Podcast | Liz – Meet The Frugalwoods

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Liz from Meet the Frugalwoods! Liz and her husband escaped their office jobs in Boston to buy a rural property in Vermont and are living their dream post FI life with their two kids. Liz is living my dream life so I couldn’t wait for this interview!

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Liz – The Frugalwoods

Today, I have the absolute pleasure to be chatting to Liz from her awesome blog and amazing book that she wrote, Meet the Frugal Woods! Anyone who’s been on the Captain FI blog knows that I’m a big fan of Liz and Nate, the Frugal Woods and they are literally living my dream!

They have an acreage in rural Vermont, which they call the Frugalwoods. There, they’re raising their two beautiful daughters and they participate in a whole bunch of wholesome things. They’re always gardening, the kids are always in the garden, and it really just looks like an awesome lifestyle.

Liz and her husband started working towards FI in 2014, both 29 at the time. They had white collar office positions and thought they were dream jobs but they realised they didn’t actually feel fulfilled. They were forced to re evaluate and started to talk about other ways that they could live their lives.

Something that they really wanted to do was live in nature. They were in Boston and did not feel energised, they wanted to be in the woods.

So they bought a property in rural Vermont in 2016 and have never looked back.

Liz has since enjoyed freelance writing, working one on one with clients doing financial consultations, writing for the Frugalwoods blog and she published the book, Meet the Frugalwoods which has been extremely popular!

This was a bit of a selfish interview as I wanted as much info as possible on Liz’s homestead life so I can make this a reality for myself!


Liz Frugalwoods, Meet the frugalwoods

Episode 66 – Liz – Meet The Frugalwoods

Show Notes

“I’ve been in your shoes, overwhelmed by how to manage my money and unsure of where to start. I decided to change that in 2014. I learned everything I could about personal finance, shared my journey through my blog and my book, and started helping other folks improve their finances too. By taking control of our money, my husband and I were able to pursue our dream of moving to a homestead in rural Vermont. He retired early, and I left my unfulfilling job to focus on helping people like you.”

Liz – frugalwoods.com


Episode 66 – Liz – Meet The Frugalwoods

Liz – The FrugalWoods

Captain Fi: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking.

G’day, and welcome to another episode of Captain Fire, the financial independence podcast, where I open the cockpit to some of the best and brightest in personal finance, as well as those who have reached or are on their way to financial independence. Before we get started, remember, nothing said here is financial advice, and you should always do your own independent research before making any financial choices.

With that being said, I hope you enjoy the episode and learn something new.[00:01:00]

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G’day, welcome to another episode of the Captain FI podcast. This morning, I have the absolute pleasure to be chatting to Liz from her. Awesome blog and amazing book that she wrote the Frugal Woods now, anyone who’s been on the Captain FI blog knows that I’m a big fan of Liz and Nate, the Frugal Woods and they are literally living my dream.

They have an acreage in rural Vermont, which they call the frugal woods. And there they’re raising their two. Awesome daughters and they participate in a whole bunch of wholesome things. They’re always gardening. The kids are always in the garden. Very cute pictures of the girls eating strawberries.

I can see Liz sometimes cracking the whip at Nate to go and stack the firewood in the sheds. And it really just looks like a awesome lifestyle. So Liz this is somewhat of a, a selfish interview, because I’m really interested to see what it’s actually [00:03:00] like. So, Liz, welcome to the

Liz: Thank you so much for having me.

Captain Fi: Oh, my pleasure. Now, look before we get in, obviously I’m very familiar with your story, but for listeners who maybe haven’t heard about you and Nate before, could you tell us a little bit about, about yourselves uh,, your family situations and what’s your story?

Liz: Yes. So my husband and I started working towards financial independence in 2014, and we were both 29 at the time. And actually I had just turned 30, so he was about to turn 31 and we’d been working jobs since getting out of college. And at that point, we felt like we had our dream jobs. We had these sort of white collar office positions that we thought This is, what I’ve been working for.

I should feel really fulfilled by this. And we did not feel really fulfilled by that. And we both said, is this kind of all there is to life? Are we just going to be in [00:04:00] cubicles and offices under fluorescent lights, until we’re 60? And It felt really depressing to think about and demoralizing.

And so we started at that point to talk about other ways that we could live our lives. And something that we really wanted to do was live in nature. We were living outside of Boston, Massachusetts at the time, which is, just a really big urban area. And we realized this is not where. We feel energized.

This is not where we feel at peace. We wanna be in the woods. So we started looking for a home in rural Vermont, and it took us a couple years to find a place. We bought a place in 2016 and have never looked back. and my husband fully retired in the spring of 2021, and I had. Previously [00:05:00] retired from my office job and was doing freelance writing.

And then now I work through Frugal Woods. So I work one on one with clients doing financial consultations. And I also write, and I had a book that came out a couple of years ago.

Captain Fi: That’s awesome. Congratulations , to yourself and Nate. I think what you’ve achieved is phenomenal and I think it’s awesome that you’re able to now basically live on this awesome property and also help people and spread the good message or the gospel of FIRE, financial independence.

Now Liz, the FIRE movement has exploded. There’s probably a lot of people that are are following a similar pathway. That yourself has set and the concept means different things to different people. I guess not everyone wants to retire in the conventional sense, but realistically, we all do need to reach financial independence so that we can basically do what we want.

So I’m really interested to hear what does financial independence mean to you?

Liz: For me, it’s having the [00:06:00] freedom to do what I want with my time and having the space to do what I want with my property and land and my gardens. So it’s all about time and space and I choose to work. So at this point we are financially independent and we could, execute a drawdown of our investments and live off of that.

But instead we are living off the income that I bring in and also income from a rental property that we have. So it’s, Lovely to not need to do the drawdown, but it’s also, if one day I wake up and say, you know what I’m done with frugal woods. I’m done with working with clients. I can choose to shutter that business and we can do a drawdown.

So for me, it’s. It’s really having that ability to choose when and how much I want to work. So I work while my kids are at school four days a week. So it’s like Monday through Thursdays, eight to three. And that for me is just the perfect schedule. It’s [00:07:00] intellectually fulfilling and stimulating, but then I also feel like I have plenty of time to be with the kids, exercise, be outside, do the other things that make my life really meaningful.

Captain Fi: I absolutely love that. One of the things that I learned with my experience of FIRE is meaningful purpose is so important. And so I retired from my flying job geez, 18 months ago, more now. And. Basically found myself as a carer for my mum. And after she passed, I felt so lost and I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

And so a big part of, fire for me has been trying to find that meaningful purpose. And I’ve really enjoyed doing website stuff. So I’ve enjoyed Blogging and podcasting on CaptainFi as well as running a bunch of other sites. And do you know what’s funny? I found myself in a similar position. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to generate income.

And so I too haven’t started drawing down on my ETFs yet. So[00:08:00] , it’s interesting, isn’t it? When you actually do what you love and you’re able to produce a small income out of it. Maybe it doesn’t make fire as scary as it first seems to be.

Liz: I think that’s true. And I think there’s also a lot of flexibility with fire.

I know there are sort of fire purists who say if you are actually going to retire, then you can’t be generating any income. But I think for a lot of us, we just want the ability to. Do different things than be stuck in a rigid schedule. And I think a lot of folks, what I’ve come to realize is I think a lot of people would like to work about 20 hours a week, like three or four days a week.

Seems like everyone I talk to that would be that sweet spot of still finding a professional identity. But again, having that ability to pursue all these other areas of life outside of just working for pay.

Captain Fi: Yeah, the identity is a huge one and I had built a huge identity for myself and an ego around my [00:09:00] career.

And when I stepped away from that, it was very confronting. Now Liz, are you happy to talk a little bit about your career before FIRE? Sure. Yeah. So I was reading and so you’ve worked for, it was a NGO or a, non for profit. Organization. Exactly. Yep. Yeah. And you had an executive role, so you were like a personnel manager kind of position?

