Early retirement may seem glamorous when you’re dreaming about it….
Sleeping in every day. Going jogging mid-day. Picnicking on a random Tuesday. Flying off to vacation on a moment’s notice. Wandering abroad for months at a time.
But once early retirement is actually your life, it’ll feel different. You have to be intentional about it to make sure it lives up to your expectations.
This week, I invited Anita Dhake – a lawyer turned early retiree who’s retirement plan has shifted over time – to share her story about retiring from the law at 33 to travel the world, what she’s learned along the way, and why she no longer travels full-time.
- Why she walked away from a high-powered law firm career after graduating from an elite law school
- What motivated her to retire early, and how she came up with her FIRE number
- How she tackled student debt at the same time
- How much she had in the bank on the day she FIRE’d…and how much she has now
- How retiring early actually made health insurance easier
- How many countries she’s traveled to since retiring, and why long-term travel is so difficult compared to vacation travel
- Why she ultimately stopped long-term traveling and what she’s doing now instead
Did anything in Anita’s story surprise you? Do you agree with her view on long-term travel? Would you do anything differently? Let me know by leaving a comment when you’re done.
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Andrew Chen 01:22
My guest today is Anita Dhake. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School over a decade ago, worked in Big Law for a number of years, and then early retired at 33 after paying off her student loans and building up a retirement nest egg.
She has long term traveled all over the world since, and her story has been featured in Forbes, PBS NewsHour, Mr. Money Mustache, and other publications. She also previously wrote a book about her experiences called “Operation Enough: How to Retire Remarkably Early.”
I invited her to come on to the podcast today to share advice and tips about early retirement from a legal career. Anita, thanks so much for joining us today to share your story.
Anita Dhake 01:58
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.
Andrew Chen 02:01
For audience orientation, in what year did you early retire? And what was your career path before retiring?
Anita Dhake 02:18
I retired in October of 2013. I worked as a lawyer for five years before that. Of course, there was law school before that.
Before that, I worked as a flight attendant for a little while. Before that, I worked as an insurance claims handler or adjustment. Very exciting stuff.
Andrew Chen 02:37
Very cool. What kind of legal work were you doing after law school but before retiring?
Anita Dhake 02:43
I worked for corporations mostly as a corporate attorney. I did mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, corporate governance, helping companies do their SEC filings, that kind of stuff.
Andrew Chen 02:55
When did you decide that you wanted to retire early? Was there a single moment of recognition, or was it a gradual realization?
Anita Dhake 03:03
I knew pretty early on in life that I wanted to retire early. When I was 17 or so, I read this book called “Your Money or Your Life,” which basically helps you break down to figure out what you’re actually earning if you take into account commute times and clothes and all this other stuff that you wouldn’t be spending money on if you weren’t working.
I read that book really young, and put “retire early” on my life bucket list that I had started when I was a kid. So I had been thinking about it for a decade.
Andrew Chen 03:34
What was the life that you had envisioned having an early retirement after crossing over to the promised land?
Anita Dhake 03:43
The number one thing I wanted to do would be able to sleep in because I hate waking up to an alarm clock. I just wanted to be able to set my schedule, and I wanted to be able to do things during the day if I wanted to. I didn’t want my life to revolve around work.
That was the number one thing. I wanted to be able to breathe as much as I wanted.
I wanted to be able to pursue writing as a fulltime job. I loved to write since I was a kid, and I pictured myself being this big author.
I wanted to travel, of course. I just didn’t want to be a slave to somebody else, a slave to my job, a slave to a paycheck. I wanted what I considered the ultimate freedom just to be able to live my life in my own way.
Andrew Chen 04:27
How did you come up with your FIRE number in terms of calculating the budget or the burn rate that you would need to live on, factoring in things like travel or accommodation, food, any unexpected expenses, buffer, etc.?
How did you actually get the confidence to estimate what you would need without having to ever go back to work in the future? It can be a nerve-racking and imprecise science, so I’m curious. What was your thought process?
Anita Dhake 04:58
I’ve been keeping track of my expenses since I started working at 20, so I knew pretty clearly how much I needed and what I wanted.
When I first started working as a lawyer, my number was $450,000 because if you extrapolate from the 4% rule, which I’m sure everyone who listens to this podcast, you probably know about. It’s just a very typical way of figuring out your future expenses, such as thinking about how much the stock market returned in the past, inflation, and all that stuff.
