How Serious Are You About Early Retirement? (Quiz)

by J. Money - Published May 31, 2017

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Joe just put out a fun quiz over on his blog, RetireBy40.org, so I thought I’d re-post it here along with my own answers because why not? :)

You get one point for every TRUE you can answer, and 0 points for every FALSE.

There’s a key at the end of the post here with what Joe says it all means, and then we can compare notes afterwards and poke fun at each other, cool?

Cool.

Let’s get started :)

#1. You know your net worth

TRUE! $636,893.40. Give me my point!!!

#2. You have a Roth IRA

TRUE again! Working on year #8 or so on maxing it out… (hubba hubba)

#3. You have no consumer debt – car, credit card, etc…

#FAIL. We still rock a car loan at around $15,000, even though we can pay it off anytime we want (does that earn me at least 1/2 a point? :))

#4. You have a “retire by” date

Kinda sorta maybe? I keep telling myself I want to be financially free by the time I’m 40 (3 years away), but I honestly haven’t done the math in quite a while, prob. because I know it’s not going to happen :)

On the flip side, I also don’t plan on retiring anytime soon, so it’s more about trying to get my *lifestyle* down pat right now more than anything else. If I were focused solely on the money here I’m pretty sure you’d have stopped reading this by now, haha… (You get an ad! You get an ad! You get an ad!)

#5. You have a side hustle or two

TRUE and FALSE. I still do some consulting/freelance writing on the side, but not routinely enough to really consider them true side hustles. The majority of my time is still spent on managing this blog here as well as my other one, Rockstar Finance. – both of which very much count as my full-time income as much as I wish they were on the side :) That was one of the things I had to get used to fast when going to self-employment: needing to survive on your side hustles!

#6. You have passive income

I do! Though is it cheating to count your retirement investments? VTSAX is always paying out dividends and compounding while I sleep, but outside of that nah – I haven’t been that great at the “passive” part of making income. I used to think blogging was passive at first, but have since awoken from my dream :)

#7. Your investments are worth more than your house

They are! But I also don’t own a house :) Looking back at the time we did though, it looks like our investments were around $400,000 while our house was valued at $300,000. Pretty cool thing to compare though – can’t say I’ve ever done that!

#8. You have a post retirement plan – volunteer, etc.

Yes! My post retirement plan is to keep working on things that I’m passionate about. Which is pretty much what I’m doing now, except without the money worry and business hassle, haha…  I still very much struggle trying to mix business with pleasure here, and would love more than anything to just focus on the pleasure :)

#9. You save 50% of your household income

HAH! No way… It’s been a while since I’ve calculated it, but a rough estimate right now says we’d be around the 10% range. Nothing to write home about (especially as a financial blogger!), but not at the very bottom either. And I’m totally going to blame my kids on this as they are freakin’ expensive! Most notably, their childcare as we pay just as much for that every month as we do rent – ugh.

So if any of you are feeling down for not saving 90% of your income like other awesome bloggers are doing, please don’t :) As long as you saving *something* and actively working towards increasing it, you are on the right path. Not everyone can save a billion dollars at all stages of their life! We’re all working through them at our own pace, and we just keep doing our best as we go…

#10. You have backup plans

Ummm…. does going back to work count? Haha… I don’t think I’ll ever be above joining the work force again since it’s not the worst thing in the world. Though I feel like those who hate their jobs might have an upper hand here since they’d be MUCH more motivated to stay out for good, vs those of us who enjoy our gigs? A nice hidden perk, maybe?

Bonus point – You cut your own hair

YES!! Though when you have a style that removes 80% of it, it’s much easier to do it yourself :) Also, as Joe admits, this isn’t as fair a question to the ladies out there. So if you’re feeling slighted, here’s a replacement bonus question for you: Do you do your own nails?

Okay – quiz over! How’d you score?

Here’s Joe’s thoughts on what it means about the seriousness of your FIRE journey:

  • 0-5 answered true: Skeptic
  • 6-7 answered true: Novice
  • 8-9 answered true: Committed
  • 10+ answered true: Driven

I gave myself a 6 and 1/2, which puts me smack in the middle of the “Novice” territory, haha… Though I’d like to think it could also be labeled as the “coasters” too? For those of us who have the foundation down, but prefer going at our own pace at this given point in time?

As much as I love money and the challenges FIRE brings, I’ve also come to learn how perfectly okay I am not being “on” all the time too. I wish I could duplicate myself, but for now I just enjoy the ride and hope y’all don’t drink all the beer waiting for me at the finish line :) I’ll be meeting you there some day!

