last year and also became Medicare age, I assumed me and the kids could go to the exchange and get good insurance. We are paying $1000 month for the same coverage, and when I was hospitalized overnight 8 months ago for a headache- they called a Stroke Alert- they still havent paid any of the bill and I have already been sent to collections.
    And you expl,ain very clearly the difference between mortgage rates and benefits of liquidity, but as for ‘tax benefits’ there really arent any. Deducting something you would otherwise not be spending doesn’t make sense, but you explain it better!

    • JENNIFER R OSBORN says:

      I agree with you. The affordable care act insurance is anything but.

    • Susieseeburg says:

      Yes I agree with the above! Will be quite interested to see how you make out with health care. One thing you have not accounted for (at least in the post as laid out) is that health care plans have a history of very large cost increases year to year, and at this point your income is fairly static. How are you going to account for double digit percentage increases in that cost moving forward?

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        So, in general, being FIRE’d doesn’t mean you have static expenses year-to-year–inflation alone will always make that untrue. The basic mathematical underpinning is that your investments keep up with inflation, which is why studying historical market returns is useful. Hence, your “income” increases as your expenses increase. Apologies for the overly simplified explanation–I’ll try and work on a longer post about that! And with the ACA, it varies by state and is greatly impacted by your income–and hence your eligibility for subsidies. Another major consideration is one’s comfort level with, say, a high deductible plan with a lower monthly premium. That’s something that might make sense for a person with a substantial cash reserve. All good points and all things we’ll be researching as we sign up for insurance :)!

        • Anne says:

          Congratulations!! I would love to see a post about shopping for health insurance. I’ll be looking at HDHP plans vs subsidised comprehensive plans next year, and being able to see your data-centric approach would be really helpful.

          For your kids, Vermont has a really great children’s Medicaid extension program (dr dinosaur). For a family of 4, if you keep your retirement income under ~85k you can get your kids insured for a maximum of $60/month/family. It literally covers all costs and I never saw a doctor that didn’t take the coverage. If you guys might quality, definitely look into it!

        • Eileen says:

          This will be so valuable as a reader! I’m older than you, but facing a decision in 2022 about continuing to work or just taking a RIF payout/severance and leaving the work force. Had an option for a VBO/retirement payout/severance that would have locked us into my company’s plan (at full cost after 2 years) for as long as we chose, however the cash payout was smaller. I declined the VBO because I felt like the cash difference was significant enough (as well as the option, if I choose, to continue with my employer in another position). It’s an unusal position because my business unit closing announcement came 4 days before the VBO offering. Anyway — hearing about the ACA navigation will be very interesting and helpful!

          Congrats to all!

        • Maria says:

          Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods,

          This is definately a topic I am interested in hearing more about. The main concern I have about retirement or not working is not having health insurance. I would love to learn more how this insurance works out for your family and what to look for in obtaining independant insurance.

          • KathyE says:

            The 400% cap (cliff) on income was removed during the pandemic. In 2019, our family (2) had an unexpected increase in income for one year and all subsidies had to be paid back in the next year taxes. Beware this pitfall when and if the cap comes back. Have a reserve for medical expenses as you age.

        • Natalie says:

          I recommend looking at healthcare cost sharing plans if you qualify. They aren’t insurance but do provide similar health benefits at a lower cost. We are self employed and use Medishare, they just paid 29k for the birth of our second child. Again, it’s not insurance but it does provide a good option for self employed people!

        • Linda says:

          Hello Mrs. F. Congratulations on the end of the mortgage. It’s a wonderful feeling when you know you own your home — and to have eliminated such a major expense.

          Love reading your posts; wish this type of forum existed back when I started working and saving in the 80s. I would have been all in. It was harder to educate myself pre-internet!!

          I’d love to hear more about healthcare options in a future column — and would be happy to share my circumstances, which led me back to work, rather than retire and pay big $$ for insurance through ACA. As you noted, every state is different — and if you have been saving and investing for 35 years, you are (hopefully) going to have substantial assets that will generate income (even if you aren’t withdrawing anything from your accounts) I’ve researched and read for years — and found that the ACA just didn’t –and couldn’t — deliver for me. Most of my peers are in similar positions; we’re all working for the insurance, even with the assets we have in place.

          As I mentioned in my post above, that income counts and will push your overall income up — it’s not just W2 income. that matters.

          So that’s why I’m still working at 62. Downsized due to pandemic, I thought about retiring as I have the assets to live on until 100 — but after being a big saver my entire life, I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on premiums that would cost more than I was paying for COBRA — for just one person!. Yes, they gave me credits. But with my income, It also eliminated the lower costs plans from my selection. And while you may want to take a chance with the lowest cost health care in your 20s or 30s, that’s not my mindset in my 60s. True, I’m in NY, but even so. It’s also the reason I’ve continued to work.

          If you have been saving and investing for 25-30 years, your assets outside of 401ks can very easily general $30-50K income (dividends, interest, etc) per year — which is going to be too high for the ACA to benefit you.

          So my path was to scale work way back, to a much lower level and much lower paying position that allows me to work on the type of activities I enjoyed at my job — without the burden and stress of a higher-profile position with all the stress. As it’s currently a remote position, I get to be “with” people during the day, instead of being home alone being pandemic safe. My expenses are covered, I have employer-based healthcare and the chance to work at a job without the stress I had the past 30+ years. A win.

          And yes, I was shocked when I went to the site and saw the costs for me. You hear about how great ACA is and I suspect for those with little income, it works. But it wasn’t a smart financial choice for me in my 60s — and also very hard for a lifetime savers to shift to pulling what could amount to $30K for premiums until I reach 65 and Medicare. So reasonably priced ACA access is not something you can just assume; you need to see the numbers for yourself for your circumstances. And yes, I’m thankful I do have the assets and choice.

          (and sorry for the length of this post — this hit nerve!)
          Reply

          • Alysta says:

            I’d love to read about your story as a case study, if you’re willing. Healthcare is a huge problem, and I’m interested in how you found a decent new job – I’m finding (late 50s) that discrimination is real, but my youngest child won’t be finished with college for 10 more years.

        • Vee says:

          Respectfully, Tonya~$85k for a family of four is not a program for the poor. Different states have different limits and set the rates and policies according the values of the state. As long as one is not hiding income or assets, this is ethical behavior and within the rules of state. As more people reach FIRE, it could change.

    • JustMe says:

      It’s entirely state dependent.
      My ACA for a self employed 50 plus woman in Ma with the excellent Silver plan is $118 a month, down from $133 a month before the Biden pandemic help.
      For those of you in states that refused expansion, the ACA is very expensive.
      It’s unfortunate, but that’s on your politicians and state government, not the ACA.
      Would you be comfortable sharing your state?

      • Jen says:

        THIS. Although mileage may vary based on your specific situation, so much depends on your state and your elected officials. For example, VT has a higher tax rate but you get what you put in via a sturdier social safety network for all. Want to pay very little in tax? Prepare to pay more out of pocket for healthcare, etc.

      • Kate says:

        Right! So frustrating that people don’t understand that their state level officials have a role in this.
        (Fellow MA resident)

    • Smiley says:

      Stephanie,
      I’ll try to explain as simply as I can :-).
      Brokerage account is an account you open (it can be also opened jointly with your spouse if you’re married) at a brokerage for investing your after-tax money in stocks, bonds, and other exotics (I don’t recommend exotic investments unless you can condition yourself that you’d not freak out at 100% losses).
      You say you’re saving in your 401k which is good. What do you do with the unspent money you have in your checking account after covering all your monthly expenses? You probably have a savings account for that, right? Once you have saved a reasonable amount for emergencies and for monthly expenses in case of a job loss (say 6 months), you can open a brokerage account to invest in index funds.

      E.g. we have a savings account at AllyBank, but we also have an AllyInvest account too which is a brokerage account.
      However, you want to invest in index funds, I’d probably recommend you open an account directly with Vanguard, Fidelity, or Schwab once you choose whose index fund you want to invest in.

      So, it’s a little bit of info, but you can google further and start your deeper research.

    • Jen says:

      The comment about planning to find health insurance through the Affordable Care Act didn’t seem “blithe” to me. As a self-employed widow too young for Medicare, I was “forced” (or privileged) to buy my own insurance and am grateful for the guidance and availability of it! I pay well over half of your $1000 per month and have a high deductible plan, or it would be lots more. The thing is, one day in the hospital, or one procedure or one serious illness…is THOUSANDS of dollars these days. So we are LUCKY! Maybe we have to budget and scrimp on some things to afford it- so thank goodness for frugality! It’s a good plan, the ACA, but can be hard to understand, like anything in the realm of government, business, finance. I’m really looking forward, Liz, to reading all about this, and congratulations!

  11. Beatriz Cervantes says:

    Congratulations on achieving your goals at such a young age. My husband and I are 67 and 64 respectively, retired and continuing to contribute to our retirement accounts. We live month to month on our pensions, have no credit card debt and sweep any remaining balance into savings. We do have a mortgage but I am not concerned about paying it off. I would rather let our investments grow.

    Topics I would like to see discussed: remarriage later in life when you have separate assets and each have adult children; pros and cons of long term care; best way to handle mandatory IRA distributions when you don’t need the money to live on. Thank you.

    • Diane says:

      Definitely second pros and cons of long term care insurance and recommendations or resources. Thanks for all you do!

    • Michelle says:

      Beatriz, I just wanted to say the MOST important thing you can do is to put money aside for long-term care at home. My Mom is a 100% disabled Veteran, service connected, and is 78 and the most they’ll pay for her home care is for 28 hours a week. She’s been in & out of the hospital & in nursing facilities & I can tell you from “visiting” (aka: working at the nursing home for my Mom for free because they can’t take her to the bathroom on time or get her water etc., which means she might as well be at home) that these facilities are only getting worse. I have no retired, was unexpectedly divorced and at this point I seriously am just hoping I don’t live as long as my folks because I never want to go through what she’s having to go through and I’m her passionate invoked proxy & the docs & other medical professionals often try to make decisions about my Mom & her body before even speaking with me. If I knew back then what I know now I would have started saving $ at age 15 when I started working. I went all through graduate school & beyond, paid for my entire college education & then had health issues & had to go on SSDI so I am a highly educated poverty-level divorcee. Do what you can to prep for the more vulnerable years ahead. Also, I’ve not any children so literally no proxy right now & if no Prince Charming shows up it’s a potential dire future due to unforeseen unfortunate events, so I’d say, plan for those & send positive vibes for the best 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Ooh I would love to see topics on managing finances in a blended family. And elder care – going through that with my aunt right now and it is so incredibly complicated and expensive

    • KathyE says:

      Give your RMDs to charity if you don’t need them. It won’t count against your income and will warm your heart.

  12. Kath S says:

    It isn’t just about the money! I just feel happier having paid off our mortgage, although financially it may have made sense to keep it going a while longer.

    • Lisa says:

      Agree! The sense of daily relief I have felt since we paid off our mortgage is wonderful. There are still big unknowns that can happen but we know we have one big thing, housing for our family, under control.

  13. Connie says:

    Congratulations-your hard work has paid off! Nothing better than not having to pay to live in your home! It’s all yours! So excited for you!

