Yakezie Member Post: Early Retirement Extreme Thumbnail

My name is Jacob. I am 35, financially independent and extremely early retired. I have been retired for almost two years now thanks to what can be considered a crash savings program. When I was working as an academic researcher, I was saving over 75% of my income. This was mainly due to me being so engaged in my work that I never developed a taste for consumerism, fine dining, and other bling-bling. I was also moving around in the world relocating to a new country every 3–4 years, so I never got bogged down with mortgage payments, credit loan, cars, and other financial traps.

Over a period of 5 years this therefore resulted in savings sufficiently large to live on the investment returns. Two years later, I decided to quit working for money and spend my time on something else. I now withdraw less than 3% of my portfolio annually. In personal finance terms, I have something like a 40 year emergency fund.

I started my blog, Early Retirement Extreme; almost three years ago after discovering the concept of blogging. Previously, I had been writing a bit on my myspace account and gotten some of my creative writing published in an e-zine. For a while I also ran a very popular website on peak oil (that started back in 2003). Anyhow, I wanted to reach a larger audience than my approximately 75 myspace friends and I figured that maybe I could write about personal finance having just discovered the existence of personal finance blogs in the fall of 2007. I believe the first personal finance blog, I came across was Lazy Man and Money.

I started out with a free “blogspot”. A few weeks later I discovered some very helpful posts on how to grow a blog, networking, tracking, timing, commenting on other blogs, stumbling, etc. I forget which sites, but they certainly helped. I got a domain name and a host about three weeks later. In those days it was normal for people to blog for 6-12 months before they “got discovered” and became read by more than 10 people. I was amazed that I had about 500 RSS subscribers after about half a year. I enjoy helping out new bloggers in the yakezie community as a way of paying back. Avoiding the common pitfalls early on and having some early success helps one to survive the “90 day crisis” where many new bloggers give up.

Indeed, the longer I have been blogging, the harder I have found it to come up with new posts on a daily basis. When that happens, bloggers typically start hiring staff writers to take some of the pressure off once they have been blogging for a few years. I have not been successful in that regard. Instead I have branched out in other directions.

First, I started reposting old posts. While the reception was mostly positive—a chance to rediscover old posts—there were a few negative reactions from people who feel they deserve a new post with their morning coffee every day. Very importantly though, it removed a lot of the creative pressure. Now, I don’t have to write repetitive posts covering the same subjects over and over. Instead, I only write when I have something new to say.

Second, I started an apprentice program and a forum. The forum currently sees about 70 new posts per day and is a chance for people to talk about new things instead of waiting for me to do so on the blog. The apprentice program is a chance to engage in longer projects with renewed interest to bring people up to a level where they can live off the interest/returns on their savings and spend their time as they wish rather than because they need money to pay bills.

This means that the blog is gradually changing towards being more of a community of like-minded people. There are not many normal people who can envision life without a college degree, a mortgage, and 30 years of spending 9–5 on a job they don’t care about as much as they used to. The forum therefore acts almost like a support group for continued inspiration and it has been hugely successful in that regard. We have even had some meetups: Two in Silicon Valley, one in Chicago, and one in New York City, with more being planned. It’s very nice to meet people who share your financial beliefs.

Lastly, I have begun to focus my content creation more towards writing books. Books make it possible to present one’s thoughts in a much more cohesive and permanent fashion. This is a new and very interesting challenge. Actually, my first personal finance book should be available by the time you read this.

I guess if there are any conclusions to be drawn from this is that a blog can be, nay, is more than just daily post with adsense or textlinks. It can be a community of like-minded much like the  Yakezie is. And it can even be more than that. As always, if anyone needs any help with anything, feel free to contact me.

Manage your early retirement with Personal Capital’s free financial tools. You can also check out the amazing Retirement Planning Calculator they just launched in June 2015.

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