Liz: I would not say executive. That makes me sound a little bit more important than I was. I was like a low level manager and I worked in fundraising, so I did major gifts communications work. So that’s speaking with major donors to an organization writing reports, doing a lot of writing.

Which I really enjoy. I always enjoyed the writing aspect of every job I’ve had. So I worked in fundraising at a couple of different nonprofits over the course of that decade. And my husband worked as a software engineer. And so, between us, we had pretty excellent salaries, not like investment banker [00:10:00] salaries, but pretty good salaries.

And so we were able to reduce our spending. And, just do the very simple thing of bring your spending down far enough, save and invest the difference.

Captain Fi: Yes. Hey, that’s the recipe for financial independence, isn’t it? That’s awesome. I remember reading about Nate’s software job and I thought, ah, there’s the connection to FIRE because it feels like everybody in FIRE is somehow related to software or IT.

Um, But look, no, the reason I ask about your role is because I’m just interested to hear based on my experience, like, how did you go transitioning away from Essentially, because it sounds like your job was like a very people oriented job, like talking, writing, cooperating with other people, and then to, step away from that How did you feel in terms of your identity?

Liz: It’s interesting. There was a real confluence of events when I left that job. We had just had our first child. So I went to on maternity leave from that job and then essentially just [00:11:00] didn’t return from maternity leave. And then we moved to Vermont when that baby was six months old. And I was also.

Building frugal woods up still at that point, frugal woods was about two years old. And so I was still writing a lot of blog posts. I also was in conversations for a book deal at that point. And so there was not a lot of breathing room for me at that time, largely because we had a baby and we were moving.

So, there wasn’t like a really distinct moment for me when I. Felt a loss of professional identity because I felt like I really just stepped into this other role of writer and mother. And then I have continued that. So , the through line for me really is writing and then working one on one with clients, both of which I enjoy doing.

I’m an introvert. So, the idea of working on a big team in an office does not appeal to me at all, but I do like working one on one and I also like [00:12:00] silently writing by myself. in my office. I love it.

Captain Fi: Yeah.. No, I love it. That makes a lot of sense. So, Look, I must say, I feel like I’ve done something very similar as well.

And I love writing and I think it’s probably a great outlet. And it’s almost like you retired to Frugal Woods to writing and following your passion for blogging and writing. Books and obviously you’ve got an awesome book that’s been published now and yeah, parenthood also sounds like it can be quite a busy day.

Especially now, geez, your girls will be, yeah, they’re definitely well into school age now, aren’t they?

Liz: Yeah, they’re five and seven. So, kindergarten and second

Captain Fi: grade. Okay. This is where it starts getting tricky because now , they can run around, they’ve got their independence. It’s probably a bit harder to keep tabs on them.

I don’t

Liz: know. It’s a lot. I found. Babyhood and infanthood was very challenging. So five and seven are great ages. They are great kids.

Captain Fi: I reckon my naughtiness level peaked probably around 10. [00:13:00] So, but then again, it sounds like your daughters are well, more behaved than I was as a kid. I was a bit of a naughty boy.

But yeah look I’m really excited to ask you a bit about your journey to fire. So you were working and you’re working in fundraising in a nonprofit and your partner was a software engineer. So where did you learn about fire? And I know the question that everyone’s dying to ask is what assets did you have, prior to starting your fire journey together?


Liz: So we learned about fire from the internet. And we had been doing essentially like a very modest version of fire for a long time. When we got married, we didn’t have any debt. So we were 24 when we got married, which just seems ridiculously young and we had no debt. And we also had. No assets, maybe we had $5, 000 between the two of us, like maybe, but then if we paid rent the next month, we would have had, 3, 000.

So [00:14:00] we started from what I consider to be a really stable beginning because we both had jobs. We graduated from college and again, did not have. The overhang of student loan debt. So we set a goal of buying a house and we had a Fidelity account. We still have Fidelity and I had a little graph that would show you, how much you had saved.

And so we had this, it was so low at first and it wasn’t really even on the graph, but then it grew over time. And so that was our motivation from the beginning. Was this idea of saving up a down payment to buy a house. So we had this frugal mentality already enshrined. And we were pretty focused on being frugal.

 Also, our salaries were pretty low at, age 24. So we really had to be careful in order to pay our bills. And then as our salaries increased. For the most part, we continue to live pretty frugally so that we could save the difference towards a down payment. So, while fire was not even [00:15:00] a glimmer.

In our eyes at 24, having that down payment goal really enabled us to save and to feel really proactive and excited about saving as opposed to feeling deprivation. So that frugality was woven in from the beginning. My husband and I are both naturally pretty frugal people. Like we will just look for an opportunity to spend less money

just out of habit, So you know, neither of us has this inclination to be very spendy and we really reinforce that in one another. So by the time we get to 2014, so we got married in 2008. We get to 2014, we’ve purchased a home and I will say that reaching a very big financial goal and then not having another goal was a little bit alarming because we suddenly did not have that same motivation to keep saving.

So that was really the time period where we saw a lot of [00:16:00] lifestyle inflation. So we bought our house in 2012. So for those two years. There was a fair amount of spending going on. And I really consider that to be the casting around period of can I spend enough money to feel good about my life?

Right? The answer is no. And from there, we then identified, OK, the whole premise is wrong. The whole idea of, working all these hours and living in the city. That’s what we need to. Change. So when we were starting to work towards fire, we already owned a home and that’s the house that we now rent out.

So you could say that we had, we’d already purchased our rental property. We were just living in it at the time. And we had traditional retirement accounts through our employers, which we’d both been contributing to since we started working. And then we had, yeah. Some amount in cash savings and some amount already in investments.

And so we sat down at that point and said, all right, if we really ramp this [00:17:00] up and look at saving, just an extremely aggressive portion of our income, how quickly could we get to this goal? So I would not say that we started at zero when we began the fire journey, and we also did not start. with debt.

So we really started the race like halfway through which I feel really privileged and fortunate to have done. But that being said, I think you can start from anywhere and do this holistic assessment of, what are your assets, what are your liabilities, and what can you change immediately?

In order to start yourself towards this goal.

Captain Fi: Oh it’s super important to do that financial health check. That is fricking awesome. I love that quote being able to start the race halfway through. And I think like probably a lot of people that are interested in fire or financial independence, at least they would.

Find that they’re actually probably in not a bad position. I often get emails and people ask me, Oh, can you check over the, my financials and stuff? And, I have to [00:18:00] say, look, I’m not a financial advisor if we’re chatting, it’s I can chat with you as if we’re mates chatting at a pub but I can’t actually give financial advice.

But most of the people that call in actually, they’re doing really well they’re well on their way. And for a lot of people, we’re probably, it might even make sense to pay for a bit of scaled advice, I’m not sure what the landscape is like in America is, but here in Australia, you can pay 500 bucks for, an individual bit of scaled advice or, up to a couple of thousand dollars for a statement of financial advice, or you can even just pay by the hour.

Yeah. On a fee for service advisor, you might even just pay for an hour or two to to get some questions answered by professional. And I guess that’s what you’re doing as well, isn’t it? You’re with your money coaching. That’s right.

Liz: Yeah. so I also am not a financial advisor, so I can’t advise on securities or sell securities or anything like that, but I can give people, broad advice on their specific [00:19:00] financial situation, which people find very helpful.

I think having a second set of eyes, having someone who can look at it from an unbiased. Perspective is really useful because a lot of times when we’re looking at our own money, there is so much emotion and stress and anxiety that is wrapped up in those numbers that if we have someone else come in who, does not have an emotional attachment and says what, tell me about this spending over here, or what are you thinking for retirement?

Or, have you noticed the high fees that you’re paying over here? It can be, I think, just transformational for people. So I do think, if you’re. Someone out there who is thinking, Oh, I just don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. Finding someone who can be that outside perspective, who is not trying to sell you, financial services or products can be so very useful.