So I had my $450,000 number, which would give me $1500 a month, which was about what I was spending my first few years as a lawyer in Chicago, so I figured that was what I needed.
Andrew Chen 05:53
Got it. How did you stay focused?
I imagine many of your law school classmates who were making six figures right out of law school. They were making a lot of money, were starting perhaps to upgrade their lifestyles, buy homes, cars, start families, etc., while you were trying to save up to retire early.
Anita Dhake 06:15
I think I was being a little naïve when I was doing it, to be honest. For me personally, it was just my personality.
At first, it was like I had no interest in having a fancy car. I wanted to travel completely, so I didn’t care about having a nice house.
I’m small, so it’s very hard for me to find clothes that fit. So online shopping was never something I ever really did as a hobby or something fun. Most of my clothes are hand-me-downs from my older sister, so I was very lucky in that regard.
I guess I just never online shopped. I think I bought something off Amazon less than 10 times in my life, for sure.
This is something I say a lot. I buy whatever I want whenever I want. I just don’t want that much.
So I think most of it was just a facet of my personality, that I live a very simple life and I didn’t want that much. It was much more satisfying for me to see my net worth grow than to buy something shiny.
Andrew Chen 07:18
As you were saving up your retirement nest egg, how did you think about the big concern that, at least in America, many people have, which is around healthcare and insurance costs?
Because we don’t have universal healthcare in the U.S., and the cost of care is pretty expensive, even though it may be cheaper outside of the country.
How did you start to prepare for that?
Anita Dhake 07:40
I did not prepare for it at all. I was very naïve in that regard, and I did not spend much time thinking about it. I think if I had, I would have been a lot more wary about retiring if I had thought about it.
I guess my thought process was that even if I was working, I could still go bankrupt from a catastrophic illness or injury. And it didn’t seem like a reason to put my life on hold and to do things and keep working a job that I didn’t really like for the possibility that something might happen.
When I first retired, I just did Obamacare, and so I paid $200 a month for health insurance, a very high deductible.
And I just didn’t use my insurance at all. I went to a physical every year, and I was in perfect health, so I didn’t really worry about it. I’ve been very lucky in that regard.
So that was what I did for the first two years or so. And then I was talking on the phone with an Obamacare representative, and I realized they don’t really care about net worth. They only care about income.
When I was filling out the forms, I told them absolutely everything. I gave them a list of my assets and showed them what I had. I sent them my tax returns and everything.
All they really cared about was your monthly income. And I wasn’t making any money.
I have a blog and I have a book, but I don’t really make any money off of them. The only income I had was from whatever random tax capital gain things that the government taxes me on my nest egg, which was always pretty low.
So my total monthly income was below Medicaid line, so I qualified for Medicaid. So now I don’t pay anything for my health insurance. I don’t really use it, but it’s there in case I need it.
Andrew Chen 09:27
Seems like a pretty good deal.
Anita Dhake 09:30
Andrew Chen 09:31
Was there a specific FIRE date you had in mind, or a specific target you knew you needed to hit? And what considerations went into that date or number?
Anita Dhake 09:40
I didn’t have a specific date. When I first started working, my only goal was to pay off my student loans.
I think when I actually started, I had $95,000. Before that, I had over $100,000, before I started aggressively tackling it.
My goal was just to pay off my student loans, and I estimated that it would take me three years with being super aggressive, and it took me about a year to do it.
And then after that, I was like, “My nest egg grew so quickly. I’m going to build up an emergency fund first.” And then I did that.
My number was $450,000. I was like, “I can work as long as I can. If I can get it as close to it as possible, if I burn out, then I’ll find another job.”
But I kept working, kept doing the corporate law thing, hit $450,000.
And then my law firm was like, “Hey, do you want to move to Sydney, Australia and hang out there for a couple of years?”
And I was like, “Hell yes. That sounds amazing,” because to live in a foreign country was also in my life bucket list.
So I moved there and I kept working and I passed my second goal which was $600,000. That would produce $2000 per month in income, and I kept blowing past the numbers.
And then October 2013, my secondment was up, and they were like, “If you want to come back to the Chicago office, you’re more than welcome.” And I just decided that that was a good place in my life to stop and retire at that point.