How did you score?

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Green Swan May 31, 2017 at 5:29 am

I’m driven! Lost a point for having a car loan although like you I could pay it off as soon add I want to. Just hard to say no to a below 2% interest rate. But I got that point back by getting the bonus, been cutting my own hair for almost two years now.

Fun quiz. Thanks Joe and thanks J$ for sharing!

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2 J. Money May 31, 2017 at 5:52 am

Haha, rock on.

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3 Mustard Seed Money May 31, 2017 at 6:06 am

I’m committed but I do wish I could earn that bonus point. I haven’t figured out a way to cut my hair on my own without looking like a complete moron. So I’m still working on figuring out the right hair cut that I can perform :)

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4 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Haha, that’s fair.

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5 Franklin Bach May 31, 2017 at 7:05 am

Committed.
Say, what’s the difference between a post retirement plan and a backup plan? It’s a gray fuzzy line.

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6 The Giving Budget May 31, 2017 at 7:20 am

I’m committed but I feel like I’m learning a lot about being just ok with where I am at since I’m moving forward. I have a hard time like you said with keeping the work and life balance in there. But I have come to learn with now having a son that it’s ok to enjoy the moments along the way!

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7 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm

“Moving forward” – that’s what’s important, man! Sometimes it’ll move faster, and sometimes just inch along, but as long as the overall trend is up you’re doing well :)

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8 FullTimeFinance May 31, 2017 at 7:24 am

Ironically I come up as driven. The bonus point makes up for number three as we have both a car loan and a mortgage. The ironic part is, I’ve set my date 19 years from now and my focus is financial independence, not retirement.

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9 Emily May 31, 2017 at 7:37 am

Dude! How come everyone always assumes women CAN’T cut their own hair? Might this be a well-meaning form of sexism? The feeling by so many women that they HAVE to have someone cut their hair is ridiculous. I always cut my own hair and I think that often long hair is easier to cut because you don’t have to worry about shaping it and there’s more leeway for mistakes. Don’t want to be half an inch short on one spot on a 1/4″ buzzcut! Ouch! : P

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10 Crystal May 31, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I’m totally with you on this. I think the bonus question is valid for men and women. It’s simply more frugal to do it yourself. I choose to splurge $20-$25 on having other people do my short hair styles every 2-3 months, but that isn’t because I’m female. My husband splurges and has his done too even though it’s a simple shave to a 1. But he enjoys the whole $15 head massage and hot towels experience every 3-4 months. It’s a silly, fun bonus question valid for anyone. :-) I just didn’t get it.

According to Joe, I am also a Novice (7.5 if I give myself a half point for the car loan that I choose to keep since it’s at 0.9%). The three outright misses are for investments being more than the value of our two homes (we’ll need $450k+ and most likely won’t be there for another 5 years), we only save 20-25% of our income, and we don’t cut our own hair.

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11 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm

I think it’s just a stats thing – more men cut their own hair than women, right? Just like men are more gross than women? :)

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12 The Grounded Engineer May 31, 2017 at 7:39 am

Cutting your own hair – lol!! I’ve been cutting my hair for about 10 years now – just a simple buzz cut. I’m a novice. The biggest thing I need to do is set a early retirement date goal and start working toward that.

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13 Matt @ Optimize Your Life May 31, 2017 at 7:47 am

I said this on Joe’s original post, but the only two that I missed are two of the easier ones! I like your explanation, so I’m going to chalk that up to coasting :-)

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14 Brian May 31, 2017 at 8:10 am

I’m a novice (scored a 7), but I also don’t really want to retire early. I love what I do for a living, so I have no real plans on stopping it any time in the near future. I could do this job for another 25-30 years and still be happy.

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15 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

That’s a DAMN good position to be in – good for you! Not everyone finds their calling like that! :) (And imagine doing that job AND being financially free??? Whew…. no stress at all at that point, brotha)

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16 Miss Mazuma May 31, 2017 at 8:14 am

Thank goodness for the bonus question – I am committed!! My side hustle and passive income game are severely lacking. I was hoping once I stop flying I will have the brain space to work on some of those ideas that are always creeping up but get pushed back due to other obligations. And post retirement plan?! I can’t think that far in advance but Im pretty sure it will be volunteer work with animal rescues. And I want to learn Spanish fluently…that will take some time! Great quiz, Joe!

