17 March 2022

Clay Finck chats with Steve Adcock about how Steve retired at age 35 after living a somewhat luxurious lifestyle in his 20s, the pros and the cons of early retirement, the creative ways Steve and his wife limit their expenses by living off the grid, what Steve’s thoughts are on the follow your passion versus earn more money debate, and much much more!

Steve Adcock retired at age 35 and currently lives off the grid in the desert. Prior to retiring early and achieving financial independence, he worked 14 years in the information technology field.

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  • How Steve retired at 35 after living a somewhat luxurious lifestyle in his 20’s.
  • How much Steve and his wife had saved prior to making the leap to early retirement.
  • The pros and the cons of early retirement.
  • What Steve’s thoughts are on the follow your passion versus earn more money debate.
  • And much, much more!


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Steve Adcock (00:02):

We were down over $200,000. Our net worth just down 200 grand in almost a month. And at that point, people were reaching out to me, people I didn’t even know, but also friends and family asking me if I’m going to get out of the market. I think one or two people on Twitter DMed me, why they care I have no idea, but they begged me to get out of the market because everything’s going to crash, everything’s going down. Boy, I am glad I didn’t do that because when you try to time the market, you might be able to time it here and there, but you’re not going to be able to consistently time the market.

Clay Finck (00:43):

On today’s episode, I’m joined by Steve Adcock. Steve retired at age 35 and currently lives off the grid in the desert. Prior to retiring early and achieving financial independence, he worked 14 years in the information technology field. He’s very knowledgeable when it comes to financial independence and early retirement. During the episode, I chat with Steve about how he retired at 35 after living a somewhat luxurious lifestyle in his 20s, the pros and cons of early retirement, the creative way Steve and his wife limit their expenses by living off the grid. What Steve’s thoughts are on the follow your passion versus earn more money debate and much, much, more. Without further delay, let’s dive right in to today’s episode with Steve Adcock.

Intro (01:30):

You’re listening to Millennial Investing by The Investor’s Podcast Network, where your hosts, Robert Leonard, and Clay Finck interview successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors to help educate and inspire the millennial generation.

Clay Finck (01:50):

Hey, everyone. Welcome to The Millennial Investing Podcast. I’m your host clay Fink. And on today’s episode, I’m joined by Steve Adcock. Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Adcock (01:58):

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure, and I’ve been looking forward to this.

Clay Finck (02:02):

Now, we’ve been it on Twitter for quite some time now so I’m super familiar with your story and your background. And when I was considering guests for the show, I knew you would be a great fit because your story is one that people need to hear.

Steve Adcock (02:16):

I appreciate that. And I think I have a very atypical story, but I try to tell it in a way that anybody can wrap their head around and really get a lot of value out of it. So, I hope that happens here as well.

Clay Finck (02:28):

For those in our audience not familiar, please share your story and how you got to where you are today.

Steve Adcock (02:33):

Well, I am 40 years old and I retired at 35 after a 14 year career in information technology. So, I followed a very traditional path of graduating from high school, immediately going into college, choosing my degree as a 20 year old or so, 19, I guess. Graduated from college, started right into the workforce. I worked in defense contracting, which means you get paid pretty good money, but I also wasn’t satisfied with my job in any way, shape, or form. I’ll talk a little bit more about that later, I guess, but I did the traditional things that everybody does. You build a career, you make as much money as you want. You spend money on things that you think that maybe you deserve because you work so hard at your 09:00 to 05:00 job. But I came to this fork in the road in 2000… I don’t know, I guess it was 12 or so.

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Steve Adcock (03:25):

I was making good money. I had the house in the suburbs. I had the Yamaha R1 sport bike. I had the 1999 Corvette Convertible. I had the brand new Cadillac CTS. I’m sure you could wrap your hand around the golden handcuffs scenario that I was in. And this one Saturday, I was in my garage and I reached out to open up the garage door, but I didn’t. For some reason, something stopped me and I just turned around in the dark and I looked at what was in my garage and it was those things, my cars and the motorcycle, but I still wasn’t happy. And I think that was the first time that I finally admitted to myself that, yes, I have a good career. I have a decent degree. I make good money, but yet I still don’t feel happy. I still don’t feel fulfilled. What in the world is going on? And I think a lot of people feel that way, especially if you’re in IT, but really in almost any job. I think a lot of people can probably wrap their heads around exactly what I was feeling at that moment.

