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Q1 2024 Plan Update: We’re Millionaires!

You thought I would never blog again, didn’t you? Hilariously, I thought I missed just one plan update, but turns out I haven’t done a plan update for nearly a YEAR! WOWZA.

Okay, so quick recap of the past two updates that I should have done so we can all pretend I’m a good blogger and you’ve been following along the whole way (we’re also going to pretend it’s not almost time for a Q2 update):

Q3 2023: Our investments were at $816,000 and our mortgage was at $259,000.

Q4 2023: Our investments were at $947,000 and our mortgage was at $255,000.

So now… drumroll please… here are our Q1 2024 numbers: Investments at $1,060,211!!!!! (Our investments have gone down since these numbers at the end of March, but we’re still above $1 million.) Our mortgage is at $250,000 which is a nice round number as well (but again, our mortgage rate is 2.125%…. that’s right, I shall repeat that for you 2.125%, so we’re not paying any extra).

We’re Millionaires!

I’ve read so many blog journeys of people on their path to becoming millionaires and the majority have said something along the lines of “it was just another day. A non-event. Nothing has changed drastically.” You know what? THEY LIED. I know that with our current spending a million dollars does not make us financially independent, but there’s something about millionaire status that has fundamentally changed my attitude.

It’s akin to that time I had a dream I was shirtless but times a million (get it? because we’re millionaires now). “I’m a millionaire” has sort of become a mantra of its own that has made me more bold. I’ve been more outspoken at work when people do dumb things, chanting to myself “If I got let go, it’s okay, I’m a millionaire.” Again, we’re not financially independent yet, so maybe that milestone will be the non-event since my brain is already sort of acting like we are.

For your visual pleasure, here’s a two-second not-at-all-fancy Google Sheets chart of our journey to millionaire status:

Now, when you stack our chart up with the graphs of a bunch of other millionaires, you see that very same exponential kick at the end.

save a million dollars

I had concluded when analyzing those graphs that once you hit $500k, it’s completely possible to hit $1 million in four years. And IT’S TRUE! We crossed the $500k mark in April 2021 and the millionaire mark in March 2024, so it took us just THREE YEARS!

Reasons we were able to hit millionaire status so fast:

  • High income
  • Dual income
  • Dual, high income
  • Low mortgage rate (have you heard about my 2.125% mortgage rate yet?)

Honestly, luck on timing and high income is what got us here today. You can see in our chart the significant spike when I went back to work full time in December 2019. Mr. T and I collectively make just over $200k, so we’re in the unrelatable category to so many. And that’s the single biggest factor in making it to millionaire status for us. Because, if you’ll recall, we’ve spent the last four years buying a house, paying nearly $200k to add an addition to said house, while also saying yes to so many expensive things. We also just bought a hot tub!

So What Now?

Well, we had announced we were quitting in May 2025, but then we learned how much college costs and now sequence of returns risk seems to be against us. We’re entering the most expensive 12 years of our lives with three possible college students and our mortgage wrapping up in 2036. So for now, we’re crafting the life we want now and letting our investments continue to plug along. We’ll see where we’re actually at a year from now, but I highly doubt we’ll be totally ready to pull the plug on steady income.

Travel Hacking to Australia and New Zealand

Travel Hacking New Zealand and Australia

I have cousins in New Zealand, so I’ve always wanted to visit, so we decided to use all the miles we hoarded during the pandemic and finally go. Here’s the price break-down of how much that trip cost and a few tips for if you’re planning a trip yourself. All costs are in US dollars.

Accommodations for 22 nights – $2,044.20 ($1,218.68 of it was 3 nights in Queenstown). Tip: Have relatives in New Zealand and have friends that live with a view of Harbor Bridge so you can watch the New Year’s fireworks from their balcony. 😉 This was seriously a fill-the-bucket list item. It was INCREDIBLE.

New Year's Eve Harbor Bridge Sydney

For reals though, Queenstown during the holidays was expensive because that’s the local travel destination. Everything else was reasonably priced (again, we had free accommodations in Sydney, which definitely helped).

