9 Early Retirement Stories That Will Motivate You

I love a good early retirement or financial independence story! Everyone is so different, and it’s interesting to see how people have approached early retirement and financial independence. Plus, everyone has a unique idea and vision of what early retirement or financial independence means to them. If you are interested in learning about how to…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

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I love a good early retirement or financial independence story! Everyone is so different, and it’s interesting to see how people have approached early retirement and financial independence.Early Retirement Stories

Plus, everyone has a unique idea and vision of what early retirement or financial independence means to them.

If you are interested in learning about how to reach early retirement, the stories I’m going to share today will teach, motivate, and inspire you.

Early retirement may sound like a dream, but there are more and more people who are trying to retire early as part of the FIRE movement. If you haven’t heard of the concept before, FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early.

There are many different versions of FIRE, and it can mean being debt-free, retiring early, quitting your regular job to work a less stressful job, and so on.

There are many reasons why a person may want to reach early retirement or financial independence, such as:

  • Pursuing a passion without worrying about making an income
  • Having more time to travel
  • Having freedom
  • Spending more time with family and those that you love

Finding a good early retirement story may give you the boost of energy you need to keep working on your side hustles, find new ways to save, and put more money towards investments and retirement accounts.

You may also learn new tips and tricks for reaching early retirement that you would never think to try.

You may find one or two stories about reaching FIRE in this article that will really click with you – perhaps the person was in a similar situation, lives near you, has the same hobbies, or something else.

In today’s article, I am sharing 9 interviews and guest posts with people who have reached early retirement or financial independence. I ask each person to share their story, and you will learn things such as:

  • How much they saved for early retirement
  • How/if they still earn income after they quit their jobs
  • Their tips and tricks on how they saved money so quickly for retirement
  • How much they spend annually not that they’ve retired early

And more.

While some of their strategies may seem crazy or impossible to you, it shows different ways to approach financial independence.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than the people I have interviewed. It isn’t about comparing yourself to others, and remember that we all have to start somewhere.

Related content:

Here are 9 early retirement stories to motivate you.


1. How this couple retired at 38 and 41

Tanja Hester, from the very popular blog Our Next Life, retired at the end of 2017 at the age of 38.

This is one of my favorite early retirement stories, and I highly recommend reading it. It’s very in depth, and she is also the author of the super helpful early retirement book – Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How she managed to retire so early
  • How she still lives comfortably in one of the most beautiful places in the world
  • Her advice for retiring early no matter what your career choice is
  • How she decided how much money she needed to reach retirement
  • The sacrifices she had to make

You can learn more at How This Couple Retired at 38 and 41.


2. How I retired at age 30 with $500,000

Purple was 30 when she retired at the end of 2020 and had $500,000 invested.

In our interview, you’ll learn:

  • How she choose $500,000 as her early retirement amount
  • Why she chose to retire early
  • The career she retired from
  • Whether or not she still earns income in early retirement
  • The sacrifices she made to reach early retirement
  • Her choice for health insurance as an early retiree and full-time nomad

You can learn more at How I Retired At Age 30 with $500,000.


3. How this couple retired in their 30s and now travels around the world

Jeremy and Winnie, from Go Curry Cracker, retired early with the goal of traveling around the world.

Jeremy and Winnie were in their 30s when they retired. Their young son travels with them now and has already been to 29 countries!

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How they retired in their 30s
  • What made them want to retire early
  • How they live comfortably, rent houses with private pools, fly business class, and travel a ton – as opposed to the myth that early retirees are boring and just eat beans and rice to survive
  • How they decided on the amount they needed to retire
  • What they do about health insurance in early retirement

You can learn more at How This Couple Retired In Their 30s and Now Travel Around The World: An Interview With Go Curry Cracker.


4. How this 38-year-old owns 7 rental homes

Not only did Paula Pant retire early, she owns 7 rental homes, which grossed $125,000 and netted her $43,000 after expenses in one year. 