Clay Finck (04:30):

What sort of decisions did you decide to make from there? I know you got married and you and your wife kind of took on the path of trying to become financially independent.

Steve Adcock (04:40):

From there, I didn’t immediately put everything into place. I knew something was wrong. I knew I couldn’t continue down this path, but I didn’t know exactly my way out yet, but at least I knew there was a problem. That was the very first step. So, a couple years down the road, I met my wife. Well, my soon to be wife. We did eventually get married. And at that point we had a choice to make because she worked also in IT. She was actually a rocket scientist, actual rocket scientist. So, I absolutely married her, and she was bringing in a pretty good income. We were bringing in a pretty good income. Combined by the end of our careers, we were making about $220,000 combined. So, that’s pretty good, especially living in Tucson, Arizona at that point, very low cost of living, that money would go a long way if you were smart with it. So, we had all this money coming in now. So we had a choice to make.

Steve Adcock (05:34):

We could either live like rock stars with the house on the hill, and the cars, and the expensive dinners, and jewelry or whatever, or we can save as much as we possibly can, invest as much as we possibly can, and maybe retire in our 30s or 40s and just do whatever we want for the rest of our lives. I was always the spender in this relationship. My wife was the saver. She never wanted to retire early, but she was a saver. So, I didn’t exactly have an uphill battle trying to convince her that, yeah, this is probably what we should do. I think a lot of people out there might have that struggle, but for me, it really wasn’t much of a struggle. She liked what she was doing, but she was willing to entertain better offers.

Steve Adcock (06:21):

At the time we were thinking about traveling a country, maybe selling off our houses and buying an Airstream and just setting sail for a while and just kind of see where the tide takes us. And that’s ultimately what we ended up doing in 2016 and 2017. We really started to put those pieces into place. We sold my house. I moved in with my wife in her house. Then we eventually sold her house and the Airstream was the only home we had that. We lived 100% full time in that Airstream, and we traveled the country everywhere from New York to Washington state down here to air Arizona. And I think of the furthest southeast we got was Alabama and everywhere in between. So, it was a lot of fun, but things have certainly changed from when I worked my full-time career back in 2013 through to 2014. It went from a 09:00 to 05:00 drag, quite frankly, to really a life where I can do… I can get up when I want and do whatever I want, and that’s just so unbelievably freeing.

Clay Finck (07:25):

So, you went from having all the nice things and working a full-time job. Then at age 35, you became financially independent. What investment vehicles did you and your wife use to get to that point? And what other things did you need to knock out? Did you need to sell any of the cars you had or pay off any debts prior to that?

Steve Adcock (07:46):

I like to say that I built wealth the old fashioned way, which means I didn’t have an inheritance. There was no lottery. I don’t even play the lottery. I didn’t have a side business. Quite frankly, I didn’t even have a side hustle. And you were in the money Twitter space or the side hustle space on Twitter. I mean, that’s like multiple sources of income is always what they preach. And I preach that too, but quite frankly, I didn’t have all that stuff set up. But what we did do, especially when we combined finances is we maxed out our 401(k). So both me as well as my wife maxed out our 401(k)s, we maxed out our IRAs, and we also opened up a brokerage account. So imagine this two relatively high paid people making $220,000 a year. By the end of our careers, we’re saving about 70%. That’s 70% of our combined income in a low cost of living area. That is going to add up so freaking quickly.

Steve Adcock (08:46):

I think we saved 100% of my salary and lived on about half of my wife’s salary. So, like I said, the traditional 401(k)s, the Roth IRAs, we opened up a brokerage account and funneled everything extra that we had into that brokerage account. I sold my Yamaha R1, sold my Corvette. We kept the Cadillac around for a little while so my wife had a nicer car to drive to work, but we eventually sold that because we were going to pull an Airstream and you can’t pull a 10,000 pound Airstream with a Cadillac CTS, I’m sorry. So we went with a three quarter ton Dodge Diesel as a utility vehicle because we needed that to pull the Airstream. So a lot of downsizing, a lot of minimizing our lifestyle, a lot of saving.