  14. Molly says:

    Congrats! Would love to hear more about your healthcare journey with ACA when it starts. Healthcare costs are a huge worry of mine if we were to both retire early. As of now I pay $200 every other week for healthcare through work for myself and my son. My husband pays $40 every other week for himself through work. If I left my job though my husband’s work would cover us all… at $400 every other week. Trying to figure out how we could possibly get around this. Going down to one income we’d be fine… but with an extra $10k lost each year it would make it much tighter.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, it’s certainly a major consideration! ACA costs depend on the state you live in and your income (and hence your eligibility for subsidies), so those two factors cause the amount to fluctuate wildly nationwide. Plus, there’s the question of how much cash you have on hand to, say, cover a high deductible (with a lower monthly premium). Lots of factors that’ll impact our research!

  15. JM says:

    YEA! Thrilled for you! We’re going to pay off our mortgage TODAY! (Can you tell that I am excited?) We made several of the same calculations that you did, met with our financial planner and decided that the time was right for us. Honestly, I’m excited to be in this position and, like you, I don’t take it for granted. My family has always had car payments and mortgages, but we decided to focus on having more financial freedom, so older cars that we paid cash for and a home that was affordable on one income.

  16. Brandon Pitt says:

    Congrats on the mortgage payoff and retirement of Mr. FW! Two really huge accomplishments that I envy greatly. You two have worked hard for a long time to get where you are, so enjoy it!

  17. Linda says:

    Congrats! Do you mind sharing some net worth and investment income figures to give readers some perspective?

  18. Megan says:

    We are set to pay off our mortgage early, hopefully in less than 2 years! Would love to hear more about your income vs. expenses now that you don’t have that mortgage.

  19. Laura says:

    Yay we also paid off our mortgage during the pandemic (is this a theme?). At the time we decided to do it because 1) We could, 2) We only had about $40,000 left on it, 3) We had gotten some unexpected cash (a bonus, small inheritance from grandparents, and COVID checks) so we had a large amount of case on hand. We didn’t specifically come up with the three items on the list but we are basically covered for that. Really for me its just been one less thing to have to worry about. Plus its nice to say we officially own our home.

  20. JENNIFER R OSBORN says:

    Congratulations!

  21. Kimberly DaCosta says:

    Wonderful, Liz!

  22. Greg says:

    Congratulations to you both. Don’t feel embarrassed at all. Your hard work (helped by a debt-free education) has enabled you to get to this point. If you just sat around and watched TV all day, that would be one thing. But, you’re both continuing to contribute toward society in a variety of ways, not the least of which is raising two future well-functioning adults. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your story!

  23. Miche says:

    Love reading your blog. I enjoyed the maple syrup posts and how your family is enjoying Valmont. Great achievement. Enjoy your next chapter in life!

    One question. Since you mentioned education, wonder do you set aside separate fund for your girls education? Thanks for sharing!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yes, indeed! As noted above, we have 529 College Savings accounts for both kids. Here’s my full post on that if you’re curious: How We Use 529 Plans To Save For College.

      • Anne says:

        Could you do a post about projecting college costs, 529s, and financial aid? I’m trying to figure out balancing pre-education savings, how much I would be able to contribute while they are in school, and hopefully being able to help them graduate without loans.

      • Allison says:

        I would like a post to see how you determined the 529 would cover the rising cost of tuition inflation. How much do you need to put in a 529 to cover tuition in 5, 10, 15 years? Also, why a 529 over a brokerage account, particularly how differently they are handled for financial aid purposes.

  24. Marina says:

    Congratulations! And thanks for again acknowledging your privilege, it’s true, but you both also worked hard to get yourselves in a place to retire. I enjoy the case studies and kid misadventures the most (kids don’t seem to care how much or how little money we have – the littles years are hard either way!) so keep those up.

    • Michele says:

      Agree with Marina — I enjoy the case studies and kid stories the most. Good for you for creating a community in which people feel safe enough to submit the case studies. They are pretty revealing, and the resulting advice and conversations are fantastic.

  25. Cari says:

    Hi, Liz! Congratulations to you both on reaching your goals! I would love updated info and a refresh given the rising cost of EVERYTHING on paying off consumer debt and saving an emergency fund. Thanks!

  26. Maria says:

    Wow! Congrats!

  27. Carla says:

    How exciting! I’ve been following your journey since you frugally lived in Cambridge (loved that beans and rice recipe!). It’s been so inspiring to see how you have followed your dreams to purchase your Vermont homestead and build your family during the past years. I enjoy your stories on farm life, chickens, maple syrup, etc, and look forward to more adventures!

    • Clancy says:

      I also have followed the Frugalwoods team since the Cambridge days! I was just learning about FIRE and happened upon RetireBy40 who had a link to the Frugalwoods (and a comment about a fun dog (RIP Frugalhound) and very cute baby (aka Kidwoods))! It is so wonderful to see what an amazing journey they’ve been on and I look forward to the adventures ahead!

      Liz, thanks for inspiring us all with your witty writings and wonderful information. I can honestly say you have made a big difference in my life! ♥️

      Congratulations!

  28. K Lucas says:

    I’ll be very interested in hearing how your health insurance works out. My husband and I will be in much the same position at the end of the year.

  29. Shelly says:

    I’d love to read follow ups for the reader case studies! I find them so interesting and always wonder where they are now. I also love the homesteading information- was being able to produce some of your own food and/or to barter it part of the plan? I am definitely interested in your ACA choice as that is something we will be moving towards as things progress. I currently have amazing insurance that doesn’t qualify for an HSA and we’ve done medical tourism in the past.

  30. Quincy says:

    Awww YAYYY congrats!!! So happy for y’all. Nicely nicely done. Thank you for sharing your journey with us with grace and gratitude, it makes it so easy to celebrate with you!

  31. Catherine says:

    Congratulations! One of the reasons I continue to read is because of your inclusive and humble tone. How wonderful of a life event to share. How humble of you to acknowledge the privileged path that started you on the journey, and acknowledge how it is not within reach for all. You two may have started with the fortune of no education debt, but you’ve worked your tails off and been so creative in reaching your goals. Also, what a case study for encouraging 529 contributions, contribute as much as you can as early as you can!

  32. Gov Worker says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! I Loved the analysis you laid out in your post. Mrs. Gov and I have recently paid off our mortgage and I laying down our groundwork to FIRE. We’re also contemplating some part time-freelance work so that we could have a drawdown rate of close-to-zero in a good year and are also targeting a 3.5% withdrawal rate as a worst-case scenario. It’s so comforting to see someone else has a similar plan and I am also a huge fan of Early Retirement Now’s sequence of return risk calculator. Way to go on living your best life & congrats on the FrugalwoodsFIRE!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! Yeah the part-time freelance income + rental income is a very big peace-of-mind provider. I’d love to have as many 0% years as possible, just to make up for the bigger spend years (of roof replacements, cars, etc!)

  33. Kristi ODonnell says:

    Congrats for both. I’m looking more and more to this every year when I am FIRE too.

    As for what I want to read, I love all of the homestead stuff. I love all of the gardending and maybe more help/lessons/not sure what word I’m looking for here…tips on gardening, canning, etc. I also really love the maple syrup stuff and apple orchards and hikes. Maybe expanding on topics within that relm.

    However, even if you didn’t, I would be happy with what you post.

  34. Heather says:

    Congratulations! So delighted for you all!

    With regards to future articles, I love the reader case studies. I also find that (personally) our frugal decisions are the result of so many other little decisions, that we sometimes forget that they are options… a deep dive on some of your choices (I’m thinking of that old story about loving selzer water and how you hacked your way into having lots without a big price tag) would be fun.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! And many thanks for these post ideas :)! The Reader Case Studies will definitely continue and I’m ramping them up to twice a month.

  35. Rachel says:

    Congratulations. We are also working towards FIRE and are scheduled to be able to retire at age 40 for me 43 for hubby. For things I like to see on your blog- I do enjoy your Reader Case Studies, as well as recommendations for great products- we have bought 2 mattresses like yours from Amazon and have been enjoying them for years now! We signed up for the wine club thing you recommended and have been using that for sending gifts and for ourselves. I also like to see your frugal celebrations for the holidays. Something else weird I like to see is grocery-type hauls- what people are buying for their families. I know weird. I enjoy your blog and am always excited for new posts.

  36. Kristi ODonnell says:

    A commenter mentioned follow up posts on case studies. I whole heartedly agree!

  37. Cate says:

    I’ve seen mentions of ACA that were a bit disparaging. We had to utilize it a few years ago when my spouse was between jobs & I was working PT. I agree the monthly cost is high, especially compared to EMPLOYEE pay-in for employer-provided coverage BUT, having worked in admin/HR, I know that ACA monthly premium is similar to, and often less than, the total premium paid by employers. Something to keep in mind. Also, we never saw any issue with medical bills being paid. Just my experience.

    • Ben D says:

      There are so many factors and nuances with the ACA system. I live in Northeast Ohio and a few years ago, there were maybe 37 or so plans to pick from. Daunting enough to sort thru them back then. For 2021, there were over 80 plans available. One major downside, ACA plans typically only cover care received in your primary place of residence, sometimes limited by County. Retired and planning to travel the country? You need to research what, if anything, will be covered if you’re traveling and need health care. My current plan will cover emergency care out of state, if it is determined that my situation was indeed an emergency, but I would be responsible for an ER visit copay of $1,150, in addition to my max out of pocket limit of $8,550.

  38. Lauren J Smith says:

    Congratulations! Excited for you and your family 🙂

  39. Tina says:

    Congratulations! Well done! A paid off mortgage feels so good! Early retirement – wow!

  40. suz says:

    you worked hard toward your goals that is hard work well deserved.

  41. Caroline says:

    One of the things we did when I inherited money after my mum passed away, was to pay off what remained on our mortgage. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it meant the removal of a significant monthly line item on our debit column. Obviously different country and different things apply, but we didn’t have any high-interest debt and we do have modest savings / investments.

    Honestly, the mental security of having a paid off home and paid off (modest, older) cars cannot be over-estimated. If one is fortunate and privileged to be able to get that without compromising higher priorities, then that is a huge, huge blessing indeed.

    Saying that, if I could have my mother back, even just for, say, an afternoon, I’d take all of everything she so carefully saved and looked after, and hand it to passers-by, and consider it a win.

    Congratulations Frugalwoods! This is wonderful news 🙂

    • Nora says:

      Well put. I was the beneficiary of a rather large (in my opinion) annuity when my uncle passed away, and I would give it all away and then some to have one more hour with him.

      • Caroline Joanna Mary Bowman says:

        It’s hard, isn’t it? On the one hand, OBVIOUSLY I’m grateful as all get out to be so blessed to have had A/ the parents I had and B/ the opportunities I’ve had and then C/ for them to have been careful and prudent (though always generous, always), but I miss them so much, my mum especially, and just wish she was here. I do appreciate life ends at some time for all of us, and it’s better to be sad with resources, than sad AND desperately worried about finances.