Andrew Chen 11:09
Gotcha. Sydney is beautiful. I actually went there on my honeymoon with my wife.
Anita Dhake 11:14
Andrew Chen 11:15
Definitely one of the most laid back places.
Since you were paying off your student loans first, it sounds like you had a good chunk of student loan debt. Did you save and pay off your loans in parallel while saving for retirement, or did you pay off all your loans first before beginning to save up?
Anita Dhake 11:36
I paid into my official 401(k) the entire time. I think the max was $16,500 or $17,500 or $18,500. I don’t remember the exact number, but I always put that much into my 401(k).
And I always kept about $5000 in cash. But every penny above that would go to my student loans, so I didn’t save anything in parallel besides the $16,000.
Andrew Chen 12:06
Got it. After your loans were paid off, were you continuing to just max out your tax-deferred accounts, and then everything else went into just regular taxable, plain vanilla brokerage accounts?
Anita Dhake 12:19
Yeah. I wish I had a better answer.
I don’t pay attention at all to tax, and I realize that’s one of my downfalls. But I probably could have saved a lot more money if I had done the conversion ladder and all those other tax dodging stuff that you can do.
But I couldn’t be bothered with it. I was making so much money, and it didn’t really seem like an interesting use of my time. So I was lazy.
Like I said, I maxed on my 401(k), which was easy. And then every other penny went to my one investment account, which was the Vanguard total stock market index fund.
Andrew Chen 12:56
Got it. So you were investing strictly in passive index funds for your retirement fund rather than individual securities?
Anita Dhake 13:04
Yeah. As a corporate lawyer, there was a conflict of interest. They wanted to make sure if you owned specific stocks, you weren’t allowed to work on that account.
If you bought stocks, you have to disclose it. I just really didn’t want to deal with that.
I had no idea how to pick stocks. I don’t think that’s actually a good way to get rich. It sounds very stressful for me, so I never considered picking individual stocks.
Andrew Chen 13:34
How much did you actually have saved up by the time you finally pulled the trigger?
Anita Dhake 13:40
When I quit, I had $690,000 saved. $690,000 was my net worth.
Andrew Chen 13:48
Gotcha. So then, can you help us understand your thought process between realizing you had enough and actually pulling the trigger?
Maybe starting with your parents. How did you break the news to your parents?
Anita Dhake 14:04
Like I said, I had been thinking about this and talking about this for many years, so they were very fully aware of what I was planning on doing and they were mostly on board. They knew.
I’d call them in the morning and be like, “I didn’t sleep last night. I’ve been working on this thing for two days straight. I’m so exhausted.”
So they just wanted me to be happy. They were happy that I was happy.
My dad questioned it in the beginning.
He’s like, “You went to law school. You spent all this money and time on it. Are you sure you don’t want to be a lawyer anymore?”
And when I said, “I’m sure,” he was like, “Okay. You’re your own person.”
“You’re intelligent. You know what you’re doing.”
“You have to live your own life. I’m just happy you’re happy.”
Andrew Chen 14:47
Got it. So it sounds like they didn’t nudge you to just transition to a lower stress career but one where you were still earning an income and had health insurance and all those things?
Anita Dhake 15:00
I think they knew that if I wanted a job, I could find one later in life. It wouldn’t be a huge deal.
They also looked at the bright side that I could come visit them for two weeks at a time if I wanted to, and hang out with them for a long period. I think they were happy about that part.
Andrew Chen 15:18
You’ve been retired for roughly five years or so. How many countries have you been able to long term travel to during that time?
Anita Dhake 15:31
My total number right now is 68 countries. I don’t know exactly how many I did during my two and a half year stint traveling.
When I was working, I traveled to at least one international country. I had one international trip a year at least. When I was a flight attendant, I hit a bunch of countries as well.
So I want to say 25-30. I really have to go back and check because that’s something I haven’t thought about, to be honest.
Andrew Chen 15:59
What was the most memorable place that you traveled to after you early retired?
Anita Dhake 16:06
I’d say most of my time in South America. Like I said, this is something I have to go back and check. But I like doing the big countries so when I color it in my map, it would look really impressive.
I’d go to South America because it was an easy place from the U.S. The time is almost similar, so I can keep in touch with my family pretty easily.
