At 6-foot-4, Matt Owen barely manages to stand upright in his van that he and his wife, Alli, have lived in for the last six months.
Barely 28 years-old, the two engineers retired earlier this year on the $600,000 made in four years, intending to live the next few years traveling the United States. They also plan to squirrel more money by teaching millennials how to retire early.
The Owens are two of the approximately one percent of employed workers all over the world who have been inspired by trends like the #vanlife, and the more popular FIRE movement. FIRE which stands for “financial independence, retire early” provides suggestions for guzzling as much money as you can while in your cubicle days, so you can flee that cubicle at the earliest possible opportunity and surrender yourself to your dreams. The youngest person in the US to retire was Dustin Moskovitz, at 28 years old, with $2.7 billion from co-founding Facebook.
Books have been written on the subject. See, for instance, Robert Charlton’s How To Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less. Arguably, the most popular blogger is Peter Adeney from Mr. Money Mustache, who’s collected quite a following of “Mustachian” with his six simple calculators to help people cut expenses.
How did the Owens do it?
Matt earned $150,000 a year, while his wife topped at $100,000.
The couple invested in index funds and stashed around $36,000 a year to their 401(k) plans, which their employers matched. At the same time, they saved around 70 percent of their income by, for instance, eating out only twice a month.
For health insurance, the couple used Medi-share, a Florida-based costs-sharing ministry, where members pay for each other’s monthly medical expenses.
The Owens bought their four-bedroom house in Bakersfield, California, for $275,000 – and rented out three bedrooms. Now that they’re living in their Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, purchased for $8,800, they have no housing costs and rent out all their rooms, while their home appreciates in value.
So what are they going to do with the rest of their lives?
For one, the Owens have developed an 11-part online course to teach others their financial methods. While husband and wife acknowledge they lack official credentials to give people financial guidance and can’t offer tax or investment advice, they told USA Today they believe they have the wisdom to pull the three-quarters of millennials in debt out of the red.
Does the Owens’ life appeal to you?
What’s your idea of a perfect existence – and when do you plan to retire?
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