Learning how to save, ten years later

Last year I started tracking all of our monthly expenses against our income to put a number on how much we had leftover to save. Considering that we’ve tried to curb unnecessary and excessive spending since Stephanie quit her job in 2014 and went back to school in 2015, I was still shocked to discover our total cost of living at the end of the year. After taxes, 30% goes to the mortgage and related expenses while another 40% supports our lifestyle, which leaves 30% to save. We are fortunate to be able to save almost a third of our net income for retirement—a rate I’ve deliberately worked to increase over the last 3 years—but when measured against the “financial independence” yardstick, not-so-early retirement sits over 23 years away.

Early Retirement graph from networthify.com

That said, early retirement is not my goal. I’m not sure what my goal is. Periodic retirement? Work hard for a handful of years, step away, and then return—unconstrained by prior comforts, habits, and expectations. When viewed from that perspective, those unfathomable 23 years start to look more attractive: a series of several jobs (seeking that ever-elusive purpose), punctuated by sabbaticals of adventure and self-discovery.

But enough navel-gazing. Let’s get down to brass tacks. In 2016 I:

In 2017 I plan to:

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