It’s very low cost of living. The U.S. dollar is really strong in these countries. I could rent an apartment for a month and it would be a tiny fraction of what I was “allowed” to spend that month.
Plus, I took Spanish in high school, so I know a little bit of Spanish. So it was a little bit easier for me to get around.
Andrew Chen 16:53
Got it. In what ways does travel feel different as a long term traveler versus just as a vacation traveler?
I imagine if you’re slow traveling more, it’s likely you’ll have homesickness and loneliness. What are some of the ways that travel feels different when you’re traveling long term nomadically?
Anita Dhake 17:17
I think a lot of the excitement for traveling is the anticipation, the buildup. When you’re at work, you’re like, “Six more days until my vacation.” You’re counting down and you’re setting everything up.
Whereas when you’re long term traveling, that’s just your life now. It’s not exciting at all. This is what it is.
There are days where you don’t actually go out and sightsee or don’t really do anything. Whereas when you’re short term traveling, you’re trying to make the most of every single day. You try to go out and do things every single day.
Also, when you’re short term traveling, what you put in your luggage is not that big of a deal. You can throw something in, “Just in case I need it.”
But when you’re long term traveling, anything you have in your luggage has to have a very specific purpose. So it’s a little more intentional, and maybe not in a good way. You’re just very hyper-aware of what you need and what you want.
When you’re short term traveling, it’s very easy to get someone to be like “Let’s take a week off and go somewhere.” But when you’re long term traveling, not very many people will have the option to hang out with you for a month.
Andrew Chen 18:32
How did you deal with the loneliness?
Anita Dhake 18:37
Not well. I have something I do called “Operation Enjoy the Crap out of Life,” which means I try to make plans to go do something every single day.
I made sure that I had some sort of human contact every day. I went to a lot of meet-ups. I went to the couch surfing website and I’d go meet up with people that I met there and make very deliberate effort to try to meet people.
But the relationships that you form when you’re traveling are so transitory and so brief. They’re very intense because you spend a lot of time together in the beginning. But then you go your separate way or they go their separate way, and you don’t really think about them again.
You’re constantly trying to make new friends, and I just think it’s exhausting.
Andrew Chen 19:24
Yeah. I know when we were speaking earlier, you mentioned that you actually changed course in the middle and decided to slow down drastically the long term travel. Can you talk a little bit about your thought process in making that decision and what’s happened since?
Anita Dhake 19:42
I long term traveled for about two and a half years, and I realized actually pretty early on that that was not probably the life for me. I wanted it to be the life for me because I’ve been thinking about doing it for so long.
It just seemed so appealing when I was working. “I can travel and I can go to all these different countries and meet people.” And I did that, but I kept pulling up breadth instead of depth.
It just didn’t feel like a very satisfying life after a while. I would go someplace and I wanted to point out something to somebody, but there was nobody to point it out to. It was just me.
I just felt like the memories I was making were just not good, if that makes sense.
Andrew Chen 20:28
Anita Dhake 20:30
So it did take me a while to decide to give up long term traveling because it was such a huge part of my identity for so long. I was a wanderer. I was a flight attendant before law school, and I traveled every chance I got after law school.
I graduated in 2009, and that’s when the recession happened. Lehman Brothers collapsed.
I had already had a job offer lined up, and my law firm was incredibly generous in saying that “We don’t have any work, but if you wanted to go do whatever you want for a year, we’ll still pay you a third of your salary. We’ll pay your minimum student loans for a year.”
In 2009, I graduated and my law firm gave me $77,000 to go do whatever I wanted. So I spent that year traveling.
Travel was in my blood. And then when I was doing it long term after I retired, giving it up and realizing that wasn’t who I wanted to be took me a really long time to accept.
I just felt guilty, like “I don’t know how I explain to people that this is not what I’m doing anymore. This is what I’ve been talking up for so long, and now I’m abandoning it. Do people expect me to go back to work?”
I didn’t really know how to live my retired life in one place. It took me a really long time to decide that.
Andrew Chen 21:47
When you traveled that first year out of law school after the recession and your law firm paid you $77,000, did you encounter many of the issues that you’ve talked about regarding loneliness, etc.? Did any of those issues crop up then, or no because there was an end date when you knew you had to go back?
Anita Dhake 22:09
I definitely remember feeling lonely at times, but it was still such an exciting new adventure. I did so many cool things during that time that it didn’t feel as bad. I don’t know what the difference was, to be honest.