  42. DW says:

    I am on the cusp of paying off all credit card debt ($600 to go) for the first time in 10 years, I paid off all student loans last year, and my bank loan (originally $15K) is down to $1900. I still have car loan and mortgage with wife. Topic: Do I pay off very low interest loan early, low interest car loan early, or build out high yield savings? We have never traveled out of country and I will have means to finally take her on an international trip. I feel like that is top on my list for how far we have come.

  43. Stacie says:

    Congratulations on TWO significant milestones!! You’re such an inspiration to all of us striving to bow out of the workforce early and be completely debt free.

  44. Pat says:

    Hi Liz! Loved your book. Quick question: you mentioned the mortgage you paid off was 4%. Just curious with the mortgage rates so low for so long why you didn’t refinance in previous years when you did have the loan?

    • Lisa says:

      It takes so many years to make up for refinancing usually, I want to say 5, of maybe that was just our situation, so we didn’t refinance when we were working toward paying off early. The higher rate was good motivation, too, to pay her off!

  45. Lisa says:

    I’m happy to hear about FIRE personally, that’s why I follow blogs like yours to use your methods with that as the goal. I don’t think you should be ashamed.

  46. Rosemary H says:

    Congrats on retirement and mortgage freedom. We are both retired but started a carpentry services business to help our neighbors on a part time basis. We get to choose when we work. The rest of our time is spent with the grandkids and fun little day trips and gardening.

  47. Terri Cardona says:

    I continue to enjoy your links of what products you purchase and if they work.
    I like to read how you solve problems like when something breaks…or where to find good deals.

  48. Katharine says:

    Yay, you! That’s awesome! We also moved into a paid-off house during the pandemic, and while we’re both working remotely right now, we’re poised on the edge of FIRE, depending on health insurance, so I’ll be intrigued to see what you find out about that aspect. It’s one of our biggest fears right now about actually doing the deed and retiring as we have very good health insurance through my husband’s employer. The great thing about being mortgage-free is that we now have the ability to save at an even greater rate while still working and setting up our dream homestead. I’m so happy for y’all!

  49. Jen says:

    Another benefit of paying off the mortgage early is that you have to withdraw less from your retirement accounts as you have lower expenses, making it more likely to qualify for ACA subsidies.

  50. Elaina says:

    Congratulations! I have to admit my heart skipped a beat at the title of your post because I thought, “What about your health insurance?!” Sad state of affairs when people work just for that though. Since I have a chronic illness, it’s at the top of my necessities list though.
    Still…as always…you guys have a great plan. And, I can’t wait to hear about the daily living of your new set of circumstances. Raising your two girls with a set of parents that will always have their attention is priceless.

  51. Meg says:

    Congratulations- we have paid off our mortgage (pre COVID) on our residence and our rental property. Husband has not yet retired but it’s on the horizon. One sticking point for us (and our four kids) is the health insurance so interested to hear how this unfolds for you. Thanks for sharing!

  52. Hope says:

    Congratulations Frugalwoods!!! You have helped others so much along your journey and by SHARING your journey so please don’t feel embarrassed by your well deserved success :). In regards to future content I hope you might continue the natural process of just sharing life and any changes in perspectives or how things might be different after reaching FIRE. I follow another ER blog and they seemed to have greatly dropped off from blogging once they reached ER and I feel like I still want and need to hear how things evolve after reaching ER…maybe like finding purpose that isn’t related to finances or other pursuits that naturally come up…
    Thank you for everything and congratulations!!!

  53. Congrats! I think both were wise decisions and I wish you the best. Enjoy your FIRE!!!!!

  54. M says:

    I really enjoy all of your stories- kids/money saving/what’s new. Please share your ACA decision and how you arrived at – I need all the info I can get as I start that process hopefully next spring. Good bye job – hello life!

  55. Brooke says:

    First – Congratulations!! Second, I wanted to say that I really appreciate that FrugalWoods focuses on personal finance broadly and acknowledges that everyone will have different goals. You’re exactly right that FIRE is niche and not everyone’s goal (or interest). I love the continued focus on case studies and other frugal hacks and personal finance choices you’ve made over the years!

  56. CMD says:

    Congratulations!!!
    I agree about Reader Case Studies and more follow-ups! I still wonder what happened to the woman whose boyfriend got kicked out of residency with a mountain of debt….

    I’m also really interested in stories/cases about sustainability. For example, we’re thinking about replacing our gas furnace, water heater and old A/C with a ground source heat pump. But I’m still learning what it’s all about. Have you considered that? We don’t have solar now, but ultimately an electrical heat pump system could be powered by a home’s solar panels. I would love to hear more about people’s experiences moving to more sustainable living in a variety of settings – suburban, urban, rural, etc.

    • Georgia says:

      First of all, a huge congratulations to you all, Mrs. FW! I got so happy for you guys when I read the email subject line…!!

      Secondly, YES YES YES to CMD’s comment. I would LOVE to hear about people transitioning to a more climate-conscious lifestyle while on a personal finance journey. I would also love to hear about people who went FI and used the free time to start getting really invovled in climate change action (I’m trying to figure out the best way to have a large impact, and would love to know what the smartest people out there are doing on a personal level–protesting? lobbying? buying land and planting trees? running for office?).

      Also, I just love your stories. I still remember that Christmas one, aaaaaaah even the memory makes me laugh out loud! Too funny.

      Sending all my best!

    • Kate says:

      CMD, we have solar panels in rural-ish MA and are transitioning as much as we can of our home to heat pumps rather than oil (minisplits and a heat pump water heater). It has worked really well. Because we are in a municipally owned light district (vs Eversource or National Grid) the payback on the panels is longer because electricity was already cheaper (and perhaps dirtier due to the way MA regulates electricity). But we were able to easily finance the panels at a low interest rate. We do end up using oil heat on really cold days in the winter, but about 1/4 of what we used before the switch and we’d like to put in a wood stove for the rest. I love, love, love our minisplits.

    • Bee says:

      She updated– he got a lot of support from former coworkers and was able to transfer to a new program. They were still together and were talking more about financial priorities.

  57. PMP says:

    I’ll also be very intersected in your ACA research results. I made an inquiry earlier this year — it was beyond frustrating. I didn’t get any useful information at all except from the highest level, and asking to drill down generated about 100 cold calls from insurance agents, none of whom I was ready to speak to. As this was an inquiry only, I was able to shelve the project.

  58. Eve says:

    Congratulations! Excellent news! Thanks for paving the path and sharing your experiences along the way! Cheers to the many adventures that are ahead for your sweet family!

  59. Hilogene in Az says:

    Congratulations! Well done!

  60. Mrs. Bug says:

    Congratulations! I have followed along with your journey since the beginning. You are an inspiration. We are planning to pay off our mortgage as well for the exact reasons you listed. It was so comforting to read your post to validate our reasoning. I would love for you to continue writing about personal finances and I am especially interested in your ACA insurance details.

  61. Myray says:

    Congrats!! That’s so exciting to be somewhat officially FIRED. My husband and I are on a similar path, we acquired a house hack in Portland and are now saving to build a house in rural montana without a mortgage. Once we get the house secured I will leave my corporate job and we will both be part time creative freelancers and aim for ‘coast FI’. Just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me and to see that this path is possible. Would love to hear more about your opinions on the different variations FI and an update on how your rental property is going! Have the numbers worked out like you expected?

  62. Marlies says:

    Inspiring post.
    I do agree privilege is a big thing. But that makes it all the more important for me to return some of that to the world, if I can. As a girl I’d have thought saving money, in your own bankaccount, could never be part of that ideal. But the more FIRE stories I read the more clear it becomes: people who’ve reached it really contribute to the world, in a way they enjoy and in which they make use of their best characteristics. And that’s the very best way, isn’t it?!
    Personally I/we will not reach FIRE, I think. But because of a nontheless save financial situation I get to experience a little try of pursuing what feels right, instead of what I thought I should do but doesn’t agree with my personal wellbeing and health. (in my case: I think I cannot go back to being a doctor, but over time can be a good therapist, enjoy it and be of value).
    To be able to contribute in that way is what I wish for everyone!

  63. 8little_paws says:

    Congrats to your family!
    I also have a young son, a bit younger than your 2, and I would like to hear more about 529s. I am concerned that he may not choose to go to college, and should we still put money in it then? How does one find the “sweet spot” of how much to put in it? We are pretty well set on an emergency fund and do have an investment fund, albeit modest.

  64. Erin says:

    Congratulations on Mr FWs retirement and mortgage clearing! I paid my mortgage off when I took early ill health retirement in my 40s two years ago. Your early blogs, particularly about the philosophy behind frugality underpinned our households efforts and helped to make my retirement possible. I even have a page in my journal of my favourite frugal woods quotes!!!
    I can’t thank you enough Liz.
    I’ve been re-reading some favourite blog posts recently, to see if we can make even more changes so my husband can retire a bit early at some point (though he’s already part time). I’d love to read more frugal philosophy from you in the future please, and perhaps more of your crowd sourced tips on areas outside of your personal experience. I’d personally like to read more on the FIRE side of things too – it’s very inspiring.
    Enjoy your family’s freedom….

  65. Julie Holmes says:

    Kudos! Your “new” life sounds as full, if not fuller, than pre-retirement and mortgage payoff.

    We’ve benefited from your blog, Moustache Money Man, and JL Collins’ book and the ACA to retire in our late 50s.

    In particular, JL Collins’ opened my eyes to investing our HSA money so it “works” as hard as our other investments.

    Having grown up in a family where talking money was taboo, I am so very grateful to you for your candor and kindness about all things money, community and caring.

    I look forward to reading about your family adventures and case studies.

    Here’s to continued learning and goodness and growth along the way!

  66. Jen says:

    Congratulations! It’s been awesome to watch your journey to FIRE. I’m interested in learning more about investing in real estate. I know yours came through a choice to rent out a previous home, but information about factors to weigh, how you anticipate expenses, and a safe profit margin, etc. would be great to hear from your perspective.

  67. laura S says:

    Could you possibly do an updated post on the Cambridge rental? Curious on longer term information, mortgage payoff/re-fi/flat rate property management/etc. Also, any lessons learned as the years have progressed and tenants have changed out.

  68. Michele Y says:

    Congrats on these major milestones. My husband and I dream of early retirement, and have fairly significant retirement savings accumulated already, but not sure how realistic it will be. And as far as mortgage payoff, it’s sort of my dream! although I know mathematically it may not always make sense, being totally debt-free is always top of mind for me.

    Some things I’d be interested in seeing more about: the health insurance piece (seems scary to me if not insured through your employer!); your take on college savings….are you investing with the hope of covering all costs for both girls, or simply saving/investing what you can to help offset, curious any assumptions you make about future costs?; and this one might be silly, but how do you actually spend/use your retirement savings when it comes time to do that??? (we just keep shoveling $$$ into these accounts, but I honestly don’t know how we leverage it later to actually use the money saved!).

  69. Meg says:

    Congratulations!! I’ve been following your blog for years and you’ve helped us so much on our financial journey. If you’re open to topics, something I definitely need help understanding is retirement savings, and all the different options. I have so many questions about my 401k, to rollover or not to rollover, IRAs, etc. Would gobble up any posts about those topics! Thanks for everything.

