Freedom Countdown: T Minus Eight Months


It’s finally starting to feel real, folks. Mr. Groovy and I are quitting our jobs in early October. Since we set the date a few months ago we’ve been in a holding pattern. But now that freedom is eight months away, it’s time to prepare for a smooth transition.

countdown 8 mo

Here’s an outline of the steps we need to take to go from T minus eight months to liftoff:

T minus seven months: Look for land.

We plan to relocate a few hours north to the Raleigh, NC area. This is where Mr. Groovy’s family lives. We want to purchase two acres of unrestricted land and build a small home. We’re looking at Wendell, Zebulon or Rollesville, which have the country charm we’re so fond of. In addition to searching MLS listings, we plan to find a realtor and post a “Land Wanted” notice on Craigslist.

T minus six months: Clean out Garage.

We’ve already gone pretty minimalist in our home but our garage needs work. We’ve got boxes filled with stuff lining our shelves and clogging up our rafters. Mr. Groovy is pretty organized with his tools, but I’m sure he has some he can get rid of. We’ve agreed to spend at least an hour each week paring down, tossing out, and getting boxes ready for Goodwill. Getting the garage in shape will make the move less stressful. It will also help our house show better when we sell.

T minus five months: Research Traditional IRA accounts.

We can keep our work-based retirement accounts with our employers, but we prefer to roll them over into traditional IRA accounts. Our own IRAs will provide more flexibility and more investment options. Currently, we each have Roth IRAs with Fidelity and additional investments with Vanguard. We may want to move our 401(k) and 403(b) assets into one of those firms, or try something new like TD-Ameritrade or Betterment. We have some research to do on this front.

T minus four months: Talk to an insurance broker.

Mr. Groovy feels certain we can figure out Obamacare. I always feel it doesn’t hurt to check in with a professional. Insurance brokers are state licensed and should have a good working knowledge of the plans available in North Carolina. There’s no charge for a consultation, so why not schedule a call?

T minus Three months: Consult with a fee based financial advisor. 

Again, Mr. Groovy thinks we’ve got our portfolio and investment strategy under control. But I’d like to talk with a fee based financial advisor to make sure our ducks are all in a row. I want to find someone smart like Michael Kitces, but who doesn’t require assets under management (AUM) to give advice.

If you know of anyone that fits the bill, please comment or send me an email. ([email protected])

T minus Two months: Plan our retirement road trip.

What says “freedom” better than a road trip? In early November we’re hitting the road for two weeks. Our first stop is Mobile AL, then it’s on to Biloxi, MS. From there we’re getting on the Gumbo Trail in Louisiana. Then it’s on to Little Rock, AK, Hot Springs, and then back to home via Memphis and Nashville.

We thought seriously about doing the Above the Clouds Retreat in November. It would be fun to meet some of our favorite FI heroes in person and learn from them. But one of the goals on our retirement bucket list is to spend a month in Ecuador. Frankly, we can spend an entire month in Ecuador on our own for what it would cost to spend a week with Mr. Money Mustache. (Sorry Paula Pant. Maybe we’ll see you in Nevada when our lithium mine takes off.)

If any of you FI-ers out there want to get together with Mr. Groovy and me along the route, give us a shout. Coffee, beer, beignets anyone? We’re up for anything.

T minus one month: Decide on when to give notice to our employers.

Mr. Groovy feels he should give more than two weeks notice. That’s fine. His work team and his supervisors are a hell of a lot more normal than mine. The culture in my organization is, “If you don’t want us, we don’t want you!” If I give too much notice, they may tell me I’m done. And actually, I probably should add something to my six month to do, which is to confirm I get paid for my vacation days. I currently have five weeks of vacation stored up. We’re allowed to carry eight weeks at any given time. I’d love to stockpile my vacation days and cash them all out when I leave. But if they’re not paid in full, I’ll use them up!

I’m positive I’ve forgotten something important. I can feel it. But this is a start. Each month from now on I’ll be keeping tabs on the countdown. Do you think I’ve left anything out? What would be on your Countdown to Freedom list? Do you have any recommendations for the IRA rollovers?





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  1. If you ever find yourself in Wisconsin during your freedom travels, hit me up!

