“It’s always been about ‘financial independence’ for me and not really ‘early retirement,'” Brandon, who doesn’t use his last name online for privacy reasons, told Business Insider. “I never wanted to stop working, but rather I wanted to have the time and freedom to work on things that are important to me.”
And what did he and his wife Jill want to do?
A few years ago, the pair devised a lifestyle plan to visit their families in the US and Scotland and take some international adventures, they shared on a recent episode of Brandon’s “Financial Independence Podcast.”
“We had decided that we were going to spend — I think it was originally six months in Scotland for me working and seeing my friends and family,” Jill explained. “And then, we would do three months in the States where I wouldn’t be working. We could just spend that time travelling around and seeing people, and then three months travelling anywhere else in the world.”
At the time, Brandon was working as a software developer and had managed to save and invest about 70% of his after-tax income as he worked toward becoming financially independent. Jill, however, chose to continue working as an optometrist.
Once Brandon stopped working, Jill took an unpaid leave of absence from her job and they set off for Southeast Asia. They were living the dream … sort of.
After three months on the road, they realised they’d had enough.
“I know other people can travel full-time or travel a lot more than that,” Jill said on the podcast. “But I think for us, we definitely realised that that’s about the maximum that it continues to be fun for us, and then it starts feeling too much like normal life and you start focusing more on the stressful parts of it and things.”
Brandon agreed, adding that it’s difficult for him to answer emails and run the Mad Fientist blog from the road. “There’s just not a lot of time when you’re travelling because you’re either looking into hotels and places to eat all the time or trying to figure out what you’re going to go and do next,” Brandon said.
And it wasn’t just the challenge of travelling internationally that got old. The three-month rule applies when they travel around the US as well.
“We realised that three months of doing that is too much, too, because it’s great seeing people but you don’t want to feel like you’re imposing when you’re coming in and just being like, ‘Hey, I’m going to stay for a month,'” Brandon said. “Well, no, they have got their own lives that they’re doing and you don’t want to impose on that.”
The couple doesn’t think they will ever land on a “perfect plan,” but instead continue to experiment and adapt.
“It will just change as we get older. It’s really hard to know what you’re going to want in five or ten years time and plan all that out,” Jill said, adding that they’re hoping to plan more trips where they meet up or travel with friends or family, “because that kind of makes it more rewarding than just picking a place to go and see for the sake of it.”
“I think we just sort of plan out the next couple of years, which, at the moment, it’s looking like being a lot more based in Scotland,” she said. “I don’t think you ever get to a point where that’s ‘perfect.'”
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