Captain Fi: Yeah. I mean, like we’re very social creatures. We’re very community based and there’s safety in community. And so having or being a part of a community like the fire community and having I would [00:20:00] say second set of eyes can be super helpful just, from your own. From your behavioral point of view to know that, you are on the right track.

So Liz, just back to your fire goals. So did you and Nate set did you have a set income that you wanted to reach or was there like a fire number? Obviously you really wanted to buy the frugal woods. So , were you trying to build a down payment For that property or how were you actually planning your goal?

Liz: I would say it changed over time as a goal often does, we initially set out you do the math backwards okay, all right, what’s 4%? How much can we live on? There you go. There’s the number that we would need to have invested. And so I think that’s an initial way to come at it.

And then for us, it was also this major factor of how much would our rural property cost? And then how much would we generate in rent? From the rental property and would either of us continue working after we moved, we also were making things very confusing by [00:21:00] having children during this time.

So we had a real sense that we wanted to ideally have both of our kids. Before retiring because in the U S pregnancy and birth can just be astronomically expensive as can having a child with medical complications. And so we really wanted to stay on the employer sponsored health insurance and have that security until after the kids were born.

And, just fortunately, we were again, very lucky that the timing ended up working out. For that, it’s I don’t think you have to do that before you reach fire for us. Things were happening synonymously. And so we said, all right let’s have the kids. And then we will have a really good sense of our budget.

For us, things changed dramatically between the cost of living in the city and then the cost of living. In a rural environment, as well as, the cost for two adults versus two adults and two children. So it was nice to have all of that data in hand [00:22:00] before my husband left his job because we felt like, okay, all right, we really understand now.

about what we can expect to spend each year. And we have a prediction of, future liabilities at this point. So I think that, the goalposts shifted a couple of times the pandemic came and we both kept working because we said this seems pretty uncertain. I don’t know. And then partway through the pandemic, we decided my husband was.

was really done. And so we paid off our mortgage before he retired, because the interest rate environment was so different then. And we have not looked back. We are so glad that he retired and in some ways I wish he’d done it sooner, but it’s also hard to discount the cushion that we were able to build up because for quite some time we’ve been living on my income and saving everything that my husband made so it’s always, okay, when do I pull the plug?

Like, , what’s the date? And I don’t think you can ever [00:23:00] have the absolute perfect timing, right? Because you’re never going to know exactly what the market is going to do. You’re never going to know precisely what environment you’re retiring into. But I think you have to make that decision.

Okay, if I’m going to regret not doing this. I need to come up with the good enough math and recognize that, the worst thing that happens is you have to get another job. And that’s pretty good. I was actually working with a client who is just about to fire and he said his realization was that.

The worst case scenario would be getting another job. And so therefore he is currently living his worst case scenario because he’s working his job. And I had not thought of it quite like that. And I said, that’s brilliant. Okay. You need to retire tomorrow. We’re done here.

Captain Fi: Wow. Yeah. Okay. That makes sense.

So for you and Nate it was more about managing your cashflow to work out how could you do it. So you had a combination of like you had this [00:24:00] paid off property cash stocks and your conventional retirement accounts. You, Okay. bought the Frugalwoods with a mortgage, and then when you guys moved to the Frugalwoods, the focus was really about trying to pay down that mortgage as quickly as possible.

And you were able to do that. Basically completely freeing up a huge amount of cash flow, i. e. your cost of living went down and there was no more need to both work full time. That’s freaking awesome. So, I don’t know, I’m really interested in the numbers because I’m looking to buy a property and like I mentioned I guess before we started recording like the pseudo homestead dream it’s something that I’m really interested in.

And I actually, I love one of your recent posts in blog articles about, , what did and didn’t work, like I have grandures of, I’m going to plot all these fruit trees and vegetables and be self sufficient, but, realistically, I know that’s probably not going to happen.

But I’m going to have a lot of fun , being self sufficient for some things. And [00:25:00] yeah, , so my partner and I, we’re actively looking in both the Adelaide Hills and the Sunshine Coast hinterland, which is a bit of a warmer part of Australia up in, in Queensland, a little bit further north.

And yeah, so I’m interested to see, cause it’s quite expensive property in. Australia. It’s the biggest barrier. Was the Frugal Woods, was that like a super expensive purchase for you guys?

Liz: No, I honestly, we just lucked out. I think we got very lucky because both the property that we bought in Boston and the property that we bought here in Vermont, we seemed to have a knack for buying when the market was really down.

So, both of these properties have appreciated. Just tremendously and really in ways that I could not have anticipated. So we bought the Vermont house for, I want to say 380, 380, 000 at the end of 2015. And the property is now probably worth twice that which is not an [00:26:00] appreciation that I would have anticipated with a rural place.

So we were looking to buy something, hopefully under 500, 000 and this. Worked out perfectly. So I think it was just an a fortuitous time to buy. We were able to get a really low interest rate on our mortgage. It was, just the era of low interest rates. So initially we were not actually paying off the mortgage early.

We were going to keep the mortgage just as a hedge against inflation as a diversification. And so we only paid the mortgage off. Directly before my husband retired, because up until that point, everything else was just going into the market and to index funds. So the mortgage payoff was a decision that we made to reduce those expenses and to essentially.

Create almost like a bond portfolio before he retired that being said, interest rates have gone up so much that now I’m like, Oh man, we should have kept the mortgage, but you never know again, you just have to make the decision that makes the most sense [00:27:00] at the time .

Captain Fi: Yeah, , that does make sense

and holy moly, that is phenomenal. Just to give you an idea. So I’m looking at places and they’re all over a million bucks. And I know that Australian dollar is different to the U S dollar. So like a million. 1. 5 Australian would be about a million U. S. I think off the top of my head. I think that’s the exchange rate.

Yeah, so the properties we’re looking at are, yeah, around that 1 million to 1. 5, which I guess is probably about 750 to 1 million U. S. So I’m like, gosh darn it, I have to work harder.

Liz: I know and so if we were trying to buy right now in the same town, we would be faced with essentially that same price range, up to a million.

Captain Fi: Hey, Liz, why didn’t you contact me 10 years ago and tell me to buy farmland?

Liz: I had no idea at the time we thought, Oh my gosh, we’re overpaying for this. Like we felt like we were overpaying because , we just thought, Oh, it’s a rural property. It’s never going to appreciate, no one’s ever going to want to buy it.

So . There is just that [00:28:00] element of chance and luck.

Captain Fi: Oh, absolutely. And yeah, I just guess my property, you’re not making any more property. Especially large acreages, so you guys are on, is it 60 acres? 66. 66. Oh, right. Yeah. I’m looking at 20 acres . So third. That’s funny.

That’s funny. Yeah. Yeah. But that’s awesome. So, there’s been some people online. We’ve tried to maybe reverse engineer some numbers to try and figure out I guess the net wealth progression of you guys. So when you in sort of 2014, would it be reasonable?

And this is my guess. So tell me how far off I am. My guess was that you might’ve had. Around 350, 000 in terms of cash shares and equity going forward. Is that like in the ballpark?

Liz: You know what? I have no idea. I have no idea. I would have to go and look back at historical records of our accounts.

I don’t even know, .

Captain Fi: That’s so funny because people dwell on the most irrelevant things. And I [00:29:00] don’t know why this is the most popular question, but yeah, it doesn’t actually matter. I guess the no, the things that matters is I guess you guys really paid close attention to your cash flows and to achieve your goal.

You’re very smart about using leverage and mortgages and I’m really in awe of what you guys have done and achieved. And I guess, so you and Nate, you’ve been homesteading there with your girls for a while. And I mentioned earlier, you’ve published a couple of really awesome articles reflecting on your experience, so.

Looking back, to 2016. Oh, my God. That’s now what? Seven years ago. When you first got the Frugalwoods, how have things changed over time? Was it different to your expectations and would you do it again?

Liz: Oh, I would do it again. Immediately. It has been. Such a wonderful decision. And again, it was a pretty big leap of faith because we didn’t know we hadn’t lived rurally before we had never lived in this town before we’d never lived in the state.

