• Brandon retired last summer at age 34.
• Thanks to a side project, he ended up with extra income he didn’t know how to spend.
• He’s found so much happiness in the financial independence lifestyle that he’s concluded spending more won’t make him happier.
When Brandon retired in the summer of 2016, he was 34 years old.
Living frugally and working in rural Vermont, he managed to save and invest about 70% of his after-tax income, and saved enough to leave his job in spring 2014. However, when his employer offered to make his position remote, he stayed on for a few years more than planned, intermittently travelling with his wife Jill until they relocated full-time to Scotland in May 2015. There, he continued working, blogging, and saving until he retired last summer.
His retirement got off to a rocky start — that first Monday he didn’t have to go to work, he “freaked out,” he wrote on his blog. “I was staring into the vast unknown and the immense gravity of the situation freaked me out (much more than I expected),” he wrote. “It’s crazy that I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, considering early retirement was something I had been thinking about and working towards for over five years.”
But after a few months, he started to acclimate to the post-work lifestyle of financial independence (FI).
As part of his blog, Brandon built a credit card search tool that’s begun gaining popularity and providing an unexpected source of income. But he soon realised that he and Jill couldn’t figure out how to spend those funds. Here’s Brandon:
“Since we have this unexpected extra money coming in, I asked Jill if she could think of anything we could buy or spend money on that would make our lives better.
“We thought about it and realised that we love where we live so we wouldn’t want to move somewhere bigger or nicer because our current place is perfect.
“Our cheap little car does everything we need it to so no need for an upgrade there.
“We eat out enough and wouldn’t enjoy it if we ate out more.
“We travel enough and actually plan to cut back on travel next year because less travel will make us both happier.
“We racked our brains for a while and the only thing we could come up with was to buy a foam mattress topper and a couple of better pillows.
“So we bought those two things for less than $US100 and now we have everything we want or need.”
He even tried what many people dream of doing with extra cash: travelling around the world for months. But soon, he realised it wasn’t making him happy. “Before when I was working, travel was a great change from the boring routine,” he wrote. “Now that post-FI life is so exciting and interesting, there’s no need to break up the monotony of normal life because normal life is so enjoyable.”
Brandon says he finds the most joy now in routine tasks, like taking time to prepare and enjoy lunch instead of scarfing it down at his desk. “Feeling like you can buy or do anything, while simultaneously being completely content with what you already have because you know more won’t make you happier,” he wrote, “is one of the best benefits of pursuing FI.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.