3 remarkable Early Retirement Extreme Stories

You are of course welcome to read my story 🙂 but there are also some really interesting “early retirement extreme” stories from around the world.

I have gathered stories of 3 role models that have already shown the way to financial independence.

I love these “early retirement extreme” stories because they literally inspire and motivate me.

It’s time to become inspired 🙂

Early retirement extreme

Paula from Afford Anything

From backpacker to shrewd money-maker, Paula Pant from
Afford Anything has the classic “I need to escape from the office-cubicle life” story.

Her story is really inspiring.

Paula Pant Afford Anything

The temporary solution for Paula

EgyptHer immediate escape was going to be to travel. At this time she didn’t know about financial independence. 

She saved as much money as possible, and worked evenings (as a freelance writer) on top of her day job.


By 2008 she had $25,000 in savings and purchased a ticket to Egypt 😎 ✌

She backpacked across Asia and Australia on a budget of only $1000 per month.

There was a problem though. The two years traveling must have been priceless for Paula, but now she needed to work again because money had run dry.

Earning 6 figure wasn’t enough

Freelance writerUpon returning home there was no job to go to and she refused to get a normal office job.

Using her entrepreneurial spirit, Paula started to write freelance and actually built up a great  6 figures salary with more fulfilling work than in previous years.

But this wasn’t enough for her, as she soon realized that financial independence is even better than this lifestyle.

Why need to work at all and exchange time for money?

So, Paula aimed for “passive” income in real estate.

Investing in real estate

This wasn’t so she could be lazy, but more so she could do projects she found valuable like her podcast.

Paula started investing in real estate. 

With her writing salary, she saved to buy a triplex, which is a 3 story building – impressive but nothing too crazy.

One for her, and two to rent out.


With housing costs now covered by the rent, she saved all her writing money and reinvested any surplus in rent.

She claims the ‘One Percent Rule’ is good to follow, which states that rental is a good deal if the gross rent per month is 1% or greater than the purchase price.

As she saved up, she bought her second house, which had 2.98% regarding the one percent rule. A $30,000 house which yielded $900 per month, an incredible deal!

She then went on to buy several other houses, one after another, around 1 to 2 per year – an incredible achievement.

It only takes a couple of rental properties to live a comfortable financially independent life, but Paula has the ambition to keep going and now is building an empire.

The Frugalwoods – Their early retirement extreme story


Elizabeth Thames, also known as Mrs. Frugalwoods, was lucky enough to graduate college without debt 😎

She and her husband had their realization at age 30. 

They realized that all of their work, their creative energy, it was all just for the employer and not themselves.

The plan: Moving to the woods 

Moving to the woods was part of their plan, to go rural (live in the countryside). They believe other than a change from busy urban cities being needed, it was also going to be cheaper.

Realizing life is short, they decided to make this an IMMEDIATE plan.

How did they do it?

Their biggest factor… was to save. 

Save money

In 2014, they saved a massive +71% of their income. 

They were well on their way to achieving their “early retirement extreme” goal with this lifestyle.

The Frugalwoods are “shy” about announcing their previous income, but we don’t need it to understand how they achieved financial independence.

They did, however, share that they bought a $460,000 house near Massachusetts in the US and rent it out for $4,000 per month.

They also made the highest 401K (pension) contributions that are possible.

If you include these in the calculation, their savings rate was actually +93%.

For me, it is an absolutely incredible savings rate. They must have a very frugal lifestyle.

The frugal lifestyle

All their hobbies and entertainments are free, such as yoga, woodworking, hiking, reading, cooking etc.

They don’t use subscriptions like Netflix.

They make their own food, don’t eat out, shop in cheap stores, plan their meals to cut grocery waste, have a very cheap old car, and buy used clothes and furniture.

Liz still works and earns from the blog and her husband works for a political non-profit.

What a great path they took to have more balance in their life.

Barney White – The Escape Artist

Barney is from the UK and he calls himself The Escape Artist.

He paid off his mortgage at age 32 and built up a substantial portfolio.

By age 43, he was making enough from these investments to retire. He “escaped”.

Despite our society being as rich as it has ever been, Barney describes our daily struggle to meet credit cards payments, our mortgages, our student loans, as being in a prison camp.


He followed the logic of the 4% rule.

If you can save 50% of your earnings, you can go from broke to financial independence in 19 years, and this is reduced to 8 years if you can save 75%.

This was a big factor in Barnie’s success. Even when his salary grew from working in corporate finance, his lifestyle remained the same, saving 50% of everything.

This is an impressive achievement with three kids and a modest income, but Barney claims he could have retired much earlier if he knew about FIRE.

Low-risk investment strategy

Throughout Barney’s journey to early retirement extreme or FIRE, he invested in low-risk shares and funds, receiving up to 12% annual returns.

It was as simple as that for Barney – a £24,000 per year budget, paying off the mortgage, and low-risk funds.

He aimed for a wealth stash that is 25 times his yearly spend, which is £625,000. That was enough for him to retire.

He likens this ethic of saving to that of a marathon runner. It simple display of how we can all achieve financial independence without high salaries if we want it enough.


That’s it. 
I hope you liked this blog post about “early retirement extreme”.

The next blog post is a great place to continue. It’s about the frugality lifestyle.


The frugality lifestyle can lead to financial independence


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Peter Michael

I'm an investor and the blogger behind My Investment Blog. I write about investment, financial independence, personal finance, and personal development. I try to combine the topics and show my journey towards financial freedom.

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