5 Years Of Freedom

While I’m not normally a nostalgic person, October marked something of a major milestone in the life of Mr. Tako.  This was my fifth year of freedom from the corporate world!

Although my blog was started back in December of 2015, my last day of work at a “corporate” job was September 30th, 2015.  It took me a few months of unemployment before I finally decided to start writing the blog you see here today.

It’s been an interesting 5-year journey to say the least.  Filled with all the ups and downs, and strange fluids you might expect from raising two kids…

My life didn’t start out “free” of course.  The first 15 years of my career, I was a corporate “drone”.  No bones about it, I was Mr. Worker-bee working for a paycheck.  I had no idea what life might look like “on the other side”.

I only knew I was sick of the politics, the ass-kissing, and corporate back-stabbing that frequently goes on at work.  Some people thrive in that kind of environment, but it sickened me to no end.

Now, after five free years, I can officially say I’ve had a decent taste of the outside world.  I’ve gotten the chance to stand-up and take a look around.  I’ve smelled the roses more than once, and been off the corporate Kool-Aid long enough to know the money-crazed addiction no longer has a hold on me.

After five years, I can give you a clear picture of what life is really like when work is no longer required.


Was It Worth It?

Inevitably the first question everyone asks about financial independence was, “Was it worth it?”  As if in order to reach financial independence you had to make some kind of huge life-altering sacrifice in order to get there.

To hear it from the internet, you’d think limbs would need to be cut off and sold in order to achieve financial independence!  Well, here I am with both arms and legs intact!

The reality is that no large sacrifice was needed to get here.  The cost was almost infinitesimal.  Mrs. Tako and I simply chose to live our lives in a way that was a little bit more mindful, and a little bit more sustainable than many of our peers.  We lived, we saved, and we compounded.

Was it worth it to live a free life over the past five years, with a level of sacrifice that was almost unnoticeable?  Yes, without a doubt!  There’s no contest.  Life is so much better this way!  I often wonder why more people aren’t doing it.

It’s like being on vacation for the rest of your life, but instead of dreading the eventual return to work, you never have to think about work again.

So what have I been doing to fill my time during this 5-year vacation?


Hobby Time

Inevitably when life is no longer about eking out the resources for survival, thoughts turn to leisure projects.  In other words, hobbies.

One of my biggest hobbies over the past 5 years has been this blog.  In total, I’ve written 432 posts, which likely accounts for 3,456 hours of writing (roughly 8 hours per post).  That’s a lot of time invested into a project that barely makes any money!

The truth is, blogging is a labor of love.  A passion project.  I think of this blog as mostly an “online journal”.  It’s the place where I keep a log of our finances, my recipes, my thoughts on investing, and if I’m researching new stock investments, I’ll probably write a post about it.

My hope is that my kids will some day read the blog and learn about financial independence for themselves.  That’s going to be the ultimate payoff for me.  Maybe they’ll pick up a few tips on investing as well!

Besides blogging, I love to build things with my hands.  Usually I try to build useful items around the house — like a Bluetooth speaker or a sitting bench for the front door.

speaker controls  bench
Frequently my building projects are based upon a immediate need– Like a small stand for our raspberry pi, or this picture frame I made for a friend.

raspberry pi camera  frame small
Over the years I’ve also built a number of small furniture pieces too.  Usually made from wood scraps I’ve collected for free.

Side Table standing desk
While I don’t profess to be an expert builder, it’s still fun to create useful things.  Some of the simplest and most basic projects have turned out to be incredibly useful — like our TV stand.

The end result

It was one of the first things I ever built after leaving work, which we used to mount our TV (which I scavenged).  It’s still used it to this day!


Travel Time

One of the most common things people to do on “vacation” is to travel, and we’ve certainly done plenty of that.  While I wouldn’t call ourselves prodigious travelers, we still have plenty of fun despite having young kids in school (which limits our available travel times to summers and holidays)

Where have we traveled?

In 2016, we went to Hawaii for a couple of weeks (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  We soaked up plenty of surf, sand, and sun on the big island of Hawaii.

