An Interactive Guide to Early Retirement and Financial Independence


Written by Adam on 2017-09-02. Financial Independence, interactive, Investing. 118 comments. Find out how I make money.

An Interactive Guide to Early Retirement and Financial Independence

Let's talk about early retirement and financial independence! These phrases alone have a lot of weight associated with them, and you might have an immediate gut response to just hearing these terms.

You might love your job and wouldn't think about leaving it. Maybe you hate your job and can't wait to leave it. Maybe you're looking for a change. Maybe you feel you never want to retire because you'd just "be bored", or maybe you plan to work until you can't work anymore. For this post, I'm going to ask one thing...

My request for you:
Don't assume financial independence
means retirement.

Instead, for this post, think of financial independence (abbreviated FI) as the point where if for any reason you stopped working, you'd be set for the rest of your life at your desired lifestyle. What you choose to do with your life at that point is up to you!

After making your way through this post and filling in your numbers, you're going to know what you'll need to do in order to make it happen. Here's a rundown of what we'll be talking about.

Part 1: Where Am I Now?

The most common question when it comes to financial independence and early retirement is the big one:

How much money do I need to retire?​

This is going to be the core question we answer in this article, exploring it in a number of different ways. My goal is that after reading this post, you know exactly how much you'd need to retire in your current state, but also give some advice on small tweaks to your lifestyle that could hugely impact this number.

The first step is understanding your financial footing today and where your current path would take you. Depending on your financial health, this can range from a breath of relief to a sobering realization. Please, bear with it. I guarantee that knowing your financial health is better than not knowing.

This Article Is Interactive!​

This whole article is a bit of an experiment. Whenever you see purple underlined text yes! just like that! , that indicates this is a place that needs your input! Just hover over it and it'll tell you what to do. The content of this post will change based on your input!

Another type of input in this article is the slider-field. You can type a number into this box, or use the slider to select a result. The inuts will allow numbers outside of the range, but the range is there to make it easier for you to have fun reading this article. Try this one out:

I am years old and was born in .

Adam Says: I'll be the first to say Happy Birthday! It's not every day you turn years old.
Sure, I'm month early, but I didn't want to miss the chance!

Consider it an old-school choose your own adventure blog post like you might have read as a kid. The goal is to have fun, explore financial independence, and hopefully learn a little.

To get started, let's dive into your numbers starting with the basics.

Savings Rate Calculator

Try changing the underlined values and see what happens!

My yearly after-tax income (w/401k included) is and each year I save total for retirement – including 401k and all other means. Using these figures, my savings rate (SR) will be about .

This is calculated with the following formula:

( / ) * 100% = Savings Rate.

Adam Says: These values will be stored in a cookie in your browser and be anonymously aggregated. If you revisit this page, you will see the same results. If you want, you can reset all values to the defaults at any time.

When working towards retirement and financial independence, your savings rate is one of the most important numbers. The more you save each year, the faster you'll be able to retire – that's obvious – but how much faster? See where your SR falls on the following chart:

Years to Financial Independence Calculator

Years of savings needed vs savings rate. 100% = saving every penny.

Adam Says: Assumptions abound! This assumes $0 current savings, you save what you don't spend, /yr investment growth, with inflation of , an inflation adjusted withdrawal rate of , and consistent spending when you retire. If you don't know what these terms mean, don't worry -- we'll get to them.

For your savings rate, , you can see on the chart that you would need year to earn enough to be financially independent if you were starting today.

If you were to continue saving and investing every year during that time, eventually you would have saved up. At that point, you would be able to retire and withdraw each year – most likely for the rest of your life.

Throughout this post, we'll be diving into the math behind these numbers, why this is enough, how can you lower this number and what's required of you (and the world) to hit it.

Part 2: How Much Should I Save?

What floors me about the above chart is that a 10% SR is often sighted as a "good" savings rate. In practice, it will take you 41 years to save up enough to retire, and that's only if your spending stays the same! If your income and spending go up, it'll take even longer.

If you double that savings rate to 20% though, you can retire in 30 years. That's 11 fewer years working for 10% of your salary.

If you want to retire before you're 65, the common wisdom "save 10% of your income" is terrible advice!

FIRE Wisdom

If you're hoping to be financially independent before collecting social security, you'll need to save more than 10%. Let's look into ways to reduce this number. The estimates in this article make a LOT of assumptions. We can refine this a little, but for that, I'm going to need your help – in the form of answering a few more questions.

Get ready for a long journey.

Saving Money is a Hike​

You're starting with a time period of based on just your savings rate. Saving this much isn't a sprint, or even a marathon but a hike. Depriving yourself for a few months, only to be exhausted, or spend more the following months, isn't going to have a positive impact. Pace and progress are the keys.

I've personally tried maxing out my savings some months – spending the least amount I possibly could to get that SR formula looking better. The problem was that the next month I'd reward myself for doing so and things would balance out.

Favor lifestyle changes that help you save over changes that feel like deprivation.​

FIRE Wisdom

Instead, make changes that make your life better, and that you look forward to week after week and year after year. If you're spending money on something that brings that kind of joy into your life, that's well worth it.

Find a way to enjoy saving the same way you'd enjoy a hike. Make it effortless, make it relaxing, make it feel right.

You could be reading this and think "there's no way I could save up!". I know when I was growing up, at times my mom was scrapping to make ends meet, and saving was the last thing on her mind. For those reading in that situation, I empathize with you but struggle to find the best advice. You know your situation better than I ever could, as well as what you could do to make it better.

Part 3: How Much Do I Need?​

In order to understand how much you need, we'll need to learn a little more about you.

Let's Talk More About You

Customize this article by providing us with some details about yourself. By answering demographic questions, I'm able to analyze the collective results and share themes. Two of my favorites are: millennial spending analysis and an exploration into the gender pay gap. Rest assured that all data is anonymized in these articles.

I'm a year old born in with dependents/children. I have a total combined savings & liquid investments of about . Right now, I'm .

Each year I spend about , but when I retire I'll likely spend of that (equal to about /yr).

I'm hoping to retire when I'm years old.

Minafi's Take On Your Finances

Given your savings rate and a net worth of , if you continue to invest /yr, then you're on track to be financially independent in year – at years old.

When you're years old, you would need in retirement savings and can start withdrawing /yr.

Ahead of Schedule

You're way on track to be FI by your goal retirement date. Why not try setting a stretch goal for this post? Turn down the stock market rate of /yr or turn the withdrawal rate down even further below .

Close but Calculated

Your FI and RE dates are within a year of each other - which means you're right on track! I calculate you'll be FI at age years so if you retire at age years you should be in good shape.

Are You Retiring Too Soon?

You want to retire when you're years old but you're currently on track to be FI at age years. If you're expecting some additional funds or growth outside of what we've asked about, you might be in a good position. If not, I'd encourage you to check out why there is a difference between these two.

Adam Says: For these numbers, I'm assuming /yr investment growth and a withdrawal rate. If you're not sure what these numbers mean, don't worry! I'll explain them later on in this post.

This is where things start to get fun! There's now enough information to know a rough estimate of when you'd be financially independent – in year at when you're years old. Let's dive into how we got to this number.

Retirement Age Calculator

This graph shows your future net worth given your current & future savings.