I just remember I hitchhiked through Ireland, and I got a job waiting tables in Melbourne, and I worked on a farm in New Zealand. I did all these very random things that I didn’t really do after I retired.
After I retired, it was more about traveling and staying in a place for a month and just exploring, as opposed to doing these epic adventures. I don’t really know what the mindset shift was, but I think it was because I knew I had a year, so beforehand, I made a plan.
“This month I’m going to spend in Amsterdam. This month I’m going to spend here.”
I knew beforehand what I was going to be doing. Whereas when I retired, I took it one step at a time.
“I’ll go to Cayman Islands and hang out for a while. And then I’ll figure out when I’m there what I’m going to do next.” There was no planning beforehand.
Whereas when I had my year off, I had to apply for a work visa for Australia. I knew I was going to be there for probably many months and go from there, which was a different mindset.
Andrew Chen 23:28
Gotcha. What have you been up to since you’ve slowed down long term travel? What does your daily life look like now?
Anita Dhake 23:45
Before the coronavirus, I was doing a ton of writing. I’d write at least four hours a day. I had my blog and I was working on a fiction novel.
I’d get up whenever I felt like it. I’d go out to eat dinner with friends pretty much every single day. I’d go on a ton of dates.
I’d walk outside in the sunshine every day. I’d read every day.
Last December, I had made the goal to read a book a day, so by the end of doing that, I think I read 23 or 25 books in December. So I was doing a ton of reading.
Post-corona life is a little bit different because I’m not allowed to hang out with friends as much, so it’s a little bit lonelier.
But I’m still doing basically the same thing. I haven’t been writing as much just because it feels a little pointless with the whole pandemic thing going on. I don’t really know how to get that back.
But I’m still doing a ton of Zoom calls and talking on the phone. A lot of sleeping as per usual.
Andrew Chen 24:51
You mentioned earlier when we were chatting that you’ve, at least for now, decided to settle in Denver. How did you decide on Denver?
Anita Dhake 25:01
It was a long process, to be honest. In 2017, when I decided I needed to stop traveling, I wanted to transition from being a fulltime nomad into being a fulltime settle down person.
I found these house sitting websites and I joined three or four of them. I made a list of 17 cities where I could see myself living, and then I just applied to a bunch of house sitting gigs.
The first long term house sitting gig I got was in Denver, so it was like, “All right. I’m going to try Denver for a while.”
For six months in 2017, I lived all over Denver. I tried a bunch of suburbs.
I tried Boulder. I tried North Denver, South Denver, just to see if the city fit me. During that time, I really liked it here and the sunshine was great and I made a lot of friends.
So in 2018, I narrowed down my list a little bit. I put on the list Chicago because my entire family is there, so that was an easy one.
I had on my life bucket list, “Live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.”
Andrew Chen 26:06
Oh, yeah. The song.
Anita Dhake 26:09
I had New York and San Francisco on the list. And I put Denver on the list because I really liked it the last year I was there.
And I made this giant pro/con list for every city. In the end, I decided against New York and San Francisco because they were just very expensive to live in, and if I wanted to live there, I’d have to get a job. I just don’t have the courage to do that quite yet.
And I spent most of my adult life in Chicago, so I wanted something new. So I ended up picking Denver.
In terms of cost of living, I can rent an apartment here and it’s pretty cheap. I don’t have to worry about going back to work.
The sunshine is 300 days of the year shining on you, so it’s very nice and easy to walk outside. Vitamin D is a real thing. I definitely feel better when I’m outside.
Andrew Chen 26:57
And good skiing, I imagine.
Anita Dhake 26:59
I went skiing once. I tried in January and I hurt myself, and I’m a little afraid to try it again.
Andrew Chen 27:06
Were any cities abroad on that list of cities that you were considering? If so, what made you decide not to settle abroad where you could potentially have the experience of long term traveling but also be settled at the same time?
Anita Dhake 27:23
The two cities abroad that are on my list are London and Vancouver. I just didn’t want to deal with the visa issue again.
I don’t know the exact number of days or rules, but you’d have to go back and forth if you’re just doing a tourist visa. You have to leave every two months or three months or however long it is.
And I didn’t know that I could make it feel like home. Sydney felt like home after nine months. It took a really long time for me to feel like it was home because I just wanted something [inaudible].