All flights for 5 people: 570,200 airline points, $4,613.59 (since holiday tickets from Anchorage to Oceania were nearly $2,500 each, I think we did pretty good). Here are the details of that:

  • Vancouver to Auckland – 4 tickets purchased by transferring Chase points to United and booking Air Canada (44k + $79.98 per ticket for a total of 176,000 Chase points and $319.92). We needed one more ticket, so we transferred Chase directly to Air Canada for the fifth ticket (91,700 points plus $75).
  • Then we had to get to Vancouver from Anchorage – Alaska miles for 3 tickets (30k plus $5.60 each for a total of 90k Alaska miles plus $16.80). Cash + companion pass for two tickets: $811.17
  • Sydney to Anchorage: 5 tickets on American for 42,500 miles plus $88.07 each for a total of 212,500 American points and $440.35 cash.
  • Auckland to Christchurch (on the busiest NZ domestic travel day – Dec. 23) x 5: $338.56 total
  • Queenstown to Sydney (on New Year’s Eve) x 5: $1,115.05 total
  • Sydney to Cairns (roundtrip) x 5: $1,496.74


This is just a handful of highlights, with tips and costs (in USD):

  • Glowworm Caves – I highly recommend seeing glowworms in NZ. I also recommend you get the double cave pack and see both the Glowworm cave and Ruakuri cave, which is actually much cooler but has less glow worms. I also recommend doing the Ruakuri bush walk after dark. It’s free and there are glowworms everywhere! – $219.78 (for both caves)
  • Great Barrier Reef – an amazing day-long boat trip stopping at three snorkeling locations – $511.63
  • Flightseeing to Milford Sound (we only did this because I had a high school friend that owned the company and gave us a family discount, but no regrets. It was GORGEOUS) – $1231.29
Milord Sound
  • Skyrail Cairns – I really enjoyed seeing the rainforest this way. We took the historic train up and the Skyrail back down and the ticket included both, which means we got to see the rainforest at the ground level and then from above the canopy – $261.74

All in all, it was an AMAZING trip, even though my kids were mad we left Alaska during Christmas (it is quite Christmassy up here) and my oldest wouldn’t let me hear the end of making her miss finals to leave the country.

1500 Days Until We Quit

The pandemic has me calculating all of our numbers on the daily, which made me realize, today is 1500 days from our target quit date of May 20, 2025! Why is this significant? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of Mr. 1500 days. He and his wife set out to amass $1 million (+their remaining mortgage amount) in 1500 days. When they began in January of 2013, they had $586,000 and were contributing $2000/month toward investments. So… did they make it? YES! On April 19, 2016, they hit their goal (just 1204 days into their journey!). They now have a net worth over $3.6 million and are doing exactly what they want to be doing.

That means WE CAN DO IT TOO!

The New Plan

So our goal is the same as the 1500s. In 1500 days, we hope to have $1 million invested + at least 1 year cash + either a paid off mortgage or enough in a brokerage to pay off the mortgage. (If we pay nothing extra on our mortgage, we’ll need $235,000 to pay off the balance in May 2025.) We currently have $500k invested (THANK YOU CRAZY MARKETS!), which is less than the 1500s started with, but even if we just max out our two 401ks, we’re contributing $3,250 monthly, so we should be able to catch up.

Now, we’re more conservative in our estimates. I don’t trust the market to return 10% and I don’t think we could live off of $1 Million forever. However, that was never our goal. We want to be entrepreneurs for awhile without having to depend on the money forever. We are already CoastFI at 65 which means our $500,000 will take care of us forever after we’re 65 if we don’t touch it until then. This new goal will take us to Flamingo FI, which is another made-up goalpost, but I like it’s simplicity. Flamingo FI means you can count on your money doubling every 10 years counting on a 7.2% return and the rule of 72. So, with $1 million invested, in 10 years, that would be $2 million if we don’t touch it for 10 years and then we could withdraw between $60-80,000 forever (counting on a 3-4% withdraw rate).

With enough money to cover the mortgage and a 1 year emergency fund, we would just need to make enough for living expenses for a decade before being able to tap the investments. This sounds like a good balance between an exciting entrepreneurial challenge and a big enough safety net in case we either hate it or are terrible at it.

Why May 20, 2025?

The goal has always been to be available full time the summer before Penny is a senior in high school. We want her to be entirely in charge of the summer itinerary that year to maximize our time with her before she’s potentially getting college prepped the next year. She will get to choose where we travel and what we do that entire summer. May 20 is an arbitrary date that felt like a nice round number and is likely a few days before school will get out for the kids. 😉

Because the goal is not to never work or earn money again, I reserve the right to quit earlier if we hit our numbers earlier! This is, after all, about pursuing the things we want to do, so if that opportunity happens earlier, we’ll take it! (I mean, if we keep earning $20k/week with these crazy market increases, we’ll get there in no time!)