  70. Chrissy says:

    I think a great thing to talk about is the “golden handcuffs” and knowing when its time to give up a great paying job. Also another topic is working towards the goal to move from FT to PT work. This is something that is big with the pandemic, people realizing they are “wasting time” sitting in an office but still needing a pay cheque to pay the bills. Doing this change earlier in your life instead of working until you are 65 to enjoy life.

  71. Tim says:

    Congratulations to you both! From following your blog and reading your excellent book, I know you both dared to dream big and take well-managed risks to achieve your goals. I respect that you acknowledge your privilege but also understand that your hard work and intentional decision-making for years have led to these remarkable results. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that you’ll discuss your decision-making process as you select an ACA HealthCare Plan for 2022. I also really enjoy your posts about homesteading and can’t wait to learn what Mr. FW is going to build next!

  72. Elizabeth says:

    Congratulations to you both! For what it’s worth, I appreciate you writing about FIRE when you do. There are so few women in this space and having your blog as representation and you as a role model has been pivotal for me in my own journey. I’m sure you have been a role model not just to me but to many! Yes there is a lot of luck surrounding FIRE, but also many intentional decisions. I love hearing about your decision making processes in the philosophy-type articles. Keep doing what you do! 🙂

  73. Christopher Johnson says:

    Congrats on retiring early. It is a great accomplishment. I’m also glad you explained how interest rates and bond rates help determine if you pay off the mortgage early or not. In many countries a mortgage is much more expensive. For example here in Mexico 10-13% is a typical rate and bonds dropped over the last year to around 4% so a reader needs to consider rates in the country they live in to help make that decision. I’d also like to add that taxes and tax withholdings on interest and stock market returns (sales and dividends) should also be taken into consideration.

  74. Cynthia says:

    Congratulations on the amazing milestones! I stumbled across your blog during the early days of the pandemic and it brought a sense of calm, peace and grounding in my life. I love your family’s way of going into sustainable living (and might I add minimalism – something our planet needs) I would love to know in layman’s terms what one can do to start their journey of FIRE and how do you plan to know take care of expenses monthly now onwards. Also, how do we go about finding a “homestead”. We live in upstate NY and have two little boys and your blog is a source of happy inspiration towards a better calm life.

  75. Jodie Pillow says:

    Congrats! I love this for you!! I know ACA premiums are income based. How is income verified? Do they use the previous year’s tax return?

  76. Emily says:

    Congrats! I’d love to hear about how to raise kids who understand and value money but who aren’t just little consumers in the making! I find it a difficult balance.

  77. Carolanne says:

    How lovely! Congratulations to you all.
    Enjoy! 😊

  78. Linda Hughes says:

    Congratulations! What a great accomplishment.
    We had always planned to retire and start living life at 50. But as a work alcoholic, hubby just couldn’t cut that cord. US Steel made that decision for him, and what rollercoaster we have been on. It was 1 year in May he was layed off, he turned 62 in August, then recieved termination papers in November.
    After all the planning, that panic feeling still comes into play. He started looking for work at 62, I started trying to make him see “it it time.” He is just now realizing we are OK, that he never has to work except on our small 10 acre place.
    So, last month we took off to Destin to watch our oldest son propose to our beautiful future Daughter N Law. On the way we stopped at my middle sons house to play with 3 beautiful Foster Grand Babies. Then, at this moment, we are packing to Board Carnival Vista in Galveston, best of all, our Daughter is going to escort her elderly parents! LIFE IS GOOD
    I would be interested in how to make draws on IRA’s where it doesn’t hurt so much.
    You inspire with your writing, I hope you never stop.

  79. P says:

    I especially love updates on your garden but would also love to hear more about your hens and would greatly enjoy some more tips on how you spent your time on the homestead with your children.

  80. KP says:

    A hearty congratulations on this new life chapter! I also will not retire w/a mortgage. While we could pay it off today, it makes more sense to invest and put only the necessary excess to the principal to have it paid off in 4 years – our early retirement timeframe. 😉 Of interest:
    1. As others have suggested, health care. Hubby is covered for life by the VA, but he’d surely get supplemental. Then I’ll need something. This is the biggest financial concern for me with retiring early.
    2. Rental property. In theory, sure, it’s great to have (semi) passive income, but a post on things to consider would be interesting for many I’d think. If you purchase a rental property that’s only netting a couple hundred profit each month, you’re unlikely to be in a good spot given repairs, upkeep, etc. There’s also paying a property manager if you don’t plan to be nearby or don’t want the hassle, further eating into the profit. You and Mr. F really have a great situation given where your rental is located, but housing prices are insane in many areas and the numbers just don’t make sense.
    3. A post about retiring TO something. SO many people retire from work and think it’s going to be wonderful. After the honeymoon year, they get bored, have no purpose, nothing to get up for, etc and either go back to work or sink into depression. I’ve seen it personally with a few people close to me, but have read numerous accounts on the same. The idea of retiring to something seems to be where it’s at. Having ideas and, ideally, some things in motion at retirement make the transition easier. You and Mr. F, again, have this pretty nicely planned with your PT gig, kids, the homestead, volunteering, etc. There can be many other things to retire to, but I think those who think, “Oh, I’ll just spend years and years traveling” are probably not thinking it through unless they really do want to be nomads for a long time. 🙂 Usually it’s a combo of things, but having meaningful (to you) activities in your community are often very important. Could be volunteering, a fun PT job, athletic associations/endeavors, grandkids, gardening. whatever…

  81. Frugal Portland Gal says:

    Huge CONGRATS!! So happy for you! I love everything you write, but I agree with others that a deep dive into ACA health insurance and subsidies (or tax credits) would be very helpful to anyone under the age of 65 who wants to retire early. Also, a game changer for us was learning about 72t SEPP payments (Substantially Equal Periodic Payments) which allows withdrawals from IRA’s before the age of 59.5 without penalty. This allowed us to have peace of mind when we retired at 53 and 57.

  82. Ashley says:

    Congratulations! I have enjoyed reading your blog for years and I am so happy and inspired by your journey and how you share it with the world. I would love to read about your: homesteading stories; frugal philosophy and tips; advice on keeping active socially without a workplace community; new perspectives on things after achieving FIRE; what it means to be a “productive member of society” without working in a culture that prioritizes paid work. Thank you!

  83. Victoria says:

    I love your writing, and your posts and book have helped educate me and given me confidence to get index funds through Vanguard (in the UK). It was a lucky break in a way that March 2020 was when I got up the courage to do it, as while it was a pretty small amount, the current return rate looks fab and I have to keep telling myself that this is not normal 🙂

    I enjoy your posts on any subject. I wouldn’t want you to go completely reader case studies. To me you’re one of my safe internet spaces where I can feel comfortable, and you have one of the best comment spaces with knowledgeable and friendly people who are kind even when they disagree.

  84. Dean May says:

    What a wonderful post and a wonderful blog. I have followed your blog causally for a few years and always admired it, but have never commented. Congratulations on your achievements and for humbly acknowledging your privilege. So refreshing. I just retired at age 58 (June 30) after a 31 year career as a college professor and department head. Since the pandemic, I have had the luxury of teaching from home while wearing my suede slippers. Due to university budget constraints for the last several years and the pandemic, the university offered a year’s worth of salary and a health insurance credit to any long-term faculty and staff to retire. My plan was to retire at 60, but took this opportunity to retire now. I have worked hard since the age of 17 as a college student, graduate student, social worker, doctoral student, and professor/department head, yet I recognize the privilege of my life and the ability to retire “early” at 58. I wanted to have our mortgage paid before retiring, and could do that, but I am forcing myself to listen to my financial advisors and just keep making those mortgage payments at 2.625%. In any case, thank you so much for such a wonderful blog that is so genuine and full of integrity. Hey, our girls are 26 and 23. As you know, don’t blink, they grow up fast!

  85. Anthony Hanson says:

    Yes, I am very interested in a post about your family and the ACA process!

  86. Julia says:

    Congratulations to you and your family!! I’ve been following since the beginning and all you have shared has truly impacted my life and financial / frugal decisions in a huge way. I love your writing so much. Excited to see more reader case studies- absolutely love these. Also would love to hear more about your future journey with healthcare and ACA, also some future FIRE check in posts. Did things work out the way you thought? How unexpected life changes or expense might affect things, etc. and also just love the mix of all the content you put out- monthly expenses, homestead life, financial literacy.

  87. Kelli says:

    I would LOVE to hear about how you made your blog so successful. I’ve recently launched one and need all the tips I can get! Down to the nitty gritty details (web) and even the not so technical (how you grew!!). Love your posts. Thanks!!

  88. Cyn says:

    Congratulations! After hearing about all Mr Frugalwoods does “on the side”, I don’t know how he had time for his software job in the first place! 🙂 No one can argue that you two don’t work like mad!
    Thank you for acknowledging your privilege – so many of us take it for granted, so its important to recognize and think about often.

  89. Anne Sjobeck says:

    Woohoo! I’d love to read about how you are set up to bridge the gap between now and when you can draw down from 401k/Roth’s. We are trying to figure out how much we need to bridge the gap in brokerage accounts. Also, love hearing about what you are doing on the homestead and frugal wins!

  90. Cyn says:

    I wouldn’t mind hearing more about your rental property in future posts. Is that mortgage paid off too? Has maintenance on that old house been problematic?

  91. Perfectly Cromulent Name says:

    First off- congratulations! What wonderful achievements!

    And yes- PLEASE share your ACA journey. Health insurance is the one piece of the FIRE puzzle that we have not really figured out. ACA plans are pretty dang expensive in our state when we’ve looked into them unless you go for very high deductible plans, and both my husband and I have some health issues. Not crazy ones, but ones that are there. (And no, certain FIRE types- Barbells and bikes and salads would not magically cure these genetic health issues.) We are not willing to do healthshare ministries for a variety of reasons, or go without health insurance, so hearing what others have done is always VERY interesting to me!

  92. Dianne says:

    Congratulations to the Frugalwoods! Another goal reached! Don’t be so humble – you have lived frugal all these years with a common goal for your family. You have REACHED that goal! You, together with Mr.FW have done this on your own! BE proud! You certainly have put a lot of hard work into your life to this point!
    I, for one, just like following your daily life on the homestead. But, could you please update the family picture on your Blog? Also, love the pictures you post and the many faces of Littlewoods! She is such a stinker when it comes to photos! I love her expressions, such a personality, she definitely will be keeping you on your toes! And she is getting so tall! Kidwoods reminds me of my oldest daughter when she was her age!

    Congratulations and frugal on!

  93. LB says:

    Big congratulations to your family!!!
    I would like to read more about how signing up for health insurance thru ACA goes. I’d also like to read about how people develop a side gig or second career interest especially one that can involve working from home. I am intimidated about finding something purposeful to do post FI and exploring jobs with flexibility (such as you have and your husband had) that would fit a post FI lifestyle.

  94. Petra says:

    Congratulations! I also love being FIRED. It takes planning, persistence, and a little selflessness. But the end pay off is awesome. Though FIRE was not around when I made this my goal, it is basically what I did. Thank you both for sharing the idea and knowledge. Give up lots of stuff and live your best life! 65, single, and still loving it.

  95. Smiley says:

    Congrats to Mr. FW’s retirement!

