The Internet Retirement Police Strikes Again!

Wanderer
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Wanderer

The Wanderer retired from his engineering job at a major Silicon Valley semiconductor company at the age of 33. He now travels the world, seeking out knowledge from other wealthy people, so that he can teach people how to become Financially Independent themselves.
Wanderer
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Yesterday we participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (or AMA, as the cool kids call it), and while there were many questions curious about our journey, it also brought in the Internet haters. And because it had been awhile, I had forgotten what it was like to get blasted by Internet haters. Specifically, I had forgotten how much fun it was to spar with them.

Here’s the AMA here but I thought I’d give you some of the highlights.

I’m torn between not tuning in because she is totally obnoxious and tuning in to see the fireworks.

Hmm…Garth also referred to us as “insufferable” when he wrote about us. Is the universe trying to tell me something?

…nah

These people are not… appreciated by all of the Canadian pf community, mostly due to association with alarmist Garth Turner. At least from what I can gather.

Ha, you think Garth was alarmist? You should check out his blog www.greaterfool.ca lately. Now that the housing crash in Toronto has started, he does a segment on his blog called “TORONTO HOUSING DEATH WATCH” in which he highlights a house that’s plummeted in value and then points at the owners and goes “Ha ha, what an idiot! Shoulda listened to me dumb-ass!” And you thought I was harsh on home boners.

This is more of a branding thing I’m sure, but how seriously do you take “youngest” retiree? That seems hard to prove unless you’ve got the age of to every retiree in Canada.

I actually didn’t come up with that tagline, though I use it on occasion because it’s kinda catchy, but I was doing an interview with a reporter a while back and the topic of Derek Foster came up. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Derek is a somewhat controversial figure in the personal finance space. He wrote a series of books (which I’ve read and thought were pretty good) about dividend investing.

Basically, he preaches his investing strategy of buying individual stocks that pay good (and rising) dividends, holding onto them forever, and using the yield to retire. Then it came out that he amassed his fortune not by using this strategy, but by making an extremely risky, all-in leveraged bet on a single stock (Phillip Morris, the cigarette company). Then after that, it came out that in 2008 he sold off his entire portfolio during the market crash, violating his other lesson of holding forever. So, a controversial figure to say the least.

Anyway, his tagline he used to sell his books was that he was Canada’s youngest retiree because he left his job when he was 34. The interviewer asked how old I was when I left and I said 31. Then they said “Doesn’t that make you Canada’s youngest retiree?” And I said “Huh. I guess so.”

So that’s how I got branded with that title.

And finally, my personal favourite… (Note: I had to paraphrase this from memory since the person deleted their comment after I responded)

How is this person retired? Judging by how much they travel and all the shameless self-promotion they do, they’re running a business. They’re not retired. They’re using their blog to fund their lifestyle.

To which I respond, hey! It’s the Internet Retirement Police! Yaaaaaay!

I’m just so happy. As an FI blogger, being attacked by the IRP is kind of a badge of honour. You know you’re in the cool kids’ club if the IRP comes after you. This is best day ever.

But to respond to his point, I don’t consider running a blog work. As I’ve mentioned before, being a writer was a childhood dream of mine. I dream I never thought I’d be able to actually live out. But when I saved up my FU money and left my stressful job, I realized I could actually make my dream a reality by starting this blog. And travelling/shameless self promotion? How about exploring the world and talking to cool-ass people?

So sorry IRP, but running this blog isn’t “work.” I love running this blog and travelling and doing interviews. What you’re reading is not some cynical attempt to monetize because I don’t need the money. I’m FI. What you’re reading is me living my dream and being happy. Sorry if that offends you.

And on that note, time for some shameless self-promotion:

We were recently featured on the podcast Journey To Launch by the very cool Jamila Souffrant. Check it out here.

 

59 thoughts on “The Internet Retirement Police Strikes Again!”

  1. Good Stuff FireCracker/Wanderer. I read through the AMA last night, and it was a bucket full of laughs.

    You guys handled the criticism beautifully. The IRP didn’t stand a chance. 😉

  2. Awesome.
    But, one of them really has a point….are you guys using in any way blog income to fund your early retirement? Is it inflating your net worth or it’s only due stock market gains? if the answer is yes it’s kinda misleading because 99% of the FIRE community are not bloggers..it should be very clear to them all.