What’s the Entrepreneur Plan?

Mr. T and I have been dabbling for a few years with online side hustles we really enjoy. We currently sell t-shirts and coloring books on Amazon (affiliate link). With the pandemic, we’ve had almost zero time to work on any of those things, but have still managed to earn about $500/month as totally passive income. So, we’re not worried we’ll earn ZERO money when we quit our jobs.

We also have a HUGE LIST of things we want to create. We have so many stories we want to write together–likely YA fantasy. We’ve been piecing the worlds together in conversation over the past few years and are very excited to be able to go full time trying to map out and write the stories.

We also want to build an Etsy shop the kids can run to earn money in high school (and build up their Roth IRAs early). TBD what that looks like, but it’s on the list.

The list also includes an Alaska travel game we created a decade ago and a whole bunch of other things we’d like to see become realities. For us, most of this stuff isn’t about money. It’s about seeing these things in our brains become realities. But I’m also sure we can figure out something that will earn us money along the way. After all, we spent a year playing the Unemployment Game and won!

What are the Blog Plans?

We’ll keep documenting our journey along the way as we always have. Quarterly still feels like the right amount. I want to use real numbers because real numbers were what helped me know it was possible. But monthly seems braggy (and I can’t commit to more than quarterly right now!) Hopefully as we emerge from this pandemic (and I’m no longer working so much on COVID research and have a little more mental capacity), I’ll start posting more.

I have lots of things I have to work through as we get prepared for this big leap that I hope to talk through here including:

  • Pay off the house vs. Have the amount in a brokerage account (and how this decision impacts taxes and ACA subsidies)
  • Planning for healthcare
  • Helping the kids with college – how much and in what form (we don’t have 529s for any of the kids)
  • Eventual withdraw plans / Roth conversions, etc.
  • Donor advised fund?

And don’t worry! I’ll definitely keep you posted on the Birch tapping experiment and update the annual dipnetting numbers. I’m hoping to get back to a more consistent schedule by the end of 2021, but who knows what the world will look like then. No guarantees.

How To Set New Year’s Resolutions during Hard Times

So 2020 was something, wasn’t it? Now, I’m usually all for starting over and setting goals and resolutions at the start of the year, but I feel like 2021 New Year’s Resolutions need to look totally different than previous years and I think this is true for any really hard season in your life. Over the past several weeks, I’ve thought of several ways to approach goals during Hard Times and I think I’ve settled on what I think it should look life for me. Everyone is different, so don’t assume this is how you should be doing it. (If you need to just treat the New Year like any other day and keep on surviving, by all means, DO THAT.)

If you can adapt any of the following to yourself this New Year’s resolution season, go for it:


In “normal” times, this looks like reflecting on what you did well this year and what you would like to improve upon. But in the middle of Hard Times, this turns into self-shaming and that’s not going to get anyone anywhere. So, here’s how I plan to approach “end of year reflections” this year: Stream of consciousness write your thoughts and feelings of 2020. Seriously. Just write everything. Does that mean you just write down a bunch of angry words? Do it. But this moment is historic (in 2020, this is true both globally and in your own life, but tough times are personal historic moments). Document it. Add details that you’ve found notable this year. Here are just a few of mine:

  • We moved this year and the elderly new neighbors came over and tried to shake my hand at the front door and I had to decline but still try to seem friendly and happy to be in the neighborhood. It was a weird, notable moment for me.
  • The absolute horror I feel when I find someone wondering the grocery store completely maskless. It’s a cross between indecent exposure and fearing for my life.
  • One of my big regrets of 2020 was not watching Tiger King. Not that I feel like I’m missing out on the actual show, but at the beginning of all this, it was the first way the US came together in a collective experience binging that crazy show. And I was too busy with work because I’d just been thrown in the deep end of being the office COVID research expert. I feel like I missed out on a notable, collective experience in this lonely year.

What is this supposed to accomplish? Well, catharsis if nothing else. It’s not ever and we’re still in Hard Times. But reflecting helped me work through some emotions about this year and also find some humor in the insanity that is this Hard Time.

