The Plan

We read a lot of personal finance blogs. There are some great people out there writing about this stuff. But a lot of bloggers I read are either struggling to get out of significant debt or trying to retire early on two large incomes, and most don’t have kids until they’ve financially prepared to do so. What if, however, your “Let’s do this!” moment for early retirement comes when you already have three young kids, the two of you don’t make over $100,000, and you both want to retire together? That’s how this blog began. Mr. T has a great job with great benefits and a lot of time off, but his salary started not very large for a programmer. I worked part time (10-15 hours/week from home), but my primary job was being a stay-at-home mom (which doesn’t pay well and the lack of time off is practically illegal).

So is it possible to retire early in this situation? Absolutely. Will it take longer than just a couple of years? Yes. Is it possible to do it without completely losing your head? That’s was the experiment.

The first plan was to earn the Alaska state energy rebate to get us jumpstarted. Once that came in (DONE), we simultaneously tried to max out our Roth IRAs and pay down the mortgage. Shortly after our youngest started Kindergarten, I went full-time at work (December 2019). Once we paid off the mortgage on our condo in January 2020, we started working on upping all of our investments. The original goal we set for retirement was $500,000 in investments and no mortgage by 2022. (That seemed crazy far away. Would there finally be flying cars by then?). The PFD was a big part of our plan. But mainly, we would try to save as much money as possible. And get creative on income. We tried some local things (that so far have not gone as well as we would have hoped) and started selling shirts and coloring books online (which went much better). For more details on the logistics of how we planned to achieve our goal, check out our Road to Financial Awesomeness as well as our timeline of dreams. $500,000 won’t last us forever, but it was the first goal.

In March of 2016, we took a solid look at our numbers and our plan including:

In February 2020, we bought a house and rented out the paid-off condo until we sold that in June 2021. In April of 2021, we realized we had 1500 Days until we plan to quit! So we took the time to recalculate our plan again! Our plan is also about balance. We want to show our children both Alaska and the world and those things are expensive (even with some conservative travel hacking!). And we’re still trying to retire early to do more of those things. But kids grow up. So we have to do some things now. Balance is hard. Wish us luck.

FOLLOW OUR WHOLE JOURNEY – month-by-month updates!

  • June 2015 – $59,030 investments, $90,000 mortgage balance
  • July 2015 – $62,800 investments, $89,000 mortgage balance
  • August 2015 – $57,926 investments, $87,536 mortgage balance
  • September 2015 – $53,995 investments, $86,075 mortgage balance
  • October 2015 – $72,552 investments, $82,600 mortgage balance
  • November 2015 – $75,096 investments, $81,130 mortgage balance
  • December 2015 – $74,780 investments, $79,950 mortgage balance
  • January 2016 – $65,860 investments, $78,670 mortgage balance
  • February 2016 – $70,878 investments, $76,200 mortgage balance
  • March 2016 – $88,102 investments, $74,200 mortgage balance
  • April 2016 – $93,042 investments, $71,990 mortgage balance
  • May 2016 – $97,390 investments, $71,200 mortgage balance
  • June 2016 – $101,100! investments, $70,218 mortgage balance
  • July 2016 – $109,500 investments, $68,200 mortgage balance
  • August 2016 – $114,380 investments, $65,900 mortgage balance
  • September 2016 – $116,150 investments, $63,550 mortgage balance
  • October 2016 – $116,585 investments, $59,600 mortgage balance
  • November 2016 – $126,530 investments, $53,700 mortgage balance
  • December 2016 – $133,270 investments, $52,975 mortgage balance
  • January 2017 – $135,525 investments, $52,100 mortgage balance
  • February 2017 – $142,570 investments, $51,025 mortgage balance
  • March 2017 – $145,600 investments, $49,730 mortgage balance
  • April 2017 – $149,600 investments, $48,100 mortgage balance
  • May 2017 – $154,000 investments, $45,450 mortgage balance
  • June 2017 – $157,230 investments, $43,640 mortgage balance
  • July 2017 – $163,400 investments, $41,800 mortgage balance
  • August 2017 – $166,190 investments, $39,920 mortgage balance
  • September 2017 – $171,076 investments, $38,920 mortgage balance
  • October 2017 – $177,500 investments, $36,520 mortgage balance
  • November 2017 – $183,600 investments, $32,900 mortgage balance
  • December 2017 – $189,565 investments, $29,990 mortgage balance
  • January 2018 – $201,165 investments, $27,800 mortgage balance
  • February 2018 – $186,840 investments, $26,700 mortgage balance
  • March 2018 – $194,436 investments, $25,400 mortgage balance
  • April 2018 – $198,080 investments, $24,300 mortgage balance
  • May 2018 – $205,580 investments, $23,100 mortgage balance
  • June 2018 – $206,200 investments, $22,000 mortgage balance
  • July 2018 – $217,000 investments, $19,980 mortgage balance
  • August 2018 – $224,870 investments, $18,400 mortgage balance
  • September 2018 – $228,700 investments, $9,480 mortgage balance
  • October 2018 – $212,800 investments, $8,000 mortgage balance
  • November 2018 – $221,700 investments, $5,500 mortgage balance
  • December 2018 – $204,000 investments, $1,900 mortgage balance
  • January 2019 – $222,960 investments, ZERO MORTGAGE BALANCE
  • February 2019 – $234,209 investments, $0 mortgage
  • March 2019 – $242,870 investments, no mortgage
  • April 2019 – $262,900 investments, no mortgage
  • May 2019 – $255,000 investments, no mortgage
  • June 2019 – $267,000 investments, no mortgage
  • Q3 2019 – $275,400 investments, no mortgage
  • Q4 2019 – $324,000 investments, no mortgage (Maggie goes full time at work. Dual income time!)
  • Q1 2020 – $276,600 investments, $336,000 mortgage (bought new house)
  • Q2 2020 – $317,000 investments, $335,000 mortgage
  • Q3 2020 – $371,000 investments, $327,000 mortgage
  • Q4 2020 – $444,000 investments, $322,000 mortgage
  • Q1 2021 – $494,000 investments, $318,000 mortgage
  • Q2 2021 – $639,000 investments, $289,000 mortgage (sold the paid-off condo)
  • Q3 2021 – $659,000 investments, $288,000 mortgage
  • Q4 2021 – $744,600 investments, $285,300 (refinanced into a 2.125% 15-year, so trying not to add extra payments)
  • Q2 2022 – $593,000 investments, $277,000 mortgage
  • Q3 2022 – $605,000 investments, $271,500 mortgage
  • Q4 2022 – $684,000 investments, $268,700 mortgage
  • Q1 2023 – $746,600 investments, $267,000 mortgage
  • Q2 2023 – $818,500 investments, $263,000 mortgage
  • Q3 2023 – $816,000 investments, $259,000 mortgage
  • Q4 2023 – $947,000 investments, $255,000 mortgage
  • Q1 2024 – $1,060,211 investments, $250,000 mortgage (MILLIONAIRES!)