I mean, we were taking a pretty big chance and it has turned out I would say even better [00:30:00] than we anticipated. We have built. Just tremendous friendships and community connections. We are both very heavily involved in volunteer work, which is a real benefit of FIRE is that you have the time to put towards community efforts.

So we spend a lot of our time out in the community, a lot of time with our kids at our kids school, and I think what I. I didn’t anticipate to a certain extent is how expensive it is to live rurally.. It is just a lot more expensive than living in a city, which I think is really counterintuitive, but that’s the thing that I don’t think we could have anticipated.

Captain Fi: Oh, interesting. I guess is that just because, you’re so far away, like if you want to get gas, you’re going to have to get paid to have it delivered. If you want to get shopping, you’re going to have to drive quite a distance to buy things. Is that kind of, or is it more the maintenance Of the homestead I guess you’re going to [00:31:00] have a ride on mower and you have to pay for petrol.

to do fencing, that kind of stuff. Is that those kinds of expenses? All

Liz: of the above. So we’re like 40 minutes to the grocery store. So there’s a fair amount of driving that’s involved. So a fair amount of gas, car maintenance. When we lived in the city, I preferred to walk everywhere.

So I would say the one thing I don’t like about living rurally is I can’t walk anywhere. I really wish I could just pop over to the shop or pop over to my friend’s house. I mean, I used to take our baby to the pediatrician. I walked there, with her in a stroller.

We used to walk to work. So it’s, that’s the aspect that is hard for me. And that can be expensive. That being said, we are very careful with creating a grocery list. We go about once every two weeks. And There are no options for takeout. There are no restaurants. So from that perspective, you’re gonna spend less But then we have fewer grocery options.

So we don’t have as many inexpensive stores here So I find the [00:32:00] groceries are more expensive and then like you mentioned there is so much that goes into maintaining a property so we have a tractor we have a lawnmower, which is not a ride on, it is a push behind. So my husband ends up doing basically running a marathon every time he mows the lawn because he’s still jogged behind this thing.

I do not mow the lawn. And then we have chickens and we had to build a chicken coop and build a woodshed. And then there’s chicken food and there’s a chainsaw. And so there’s all of these expenses, some of which are abating. Now that we’ve been here for a couple of years, we’ve already bought these things.

We already bought the tractor. We already bought the chainsaw. We’ve already learned a lot. But there’s a pretty large start up cost when you . You go from living in the city. And, I don’t think we owned a shovel when we lived in the city. You come out here and you’re like, I’m going to need like a shovel and a rake and it’s and

Captain Fi: even the sourcing stuff used.

Yeah, so

Liz: that was a major element of it. And then there’s also [00:33:00] property taxes, right? Because you’re paying taxes on usually a much larger parcel of land than you did in the city. So there are certainly. Some expenses that make it costlier, but we didn’t make this move to save money. I think that’s a big misconception that I hear a lot is, Oh, you moved to the country.

It’s so much cheaper. And I’m like, no, the cheapest thing would have been to stay in like a one bedroom apartment, in the city and not own a car and not own a tractor and not own a truck.

Captain Fi: Yeah. I used to live in Sydney and that’s like the biggest city in Australia.

And I was in , one bedroom apartment and I used to ride my bike everywhere. So I can totally relate to everything you’re saying. I mean, I didn’t have kids, so no walking to the pediatrician. But do you know what? I just thought of an idea. For you guys to save money. I think you need a frugal cow, a cow, , the frugal cow.

It can be called, it’s going to mow your lawn. So it’s going to save Nate from the marathons and it’s going to provide milk. So you don’t need to go to the grocery

Liz: store. No. So, all right. [00:34:00] So our neighbors, cows jumped the fence a couple of months ago and came to our yard and had a little cow party.. Oh my goodness, the amount that those animals eat and defecate.

Captain Fi: No. That was definitely very tongue in cheek.

Liz: They were so cute. I mean, they’re super cute. Like these little Jersey milk cows. They’re really cute. But we have found like with animals, like the chickens. People say, Oh, free eggs and no, it is, it’s a pretty big cost to, keep animals.

Like you have to fence them. You have to house them. You got to take care of them in the winter.

Captain Fi: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think we found with the eggs. Oh, don’t quote me here, but I’m pretty sure the eggs in the grocery store, the free range eggs are like 30 cents. In Australia, sorry, like 30 cents per egg, and it was costing us like 12 or 15 cents per egg just with the cost of feed.

But there are also other benefits of the chooks, but yeah, definitely cows. They’re a big investment and they require a lot of time [00:35:00] and skill. No! My partner we went and visited. Some friends of ours in the country and they’ve got this beautiful 20 acre block and they’ve got, I think they’re called Scottish Highland, the really shaggy cows that they’re small and they have this not dreadlocks, but they look like they’re covered in shagpile carpet and they’re really cute and so my partner’s we’ve got to get one of them when we get a farm.

And I’m like, Oh, I don’t think you should get attached to a pet like that because. mean, I don’t know if they use them for beef or not. I don’t know what their plan is, but it seems like a very expensive pet.

Liz: Yes. Get a cat if you want.

Captain Fi: Yeah. I think we want to get chooks. Definitely want to get chickens.

Couple of dogs and that’s probably maybe we’ll do potty calves, but who knows, I guess one of the main things that I really loved About your story is raising the girls on the homestead and seeing , you chuck up those really awesome pictures on Instagram and Facebook where the girls like chomping into fresh strawberries or helping you [00:36:00] plant stuff that is

it’s just so wholesome and to hear that you’ve been able to use your time to be like super engaged with the community and their schools that is 100 percent what I’m trying to work towards.

So I’m really interested to hear how being a parent has changed your life and maybe influenced your fire goals and journey.

I would

Liz: say parenthood has changed every single part of our lives. But it has really made it all the more important to us to be financially secure and to have achieved FIRE because we have the time to be with our kids. Because there is, even when they are in school, and out of daycare, there is still Always something that is needed.

There are sick days. There are holidays. There are field trips that you want to shop around. And so having that flexibility is I can’t even put a price on that. , it removes so much stress from our lifestyle. It also gives us the opportunity to spend [00:37:00] time with the girls when they get home from school.

So they get home from school at, about three o’clock and then we have a couple hours that we can spend together versus trying to hustle in at the end of a work day and, rush everybody through dinner and bed. So I really am grateful that we have. That type of lifestyle where we can spend so much time together every single day.

And being out here has been phenomenal for raising kids, having the ability to let them play outside by themselves, run around, play in the woods. We go on hikes, we go on little explorations. They enjoy gardening. They have a real sense of where their food comes from. And so it has been.

Really a perfect place to be for us for this time. I can’t predict the future. I don’t know how they’ll feel about it when they’re teenagers. They may not think it’s as cool, but it’s pretty ideal right now.

Captain Fi: Yeah. , it sounds like honestly the dream. I’ve said it a few times, it might sound like a broken record, but way better than having a Maserati or a Gucci bag [00:38:00] in your twenties, I’d say is having this flexibility in your thirties and forties to really be.

With family and yeah, that’s been a huge motivator for me ever since day one, want to be an awesome dad. And I was hoping that, having financial security would make that a lot easier and would be able to give me the time with my kids that I never really got with my parents.

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So, Liz, awesome hearing about your journey to FIRE and the Frugal Woods.

Actually, before I go on to the personal finance questions, I’m going to ask this one off the cuff. What’s the bad part about living on the Frugal Woods?

Liz: I think the bad part I mentioned earlier is just not being able to walk anywhere, and also the fact that you really have to plan ahead because if you don’t get it from the grocery store this week, you’re probably going to have to wait another couple weeks before you can go

Captain Fi: get it.

Hey, but someone who’s You’re used to long term planning with fire and sort of stocks and index funds. I get the idea that you and Nate are long term thinkers, so it’s probably not the end of the world for you guys, right?