    Like others, I was also surprised that you mentioned ACA insurance as if in passing (or flippantly I must say).
    Health insurance in the USA is the BIGGEST hurdle and plays a tremendous role in anyone’s FIRE decision. Of course, you’ll be fine in 2022 due to Biden’s ‘2-year gift’ (for 2021 & 2022) of not being thrown off the ‘cliff’, but if the gov’t doesn’t come up with a sticky solution it will be a see-saw situation whenever government changes or when the current gov’t ‘forgets’ its obligation and push people to the ‘cliff’ again.

    I’m sure your readers would love to read your research and analysis and how you finalize your choice for an ACA plan in November. Then they can piggyback with your provided knowledge about the health plan in your state and do a similar analysis for their own state. The shared information carries the most power IMO. How much cash should a family of four always keep on hand for the health (and dental/vision) when they’re FIRE’d that young?

    Once the mortgage was paid off and your husband retired, what cash cushion will you keep (in addition to the health ‘bucket’ above)? I’m not asking for the exact # LOL, but does the same formula apply like working (6 months of expenses) or should there be a more rigorous assessment or calculation in the FIRE land? Since we are both still working I haven’t paid attention how people do it, but now as I am slowly considering of bowing out of my job, I should start thinking. If my DH remains employed, it’s great, but what if he gets up one morning and proclaims he’s done too? So, I’d rather start planning for both adults FIRE’ing (and no additional work income like blogging, writing, etc.).

    Thanks

    • Frugal Portland Gal says:

      Anne,
      Be sure to research/understand the IRA rule 72t SEPP payments which were truly a game changer in our retirement plan. It seems complex but truly is not.

  96. Dominic says:

    Congratulations on being retired and paying off the mortgage! If you are interested in beekeeping for next season, you should probably start just about now. Ask around about nucs, because they sell out fast. And winter is a great time to build hives, frames, and learn about bees to be ready in the spring.

  97. Erika Isaacs says:

    What an exciting year for the Frugalwoods! I for one will be very interested to hear about your experience with the ACA marketplace and which health plan you end up choosing. One of the biggest (probably the biggest) concerns we have with early retirement is the cost of health insurance premiums.

  98. Bonnie says:

    Congratulations on your early retirement!!! And I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read someone who acknowledges that what they have accomplished is not feasible for many (maybe most). Most of us don’t have the capacity to pull down the salaries that you two did (I’m still amazed at what you earned working for a non-profit; here they pay poorly unless you’re the executive director.) So many of these FIRE blogs are written by people who have no idea they “were born on third base,” as the expression goes. It’s one thing I have always appreciated about your blog. I have learned so much from your frugal experiences and it has inspired me in many ways in my own life. I’m so happy for you!

  99. Shannon says:

    I definitely want to see what you’re paying every month for health care for a family of 4 under the ACA. It’s a big turnoff for me to leaving my job before I qualify for Medicare. I personally would love to see you read The Tightwad Gazette and compare their FIRE journey to your own. It’d be very interesting, and I have the books and don’t live very far away!

  100. Julia says:

    Congrats! I’ve really enjoyed your blog over the years, especially the case studies! I love when people have good questions to ask you but honestly would love to just see people’s financial situations and hear about their journeys without the necessity of having questions. I just love reading about everyone’s different situations- what they do for work, their goals, where they live, etc. My husband and I have talked about wanting to submit a case study but then realize that we don’t actually have any questions to ask!

  101. Kyla K Block says:

    Congratulations!!!!!!! This is a big accomplishment, and yes, you are privileged, BUT you also worked hard and earned this place in life. Both can be true. Life is complex. You and Mr. FW could have made millions of different choices in your lives and I hope his coworkers who attended his presentation on frugal living all those years ago can appreciate the fruits of those teachings now that he has retired. Also, it takes a lot of courage to retire from a well paying, meaningful job with great benefits and THAT might be the hardest part – especially with young kids. Still, you two will have no problems filling your time and I look forward to reading all about it. I’ve been reading since you started the blog and I found you through a comment on MMM. Keep up the great and inspiring work.
    P.S. It’s a compliment to you blog how many commentators are asking what FIRE is. They are clearly here for the chickens!

  102. Rachel says:

    I love that you always acknowledge the privilege of being able to be on a FIRE journey! Congrats to your family for achieving this milestone. I actually am interested in topics like mortgage payoffs – it seems that being mortgage free does eliminate, for many of us, a significant expense each month that we would otherwise have to count toward the amount of income we would need in retirement. In general, I actually do like learning more about investing, ethical investing, how to hedge against sequence of return risks, the ACA L, etc. Maybe topics like how to craft meaningful lives after financial independence, maybe featuring the journeys of others not just on the path in case studies but who have already made it and are doing cool things in early retirement? Or living abroad?

  103. Tracy Davis says:

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. It’s especially a awesome that Mr. FW can retire while your kids are so young. I of course will keep reading anything you have to say! I’m super interested in where you go with the ACA and if you’ve ever explored medical expense sharing instead, such as MediShare. Another topic – are nearing retirement age but behind on saving for retirement and a little low on emergency savings with no plans to retire soon. We also own a house (no mortgage) that is suddenly in the million dollar range with the crazy market. So seems like we’ve done things a little backwards!

  104. AJ says:

    Congratulations!!!

    What are your thoughts on paying off mortgages early on rental properties? Have you paid your rental property mortgage off? If not do you intend to pay it off early or keep the mortgage? We’re debating paying off a rental mortgage early, it has a higher interest rate (4%) and lower principal amount than our residence. We could also move into if we ever have an emergency. Psychologically, we would feel better if we owned at least one home outright, but it seems silly to pay off a rental property when the tenants are essentially paying the mortgage for us. First world problems!

    I really enjoy reading your blog because it couples personal finance and family life with young kids. Some of my favorite things about your blog are that it’s well written, professional, thoughtful and interesting. I also love that you seem so authentic and real. Regarding content, I really enjoy your frugal tips (especially with kid oriented items), your parenting adventures and your spending reports. I’d love to hear more about how you keep the kids occupied (frugal activities?) and your plans for teaching the kids about money.

  105. Elizabeth says:

    Congratulations! I noticed that the one common denominator of topics for the blog has to do with health insurance. In 2013 I read a long article regarding healthcare called The Bitter Pill written by Steven Brill for Time magazine . It made a huge impression on me. It was informative, factual and most importantly delved into the intricacies of the healthcare industry and the misinformation that is pushed out for reasons other than getting people affordable health care. It is usually public relations and political motivation but also an uniformed citizenry. I strongly recommend it if you haven’t already read it. One example is the people most affected by a catastrophic illness or accident are middle class homeowners. Unexpected high medical bills resulting in financial hardship, not having the money to pay them often land in the hands of collection companies where the courts stand behind them. Healthcare is convoluted and confusing often by design. That being said demystifying the ACA would be useful and helpful.

    My favorite thing about your blog is the writing. It is fun, self-deprecating, informative, inspirational and positive. I remember laughing so hard until tears rolled down my face reading about the time you took your kids to a Christmas service. You are a gifted writer with an endless supply of topics to write about. Also your photography is excellent. You have my vote on keeping this blog going until you feel you’re done. Thanks for the consistent high quality content year in and year out. You rock!

  106. PennyP says:

    Congratulations on paying off the mortgage and Mr FW retiring early. It’s a great feeling and as others have said it’s not all about money. For posts please could you write more about frugality and sustainability/ green choices. Sometimes these things correspond but not always and there can be difficult choices to make. How do you balance planet and purse?

  107. Kate says:

    Check out healthshares for healthcare coverage. Mr Money Mustache semi-recently did a big post all about it. We recently switched to a healthshare+direct primary care practice, and so far it’s been great and super affordable.

  108. Iris says:

    Congrats, Liz! I have loved following your journey.

    Re: health care. Ya’ll will do fine on the ACA. We’re a family of 5 and we’ve done it all: pre-ACA, private health insurance, W-2 corporate insurance, health sharing ministry, and now we’re back on the ACA. As long as you stay under the cliff, your subsidies are yours to keep. We do this by 1. Using a CPA for our small businesses and keeping a very close eye on our estimated MAGI 2. Keeping a buffer of cash we can deploy into retirement accounts if we need to lower our MAGI (see #1) and 3. Using a local health insurance broker to help us select the right ACA plan for our family. He also sold us accident insurance for $30 per month….and we just used it for the first time with a child who broke a bone, needed surgery and OT and PT. Every out of pocket dollar will be reimbursed. Maybe something to consider for your fam as well too.

  109. Marlies says:

    What I enjoy reading about are your personal stories. Especially detailed things which inspire me to make changes to my own life. For example I loved how you described emptying the big barn/shed. And how not saving everything was a good thing in this case. Or how you grow your vegetables or have chemo selzer. I also enjoy recognizing the care-for-the-environment angle a lot!

  110. Glenna says:

    Congratulations! I would love to hear what insurance plan you pick. We are looking at retiring not so early but earlier than most.

  111. Mary says:

    Congratulations on the exciting! Adding another suggestion for future articles – you mentioned a couple of months ago about the evolution in your approach to skin care. I would love to hear more about that in the future.

  112. Lenia Scanlon says:

    Congrats!
    It might be interesting for you to research and write about minimizing the present and future taxes you have to pay, particularly after retirement, but also during the working years. We thought we retired with a nice nest egg, but we’re going to have to be very strategic to minimize the tax hit on our withdrawals.

  113. Based on what I see your monthly expenses without a mortgage run roughly $2400 or so a month or say $30,000 per year, can that be right? Did you base your FIRE assets on something like that amount for the next 40+ years plus inflation?

    Does your rental property generate a net cash flow after taxes, mortgage and maintenance? Do you rely on that income as part of your FIRE strategy?

    When you compared paying off the mortgage you seem to have used bonds as the alternative rather than stocks long term returns say 8% annually. Do you see yourselves as conservative investors?

  114. Rob says:

    Congratulations to you both! You have done a great thing for your children, in providing them with the gift of this lifestyle – so much healthier, both physically & mentally. They will be learning so much more by living in the country, keeping themselves occupied, & not being caught up in the acquisitiveness of many children’s thinking. Well done!!

  115. Rob says:

    I would love you to continue sharing snippets of your life, such as the maple process – it is always so interesting, & the photos are great, too.

  116. Tom Just Tom says:

    I just appreciate you and what you do for those of us on the Internet. Reading your posts helps me remember to take a deep breath and stay calm. 🙂

    With the exception of the multiple degrees part, the case study you linked to could have been written about me! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  117. Paul says:

    As the myriad before me, a huge heart felt congratulations. I, too, enjoy your writing, humor, and finance insights and recommendations.

    A fantastic beans and rice recipe, yes please. Please post.

    The real estate ongoing challenges would be of interest.

    As someone who is contemplating what next, Mr. FW’s journey will be of interest.