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17 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

I don’t think you’ll ever stop flying :) You enjoy it too much!

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18 Owen @ PlanEasy May 31, 2017 at 8:19 am

Nice I’m driven…. saving 50% of your income is a steep hurdle though. I think anything above 30% is amazing so +50% is absolutely stellar.

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19 Calee May 31, 2017 at 9:30 am

We save 50% of our income but are never going to be able to retire early (thanks, student debt!). If the PSLF (public student loan forgiveness) sticks around, then maybe. Even with the student debt, I think if we decide not to have kids then it’s a possibility for us to retire by 50. Regardless, we eat 75-80% vegetarian meals, DIY a lot of stuff, and don’t go out much—would say that accounts for our ability to save.

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20 Owen @ PlanEasy June 1, 2017 at 8:05 am

Retiring at 50 would still be an amazing feat!

Things also change over time. Opportunities come around that help increase your income or you find new ways to save.

Admittedly, my wife and I always plan with a bit of pessimism, but we’re always surprised at how things seem to improve over time just by staying open to opportunities.

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21 Paul May 31, 2017 at 8:32 am

Novice according to this… but in all fairness some of these are only possible with enough time in the game, especially for those of us in High cost of living areas. My house is worth ~600K conservatively, I’ve been serious about my retirement account (54k/yr) for the last 2 years. It will take time but Ill get to the point my investments are worth more.

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22 Sue Braun June 1, 2017 at 12:39 am

I totally agree. I started seriously taking care of the future at a young age. Things were much cheaper then. In my area, the COL is now 113% (popular vacation spot). For some things, even higher. I built my small (never need to downsize) house and paid it off in 5 years putting 50% of my take home income toward it. At the same time, I built my emergency fund. After that, it got easier. I just kept adding money until I hit my retirement numbers and then realized I was still young and wanted to work, but not as much. So I have opted for part time work by cutting my job in half and getting someone that did sub work for me to take the other half of it. You do need a fair amount of years to make it all work.

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23 J. Money June 6, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Yup, totally. Had I taken this test a few years ago I would have flunked it big time. Still fun to take though :)

(And good for you Sue, jeez! You are killing it!)

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24 The Savvy Couple May 31, 2017 at 8:37 am

Novice. WIth both of us we have plenty of time to work still. Just getting into our groove of what a good work/life balance looks like. Obviously, we are saving like crazy and have plans of early “retirement” but like you said retirement is more of a lifestyle change when you love what you do.

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25 Primal Prosperity May 31, 2017 at 8:43 am

Do I get double bonus points for being a girl AND cutting my own hair?!? :)

I started doing that years ago. Not because I was trying to save money, but because I like to keep my hair long, with layers, and hairdressers just want to chop it off! So I started learning how to trim it myself. Plus, I actually really enjoy the process and look forward to it. If any ladies are interested, they can look at a few ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.

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26 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:51 am

I think you get bravery points, for sure :)

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27 Mrs. Picky Pincher May 31, 2017 at 9:24 am

We still have a bit of work to do, but I’m proud of how many of these we’ve checked off! We’re still in the FIRE phase of eliminating our debt, so we haven’t built positive net worth yet, but we’re getting there!

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28 Mrs. BITA May 31, 2017 at 10:49 am

I’m committed. I feel like I should get two points for my backup plans. My backup plans have backup plans. I may have (sacrilege to even think this!) altogether too many plans.

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29 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

You get a back up plan, You get a back up plan! YOU GET A BACKUP PLAN! :)

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30 Grant @ Life Prep Couple May 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

I feel ya on those kids in daycare. However you would have to pay me $20,000 a month to watch five babies. I just don’t know how they do it.

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31 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

Hahahah….

God granted them with an abundance of love and patience, that’s how :)

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32 Brian May 31, 2017 at 11:45 am

Novice here. I scored a six. I don’t cut my own hair. My wife won’t even do it. I’ll give up the $14 and let someone else cut what’s left. :)

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33 Syed May 31, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I’m in the novice boat as well. And you’re right kids are expensive as F! But it’s okay I will set up some wage garnishments when they start working to make up the money we spent on them. That’s normal right?

In a few years I should be firmly in the committed group as I should have the car loan paid off and the investments should eclipse the house. It’s a fun journey!