Andrew Chen 27:57
Gotcha. When you were long term traveling, I know you traveled for two and a half years before you made the switch to settling down.
What was the community of long term nomadic travelers like as you experienced it? The sense of camaraderie or kinship? If you could just help us understand a little bit about the types of people you would meet, how you would meet them, and what that community was like.
Anita Dhake 28:25
I find that nomad people are very excited to hang out with you, so they’re very willing to say, “Yes, let’s go do something.”
You’ll have very intense but brief friendships. You’ll hang out with them for 24 hours straight for three or four days. But then they move on and you move on and you don’t really think about them after that.
I’m sure I’m Facebook friends with a lot of them, but I don’t really go on Facebook very often. I have Facebook Feed Eradicator installed in my computer, so I don’t see anybody’s posts. I just see my events, my groups, and my messages.
I don’t ever go on anyone’s Facebook page to look at them. I don’t keep in touch that way. So you’re friends, but not really, if that makes sense.
You create friendships while they last, while you’re hanging out with them, but I’m just bad at keeping in touch with people who don’t physically live near me.
Andrew Chen 29:22
Were there any challenges you faced during your long term travels as a solo traveler and/or as a female traveler?
Anita Dhake 29:31
The internet makes it so easy to travel these days. I didn’t feel like I had any issues. Maybe I was super naïve, but I never really thought of myself in danger as a female traveler.
I went to the Middle East. I went to United Arab Emirates, but I went with my sister. She was there with me, and I never felt unsafe.
I went to Kuwait, but I went to visit a cousin of mine, so I never felt unsafe. I went to Qatar and Oman.
But you find friendly people everywhere, honestly. I never really felt like my life was in danger or that anyone looked at me differently because I was a woman. But maybe I’m being very naïve about that and I just got extremely lucky. But it was never an issue.
Andrew Chen 30:25
What does your portfolio look like now, more than five years after early retirement? More or less than when you started? What’s changed since?
Anita Dhake 30:37
I officially report my net worth on December 31st of every year.
My sister will occasionally tell me, “Hey, the market is at a high. You should look at your portfolio if you want a little hit of dopamine.”
I never look at it when it’s down. I never pay attention to the market in normal days, unless my sister tells me to look at it.
I looked in January and my net worth was $1,025,000 in January. I don’t know what the market is doing right now. I refuse to look.
So I don’t know what I’m standing at right now, but I’m not worried about it.
Andrew Chen 31:12
Got it. So after all that traveling and living for more than five years in early retirement, it’s actually grown by 50%-ish.
Anita Dhake 31:21
Andrew Chen 31:22
Anita Dhake 31:23
Yeah. It’s been a crazy journey. But even after spending money in doing what I want to do and spending whatever I want to spend, it’s still growing.
Andrew Chen 31:39
Commonly known in FIRE circles is the 4% rule as a rough rule of thumb or heuristic for how much you can withdraw safely and outlast your retirement. At least when simulated historically, it worked more than 95% of the time.
How did you think about the safe withdrawal rate that you believe you could withdraw from your portfolio safely? And was it a simple, straightforward application of the 4% rule, or was there more nuance around it or variation around it?
How did you think about that both before and actually in early retirement?
Anita Dhake 32:22
Before I retired, I adhered to it very strictly. Like I said, I had my retirement chart where I charted my expenses each month and my projected passive income.
The projected passive income, using the 4% rule, it takes into account inflation. It takes into account historical stock market returns. So I used that pretty closely.
After I retired, I didn’t think about the 4% rule at all. As I was getting closer to retirement, I would put a lot more money into cash, so I had about a year and a half’s worth of expenses in cash.
And then six months to a year into retirement, I got a tax return back from the Australian government. That gave me another year or so of expenses.
I didn’t start taking it out until a couple of years ago, and then I just take out about a year’s expenses and just leave it. I don’t think about it.
Now I do about $10,000 at a time. I take it and I put it into my Vanguard money market fund and just transfer over money to my bank account when I need to pay bills.
I think financially what makes the most sense math-wise would just be to do a set amount each month from your investments into your bank account, like $2000. But I just like having a little bit of cash to make me feel better.
Andrew Chen 33:51
Yeah, makes sense.