Steve Adcock (09:29):

We have at 1.2 years of living expenses in cash saved up and that’s a lot more cash than a lot of people feel comfortable with. But as I like to say about money management and financial independence in general, there’s two sides to this. There’s the math side, what works on paper, what makes sense mathematically. And then there’s the other side, which is the psychological aspect of money. If you haven’t read the book, The Psychology of Money, I highly, highly recommend that. That’s the other side of this. So while it might not make 100% financial sense on paper, if it makes you feel better at night by having a little bit more cash, that is the right decision for you. And don’t let anybody change your mind. If that makes you sleep at night, there’s nothing more important than that. And for us, that was absolutely a part of this equation. Having a little bit more cash saved up. So, if there is a recession and we know there’s going to be one, nobody knows when, but we know there’s going to be one. We have that cash buffer. So we’re not going to be forced to sell investments and potentially take a loss to fund our lifestyle in the event of a market crash or a longer term recession.

Clay Finck (10:47):

So you max out your 401(k) and you max out your IRA, both you and your wife, and you also invest in your brokerage account as well. Is that 100% index funds? And why did you decide to make that your investment a choice?

Steve Adcock (11:01):

I would say it’s 90%. We are 90% index funds. We are more risky at this point because we are younger and we can afford to take a little bit more risk. I think I firmly believe 90% of people should be 100% index fund investors. It’s just that simple. Most of us cannot pick and choose stocks well consistently. And that’s certainly the case for me. There’s no way I would do that. That’s not what I enjoy doing. So for the most part, we are index funds. Now, that’s not to say that if you do like picking and choosing stocks, you might take three, four, 5% of your net worth and choose some stocks here and there. Just have fun with it if that’s what you like to do. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I think for the majority of people out there, especially if you’re like me where you just want to build the well. You’re not this math guy. You’re not this heavy investor guy. You’re not in the finance. You just want to make money over time. I mean, who doesn’t want to do that?

Steve Adcock (11:59):

I think that’s really where index funds shine, and I was always a big proponent of the targeted retirement funds and the life strategy funds, which are very low fee offered through Vanguard, and Fidelity, and some other investment institutions. Yes, you can make more money elsewhere. Absolutely. But if you don’t want to think about that, if that’s not what brings you joy in life, and that’s definitely me. That is a great… Those funds are a great way to just get your money in the market. Have it automatically diversified, automatically managed for you. And then as you get older towards your retirement date, whatever that happens to look like for you, that investment company, if you have a targeted retirement fund, for example, will slowly start to transition your stock investments over to less risky bonds as you get older where you have a little bit less flexibility to take on more risk. It’s all automatic. You just invest the investment company does everything. And that kind of automation with investing really works for us because it means that we don’t have to think about that stuff. All we have to do is earn money and throw it in there and everything else is taken care of. To me, that’s almost like the easy button to investing in the stock market.

Clay Finck (13:22):

We talk a lot about the markets and investing and stock investing, especially in individual stocks on this show. And I think it’s really cool to hear someone’s story on how they’ve used their investments to complete changed their life. Money’s important, and we talk about it a lot on this show, but it isn’t everything, and you’re living proof of that to be the case. You’re not chugging away at a job you don’t like anymore. You’re doing things you enjoy. You’re spending your time exactly how you want to now.

Steve Adcock (13:51):

That’s exactly it, and that was really our entire point of this early retirement lifestyle. It wasn’t just that I don’t want to work. It was that I want to control my time. I want to control every minute of the day. And one of the most common questions that I get is, “Steve, what do you do with your day? Aren’t you bored?” And I firmly believe that only boring people are bored. I am a very internally motivated person. This really wasn’t a challenge for me. My wife and I usually get up between 06:00 and 06:30 in the mornings. We’re relatively early risers. We pet the dogs for a while. Then we sit down and have some coffee or tea. I might log onto Twitter or social media and check out what’s going on there. Then we go for a walk with the dogs and then we come back.

Steve Adcock (14:34):

Basically, we just do whatever we feel like doing. My wife’s a huge cooker. She’s a huge knitter. She always finds things to do that makes her feel productive, and I do as well. I write a lot online, do a lot, spend a lot of time on social media, all that stuff to give back to spread the message of financial independence, and that’s what really brings me joy. And in the afternoon, man, anything goes. We live out here in the middle of the Arizona desert. We have seven acres, and there always seems to be something to do, some kind of project to do. Yesterday, I was out spreading 10 tons of rock gravel around to make a nice little gravel pad for us, but might spend some time on the tractor, might do… Really, the sky is the limit. There’s always something that I can find that makes me feel productive.