  118. J says:

    Congratulations to you and Mr. FW for reaping the fruits of all your labor! As far as blog topics, I LIVE for your monthly This Month on the Homestead Series. I’m in that annoying “primarily auto-pilot waiting for time to do its thing” stage of FI, and I’ve become more and more interested in native/pollinator gardening. I do continue to grow some food plants, though. It’s always interesting to hear what you guys are up to. You mentioned needing to mulch under your strawberries to get better yields, so I took some fallen maple leaves and threw them in a bed where I had a strawberry plant and actually got some fruit this year. Tiny fruits, but better than the no fruits I was getting before. After getting an education on what it takes to make real maple syrup I don’t immediately go into cardiac arrest when I see syrup prices anymore. I’m actually ok with spending a bit more on real maple syrup, especially if it is made in the US (like Vermont). Maybe if we weren’t so disconnected from our food sources and all the risk and hard work that goes into it we might not take things for granted so often (myself included here). I now appreciate a good bottle of amber maple syrup or local honey more than I do a new seasonal color of lipstick.

  119. Jess says:

    Well done, Frugalwoods! I have really enjoyed your content and appreciate your perspective. Congratulations on the fruits of your labor.

  120. KnoxPatch says:

    Well. Done. You two!

    Your posts are delightful, thoughtful, humble, and well written.

    My two cents:
    1. What about interviewing some of the case study participants? I’d like to know how the community’s and your advice affected their decision making. What worked? What changed? What did they do differently? What key changes made a positive difference in reaching their goals?

    2. How to raise children in a transaction- and consumption-based society. We think we did okay but ours are 28 and 25 so social media was just ramping up during their younger years.

    3. From my point of view, a lot of your success comes from the unity you’ve created with each other. A lot of couples don’t make the transition from ‘mine’ to ‘ours’. You’ve gone through good times and tough times; post parturition depression comes to mind. I’d love a post on the values – traditional or not so trad – that got you to this radically different outcome known as FIRE.

    And please keep writing. ❤️

  121. Brittany says:

    Congratulations! Enjoy investing your time and resources back into your family, land, and community.

  122. A huge congratulations to you guys! That’s amazing!

    A few posts I would like to see:

    – I read The Simple Path to Wealth at your recommendation (thank you, btw!), and his chapter on exactly HOW to withdraw the 4% each year was a little confusing for me because of how it lined up with tax law and minimum withdrawals and such. Especially because we’re hoping to have my husband be able to retire by 50, I would be curious about the logistics behind how you actually withdraw your 3.5% now AND also how you plan to continue to do so in the future. I’m hoping you could make the process make a bit more sense since you’re so good with explaining things in a simple way!

    – As your girls get older, do you have any plans to enroll them in any extracurriculars, or are you just seeing what interests them as the years go by and just playing it by ear? I would love some general thoughts on that, as well as any ways to make those things more frugal, if possible.

    – I’d love a post on energy efficiency and frugality, if it applies. I know you did the solar, but have you made any other updates to your home for energy efficiency? We live in a home built in the 1920’s and are definitely needing to replace some of the windows and other such things. I’m curious as to the cost/benefit analysis of that process.

    Thanks for all your inspiration, and I wish you all the happiness in this next chapter!

    • AW says:

      I am also interested in Mrs. FW’s thoughts on extracurriculars. Her kids are still pretty young. I didn’t think paid extracurriculars were that important in preschool years, except maybe swim lessons. My kids are 7 and 11 and I feel extracurriculars are important to expose school age kids to different experiences than just school. Some activities are free – e.g. our school district offers optional instrumental music from 4th grade. Some are relatively inexpensive- my 7 year old is doing soccer through a community organization and it’s $165 for the whole season – twice a week for 3.5 months. But my 11 year old started doing competitive dance this year and it’s $$$. She loves it and really wanted to do it. She’s asked to do it in previous years and I felt she wasn’t ready for the commitment but this year she is more serious about it. I think there are benefits to doing competitive dance vs the cheaper and less time consuming recreational dance. It’s teamwork, commitment, working toward a goal. I danced as a kid (and still do) and I have great memories. I think for me it’s worth the money as long as we can afford it and she is enjoying it. I’m not going to force my kids to do pricey activities they are not excited about. I see parents do this all the time with stuff like piano lessons. The kid hates it but the parent really wants the kid to do it so you are paying lots of money and having to fight with your kid all the time. No, thanks.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        We’re just now getting into the extracurricular phase with Kidwoods (who is in Kindergarten this year). She did swim lessons over the summer and is in soccer this fall. Swim was $150 for two sessions and soccer is $45 for the season. We waited to start anything until Kindergarten and so far, this seems like the right age for her–she’s engaged and enjoys it. We’re also planning to do skiing this winter, which through our school is $90 for the season. All that to say, we’re taking it one season and one sport at a time and we’ll just see how it goes :).

  123. EB says:

    Congratulations to you all!

    I know you mentioned not wanting this to be the focus, but something I’ve never quite understood is what it actually LOOKS like to withdraw from your investments once you are retired and at that step. I get the withdrawal rate, I get the theory that your tax bracket is lower, etc., but what are the actual mechanics of getting it done? How do you do it?! I’d be interested to read about that.

  124. Brittany says:

    Congratulations!!!

    For future posts, my FAVORITES are the “Frugalwoods philosophy” posts. I also agree with more in depth follow ups on the case studies.

  125. SpaceDoc says:

    You did not mention the appreciation on your land, which will accelerate over time, and with the impacts of climate change. Prime rural land will become ever more valuable as time goes on.

  126. James W Day says:

    FW & Mr. FW 1000 congratulations!!!!!!! you guys are soooooooooooo awesome and inspiring- makes me wnat to give you our finances!

    I am especially looking forward to the health care question being answered as my wife Kathy and I feel so many people are “stuck” because of
    fear of not having any healthcare. Many in our circle of friends buy into the myth that one must work till 67 in order to have Medicare coverage.. and they keep moving the goal line back!

  127. Geof says:

    Congrats! Post topics for the future, and beyond:
    1. Farm Life
    2. VT Life (love hearing about your community)
    3. Expense reports
    4. Follow-up to the retirement post (Whats changed? What is different? Any regrets? Anything you’d do different?)
    5. Cooking and canning!
    6. Everything Frugal!

    Loved following your blog the past few years.

  128. Sarah says:

    Congratulations!! We’re in the final stretches of paying off our mortgage as well, dreaming of the days when we can retire early!!

  129. KathyE says:

    Medicare for All is the answer to the insurance question !

    • Laura Marie villotta says:

      Hoping they lower Medicare age to 60. This would be the greatest game changer in healthcare! I hear it being tossed around in Congress. Just turning 50 this year I am hoping to retire at 62.

  130. Christie KW says:

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage and to Mr. Frugalwiods’ retirement! I’d love to hear about anything you’d like to share.

    I’d also like to add to NOT be embarrassed to be financially independent. You’ve both worked incredibly hard for a long time to make that happen. Celebrate it! You’re role models for us all!

  131. Rebecca says:

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage early & in your husbands’ retiring from “traditional” work. That is excellent news. I find it funny to say retiring, when you have a homestead that requires work for each and every season. I’m very happy you both are continuing to pursue what you value most. It makes my heart sing.

  132. Karina says:

    Congratulation to Mr Frugalwoods, and also for all of your family. Love your family fotos with all the lucky smiles.

    And just because you asked about pur preferences- I miss you philosophical thoughts. Hard numbers are fine, but I love your blog because of the thougths you shared with us.

  133. Allie says:

    Congrats! I’m 100% interested in hearing more about the insurance. I’ve been freelance for most of my career, so I know how much of a bear paying for it on your own can be. As much as FIRE appeals to me, the insurance element is definitely my biggest concern/question as to how it works practically.

  134. Crew Dog says:

    Wow! Big transitions! Congrats on paying off the homestead and on retirement.

  135. Angela says:

    This was so joyful to read! Huge congratulations to you and Mr F.

    I’d love to hear more in the future about Mr’s F’s retirement. I totally get you on the embarrassment thing – we are mortgage free too (almost unheard of in my country at our age, we’re a similar age to you and Mr F) due to savings, dumb luck with shares and very sadly, inheritance. The peace of mind it gives me to own our house freehold is priceless, but are hugely cognizant of our privilege.

  136. Skeeeeeuuup!! Congrats twin! We too FIREd earlier in the year, like you, of course 🙂 So exciting! Enjoy being “bored” in retirement.

  137. Jane says:

    You had a really interesting comment in one of your posts the other day about accounting for climate change during FIRE. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. Also, how to cultivate new interests outside the workforce. We’re pretty frugal but I’ve never initiated my husband in FIRE because he thinks the actual day-to-day of being retired early always sounds so dreary in a lot of FIRE blogs. And I think there is something to that, given the documented struggles and mental health challenges of traditional retirees who feel adrift after quitting.

  138. Kristina says:

    Congratulations!!! Enjoy your precious time together!!

  139. Diane says:

    40 year fixed rate hone loan? We can only dream of that in Australia….5 years is the maximum fixed rate I could find

  140. Congratulations. We too were on a journey to payoff the house before we achieved FIRE, but a new promotion and move to California have made us rethink our goal. For now we will stock more in our brokerage while paying the mortgage at a slower pace. Congrats again.

  141. Jay says:

    So Great that you are choosing to enjoy yourself without the burden of work.
    You dont need to apologize! I dont think you are lucky or more fortunate at all!
    The thing I love about the FIRE movement is that is accessible to ALL.
    Vikki’s book (ymoyl) all those years ago inspired us to do it and we were started at minimum wage and worked up to $20hr.
    It took us a bit longer than you but it wasnt luck, it was years of walking to work, eating reasonably and enjoying the journey along the way.
    I hope you enjoy your new journey, you have earned it.

  142. JulieinVermont says:

    You definitely need to have things you want to do in retirement! My husband spends summers golfing ,winters volunteering doing taxes for low income folks, and he has a show on a community radio station, a lifelong dream of his. I garden extensively and have a post retirement job from Jan to May.
    I’ve been semi retired for 10 years and have not regretted it. Retiring isn’t about doing nothing, it’s about doing what you want to do.

  143. Kathryn Marroquin says:

    Congratulations to you and your family! That is fantastic!
    -Kathryn M

  144. CKW says:

    Congrats! You two have accomplished so much and kept your humor and humility, no small feats by any count. I’m curious how you guys handle church membership and tithing/offerings. That was a big part of my family’s budget growing up and, if you care to share, it would be interesting to hear about the intersection of those obligations and your other charitable giving (or can you give to your church from your DAF?). As others have mentioned, it will be neat to hear about managing educational/activity/other crazy kid expenses for the girls as they grow, and of course about chickens and other animal shenanigans. Your husband’s building projects are always of interest – perhaps he could guest blog about how he thinks about/designs things? The woodshed and coops are both beautiful and functional. Love your writing and looking forward to following along for years to come!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! To answer your question: yes, we make our church donations through our Donor Advised Fund, which works really well. I’ve asked my husband to write about his building projects but he demurs… I’ll try again to convince him 🙂

  145. Nancy says:

    Congratulations, Frugalwoods! So glad Mr. FW will be able to devote himself full-time to the incredible amount of work he does on your homestead.

    I love your philosophy articles and would love a presentation of how you are addressing keeping the girls from that “entitlement” vibe which is so prevalent in children. You have no reason to be ashamed for the solid debt-free beginning which your parents provided for you, and yet you are apologetic for it, so it must be something which you think about in regards to how you will train your girls. We’d love to hear your thoughts and plans and how you execute at their young ages right now.