Adam Says: This assumes you're years old with in savings. You earn /yr and spend /yr before retirement. After retirement you'll aim to spend of that – equal to about /yr). That means in retirement, you'll be withdrawing about /yr). You're saving /yr. /yr investment growth and you'll use a WR.

The dashed horizontal line in this graph is how much you'd need to be financially independent given your current numbers. The other line is your net worth at each age. The point where these lines intersect is your FI Age -- the age in which you'd have enough to be financially independent.

Financial Independence (FI) is different from retirement. Think of financial independence as the amount of money you'd need in order to never need to work again. Retirement (RE), on the other hand, generally means not being employed, but being self-sufficient.

It's possible for people to be FI but continue working – you see it all the time. From CEOs of companies to quiet employees who have saved huge amounts to bloggers talking about retirement (well, some – not me). There are also people who are retired, but who may need to return to work someday down the line when their savings run out, or if social security fails.

To be FIRE (financially independent + retired) is an aim with the goal of minimizing stress from external sources. It does rely on stock markets to perform in a similar pattern to the last 100+ years, but aside from that, it's not based on too many assumptions.

hot air balloon over lake
Financial Independence (FI) is a freeing idea and a beneficial goal.

Part 4: How Much Could I Spend Then?​

Up until this point, we've been a little rosy in our withdrawal rate (WR). The withdrawal rate is the percent of your savings you withdraw each year. This can be calculated as follows:

Withdrawal Rate Calculator

A percentage of your total investments you'll need each year.

This assumes that you'll spend of your current spending of about /yr in retirement, which would be /yr.

(Yearly Retirement Spending / Retirement Savings) * 100% = WR

( / ) * 100% =

In other words, at a withdrawal rate, you'll need to save up at least before you stop working completely. At your current pace, this will take year - allowing you to be financially independent at age years old.

The Lower the Withdrawal Rate the More Money You Need (but safer)

It may sound counterintuitive, but the lower the withdrawal rate, the more money you'll need. For example, if you use a withdrawal rate of 3%, and want to spend /yr, you'll need to save up .

If you want to use a withdrawal rate of 4% for the same spending amount, you'll "only" need if you spend each year.

In other words - a 4% withdrawal rate has historically been safe for at least 30 years. A 3% WR has historically been safe forever. For a 3% WR, you'll need to save an additional more than a 4% WR, but your FI plans will be that much more bulletproof.

Adam Says: This uses the same /yr investment growth as before. According to the Trinity Study, a 4% WR works 92% of the time over 40 years, while a 3% WR works out 100% of the time. Check out Early Retirement Now's Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates for a deep dive into this subject.

Withdrawal rate is one the most talked about (and heavily debated) topics when it comes to early retirement. I'm only going to introduce the topic in this article, but if you want to read more here's a great post on Where'd the 4% Rule Come From Anyway?

My personal withdrawal rate I use for calculations is somewhere between 3% and 4%. The fewer unknowns in your life, the higher your withdraw rate can be. When I say unknowns, I include many things that are notoriously difficult to plan for: your health, insurance, home situations, family health, changes in your spending, lawsuits against you – anything that could throw a wrench in your plans.

The more of these edge cases you can have a plan for, the higher your withdraw rate could be. I don't know what will happen with insurance (or many other things) and so I lean towards a 3.5% withdraw rate.

The math does add up, with some additional work.

Part 5: How Is This Enough?​

When I first saw these numbers and did the math on it, I immediately asked the following question:

If I retire with and spend /yr when I retire, doesn't that mean my cash will run out in / = year?

If you put your money into a no interest account, then this is exactly how long your money would last. Even in a savings account it'll only last a little longer. There are better places to put your money though!

Factoring In Inflation​

There is some bad news here, unfortunately. For each of those year, your spending power would be slightly less due to inflation, which is generally around 1-3%. Inflation is something we have no control over individually but it is something we can plan for.

Inflation means that each year, what you can buy with your money is going down by some small amount. If you've seen prices rise since you were a kid, that's potentially a result of inflation.

In year, in order to spend /yr in today's dollars, you would need in the year to have the same spending power.

Because of this, we need to increase our total funds by each year just to have the same buying power as today.

So why are we using for these numbers rather than ?

There are two main reasons. First, the withdrawal rate is inflation adjusted. That just means that each year the amount you withdrawal will shift based on the inflation rate of that year.

Here's an example using your expected yearly spending and spending rate. Here's how much you'd withdraw during your first few years assuming a inflation rate.

Year Amount Inflation Rate Inflation Increase
1 0

The takeaway here is that your first year you'll withdraw a set amount. In future years the amount you'll withdraw is be based on inflation during those years. For this example we're using the same inflation rate, but in reality it'll vary each year.

Another thing to keep in mind is that inflation doesn't mean all of your expenses will rise by this much every year. Inflation means that the Consumer Price Index and Product Price Indexes indicate that this shift in prices.

Your net expenses may even go down! While many people see a spending reduction once they stop working, if you're more than 10 years away from that, I'd recommend raising your future spending percent from (spending /yr) to at least 90% to buffer for potential increases due to inflation and other unknowns.

Factoring in Taxes

In addition to inflation, you have taxes to watch out for. For that number we've talked about – that's how much you'll need to save after taxes are taken into account.

There is some good news here actually. Taxes are extremely lenient to those investing in the stock market. Withdrawals from a 401k/IRA will be taxed at the same rate your paycheck when working, but there are many other investing options that allow you to pay much less tax.

For example, a Roth IRA allows your money to grow tax-free, and you to withdraw money without paying any taxes. Capital gains, which are the growth on an investment, are taxed at 15% – but only for earnings above $78,000 (!) if you're filing a joint tax return.

Depending on your situation it may be possible to withdraw /yr and pay absolutely nothing taxes. For our plan, we're aiming to withdraw $80,000 a year and pay $0 in taxes – so it's definitely possible!

The takeaway on taxes is that you'll want to make sure your number takes them into account. Keep that knowledge at the back of your mind for now as something to learn more about later (taxes are a huuuuge subject that are too big to cover here).

Enter Market Investing​

The missing piece here is that you can invest that money in the stock market -- both while you're growing it and when you're drawing down from it.

A diversified portfolio of US stocks, foreign stocks and bonds has returned on average 7% a year over the last century. This is an important number! If you're withdrawing at most 4% of this, and 3% of it is going to inflation, then your net worth will last forever. Unfortunately, the stock market has ups and downs, so we can't make predictions quite that bold, but we can use it as a baseline. This is why 4% is often sighted as the maximum WR to use in calculations.

Learning how to invest and earn ~7% will sound intimidating at first. It will take trial and error, but more than that it'll take being brave and putting money into the stock market. Using a simple 3-fund portfolio is a great place to start learning how to invest.

Your Numbers with Market Investing​

If you put your money into a savings account and withdrew some of it each year, the total amount you'd withdraw would be around . However, if you invested this and it grew at a pace of /yr, and you withdrew an inflation adjusted /yr, then this amount could provide you with before your 100th birthday.

That wouldn't be all at once but in the form of /yr. This is the true power of compound interest! Imagine how many more years you'd need to work to save this amount without investing. Actually, no need to imagine -- it's year!

That deserves repeating. If you learn how to invest, you can retire year earlier.