Steve Adcock (15:26):

And that really comes back to having hobbies. If your job is your hobby, then you should not even think about retiring early. It’s very easy to assume that, “Oh, once I retire, I’ll find something to do. I’ll be fine. Things will be better. I’ll be happy. It’s not going to be a problem.” Well, guess what? It is for a lot of people. You finally go from that 09:00 to 05:00 or 09:00 to 06:00, 09:00 to 07:00, 08:00 to whatever, your full-time job. And then the next day you have nothing. It’s like, what happens then? What are you going to do?

Steve Adcock (16:00):

I always like to say that there’s a bell curve to early retirement, and just picture a bell curve in your mind. Right after you retire you’re at this level of, I don’t want to do this. I am unsatisfied. My happiness level is relatively low. That’s your baseline level of happiness going into retirement. And then it finally happens. You quit your job. You’re done. Your happiness level immediately starts to rise. It goes way up, way up, way up, right? And if you don’t have a hobby, you might spend the next week or two or three just kind of edging a little bit. Catching up on your sleep, watching Netflix or whatever Disney+, and things are going okay. But eventually, and the timing here is going to be different for everybody. It might take a couple days. It might take a couple weeks, but eventually you’re going to sit on the couch and you’re going to think to yourself, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life. I feel unhealthy. I feel unproductive. I go to bed at night with no real accomplishments. What the heck is going on?”

Steve Adcock (16:58):

And that’s the very top of the bell curve where your happiness level actually begins to level off and you don’t get any happier. And the thing is, if you don’t fix that, if you don’t know how to fix it, if you’re not trying new things, your happiness level is going to go right back down the other side of that bell curve, and you’re going to go right back to where you were before. You might actually find yourself back in the office. Or even worse, I think Market Watch published something a couple years ago that actually proved early retirees die younger. That is a really scary thought. And the reason is because too many early retirees retire from something and not to something. If you’re only retiring from your job and not to a better life, to something specific, to your hobbies, to your passions, I think you’re going to find early retirement, if that’s your goal, is going to be a huge, huge struggle for you.

Clay Finck (18:01):

So, as you were saving very aggressively at your job, when did you know that it was time to you make the jump? What did your net worth and portfolio values look like? What did your expenses look like? And how did you know, yes, now’s the right time to make the jump.

Steve Adcock (18:18):

That was a point of contention. In a lot of relationships, I think one person is a little bit more risk tolerant, and the other person is more risk averse. In our relationship as you probably guessed by now, I am way more risk tolerant, and my wife is way more risk averse. So we had to come to a meeting of the minds. I was okay retiring at $500,000 in net worth, and she’s like, “Dude, you’re stupid. There’s no way we’re quitting our jobs with a half million dollars. That’s not going to work. I want more like a million or even more than that.” I’m like, “Yeah, I think we could do it before that. Let’s set our minds. Let’s try it. Maybe we don’t need a million. Please don’t make me wait that long.” So at that point I was like, “Okay, why don’t we shoot for 40? I want to retire when I’m 40. I don’t want to work in my 40s at all.” And maybe if we have, I don’t know, around a million, maybe a little bit less, that could work.

Steve Adcock (19:13):

But one thing that my wife and I did to really wrap our heads around this and decide what the heck we’re going to do here is after dinner every single night we would walk our dogs around the neighborhood every single night, and we would talk about our future. Talk exactly about what we see our future holding, how much money that we think we’re going to spend, what we want to be doing. And that kind of reinforcement really helps solidify some of these numbers for us. So by the time that I did call it quits, and this was December 23rd of 2016, best Christmas present ever to myself, by the way, we had $870,000 in net worth.

Steve Adcock (19:52):

Now, my wife continued to work for another six months before we were both officially retired. So, she had another six months of income. Wasn’t a world of difference, but I mean, it was something. So, we had about 870,000 and we were spending at the time, I don’t know, I’d say between 30 and 40 grand a year. So, we were really living minimally. And remember what I said before, we were pulling in 220 Gs a year, and we were spending 30 or 40. So, if you do the math there, that’s like 180, $170,000 that we were saving. There’s taxes, so those aren’t exact numbers. Those were pretax numbers. So it wasn’t exactly that, but you get the idea.

Steve Adcock (20:32):

We were saving a lot of money and that adds up really, really quickly. And when you’re in our situation where you’re heavily invested in the stock market, especially index funds, your lifestyle revolves around how the market’s doing. If it’s doing great, you’re doing great. You might be spending a little bit more than you anticipated. If the market’s not doing so well, then guess what? You’re going to have to cut back. And that’s just part of our early retirement philosophy, our lifestyle, we’ve accepted that. So when we first, everything was fine. We spent for the next couple years traveling around in our Airstream.

