I ran the numbers 50 different ways before we stepped away from our jobs. I tried to find every story out there. How much would this really cost? Would this set us back and waste all the work we put in? Is this the stupidest idea I’d ever had? Well, we are over two years in. Here’s what happened and all the numbers.

Two Year Mini-Retirement Cost

Year 1: Mini-Retirement Recap

I turned 33. Gave birth to our 6th child (2nd biological). I started writing this blog. Went full in on our first minimalism challenge. Got rid of close to 50% of our stuff. We visited friends and family. Traveled on a 6 week trip in our pop-up camper. Got my first freelance writing job. Adam took classes that were interesting to him at the community college with his GI Bill. I gave a talk to a MOPS group. Build out our master bathroom from the studs.

Here is what all that cost:

How much does a mini-retirment cost

2016 Expenses

Our giving for 2016 was $6400. I use to track giving in these expenses but now mention them separately. 

Year 2: Mini-Retirement Recap

I turned 34. I started doing some marketing/branding work. I started money mentoring, which actually turned out to be mostly blog/entrepreneur mentoring. Mentoring retreat in Vegas with my best friend. Did some public speaking. Planted a great garden. Traveled to the beach for 2 weeks. Renovated our rental property. Traveled to see family. Built out a blog course based on 1-on-1 mentoring. Launched a Mini-Retirement course. Went to FinCon. I doubled down on my fitness and hired a personal trainer. I made 25 new friends and let a few go. Earned about $10,000 and reinvested 100% into continuing to grow this thing (no business expenses or rental expenses show up in our personal costs; they are all accounted for separately).

And, somewhere in all of that, I became more myself than I have been in a long time.

Here is what that cost:

Mini-retirement cost with family

2017 Expenses

Our total giving for 2017 was $9350.

Total Cost of a 2 Year Mini-Retirement

two year mini-retirement expenses

2016 + 2017 Expenses

Expense explained:

Healthcare: I get a LOT of questions about our healthcare and have never actually written about it in a post, but instead answered about 50 questions in the comments. So here are all the details (and where I will direct all questions in the future!)

Adam retired from the military, and we are covered by Tricare. While we don’t pay a monthly premium, it’s clearly not free. Healthcare is our 3rd largest expense, coming in at $4747 for the two years. We pay up to $450 a year for a deductible before insurance kicks in. Then we pay 20% of the negotiated rate (which sometimes is much lower than the standard rate!)

I did pay $60 a month for dental just for me. Which was a poor choice because it rarely even pays out 50% of the cost, and the yearly payout cap is $2,000. This will be canceled soon, and I’ll just apply my $700+ of yearly premiums to pay cash and probably come out ahead most years. Two cleanings run me $250.

Although healthcare is still a big expense for us, and Tricare isn’t excepted everywhere, I am SO thankful we have it. There are many healthcare options, and it’s something I cover in-depth in my mini-retirement course. But Tricare is a consistent, affordable, and easy option for us. I didn’t give healthcare a thought when Adam joined the military (I was 20), but now it’s one of the biggest benefits for us. Funny how that changes. =)

Hidden Lake hike in Glacier National Park


We don’t have one! We paid cash for our house. Still have the property tax, insurance, utilities, and upkeep, but no mortgage payment.


I use to track my giving in with regular expenses, but this year I decided to track those separately. I went back into 2016 and took them out of the software. To be honest, sharing your giving (especially in some circles) is one of the most taboo things a person can do. But years ago, I worked as a youth pastor, and I realized that unless I talked openly and plainly about things, eyes would glaze over. It’s hard to learn about things we can’t talk about.

Our giving for the two years was $16,100. I know a lot of people struggle with the idea of giving, and some assume they will start once they reach financial independence. But starting to give when you no longer earn an income is very challenging.

Our number reflects 15+ years of growing into this practice. Just start where you are. Even a well-placed $10 a week can make an impact in people’s lives. We keep a separate account for our giving, called our giving fund. It’s kind of like a Donor Advised Fund, except just a checking account with a name!

We had saved $50,000 in cash before we left our jobs, that plus some tax returns have helped support our giving. If our online income grows, a large chunk of that will be directed towards new giving.


Our gift spending is abnormally low. It’s not that we are grinches! Gifts are where we use our credit card rewards points. We redeem gift cards to give as gifts or use those to buy gifts. We average about $400-$700 in cashback a year. We put all our rental expenses on our cards and use rotating categories to try to get 2-5% back on all our spending. Almost 100% of our spending goes on our cards.

Which year is “normal” spending?

I would say they are both in our normal range. In 2016 there were a lot of big expenses (having a baby, building out a master bathroom, new upright freezer, 6-week trip, other trips, etc.). I would say that is our normal high spending year. 2017 ended up with very few big expenses. We replaced the washing machine, did about 5 weeks of traveling, but no big renovations (and we really don’t have any left to do). We didn’t really try to spend less (our food bill was much higher!), but a few big expenses came in. 2017 was kind of our baseline spending. I can’t imagine a year coming in much lower for us. 2018 might be closer to 2016. We are planning a very large 8+ week road trip (although we might rent out our house while we are gone to offset the cost).

Passive Income vs. Expenses

Combined Income from 2 rentals: $1200

Military Pension: $1450

Total: $2650 a month or $31,800 year

Our two-year expense average was: $28,400

So our yearly expenses can grow an extra $3,400 a year before we need to start earning income or pulling from investments.

you tube reno bath remodel

My first attempt at setting tile!


set tile yourself save money

Almost done!

Net Worth Update!!!

I remember being about 22, pouring over compound interest charts. You know, the ones that say if you save $5 a day at 10%, how much you’ll have in 20 years. We took a lot of crap those early years. We were trying to pay down our $50,000 in debt. And instead of catching our breath when we paid it off and relaxing a bit, I plowed headlong into trying to save our first $100,000. Those first few years of compound growth felt like a joke. A silly farce that I wanted to believe but doubted more days than not.

Our Net Worth had just cracked $500,000 when we decided to jump ship from the 9-5.

Two years of chasing down our most meaningful life later, we are at $750,000+.

Wait. What?!? (Falls over from shock…)

Honestly, it’s hard for my brain even to process that. We’ve never earned $100,000 a year, let alone SAVED that much.

So, all my apologies to compound interest. All the times I doubted you. Or felt like a fool for believing in you. You rock, compound interest!

Minus the mortgages, our three homes come in at $515k, stock $210k, and cash $45,000. The strong market winds have been favorable for the last few years.

So what’s next for us????

Well, first off, you should sign up for my emails if you want to get the inside scoop on all of that! But the short answer is A LOT!

My theme for the year is going to be: Connection.

More meetups, more 1-on-1 mentoring helping people build out entrepreneurial things, more speaking, more conferences, more in-person, more video, and more travel.  Yup, more connection.  But most of that stuff fills up just from my email list folks, so it never shows up on the blog. (Hint, hint)


I hope all this is helpful to you guys! I was so nervous before we stepped away from our jobs. I searched the internet top to bottom to see who else was actually doing this. What did it look like, what did it cost? I know it’s weird to share all these numbers. But I hope it’s useful to give you a full picture of what this life looks like and what it all costs. In all the stories and numbers I share, I hope you can find a small piece that resonates with you and makes you go, “I think we could do something like that too!”

For Conversation:

What are your plans for 2018?

Any focus word?

Should I keep doing my monthly expense reports?