Tag Archives: early retirement

How to keep Small Items from Killing Your Budget

As 2016 kicks off, it’s time to start planning our budget for the year. We all know that it’s important to pay attention to the top 3 expenses. For most of us, it’s housing, transportation, and food. If you want to see how your spending stacks up to others, here is an article that shows American spending by household income.

Once you’ve analyzed your top 3 expenses, it’s time to start looking at the small items that tend to kill your budget. Here are items you may consider reviewing:


Budget Eating Out

Some people include dining out in the food category, but many included it in an entertainment category. Many people eat out 3-4 times a week and most average $40. By cutting out just one of these dining out experiences, you can save $2,080 for the year.

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Budget Automobile Insurance

Each year, auto insurance tends to increase. When your insurance comes due, why not search around for a more affordable policy? Look at increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000. If your car is older and is worth less than $5,000, consider ditching your full coverage policy in favor of a collision policy, it can save a few bucks.


Budget TV Budget

Look at your cable bill and decide if you need all of the premium channels. If you’re paying for HBO, Showtime, and other premium stations, consider replacing that with Netflix or Hulu. Many TV providers like Dish and Direct TV offer a better rate for the first year if you switch. You normally have to commit to 2 years, but if you analyze your entire spend over 2 years, it may be a better option to switch. Bundling your TV and Internet may also save you a few bucks.


Budget Phone

Many of us buy more phone data that we need. Most carriers have an online portal where you can log in and see your usage. If you are paying for 5GB per month of data and use less than 1GB, you are leaving savings on the table.  Try to reduce your data usage and save a few dollars.

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After you’ve looked at your 3 major expenses, drill into the smaller expenses. If you’ve found expenses to trim that I may have overlooked, please share it below in the comment section.


Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

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How I quickly built a Twitter Following: Crowdfire interviews Steve Miller

In the past year, I’ve successfully built my Twitter following from 600 to over 24,600 at the time of this post (December 2015). Additionally, I increased my blog visits by 2300%.

This success caught the eye of Crowdfire, a company that produces a tool I use to help build my Twitter followers. They were intrigued by the growth but more importantly, they liked my story of early retirement and wanted to post an interview that explains my story and how I’ve used Crowdfire to build a community of Twitter followers.

The Crowdfire Interview

Here is the story, I hope you enjoy it.

Crowdfire interviews Steve Miller

Direct link to story:

Finally, here is a video showing how I use Crowdfire. If you like my story, you can also follow me on Twitter.

About this Blog

Steve and his wife built a software company, sold it and retired early. Steve enjoys blogging about lifestyle freedom, financial independence, and technology. If you like this blog, subscribe here to get an email each time he posts.

If you like this post, you might also like these prior posts:

Follow me: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  LinkedIn  |  Subscribe to this Blog

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Podcast: An Entrepreneurial Strategy for Selling a Company


Jordon Bryant of ChambersDS just published this podcast with Steve Miller, who built a multi-million dollar software business and sold it in 2009 and retired. After being retired for several years and traveling the world, Steve is now creating mobile apps in between time he spends golfing, boating, cycling and keeping fit.

