Late Starter to FI Series #37 – Enough Time To …

Welcome to the Late Starter to FI series!

I am a Late Starter – I did not discover FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) concept until I was 47. This was way later, I thought than others who seem to have it all together in their 20s and 30s.

Since I started to write about my own journey, I have discovered there are many more Late Starters like me, yay! It is such a relief knowing I am not alone. 

I want to share our stories, our unique perspectives and show that it is absolutely not too late for us.

So in this series, I particularly highlight those of us who start our FI journeys in our 40s, 50s and 60s. And explore questions such as ‘where do we start’, ‘can we still retire early(ish)’, ‘what are the specific challenges for us late starters’. We look at our past, not to castigate ourselves but so that you can learn from us.

Please join in the conversation in the comments below. I encourage you to share your story if you fit the profile of a late starter. You absolutely don’t have to be a blogger or podcaster to share your story. 

Please email me at or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.

And if you’ve missed any of the previous stories, you can catch up here – Late Starter to FI Series


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photo of water, sky and mountain
More time to enjoy nature

I’m excited that today’s Late Starter, Mrs ETT agreed to share her story. She’s a frequent commenter on this blog (thank you!) and used to blog at Enough Time To.

I didn’t realise that our stories had a lot of similarities, one of which was that we’d both paid off our homes when we found FIRE.

Mrs ETT no longer blogs at her site so please comment below as a way of connecting with her.


A little about me

Thanks, Latestarterfire, and hello fellow FIRE followers!
Mr ETT and I are DINKS who moved to regional New South Wales in 2018. I work in data after a varied career in science, health support and a small stint in teaching. Mr ETT works in cybersecurity.
We are in our late 40s/early 50s. I used to blog at enoughtimeto, about using FIRE to buy time to do all the things I want to do. Like blogging again, for example …


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Childhood memories of money

I had an upbringing in the 70s where Dad worked and Mum stayed at home, until we reached high school (I think?). I guess we were middle class. Money didn’t feature strongly in my childhood.
My earliest money memory is going on an excursion to the Australian Museum in primary school. We were allowed to take money to spend at the shop. I can’t remember what I bought, but it was all for me.
When I got home, instead of being excited, Mum accused me of being selfish for not buying things for the family. I still remember that she said, “you used to be so generous”. I couldn’t have been older than 10.
Another memory is that we were all at the bank, and Dad had withdrawn a chunk of cash, which was placed in an envelope. I’d never seen so much money! I was excited and tried to ask them about it, but (rightly) I was shut down because it had to be a secret that he was carrying it on his person.
I got my first casual job at 14 years and 9 months old. We were paid in yellow envelopes that I walked straight to the bank with and deposited. Mum taught me to budget in a lined notebook, but even then, there was no discussion of household finances, other than we were expected to pay a token amount of board.
I think all these experiences added up to me being a saver. Spending it in the wrong way got me into trouble; money is secret and needs to be controlled.
Of course, since discovering the FIRE community, I’m learning that there are other ways to think about and use money.

Lightbulb moment

We had paid off our mortgage, and I was feeling lost. I don’t like debt, so we paid extra on every single payment from the beginning (interest rates ranged from 6% to 9%).
Once that was done, however, there was no new goal. I had no clue that there even could be one!
We succumbed to some lifestyle creep, but the feeling that we should be doing more became so uncomfortable that I started adding extra to our Superannuation (retirement account). It was the only thing I knew about at the time.
The story of how I discovered the life-changing world of FIRE has been told on Adventures with Poopsie’s blog. That must have been around 2015/16, so I was in my early 40s.
Latestarterfire – I love your Frugal Hound story – Mrs Frugalwoods inspired me to start living more frugally too. That blog post was published in 2018 – it’s so amazing what you’ve achieved since then!

Our financial situation then

At the time, we had little to no debt. Maybe a car loan? But by then we were borrowing a maximum 50% of the value of a car so it wouldn’t have been much. These days, we save for replacement cars, no more loans.
The only retirement savings we had were in Super, and we weren’t contributing extra. We had paid off the home loan using an offset account, which I kept open to act as an Emergency Fund. Of course, at the time I didn’t know that’s what it was called.
I had some NRMA shares that had been parcelled out to members when they initially floated, so no work/research done by me.

