- John, aka ESI Money, was a business executive for 28 years before he retired at age 52 with a $US3 million ($AU4.04 million) net worth.
- He writes about his journey to early retirement and everything that comes after it on the blog ESI Money – it stands for earn, save, invest.
- For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, John shares how he spent his money during a week in May.
I retired at 52 in August 2016 after a 28-year career as a business executive.
My wife and I are what some would call “fat FIRE” – we live off the income our assets produce, not having to drawdown the assets themselves.
Our income-earning assets include real estate (14 units we bought after the housing crash in Michigan), websites (both ESIMoney.com and RockstarFinance.com, which I bought this past December), dividends from our Vanguard index funds, and interest from cash.
My wife works – it started as a job for fun and they wanted to pay her for the 15 hours a week she puts in – and my daughter is in her last year of college, and we have a son at home who works full time.
We moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, three years ago and love it. I wish we had moved here 20 years ago. We have lived all over the country including Pittsburgh, Nashville, Grand Rapids, and Oklahoma City, all low cost-of-living cities.
Here’s what a week of my spending looks like:
College for our daughter is our largest expense, but the money for that comes out of a 529 plan. We paid off our mortgage over 20 years ago, so we only pay utilities, taxes, and insurance.
College for our daughter is our largest expense, but the vast majority of these costs are reimbursed from a 529 plan we started when she was very young. So when looking at monthly spending, we only included the non-reimbursed (i.e. out-of-pocket costs) portion of the college costs.
Medical costs were mostly driven by the ten (yes, ten) cavities that my daughter had filled this past year. In addition we had costs for my wife’s eyes (new glasses and contact issues), cost of my gym trainer, and the annual fee for our dental plan.
We have two big entertainment costs: our gym membership and movies. More on movies later. We don’t eat out much and when we do it’s usually a lower-cost restaurant.
Good news: We got a car for $US10. Bad news: it needed a lot of work – almost $US2,700 worth of work to be exact (about half of that was spent in the past year).
We paid off our house over 20 years ago and haven’t had a mortgage since, except for a short bridge loan when we moved to Colorado. This obviously makes living a bigger lifestyle easier.
We give roughly 20% of our income away to various charities, but do so out of assets (index funds with accumulated capital gains) to minimise taxes (we use a donor-advised fund to do this). That’s why the expenses for giving are low ($US103), because they only include our cash outlays.
This week we spent $US1,095.93 — just about 13% of our monthly income.
This week I flew with my daughter to Washington, DC, to get her set up for her summer internship. Our biggest spending days were Saturday and Sunday in DC.
For perspective, our monthly income averages $US8,257 so we have what I like to call a margin of safety.
On Monday my wife braved the Memorial Day crowds and made a $US22.95 trip to the grocery store.
Monday is usually my favourite day of the week since everyone is at work. All the stores, theatres, gyms, etc. are clear. It’s amazing!
But not on Memorial Day. Nope, today was like a weekend day on steroids.
And since we live in Colorado, it means EVERYONE was out today. Which means I was inside. I hit the gym early, wrote a bit, and took a couple walks with my wife.
One great thing about staying in: you don’t spend much money!
My wife did visit the grocery store to buy food for some friends visiting for a few days.
I took my family to dinner and a movie on Tuesday — it was bargain day at the movie theatre.
Ahhh. Everyone is back at work. It’s so quiet.
I hit the gym early this morning, took a walk with my wife, then five of us (me, my wife, our two kids, and our son’s girlfriend) headed off to the movies. We saw Solo in the luxury lounge seats I had booked online. Tuesday is bargain day so each ticket only cost us $US5.75 versus $US8 at a regular-day matinee or $US10.25 for a regular evening show.
After the show, we stopped by the local Sprouts grocery store for some strawberries my wife needed for a party later in the week.
Then we went out to eat at Mod Pizza where we all got our own individual pizzas (think Subway for pizza).
On Wednesday I hit the gym, did laundry, and ordered k-cups at Costco online for $US46.17.
I was at the gym early today (you see a pattern here, right?) and the weather was absolutely beautiful.
Our guests left early this morning so it was “clean the house day” and time to start thinking about our upcoming trip. I did a bit of laundry and preliminary packing (I travel light).
My mum wanted a case of Costco Kirkland k-cups for my dad. He loves them and since they don’t belong to Costco, I’m their source. I went online and after a few clicks the coffee was on its way.
Thursday was rewards day — I used my Chick-fil-A app for a free chicken mini order and got 10 cents off per gallon on gas with my rewards card.
After dropping my son off at work, my daughter and I went to breakfast at Chick-fil-a. I had a free chicken mini order on my app, so why not?
On the way home we stopped by King Soopers for gas. I got 10 cents off per gallon that I had left on my points card – just in time, right before the end of the month. Plus, I paid with a 3% cash back credit card. I get a minimum return of 2% cash back wherever I use a credit card but I often earn more.
This evening we finished our packing, checked in for our flights, did last minute chores, and loaded up the car. We had to be up early the next day.
It was off to Washington, DC, on Friday.
My daughter and I were up early and drove to Denver to catch our flight. Denver flights are generally $US200 per ticket cheaper than flying out of Colorado Springs.
We stopped at McDonald’s along the way to get her a sandwich and arrived at the offsite parking facility in plenty of time.
Our flight was delayed an hour, so I had time to catch a McDonald’s meal myself at the airport. The flight to Washington, DC, was uneventful and got us into Dulles airport around 2 p.m.
We hopped on bus which took us to the Metro’s Silver Line. We filled up two Metro cards from our last trip with $US20 each and took a 45-minute ride to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn.
This evening we got some bottled water at the nearby Harris Teeter grocery store then grabbed dinner at the Potbelly’s next door.
On Saturday, we ran errands, took Uber rides around town, and ate pizza for dinner — the day’s total was $US143.89.
Today was all about getting my daughter set up for her summer in DC.
We started at Walmart (yes, on a Saturday in downtown DC) where we got a variety of housing supplies and food.
After we carried it back to the hotel, we got an Uber to take us to her housing location. We unpacked the stuff we’d purchased as well as the items we carried on the plane and got her all settled.
Next we walked DC a bit to find her office building, then took another Uber to Pi Pizza, our must-stop dining choice whenever we are in DC.
Once we were stuffed with pizza, we walked around a bit before our last Uber of the day took us back to the hotel.
Over the course of the rest of the day we made two more trips to Harris Teeter and one to Starbucks before calling it a day.
Checking out of the hotel on Sunday cost $US617.76.
Today was drop-off day for my daughter and flying home day for me.
We were up early and checked out of the hotel. It was pouring out so we took an Uber to her place, then I took one to a nearby Metro stop.
After an hour ride, I hit the end of the Silver line and grabbed one final Uber to Dulles.
Once through security (thanks, TSA Pre-check!), I grabbed a cup of coffee and snacked on some almonds I had in my backpack.
The plane left a couple hours later and by 2 p.m. Colorado time I was off the flight and back to my car.
I was exhausted and too tired to eat right away, so I drove an hour home, then picked up some fried chicken at King Soopers as dinner.
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