Liz: We’ve gotten it down to a pretty good science and we also, [00:41:00] we keep a lot of bulk foods, so no one’s ever going to starve because we have tons of like bulk flour and rice and oatmeal and stuff like that.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Is there anything that you miss about city living? I mean, other than the walking around

Liz: other than walking around yeah, I miss not needing to drive. So, we used to, I could take the bus or I could take the subway or you could get a cab and, out here it’s if you are going anywhere, you are driving , or, a friend is driving you.

So I think having that flexibility, but other than that, I mean, I don’t really miss living in the city.

Captain Fi: Yeah, no, fair enough. Now, look, I’m not a geography expert in the U. S. by any means. I mean, I know that the East Coast and the West Coast are a day or more driving distance , apart. But so Boston to Vermont. To how far is that?

Liz: Oh, it’s only about three and a half

Captain Fi: hours. Okay. But that is still a decent drive, right? Oh yeah, but we’re

Liz: not driving back to Boston.

Captain Fi: Yeah, no, but I was thinking you obviously [00:42:00] had your social network friends and did you have uh, you and Nate have family in Boston?

Liz: No, we didn’t, which I think , made the move a lot easier because we didn’t feel like we were leaving anyone behind. Cause we also found, we had a bunch of friends there, but it was a very transient place. A lot of people were there for their career for a few years and then we’re moving on.

And so as we were planning our move, like a bunch of friends left, and moved elsewhere as well. And what we found is that a lot of the friendships that we’ve created here. Are with people who also plan to stay here for a very long time. So it’s, a lot of people who are really being intentional about putting down roots and building , that sense of community that I always really missed in the

Captain Fi: city.

Wow. That is so eerie because I’m seeing so many parallels between your story and what’s gone in, in my life. So I guess for me, like my version of Boston was Sydney, and I had a lot of really [00:43:00] close mates, really.

even mates from Adelaide that were in Sydney and a lot of people were there for their careers. And yeah they actually similarly, , a lot of them were starting to fly the coop. And I think there’s only a couple left by the time I left Sydney. So it’s interesting. , you talk about you brought the word transient and maybe that’s just Sydney.

That’s what it is for Australians. So where are you guys originally from? I’m assuming you are not from the same town.

Liz: That’s right. So i’m actually from california, which is on the other side of the country. So it’s on the west coast And it would be if you were to drive it straight through I think it would take you like Three days.

Captain Fi: Oh my gosh. It’s really far. Yeah. You need an airplane, Liz. Yes, you do need an airplane. If only you knew a pilot

Liz: and then Nate is originally from Florida and North Carolina, which are South of quite far South from Vermont. So we’re really not from this area at all, but it’s the place that we picked,

Captain Fi: I think I’ve heard the [00:44:00] climate in California is actually quite similar to Adelaide, similar to Australia very dry, right?

Or at least in the low altitude area. It is, yeah. And so like part of me wants to escape to Queensland. I think the weather is… It’s probably more close to Florida, to be honest, than Vermont in Queensland, just cause it is a bit warmer, but I have these fantasies of going somewhere cold where it snows and being able to have a log fire.

Liz: Oh my gosh. Yes. That’s, I love it. In fact, I love it so much that I’m like impatient for summer to end because that’s what I want to do. I just want to have like warm cocoa by the wood stove while the snow falls outside. That’s perfect to me. .

Captain Fi: Oh maybe we need to set our sights on outside Australia. Maybe we should come visit America. It sounds like it’s bloody awesome. Yeah. I’ve never had a white Christmas and that’s the. That’s the dream one day is go on a holiday. We’re thinking of America or Europe [00:45:00] and being able to experience the snow.

That’d be awesome. Okay. So, let’s crack on the second half of the interview, if it’s okay. I would love to ask. bit more about your personal finance. So feel free obviously to not answer anything you’re not comfortable with. But listeners love the tea. So please feel free to share as much details you’d like.

So with that being said, number one, what sources of income do you and Nate have at the moment?

Liz: Sure. So right now we have my income, which comes from The blog frugal woods and from my work one on one with clients. And then we also have the rental income from our rental property in Boston.

Captain Fi: Awesome.

And what do your current monthly expenses look like? I know we’ve just unfortunately talked about they’ve gone up and just between you and me, I was hoping that my expenses would go down when I bought a property, but now I’m prepared for them to go up. So I’m keen to hear

how have they [00:46:00] changed?

Liz: Lucky for you and all the listeners, I do a monthly expense report on frugal woods. So anyone who wants to see, can go and check out the what we spend category and see what we’ve spent each month. And I’ve been doing it since 2014. So there’s nine years of data.

So if anyone is really curious, like, all right, how exactly did that Move from urban to rural impact your spending you can actually track it over time. So I just pulled up my June expenses were $5, 000

Captain Fi: Awesome. Okay. I’ll link to those in the show notes, but a fantastic transparency as well. I think it’s really useful to be able to go and actually read things like that because otherwise, how do people know, like how are they going to actually plan?

I know a lot of people do struggle with budgeting and planning. And so it’s cool to see, Oh, this is actually what it takes to run a 66 acre property and raise two girls. So what about. Emergency funds and [00:47:00] cash, Liz, how much cash do you choose to keep and whereabouts do you store that?

Liz: So we do all of our banking through Fidelity, which is an American, it’s a bank and a brokerage which I find. Very convenient because we can have everything from our credit card to our checking account to all of our investments with them Which I just love simplicity like I have never wanted to have tons of different accounts spread all over the place So I’m very happy to have it Centralized and it makes it very easy for us to transfer between accounts.

So the cash amount varies based on what we’re anticipating spending. So for example, last year we knew that we needed to buy a new car. And so what we did was just slow down our investing so that we could build up that cash reserve. I don’t want to ever liquidate. Any stocks and so my approach is always, okay, if you can plan ahead and have this vision, all right, we’re going to have to buy a [00:48:00] car in the next couple of years.

So let’s start to titrate down some of the investments so that you can build up that cash. So that’s how we manage that cash flow. And, we have cash flow for our rental property for my business. And then just for like family expenses. So it’s all managed within there. And again, the amount that’s in cash really does vary based on what we anticipate we might need to be

Captain Fi: spending.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So for example, I’m not sure how the rules with like mortgages work in the US, but here in Australia, so I’ve got an investment property with unfortunately a big loan attached to it. But I can stick. Cash in the offset account, which reduces the amount of interest that I have now it sounds like you guys have paid your mortgage off, so you might not have that option.

So do you just have it in a term deposit or like a high interest savings account? Or how do you store that cash?

Liz: Oh, the cash itself is in a money market.[00:49:00] That Fidelity offers, so yeah, but I mean, I’m a big fan of just like a high yield savings account. If you need the flexibility, I think CDs can be good.

Money market accounts can be good, but right now, a lot of times the rates aren’t any higher than a high yield savings account. So I feel when in doubt and you don’t know what you’re going to do with this money, stick it in a high yield savings account.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Flexibility.

Yeah, it’s good for peace of mind. Hey and speaking of peace of mind, what kind of insurances do you guys use? Cause I imagine you’ve obviously got like some properties, you’ve got cars. You mentioned earlier that for example, healthcare was a bit of an issue. So yeah, really keen to see what kind of personal and professional insurances you guys use.

Liz: We have all the insurances. All of the insurances. Yes we tend to be pretty conservative, so, we’ve got it all, and thankfully we’re able to buy health insurance through our state. So in the United States, there is… Health [00:50:00] insurance that’s offered through the government, but it’s not at the federal level.

It’s at the state level. So every single state is different. So depending on, so that was another thing that went into our decision to live in Vermont. Vermont is a very liberal progressive state. And so they provide really excellent health insurance for a very reasonable price. So, for the kids and us, we pay, oh gosh, it’s less than 100 a month in premiums, which is really good. There are some states where we would be paying like 4, 000 a month. Holy moly! Yeah, so that’s a big factor for people in the U. S. who are looking at getting healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. You want to be really clear on what the state that you live in offers in terms of subsidies and care because the price difference can just be mind blowing.

