My dear dudes,
This is the third interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finances, and related topics.
This time, I bring you ERN from EarlyRetirementNow.com. I hope you enjoy it.
Q1 – Who is ERN?
I’m ERN, or Big ERN. It stands for EarlyRetirementNow.com and Ern/Ernie/Ernest/etc. may or it may not be my actual first name. Right now, I blog anonymously but you’ll see more of me come 2018. I live in the U.S., with my wife and our little daughter.
[Guess our readers will have to wait to know more about you ;)]
Q2 – What do you do for a living and what do you like the most about it?
I am still employed at this time. I hold a Ph.D. in economics and I work for a large financial corporation, specifically, in their asset management division. We help large institutional investors implement smart solutions for their asset management needs. Economics and Finance have always been my passion, together with statistics and number-crunching. This job isn’t always a bed of roses but it’s probably the best I could have hoped for. The pay is great, that’s for sure.
[Always nice to have a Ph.D. on my blog, as we have more in common. You seem to have an exciting job and a great pay. You’ll certainly be out of the rat race in no time.]
Q3 – Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?
I started the blog in early 2016 after discovering the wealth of information and inspiration in the FIRE blog community. I would routinely read and comment on other blogs and forums but to leave a more permanent footprint I started my own blog. I guess the main aim is to show my personal finance approach, which is a bit anti-consensus in many ways (I don’t like bonds, I find the 4% rule too aggressive, I skip the emergency fund, etc.) and invite comments and discussion on my favorite finance topics.
[Its really interesting to see you going against the masses. I am curious to see how this turns out for you]
Q4 – Any big plans for your blog for the near future?
The blog is a bit of a niche player. We publish original research in personal finance and this involves some pretty serious number-crunching, simulations, etc. So, we will continue down that road and write more, especially on our most recent passion: research on safe withdrawal rate rules, which is now a multi-part series on our blog. The plan is to get a few more shout-outs here and there and hopefully grow our readership basis.
[Gotcha. The main reason why I like your blog is really the quality of the content – I like it when it gets really technical, although it’s not the path I am doing down for my own blog]
Q5 – At what age are you most likely to retire from your day job?
I like to retire in early 2018 and depending on whether this will be before or after my birthday that year I’d be either 43 or 44. That may be late for some folks in the FIRE community where you routinely see folks retiring in their 30s or even 20s. But I got a late start to the game because I spent many years graduate school.
Q6 – What do you plan on doing after retirement?
The usual. I will continue blogging, obviously. We will move to a more tax-friendly state with more outdoor activity options and a lower cost of living. We also got a pretty full travel schedule. We got two years before little Miss ERN will start elementary school, so we will use that time to check off a lot of items on our travel bucket list between 2018 and 2020.
[I don’t know why but I think that at some point the idea of homeschooling your kid will pop up and you’ll embrace it :)]
Q7 – What investments do you like the best, and why?
Equities, by far. My target allocation has mostly equities in index funds. I also dedicate about 20% of our net worth to options trading. It involves selling put options on S&P500 index futures. We wrote a post about that strategy on our blog. It’s essentially an equity-like investment because the P&L is very correlated with the S&P500 index return.
I also like real estate but not the landlord duties that come with it. We started a few smaller investments in real estate funds through private equity deals. They are mostly large multi-family rental developments and all the management duties are done by full-time professionals. All I get is a K-1 tax statement. Once in retirement, though, I could imagine shifting more into the direct investments in real estate.
Q8 – How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?
I’ve been to 30 different countries and 32 U.S. states, plus 2 U.S. territories. The places that were most memorable, in alphabetical order:
Arizona (natural beauty: Grand Canyon, Sedona)
Belgium (great food and beer, nice sightseeing)
California (diversity, natural beauty, laid-back attitude)
Florida (beaches, diversity)
France (wine, food, scenery)
Germany (beer, food, scenery)
Hawaii (beaches, food, laid-back attitude)
Italy (sightseeing in Rome, Pisa, Florence, Venice. Italian Alps!)
Mexico (scenery, beaches, friendly people)
New York City (vibe, financial district)
Philippines (food, white sand beaches, friendly people)
[I am pretty curious why you liked Germany so much. Yeh, I don’t like Germany so I am always surprised when people tell me they prefer Germany over Italy or Portugal. :)]
Q9 – What are your goals for 2017?
2017 is the home stretch for early retirement. Top off the retirement savings, sit back and hope for a continuation of the equity rally. Tie up the loose ends at work and get ready to retire!
Q10 – What did you like the most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?
I like the international angle. We seem to have much in common, for example, leaving our country of birth and working abroad, seeking better job opportunities. I like your focus on Real Estate investments and hope to read more on that topic and your progress. One piece of advice: You start most blog posts with “dear dudes,” which is fine for the readers who are actually dudes. Even better for fans of The Big Lebowski, but maybe you should include the ladies of the early retirement and personal finance world as well. Just a thought! 🙂 Otherwise, great job, keep up the good work!
[I may indeed consider it! Thanks for the advice and the interview. All the best.]