Mid-2016, Brandon retired at just 34 years old.
To get there, Brandon, who doesn’t use his last name online for privacy reasons and is better known as the Mad Fientist, chose to live frugally in rural Vermont, where he managed to save and invest about 70% of his after-tax income.
“I’d never been a spender,” Brandon, who worked as a software developer, told Business Insider. “For the first 5 to 7 years of my career, I wasn’t saving for anything in particular. I was just saving because I wanted a portfolio. Then I learned about financial independence, and I was like, ‘This is perfect. This is what I’m saving for.'”
“I think when you started me on this journey, I didn’t have the same motivation that you did for achieving financial independence. It didn’t really appeal to me,” Jill, who keeps her finances largely separate from her husband, said.
Although Jill still works as an optometrist and has no immediate plans to retire, she explained the conversation that “sort of shifted [her] whole mindset” about financial independence:
“It was, I think, on our honeymoon, we had a conversation where you said to me, ‘What would be your perfect life? Describe: If you could design your life any way you want, then what would it be like?’ So, we had this big conversation.
“I found that actually was a hard question. It’s not like the ‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’ It’s more of a realistic version of that where you don’t have just unlimited money to do whatever you want.
“So, we talked about that a lot. And we both were in agreement about where our priorities were and what we would like to spend more time doing — spending time with friends and family, travelling, volunteering, and all those kinds of things.
“So, when we talked about that, and then we talked about, ‘Would it be possible to do more of that stuff if we weren’t having to work full-time?’ It just really kind of opened my eyes to the benefits of financial independence.”
The conversation with her husband made Jill realise that they both share the same goal — to spend time doing the things they love. For her part, Jill loves working.
“I really enjoy my job,” she said. “I feel like I’m always learning new things. So, as long as it continues to be challenging and fulfilling, I definitely want to keep doing it.”
Additional reporting by Libby Kane.