Steve Adcock (21:12):

We spent 30 to $40,000 a year and then COVID hits and everything took a crash. It was a very short lived luckily, but man, we weren’t panicked at all by any stretch of the imagination. Because like I said, I am a very risk tolerant person, but I think in April of 2020, we were down over $200,000. Our net worth just down 200 grand in almost a month. And at that point, people were reaching out to me, people I didn’t even know, but also like friends and family asking me if I’m going to get out of the market. I think one or two people on Twitter DMed me, and why they care, I have no idea, but they begged me to get out of the market because everything’s going to crash. Everything’s going down. Boy, I’m glad I didn’t do that because when you try to time the market, you might be able to time it here and there, but you’re not going to be able to consistently time the market.

Steve Adcock (22:09):

My response was basically, I appreciate your concern, but I didn’t ask you for financial advice. I’m not getting out of the market because it crashed because of COVID. It wasn’t a long term recession. There was a very tangible reason why the market went down. It was COVID, and as markets tend to do, they normalize. Over time, they go back to what they do best and that’s grow. So, if I had sold at that point, we would’ve been selling all of our stocks at a loss, but within about a year and a half of that point, so mid this year, we had regained 100% plus about $150,000 in net worth because I stayed invested, and that is the magic of the stock market.

Steve Adcock (23:00):

Imagine retiring when you’re 35 with about $870,000. And then when you’re 40, you look at your net worth and you’re at like 1.2, 1.3. It’s like what? I never set foot in an office once, and I made $500,000 just because I’m invested in the market. Yes. Granted, this is a bull market. It’s not going to be this way forever. If you choose to retire at a bad time you might lose money instead of gaining money. There’s always going to be the risk. And I’m not naive enough to believe that this is just going to work the same way for everybody. But over the long term, man, the market really does what it does best, and that’s grow. If you have a long term mindset.

Clay Finck (23:50):

The market is a very powerful wealth building machine. And you knew that if you had to go back to work for whatever reason, if your portfolio went down too much and you were unable to withdraw what you needed or you were running short on cash, you knew you had those marketable skills that if you absolutely had to, you could go back to work.

Steve Adcock (24:12):

That was one of the biggest criticisms of my early retirement plans from the general public. When I was going through this, I had a blog, it was called thinksaveretire.com. I have since sold that. So, I’m no longer under affiliated with it, but I wrote a lot of articles about how I’m achieving FI and what happens if things go south? And a lot of people were saying, “Steve, you might not want to do this because you’re not going to get your job back, buddy.” It was almost as if they were hoping something was going to go wrong and I was going to have to eat my words or something. I don’t know, kind of seemed that way. But in my opinion, the market loves people with marketable skills. So, here’s the deal. Yes, I may not be able to get the exact same job back at the exact same salary with the exact same responsibilities. Yes, you might be. Right. But then again, that’s what I spent all of these years trying to avoid, trying to get away from. I don’t want that same job back, but if you have a marketable skill, and this is especially true in IT, but regardless of what you do. If you have a marketable skill, if you have something of value in the market, there’s always going to be a job for you, period.

Steve Adcock (25:32):

I have turned down more job opportunities since I retired than I did back when I was working. So if I wanted to be working right now making 100, $150,000 a year, I absolutely could. But quite frankly, that’s the last thing I wanted to do. So, the moral of this story is, yeah, you’re probably not going to get your exact same job back, but I think it’s very healthy to have hobbies that kind of surround what you did, what your strengths are before you retired. So, if things do hit the fan and you do have to go back to work several years down the road, you have something to show. You keep your skin in the game a little bit. You’re still doing something that revolved around what you did when you worked a full-time job. So, I was in IT. I do some consulting work online. That’s very technical based. I write some code. I do this and that. So, it’s not a full-time job. It’s like three, four hours a week sometimes. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to really keep me thinking like that, keep me in the IT game. So, if things do go badly, I can go back. I can get some kind of job doing what I did before even though it may not be the exact same job that I retired from. And quite frankly, that I don’t want again.

Clay Finck (26:56):

Now, you mentioned you spend around three to 4,000 a month and some people might be shaking their head like how are they spending this little? It probably depends on the listener and their own lifestyle, but you’ve done some creative things to figure out ways to lower your expenses and just really keep them under control. And especially what impressed me was the land purchase you were able to make. So tell us a little bit about the property you purchased and some of the big expenses you were able to limit when comparing to your spending habits earlier on in your life.