Mind blown

This is the number one difference between people who retire early and those who wait until social security -- people who retire early learn how to invest.

When I first did the math on compound interest I was floored. The idea that I'd make more money during retirement than during my working years seemed counterintuitive, but the numbers were right there.

Become an Investor

If you're not currently investing, learning enough to feel confident can be intimidating. It takes time, patience and the occasional leap of faith. I've put together a free 10-week email course to help you get started.

In this course, I'll email you a new set of tasks to accomplish each week. Sometimes this will include articles to read, or activities to perform on Vanguard or wherever you're investing.

By the end of this course, you'll have a balanced understanding of investing and confidence to invest for the rest of your life. If you've been putting off learning how to invest, this is where you should start. If you'd like to learn more, you can read about The Minimal Investor Course and take the entire course for free (Really. I just want to help you learn to invest).

Woman hiking
Speed up your FI hike with a few small lifestyle tweaks.

Part 6: What Can I Do to Retire Sooner?​

Now that you have a baseline of until you've saved up enough at your current pace, let's see what small steps you can take to lower that number!

There are only 2 ways you can affect this number:

  1. Make more money.
  2. Spend less money.​

That's really all that it comes down to. The savings rate calculation we looked at is based entirely on these two numbers (spending/savings). Let's look at a few scenarios and see what impact they have on your FI dates.

What If: You Reduce Spending & Save It?

If you reduce your spending by (saving a year more), then you could be FI year earlier once you have saved .

By reducing your yearly spending by , you'll need less to retire. Upon retiring, you'd be spending a year.

Adam Says: Are there things in your lifestyle that you'd be happy to cut? Would you rather cut spending by /yr or work for an additional year?

The less you need, the less you'll need to save. If you reduce your spending to $0/yr, you'd need $0 to retire. That's likely unrealistic, but the less you spend, the less you need.

The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.


Taking steps to reduce your lifestyle can pay off by reducing the time you'll be required to work to maintain it. Be careful not to go overboard though. Build a life you want, then save for it.

What If: You Earn Money In Retirement?

You're on track to spend /yr during retirement. What if you still spent this exact same amount, but of it comes from income in retirement? This would involve you finding a way to make /yr in side income.

In that case, you can retire year earlier!

Adam says: What can you start doing today to add another income stream? It would reduce your time until retirement, but also add stability for later on.

Finding a small way to supplement your income can reduce the amount you'll need to save. The concept of a side hustle has grown a bunch in the last few years, with people opting to find ways to control their financial destiny. I like Side Hustle Nations description of a side hustle:

A side hustle is something you do to earn money outside a traditional job.

Side Hustle Nation

If you're like me and haven't made money outside the boundaries of a W-2 for your career, this might just seem like more work and not FIRE. The distinction to me is in having a side hustle that you love doing. One that you look forward to waking up to work on.

At that point, this additional revenue stream can become another challenge in your life or another form of self-expression.

Lowering expenses and earning money in retirement are two very clear ways to reduce the time until you are financially independent.

What If: Reduce Spending & Earn Income?

Rather doing one or the other, what if you do both? That's the best way to optimize your path to financial independence.

You reduce spending by while replacing of your income during retirement ().

This would result in you reaching FI in year. That would be earlier than your current timeline of year by year!

Adam says: It's crazy to think that these 2 things could result in a reduction in your working years.

Making more money and spending less while investing is the key to achieving financial independence sooner.

People around campfire
There are 543k subscribers to /r/financialindependence/ alone.

Part 7: Who is actually doing this?​

You might be surprised by who is pursuing FI. It ranges from people in debt to multi-millionaires who have retired already. There is likely someone who is in a similar situation to you out there.

Here on Minafi alone there are 15 people pursuing fire who have contributed their own stories! Here's a random sampling of a few stories.


Adam from Minafi

42, Man, SINK, FIRE, Salt Lake City, UT $2,200,000 networth. Spending $80,000/yr. FI at 36. RE at 36 in Salt Lake City now. Maybe Seattle and traveling later? (traveling)

Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!

Read more about Adam


Amy Blacklock from Life Zemplified

49f, married, working and saving money in Michigan. $900k in savings. Spending $75k/yr, $50k in retirement. FI by 53. RE by 55 in an rural area.
My current day job is in the automotive industry as a project analyst with additional responsibilities in office management. On the side I'm a nutrition and health coach, blogger, and freelance writer. I enjoy a variety of sports and fitness activities, and I love learning and trying new things.

Read more about Amy

Gwen somewhere awesome.

Gwen from Fiery Millennials

26f, working and saving money in the Midwest. $170,000 in savings. Spending $40k/yr now, $25k in retirement. FI by 28 in a ruralish area. RE by 30.
Hey, I'm Gwen! I'm a 26 year old IT professional on my way to early retirement. I enjoy playing sports, cuddling my cat, reading and working on my real estate properties.

Read more about Gwen

Actual photo of the author.

Early Retirement Dude from

48m, married and retired in the Southeastern US. $2.3m in savings. Spending $55k/yr. FI & RE at 36 in a ruralish area.
I'm a Deadhead-type GenX'er. Love running and bicycle touring. Averse to the toxicity of consumer culture and the modern workplace. Trying to wake people up to the idea that financial independence/early retirement A) exists, B) can be an antidote to that toxicity, and C) is actually achievable.

Read more about Early Retirement Dude


Jane from Cash Fasting

25f, working and saving money in New York City. $65k in savings. Spending $25k/yr now. FI by 35. RE TBD in a city metro.
I'm a VA native trying to build wealth in the Big Apple. I'm relatively new to the idea of FIRE, but I've jumped on board and I'm eagerly tracking my progress. I enjoy dancing, cooking, trying out new restaurants, and telling my friends to invest more in their retirement accounts.

Read more about Jane

Early Retiree Darrow Kirkpatrick in the Pecos Wilderness

Darrow from Can I Retire Yet?

57m, married and retired in Santa Fe, NM. $1m+ in savings. Spending varies. FIRE at 50 in a city metro.
Early-retired civil and software engineer, author, investor who loves outdoor sports like climbing, biking, and hiking.

Read more about Darrow

Photo of a $300 gift my husband gave me. I later urged him to return it for a refund. This is a constant reminder that we don't need to show our love and build our family w/expensive gifts.

Ms. FAF from Frugal Asian Finance

30f, married, working and saving money in Washington, D.C. $320k in savings. Spending $50k/yr now and in retirement. FI & RE by 50 in a city metro.
I am an Asian personal finance blogger, a full-time working mother of one, a devoted wife, and a real estate dreamer. I am passionate about saving money while living a fulfilling life.

Read more about Ms. FAF

Part of the low expense equation

Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme

41m, married, retired in Chicago. Enough in savings and spending $11k/yr (<$7k/person). FI by 30. RE at 33 in a city metro.
Renaissance man and an intellectual gunslinger with an attention span of 3-5 years. I enjoy thinking about hard interdisciplinary problems and finding practical solutions. I've worked with problems in nuclear astrophysics, energy resources, sustainability, algorithmic trading, and extreme FIRE.

Read more about Jacob

Jim spending time on the beaches of Panama with his daughter.

