Nov 17, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 FIRE Update

Greetings readers!

Thank you for continuing to follow our journey to Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)!  Our family has reached $925,000 in Net Worth, my income has gone up (promotion) from $80,000 to $105,000, and I anticipate being able to contribute $35,000/yr into index funds as compared to $20,000/yr previously forecasted.  Current portfolio balance is $525,000.

I look forward to continuing to post updates and insights along the way!


Lucas the Tortoise Banker

Jul 5, 2019

Financial (Independence) Day 2019... Not Quite, but Getting There!

Great news!

We've surpassed $500,000 in investments, and with our paid off house its looking like our retirement date will be around 2025... We're still Chug, Chug, Chuggin' along and having fun along the way!

How about you folks--any milestones to celebrate recently!



Feb 7, 2018

New Adventures: Bend, Oregon

Thrilled to announce we are relocating to Bend, Oregon!

My wife, TB boy 1, and TB boy 2 are embarking on the next exciting chapter of our FIRE (financially independent, retired early) adventure.

We are downsizing our home, selling for $475,000 and buying a new home in Bend for $395,000.  In the process, we're eliminating our mortgage and will be purchasing this (hopefully) forever home with CASH!

This will leave our investment portfolio of $440,000 the main priority (previously we were focusing on paying off our mortgage).  With frugality and consistency we hope to grow this to $850,000 to support an annual budget of $34,000 and allow us (me... my wife is a stay at home mommy) to retire early.  Currently we are 30 years old, so with an annual contribution to this portfolio of around $20,000 at first and hopefully increasing over time... my calculations put us at a FIRE date of approximately 40 years old, or 10 more years.

This blog has been a fun project where I've both shared knowledge with you unknown people on the internet at very little charge to myself (yes, I PAY to have this blog... not earn...  !) but it brings me joy, so I'll keep going.  Click on one of the ads on my site in case you'd like to support!

Moving forward, I'll share perspectives on retirement planning, updates on my personal net worth and spending, as well as write about any other topics that come to mind.  Thank you for reading!

Net worth 2/7/18: $840,000 (no debt).


Mar 9, 2017

How Much is Enough to Retire Early and How Do I Access Retirement Money Before 59.5?

Earlier this week, I promised I'd share specifics on how much is enough to retire, and how to go about doing it early... or in other words, how do I access money before the IRS approved age of 59.5?

How Much is Enough

"So, if I spend 30k/year for my family of 3, and I have 750k saved in index funds... yep, I'm financially independent."

You're probably thinking "yeah, good for you, you've managed to save 25x your annual expenses in index funds... but how do I execute retiring early?"  I'd imagine the bulk of readers haven't accrued $750,000 in investments, but hopefully this will still be useful information.  If you're anything like me and have a mix of taxable (non-401k or IRA money) and retirement accounts (401k, IRA), the best approach for planning is to determine 4% of a principle amount ($30k is 4% of $750k), then strategize how you will spend it.  The IRS restricts access to 401k and traditional IRA funds, but an excellent strategy is available to you you may have never heard about.  One of the best descriptions I've found comes from Root of Good's Climbing the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder post.  Give it a gander and hurry back.

So, does that give you some food for thought?  Save 5 years (at least) in taxable accounts, and make an annual roth conversion that you can use in 5 years time, while assuring you account for inflation with the amounts you convert?



As far as allocation, what funds to put it in, etc., I'll share what I personally do (note this is not a recommendation--I'm not licensed to do that, but hopefully my plan gives useful information).

Under 40 years old: 100% Vanguard Total Stock Market Index/Total Int'l Index (70%/30%)
40-60: 75/25 Stocks (70/30 above)/25% bonds
60+: 60/40 Stocks

That's it!  I can't really add much more to it.  Yes other methods for withdrawing funds from taxable accounts exist (72t, 55 years old+ authorized to withdraw from 401k), but I just wanted to share the most useful method in my opinion.  Like my signature at the top of the site suggests, the winning strategy is simple, BUT NOT EASY.  Now, if you have annual expenses of 30k*--get busy saving 750k so you can retire!

*For my personal scenario, I have a paid off house so this reduces the annual expenses I need to save.  For folks with a mortgage, on average this adds around 10k-12k/year, so your target index fund investment portfolio balance may be closer to $1,000,000.

How much do you have saved?  What is your latest net worth milestone (ours is 600k).  What percentage are you to Financial Independence (FI)?

If you haven't already seen my updates post, give it a look.  Lots of great resources I discovered that you may find useful as well.

Aug 7, 2016

What is Financial Independence and How Do I Get It?

What is Financial Independence?

Sounds pretty sexy doesn't it?  I'm sure you'd like to put that on your LinkedIn profile--Financially Independent.