Steve Adcock (27:32):

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I think living in a high cost living area is highly overrated. There’s going to be some exceptions to that. I totally get that. But for us, especially living in low cost of living area has made a world of difference. I like to call our house that we live in now, our off-grid recession proof home. And what I mean by that is we have no hookups to the grid, to the utilities whatsoever. We have solar panels on our property. We have a well for water on our property. We have septic on our property. We do pay for propane that we have to have trucked in and just fill our huge propane tank. But other than that, we have no connection whatsoever, which means we are so self sustained out here that we can live almost as cheaply as we want.

Steve Adcock (28:28):

This year has been stupid. We probably spent 60 or $70,000 this year, but only because the market’s been doing so well. And this is the time where you can spend a lot of money. But if the market… When the market does go back down, when there is a recession, I think if we’ve built a lifestyle here out in the Arizona desert with our little 1,000 square foot house, with the solar panels that we can really cut back. I mean, our property taxes are about 100 bucks a month, that’s it? And that is, I mean, when you’re only spending a couple hundred dollars on everything except for health insurance. I mean, man, you can live almost as cheaply as you want. And for our health insurance, we pay about 500 a month, I want to say. We found a plan on the healthcare exchange, the marketplace, which was actually cheaper than we were paying with Liberty Health Share by the way, which is what we had when we were traveling the country. But we bailed from that, went with a traditional health plan, pay about 500 bucks a month. So, that’s by far our biggest expense. No mortgage, no hookups, no utility hookups. We provide as much as we possibly can in our little homestead here and it’s worked out so, so well.

Clay Finck (29:44):

What have you found to be the pros and cons of early retirement? I’m sure the pros include just so much time on your hands that you can just really do whatever you want. But I’m curious if you have any cons that you’d like to share that you found?

Steve Adcock (29:58):

Like you said, the pro is having as my time, as you want to do whatever you want, but that’s also the con. That’s the exact same thing as the con, depending on who you are. If you’re a very internally motivated person like me and you just find things to do, you can be productive by pursuing your passions. It’s great. You don’t have to answer to anybody. You don’t have to build things that have to make money. Even though you could, you don’t have to. The money side is taken care of. You no longer have that draw, but that’s also the con.

Steve Adcock (30:27):

The con is you have to fill your time with something. You no longer have that 09:00 to 05:00 job, that full-time work that consumes the majority of your time, quite frankly, the majority of your time. So, you don’t really have to think about filling your days except for Saturday and Sunday, but it’s easy when you have a full time job, right? Because everything just gets pushed off. Oh, we’ll do that over the weekend. We’ll do that on Saturday. And so, you just naturally build your schedule. You build your time for the weekends when you can’t really do much during the week. But when you can do anything you want during the week, that’s going to a challenge for a lot of people if you don’t have hobbies and passions and things to pursue.

Steve Adcock (31:07):

I think another con is, again, this is going to depend on who you are, but a lot of people derive a lot of social, I guess, benefits from working, your coworkers. You might go out to happy hours and do things with them. So that’s your social outlet in some cases. For me, it wasn’t necessarily that way. They were more like we may have done happy hours here and there, but it really wasn’t a big thing. But when you no longer have coworkers, depending on where you live, you’re just kind of home with your spouse and okay. If you don’t have something to do, that might actually be a challenge.

Steve Adcock (31:43):

And this actually leads into my third con, it seems like I have more cons than pros here, but if you have a relationship problem or quite frankly, any problem, early retirement will very likely make it worse. And the reason is because you have more time to stew on that problem, especially if it’s a relationship problem, spending more time around your spouse. If there’s something going on, there might not help. In fact, it might make it worse. So I think for a lot of people, if you fall into that boat or you think that that might be a problem, that’s going to be something that you probably need to at least start working towards before you call it quits.

Steve Adcock (32:24):

You don’t have to have it all figured out. Obviously, no one has things all figured out. But if you think that early retirement is just going to make things better, it magically makes things better. That you’re just going to turn into this happy person overnight, that’s not the way this works. If you’re an unhappy negative person before you retire, you’re probably going to be a negative, unhappy person after you retire because there’s going to be things that you find and you’re just going to make them negative. But if you’re a happy person before, guess what? You’re absolutely going to be happy. The goal is happier after you retire.