Jim from Route to Retire

41m, married, working and saving money in Ohio. ~$1.08m in savings. Spending $60k/yr now, $45k in retirement. FI & RE by 49 in a rural area.
I'm currently in IT management and have been at the same company for over 18 years. While they've always taken care of me, I don't enjoy the day-to-day anymore. When my daughter was born, I hated having to go to work every day - I felt like I was missing out even though this is common for dads to do. Since then, I've been on a mission to be free from the financial burden shackling me to an office every day. We now have three rental units and are hoping to purchase 2-3 more before I quit my job in a few years.

Read more about Jim

Texting with Warren Buffett....

J. Money Budgets Are Sexy

37m, married, working and saving money in Washington, D.C. $657,837.01 in savings. Spending $72k/yr now, $48k in retirement. FI by 45 in an expensive city. RE never. :)
I'm a daddy of two, blogger of two, and been a self-employed blogger since 2010. Love to see all the new faces coming up in the community as we need as much help with this $$$ stuff as we can get out there.

Read more about J. Money

One of the epic road trips I've taken along the West Coast

J from Millennial Boss

29f, married, working and saving money in the Pacific Northwest. $300k in savings. Spending varies by location, $60k in retirement. FI by 35. RE by 40 in a city metro.
I'm J and I love dabbling in various side hustles, travel hacking, and reading personal development books. I plan to retire with my husband and my dog near family but the truth is that I love dabbling so much that I always see myself bringing in some sort of income. I'm currently an Etsy seller and make a few hundred dollars per month through that.

Read more about J

PT hanging out on the steps at Bryant Park in NYC.

Philip Taylor from PT Money

41m, married, working and saving money in Frisco, TX. $709,500 in savings. Spending $80k/yr now, $50k in retirement. FI by 47 in a super expensive city. RE... What is this 'retire' that you speak of?
Married, father of three, former practicing CPA turned full-time blogger, podcaster, and conference/event planner.

Read more about Philip Taylor

Cape Tribulation, Australia - Going to revisit after we FI/RE

Working Optional from Working Optional

40~45, married and living in Southern California. Half way to FI. Spending $90k/yr now, $60k in retirement. FIRE at 53, RE in 50s in a city metro.
Self-employed, work in IT, newbie Personal Finance blogger. Looking to increase semi-passive income via real estate, informational products, SaaS apps etc.

Read more about Working Optional

Zed admiring the strange cloud formations on Mt. Etna.

Zed from zencents

32m, married and saving in Boston, MA. $150k in savings. Spending varies, $20k/yr in retirement. FI at 40, RE at 45 in a rural area.
Engineer by day. Financial engineer by night! Suburban dwelling, home owning millennial looking to take back my life, by taking back my time. Love the four seasons, love to be outdoors, love my wife and love my puppy! (She's my puppy, even if she is approaching 7 years!)

Read more about Zed

Create an account to share your story.

Common Similarities In This Group​

When reading over everyone's answers to these questions, a few themes start to stand out real quick.

They avoided lifestyle inflation​

Nearly everyone mentioned avoiding lifestyle inflation as an essential component. If your expenses increase with your income, you'll never save more. All of the numbers in this post assume that your expenses do not go up. If you spend more each year, you'll need more money to retire, and it'll take you more time to accumulate it.

They didn't start with everything

No one I talked to got lucky with the lottery, an inheritance, a business acquisition or a lucky Bitcoin investment that accounted for a sudden retirement. There are some out there who hit the jackpot, but for most people, it's going to take hard work and time.

They spent in areas that matter to them

Going overboard on saving can make you miserable. Focus on spending money on things that will what bring joy into your life and makes you and those around you happy. This may seem at odds with lifestyle inflation, but it's important to strike a balance between these two.

Adam Says: Thanks so much for all the people who agreed to be interviewed for this post! Their time and support mean a lot to me. I recommend you check out their blogs and events!

Part 8: Where can I learn more?​​

There are a few amazing books on the topic of financial independence and early retirement that go into these topics with much more eloquence and depth than I could ever explore. If you're curious to learn more, these are all amazing resources.

Minafi Email List​

Here at Minafi, I write about the intersection of minimalism, mindfulness and financial independence. I'll also be releasing more interactive posts like this one in the months to come. Sign up to get one email each week with what I'm focused on.


Here are some of the top sources in different mediums to learn about financial independence.

Your Money or your life book cover
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Your Money is an amazing exploration into developing a relationship with money that goes deeper than just buying things. This book is the origin of many articles and concepts that you'll read about in the FI world, told beautifully.

As great as Your Money is, it borders on self-help as opposed to finance - which actually helps its topics connect deeper for me.

The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing

This is the book that personally got me into investing and thinking about this subject. By introducing things like the 4% for withdrawal rate, understanding investing, diversification, fees, fund types, account types and more, this book served as my education on investing.

The Bogleheads Guide consistently ranks as one of the 3 most influential books I have ever read in my life - serving as an introduction and education all in one.

Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door

The term "millionaire" has a connotation of lavish spending and abundance in popular culture. This book looks at a different side of that - working millionaires who worked hard to create a life they wanted.

In order to achieve FI, most people will need to earn more than a million dollars. This book put that number into perspective for me, bringing it down to earth.


There are a number of thriving communities focused on financial independence and early retirement. I can't include them all, but here are a few that I've participated in and enjoyed.

/r/FinancialIndependence on Reddit

This is a place for people who are or want to become Financially Independent (FI), which means not having to work for money. Forum

This was the first forum I discovered when investing. I asked extremely basic questions and people were helpful and welcoming. If you're learning how to invest, and want to do it the smart way, this forum, the associated wiki, is an amazing source of knowledge.

Mr. Money Mustache Community

While Bogleheads leans towards investing, the MMM community ranges from "do it yourself" to "real estate investing" to "taxes" and "entrepreneurship".

Early Retirement Extreme Forums

The Early Retirement Extreme community (created by Jacob interviewed above!) focuses on all parts of retiring early with a slant towards extreme lifestyle changes that can make the process go faster.


The graphs in this post are only a starting point for understanding your financial future. The best tool I've found for digging deeper into these numbers and incorporating many more variables is Personal Capital. They have a Retirement Planner tool that I've been using for years to understand my own finances. Check them out if you're hoping to dig deeper into graphs.

Personal capital scenario
A scenario I was ran on my own finances using Personal Capital

What I really like about Personal Capital is it goes beyond the averages used in this post to group scenarios by percentile. In this screenshot above, you can see a line for my median case, but also the worst 10 percentile. The little blocks are me playing with life events: buying healthcare, taking social security and when Mrs. Minafi stops working.

Part 9: Recap​​​

You made it to the end! Let's recap a little about where you are now and where you're going.

Here's A Snapshot of your Financial Health

You're a year old born in with dependents/children, currently earning /yr and saving /yr for a savings rate (SR) of about .

You've managed to save up so far. Right now, you're and spending /yr.

In retirement, you're hoping to spend of what you spend today (equal to about /yr) and retire at age years old.

You're on track to be financially independent in year – at age years old once you've saved up .

You're assuming markets will rise /yr and that your withdrawal rate will be .

If you permanently reduce your spending by (saving /yr) then you could be FI in year.

If you earn a little money in retirement, say , then you'd be FI in year.

If you permanently reduce spending by and earn a side income of , then you'll be on track to be FI in year -- year earlier than your current path.