Captain Fi: , that’s a 40 times difference.

Liz: Yeah. So, yeah, I think we pay like 72 for the four of us a month, which is [00:51:00] perfectly reasonable,

Captain Fi: Okay. So, there’s the health insurance. So essentially that’s private health insurance. That’s right. You’ve got home and contents insurances for both properties

Liz: yep. Yeah. So there’s, yep. There’s two different insurances because they’re in different states. And again, it’s like you can sometimes find it like in an ideal world. I would just like one insurer to rule them all. , I think it would be a lot easier, but that’s not how they work.

So we’ve got like different, yeah, there’s different like full umbrella insurance that covers the different properties. And then there’s, car insurance, liability, all of that. So it’s all, yeah.

Captain Fi: So do you go fully comprehensive on the car or just like third party only?

Liz: We changed the insurance when we bought our new car and because we always had just done liability, because we could just replace the cars in cash.

So I think, okay, see now you’re really testing my memory because I made this change like a year and a half ago. I can’t remember what I did, but I think we might’ve moved it to comprehensive at that time. ,

Captain Fi: it makes sense [00:52:00] on a, like a newer car, right?

But I mean, I have an older car. I think it’s goodness, like 18 years old, but it’s still good. It’s I mean, to use American speak, it’s got less than 100, 000 miles. Oh, wow. I just never drive. But yeah, it’s. Probably only worth a few thousand bucks. So I’m not going to pay like a thousand dollars a year for insurance.


Liz: yeah, our cars prior to this were always like, worth exactly a couple of thousand dollars. So I was like, we’ll just replace them. We had to buy a new car. So that does change the insurance landscape a little bit.

Captain Fi: Now, what about the farm?

 Is there such a thing as farm insurance? Do you have your tractor and all your tools covered or like? Is that a thing or is that just like home and contents insurance?

Liz: Yeah, it’s umbrella home insurance. So this is another thing that like, you’re going to want to, listeners are going to want to do this hyper locally because what we found is we needed to use a Vermont insurer because they understand rural properties.

Trying to speak with insurers in the city in Boston, they were like, A what? A barn? It just, it’s not the profile that they’re used to. So I think it just makes a lot [00:53:00] of sense to do your research locally and find someone who does this all the time and who understands how to insure a property.

Like for example, we have a wood stove. So there are different provisions for if you heat your home with wood than if you don’t heat your home with wood. So this is something that our insurer knows about, which is. A good thing. So they knew exactly how to write a policy for us.

Captain Fi: Yeah, that makes sense. So in Australia, we definitely, there’s insurance brokers.

And I’ve spoken to a couple like really amazing insurance brokers. Like Catherine Hayes is one of them who came on the podcast. And I’ll put a link to that podcast episode in the show notes. And yeah, so what she does is essentially it’s like a financial advisor, but for insurance.

So, did you guys look at an insurance broker or have you just masterminded it all yourself?

Liz: I tried to find an insurance broker. Again, when I thought that I could achieve this pipe dream of having it all insured under one umbrella, because rentals in a different place, this property has a bunch of like unusual.

Stipulations [00:54:00] because it has so much land. And so that just was not going to work out. So I just ended up having to price it out all separately myself.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Wow. That’s a mean feat good on you. Excel spreadsheet overload or how’d you do it?

Liz: It was like a dark time. I did not enjoy doing, I felt like I was like on the phone non stop. .

And I had a baby at the time and I was like, I don’t know. I’m just trying to figure this out. But that’s the kind of thing where I’m so happy that like it’s done and I don’t have to redo it

Captain Fi: every year. Yeah. I feel like having a baby just puts everything on hard mode as well. It’s at the moment I feel like I’m living life on easy with FI no kids, but the kids raises the difficulty level.

It raises

Liz: the bar a lot.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Okay. So, sorry, just finalize on insurance. Do you have life insurance and tPD, or do you have income protection insurance through your company at all? Do you use

Liz: those three? We don’t have life insurance because we don’t really need to replace the income of one spouse or the other.

I always tell people you want to have life [00:55:00] insurance if you need to replace. Place the income of one partner in the event that they pre decease you.

Captain Fi: So that’s a very pleasant way of saying cark it.. I mean, that’s

Liz: well, when I’m trying to communicate this to clients, I’m not saying like, I think one of you is going to die, but that’s really the only reason, I’ve had clients who are single with no kids who have life insurance, I’m like, you don’t need this.

Yeah. No dependents. No one else is looking to rely upon your income. It’s not necessary. So I feel like most of the time it’s not necessary. I think it can be very necessary if you have a situation where you have two parents and kids and only one parent works and you’re totally reliant upon that income.

You definitely want to have life insurance on that person so that, you can replace their income. So no, we don’t have it.

Captain Fi: Yeah. That makes sense. I don’t have it either.

Yeah, don’t need it.

So this is a question is probably relevant to back to your fire days. Is the target savings, right? So, you mentioned that both yourself and Nate were just naturally quite frugal people, like quite practical. You don’t [00:56:00] necessarily get a kick out of, really expensive luxury items.

And I find, I’m very similar to you. So, having a higher savings rate probably comes a little bit easier. And then when in 2014, I know you really did embrace and up your frugality. So I’m really keen to hear what your target savings rate was and why you chose that particular level.

Liz: Oh gosh. So at that time Our goal was honestly just to spend as little as humanly possible. So you can, again, it’s all on the blog with how much you were spending at the time. But I feel as though I remember that our goal was to spend less than a thousand dollars on all non mortgage expenses.

Captain Fi: Wow. That’s

Liz: awesome. Yeah. , I’m pretty sure. I feel like that was what kind of the goal was so that we were saving, just like almost everything was going into savings and investments. And, that has really changed over time because the goal now really is just to [00:57:00] cover expenses and not necessarily to save.

So I guess that would make it what is that coast fire? So that kind of that imperative to save a lot was really what we utilized in the run up to fire. And now I really view the income just as Oh, this is lovely that, we don’t have to draw down on our investments at all.

Captain Fi: Yeah, a hundred percent. No, that makes a lot of sense. And so just cause I mean, a thousand dollars just sounds crazy. Right. But I guess that, we’ve got to realize this was, 10 years ago. And you’re talking U. S. dollars. So, straight up in terms of Australian dollars, it’s probably 1, 500 a month.

And probably with inflation, you might be around, say, 2, 000 a month. But that, I mean, to say, just keep spending below 2, 000 a month on non mortgage related stuff. That’s, I think that sounds actually. pretty achievable. Especially for two, I know you said you weren’t earning like mega bucks, but for two people with, good careers it’s probably not actually not too dissimilar to what I was trying to save.

And I know I. Sort of saved around [00:58:00] 75 some months up into the 90s percent of my pay. And I’ve read from your blog and from some of the other interviews that you’ve done that, yeah, you had up to an 82 percent savings rate. At some time, but it’s cool to hear that your main motivation was not so much.

Oh, I need to work out this percentage savings rate. It’s, it was you were more practical. You’re trying to reach a short term financial goal of the down payment and building up the cash. If that’s fair to say, rather than. Worrying about the the savings rate number specifically.

Liz: Yeah, I think for me, it was really this assessment of what we were spending because it, at the end of the day it’s really so simple, right? It’s the levers that we have our income and expenses. And so you can increase your income or you can decrease your expenses. Or you can do both.

And so for us, it was this era of questioning every single dollar that we spent, right? With that understanding that, okay, if we invest this dollar, it’ll be worth so much in the future [00:59:00] versus if we spend it today. And so having that mindset was. really helpful to us. I don’t think it’s something that I would want to sustain forever because it really felt in a lot of ways like a sprint, to get this amount of money invested.

But it’s very helpful to bring that critical eye. to your spending, particularly if it’s not an exercise you’ve done before, and you’re not really sure what you’re spending or you’re not clear on where is all that money going each month? I think it’s really helpful to bring that discerning eye and say, all right, every dollar, what am I actually spending on?