    Keep writing, Liz! We love hearing about your homesteading!

    • Tom M. says:

      Liz: Congratulations on paying off your mortgage and FIRE.

      Please be very careful about your decisions concerning healthcare. My wife was a teacher (and younger than me) and was intending to work a few more years with good health insurance covering both of us. I retired early at 57 and within a year and a half my wife contracted brain cancer and died in 6 months. I was able to get COBRA through the school system for awhile but ultimately had to go out into the marketplace and buy my own health insurance at about $700 a month. But without her insurance, her illness would have cost me $750k which would have wiped me out financially. I am 70 now, work part time and collect Social Security. I take 2% of my investments to make ends meet. I am grateful for what I have. No one likes to think of catastrophic illnesses but unfortunately they can happen to any of us. Just make sure you have good health insurance for you and you family.

  146. Liz says:

    Congratulations! What great news for your family. I’d love to hear more about the ACA plan, your approach to saving for college, and also whether you have long-term care insurance if you ever need more to write about!

  147. Michelle says:

    We retired early as we had planned . We have been using a health share for hospital (in the $1200 range per year) and a doctor, who does not take medical insurance, but charges $120/month per family. You can see her as many times as needed per month. Rx’s are given to us by the doctor at cost plus 10% or GoodRx if she cannot get what we need. The health share reimburses us $60 per month for the doctors fee. However, the health share takes a very long time, 6 months or more, to get any type of reimbursements back. We sometimes have to travel an hour away for tests, x-rays, etc. It is doable but not convenient. If we had know one of us would have stayed working to keep the medical insurance. I have four more years until I can receive Medicare. We have been using the health share for four years.

  148. Susan O'Donnell says:

    First of all, congratulations to Mr FW on his accomplishment. We too retired “early”(59), and had to sign up for the ACA. If you earn under a certain amount($64K in NY as a couple), you can qualify for a subsidy. If not, you are in for a shock. We considered ourselves healthy and signed up for the catastrophic plan, and, well, you know what happened. Not quite a catastrophe but a surgery that was unplanned that will cost us $7K. So be very, very careful choosing your plan. We too are privileged in the sense that we saved and are frugal, so we didn’t face a catastrophe. Next year, we will be paying almost $2k/month, as our income is going to increase, for the same catastrophic plan. You will find healthcare will be your biggest expense. Let’s all hope for Medicare for All-because we truly don’t have healthcare in this country. PS-Your kiddos can probably get free health care through the state if it’s anything like NY. Enjoy your retirement! You won’t regret it.

  149. MrBojangles says:

    Now that Nate has retired, can he/you write about the path to and into ActBlue? I would find it interesting to read. A sort of “how to” for younger readers. And for me, at least something of interest to read. What you guys did was my plan but I stumbled horribly out of the starting gate. Yes, with degree in hand, the plan was a high paying job-corporate or non profit. The latter I would have never considered except ActBlue pays well and is a non profit. I had no real connections and took a moderate paying job working in the public sector.

    Congratulations, of course. You are an inspiration!

  150. Cath says:

    Congratulations!
    I am wondering about healthcare and ACA too. I tried to get quotes but it seems impossible. I live in Colorado. I keep heading horror stories because I work in healthcare. Health insurance the ONLY reason I continue to work. I would love to break free!

  151. Ben D says:

    The Frugalwoods are mortgage-free and retired at 37! Go Curry Cracker just paid cash for a “seven figure” home near Sacramento! I’m feeling like such a schmuck, lol! I didn’t feel confident transitioning to ER until after 24-years of dedicated saving and investing, I hit my portfolio target “sweet spot”, at age 52. Then I sold my home and downsized to a small 1-bedroom apartment, paid cash for a good-quality used car and started my ER chapter. Nothing glamorous or exciting here. Just living a much lower stress life now and trying to appreciate even the simplest of pleasures. Kudos to those who have been fortunate enough to transition to FIRE much earlier in life. Wishing all the best to the Frugalwoods.

  152. Suzanne says:

    As someone who is 55 and helping the next generation, I would hate for them to refuse my help because they think it isn’t fair. Yes, they are lucky to have older relatives who are willing and capable of helping, but it’s been a step up every generation. My father sold cucumbers door to door as a child while his sisters sold sweet peas to raise extra money for their family – they were quite poor and often hungry. It gave him great joy to be able to feed his family, I still remember his smile at the dinner table, and then to help us succeed more than he did. And now I experience that same joy. While I wanted the “kids” (now grownup) to value hard work (I intentionally owned my own business so they could work beside me and know exactly where the money came from), I am also so glad that they will let me help them now (yes, I also give to charity and have “adopted” an older man who has no kids and relies on me and my sister). Yes, it’s good to know that others need help, and to provide that help. But it’s also a gift to the world to be a happy person who can enjoy having “made it.” The goal is for all of us to achieve lives of meaning and basic security. If you have done that, congratulations! Even as you help others to join you, please be kind to yourselves and enjoy what you have achieved.

  153. Len says:

    Congrats on achieving your FIRE goal! While it’s not my personal goal (nearing 60 with no intention to stop doing what I love), I’m appreciative of the planning and diligence that is common to any successful life plan, and for your clarity in describing your family’s approach to the process. If I may provide 2 cents of observation from someone 20 years further down the path, it would be to continue to seek engagement and meaning. Today it might be getting the kids bathed, fed, and off to school, but in the blink of an eye they’ll be off to college and beyond. Best to continue making, and revising, plans, knowing that the best laid plans sometimes go awry. But in the meantime, certainly seems worth celebrating your accomplishment!

  154. Vic says:

    Congrats on paying off the home and the early retirement. We, too, paid off our mortgage in June and I retired in July.

  155. Victoria says:

    Congratulations to Mr FW! Excited to follow you on the next phase of your journey 🙂

  156. Lauren says:

    Congratulations at reaching the goal you set. Now you can enjoy your dream homestead!

  157. E says:

    Congratulations! WOW! How did you celebrate those two huge achievements?

    Maybe my questions are too personal, if so just ignore them.
    What I would like to read more about is how has your family, siblings, in-laws etc., friends and coworkers reacted to your frugal choices?
    How open have you been about your goals? And progress towards those goals?
    In my experience going for a frugal option in a consumeristic society can feel very lonely. (FYI I don’t live in the USA, but in Europe but I don’t think it is a big difference when it comes to the focus on consuming.)
    I quickly took a glance at the https://www.frugalwoods.com/2018/10/03/reader-suggestions-how-to-save-money-while-raising-teenagers-and-teach-them-financial-lessons-in-the-process/
    article and I realised that I am not ready to send my child to preschool with a hole in the clothes. Not that I think it is something inherently wrong with is but because of fear that other people (parents and staff) would judge me and my family because of that. As a single parent I feel extra easily judged. -So how to be strong to choose frugality anyway?

    Has any friend or sibling been inspired and changed course in their life?

    Your husbend and you seem to be very much on the same page.
    I was wondering if you could do an article about what to do if two partners have different outlooks. Even if both say they want to reach fire perhaps there might be differences on the time frame to reach fire is as soon as possible or more enjoy life here and now?
    Or different interests, perhaps one partner want to splurge on (electronic) gadgets constantly or have an expensive hobby and the other partner can’t say no to wishes from the children? etc.

    How do you inspire a not so financially interested partner to take grater care about the money? Or is this impossible if you are not on the same page from the beginning?

    What to do if two partners have different income to not build resentment. Are combined accounts always the best? Does a higher salary validate a higher amount of splurge money? Any pitfalls?

    Frugal choices for single parents. (It does seem easier to reach fire if you are two people splitting the rent. With a child I am not starting to live with a room mate. What options are there?)

    I love the reader case stories too!

    • Terre Tulsiak Tulsiak says:

      There is no reason to send kids with holes in their clothes (unless they choose that lol) because so many thrift stores, exchanges, and swaps are out there.

  158. Mary P says:

    Congrats to you and Mr. FW! You mentioned the evolution of your skin care routine. I would love to hear more about that in a future post, and get thoughts from this community about how to take good care of your skin in frugal ways.

  159. Cavin Cunningham says:

    I’m still very concerned for you regarding health insurance. All it takes is one incident to knock you off your budget, and find out the plan isn’t all you thought it would be. (Robin Cook just wrote a cautionary tale about criminals in the hospital and insurance business that hit home)

  160. Dave says:

    Congrats on Mr. FW retiring! Great post. My wife and I paid off our mortgage early last year. From a purely mathematical standpoint it was the wrong decision. From an emotional standpoint it was the best decision ever!

    • Maria says:

      Amen, congratulations! Me too I paid it off in July, from a mathematical stand point, wrong decision, feeling I have everyday, since, priceless!

  161. Jean says:

    Congratulations on mortgage payoff and retirement of Mr FW. We too have no debt and are retired, not early retired, but still retired. Both are wonderful feelings. Enjoy your life. You have both worked hard and deserve it. Too many people are not willing to work hard at jobs or sacrifice “the purchase of stuff” to save and get ahead in life. Early on we did a lot to repair and take care of our home and autos. A funny thing we did when we had very little money was try to change out a water pump on an old mercury cougar. We worked for hours trying to remove and replace a new one. We ended up with 2 extra screws left over after installing it and that did not work out well when we cranked it and it was around 2 am and we both had to be at our jobs at 6 am. We both said to H*** with it and went to bed. We pulled it with a chain hooked to the other car down the street to the service station along with the 2 extra screws to have them finish the job. At least we tried!! Most projects went well, physically hard but worth the savings. We also did things together which is the really big reward. Now we happily pay someone else to do those things!!

  162. Annie R. Hi says:

    Congrats on the big milestones!
    I went to echo the comments of a few other people here and say I would love articles even if it’s a Q&A interview with somebody about dealing with elder care, long-term care, college costs while helping aging parents… Long-term care is the giant looming threat to so many of us. Whether it’s our own or that of a loved one.

  163. Maria says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! So well deserved! You guys rock, enjoy every minute, I will be retiring at 54, God willing, and feel blessed!

  164. Isa says:

    Well….. I didn’t get a single thing you said about the money rates and etc, and I can’t relate to the health insurance thing, since I’m Canadian. But one thing I can say : paying off the house gives an amazing sense of freedom, and I’m not talking about money so much as just knowing that it’s “”done””. We might have done it backwards, investing all the extra money (after REEE and REER) on the house, but at 39, and hubby being 35, the house was paid off. And now we are putting more into savings. We also each have a pension plan at work, so this helps for the future. We won’t live rich when we retire (me in 15 years, hubby in 20), but we are frugal and money smart so we’ll be comfortable, I hope.

  165. Chris says:

    Congratulations!
    In terms of topics, it would be great to see an update on the topic of the cost of city vs country living. It’d be interesting to learn whether, now that some of the up-front costs of setting up a homestead have been taken care of, country living is more comparable to your city dwelling expenses.

  166. Joseph says:

    Happy dance! Happy dance! 😀
    Congrats to the two of you on making these two WINS happen!