Adam Says: This is a dense area, but it includes all adjustable numbers in this post. If you're wanting to just play around and see the results of any scenario, this is your chance!

Part 10: What Next

If there's one takeaway you get from this post, it's that the concept of financial independence isn't solely for those who are extremely wealthy or for those who are nearing social security.

It's a path that starts with understanding what you want out of life and figuring out what you'd need to do to get there. The fastest way often means removing excess from your life that isn't increasing happiness in proportion to the amount spent. Beyond that, it's about understanding how much you need to save to live the life you want and making a plan for it.

There is no predetermined group that financial independence is for. It could work well for people in extreme debt who want to get out and work towards a different future -- or for people in their career looking for what comes next.

My Recommendations For You​

  • Join Minafi to continue learning more!
  • Track your spending for a month. Learn where every cent is going.
  • Sign up for my free Minimal Investor Course and learn how to invest.
  • Find a community of people to learn from. This could one of the above places, a blog you enjoy, a podcast you jive with - anything that keeps you learning.
  • Make a plan for when you'd want to be financially independent, and work backward to understand when you'd get there and how to get there sooner!
  • Read more about minimalism, mindfulness or financial independence here on Minafi.

If you enjoyed this article, or have any thoughts on it, please share it and let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!


Special thanks to the following people for helping out on this!

  • My Wife for reading over various drafts and ideas.
  • Bret Victor for Tangle, the JS library that inspired the data binding here.
  • Mike Bostock for D3.js, the library used for graphs
  • John Bogle and The Bogleheads who gave me a great foundational education in investing.
  • Mr. Money Mustache for introducing me on to the idea of financial independence.
  • All of the bloggers who agreed to an interview.
  • Everyone who's shared this post to help spread the word of FI!

Hi, I'm Adam! I help millennials invest to reach financial independence sooner than they ever thought possible. Want to see what you could do to reach FI sooner? You're in the right place!


Why not add to the conversation below? Your voice is welcome!

Incredible piece of content.

Original, engaging, helpful, fun, and free.

You’re an Ace in my book, Adam. I hope every single person landing on this piece of personal finance history shares it…because it deserves it.

Thanks for the kind words Pete! That’s quite the moniker to live up to, but it would be awesome (and thrilling) for it be read by more people.

Great article Adam. Glad to have helped as a beta reader.

Will definitely keep this one in the back of my head as a complete resource!

Thanks again for the feedback. 🙂

Holy crap this is an epic post. I love the interactiveness to it, and it hits on a ton of points of FI – savings rate, earning more, spending less, tools to track…just awesome stuff here. Great job.

How long did it take to put this beast together? lol

Haha thanks Dave! I started in midway through July and had been working on it nights and weekends since then. I don’t even want to calculate the hours (over 100 for sure though). A large portion was getting feedback and iterating on it too.

So happy to see you finally release this guide! 😀

If someone needs an intro to FI I know exactly where I am going to send them. Absolutely honored to be part of such an epic project. Now to go spread the word!

Thanks Zed! And thanks for the help in looking things over and contributing an interview.

Adam, numbers don’t work right when they’re higher. (I.e. over1M in savings) Plug in 3M for saving 50 yr old, 150k/yr and 70k in savings and living off of 55k and desire to retire at 53. it says they can’t retire until 72. This seems off.

Looks like it’s fixed now. Nice site.

I was wrong. The numbers just don’t add up if you assume you’ve already had savings. Maybe it’s still taking out savings after you’ve reached the goal?

Thanks for the feedback Chuck. You’re absolutely right – it was broken for people that were already FI. For the section on “reaching FI sooner”, there’s a part where it says “It’s crazy to think that these 2 things could result in a NaN reduction…”, but it was dividing by 0 and breaking everything. Should be fixed now!

Mark my words, I will be sharing this. This is an amazingly comprehensive tool to walk through the concept of FI and determine a realistic FI goal. I feel like so many of the resources I have come across are all combined here in one epic post 🙂

Thank you for creating and for including us! Looking forward to using this throughout our FI journey and sharing it with others!

Thanks so much! I’m glad you’re finding it useful – especially for new people who might be fuzzy on the terms. Thanks again for the interview.

As someone who likes to write longer content as well, I am appreciating this so much. I know how long it takes to produce content so I’m happy to share! What a super cool tool!

Thanks! I’m a fan of the long-form style too – I think it’s the best way to really teach/learn something, even it means not everyone is going to make it to the end. Posts where I come away with takeaways (or resources) like your Ebay post, are the ones I remember and refer back to.

This is an Awesome post, Adam! Creative thinking, interactive and completely original. Oh, and its useful too 😉

Now sharing with all my non-blog-reading friends…

Haha, thanks! I am curious to get feedback from people for which these terms are completely new. Most the initial readers will be people with personal finance experience. I want to talk to some people who read it and have no personal finance experience.

Thanks for including me in this, Adam! I’m definitely astounded by how cool this post is! Not only is it a good read, but it’s fun to toy with using your own numbers.

Hopefully, you’ll get a lot of folks out there that use this as an eye-opener toward the path to FIRE.

— Jim

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I’m seriously hoping it lands that way – as an optimistic look at what the future could be for people who have never heard of these terms.

This is one of the simplest, yet useful FIRE guide out there. I really like the interactive aspect of it and am glad to recommend it.

Thanks so much!

The formatting is flawless and beautiful! Great job Adam! I’m having the most fun playing with this. I am such a forgetful fruit but I recall bookmarking the forum page so I could go back and answer it later on a desktop computer but it slipped my marbles.

Thanks Lily! My wife and I got a good laugh from your Tweets about it too. 🙂

Wow! This is so cool! My husband and I are expecting to receive pensions (no earlier than 55), so I had to play with the numbers a little bit to account for that. Since the amount of our pensions are determined by how long we teach for (among other factors), it’s a little bit of an unknown amount at this point. We are saving as if we wouldn’t receive a pension, so we can decide when we’re ready to retire. FI is the goal!

Thanks! I thought about trying to include late in life pensions or social security but that’s a tough one to model well – unless people have a lot of additional knowledge.

I’m actually really curious how you might’ve manipulated things in this calculator to account for that?

I just adjusted the numbers of what I’ll need in retirement (assuming my investments are supplemented by a pension), but it’s definitely just a guess right now, since I’m not sure how long I’ll teach for.

Hi Adam,

Thanks for sharing this interactive tool! Loving how simple and easy it is to use, I just started my personal finance blog here in Australia ( and take much inspiration from guys like yourself, keep it up!

HI Adam – This interactive blog post is soo RAD! Thanks for creating it and sharing with all of us. It is eye opening for sure. You Rock!

This was fun! Very useful and illustrative for someone on the path to FI. I’ve shot right on past the FI number, and your calculators rightfully told me to retire yesterday.


Haha, I’m glad it worked for the already-FI case. I went back and forth on how to handle that before settling on the “how about you set a stretch goal?” idea.

Nicely done! I’m sure it took a ton of work on your part to put this together so I applaud your efforts!

Best thing on the internet!

Aww, thanks so much!