And is that in alignment? With the goals that I say that I have, right? Because we all say oh, this is what I want my life to look like. This is what I wanna do. But then if you look at your spending, is your spending actually supporting that?

Captain Fi: Yes. I preaching to the choir. I I probably even took it a bit too far to be honest, but I do often when I look at my purchases and I’m thinking like, oh, do I want this now or do I want [01:00:00] something way better for my family down the track.?

And I think that was something that really helped me stay true to my financial goals. Yeah.

All right. So the juicy one, obviously we’ve talked about earning and saving are very important. And another, yeah. Arguably smaller part of the equation is obviously the investments, which we need to do.

So what do you invest in and why? So

Liz: I actually think the investing is a, is hugely important, right? Because if you save and just keep it all in cash, you’re not going to reach financial independence, right? Unless you have a billion dollars sitting in cash because cash loses value every single day.

So this is something I work a lot with clients on because we have this sense that like cash is. safe, but cash is like not safe because it’s, it’s always losing value. So I am a big proponent of investing wisely and carefully, but definitely investing. So our investment portfolio is pretty boring and probably pretty [01:01:00] familiar to most of your listeners.

We just do total market low fee index funds. It’s some domestic, some international, we have some bonds. We have the paid off house, which I consider, it’s like kind of a diversification. And then we also have this investment property. So that’s really it for the investments. It’s pretty straightforward.

Captain Fi: Yeah, it sounds pretty good as well. Do you guys have a target asset allocation? I guess between the different, oh, you want a certain percentage in, the investment property equity, certain percentage in like international, domestic markets, certain percentage in bonds. And if you do, how often do you choose to rebalance?

Liz: This is another one where I just don’t look at it all the time, so I honestly would have to open it up to give you the exact number. I would say, though, that most of it is in domestic stocks. We’re still, we’re pretty aggressive still because we’re not drawing down and we’re not envisioning drawing down, so I haven’t really had any concerns on tapering any [01:02:00] of the aggression.

If we even still have any bonds… I can’t, I feel like we don’t, if we still have bonds, we don’t have very many. So it’s, it’s mostly domestic and it’s mostly in that total market index fund, which is pretty aggressive. And then there is a certain percentage that’s in international as well.

And we’ve thought about getting another rental because it would be lovely to have a little bit more diversification and not be so heavily in the stock market. But with the way that interest rates have been. On mortgages here in the U S for the last couple of years. And also just the real estate market is bananas right now.

Things are still so, so, so expensive. And so we’ve looked at properties, and really considered, Oh, it’d be great to have a multifamily and be able to rent out a number of units that there just has been nothing that has passed the math test. So I, I, my, I’m always keeping my eyes open.

But so far it’s mostly just sitting in the stock

Captain Fi: market. Yeah. Hey, no, that’s [01:03:00] good. I actually, I think I have about 60 to 65 percent of my assets are invested in US stocks. So yeah, it’s it’s a good market. I think it’s been my best performer to date as well. And okay, just last one on your investments.

Do you use leverage at all? So I know in the past, technically you’ve had mortgage, which some people would say is a leverage, but do you still use loans and, or do you use like margin loans to invest at all?

Liz: No, we don’t. So we do still have the mortgage on the rental property. So, you could consider that leverage, but yeah, otherwise I’m fairly debt averse.

I mean, if there’s a good reason, I’ll do it. And. And I think keeping the mortgage on the rental property makes a lot of sense and it has a low interest rate, but in general, we are typically not using loans.

Captain Fi: Yeah. No that’s good. Makes sense. Hey, there’s no need to like overly complicate things and add risk.

Now I guess last one for the finance stuff, cause I [01:04:00] know we’ve actually ticked off quite a few of these questions in our early discussion. But the last one is. When you do eventually transition to withdrawing from your index funds for income, do you have a planned withdrawal rate for the investments or how have you planned out the use of them?

Liz: I mean, the initial rate was 4%, that we did our initial calculations on, but then over time , that hasn’t seemed very likely that we’d be doing a draw down anytime soon.

So I think it’s going to be just a very much. Analyze the market and be flexible, cause I, it’s not like I’m going to say, okay, in 10 years, we’re going to start a 3 percent drawdown because I don’t know what the market will be doing. I don’t know what our rental property, will we have sold it?

Will we have bought another one? , where will I still be working? You will. My husband have decided to do some other pursuit that brings in an income. So I’m pretty flexible on that because it’s not something that we’re immediately planning to do. I am just very happy to let [01:05:00] that money just sit there and ride and be invested.

So, it’s probably not going to be more than 4%, but we don’t have a concrete plan at this

Captain Fi: point. Yeah, no. Hey that’s like perfectly reasonable. And I think, some people say we’ll cross that bridge when we get to there. I’ve spoken to a few like amazingly smart people that have got quite technical explanations for their drawdowns.

One of them was Karsten or Big Ern. From Early Retirement Now, a fantastic blog and I can’t remember whereabouts he lives it’s somewhere in the U S anyway, a brilliant mind, and he actually calculates his withdrawal rate based on the performance of the share market.

And so he’s actually got like a formula for it, which is really cool. And I’ll link to that in the show notes for people that

Liz: are interested. I like. To use his formulas. So yes, I he is a great source for understanding this stuff. And I think it’s wonderful to use some of these models that other people have built.

Captain Fi: . Yeah. But I guess I feel like for the lay people, maybe like [01:06:00] myself or like us, we can go awesome. Thanks very much. Karsten, PhD. Economists, he done all the heavy lifting for us. And we just have to put it into action. But yeah, I’ll look, , I’m in a similar boat.

I mean, the 4 percent rule seems pretty cool. I don’t know whether we will draw down more or less, but I guess at the moment we’re in a similar fortunate position where we’re able to generate some income. My partner’s actually still working at the moment. , so yeah, I think we’re in a bit of a similar boat to you guys.

Okay. So, this is a question that not everyone likes because here’s where I’m going to ask you for some resources. So, one of the best things we can do, like we’ve just mentioned with Karsten’s blog when we’re on the journey to fire is look at what successful people have done.

That have come before us and then emulate, right? And especially when it comes to self education. So with that in mind, do you have any favorite resources Liz that you’ve used on your journey to FI being, maybe books, blogs, [01:07:00] podcasts, documentaries, anything that’s really resonated with you that you recommend people to check out?


Liz: So J. L. Collins’s book. The Simple Path to Wealth is always my number one recommendation for understanding investing. I just think it’s very well written. It’s very easy to understand, probably makes the most sense for a U. S. audience, but I just find his book very helpful. Also. Online forums and communities.

There are so many different sort of fire groups on the internet. And back in the day, I used to be on the Mr. Money Mustache forum, which was really helpful because it was people trying to workshop their ideas. Talk about fire, ask for help. And I found that to be a really useful, helpful, supportive community.

And there are, plenty of other forums as well that I think are, it’s just really useful to talk to other people who [01:08:00] are doing the same thing. You think, okay, I’m not crazy. I do know what I’m doing. All right. This math that, somebody else thinks this math makes sense too. I have long been a reader of 1500 days and Really enjoy his approach to early retirement as well.

I think Mad Fientist has just some wonderful Resources and is also a great person. So, there’s a lot out there and I think you have to find someone who Style and whose advice works for you. And the other thing I really like I really like our very boring factual IRS website, which is, our internal revenue service for taxes.

Just go to the original source, if you have questions I really like using online calculators. So, we were talking about some of the early retirement now resources. You can find simulators, fire simulators or calculators online that I find to be very helpful.

I know some folks, and my husband is one of these people who likes to [01:09:00] build custom spreadsheets for a lot of things, which is fine too. There are also a lot of calculators out there that you can use.

Captain Fi: Fantastic. I think that is some really good advice and yeah, just on that last point, the fire simulators I come across the rich, broke or dead simulator, which was getting talked about a lot in the Australian fire community.