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34 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:54 am

WageGarnishmentsAreSexy.com

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35 Lily @ The Frugal Gene May 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm

That’s an accurate quiz! I’m a novice too. That’s actually not bad for a 25 year old…

Saving 50% of your income depends on your starting point. We’re frugal and we do alway 50%-80% savings rate but it’s impossible to have someone bringing in 30K to do the same but I think if you started early enough – with 30K and time you can retire early just the same but a little more bare boned.

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36 Sue Braun June 1, 2017 at 12:43 am

I do think it is easier to come up with fun/free things to do for entertainment when you are young and that helps.

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37 Friendly Russian May 31, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I have 7 out of 10. But I’d call it 6,5 out of 10.
Yes, my net worth is more than my house, but I don’t have one :-)
Also, I’d add 2 more points not just for cutting my own hair but for shaving them.

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38 B.C Kowalski May 31, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Apparently I suck lol. But, I have no consumer debt, a house that will be paid off in 14 years or less, and save close to 30-40 percent of my income, as well as side hustle income. And I cut my own hair. I also bike for most of my transportation and make nearly all my own food, other than the occasional food outing which I classify as entertainment. I’d say we’re doing pretty good, J Money!

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39 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:55 am

I would say so too, sir :)

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40 Dads Dollars debts May 31, 2017 at 6:52 pm

I am a 6-7. I have back up plans but don’t save nearly enough and my home mortgage is a beast. Probably the worst decision I have made financially.

Thanks for sharing. I did this when it came out originally but liked reading your experience with the scoring system!

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41 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:56 am

Agreed on the house stuff, unfortunately :(

Are you thinking about going back to renting? Our house just had a major water leak but the hassle and costs are 1,000% less since we don’t own it and I gotta say – it feels GOOD! :)

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42 LadyFIRE May 31, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Ha, I scored novice as well, now I feel better.

Although since I’m in a different country the IRA question didn’t apply – in Australia our retirement plans are locked down tight so getting money out early is impossible. Plus with all the recent changes a reasonable number of FIREees down here just ignore it. No point in planning to use your Superannuation when it’s 30 years away and the rules will definitely change between now and then.

It’s ‘my’ money, but I can’t access it till 65 – and I’m willing to bet that will be changed to 70 or 75 before I get there.

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43 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:58 am

Interesting…. and scary :(

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44 Michael Naab May 31, 2017 at 11:51 pm

9 out of 10. Next step? Up my savings percentage up to 50%…probably going to have to wait until the kids are out of daycare before that one becomes realistic.

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45 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

Nice! Just a matter of time at least… We’ll have one completely out of it and into school this Fall and CANNOT WAIT… then one more year after that our other one will go and it’ll be freeeeeedom, baby! FREEDOM!!! (unless I go and knock up my wife again, which, in all honesty, might be a possibility haha… i miss having babies around already!! Someone stop me!!)

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46 Sue Braun June 1, 2017 at 12:13 am

Have already hit my numbers, now working part time and no longer need to save 50%. I live on part time plus investment income and do not touch the principal. Some of the questions are not entirely a good measurement. Like cutting your own hair. I request gift certificates for Christmas and birthday’s for that.

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47 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 9:59 am

Brilliant! On all of that!

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48 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar June 1, 2017 at 9:20 am

True to everything but the 50% rule. This is the year of spend, but my wife and I have huge income boosts and we’re not creating recurring expenses (house upgrades, etc.).

I’m definitely going to be using this as leverage to work from home more though as we get closer to kid #3.

My wife cuts my hair.

Finally, your blog can totally be passive income! Just stop posting. :) The income will drop but will be completely passive!

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49 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:00 am

Haha that is true actually… and I have seen many blogs over the years do exactly that. No one will probably even know I’m gone :)

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50 Chelsea @ Mama Fish Saves June 1, 2017 at 9:47 am

Committed! No Roth IRA (not eligible and the backdoor seems like way too much of a pain and not beneficial enough for the struggle.) I don’t cut my own hair, it’s short and I would do a terrible job – but I do cut my husband’s at home! Half a point?

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51 Dave June 1, 2017 at 11:56 am

I enjoyed that test. No matter what your score was, I assume only people who are on the path to FI or researching a lifestyle change would take the test. Everyone deserves a trophy for their efforts. It is not easy.

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52 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:00 am

Yes, agreed :)

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53 Single Income Life June 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

We’re committed over at Single Income Life. Lacking on the side hustle and backup plan, but we’re working on it!

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54 Joe June 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for the mention! I think you guys are doing awesome. This quiz is geared for ER so it’s harder for people with FI as a goal.