Very useful, fun, and engaging content! Bookmarked (to be reversed engineered)! 🙂

Haha, from a tech standpoint it’s all Tangle.js (link in credits), some D3 and basic jQuery. The hard part was all the javascript artifact creation and figuring out to integrate it into a WordPress site. The solution was to create a new “page type” that’s juuust for this post, then hardcode all of the text from the post in that file. It meant I wrote this post in a text editor rather than the WordPress admin, but it worked out.

Anton Gorshkov

Anton Gorshkov

May 18, 2021

In case anyone else is looking for technical help, Tangle.js seems to be mostly dead, an alternative I have found that does something very similar is:

This is cool. Looks like I’m on target. I did a double take because my current side hustle -is- the amount it said I’d need to make in FI. 🙂
A part of my interest I FI is being able to do a job that pays less, and having the money to cover all the rest. Plus having more vacation time the corporate world is slow to dole out. 🙂

lol, that’s awesome – the defaults worked out!

Awesome post! Loved reading about everyone as well. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks! Glad the interviews were fun to read. 🙂 Those could be an entire series on their own.

So much love for this guide. Thanks again for including me, Adam!

Thanks for the interview and contribution Amy!

I think the historical 7% return of US stock market that you were referring to is already inflation adjusted. The nominal historical return is 10% and the historical rate of inflation is 3%

Hmm, yeah you’re right it is an inflation adjusted 7%. I’ll plan on tweaking the inflation section to correct that point. Thanks for the heads up!

Great calculator. It is fun even though I am FI and semi-retired.

Thanks! I wasn’t sure how it would land for people that are already FI, but glad to hear it was still useful.

Great post. It lands very well with people who are already FI as we never stop working on our finances.
According to your calculator I am already FI but the thing is, I am only spending $12000/Yr (overseas) and still feel like I’m living the dream. You can probably see by my IP where I am 🙂
I do have a question though. When I am 65, I’ll collect ~$1500 in Social Security. Which means SS will pretty much cover living expenses as long as I stay here and I can withdraw $0 from the portfolio. Not 4%, not 3% not even 1%…zero! 😉
However, the calculators don’t account for this (SS). Isn’t that(SS) a pretty critical piece of data? Thanks!

Hi Adam – I am new to FI/RE and really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for taking the time to develop/share this tool. As a military service member I find it difficult to compute my potential pension at the earliest age of 42.

Do you have any recommendations to account for this?

Hey Jason, it sounds like this might be the same issue as social security not being on here? Is this your situation:

You’ll have a pension at some date later (say 60), so you don’t need to save up a net worth that’ll last the rest of your life now – just enough to last until you’re 60 + any additional on top of the pension?

I thought about trying to account for this case in the post, but I couldn’t think of a good way to keep it feeling simple. I’d recommend checking out Personal Capital (link in this post) for running those more complex scenarios. I have a scenario where I get Social Security at 68 with my same numbers as here on Personal Capital and it’s been fun to play with and understand how it impacts how much I need to save.

Thanks for the quick response. I will be eligible to receive full retirement benefits at age 42. Based on my rank at retirement, I would receive an annual inflation adjusted income of $40K – $50K after taxes for the reminder of my life. Trying to fit this into traditional calculators can be confusing. The way I see it, it doesn’t hurt to use the same methodology that so many non-military folks are using.

Thanks again for the feedback. I look forward to reading more.

– Jay

A real estate investment, a condo or house goes up about 5% ON AVERAGE a year. Minus you paying a mortgage rate. And the tenant hassle.

So would it be better to take that money and invest them and get 7%?

To me, the real estate vs market investing decision heavily depends on where you want to spend your time. Would you rather spend it building a real estate empire or passively investing?

I personally put real estate along side other side business that could become main businesses. You’ll want to invest either way, but for diversifying your income streams between a job, investing a side business (real estate, side hustle, blog, etc) seems like a great path.

If you do it right, real estate can build a TON of wealth. It takes a certain type of person, a higher risk tolerance and a lot of research. For me personally, investing a lot easier and gives me more time in my life to pursue other things.

I came really close to going the real estate path though. Here’s a write-up on why I decided not to go that route:

Problem is, if you start your FI when the market cycle goes down, you lose a important chunk of your stocks.
And also once you make more than 200k profit, you start paying taxes

That being said, my tenant called to try to hassle me …. SO I NEED TO LEARN TO INVEST IN STOCKS 🙂 🙂 🙂

Awesome work on this! I’ll have to come back and play with these calculators and share them with skeptics 🙂

This is a super great interactive planner! Is there a way for me to incorporate my defined benefit pension into the calculation?

You could count that in the retirement income/side hustle section. Basically if you know your monthly income, annualize that and put the value in the ‘What If: You Earn Money In Retirement?’ section.

(Another) Adam answered this one – but sounds like the best way. In order to give this a little more focus it’s based around not earning anything else later on. The math and the number of options get pretty crazy complex after that. I’d recommend checking out Personal Capitals Retirement Planner if you want something with more options though. You can do things like adding a pension that kicks in at a specific year.

Great article Adam. I assume you do not count home equity in your “starting assets” value? Just brokerage, (Roth)-Ira, savings accounts and similar instruments.

This is a great distillation of the main concepts, formulas and mindsets behinf financial independence. I’m sure this page will become a major reference point for people beginning their journey…

Fantastic! Thank you very much Adam! I will share your article with my friends in Slovakia. 🙂

This is such a great way to package content within a calculator! This is exactly what so many people need to visualize it. I think the hardest part for me is realistically coming up with how much I will spend. I just don’t see this as being a static number. Not to mention there are so many unknowns. Healthcare anyone? 🙂 Great stuff, Adam. I’m sure I will link back to you many times!

Reinardus Pradhitya

Reinardus Pradhitya

September 13, 2017

Nice website! I have a question, hope someone here can help

> Stock markets in the US have returned on average 7% a year since their beginning. This is an important number! If you’re withdrawing at most 4% of this, and 3% of it is going to inflation, then your net worth will last forever.

Wouldn’t there be capital gain tax of around 40%? So the return is not actually 7%, but around 4.2%?
Or 7% is already after tax? But then 12% gross return is just too high, no?

Good question! I didn’t go into tax on this article because it’s a rather large topic by itself. You might already k ow this, but bear with me. The capital gains tax is dependent on 2 things: if you held it for a short term (<1 yr) or longer. If you hold a fund longer than 1yr the gains will be taxed as ordinary income. For a couple filing jointly, this means you'll only pay tax after you've taken out $76,000 of growth in a year. If you take out $100,000, but 25% comes from the initial investment and 75% comes from capital gains you'll pay $0 in taxes.

The trick here is to hold long term and then only sell an amount under this limit every year. This works for brokerage sales.

Roth IRA sales don't have taxes, so that one is easy.

401ks are where things get tricky. You wouldn't pay 40% at least, but you would likely pay a smaller amount. If you do a Roth IRA ladder, you can minimize this even more.

Hey Adam,
Awesome site!
Resourceful and simple to use!
I would love to learn to code, could you help me out?

Hey David! I’m biased on this one, but it’ll heavily depend on why you’re learning to code. If you’re up for it, reach out to me through the contact form (in the footer). If I can understand why you’re wanting to learn to code, I might be able to provide some good resources!

Phenomenal piece. Thank you so much. This is being saved and archived. I would like to see this altered with real estate investing.