What does that mean though?  Simply put, the early retirement community points to having 25 years worth of expenses saved as the indicator for being financially independent.  So, if I spend 30k/year for my family of 3, and I have 750k saved in index funds... yep, I'm financially independent.  I'll cover the specifics on how this is done in the future, but for now--that's enough.

How Do I Do It?

Well, to focus on the Pareto principle, don't buy too much car and too much house on credit.  Oh, and watch your "eating out" expenses.  These are the biggest culprits I see from my clients, and you would do well to keep a lid in these areas.  I know that seems like someone telling you to "spend less" and doesn't seem like that great of advice, but I truly believe a focus on these areas will put you ahead of 90% of investors.  This will also serve the purpose of "burning the candle at both ends" potentially reducing your annual expenses which will require a smaller "stash" as Mr. Money Mustache would say.

But Why?  What Will I Do All Day?

Most people don't have a hard time buying into the idea of not having to work anymore, but if you're one of the select few that are ultra-motivated, view it instead as Financial Independence, rather than retirement.  This way, you can DO YOUR BEST WORK!  What does that mean for you?  Have you put off being an entrepreneur?  Would you like to spend more time with your kids, or volunteering in non-profits?  Have a desire to learn a new skill like being a home-builder?  Financial Independence allows you to do this?


Yours truly just eclipsed the 600k net worth milestone.  What does this mean?  Am I financially independent yet?

Nope, not quite.

I plan to sell our current home in a high cost of living location, and purchase a new home with cash for around $300k.  This leaves $300k in index funds.  Using the Trinity study, I know I can spend approximately 4% (with several margins of safety) annually, adjusted for inflation, with a relatively high level of certainty I won't run out of money over a 50 year period.  (Rawr, yes, early retirement experts are angry with this statement, but relax, I WILL earn money through part time/entrepreneurial ventures so RELAX)!

With 300k in investments, this provides 12k/year in income.  My family's annual expenses are 30k though, so I need another $450k to be able to claim financial independence.  By my estimates, I should reach that coveted title in about 5 years.

I'll link to a great article by Mr. Money Mustache titled The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement which details why "burning the candle at both ends" is such a great strategy for early retirement.

Until next time friends!  If you'd like future posts sent directly to your email inbox, please subscribe by typing your email address into the box on the upper right.  I promise not to spam at all, just posts (probably 2 to 3 a month max).

Tortoise Banker

Jun 8, 2016

How to Retire Early

How to retire early

This isn’t a post on how to accumulate massive amounts of wealth, or to assist with identifying what types of careers or business ventures will allow you to retire well ahead of the commonly accepted “Full Retirement Age” of 65-67.

This is an overview and “food for though” for the individual interested in discovering how to leave their job or business for good to live off their accrued investments for a period of more than 30 years.

An Example

Bert is 47 years old with a wife, and 2 children beginning college this year.  Thanks to a successful career in his 20s and 30s, and a business he sold last year, he has accrued $3,500,000 in a mix of taxable and tax-advantaged retirement accounts held at Vanguard.

Bert would like to consider himself “financially independent” and he and his wife are considering using the “R” word as their newest profession.

(The “R” word is Retired… if you haven’t had your coffee yet).

So… what do you think?

Well, if you’re anything like me, at first glance I think they are good to go.  But lets take a closer look at how they might go about solving this desirable problem.  After all, how many lottery winners lose their fortunes within a few years of winning it!

How long will your retirement be?

We never know when we'll die, but in my financial modeling... the age of 95 looks like a pretty conservative figure to use for our example. 

Assuming either Bert or his Wife live to the ripe old age of 95, that leaves 48 years that they'll need to survive on this nest egg!

Down the line, social security will likely help a bit, but Bert has decided to view SS as more of the "icing on the cake" and will focus instead on his investment portfolio as the primary source of future income.

Enter the Trinity Study

"One scenario backtested in the Trinity study suggests that a retiree with a suitably allocated $1 million portfolio could withdraw $40,000 the first year, give herself a cost-of-living adjustment every year afterwards, and have a 98% chance of the portfolio lasting at least 30 years."

This sentence pretty much sums up one of the most commonly referenced studies of the rate at which retirees should withdraw from their retirement accounts to assure it lasts the standard 30 year retirement window. (Age 65 to 96).

But remember the name of our post?

How to retire, EARLY.

So Bert and Co. have a time horizon of 48 years.  What % of their portfolio can they withdraw each year, and can they adjust for inflation?

It seems that the consensus among forum members over at, (one of the most widely read and followed investing forums on Earth) is that a withdrawal rate of 2-2.5% should be used for perpetual withdrawals.

For example, if the Rockefeller family creates a charitable trust with $100,000,000, in order to preserve principle and keep up with inflation, these funds should be invested in some form of a 25 to 75% equity allocation, and the annual withdrawal should not exceed 2%, adjusted upward each year at the rate of inflation.  This would (hopefully) ensure that annual gift giving could continue far into the future.