Set Just ONE Goal: Feel Better next year at this time.

See? That wasn’t so bad. I even set your goal for you. And it breaks all the goal setting rules. Other than being timely (one year), it is not specific or measurable. But it’s the only goal you need this year. I promise. Let me explain.

During Hard Times, all the fringe stuff falls away and you’re just surviving. It’s super easy to be like: I have eaten terribly this year, I’ve hardly exercised. My meditation time is down to zero. I haven’t hustled. etc etc etc. DON’T DO THAT. You’re in the middle of Hard Times. It’s okay to not be improving in all areas of your life. And you’re probably feeling yucky about lots of things. Pick just the yuckiest and set a simple goal to feel better about it next year than you do now.

This could mean many things. Maybe in order to feel better about that thing, you need to process it or approach it differently in order to feel better about it. Maybe you need to take some sort of action. Do that.

Example: My sedentary 2020 lifestyle has led to hip pain (yes, I’m a 35-year-old really old lady). My entire goal is to have my hip feel better at the end of next year. That will involve me moving it sometimes.

No Guilt Allowed

The goal is to mainly empower you to do SOMETHING helpful to yourself during Hard Times. It is NOT to give you something else to feel guilty about. What if all through January, I exercise the same amount I did 2020 and my hip still hurts? I can get up and move that hip once and feel great about doing that one thing. Was my goal exercise X amount each week? Nope. Was my goal to have zero hip pain at the end of the year? Also nope. It was just to FEEL BETTER. That’s it. I can’t have guilt about that at all because a) it’s not the end of the year yet and b) these are Hard Times and I’m just going to try to feel better.

Now, Happy New Year’s friends. May 2021 be way less terrible than 2020. And may we all feel better next year than we do this year in some way.

Why We're On the Slow Route to Early Retirement

Why We’re On the Slow Route to Early Retirement

Our family is on the slow route to early retirement. Our story will never be shared on big news outlets because it just isn’t that interesting: “Couple saved money for 15 years to retire in their late 40s!” – 12 years? late 40s? But this is a conscience choice for us.

Why we’re heading to early retirement

The “Why” is always the most important question about a journey to early retirement. In our case, it’s not because we hate our lives now. It’s because we would rather take money out of the equation. Mr. T doesn’t love his job, but he also doesn’t hate it. He’s not the one stuck at work with tight deadlines, no sleep, panic attacks googling: “How do I retire early?”

Why the Numbers Don't Matter Right Now

Why the Numbers Don’t Matter Right Now

If you are early on your journey like we are, I want to make the case that maybe the numbers don’t really matter right now.

Projecting is Harder Long-term

Just like the 10-day weather forecast is never right, the 10-year projections won’t be right either. I can tell you firsthand that projecting can be frustrating when you have so little in savings. Conservative estimates make early retirement look impossible.

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Honest Look At Your Awesomeness

An Exercise in Self-Reflection

  1. Grab a Piece of Paper and a Pencil
  2. Write down 5 things you are AWESOME at.
  3. Write down 5 weaknesses you have.
  4. Write down 1 thing you want to actively get better at.

Are you Too Hard on Yourself?

Do you have the patience needed to reach financial independence?

Do You Have the Patience Needed to Reach Financial Independence?

If you don’t know this about me yet, let me just tell you that I am NOT a patient person. I have zero patience. When I decided I wanted to have a baby, I wanted her to arrive yesterday!* When I apply for something or have to wait for results, the world ENDS until I find out. If none of this sounds like you, GOOD NEWS! You are already one giant step ahead of me on your journey to financial independence!

Patience is Needed on any Financial Journey

I, myself, am famous** for saying: “Financial Independence is not a marathon. It’s more like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk.” We all know the power of compounding and the numbers behind how easy it is to become a millionaire when time is on your side, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to remember.

Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

In the book Born for This by Chris Guillebeau, he recommends setting a date to resign from your job each year. On that date, you commit to resigning if your job is not the best fit. This exercise forces you to re-evaluate every year with an ultimatum. Are you miserable? This is quitting day! Things going great? Reset the calendar reminder for next year and carry on.

What if?

Many advocate that if you prepare for the absolute worst case scenario, you’ll get over your fear. So, what if you lost your job tomorrow? What is the worst that could happen? Your family goes hungry. You lose your house. Jobs are scarce. Keep the thought experiment going. What would you actually do?

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