Another one….If somebody would want to retire in 2017-2018. And would sell an investment property, and individual socks. The first 7-10 years of FI are crucial, and considering the possibility of a recession, what’s the best way to invest? 100% stock and forget about it? 75/25 with some stop-loss triggers? Or all in bonds for 12-18mo and wait?

This one depends on your risk tolerance. We can’t know how markets will perform over the next 1, 5, 10 years. If I came into some money from investments right now, I’d probably dollar cost average them to a portfolio that matches my investment allocation. It would have a bunch of bonds in a range depending on what your age is. I wouldn’t put into effect any triggers for if things go down though. If you’re set with your investment allocation, then it can work through good times and rough times.

In 2008, I lost 50% of my portfolio. I didn’t change things up and it ended up rebounding fast and exceeding the old value. If I had gotten out (but not gotten back in in time) I would have lost a bunch of money. That’s the hard part about trying to time the market – you have to get it right when you get out and when you get back in.

One of the coolest posts I have seen! I love how it´s all interactive and how you can experiment with the numbers!


Hi Adam:

Your “Retirement Age Calculator” graph is still off by a year. That is, it credits the reader with an extra year of savings without adding an extra year to age.

For example, if I say that I am 40 with $1 million, and I save $100,000 per year, then the graph will say that my age is 40, and my portfolio is $1,100,000 (rather than the correct value of $1,000,000).

Ohh, you’re absolutely right – the graph with future earnings was off. I just fixed it now. Thanks for the heads up on that one.



October 9, 2017

It is an awesome idea, and a very well done article! I am not sure how to use it though, when I am paying off mortgage – until that is payed off, I’m not saving for retirement much, and once it is payed off, I would be saving tons more than now (because no more mortgage payments) + I would have a house as an asset e.g. in case of downsizing or moving to a cheaper area.

Am I missing something in the calculator, or does it just not consider that people are paying off mortgages?
Or should I just pretend I’m 15 years older, mortgage is payed off, and enter numbers from that time on?

Cheers. 🙂

Hmm yeah, that’s an interesting problem – and one I have too as a fellow mortgage holder.

My recommendation is to try Personal Capital for those more advanced scenarios. They have a planner that allows for adding life events at different times and increasing savings at a certain point.

For this calculator, the closest approximation would be to increase the amount you’re investing each year slightly and see how that turns out. It wouldn’t be an exact science unfortunately though. I’ll keep that in mind for the future though!



October 9, 2017

Thanks for the fast reply! Yeah, I was more interested in using this article, than in actually planning FI future to be honest – I have it all planned via traditional means of xls tables and budgeting already. But this tool you have here is too shiny to pass by. Oh well. 🙂 My solution is to pay mortgage as fast as possible to pay less interest, and to then start saving for retirement – again, as fast as possible without sacrificing important things. And to treat owning a house at that point as an extra security point, rather than as asset – i.e. I’m not taking its worth into calculations directly when I think of how much I need for retirement.

New visitors are probably coming from a link in a weekly YNAB email that most of the YNAB clients would get.

All of this shows how much you’ll be spending in retirement, not including taxes, but says you need to have only that much saved. Assuming you’re not in the 0% tax bracket in retirement, how do you determine how much *more* money you need to have to retire and be a law-abiding citizen? =)

Creative and engaging experience. Well done! I retired in 2016 at 47 and your numbers are in the ballpark. Take a look at Big Ern’s toolbox for some helpful ways to integrate pension and SS into your calculations.

This is an excellent and engaging post for folks getting started with FI. I especially like the section which talks about folks that are pursuing FI and it brings it all together. Keep up the good work. I will definitely share this tool.

Adam, this post is such a great overview of FI. Thanks for putting it together. I love how it’s interactive and you can run your calculations without a spreadsheet. I’ve already linked to it in my post how much do you need to retire.


I’m new to blogging (2nd month), and creating a piece of content this in-depth and insightful is my goal over the next few months. Content is king, and this post definitely hits the mark.

Great work!

Is this guide still working? As of 7:00p EST on 11/13/2017, I am not able to fill in any of the underlined values. They aren’t even being displayed. For example, the 1st input block just says:

“My yearly after-tax income (w/401k included) is $ and I save $ total for retirement – including 401k and all other means. Using these figures, my savings rate (SR) will be about .”

With no underlined values to change.

Eek, you’re absolutely right. I was doing some JavaScript performance optimizations and it broke things. It’s now 8:34pm EST and things are fixed. 🙂

Just wanted to say nice work on the guide. This is awesome and super intuitive. Beautiful work; probably the easiest retirement calculator to use.

Thanks Jim! I’m glad you enjoyed it.



January 9, 2018

Thanks so much for this article. Now that I have an idea of how much I need to save to achieve FI, I’m trying to figure out how much I need to save in traditional retirement accounts versus a taxable account in order to be able to withdraw money before age 59 1/2. Do you have any resources you would recommend for this type of planning?

Hey Michelle! That’s a good question – and a really tough one to model/plan out. One of the biggest strategies for doing this is by doing a Roth IRA Ladder. The idea is finding a way to move money from an IRA/401k into a Roth, then being able to take the basis out of the Roth without paying taxes. Having money in a taxable account is a requirement to support this by lowering your tax basis during the process. That article on Madfientist is a good place to start. 🙂



January 10, 2018

Love the analysis and guide. And I admit the digital bobble head is awesome – very much enjoyed that too.

Haha, I’m glad you liked the bobble head. 🙂 A coworker at a job made them for everyone and I’ve been constantly looking for opportunities to use it.

Hi Adam! First, I want to congratulate you for a fantastic post that has been selected for the Rockstar Rumble. I am your first competitor. I say first, because I am so impressed with this article and pretty sure you will take the bracket. My entry is my 2nd blog post ever and I’m working on my third right now. I was an electrical engineer and turned to software, but I worked on embedded code and have not learned anything related to the web. Your coding here is outstanding. You have really put together a great interactive and I plan on linking you to my “Discover” page. What an effort you have put together here. Hat’s off to you. Thank you for your wonderful contribution to the FI community.

Thanks for the kind words Susan! Getting selected for the Rumble that early on your blog is pretty awesome! That’ll be huge for getting some decent exposure too. On the code side, I’m completely lost on anything embedded or compiled even. I love the web side of development because if I make a mistake, I can just reupload code and users can refresh the page. Putting code out there into a system without that easy upgrade path sounds muuuuch more scary.

This is one heck of an intro post to FIRE. I absolutely love the bios at the end – there really are all different ways to get there (and all different things to do once you’ve made it).

Thanks Angela! Those bios were a lot of fun to work with others to write. I like the idea that for someone who’s never heard about FI they can see that they’re not crazy — other people are actually doing this. 🙂

Akshay Arabolu

Akshay Arabolu

February 13, 2018

This is incredible. So glad I came across this article. Going to share it with others I know also working towards FI. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together, signed up to the newsletter and looking forward to reading it!

Amazing exercise. I’ve read a lot about FIRE but it’s something else actually putting in the numbers and seeing the results. I especially enjoyed the part about how much saving some money can effect your FI date. Little sacrifices can go a log way!

Thanks! That was one of my favorite parts – the idea that if you cut your spending by 10% you’d be able to retire “X” years earlier. It’s crazy to me how much of a difference that can make.