And oh my God, that is awesome. Awesome. It’s got like flex for me yeah, so good. And this is a question, it’s maybe it’s the kind of question that’s off the cuff here. And actually it’s probably something I do want to ask more people is maybe the link between like fire and mental health.

Because. I know for me, like I started to build up a bit of like money, anxiety, and I wanted to reach this fire goal to build a bit of certainty and stability into my life, which I lacked, I lacked a lot of that stability just because I guess my upbringing. And my career as well. And yeah, so just wanted to get [01:10:00] basically more control over my life.

And even just that rich broke or dead simulator, like it just has so many different variables that you can plug into it, for example, like flex rate, the ability to earn more income, even if it’s just like a part time income and you can war game and actually have a look. What is the likelihood that I’m going to run out of money?

And, it was really. helpful for me for reassuring and money anxiety that when I plugged in all the details, like there’s pretty much nil chance of me running out of money with my spending plan, my fire plan. And realistically, I’m going to die with five times the amount of money I have now.

And it’s just, yeah, it’s interesting. And it makes you think I wonder how much. Of the fire movement in particular is trying to combat maybe these feelings of insecurity when it comes to kind of money or anxiety about stability. I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts on that, Liz?

Liz: Yeah, I think it’s interesting.

I think it’s a good point. I think it [01:11:00] is possible to become too obsessed with the numbers and to utilize those numbers as a stand in for. Maybe working on other things in your life or finding contentment or finding fulfillment because at the end of the day I think it’s important to remember that money is a tool It’s one thing that we can use to get us to a good life But it’s not the only thing, money is not a stand in for loving relationships or for status or for stable mental health.

It’s just a tool that we can use. And so if we can allow it to be relegated in a way, I think we can have a healthier relationship with it. Something that actually the mad Fientist said to me years ago was that you have to make sure that you are retiring. To something and not just running away from, the job or the situation that you want to be out of.

So I think it’s very helpful to have that vision of this is where I’m really going with my life. Yes, [01:12:00] fire is going to help me on that journey, but fire is not an end in itself. It’s really one step along this journey and you have to decide then what to do with your time. Which is like almost more challenging, right?

Because then you don’t have anyone telling you what you need to be doing. And so you have to create structure and meaning and routine for yourself.

Captain Fi: . Yeah. It like generates this existential crisis. Hey, cause you’re like, what do I do?

Liz: Absolutely. , I think it’s really important to remember that, that it’s good to have those financial goals and it’s good to have the spreadsheets. And, you need to have the undergirding of the math, but you also need to step back from that and think, okay, what is going to be different in my life?

When I’ve achieved fire, right? What will I hope it’s going to fix or create for me? And is that a realistic expectation?

Captain Fi: Alright Liz, last question which everyone hates. What are your top bits of advice for someone who’s [01:13:00] pursuing financial independence?

Liz: Oh gosh, I feel like I just said it.

I think remember that ultimately the equation is pretty simple. You’ve got income. And you’ve got expenses. You can impact those two things. So keep that in mind that a lot of times it’s not too much more complicated than that. Find a way to bring the income up, push the expenses down, invest the difference, and then be really clear on why you’re doing it.

Understand what those long term priorities and goals are for you or for your family. And have a real reason beyond just hitting a number because I think people might find it’s a fairly empty experience to just hit a number if it’s not accompanied by another element of a life plan.

Captain Fi: Bloody awesome tips. I was just writing those down. To be expanded on in the transcript, but I love it. It’s, as you say, the equation is pretty simple. Just , income and expenses. You’ve got control over both. So focus on bringing the income up, bringing [01:14:00] the expenses down and invest the difference.

Yeah, definitely the biggest one. And this is something that I can really attest to from personal experiences that understand your why, because I guess if you understand your why it’s pretty easy to figure out the how and the what but without a why it’s be very difficult to be motivated to actually, yeah, keep those expenses down.

Why am I even investing? Why am I even going to work? So yeah, you really have to understand your why. And I love that quote from the Mad Fientist that . you brought up just before make sure that you’re retiring to something rather than running away from something. And , it’s really challenging because I probably think I was maybe running away from something.

And yeah, I found it to be really What’s the word I’m searching for a word here, Liz disconcerting. I was untethered and I’d didn’t really know what to do with my life. So yeah, I think, having a bit of a plan, as you say, figuring out what you’re going to do.

Super important. Yeah. I wish I had this conversation like 10 years ago. That would’ve been awesome.

Liz: I didn’t know all this [01:15:00] 10 years ago. So, and I’m still learning, it’s always an evolution. Like we’re always growing and learning new things and thinking, Oh, why didn’t I do it that way?

You do the best that you can with the information you have.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Hey, and that’s life, right? It’s life. We just keep learning, keep growing. Liz, thank you so much for your time today. Absolutely been wonderful chatting to you. I’ve got so much out of this conversation, especially around my partner and I’s plans to get our own Australian version of the frugal woods maybe a smaller one frugal woods, light

 It’s been awesome. To hear about your experience particularly like around I guess the lifestyle, maybe a little bit more isolation and the costs. So it’s awesome to be able to know, Hey, maybe it’s not all raspberries and strawberries in the patch and sunshine days, like there are, drawbacks to it, like anything. So thank you so much for sharing like your honest experience. I’ve really appreciated it. And I think anyone who’s listening to this is going to get a huge kick out of it.[01:16:00] Before we finish up, is there anything you’d like to mention or touch on today that we’ve might’ve missed?

Liz: Just that you can find me at frugalwoods. com. It’s, it’s pretty straightforward. I’m frugalwoods all over the place. So if you’re looking for me, that’s where I am.

Captain Fi: Yeah. Awesome. And other than the blog where else can listeners find out more about you or contact you, do you guys on social media?

Liz: I am on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, but I am. Not super active on there really just because I don’t enjoy social media all that much so what I remember I post stuff on there But the blog is pretty regular I also have a book meet the frugal woods And then I also work one on one with clients and you can hire me if you’re looking for money advice

Captain Fi: Awesome.

And yes, I did want to mention that before we finished up meet the frugal woods, achieving financial independence through simple living awesome book, really good read, highly recommend to, to check it out. If you can’t [01:17:00] buy it, just contact your local library and ask them to get a copy. Liz, do you have an ebook version of that or is it just in the print at the moment?

Liz: I’m pretty sure that you can get it in an e book as well. It was published by HarperCollins, so they did the distribution. I think you can get it like as a Kindle version as well. Yeah,

Captain Fi: hey, super easy. My partner’s loving. She just bought a new e reader and you can request books through the library as well, which is really cool.

 Oh, that’s another thing. You should do a audio book, Liz.

Liz: There, there is an audio. Oh, I had

Captain Fi: no idea. That’s awesome. Oh, that’s cool. All right. Yep, you definitely need to check that out. Liz, thank you so much.

Guys, I’ll put links in the show notes so you can check out Liz’s. Blog the books social media, and yeah, definitely reach out. Really interesting person. A lot of really awesome lived experience. Highly recommend checking out her blog, Liz, thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

And yeah, I look forward to messaging you when I get my very own patch of [01:18:00] land.

Liz: Sounds good. Thank you for

Captain Fi: having me. Absolutely. My pleasure. All right. Have a good evening, Liz. Catch you later.

Thanks for listening to another episode of the Captain Fyre Financial Independence Podcast. To read the transcripts or check out the show notes, head over to www.captainfyre.com for all the details. If you have a question for the captain and make sure to get in touch, you might even make it on the airwaves.

You can reach me online through the Captain Fire contact form. Or get in touch through the socials. I’m active on Facebook and Instagram as well as a number of online finance and investing forums. And finally, remember the information presented on the show and the links provided are for general information purposes only.

They should not be taken as constituting professional [01:19:00] financial advice. You should always do your own research when making any financial decisions and make sure it’s appropriate for your personal circumstance.

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