    The only extra thing that I would think about is making sure your asset allocation is where you want it to be but I’m sure that has been a big thing you guys have looked at as you were setting your freedom date. It is exciting that you two are as close as you are to freedom!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      We’d love to meet up with you when we’re in Wisconsin, Thias! It’s on the list. I totally agree with you about making sure our asset allocation works. We may move a little bit more into bonds, before the end of the year. But between Mr. Groovy’s small pension and dividends, we only need $15 additional for expenses (including travel). We should have enough cash to cover the gap for app four years.

  2. Awesome news! I will have to live vicariously through you guys this year since we’re still 3-4 years away! Obamacare is really no sweat at all, assuming your state exchange is run as well as ours. I’m self employed and get my coverage through the exchange and it couldn’t be more convenient. Hopefully you guys have the same experience.

    Being self employed also makes the quitting easy– I’ll just fire my customers 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for commenting TFV! I have a few concerns with health coverage. If our last day of work is Oct 7th, I believe we’re covered by employer plans until the end of the month, but I need to confirm. Would we purchase gap insurance until the end of the year? We’ll have 90 days to apply for COBRA, but it’s expensive and we don’t want it. But if we don’t sign up for COBRA, and don’t purchase gap insurance, can we sign up for COBRA after the fact, if some emergency arises within the 53 days left to the year? And would those emergency expenses be covered retroactively? Also, if I give two weeks notice on Sept 23 and my employer tells me to take a walk, I could be scrambling for coverage for October. More likely this would happen if I give more notice, which is why I’m thinking 2 weeks is plenty.

      By the way, I found your article about dental tourism to Thailand and saved it because I may need it. Thanks in advance.

      • So, a couple of years ago I split the year between W2 (w/ employer healthcare coverage) and 1099 (with self-purchased coverage). Because a change of employers (including going from one employer to no employer) is one of the allowed reasons for purchasing coverage outside of the open enrollment period, you can definitely go straight to coverage on the exchange if you want (I’ve done it on ~14 days notice but it was very tight).

        You can also theoretically gamble on no insurance and sign up for COBRA if an emergency comes up before the end of the year, and yes, it would cover you retroactively to the loss of employer coverage (as long as you pay your premiums going back to the initial loss of insurance). The issue you might then have is being fined for lack of insurance at the end of the year. I don’t know how the fines are assessed, personally, but I’m sure there’s some good info on that somewhere on the internet!

        I’m so glad the Thai Dental Tourism article was interesting to you! It has been an adventure and a really rewarding experience so far. I don’t regret it in the slightest. I still have two more trips (I needed a lot of work!) but the travel fun more than makes up for having to sit in the dentists chair… and that’s coming from a dentist hater!

        • Mrs. Groovy

          We may not want to go straight to coverage on the exchange for the remainder of 2016 (after we quit our jobs). The premiums could be high based on this year’s salaries. We’ll have to play around with the online calculators. There’s no fine for any gap in coverage that is two months or less. One day of coverage in a calendar month counts as a month. Resigning in October leaves us with a two month gap so we’d be OK. But the fines increase in 2016 to $695 per person.

          I’ve had major dental work and unfortunately, I don’t see the need subsiding as I get older. I’ve seen stories on medical tourism that have had good outcomes. But what I’ve seen on dental tourism looks extremely hit or miss – but perhaps because the coverage has been about South and Central America. I’m assuming that dentistry in Thailand is of a higher caliber. I saved the pages from your website in the Pocket app to read over the weekend. Looking forward to it!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks QWFL! Setting the actual date for our last day of work (October 7th) was what made it feel real. We’re very excited!

  3. I think FinCon is more reasonable than the above the clouds retreat. If I had the money I’d totally would go though hehe. Anyway, I think it’s pretty sad how some workplaces take to people quitting. It really says a lot about a company that is like that. Are you guys going to be stopping by Omaha, Nebraska? .

    • Mrs. Groovy

      We missed FinCon in Charlotte, right near us. Mr G started the blog just a few days before and our timing was off. Workplace culture is very strange. I can deal with the weirdness in my organization because I work from home and seldom see any of my coworkers or my boss.

      We won’t get to Omaha on this trip, but it’s on our list! We want to see every state. We’re at 27 right now. Maybe in 2017.

      Thanks for commenting, Jaime.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      No, not really, Stockbeard. Mr. G has a small pension. We have a good cash reserve and we also get dividends. We weren’t planning to withdraw any funds for 3-4 years even if we weren’t in a bear market. The only thing we may need to reconsider is what we do with our employer retirement accounts. If the funds are really low in October, we may just leave them there until they rebound.