Sandi Kay

Sandi Kay

March 14, 2018

You have no place to note a pension, or expected income from it. That would be a useful addition.

Great guide. How should someone account for a government pension in your guide? I put it under side income. Is that right?

This is an incredible piece of work. I just started the FIRE journey Jan. 2017 and I love finding new interesting article like this to read over 50 times because I love playing with the numbers. I do track my finances on personal capital and have lots of information there to enter into the article. But….I have one question.
My question is with out having a spreadsheet of all of your expenses or every savings you’ve made recorded, how do you calculate your savings amount? I can subract expenses from total income but i’m still left with an unknown amount of interest and dividends included in earnings which decreases the actual savings percentage. Im not sure if that changes the math formula made for the website.

Thank you, i’ve already shared this with friends.

This is probably one of the most user-friendly early retirement calculators I have ever used! I love this tool!

I was calculating numbers in excel and I just felt like…this can’t be right. After plugging in the same data into your interactive guide, I actually got the same numbers! Thanks for this!

I agree with the people above about the pension addition. Many companies still offer some kind of pension and it’d be nice to add that in.



April 29, 2019

A simple, but very large thank you for the effort (and skills) for this resource. Brilliant.

I really like this resource. For someone approaching retirement goals, do you have any further references/books for better post retirement tax planning assume money is tied up both in taxable and tax advantaged accounts.

Hey James! Hmm, not sure about this actually. I don’t have specific resources for tax-planning at that point since there are sooo many options and routes. I’ve written a handful of posts about taxes which might help give some ideas about things to focus on. For an entire portfolio review, there’s always a fee-only financial advisor. Another option is posting Bogleheads Forum and getting feedback from the group there on your specific situation.

The question is when you save for retirement and are fortunate enough to have enough saved, whether ongoing savings should be in a tax advantaged account vs a regular account. Continuing in a tax advantaged account may trigger automatic tax consequences at the time of with drawl when it may be advantageous to be in a lower bracket , if it can be helped?

Ahh gotcha, I think I see what you mean. You want to limit tax consequences down the line both when you’re withdrawing and potentially hitting the required minimum distribution.

There are some ways to structure your withdraws from your 401k/IRA to where you’ll pay no taxes (or no federal taxes at least).

For me, that looks something like this:

$24,000 – Withdrawing from 401k up to the standard deduction.

$24k-77k – Withdrawing capital gains from my taxable account

$77k+ – Withdrawing from my Roth IRA

With that setup, a couple filing jointly in a state without taxes would pay $0 in taxes, while still using all three accounts.

What a brilliant guide 🙂 Thank you so much for putting the effort into creating it. My girlfriend and I are testing different scenarios and it is so interesting to see how the numbers are changing!


Thanks a lot!

Thanks so much! Glad you found it helpful. 🙂

Adam, this really is quite the fun little tool. Playing around with the numbers and following the guidance was enjoyable, and we’re already FIRE! Heh.

Neat enough that I went ahead and added us to your directory (, which was also an enjoyable experience! You’ve got a knack for UX.


Thanks for sharing this fun experience, and more importantly, educational as well as useful to the community.


Thanks Chris!

Hey Adam!

Great site. I love it. I’m a tools and calculator junkie though no where near your UX proficiency. I have this Frankenstein of a spreadsheet that I use to track my historical assets, liabilities, income and expenses. I was pleased to see my projections aligning with what your tools propose. I’m shooting for FatFire/Morbidly Obese Fire and look to accomplish this in my early 50s. I’d love to do this even earlier and i was able to easily tinker with assumptions in your tools, hence why they’re great!

I wondered in Part 6 if you had considered adding a 3 option which was better performance. Technically, that’s part of making more money but you didn’t articulate it as well. As I think about it, the distinction might be performance on passive vs active income. Though, even passive income requires some activity for outperformance. I say this because, as your tools allow, you can adjust performance of your portfolio from just average market returns. For me, this is one tactic to speed up FIRE-ing. I trade stocks and options (primarily selling puts) to enhance my return. I’ve been moderately successful and if I can add a percent or two, that can meaningfully shave off a year or two. For others it may be tweaking aspects of their rental system/portfolio – I don’t dabble here so I’m not sure what this would be.

The other thought I had is the income potential at my company. Focusing my effort to increase my experience and skills can be more meaningful than starting a side hustle and hoping to strike it rich. This is because as my base grows, my bonus grows, and my benefits grow (e.g., 401k match). So as I get decent annual performance raises and a couple of promotions, I wonder how this might factor in to your tool. Not everyone’s cut out for side hustles, real estate, or trading. Just a thought.

Anyway, again, I love the site. I look forward to plowing through more content.


Thanks Max! I’m glad to hear the numbers here match up with our own projections. I use a regular old spreadsheet for my numbers as well and just gut check it against this one too. Seems to be the best way to go!

I wondered in Part 6 if you had considered adding a 3 option which was better performance.

Ah interesting idea! So the idea is that there’s one more variable that is “baseline investment returns” and “speedy investment returns” where you could compare them against each other? I do see how that’d be useful for understanding how huge a change a few percent could make over time.

I’d probably lean away from adding that though. Not because it’s not useful, but because it’s incredibly hard to beat the market consistently.

The other thought I had is the income potential at my company.

Ahh yeah that’s a good one! There’s no way to say your income goes up with this setup. That does open up a bit of a can of worms too. If your income can go up, then your spending can go up as well. That would be useful, but it makes the match a LOT more annoying haha. I was struggling to get it right as it is, so that would take some serious work to get right.

Instead of adding that to this, I like the idea of creating a general retirement calculator with that as an option – or just using the Personal Capital calculator. That one already allows for adjusting income over time.

Chad Matthew LaPorte

Chad Matthew LaPorte

February 1, 2021

I am new to investing, and am very thankful I came across your very easy to understand and well written piece. The i different avenues, information, and opportunities to learn more about investing that you provide is great. So far in my early investing life you are on the top of my list as go to for learning about investing. I look forward to learning all I can through any and all investment tools, newsletter, articles, blogs you provide or recommend. Thank you Adam for your time you put into all that you do to help others like myself learn.

Aww, thanks so much for the kind words!

Hey Adam,
Really nice work on the guide, feeling inspired by your useful and beautiful work. Thank you very much for sharing your brilliant ideas. Have great luck forever!

Alex Nelson

Alex Nelson

August 6, 2021

after-tax income (w/401k included)? I’m struggling with this amount. Is this AGI or the Taxable income amount on my taxes?

This guide doesn’t take into account how much you’ll pay in taxes. It assumes that the amount you’re withdrawing has already had its taxes paid. Your taxes could vary a lot – maybe they’re $0, or maybe 15%.

Bravo simply outstanding (an fun) F.I.R.E. walk through, this will make complete sense to my adult children!

  1. you should document that a “spend $X/yr during retirement” is inclusive of taxes, you do not make this as clear as it should be. I would prefer to “spend+taxes $X/yr during retirement”

  2. A spending glide path start at an initial “spend+tax” and glide down to a parameter 80% form the start at age 70 would model retirement better, a lot of people spen more in the firs few years and then settle down constant spending is not very typical.

you lost me at the withdraw rate. higher withdraw rate means less saving, just doesn’t make sense.

maybe I’m very bad at math.

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