Hawaii Beach 2

In 2017, we spent a month in Japan (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), and road-tripped around Eastern Washington college towns.  It was a blast to spend so much time in Japan!

traveling by train

In 2018, we traveled to Texas and visited some friends in Houston (Part 1, 2, and 3).  We also spent a week camping around different locations in Washington State (detailed in this post).

johnson space center

In 2019, we went back to Texas to check out Austin and Dallas. Good times were had as we saw different parts of Texas, and met up with some fellow bloggers!  Our annual camping trip was at Deception Pass State Park, and San Juan Island (detailed in this post).

mt bonnell mount bonell
In 2020, we had planned a tour of National Parks in the American Southwest, but COVID-19 ended-up killing those plans.  Instead, we did a beach trip, and visited Whidbey Island.  We also spent a bunch of our spare time hiking, cooking and working on the house.  That’s COVID-life for you.


Pandemics aside, I’m pretty happy with how much we’ve traveled over the last 5 years.  Traveling with young kids is pretty tough, but our boys are just now getting to the age that they can walk several miles and carry their own backpacks with water and snacks.  We’re getting there.

Here’s to hoping 2021 will be a better year for travel!


Eating Time!

If you’ve done any reading about retirement, you’ve probably hear the horror stories of seniors eating rice and cat food in order to survive on tiny food budgets.  Well, that’s no way to live!  Here in the Tako household, food is important.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is eating delicious food.  It’s easy to blow a lot of money on food, but we also try to be mindful about how we consume.  We’re not eating a NY steak every night!  We actually don’t even eat a lot of red meat.  Instead, we actively chose a diet with more vegetable matter instead of heaping meat-filled platters.

Salads are much more common at our table.  It’s healthier for us and considerable cheaper than wolfing down a side of climate-destroying cow every night.

asparagus salad chicken salad
Variety, as they say is the spice of life, and I like to think our plates have been filled with not only abundance but also with great variety.

eggs and salad  Shredded Chicken Tacos
While the depth of my cooking skills probably hasn’t improved much over the last 5 years, the breadth of what I’ve made almost certainly has.  I’ve learned to cook Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, and even a few new American dishes.

glass noodle salad  spring rolled
This blog is filled with hundreds of photos of the different food I’ve made over the last five years.  It’s been a delicious journey!  I’ve even shared a few of my personal recipes on the blog!

meat lovers pizza tonkatsu
We do eat-out occasionally (as you might expect), just not often.  There’s no rule that says we can’t eat out… we just choose not to do it very frequently.

We do most of our “eating-out” when we’re traveling.  Cooking facilities are often not available for travelers (not many hotel rooms have usable kitchens), and it gives us the opportunity to sample more of the local flavor.



Family Time

Over the years, I’ve often said that family is one of the best reasons for financial independence.  I still strongly believe that today.  Having enough free time to spend with your family is important.  When I started this journey my oldest son was 2 years old, and our youngest was about 7 months old.  We spent a lot of time together, both days and nights.

For awhile I couldn’t even sleep properly, probably because I was always “on-call” with the kids.  But it was worth it to see them grow up.

Those early days seem like eons ago.  Tako Jr. #2 wasn’t even walking back then, but that never stopped him from getting into trouble!

Today, the boys are now 7 and 5.  They’re both healthy, happy, and probably fight with each other a bit too much.

These days we spend a lot of time together doing schoolwork (since COVID-19 has us schooling remotely).  I’m thankful to have the free time to spend with them, even though I don’t consider myself a very good school teacher.

Most importantly, financial independence has given me a chance to see my kids grow up.  Without it, I would have been trapped in an office for 10+ hours a day.  I would have hardly had the chance to see them, except on the weekends.

Financial independence has given me the opportunity to know my kids, and it’s been worth it for that alone.



All-in-all, I’d like to believe I’ve learned a bit over the past 5 years.  Hopefully I’ve gained a little wisdom.  I’ve had the opportunity to see, explore, learn, and enjoy the world unhindered by the constraints of a job or “gathering resources” as my day-to-day activity.

Part of my blog is about sharing some of that wisdom with you, the readers.

I’ve been extremely fortunate, but I’ve also made mistakes and grown as a person.  I’ve gotten the chance to lift myself up and look around at the world — most of which still toils away in the daily activity of consuming.  As if that was the sole purpose of existing.

Most people either haven’t heard of financial independence, or they simply don’t believe it’s a real possibility.  I’m here to say, “Yes, it is possible!  There is another way!”

