Jacob is a bit of an anomaly in our culture – he’s a retired 34 year old, but he’s not rich (based on typical standards). He was able to retire early by saving 70-80% of his income for five years. He did not make a ton of money during that time. I think his salary was around $40,000-50,000/year while he was saving. He simply lived very frugally and saved the rest. Now, he still lives frugally but no longer needs to work to cover his expenses. Despite the fact that he doesn’t need to work, he does – and he makes enough to cover his expenses.
Jacob lives on about $7,000 per year. He’s able to do this because he’s learned to live cheaply – especially when it comes to the major areas of most budgets (housing, transportation, food, etc.). He doesn’t have a car, finds cheap/free forms of entertainment, and eats healthy meals with little to no meat. He currently lives in an RV with his wife, but he admits it’s not a necessary choice to duplicate his results.
Should We Retire Extremely Early?
I don’t highlight Jacob as an example to be followed for extreme early retirement. I don’t think early retirement as a goal in and of itself as admirable or desirable for a Christian. (I also don’t dismiss it as a goal because I can see how God could use a person in this situation for full-time volunteer work or missionary work – a self-funded missionary if you will.) I’m highlighting Jacob and his choices because he offers insights that Christians can use to question the cultural norms and make choices that can lead to extreme generosity.
For example, Jacob’s views on housing, insurance, and “sacrifice” greatly coincide with my own. (I don’t really agree with him on investing, but that’s irrelevant.) He doesn’t see money as necessary to have fun or live comfortably. He avoids waste. He learns new skills so he can make and do more stuff himself. His approach to living cheaply so he could retire extremely early can be adapted by Christians who want to give generously.
If you want to get a better feeling for what Jacob did and why, check out his frequently asked questions, about himself page, and about Early Retirement Extreme. You can also see his best posts of 2008 and 2009.
How Can We Use Jacob’s Examples to Honor God?
What I ask is that you read his articles from the perspective of how they can help you better serve God in your finances. Unless God has a specific purpose for you retiring early, that’s probably not a goal that will glorify Him. But we can use the same ideas Jacob used to enable extreme generosity in our lives by reducing our expenses and questioning the cultural norms. If you find something particularly insightful or helpful on his website, please feel free to share it in the comments below.