Early Retirement Reflections: Have the First 6 Years Been Successful?

Michael QuanAmazon FBA, Beliefs, Education, Family, Making Money, Misc, Net Worth, News, Personal Development12 Comments

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I just spent a week at FinCon19 in Washington DC.  It was awesome.

Having the opportunity to collaborate with the best money media influencers and entrepreneurs was nothing short of incredible.  I was happy to connect with old and new friends.

And, you always get to learn best practices from those who have achieved greatness in this space already.

What surprised me though, was that I also had a chance to connect with myself.

What does that mean exactly? Well, I had a chance to really reflect on my early retirement… where I’ve come from, and where I’m growing towards.

It’s a bit mind-boggling to think that I’ve been “retired” from corporate America for 6 years now.

Let’s Rewind

I took some time to reflect on my earliest thoughts after I pulled the plug on traditional work. I had just left the merged company that I had sold our company to. As it turned out, the owners of the new company didn’t have the integrity that I was sold on.

It worked out though. I negotiated a severance package and I was off.

My Early Retirement Commitments

Here are the commitments I made early on:

  1. To be fully present for my children
  2. To be a better husband
  3. To start a few different side hustles and have one ready to pursue full time when my youngest reached kindergarten
  4. Generate more passive income and grow our net worth to $10M by the time I’m 50

It’s good practice to occasionally review what has worked, and what hasn’t.  It teaches us how to love and appreciate ourselves for the wins and also to forgive ourselves for the misses as well.  Let’s see how I’ve done so far.

As I write this post, you’ll see that I will always start with the wins.  It’s important to do this because being kind to yourself and others is a skill that’s often overlooked.

To Be Fully Present for my Children

I clearly remember the first day of early retirement.  It was so weird not going into the office after doing so for many years.  But, my goal was clear.  To be fully present for my family from this point forward.

After six years, I’d say this has been a phenomenal win.  I can change diapers blindfolded, tie a ballet bun in under 2 minutes, and of course make slime! My relationship with my kids is stellar and I wouldn’t change the time I’ve had with them for anything.

Of course, there were challenges along the way – tantrums, trips to the ER, testing my patience, etc.  But that’s what made me grow as a father, and I’m still growing every day.

This past month my son finally entered kindergarten. I didn’t think that day would ever come, but it did. It’s bittersweet, to be honest.

To Be a Better Husband

As a stay at home Dad, one might reason it should be easier to also become a better husband. And in some instances this was true. I started cooking more, washing more dishes, and helping out more domestically as one may imagine.

However, it also brought some challenges I couldn’t have foreseen.

What I’ve learned is that having a role reversal where the wife becomes the primary breadwinner can cause some unexpected friction. I believe this has to do with masculine and female energies at odds and it inevitably took its toll on the relationship. Female energy wants to feel security and comfort and while I thought I brought that to the table with a nice chunk of change, it wasn’t quite enough.

Likewise, as I became the parent with the most presence, I inadvertently made my wife feel slighted… especially when my kids would call for me over her.

After six years, the kids have grown and we’ve evolved. I’ve learned to be more present in different ways for my wife and make sure to schedule date nights for us.

It’s certainly not perfect and we’ve got a ways to grow.  Yet I’m happy to see us growing and know the tough times will solidify our relationship even further.

To start a few different side hustles 

Over the past few years, I’ve definitely explored a few different side hustles!

  • Blogging: Did you know that I had a food blog before a personal finance one? I used to run it with my close cousin, Darren. However, he moved from San Diego, and it’s been hard to find the motivation to continue. I also cleaned up my eating habits, so eating out every single day wouldnt’ be too healthy either. Thankfully I started Financially Alert shortly after retiring. It’s been an amazing creative outlet and a way to share my story with others. It’s been nearly 4 years of blogging here and I’m as excited as ever to do more.
  • Online Product Sales: Another side hustle that I still have (but winding down) is my Amazon FBA business. I started this up because a guy in one of my mastermind groups was killing it at the time (he still is). He convinced me to give it a go and I also figured it’d make a good personal finance side hustle story for the blog regardless if it was a success or failure. Fast forward 3 years later and I’m pressing the pause button this side hustle. Although I still believe there’s a lot of opportunity for an Amazon FBA business, it was splitting my time with the blog and other side hustles that were more meaningful to me. Additionally, my product never really took off like my friends and I learned just how much work this business could be. I may revisit this again later, but I know I need enough time to get more than one product. If I had 5 or 6 products as I have now, I think I’d be sitting pretty. However, the time upfront to find a new product is quite time consuming.
  • Financial Coaching: An offshoot to the blog has been financial coaching. This side hustle also took me quite a while to get started, but I’ve subsequently found a little rhythm. It’s certainly a fulfilling side hustle and I love connecting with people to help them move closer to their goals. However, it’s also very time consuming and not very scalable (i.e. you’re trading your time for money). So, I’ve limited my coaching clients to a max of 3 any given time and raised my prices. This ensures my clients are getting max attention and value from me, AND I get to retain a lot of my free time for my family and myself.
  • Real Estate Investing: I love real estate investing. Real estate is our primary source of wealth. And I’d love to rinse and repeat when I did in the late 2010s and 2011s. Alas, those days were gone and I wasn’t able to get out to many properties while raising my kids. It’s possible that’d be a different story now with the kids off to school. Yet property prices are at all-time highs and I’d rather wait for the next cycle before jumping in (I’m a bit lazy like that). Even though I didn’t purchase any more properties myself these past 6 years, I did invest in real estate via crowdfunding and syndications. I probably did 10 deals or so during this time, so I’d say it was a success.