Since Bert and his family have a time horizon of 48 years, hardly FOREVER, it would be a logical assumption that a 2.5% withdrawal rate on $3.5 Million ($87,500) adjusted for inflation would result in a high success rate.

(By the way, one method of adjusting for inflation is to find out how much social security payouts increased each year and increase your withdrawals by this %).

Is It Enough?

How did Bert arrive at this healthy portfolio balance?  Well, a successful career in his 20s and 30s, as well as the sale of his business was the primary source of the wealth he's accumulated.  Do you think $87,500 adjusted each year for inflation would support his family's lifestyle? 

I'd assume so, but what if he didn't save a high percentage of his income?  Or what if his annual expenses were $150,000 throughout his adult years?  Would his family be able to retire and keep their current lifestyle?

Herein lies the question.  If Burt ended up with $3,500,000, he either made a high income, was a very disciplined saver, inherited it, or a combination of the three.  I can almost assure you that the average family earning the median US income will not reach this figure by age 47.

The Allocation Variable

The Trinity Study also took into account the overall mix of an investor's portfolio, and how it may effect success rates.  The short version is, investors in their 50's and 60's should consider having between 40 and 60% of their portfolio in equities (the rest in bonds) to retain buying power.  Here's my asset allocation plan, you're welcome to use this as a starting point:

Stay the Course:

25-50........80 stocks/20bonds



over 75.....35/65.
(Equities divided 70/30 between Domestic and International)
60-65 year old would be in the 65/35 if still working, in the 50/50 if not.
Please refer to the 3 fund portfolio for more information on my allocation.


Now that you have a grasp of what it takes to retire early, do you think you have what it takes?  A retirement age of 60 to 65 may very well allow a safe-withdrawal-rate of 4%.  If you've accumulated $1,000,000 by age 65, this would leave you with $40,000/year.  But if you choose to retire in your 40s or 50s, this may only support an income of $25,000/year.

I hope you have a better understand of what you'll need to do to retire early if that is your desire, be it by increase your savings rate, or MAKING MORE MONEY.  Whatever the case, it would be wise to aspire to have fun along the way, and do you best to not run out of money in your golden years.

With a heart full of love,


May 27, 2016



My oh my has it been a while since I typed some stuff into this site.  My world has changed DRASTICALLY!  I welcomed my first child (TB Jr.) into the world last spring and completed my MBA this month.  It was truly a wild 22-month journey, and this site has suffered for it, but the phoenix will rise again! 

How the Road Has Changed

During this time, I have fed an insatiable appetite to learn more about the FI/RE movement (financially independent, retired early) and am committed to bringing informative, relatable content to you fine folks month in and month out.  Sites like Mr. Money Mustache, Frugal Woods, Early Retirement Extreme, Go Curry Cracker, MadFientistLiving a FI (this dude's awesome), Root of Good, JLCollinsnh, and the fine REDDITers at r/financial independence have been a daily read for me and I am bursting at the seams to share some good stuff with anyone interested in learning how to get out of the rat race early.

New Goals

I've honed in on some new goals for my own family of 3's finances, outlined below:

Investable Assets: $750,000
Paid off Home: $300,000
Net Worth: $1,050,000
529 Plan: $90,000
Reach FIRE by 7/4/2022

I'll detail my current progress in future posts, but my net worth as of 5/27/2016 is 565,000 so we're well on our way!

Discoveries I've Made About FI/RE

When I founded this blog in 2013, I was a firm believer in boglehead principles.  While the excellent minds over there are still a daily read for me, I've shifted my lens a bit to the early retirement community and have been incredibly energized by posts such as Mr. Money Mustache's The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement.  Posts such as these have prompted a fierce behavioral shift in my spending patterns, and I'm proud to say my family has exceeded a 60% savings rate in both 2015 and 2016.  This has added rocket fuel to our net worth growth, taking it from ~$400k to today's new high of $565,000 despite a flat stock market.  (Real estate has done well in Hawaii though).  My wife and I have an income of 90k/year, so the math tells me via excellent resources like the networthify calculator I can retire on Independence Day, 2022.

Ethos for Tortoise Banker

If I had to summarize my Ethos for this site, it would consist of the following pillars:

  • Aim to save at least 50% of your income
  • Invest in low-cost index funds
  • Denounce consumerism
  • Help others along the way
I also wrote a set of foundational principles which make for a great read to assure you're on the right track with your finances.

I'll speak to each of this in upcoming posts, highlighting how exactly I got to where I am, and takeaways I've discovered on my path to FI/RE that might help YOU get there as well. 

Thank you for your valuable time as I know all of you are exceptionally busy, and be sure to subscribe to future updates via the email box on the upper right section of the site.