Have you ever had thoughts of retiring early? It’s not too crazy of an idea, but it’s nothing more than a dream for most people.
That’s why, when I stumbled across Joe Udo (from Retire by 40), I had to learn more about his story. And that’s what we’re sharing here today in this interview.
Joe is now a stay-at-home dad as well as a blogger (which is what enabled him to leave behind his 9-to-5 job). He may not be wealthy or earn a crazy amount of money from his online work, but it’s been enough to live comfortably and spend more time with his family.
That’s something most people strive for on some level, which is why I think it’s so inspiring to read about how someone has actually achieved it.
I’ll turn it over to Joe now…
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Joe, it’s been great following your journey at Retire by 40, and I’m thrilled to see that you were able to retire (or at least, quit your “9 to 5” job) in 2012. Congratulations on that accomplishment – your story is very inspiring.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your journey – what were some of the key goals you had to reach to quit your job, and what types of projects are you working on now to keep yourself from having to go back to work?
Thanks for the compliment! I was a computer engineer for 16 years and the job was getting very stressful for me. My physical and mental health were deteriorating, and I needed to get out of the corporate environment.
We also just had a son and I wanted to spend more time with him. I started Retire by 40 in 2010 and it was an amazing journey. I was able to leave my engineering job earlier than I planned, but it didn’t just take 2 years to accomplish my early retirement mission. I saved and invested as soon as I started working and that gave me the good foundation to build on.
When it was time to leave my old job, I had a choice to find another job or try being a stay at home dad and I choose to spend more time with my family. It really took 16 full years to achieve early retirement, not just two.
The main goal I had before I left my job was to be able to live without my salary. We already had a sizable retirement fund so I wasn’t too worried about having to add more to retirement savings. We had a one year “dry run” where we saved all of my income, and at the end, we knew we didn’t need my old salary.
2013 was the first full calendar year without a regular job for me and it went very well. We were able to maintain our frugal lifestyle and had some money left to invest.
Right now, I am a stay at home dad/blogger. Those two projects take up all of my time and I can’t do anything else at the moment. We also have some rental properties which didn’t do too well in 2013. Next year should be better on that front though because there should be fewer repairs.
What has been your greatest success so far with Retire by 40?
My blog goal for 2013 was to break 100,000 page views per month. We didn’t quite make it, but we came very close. We had our best month in October at about 97,000 page views. I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to hit this goal in 2014.
Our online income for 2013 was also higher than expected. From our dry run, I knew that we need about an extra $500/month to maintain positive cash flow. That’s not a huge amount and we already met that goal in 2012. This year,we made about $32,000 from several sites and I’m extremely grateful to our readers for helping us reach that.
We were able to save even more and can enjoy luxurious treats like traveling once in a while.
Now that you’ve left behind your day job, how has this affected Retire by 40? What’s in store for the future? Obviously, taking care of a child is no small task, but I would assume you have more time to work on your internet projects. 🙂
As I mentioned above, I don’t have any time to work on any additional projects at this time. It’s taking all I can do to maintain Retire by 40. Being a stay at home dad is more than a full time job. The only time I have is after he goes to bed, and when he’s at preschool. He is only going for 2 days a week (9am to 1pm) currently, so that doesn’t leave me with a lot of time.
I would like to start a forum at Retire by 40 so our readers can interact more with each other. It’s also time to revamp the site a bit. I’m not sure when I will do this, but that’s a part of my goals for 2014. Once the kid goes to kindergarten, I will have more time to work on new projects.
Even the most successful people stumble along the way. What do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to blogging, and what did you learn from it?
The biggest problem I have is the lack of time, as I’ve touched upon a few times. I want to do everything myself and that’s no longer possible. I need to get some help and I’m going to have to outsource some tasks. I should have considered hiring a VA as we grew.
Fortunately, there’s still time to hire some help! Hopefully you’re able to work that out so you can free up more of your time to grow your blog and work on other (new) projects.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at leaving behind your day job to work online full time. If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Save all your regular income and see if you can make the cash flow work before becoming self employed. That will give you a good idea if you can make it or not.
If you’re running a negative cash flow, then you can estimate how long you have until it turns positive.
What are your favorite online resources?
My favorite resource online is Personal Capital. You can keep track of your cash flow and all your investments in one place.
They also help you plan your target asset allocation and keep track of your current allocation so it is very easy to rebalance.
For someone who is just starting out creating a blog, what advice would you offer? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
Just start writing and keep it up. You will get better at it. [Click here to tweet this]
Networking is as important as content and you need to find a group of blogger friends in your niche.
Is being a stay at home dad as fulfilling as “bringing home the bacon?”
I love being a stay at home dad. I’m much healthier physically and mentally. Sure, there are some challenging moments, but I’m grateful for being able to spend so much time with my son.
I guess it really depends on your personality. Some people enjoy spending time with kids and some like the comradery of an office environment. I love the freedom to choose my own assignments and being able to work at my own pace. It’s the right choice for me, but you will have to find that answer yourself.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Thanks a lot Joe! Your story is really inspiring, and I’m glad we had the opportunity to share it here today.
What’d you think of this interview? Do you have any plans to try and retire early? Leave a comment below!
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