    1. Our blog income is so small it’s definitely not enough to fund our retirement. Our retirement is being funded from the portfolio. I also think it’s funny that people immediately point out the google ads (which is the only ads we have on the site), but never question the fact that running a blog and investment workshop COSTs money (server costs, mailchimp costs, etc). In fact, we are actually using our own cash cushion to teach people how to invest FOR FREE.

      It’s easy for people to criticize when they can read stuff for free, without having to pay for the server costs, maintenance costs etc..but the second you use google ads to cover your costs…then it’s “you’re using it to fund your retirement”.

      1. I’m totally with you FireCracker….but lots of bloggers out there make a lot of money from blogging so that’s why I asked…good to know that this is just a small part of it and living solely on the portfolio yield is still possible. Keep up the great work! We love it

    2. It doesn’t matter whether they get ‘working’ income from this blog or anything else. The point is that they don’t rely on the ‘working’ income. That they are FI and can do anything they want. Some retirees run a B&B because that was their dream. Others travel a lot and become travel critics/writers just by chance. There are many other hobbies that can just happen to make money as well, but the point is that you don’t need those money sources. Retirement isn’t just sitting around on the beach, watching tv, or drinking. If it was, studies show, your retirement will be short lived.

      1. Exactly. People think initially that retirement is like “I’m going to play ALL the video games!” But can you imagine actually doing that for years on end? I’d get soooo bored!

    3. I have to admit, I have this worry too. I know we’ve seen the figures for Kristy and Bryce’s spending. But my “don’t be naive” part of my brain asks, would they be able to keep going if they didn’t have this blog, book deals etc. I think it’s great that Kristy and Bryce do all this stuff. But definitely would be upset if I found out that this income was also being used to fund the retirement plan and not just the income of the investments they had when they retired…I guess what I’m saying is. I want to be sure that the rest of us can do this. Even if we don’t have a successful blog after retirement…Sorry for being skeptical. It’s just something that’s always in the back of my mind…Feel bad about even saying it.

      1. Look, we’re keeping what (little) money from the blog earned separate and using it as bonus money. We’re still using the portfolio to fund the 4% earnings we intended. We’re actually planning on using extra earned money to reinvest in the blog and maybe build some cool stuff for the FI community. Haven’t decided exactly what yet though…

          1. Just want to add. If you guys happen to make money in your “retirement” (in quotes because you’re definitely not sitting around). And you want to enjoy an even better retirement. That should be your right, despite what the “retirement police” say about it. My comment was just to say that sometimes I worry that this is all too good to be true and there’s a secret that the FI ‘ers aren’t telling us. That you can’t really live off a portfolio. After all, I don’t know any of you personally and this is the internet…Anyway, keeping the faith…

  3. Haha, you aren’t successful if you haven’t got a bunch of people hating you every step of the way. Most of the world’s successful people have sizable audiences that despise them *cough* Trump *cough*.

    I have to say, I think I’d find an AMA session very appealing.

    And of course you’re not the youngest retirees in Canadian history. There are undoubtedly some people who have never worked a day in their life and likely others who have made millions in their 20’s and are feasibly financially free. Since retirement is a loose definition, I don’t think you could appease the AMA masses unless you chose to never work again, even though you don’t need the money.

  4. I don’t use reddit but I had to check the thread after you were on yesterday. I want to say I can’t believe the amount of criticism but I can’t – people are a bunch of assholes with nothing better to do than show their idiocy. It’s amazing what jealousy can do to a person’s intelligence. Anyway, you guys handled it brilliantly. Keep living the dream!!

    1. The weird thing is that it was an FI subreddit! You’d figure everyone on that would be on board with the idea of FI. Who comes to a steakhouse and yells at people for not being vegetarian?

  5. “I’m just so happy. As an FI blogger, being attacked by the IRP is kind of a badge of honour. You know you’re in the cool kids’ club if the IRP comes after you. This is best day ever.”