Ways To Listen To This Episode

About Steve Miller

The guest for this podcast is Steve Miller, an entrepreneur who built the multi-million dollar Pragmatic software and sold it to AutomatedQA, which is now SmartBear Software, in 2009. He has over 24 years of experience in software development, project management, and software architecture.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Steve:
  • 1:23 : Steve gives us a peak in his consulting days with Microsoft and how this influenced him in forming his previous company, Pragmatic Software.
  • 3:21 : The solutions, features and benefits of their software, and the pivots they had made to fully develop their company including branding and building up clients to make the business viable. These strategies resulted to winning awards and, in turn, made them more attractive to other companies.
  • 06:16 : How they ended up being acquired by creating strategic partnerships and pre-planning integrations with other vendors with products complimentary to theirs. We also discuss the value exchange that happens during cross promotions and partnerships, not only in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to building relationships.
  • 08:46 : We dig into how he came up with a SMART exit strategy and how he ensured that this buyout plan came into fruition. Steve shares the timelines, starting out by identifying the list of companies which would be a good fit, narrowing them down, reaching out to form a relationship to those which remained as potential candidates and finally achieving the goal of being acquired.
  • 12:07 : Steve explains what a buyout earn out is, as well as the things that companies are looking for before doing acquisitions. He adds that they are not just interested in the product but also, they are interested on what you will bring into the table. As someone who knows your product well, they would look at you to be there to support the transition initially. He also shared pay out terms during their buyout and how they exceeded revenue targets which resulted to bonuses.
  • 14:04 : What Steve is currently doing with his free time including travelling, exploring his hobbies, and finally deciding to enter the mobile app development world.
  • 15:10 : His amusing story of how losing his iPad spurred his genius and resulted to his first app creation, aMemoryJog. He also talks about how travel can change perspectives and about his long term plans.
  • 18:41 : The structures Steve had in place when he started working with aMemoryJog starting from looking at the competitive landscape, creating a business plan after his analysis, and documenting his processes along the way.
  • 23:53 : Apart from looking at the App Store, Steve also shared his other validation techniques such as having the app reviewed with friends and family and leveraging on his network.
  • 25:21 : How detailing his specifications helped him in landing a good price and using oDesk and Elance services for his app development needs. Steve also shares advice to people seeking development.
  • 27:57 : Steve’s other marketing efforts including reaching out to bloggers to tap them to become beta testers in different silos to get feedback. He also shares how he plans to reach out to them using a template with a YouTube video and how he tracks response rates.
  • 36:10 : Other key take aways that Steve had learned from his first app that he will be applying for the second: driving social virality through sharing capability and establishing good PR.

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them why?
    • Everybody has an idea for an app so for me it’s 10% idea, 90% execution.
  • What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
    • It’s good to localize but you can localize too early.
  • What is your favorite business book?
  • What is your favorite app?
  • What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?

Links From The Episode

Connect With Our Guest

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Cost Savings for your first app

Ways to Save a few Bucks

As a subscriber to this blog, you probably know that my wife and I retired early and develop mobile apps in our spare time. When retiring early, you will have lots of years to live on your savings so it is fun to find ways to cut costs.

In today’s blog, I have curated a few articles that show you how to save a few dollars with very little sacrifice and spotlights a soon-to-be early retiree.

Saving on your Cellular Bill

Our family has 4 iPhones and the monthly cost of service has been $250 with AT&T. This provided unlimited talk and text and 10 gb of data. We’ve been on a mission to lower our monthly cost and finally found a solution. AT&T has pre-paid plans that are much less expensive. The one we have chosen is the $30 per month plan. It provides unlimited talk and text but does not have a data plan. In other words, you can only use the internet if you are connected to WiFi, but that lower our costs from $250 a month to $120 a month.

If not having a data plan is a deal breaker for you, another option is the $45 per month plan. It provides unlimited talk, text and data, so you can use the internet while connected to cellular or WiFi. It provides fast speeds for up to 1 gb per month then slows the cellular connection speed down to 128 kb once you hit the 1 gb for the month. Checking our usage, I never hit 1 gb a month anyways, so it is a good plan for us.  With this plan, we can reduce our costs from $250 per month to $180 per month.

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Since we already use AT&T, we can keep our own phones and the pre-paid plan is a month-to-month plan with no long term commitment. Learn more here: https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/plans/prepaidplans.html.

If you have an Android phone, another option would be Republic Wireless. With this plan, it connects to the data plan via roaming WiFi signals and will connect to a cellular tower when a local WiFi signal is not present. The cost varies but they advertise that you can get coverage for about $14.95 per month (see https://republicwireless.com/plans/). Our only issue with this plan was that coverage is not nearly as good as with AT&T, so you may be giving up access to phone service in specific areas. They do have an online coverage map that shows you coverage for the areas you live and will visit.

Related article: 5 Budgeting Tips for September

Online Coupons

We tend to purchase items online and look for promotion code coupons to make purchasing items cheaper. It is sometimes tricky to find a coupon for a specific item, but a browser plug-in called Honey really helps.

honey review - logo

Our friends over at Budgets Are Sexy wrote a great article that explains how Honey works, see that article here: http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/2015/07/save-money-using-honey-browser-extension/.

Related article: 5 Budgeting Tips for September

Mr. and Mrs. 1500

It’s always great to meet people with similar interests. We recently met a couple that goes by the name of Mr. and Mrs. 1500. They are inspiring couple that have a goal of retiring at 43 years old. In 2013, they started a blog called 1500 Days to Freedom and publicized that they would retire in 1,500 days from then. Starting with a portfolio of less than $600,000, their goal was to amass 1 million dollars in 1,500 days (ending in 2017).