I also held a Perpetual Managed Fund, as it had been recommended in Money Magazine, but again, I didn’t understand it. At all. When I finally closed it, I realised it was a balanced approach that had probably lost me money over the years. Live and learn.

First steps on the path to FI

Reading, reading, reading and more reading! Also listening to some FIRE podcasts.
I think my first action step was to put a small amount of money into Acorns (at the time, Raiz now). That allowed me to dip my toe in the water with about $1000 and get a feel for how the markets moved up and down.
After that, we opened a Vanguard Managed Fund. That is still where the bulk of our savings outside of Super lie. I also started using YNAB and revising our expenses down.
More time to visit wineries

How far along the path to FI are we now?

Unbelievably further than I thought we could be. I find it gob smacking how simply having a plan and implementing it can grow your money so significantly.
Sometimes I think the numbers can’t be real, and I find myself back in the spreadsheets and double checking the budget. We are about 70% along, and we’ve never been hard-core FIRE. I used to feel sad seeing other people’s savings rates and comparing ours. Yet, even so, here we are!
How do I feel? This is hard. Suddenly, the end is in sight.
There is a real possibility we can retire in 5 years, but we are in the long, boring middle. We are Coast FI and Flamingo FI.
Latestarterfire – Coast FI is where you’ve saved enough that you’d reach FI at traditional retirement age without investing a cent more;
Flamingo FI is coined by Money Flamingo – where you’ve saved half your FIRE number and you’ll reach FIRE in the next 10 years without investing any more (assuming a 7% rate of returns) You can semi retire and just need to work enough to support your current lifestyle.
Mr ETT has been making serious noises about enjoying our time now instead of waiting. I also worry that I spend too much of my time envisioning the future, and not enough living in the present.
Hearing about the whole Die with Zero* conversation (I haven’t read it yet), we are fighting to establish a new normal. If we let go a bit, can we still reach FI at 55?
Do we still want to fully retire, or would/could we continue working, just less? Will our FIRE number increase if we start spending more?
Although this is confusing and a bit painful, to be honest there’s no wrong answer. Whatever we decide will bring its own benefits.
*Latestarterfire – I have read it and I like the philosophy. It’s about doing things with your money while you can. For example, there are things on your bucket list that are meant to be done at certain ages. It’s too late to backpack around Europe in your 70s.
It’s not about being irresponsible with money. And if you want to leave a legacy to your family or charity, then set aside that amount of money first and spend the rest. Instead of spending your money and leaving the leftovers to your family/charity when you die.

How did COVID affect our strategy?

COVID didn’t change our strategy. We were both lucky enough to work in industries that weren’t affected, although we had relatives who couldn’t work due to stay at home orders.
But the relief of being where we were with our FIRE savings can’t be overstated. Even if both of us lost our jobs, we could have continued with no change in lifestyle. If called upon, we could have helped our family members.
We are so grateful to the entire FIRE community for sharing their knowledge and experience.

Specific challenges or advantages of starting late

Time is the challenge. But as I said above, even when you think you don’t have enough time, you might be completely surprised at what you can achieve.

“Early” is relative. When we first started FIRE, our initial goal was to retire before pension age, at 67. Then it dropped to 60. Now our stretch goal is 55. If you’d told me that in 2016, I would have laughed and laughed.

Starting late means we have life skills, and a whole range of contacts. Hopefully we have more experience in research and the ability to take a balanced look at things.

Depending on our past, we might be earning more than we’ve ever done. And if nothing else, maybe we can look back at our pre-FIRE selves and enjoy the memories of what we did with the money back then 😀

What's next?

Figuring out whether we continue to push for the next five years, or whether we slow down and take a Flamingo FI approach. Or maybe some balance between the two. Continue to read and listen to others in the FIRE community, and to share the concept in person where there’s some interest. Maybe one day I’ll begin blogging again!

Back to Latestarterfire

Thank you, Mrs ETT for sharing your story!

It’s interesting to read about your childhood money memories and how that has shaped you as a saver. It reminds me that we can unwittingly pass on our money stories to the younger generation.