    Haha yes! You guys got too famous. Well the grapes will always be too green, if you’ve heard that one.

  6. lol. Don’t drop to Garth’s pathetic criticism standards . Keep in mind , Garth was calling for a housing crash TEN YEARS AGO. A lot of anger in him, that he was ‘so wrong’. He’s getting his day , unleashing that anger

    be above that

    1. Has Garth really been calling for a house and crash for 10 years now? Does that mean he’s been renting all this time at his age when he could’ve bought way cheap?

      If so, I might be permanently scarred and permanently bearish if I were him too.

      Sam

      1. No, he has and still owns property. He generally advocates for diversity in investments, but sometimes lets the haters get to him and confuses his messaging.

        1. I’m actually fascinated with the doom and gloom focused blogs and their business model. It’s like perma bears and short sellers in the stock market versus the bulls.

          I would THINK it gets old being bearish for so long as the markets surge to record highs. But even a clock strikes 12 twice a day, so eventually he’ll have his field day.

          I just don’t think it helps consumer be so biased. If you could have bought 5-10 years ago, you would be golden today.

  7. Hey Kristy, fellow Torontoian here and sometime Reddit browser. I wouldn’t think anything of the people on Reddit. Awhile back I went to a couple of the Reddit Toronto meetups and they literally are the stereotype of neckbeards who live in their mothers’ basements waiting for the government to implement basic income. These are not winners. They’re not even average people. If anything I’d take their disapproval as a sign that you’re on the right track.

    1. Really? That’s so strange.

      Anyway, yeah, like I said. Being attacked by the IRP is like being attacked by a neo-nazi on the internet. It’s a sign you’re probably on the right side.

  8. There will always be haters and ppl “smarter” than you guys so let them work as long as possible since we want the economy to keep going.

    If everyone watches their spending and is FI then the economy would stall and businesses will fail so lets’s keep being FI our secret!

    Keep on helping those who wants help and ignore the rest.

    Adam

  9. I have read about Derek Foster and some of his books and I don’t get why he gets so much flak. His books are pretty good!

    How is Derek different from a typical entrepreneur? If you were to open say a retail store in your community wouldn’t you need to use all your savings and take out a significant loan (leverage)? Most small businesses fail and having one shop on one street isn’t a model for diversification.

    I understand it was one stock but it was a globally diversified corporation that had tens of thousands of employees and made multi-billions in profits every year. The stock was on sale and Derek took a calculated risk. He scored.

    From time to time you need to take chances. Imagine taking a chance on Starbucks stock in 2009. Have people stopped drinking coffee since then?

    This is a conversation I have with many entrepreneurs. If you have some cash why not learn more about investing? The typical response I get is investing is too risky. These are the same people who think it’s a good idea to open up a burger joint next to a McDonalds. Not only do they fail, they also borrow money from family and friends. Ouch!

    Maybe in future articles you can talk about this in more detail.

    1. I actually learned quite a bit from his books too. He was one of the few people who talked about the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts of investing on the Canadian side. And while I don’t mean to criticize his super-risky all-in bet that earned him his retirement portfolio, it’s not actually reproducible.

      So I took some lessons from Derek’s story but in the end I had to find my own way to FI.

  10. Everyone knows you’re not really retired unless you’re sitting at home (which you OWN), in a corner, staring at the wall while chewing styrofoam all day. If you earn a single cent during that time, you’re not actually retired.

  11. For what it’s worth, I find that subreddit to be a bunch of critical, whiney douchebags, by and large, with a few cool people mixed in.

    Way better to get FIRE relationships going in MMM’s forums, Rockstar Finance, or Bogleheads, IMO.

    Way to handle the AMA well.

  12. I feel your pain. I announced FI on my Facebook page. My mother congratulated us but you can guess the bullshit comments we got. I had to take it down and I was very disappointed how resentful the comments were.

    1. Well congratulations on reaching FI! I didn’t bother announcing it on facebook because I didn’t want to rub it in anyone’s face and I have a lot of friends and family have low paying jobs and live paycheque to paycheque. We just told people we sold our house and quit our jobs and are moving away so my spouse could pursue is art career and let them think that we were crazy instead.