There is a way to live a very good life on “the other side”.  A sustainable life, free from the pressures of work, and filled with time for fun, family, creativity, and adventure.

If I can do it, anyone can do it!


[Image Credit: Flickr]

39 thoughts on “5 Years Of Freedom

  • October 25, 2020 at 6:03 AM

    HUGE congrats! You and others in this space are showing how great it can be, and it’s so awesome to be able to follow along in the journey. I recently celebrated three years of semi-retirement. I purposely choose to stay engaged at work at 20 hours a week even though I don’t have to and have plenty of money to never have to work again. Who knows how long I’ll stay, I waiver back and forth about pulling the plug entirely. We’ll see.

    Keep on showin’ the way and building cool stuff!

  • October 25, 2020 at 6:36 AM

    Congratulations! It’s been a fun adventure for you and a fun one for us to watch. Keep ’em comin’!

  • October 25, 2020 at 8:22 AM

    Well done. And thanks for writing in retirement. It’s great having someone on that side of the ledger putting out great content.

  • October 25, 2020 at 8:34 AM

    Congrats. Its been good reading your blog.

  • October 25, 2020 at 8:46 AM

    Now THAT’S some fun scoop… 5 years is something to truly look back on and smile and how much your life has changed for the better!

    I’m only pushing 2 years of early retirement and I already could never imagine going back. I love the time I have to do different hobbies (none as cool as your building projects!), and more importantly, spending more time with the family. Our road trip this past summer was a ton of fun that could never have happened if we were still working the grind.

    Congrats, my friend!

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:38 PM

      Thanks Jim! After having that free time, don’t you wonder why more people don’t do it? The longer I do this, the more think about it.

      The differences are fairly minimal, and easily implementable. Why isn’t this more popular?

      • October 28, 2020 at 8:29 AM

        Agree 100%! I think it’s just a matter of people not understanding – not understanding that it’s possible to do, that they don’t have to give up what they love to do it, and really just not understanding how the numbers work. That’s where folks like us come in! 🙂

  • October 25, 2020 at 11:08 AM

    Looking forward to joining you, I am negotiating my exit now. I took medical leave as my employer is also sickening and lies about being flexible, not helpful with a young child and elderly parents during a pandemic. My employer is releasing their budget in the next two weeks which I hope includes some hints about buyouts for senior staff. Regardless I am planning to leave soon, meditating and doing yoga ‍♀️ A LOT!
    thank you for sharing Mr. Tako.

  • October 25, 2020 at 1:10 PM

    Congrats on 5 years out of the corporate world! Glad you chose blogging as one of your hobbies. Been enjoying your posts for quite a while now

    Cheers and will be waiting for the 10 years of freedom post.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:38 PM

      Thanks for being such a long-time reader Backpack Finance! It’s always a pleasure to see a comment from you! 🙂

  • October 25, 2020 at 1:18 PM

    Hats off to you for 5 years of freedom from the rat race Mr. Tako!

    As far as the Big 4 you mentioned: Family, Eating, Travel, and Hobbies …I’ve got a few questions:

    – Which do you think has been impacted the most by your financial freedom?
    – Is that different from what you expected?
    – Which area do you think most people would find the most improvement in through financial independence?

    Congrats and Cheers!

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:47 PM

      Most impacted? Family time probably is the biggest positive impact for me. I used to work almost every Saturday and M-Fri from 7am to 7pm. I hardly had time to spend with the kids.

      I also have some time for hobbies now, which is great. I feel like I’m building skills again!

      FI is definitely the better way. Nothing was really unexpected to be honest. I guess the biggest unexpected was how little money I would need to stay entertained. I think I spend less money now than I did before FI!

      It also makes traveling sooo much easier when you can just get-up-and-go at any time. No need to ask a boss or whatever. You just go for however long you want, whenever you want. It’s incredibly freeing.

      That’s probably the biggest area I think most people will see big improvements. So many people are afraid to take time off work it’s ridiculous. It’s like the chains have been lifted. You really ‘feel’ free.

  • October 25, 2020 at 2:13 PM

    Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishment – getting to FI, then RE, and the lovely family you’ve built. We’re “worker-bees” too, pursuing FI. Then I must make the kind of food you make.

  • October 25, 2020 at 11:14 PM

    Hey there.

    Love it. I’m just past two years now and a lot of what you shared resonates strongly with me too.