Steve Adcock (33:00):

So, I think that was three cons and only one pro. But that one pro is so huge. And I can really distill that down into one word. It’s freedom, and freedom encompasses everything. Absolutely everything. The freedom to not worry about money, the freedom to whatever you want with your time, the freedom to design your life however you want. The freedom to get up whenever you want. The freedom to do whatever you want. And that is, I mean, there’s nothing better than being able to control your life almost 100% of the time.

Clay Finck (33:36):

I think a good segue for that is to pivot to something that is discussed on Twitter quite often. And that’s the follow your passion versus earn more money debate. Some would argue that you should follow your passion and do what you love in life. And others would argue that you should focus on your strengths to earn more money and not necessarily do what you love. Where do you fall on this?

Steve Adcock (33:58):

I’ve really hate the advice, follow your passion. It’s going to work for somebody. Yes, it is. But here’s the problem. Our passions don’t tend to pay the bills. I’ll say it that way. And the reason is because most people’s passions aren’t like the hard sciences, the math, the problems, it’s more, they’re more creative, they’re more higher level. They’re more kind of up in the clouds where you can kind of do your own thing, make your own decisions. And I mean, if you can combine your passion and your strength, which is just what you’re naturally good at, I think you have the best of both worlds there, but I don’t think just the blanket follow your passionate vice is very good, quite frankly.

Steve Adcock (34:43):

My passion is photography. I’ve always loved photography. When I was in high school, I worked at Ritz camera, a photo shop. I’ve always had that creative outlet that I wanted to pursue, but to be honest, if somebody told me to follow my passion and I did, I can guarantee you I would not be early retired right now because photography just doesn’t pay as much as my skill did, which is IT. And a lot of people’s strengths, their natural strengths, what they’re good at, those things will tend to pay more money than your passions. Whether it’s computer science or accounting or really anything. What you’re good at is going to pay the bills. What you’re passionate about should be what you do on the side where you don’t have to worry about money. It’s just like a release. It’s like this is what I love doing, and this is what I want to do without having to worry about making a full-time income.

Steve Adcock (35:41):

I think the challenge that a lot of people face when they pursue their passion is their passion is no longer their passion when you have to make it a full-time job. When you have to earn a full-time… I can’t really say whether photography would still be my passion if I pursued it. I don’t know, but I can guarantee you, I would not be early retired right now. And I probably wouldn’t be doing as much with my camera as I am right now because that’s something that I do on the side. It’s not something I do all the time. I don’t have to make a single dollar from it, and that’s really freeing for me.

Clay Finck (36:16):

Yeah. I think a lot of people that end up trying to follow their passion and especially go to college or get their undergrad degree in that field, they’ll find that college actually ended up costing them a lot more than they thought, and they have all this debt. And then they’re essentially trapped where they’re at this job in that field then they’re like, “Being in this financial position is not where I want to be.” And I think going into a field that focuses on your strengths and has those marketable skills to earn more money, and I just think that it’s just a much smarter and safer path, but I can see it not being so black and white, and it really depends on the individual.

Steve Adcock (37:00):

It absolutely does. And part of the problem here is when we go to college and I still in general like the idea of college. I’m not one of these anti-college people, but the problem here is we’re deciding our career path, our life almost. When we’re 18 or 19, we pick our major, we get a degree, and then we follow that path. I mean, who the hell knows whether we’re going to like that 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the road? I mean, quite frankly, we’re still kids when we enter college and we change so much during that part of our life that our passions may no longer be our passions, whether we pursue them or not. But I think that for most of us, our strengths are always our strengths. It’s things that we’re just naturally good at.

Steve Adcock (37:47):

Our passions are things that we like to do, but our passions go in and out of vogue. We may try different things. We like this now, but we might choose something else later. Those things kind of switch up a little bit more often, I think, and we pigeonhole ourselves almost. If we choose to get a degree or pursue our passions full time, we pigeon ourselves into, or pigeonhole ourselves into choosing that one career path that we happen to like at the time. And we don’t give ourselves a lot of flexibility to move on after that without at least a lot of work or maybe going back to school and getting yet another degree.

Steve Adcock (38:24):

Whereas, our strengths, I mean, that’s it, our strengths are our strengths. Yes, we can develop new strengths if we work hard enough at them. But I think those things, our strengths are a little bit easier to follow from a long term perspective, a little bit easier to get a marketable degree that we’re going to be able to pay off sooner than if we were to get a degree in our passions. And it’s going to be something that I think we’re going to just flat make more money with. And that will set us up for saving more, investing more, achieving financial independence, or if your goal is early retirement, I think following a career of your strengths is going to set you up to achieve that goal much, much sooner.