    2. Some of the comments were the usual. “You were able to do it because you have no kids”, “You must not of had of life”, “Did you get an inheritance?”, “Why are you rubbing it in?”. 1/2 were private messages.

  13. I can’t believe how many haters there are out there, but money is a sensitive subject so I’m not surprised. I’m not FI yet, but just talking about the subject to friends and colleauges can be sensitive. I’m grateful that you guys are sharing knowledge and helping others through your blog, for FREE too.

    Keep up the good work!! Just know that you have waaaay for fans than haters out there. Thank you for all you do and keep on inspiring us by showing how you can live out your dream life instead of the grind of 9-5 foreeeever. ( or until you’re old and gray and can’t climb cool pyramids from far away countries or go cave diving)

  14. Hey…just keep doing what you are doing. It is fantastic… and let the IRP rail on and keep (unfortunately) their glasses Empty! You two are and should be an inspiration to all and a prime example of how leveraging your knowledge has turned into alot of freedom! More power to both of you! All one needs to do is follow your well articulated blueprint and continue to be persistent and patient…I honestly wish I’d upped my savings rate alot earlier in my working life( it was around 15-20% of annual gross income in my 20’s and 30’s) and I’d have been able to claim FI in my mid 40’s (instead of my mid 50’s).

  15. Ok, so if I take my pension, and play guitar on the street, I am not allowed to tell people I am “Retired”?

    what about picking up pop cans, would that be ok?

    They are all just jealous little shits…

  16. ThIs derek Foster Guy looks like an interesting person! I have to check them out!

    Sounds like you guys are having a good time. I don’t like any spotlight. Maybe I’m weird, but I just like my privacy.

    What are some of the reasons for the reasons for the AMA, interviews, and all that stuff if there’s no goal of monetizing your site?

    Sam

    1. I think I just enjoy the act of doing interviews. I don’t deliberately seek them out, they all come to us, but yeah. I just like talking to cool people.

      Interesting that you run a pretty big blog (if I do say so myself) if you don’t like the spotlight. So would you say you’re a natural introvert?

      1. As long as I can remember, nobody has ever called me an introvert. I like going out and meeting new people and stuff, but I just don’t like the spotlight. Maybe it’s because I have too much activity off-line, so the last thing I need is more attention online.

  17. I love the fact that people still have this notion of retirement as basically sitting in a rocking chair doing nothing. Considering people are living longer and they might run out of money what do they expect older people to do? Hell, if that is the case my dad isn’t retired. He is busier than when he was retired, but he technically doesn’t get paid for what he does (he runs a large garden….like HUGE by himself, he woodworks in his garage and makes things for his friends that he doesn’t get paid for (primarily because he insists he doesn’t want it), he makes his own maple syrup, fishes, etc. Apparently, he isn’t retired either. The IRP need to shut up and get a new definition.

  18. Hi Kristy & Bryce,

    Even if you do decide to buy a home in the next 5 years, I don’t see any problem with that.

    As people age, their minds mature or their perspectives on lives change.

    I used to want to retire early, now, at the ripe old age of 30, I don’t really mind working a few more years to buy a home.

    While work is stressful, I have decided to take my time.

    In Singapore where I live, a 2 bed-room condominium in good areas costs around 900k – $1.2m.
    Prices won’t drop any time soon considering: employment is high, land is scarce in Singapore and Singaporeans are generally rich (lol).

    1. Okay, I literally have no idea what you’re talking about since I’ve mentioned none of those things (buy a home in 5 years? what? That’s the opposite of what this site is about). And hey, if you want to be stuck in a stressful job in order buy an overpriced house and call that “maturity” go right ahead. The rest of us will continue living awesome lives in early retirement instead. This site is clearly not for you.

  19. Haters gonna hate, but honestly you guys just keep doing you. You are killing it! If I’ve learned anything from this community it’s that everyone’s view of retirement is going to be different and there is no one right way to do it. Do what works for you and what adds value to your life. There is always going to be doubters, haters and judgers.

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