I totally agree with you that it’s “gob smacking how simply having a plan and implementing it can grow your money so significantly.” It’s hard to envision it when we first begin our FIRE journey. And that’s why it’s so important to just start anyway.

I think we are at the same stage of our FIRE journey. I know exactly what you mean by the long, boring middle 🙂 You can see that the end is in sight. But you’re not quite there yet.

I feel your questions keenly – “If we let go a bit, can we still reach FI at 55? Will our FIRE number increase if we start spending more?” because these are the same questions I ask myself.

It’s all a balancing act and I can’t wait to see what you decide in the end. Whatever you decide, you’ll have enough time to spend in nature and visit wineries 🙂


Are you in the long, boring middle years of pursuing FIRE? What are your thoughts about reaching your destination?

13 Replies to “Late Starter to FI Series #37 – Enough Time To …”

  1. We are in the boring middle part with a 5-6 year horizon and like Mrs. ETT said, it’s hard to stay focussed on the now rather than the future and really live for today. I’m thrilled we are on track for an early retirement but that 5 or so years is dragging.

    How to enjoy everyday now is the big question.

    1. But it’s a good question and a good ‘problem’ to have!

      The years will fly by 🙂 And when you reach ‘the end’, it’ll be another beginning … and you’ll have a better idea of what you’re doing because you’ve had this time to discover what you enjoy & love doing.

      1. “…you’ll have a better idea of what you’re doing because you’ve had this time to discover what you enjoy & love doing.” This is so true. We are building up our connections with groups now, and we both intend to still be doing those activities when we FIRE.

    2. Exactly, Lisa. I didn’t feel like this until the last 12 months or so. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy my life now, I do! I enjoy parts of my job, and we have plenty going on socially and with activities & travel. But I can’t help but imagine when I have the time to do more of both.

      Congratulations on making it this far, let’s hope we can both share good new stories in 2028!

  2. I’m a late starter. 40 this year and female. Husband is 40 and I’m trying to get him to read a book on FIRE from Dave Gow. I’m probably 6 weeks in. We have been barefoot investors for ages. We have $25k in emergency money. We are excellent at budgeting. Including the emergency money, bill budget & savings there is $90k on the offset. But we never had a retirement plan. We still have a $500k mortgage. I think the plan will be to keep the mortgage ticking over and push the investing in shares side. I’ve been putting $500/ft into shares the last 2 months but definitely need my partner to come on board too. About to go on a holiday so will buy him Dave’s book to read ✌️

    1. That is an excellent plan – to have your partner on board and reading Dave’s book is definitely a great start 🙂

      Honestly, as you are already excellent savers and budgeters a la Barefoot – once you have a plan, you’ll be fine.

      Also, don’t discount superannuation – you’re closer to the age when you can access it and the tax advantage is great.

      Just bear in mind that many of the FIREes are young and see super as a bonus only.

      But late starters like us, by the time we’ve accumulated our savings/investment and ready to retire, we’ll only have a decade or less before we can access super.

      This is NOT financial advice – please do your research

    2. Fantastic, Cara. It took me over 12 months to get Mr. ETT on board, and I’ll always be the driving force. It’s difficult at the beginning because you don’t see much progress and it’s still not a mainstream approach. But now he too can see how far we’ve come, it makes a big difference. Some of his mates have even come to him to talk about money and budgeting! You’ve got all the skills and tools to make this work for you.

    3. Dave’s book Strong Money Australia is awesome, super simple and straightforward. Ive gifted dozens of copies to friends and family, hopefully they read them lol

  3. Thanks for sharing your backstory, Mrs ETT, it was an enjoyable read. I reckon I’m CoastFI but that’s not what I’m going for – hopefully only a few years away from ‘normal’ FIRE although I won’t be mortgage-free by then but that’s ok, it’s part of my plan. With recent increases in the cost of living however, I’ve found that I’ve had to move my FIRE goalposts further away as I can’t put away as much as I would like. Still need to live for today while keeping an eye on the end goal.

    BTW LSF – been having trouble finding your blog for some reason – I must have had a dodgy link but hi again 🙂

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