  167. eric says:

    We have used ACA for our family of 4 for 9+ years of self employment. it takes time to research and switched from year to year. we have finally for the last 3 years had the same plan and that is so much easier. we own rental properties for the bulk of our income and do not “show” much income on our taxes. this keeps ACA subsidies high and costs down. our kids qualify for state medicaid which is honestly better than private insurance we had in past that was $1,400+/month as family. given your passion for research and comparison shopping I think you will find a great solution. we are very happy with our plan and pay $48/month as a family. planning to draw as little income as possible from investments while living off of writing and rental income will keep your costs down. at first we were not sure how we felt about subsidy as we had never taken government assistance but upon reviewing our taxes and financials realized we pay $25,000+ in real estate taxes a year on our rentals that pays for roads, schools etc. we pay $20,000+ in sales tax on repairs and renovations, and we provide a livelihood for 10+ local tradespeople. tax strategy and income planning can be fair for all in the balance. we had to find our peace within having high net worth yet receiving government subsidies on insurance due to low income. I would be curious to hear your ethical take on this because it is one of the ultimate privileges to have such abundance be able to manipulate income for optimal tax strategy.

  168. Lisa says:

    Congratulations to you and to your family. I enjoy reading about other people’s path to fulfilling their dreams. Your posts has been inspiring!

    I would most like to hear about life post retirement. I’m sure that you all will be plenty busy. There is this perception that there is no life post retirement. Also, I am interested in reading how you navigate medical insurance.

  169. weoop says:

    Please do write about how to navigate ACA healthcare coverage! Employer-sponsored health insurance is the only thing keeping me tied to working.

  170. CMD says:

    Here’s a somewhat provocative comment about FIRE, and I would definitely be interested in seeing some posts and discussions about these issues.
    I’m not deep into the FIRE blogosphere, but one aspect I notice is the borderline obsession with minimizing taxes to the extreme. Obviously this makes sense on the individual level, but i think the general anti-tax obsession from some parts of our society feeds anti-government attitudes. And the bottom line is that as a collective we need taxes to fund public goods. I think COVID makes this clear in so many different ways – we need to be able to sufficiently (even generously) fund basic science research, healthcare, public health, childcare, climate change mitigation, and basic education (civics, information literacy, critical thinking) among so many other things . Individual charitable donations are great, but they are not a substitute for taxes to fund essential social/public goods and services. So I think a lot of FIRE personalities discuss privilege, but then how can you also work to dismantle systems that create and sustain that privilege? These systems are often directly in opposition to funding the types of programs I listed.
    And then another aspect of the tax minimizing obsession is just how ethical are some of these strategies? Like, yes, they are legal and savvy, but are they truly ethical?
    I love Frugalwoods, and I am not raising these issues to diminish your or anyone’s accomplishments whatsoever. I’ve benefited so much from this blog and love all the different types of posts, etc. It’s just that these are things that I have thought about and I think they are ideas that make me a little uncomfortable about FIRE. It would be interesting to see some really explicit ethical discussions, beyond just acknowledging that most people who can achieve FIRE are benefiting from some level of privilege. I feel like Frugalwoods could be a venue for some of these harder questions.

  171. Minnesota Gal says:

    We have been working hard to payoff debt and build our saving. The only debt that remains is 7K on a car loan that I’ll pay off in the next few months. I got a promotion this month and a salary increase of 12k. This will obviously speed up our progress. But after reading your column, I’m wondering about if it would make sense for us to invest in a rental. Is the money you get from yours considered a passive income or do you work for it (do you deal with the renters, repairs, etc)? I’d like to know more about it and how to look for one.

  172. Kathy says:

    Congratulations for Mr. FW’s retirement and paying off your mortgage!

    One point that struck me from your post is that FIRE is a privileged position. I come from an African country and my parents retired about 20 years ago, don’t have a pension and are totally dependent on me for everything. I bought a farm and built a house for them on the farm, so I am not getting any income from that. I support their farming venture but they don’t make much to even support their daily living costs.

    I have a well paying job with a generous pension. I could retire right now if I only had myself to look after. So the one reason that stops me from FIRE so far are my parents. Am I complaining? Definitely not! Rather, I am very grateful that I have provided my parents with a life they (and definitely, I) never imagined.

    I am in the final phase of finishing building three apartments and hope to get reliable tenants. I just registered a company so as to venture into other income generating activities. I can only retire early when my rental income and business are running well, hopefully in another couple of years. Only then will I be comfortable to retire stress free.

  173. andrew says:

    I’m interested in your upcoming ACA details. We are FI and have a ACA bronze plan that’s HSA compatible (still have a W2 job here). Every time I’ve run the numbers that works best for us.

    Looking forward to learning what you do and why

  174. Fartner1 says:

    Yes to kids back in person! Still interested in continuing to hear about yourself haha, raising the littles, homesteading, personal finance, all the good stuff! Congrats to such great accomplishments!

  175. C.Branigan says:

    Great job! The insurance piece will be very interesting to read about because that is what is holding us back from early retirement. We also have two young adults who can still be under our private plan so don’t want to short change them and give them inferior insurance if we don’t have to. Many state plans make you change doctors and have poor coverage (at least in the Northeast). Looking forward to the update.

  176. Ron Sanders Jr. says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. My favorite part was “When we got married in 2008, we didn’t have much money, but we didn’t have any debt. Thus, everything we earned could go towards the future, not towards paying off the past. That’s a profound privilege and I am so thankful to my parents and my in-laws for that remarkable gift”. This young couple were also on the same page and worked together on a common goal. The power of this coordination can not be overstated. If they did not have the same vision, this extraordinary accomplishment would not be possible.

  177. Ll says:

    Congratulations to you both, what a wonderful achievement, made possible through many, many choices, some difficult, no doubt. Good for you. Here is my question…we are older, have no significant debt beyond our mortgage and student loans. We are frugal, saving for retirement, college for our two,, etc. My guiltometer tends to go off around one issue , mainly our large, beautiful old house. She is truly our least frugal choice but brings great joy too and she is a great investment…how about a post on guilt for good fortune and privilege surrounding your home or property? I feel sometimes like around our home we could be more frugal or even not live here even though this is a share love for us both, we worked for decades for it and it brings us great pleasure to live the old house lifestyle. Best to you and yours.

  178. Debbie says:

    Congratulations 🎈🍾🎉
    The mortgage discussion was timely for me because I am currently buying a house and contemplating how much to put down.

  179. Jitske says:

    Congratulations! In answer to your question: I already love what’s on Frugalwoods, so more of the same would be fine by me. What I would like to read specifically: I love stories about the homestead! I’m from the Netherlands, where we have a very different people to land ratio (and hence very different land prices per square metre) than in Vermont, so having a property akin to yours is something I can basically only dream about (it’s the main reason why homesteading isn’t such a big thing in this country, I think) – but it’s so nice to dream :). And I am aspiring to a mini-version of a homestead in the future, so it’s inspirational as well. I also really like the reader case studies, especially because you also feature non-US-based cases. Shopping for healthcare would be something I am way less interested in, I would read those posts only in order to count myself lucky that our system is not at all like yours. Things I would like to read more about: I like your more philosophical musings (like the one about privilege in this post). I think they could be their own posts, and well worth reading.

  180. Mr. Tako says:

    Congrats on the retirement and officially reaching FIRE! Been reading since the very beginning, and it’s been a joy to follow along!

  181. Megan says:

    Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you and your family!!!

    My favorite posts of yours are always the reader case studies. A wonderful way you give back and promote financial literacy. 💜

  182. Megan says:

    Cheers to such fantastic news! This is a result of thousands of decisions you have made along the way ever since you met in college in Kansas. I love all of your content and grateful for anything you share! You are the first person who I had ever been exposed to who talked about the idea of retiring early! Maybe now that he’s retired Mr. Frugalwoods will scribble down a few recipes or more specifically his meal planning/batch cooking ideas? We must have access to more than just the beans and rice recipe!!! LOL It’s been a long time! Honestly as your kids grow and you get more submerged in homesteading, he will probably wonder how he ever had the time to work full time! Thank you and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  183. Janet says:

    I would like more of the monthly farm report and daily life. I like your idea of growing what grows easily on your land. I would love to hear more about the chickens. I too am interested in your research of the ACA options. We are another family where one of us is still working because of healthcare. We have some pre-existing conditions and one very high drug- so we end up blowing though our high deductible fairly early in the year.

  184. Kelsey says:

    Congratulations on all these exciting life changes! I always enjoy checking in on the blog, you have such valuable content and insight.
    I’ve noticed that you often link to Amazon. I know these are likely affiliate links. For book recommendations, I’d like to suggest linking to an independent bookstore. Many small, indie stores have storefronts on Bookshop.org. This is a great way to support a small business in your community.
    Saving money and being super thoughtful about what I do buy is very important to me. I find it just as important to be thoughtful about what businesses I choose to support when I make purchases. I like to support businesses that support my community. Indie bookstores are often central to their communities and provide an important resource to people, while Amazon does not.
    p.s. you can also sign up to be an affiliate for Bookshop.org (I promise I don’t work for them! just a big supporter and the niece of a bookstore owner)

  185. Kara says:

    I second linking to another bookseller. There are so many other choices and where we spend our money matter

  186. Ashley says:

    Nothing to be embarrassed about. Most Americans spend multiples of your spending monthly. It is way more attainable than people realize. Congratulations!

  187. Dave says:

    Congrats on early retirement! Did Mr. Frugalwoods max out his 401k contributions for this year before retiring?

  188. Anna says:

    Congratulations! If you have the bandwidth for it, I would love to see a post on long term care and planning for health and care needs towards the end of life. That is the part that usually confuses and terrifies me 🙂

  189. Melissa says:

    Congratulations! I came across your book on my library app and listened to it while painting my kitchen (which I refuse to pay someone else to do). I completely agree with everything you wrote. I feel like we are kindred spirits. 😄 My husband and I are veterans and he recently retired from the Navy. He works full time as a civilian now but I do not. Our military benefits include lifelong healthcare, retirement pension, disability, and the GIBILL. He was able to transfer his GIBILL to our kids so each have one full year of college tuition covered. I’m incredibly grateful for these benefits. We live just outside DC and, as you know, it’s competitive and expensive. I’m able to stay home and take care of our kids because of our service and the fact that we have no debt aside from our mortgage (on a house we bought years ago and used as a rental property for many years until we retired). I have no desire to “keep up with the Joneses.” I’m looking forward to learning more about your journey since the book! It took us quite a bit longer to become financially savvy. We’re still catching up from past mistakes. I think frugal living is the key.

  190. deb says:

    I would like to see more posts on ideas about incomes where families or individuals who may not have extra money to invest but still want to be debt free and retire early. I’ve been reading alot about living off the grid and selling everything. There was a couple on a YouTube video I watched who paid off $125,000.00 of debt, sold everything and moved into a tiny home to become debt free. They also both worked three to four jobs a piece to pay off that debt. Now, they’ve had a baby and sold the tiny home to buy a house, and they are going to do their own tiny home lot in Missouri to help others who want that same journey of becoming debt free. Nonetheless, I found it inspiring.

  191. Erin says:

    Congratulations on this major accomplishment, Frugalwoods family!

  192. Congrats Nate and Liz!!!!!! Such a wonderful achievement!

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