On their website, they chronicle their journey and transparently post each month how they are progressing towards their goal. As of today (July 25, 2015), they have already reached $1,000,000 and are now working on paying off their house so that when they retire in a couple of years, they will be totally debt free.

My wife and I recently had a beer with Mr. and Mrs. 1500 and got to know them better. They are truly and inspiring couple.  Learn More: http://www.1500days.com/

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Ready for Life Style Freedom? Piggy back off other People’s Success

Readers of this blog probably know a bit about my story. I started a software business in 1998 and sold it in 2009 allowing me to retire early (at 50 years old). I now enjoy life style freedom. I can plan my day any way I wish. If I feel like playing golf, hiking, biking or taking a road trip somewhere, I just get up and go. I am now working on developing a mobile app because I enjoy the software business and I can work as much or little as I wish.

So do you have to own and sell a business to achieve life style freedom? No, I know people who had jobs with average salaries and saved their way to life style freedom. Let me introduce you to a few of them.

 Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Mr. Money Mustache (Pete)

Although he goes by the name Mr. Money Mustache, his real name is Pete and his last name he wants to keep anonymous. He retired at 30 years old on a nest egg of about $600,000 of which he saved by stuffing away about 75% of his paycheck into savings. He is now a multi-millionaire.

He started the Mr. Money Mustache website to share his financial prowess with others and offers a free discussion forum where like-minded people swap advice about money, investing and creating life style freedom. If you want to retire early, I highly recommend visiting this website.

Website: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com

Robert and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Bob and Robin Charlton

Robert (Bob) and Robin retired at 43 years old the old fashioned way, they saved their way to retirement. Although the couple averaged only about $89,000 in combined salaries per year, they amassed almost $1 million in savings over a 15 year period.

Bob recently wrote a book about early retirement called How to Retire Early (click here to see it) and it is one of the top-rated books in the Retirement section of Amazon. It takes you through a journey of exactly how they accomplished it. It is very transparent and incredibly motivating. We met Bob and Robin a few years ago after we retired. We share a love of travel and they document their travels on their personal website.

Website: http://www.wherewebe.com

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Billy and Akaisha owned a restaurant and decided to ditch the working grind at 38 years old. After accumulating savings in their dual career jobs and selling the restaurant, they had a net worth of about $500,000.

They have been retired now for over 25 years and their nest egg is larger than when they retired. They live on about $30,000 per year and travel the world most of the year. Their website offers financial advice and documents their world travels.

When we started planning our early retirement, I read Billy and Akaisha’s book called “The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement” and it offered motivation and pragmatic advice regarding retiring early. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend taking the time to do so.

Website: http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com

How much does it take to Retire?

So how much is enough? First, try to reduce your monthly expenses as much as you can by following advice from the people above. Once you have that down, take your monthly expenses and make them yearly (multiply by 12) and then multiple that number by 25. For example, if your monthly expenses are $3000, your annual expenses are $36,000. Multiply that by 25 and it means you need $900,000 of investments to retire.

This is called the “safe withdrawal rate” or the “4% rule”. Click here for a really good article that explains the 4% rule in more detail.

Now, do you need all of that to quit a job you hate and take a cooler job that you enjoy? No. Let’s say you only have investments of $500,000 and your yearly expenses are $36,000. You can safely withdraw 4% of your $500,000 per year without ever running out of money, so that means you can withdraw $20,000 per year. So if you wanted to ditch your job and get a more fun job (maybe a part-time job) where you clear $16,000 per year, you could safely retire with the $500,000 in investments.

Are you nuts?

OK, I now hear you saying “Are you crazy? How can I (or we) save $900,000? I have almost no savings at this time!”. Bob and Robin Charlton also had no savings in 1992 and decided they wanted to change their life. So they embarked on a 15 year journey to save money and they retired with almost $1 million in the bank in just 15 years. Read the full story here.

 This Article Was Brought to You by 2HourAppreneur

This article was brought to you by 2HourAppreneur makers of the aMemoryJog Password Manager app.

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Every few days, 2HourAppreneur publishes an article that we think is cool, thought-provoking, motivational, or makes life more fun and a bit easier. If you would like to receive these articles in your email every few days, sign up below.

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