When you were making plans to travel, did the notion of one day meeting somebody, potentially getting married, starting a family factor in? Where you knew that you were going to early retire but also have a family at the same time, and it would work out financially? Or if not, how did that end up changing your thinking over time?
Anita Dhake 34:22
I was indifferent about kids. I think if you’re indifferent, that means no.
Andrew Chen 34:27
This is true. As the parent of a toddler now, I can definitely say that you have to be intentional about it and want it.
Anita Dhake 34:37
Yeah, for sure. Especially since my parents were so loving and caring, and they devoted their lives completely to their children. That’s how I would want to raise my kids, and I just don’t know that I have it in me.
I’m closer to 38 at this point than I am to 36. And I have not really felt my biological clock ticking, so I don’t think kids are in the cards for me, and I’m fine with that.
I didn’t budget for that. I didn’t really plan for that. I think if I had kids, my retirement idea would be a lot different.
I would love to get married. I’m single right now. I’m not seeing anyone.
One of my deal breakers is I can’t date somebody who has credit card debt. I’m going to be somebody’s partner. I’m not going to be somebody’s teacher or mother.
I’m assuming that if I did potentially find somebody, he would also have his own money, and then that would actually increase the quality of my life because then I could spend double on something I’d spend on an apartment or spend half of what I’m currently spending or whatever.
So if it did factor in, it factored in as a positive as opposed to a negative.
Andrew Chen 35:47
Gotcha. Has the coronavirus altered your plans in any way?
Anita Dhake 35:53
It has altered my day to day life in just that I’m not hanging out with friends really, and I’m not getting the human interaction I think I need.
But I will say this. I have been feeling a little useless since the coronavirus started because the world seems like it’s going to pieces and I’m sitting here watching Law and Order SVU and not really doing anything else in my life. So I’ve been feeling a little guilty about that.
I have not really been able to write since the coronavirus started. It feels frivolous and pointless.
There’s so many other things to think about that I’m really missing that part of my life, and I hope that I’ll be able to get back someday. But I don’t know that it has anything to do with my retirement life.
Andrew Chen 36:43
When you think about the career or life paths of your classmates and peers, how do you not let what they’re doing, whatever success they may be having, whatever pretty Instagram lives they may be living, get to your head? Is that ever something that you grapple with?
Anita Dhake 37:02
Yes, absolutely. My solution was to get rid of Instagram.
Andrew Chen 37:09
Anita Dhake 37:12
I went to my 10-year law school reunion last year, and I remember thinking that I made a horrible mistake, that everyone was so successful and so prominent. They have these big important jobs and I didn’t, and I felt really guilty about that. Maybe I lived my life wrong.
But that was a brief flit in a minute when I was actually hanging out with them. When I’m back at home in my real life and I’m not in touch with them, I like my life a lot, so it doesn’t really occur to me, unless I actively seek it out to talk to them, which I don’t really do very often. As I said, I’m not very good at keeping in touch with people who aren’t in my ZIP code.
Andrew Chen 37:47
It sounds like you’re able to compartmentalize pretty well.
Anita Dhake 37:53
Yeah. And I also know that they’re working crazy hours, so it’s a double-edged sword there.
Andrew Chen 38:02
What adventures from your bucket list are coming up that we should keep an eye out for in terms of future Anita sightings?
Anita Dhake 38:10
Gosh. I haven’t looked at my bucket list in a really long time. I’m feeling a little aimless right now, a little bit driftless.
That is something I should definitely think about and do again. But I don’t have any goals right now, and this is very unlike me. I think the corona is taking over.
Andrew Chen 38:30
All right, well Anita, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I enjoyed our conversation.
Where can listeners find out more about you, what you’re up to?
Anita Dhake 38:38
I have a blog that I’m not great about updating these days. It’s called thepowerofthrift.com. I do podcasts occasionally.
Andrew Chen 38:49
Anita Dhake 38:50
People invite me.
Andrew Chen 38:51
Like this one today. Cool.
Anita Dhake 38:54
Andrew Chen 38:55
Well, we’ll be sure to link to your blog in the show notes.
Thank you so much again for taking the time to chat with us. I look forward to seeing you on the road or in Denver or elsewhere.
Anita Dhake 39:06
Yeah, of course. No problem.
It was great talking to you. This was fun.
Andrew Chen 39:09
Cheers. Take care.