Clay Finck (39:08):

So after hearing your story, some people in the audience may want to learn more about the FIRE Movement, which is financial independence retire early, which I’m sure you know all about. What resources would you recommend for them to learn more?

Steve Adcock (39:23):

That’s a more difficult question to answer than I anticipated, I think, because there’s a lot of FIRE blogs out there. A lot of people writing about their journey, and I think there’s a lot of value in that, but you’re also quite frankly going to get a lot of bad advice. A lot of advice that’s just not right for you. It might be right for them. It might work for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be right for you. There’s a lot. I mean, if you just Google FIRE blogs, you’re going to have a slew, a ton of different resources out there. But the problem is they’re not always going to be good resource. So, I like to encourage people to read more books than to follow blogs at this point.

Steve Adcock (40:04):

A few books that I really love is The Millionaire Next Door by the late Dr. Thomas Stanley. That’s probably my all time favorite book. It’s not about FIRE specifically, but it’s about building wealth and you’ll learn some things about millionaires. Oh, my gosh, that will blow your mind. For example, I think a Ramsey study found that three quarters of millennials think that the majority of millionaires just inherited their wealth. It was just dumb luck. It was pure chance. They were born into the right family. They did nothing to earn that million dollars. But in the book, The Millionaire Next Door, and quite frankly, so many studies prove that the vast majority of millionaires don’t inherit their wealth. They actually earn their wealth by building businesses and providing value for other people. So, that book was, as I was going through this process, The Millionaire Next Door was the most eye-opening book that I’ve ever read bar none.

Steve Adcock (41:04):

I think another good one is The Psychology of Money. That really teaches you, like I said before, about the mindset behind making financial decisions where it might not work as well on paper, but if it makes you sleep at night, it’s the right decision for you. That book is all about that side of things. Another one that a lot of people like is Rich Dad Poor Dad. I think the book is good. I do not like the author in any way, shape or form, but the book resonates with a lot of people. It follows the journey of a rich dad and also a poor dad, and the decisions they both made. And that can certainly help you put the pieces into place in your journey. Just give you a variety of different sources to read and consider.

Clay Finck (41:46):

I’d like to add one more book recommendation that I think many listeners would find valuable. And that is The Simple Path to Wealth by J. L. Collins. We actually interviewed J. L. on the Millennial Investing Podcast and he advocates an approach very similar to what Steve did to achieve financial independence, which is continually investing in low cost index funds.

Steve Adcock (42:08):

I think that’s by far the easiest way to build wealth, unless you’re a deep finance person, you like numbers, you like math, you talking in yields and price to earnings. I mean, if that’s your thing that’s great. I mean, do it. That’s all good, but it’s not his way, and it’s definitely not my way. That’s not what makes me happy. Building wealth makes me happy. Being knee deep in finances, that’s just flat boring to me.

Clay Finck (42:32):

Personal finances, personal for a reason, and each individual has to choose what strategy works best for them. And it’s important just to learn what strategies actually exist. And this is why I wanted to bring you on the show, Steve, just to help some people realize what is actually possible for them. I believe that early retirement is possible for many people and Steve you’re living proof of that. Thank you so much for coming onto the show. Before we close out the episode, where can the audience go to connect with you?

Steve Adcock (43:02):

I spent a lot of time on Twitter. My Twitter handle is SteveOnSpeed. The on speed part was back when I drove my Corvette and my Yamaha R1 race bike. So, that’s the context that I meant on speed at the time. So, don’t get any weird ideas. I also have a blog at steveadcock.us. I publish occasionally there, but if you want to contact me, that’s a good place to find me as well.

Clay Finck (43:25):

I love it. Steve, thank you so much for coming onto the show.

Steve Adcock (43:28):

You are very welcome.

Clay Finck (43:30):

All right, everybody. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Please go ahead and follow us on your favorite podcast app so you can get these episodes delivered automatically. And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our website, theinvestorspodcast.com. There you’ll find all of our episodes, some educational resources we have, as well as some tools you can use as an investor. And with that, we’ll see you again next time.

Outro (43:53):

Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday, we teach you about Bitcoin, and every Saturday we study billionaires and the financial markets. To access our show notes, transcripts, or courses, go to theinvestorspodcast.com. This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


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