    We don’t have kids so travel has been much more of ‘life on the other side’ for us. Totally with you on the food front – we even brew our own beer now which is also great fun – and useful!

    It can sometimes feel like you are not part of the ‘real’ world when you are in such a different mind-frame to most. That’s why I started blogging too – to share my tale and show that ‘normal’ people can do it and without living a life of misery to get there!

    Congrats – it’s always awesome to see another making the most of life.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:50 PM

      I agree… it often feels like we’re in a different world than the “real world”. 🙂

  • October 26, 2020 at 12:00 AM

    Hi Mr. Tako,

    Congratulations on your achievement of 5 years of FIRE- that is a great milestone. I’ve been in that state for the past year and although it’s been somewhat of an adjustment period, on balance it is quite enjoyable.

    Stay well out there,

    Mike H.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:51 PM

      Thanks Mike! Indeed it does take time to adjust! I didn’t feel like I really got into the groove of things until about year 3.

  • October 26, 2020 at 12:52 AM

    Congrats, Mr. Tako! I love your pictures of how you spend your time. I think you’ve found a nice balance and certainly making the most of your FIRE life. I’m 7 years into my own exit from traditional work and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Seeing my kids grow up in front of me is a treasure that will never get old as you know firsthand. Wishing you more fun and fulfillment in the next 5 years ahead!

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:52 PM

      Wow, great to see a comment here from you Michael! Congrats on your 7 years! 🙂

  • October 26, 2020 at 5:09 AM

    Congratulations! That is a wonderful achievement and you definitely know what is most important, which is being able to see your kids grow up. That is a key driver for me as I want to be around more for my kids as they grow up. I have found once you have kids you realize just how fast time flies by!

    Wishing you another wonderful 5-years and beyond!

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:53 PM

      Thank you Financial Fred! Time really does go by fast. Enjoy it while you can! 🙂

  • October 26, 2020 at 7:15 AM

    Love this blog! I’ve always been a saver and investor but have only really focused on it in a serious way for about 5 years. My wife and I are seeing our investments reach “critical mass” and my only regret (like many people) is why we didn’t start sooner. It’s such a failure in our society to not teach financial literacy, time value of money, etc. These are basic life skills that I am making sure my kids are well educated about. Keep up the great posts! Thank you.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:54 PM

      Thanks JayMac! Love it when I get positive comments like this! Thankyou!! 🙂

  • October 26, 2020 at 7:24 AM

    Congratulations! I with you 100%. It is so worth it. This low key lifestyle is so much better than wasting your years away in a corporation. It’s funny how time flies when life is good. Enjoy! I think the kids will be grown up before too long.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:55 PM

      Yep, It’s flying by already. Won’t be too long and they’ll be off to college or something.

      Thanks for commenting Joe! 😉

  • October 26, 2020 at 1:51 PM

    Congrats! Getting the chance to watch your kids grow up is great, especially if it’s not only on weekends. Thanks for sharing, hope the next 10 are just as much fun. I’m still a ways off but seeing posts from the other side is just so motivational.

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:55 PM

      Keep at it Matt! Some day this will be you too! 😉

  • October 26, 2020 at 7:59 PM

    Congrats Mr. Tako! Looks like it has been a great 5 years so far with many more to come. The low key lifestyle is important, and being able to spend more time with your kids are just as important. I keep forgetting that our kids are similar in age. 🙂

    • October 27, 2020 at 10:56 PM

      Totally agree Tawcan! We’re just simple family folk, but it’s an easily lifestyle to have.

      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  • October 28, 2020 at 6:59 AM

    What a great post. I’ve only been ‘free’ for a 1.5 years now but can say that I’m having a similar experience. I would add I immensely enjoyed being around my corporate friends but as many will understand, they drop off significantly after a period of time (certainly the pandemic doesn’t make it any easier). Volunteering has helped a great deal. The other volunteers are fabulous and the clients we assist are terrific.

  • October 29, 2020 at 3:48 AM

    very well done MrT,
    I’ll always read this blog, simply because it is quality and resonates greatly. thanks for your continued efforts.
    Martin from Oz.

  • November 10, 2020 at 10:02 AM

    Happy anniversary!

    You’re a beacon to many, me included.

    Keep going, my friend (if I may).


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