  1. Excited to follow the plan to early retirement:)

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks! Happy to be on a path so many greats have already begun blazing!

  2. It’s an interesting state, that’s for sure. I lived in Anchorage for 17 years, moved away for 11 years and returned in September 2012. Have been writing about personal finance since 2007, first for MSN Money and now for other sites (including my own).

    Would love to hear from you as there are darned few Alaska-based PF bloggers.

  3. J

    Good luck, Maggie! I’m definitely following your journey. 🙂

  4. Been meaning to say for a while — I love that you’re sharing your journey with us. You’re right that a lot of ER bloggers (us included) are in the two high income earners camp. And that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone! It’s wonderful to get to see the example you’re setting of how it can be done on a slightly longer timeline with moderate incomes — but it can still be done! Wish you guys lots of luck!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks so much. And, as I have said before, I really am grateful for your support. It’s been great to consider you guys my new ER friends.

  5. It’s sounds like you have a concrete plan to me. I’m excited for you and wishing you the best for your journey to retirement!

    Laura Beth

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s exciting to finally have a plan we are so excited about that we WANT to save for it! 🙂

  6. We’re right there with ya. We don’t both have high incomes. I have a high income but Mr. Money Monster’s income is variable and unpredictable. It’s literally feast or famine around our house. Being a frugal nut and spreadsheet warrior, it drives me crazy that I can’t predict our monthly income. It really makes it difficult to plan, too. Even though my income is high, it’s not that high when you’re supporting 2 adults, 1 Mini Monster, and 4 furry friends. I can cover our monthly expenses with a bit leftover for debt repayment (mostly my student loan and our mortgages, we have a rental) and investing but nothing that could really help us retire early. Oh…and we didn’t even start on this path until our late 30s. No way we can beat some of the other FIRE bloggers that are set to retire in their early 30s. All that to say, we really count on Mr. MM’s variable income to pay chunks of debt and invest.

    It’s nice to know there are other like-minded people in this world who have a bit of an uphill battle on this early retirement path. I’m excited to share in your journey!

    Mrs. Money Monster

    • MaggieBanks

      Welcome to the blog Mrs. Money Monster! Each path is different, and that’s what’s so exciting! You can get there and so can we. Sure, it may be an uphill battle, but we can do it! Welcome to the journey!

  7. Well helllooooo there! I love it when I find younger folks who want to take the Encore Voyage! The hubs and I often say, “If only we knew then what we know now.” Here’s what I can tell for sure…1)Your plan is soooo sound, some might say you are wise beyond your years. 2) You are definately headed down the right track, and I love, love, love that you are planning on maxing out your retirement accounts and paying off your mortgage. and 3), and this is the most important one – Once you get this all done, and the plan works, you will enjoy life more than you ever thought imaginable! Our new motto is, “You know you’re on the right track when you become disinterested in looking back!” Glad I found your blog. Can’t wait to follow your steps to ER!

    • MaggieBanks

      Well thank you – We’re not maxing out our retirement accounts quite yet. But we’re building up to that. We’re currently maxing out our Roth IRAs, but not Mr.T’s 401k.

      • Ahhh, but your principles are spot on…Pay yourself first! “Live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later!” (Dave Ramsey). Love it!

  8. Claire WantLess

    Just stumbled across this blog and I think I’m gonna like it! I’m also aiming for financial betterment (and possibly FI in future) while also dabbling with minimalism on a mediocre income, so this plan really chimes with me.

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Claire. We can all be more meaningful with our spending and actually find happiness now regardless of income. I’m a firm believer in that.

  9. mark scheckel

    How did you pick $500,000 as your retirement early goal? How does post retirement look on a nest egg of $500K?

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