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55 Unconventional Sustainability June 1, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Committed! I only get my hair cut once a year, but have never tried doing it myself.

Early retirement isn’t actually my end goal. Rather I want to live a slower paced life that doesn’t include a full-time job. So I’m open to working even after I reach FI, but more and more I’m realizing I just want more flexibility in how I get to spend my time. Therefore, I’ll be taking a 3-month sabbatical later this year to test out whether I can make a go of some of my budding side hustles. It’s a little scary to think about walking away from my job, the stable paycheck, and the nice benefits, but then again it’s nearly 80 degrees outside and I’m stuck indoors behind a laptop. :)

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56 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:06 am

YESS!!!! DO IT!!! OMG I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!!

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57 sugarglider June 2, 2017 at 9:09 am

I haven’t really done the quiz – but rather than be a role model for y’all, let me be your warning. I had aimed for retirement by 50. And achieved it. at 51 – my husband of 20 years walked without warning. Suddenly, I am backwards financially again – instead of having paid off the house, I am going to have to go get a mortgage. Instead of being able to run my own small business and live a slower paced life, that mortgage is forcing me back into the full time workforce. I have taken in house mate to help with the bills, that used to be shared. I am fortunate because I have had superannuation (your 401k?) building up since I was 18. But this is the kind of thing that can leave people suddenly destitute.
Do what you need to build up your emergency fund, keep your own bank account, watch out for STDs (sexually transmitted debt) that can end up in the asset pool when doing a property settlement. And definitely work towards early retirement – because when you least expect it, your situation can change without warning.

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58 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:07 am

ACK! Did not see that story coming, damn – I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing it though and reminding us it’s not always rainbows at FI. That is just so horrible, i can’t even imagine :(

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59 Carolyn June 2, 2017 at 9:12 am

Yay we got a ten, even we aren’t saving 50% of our income. Hubby has a house that is paid off we are using for rental income. His retirement savings are worth double the value of our home, we have no car loans and credit cards are paid in full each month. Hubby cuts my hair for me, is where we got to ten, so there is no salon costs $$$. So I consider it the same savings, just letting someone who is good with the shears manage my locks. He cuts my hair, the children’s hair, his own, my mom’s and my best friend’s. He is very meticulous and always does a great job, so I am not compromising in any way. I told him not to get a swelled head, but three ladies who are very concerned about their hair looking good would rather have him cut their hair in our dining room than go to the salon.

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60 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:08 am

That’s pretty impressive! Who is this miracle man?? :)

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61 Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom June 2, 2017 at 4:46 pm

I scored a 6. We just paid off debt, which is where every extra dime was going, but I’m excited about investing more and saving for financial independence. And I don’t cut my hair, but I cut my girls’ hair. That certainly counts for something! :)

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62 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

That does, and also very smart :) We do the same for our two boys.

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63 Lena June 2, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Always confused by the Roth IRA question. What if you make too much to invest in that?

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64 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:10 am

Then you’ve got a good problem to work off :)

And luckily there are plenty other ways to invest – what’s important of course is just that you’re doing it, wherever you’re able to and whichever route best fits your style (stocks, real estate, business, etc)

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65 Charlie June 6, 2017 at 7:45 pm

I would say cutting you own hair takes time and patience. I have been cutting my wife’s hair since after we first started dating and after a female friend/ “pro hairstylist” insisted I cut hers as pay back for the freebies she gave me, i gave over a hundred haircuts and trims to female friends that found out I could do it for them as frankly 99% of women hate the time and cost of going to the salon. And if they can get a free trim, they prefer it. Being a straight guy, I like long haired women. What is not cool is this mess, no money outlayed but it is pathetic. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/sep/28/roadtrip-fashions-brave-new-haircut
This is why you would never do it yourself, if you thought this looked good.

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66 J. Money June 8, 2017 at 10:11 am

HAH!

Are you married to Carolyn up there?? :)

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67 ZJ Thorne June 19, 2017 at 8:07 pm

I’m at the high end of skeptic. Still trying to turn that beat around.

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68 Soon June 25, 2017 at 2:47 am

Another excellent post and fun quiz! I proudly scored 11. My husband has been cutting my hair for the last 3 years :) Salon (hair, nails, etc.) appointments are outrageously expensive and I prefer an early retirement. Don’t worry, I did invest in a professional cut before the wedding. Always look forward to reading your blog. Thanks for providing such insightful and inspiring posts!

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69 J. Money June 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Soon :) Made my afternoon.

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