In our interview, Paula explains:

  • How she got into real estate investing
  • How she was able to afford so many rental units
  • What she looks for in a rental unit
  • The types of property she invests in
  • How much time and money it takes to invest in real estate
  • How she manages rentals while living in a different part of the country
  • Her worst renter
  • The sacrifices she made to make this all possible

You can learn more at How This 34 Year Old Owns 7 Rental Homes.


5. How Elizabeth reached financial independence by 32 and moved to a homestead

Elizabeth Willard Thames, better known as Mrs. Frugalwoods, reached financial independence at the age of 32 and left a successful career to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life on a 66-acre homestead in the woods of Vermont with her husband and children.

In this interview, you’ll learn:

  • How she reached financial independence
  • The differences between her old 9-5 and her dream life
  • The sacrifices she made to become financially independent
  • How she saved 70%+ of her income
  • How she still lives quite comfortably despite saving so much money
  • How she plans on making her retirement funds last for the rest of her life

You can learn more at How Elizabeth Reached Financial Independence by 32 And Moved To A Homestead.


6. How I paid off my $400,000 mortgage in 7.5 years and before I was 32

Rob has an incredible debt-free story. He was able to pay off his $400,000 mortgage in just 7.5 years, all before he was 32 years old.

“I was one of those weird kids that couldn’t wait to graduate from college. I’ve always had a long-term focus and viewed college as a stepping stone. One day during my freshman year, I remember walking to class with a friend saying that I couldn’t wait to graduate and start making some money. My friend turned to me with an incredulous look and confessed he planned to live it up while he could. Needless to say, I probably didn’t enjoy college as much as others did.”

Read more at How I Paid Off My $400,000 Mortgage In 7.5 Years, Before I Was 32.


7. How this 28-year-old retired with $2.25 million

JP Livingston retired at the age of 28 with a net worth of $2.25 million.

Of that total, 60% of her net worth came from saving, while 40% came from growing her money through investing.

And, she did this all while living in one of the most expensive places in the world – New York City.

In our interview, you will learn:

  • How she reached $2,250,000 in savings by the age of 28
  • The career she had before she retired early
  • What she does now that she’s retired
  • How she plans on making her savings last for the rest of her life
  • What she would do differently

You can learn more at How This 28 Year Old Retired With $2.25 Million.


8. How I retired in my 30s – from ugly crying to retiring just 10 years later

JT graduated college with big hopes and dreams, but he found himself quickly hitting financial rock bottom. Then, 10 years after living in a hostel with only a few dollars left to his name, JT reached early retirement in his 30s.

In this article, JT shares 6 steps to retire in your 30s, how to do your early retirement math, and more.

You can learn more at How I Retired In My 30s – From Ugly Crying To Retiring Just 10 Years Later.


9. How I reached financial freedom before 40 and live on a sailboat

In only eight years, Fleur and Ronald were able to reach financial freedom and now they live on a sailboat.

They saved enough money to invest in three real estate properties, buy and live on a 42-foot sailing catamaran, build a passive income stream, and more.

I interviewed them to find out:

  • How they reached financial freedom and FIRE
  • How they afford to travel and live on a boat
  • What an average day is like for them
  • How much it costs for them to live on a sailboat
  • All about their passive income stream
  • How they saved money to purchase real estate properties

You can read our interview at How This Couple Reached Financial Freedom Before 40 And Live On A Sailboat.


What can I do to learn more?

If you want to continue to learn more about early retirement or financial independence, there are some great books that will help you on your journey.

Many of these books contain the author’s personal early retirement story and their own strategies. You will definitely be motivated and inspired.

What do you think of early retirement or financial independence? Is it one of your goals?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. All good things are possible, including early retirement, to those who believe and do the transformation business work! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the post! Retirement is a big thing to start thinking about at an early age. However, there are a lot of people that don’t think about it until later in life so thank you for broadcasting this topic! One item that gets overlooked is your career earnings and how to increase those if you work for a company. The best way to do this is to research the compensation in your role and always negotiate your job offers. That way you make more every time you change companies and it compounds over time with raises throughout your career.