With all of that said, I had a lot of fun with these different side hustles. I didn’t necessarily hit it out of the park with any of these in particular, and I realize it’s hard to do when you’ve got multiple focuses going every which way. It was probably for the best. If one of these had taken off, I could have very well lost sight of my primary goal of being fully present with my kids at home. So no regrets here.

With that said, Financially Alert is actually growing and it’s going to be my main focus from here on in.

Generate More Passive Income and Hit a $10M Net Worth by the time I turn 50

10x Your Capital

I’ve definitely added some additional income over the past 6 years, but it’s nowhere it needs to be to meet my $10M net worth goal. I’m okay with that though.  Here’s why.

  • I’ve got the time now to concentrate on Financially Alert and develop into a “real” business
  • I’ve got time to invest MORE into the next real estate downturn
  • I’ve learned a ton in these past 6 years

Monetarily this has been a failure thus far, but the game ain’t over yet!

A New Future for Financially Alert

This brings me to my realization.

Everything that’s occurred up to this point during the past 6 years (successes and failures) has placed me exactly where I need to be today.

I’ve decided that Financially Alert can really reach more people. For quite a while I’ve written about the FI / FIRE space exclusively. But, I have come to realize there are so many other people to help.

I want Financially Alert to be a valuable and comprehensive resource for everyone. There’s a ton of value that I can offer to people who are just starting out and who may not even know to search for “financial independence”. You may be seeking new ways to earn an extra $1000 to buy that special gift for yourself, or perhaps you are looking for creative ways get out of debt fast.

And, I want to get back to digging into your money mindset. Beliefs afterall are what drive your behavior with money. Let’s unravel some of those limiting beliefs and replace them with empowering ones.

So, expect to see some changes with the site soon.  And, expect to see other people’s perspectives as well.

I’m looking for contributors that bring their own expertise and wisdom to the personal finance space. There are so many financial stories to tell. (Interested in helping? Contact me)

Final Thoughts

They say when you are ready – doors will open. And I truly feel like that’s happening now.

In addition to getting the most traffic the site’s ever had, I’m also getting opportunities to be featured in major publications and connecting with major influencers in my space (and even outside of this space).

I feel like I’ve grown into an entirely different person from 6 years ago, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be another six-year from here.

Lastly, I’m thrilled to have found a work-life balance that brings me joy every day. This is what financial freedom is all about – making money work for you so you can BE more, DO more, and GIVE more.

Readers, is there anything you’d like to see on this site that you feel is missed elsewhere?

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12 Comments on “Early Retirement Reflections: Have the First 6 Years Been Successful?”

  1. Great post Michael! I love what you’ve done after retiring early and I’m excited to see where you take this blog. Also, it was great meeting you at FinCon! Aloha!

  2. Michael! SOO great to meet you at FinCon! Your site is amazing and love your content and what you are doing. Also being so transparent about your goals I think is so valuable to people. Thanks again for all you do and hope to see you soon!

  3. Michael,
    It was great to meet you in person last week. Best of luck with the blog going forward and I’m excited to see what it becomes.

    1. Thanks, Marc. You’re definitely an inspiration of what’s possible online. And it’s always awesome to collaborate with like-minded individuals. Great meeting in person at FinCon19!

  4. Definitely feel like we have a ton in common here – with the exception that I’m no fan of real estate (at least not right now). When you retired did you have experience in real estate? Or did that all come after?

    I share your desire for that side/project to help fill that desire to build something and grow it while having a creative outlet.

    1. I agree, Adam. You’re just a young buck tho! 😉 I’m interested in following your journey as everyone’s path is different.

      I did have some real estate experience coming into early retirement as I purchased some of the rental homes prior to exiting my biz.

  5. I spent the last 10 years working from home and the past 5 years caring for our daughter. The time that I got to spend with her and raise her as we dreamed to, was priceless. I’d never change this in a million years, family always comes first for us.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Ramona. It’s nice to hear of others before me who have made similar choices and that you are still thrilled with your decision. 🙂

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