064: The Psychology of Early Retirement | Marla Taner

We’re thrilled to finally have our friend Marla Taner on the show! Marla retired in 2013 from a lucrative career in marketing—at the age of 43! Since then, she’s learned what brings lasting happiness and fulfilment in retirement. (Surprise, it’s not the shiny, exciting things.)

Marla also chats with us about being close friends with all the OG FIRE bloggers/podcasters (Paula Pant, Mr. Money Mustache, the Mad Fientist, JD Roth, and more)! It’s a candid, inspiring conversation with a born and raised Canadian girl—we hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again to listener Alexi, who volunteered to edit the transcripts for our show notes. We’re so grateful for your help, Alexi!

Click to view transcript

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Money Mechanic
Welcome to Explore FI Canada, where we investigate the financial independence topics important to you. Join us as we learn how to optimize our lives, save money and invest for our future. We’ll go coast to coast interviewing experts and chatting with Canadians about their inspirational FI journeys.

Chrissy
PolicyMe is Canada’s easiest way to buy life insurance. In about 15 minutes, you’ll receive a free no obligation quote, and an instant decision. Plus, most people won’t require a medical exam. Visit exploreficanada.ca/policyme to get your quote today.

Hey everyone! This is a heads-up to let you know that the audio for today’s interview isn’t as great as you’re used to. We had some technical issues, and had to use Zoom to record instead of our regular platform. Even so, Max worked his magic, and it still sounds great! I hope you all still enjoy the interview—it’s a good one!

Money Mechanic
Welcome back listeners Money Mechanic is with you again. And Chrissy, you know what I gotta say, don’t you? We didn’t get to say this last episode, because you hadn’t done the big reveal. What is your big reveal?

Chrissy
Well, we are FIRE!

Money Mechanic
Congratulations. Thank you. That’s pretty amazing!

Chrissy
Yeah. But I keep saying to everyone, it doesn’t feel real yet. He’s still not retired. That’s not till a few weeks later. But yeah, we’re getting close. It’s getting more and more exciting.

Money Mechanic
That’s super exciting. And you’ve written a pretty detailed blog post, on your blog, Eat Sleep Breathe FI. So people can check that out. And I noticed one of the comments on there was a request to do a show about it. So we’ll look at that at a future date to dig into it. And yeah, I’m like, I’m really jealous because now both people are the guest today is also FIRE. So this is like, this is the FIRE show today. We’re throwing FI completely out. This is a FIRE show.

Chrissy
Yeah. And our guest is a longtime FIRE person. She’s been retired quite a while.

Money Mechanic
So this is what’s really interesting. And I’m really happy that Marla decided to join us on the show because she’s an accidental FIRE but yet has met all our FIRE heroes and drank beer and and I even heard on one show she might have had Scotch with the Mad Fientist and or maybe she didn’t. I don’t know, we don’t have to divulge that. But, you know, I’m envious that she’s been to fin con because that got interrupted for me in 2019. I couldn’t go down there. So yeah, there’s a lot of sort of interesting, fun things to talk about with Marla, and welcome to the show. You’ve been fired for how long? Let’s hear a little bit about your backstory.

Marla
Well, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I keep saying seven years, but I guess we keep getting older. Yeah. So I think it’s eight years I retired when I was 43. Which I just have to I mean, the pause and congratulations to Chrissy I’m so happy for you.

Chrissy
Thank you.

Marla
I don’t want to disclose your age, but it did say on your blog you are also 43. So I retired at 43. And you’re 43 now so yeah, even more things we have in common. So yes, I’m delighted to join you guys. It’s been a little while I think I’m aging out of getting to claim that I’m early retired.

Chrissy
Oh, not at all. No, you did it. You reached it. And I am so excited to have you on because I’m still a little star struck by you because I couldn’t believe that you’re from Vancouver. And you know all these OG FIRE bloggers and people like you. You don’t just know them. You’re good friends with them. Our hero Mr. Money Mustache is a good friend of yours, which just blows my mind. I think it’s so cool that you’re you’re this close to all these people that we really look up to and that we followed for so many years.

Marla
Well, I think the great news, I mean, it’s the same as me, I’m a total fangirl. And it’s kind of surreal to me that I’m friends with some of these people, especially Mr. Money Mustache. And when I’m around him, I always first, I called myself a stalker. And then second, I always feel like I’m not myself when I’m with him because I’m so giggly like. So I mean, all of them, I would say they really live up to expectations. Like if you’re a fan of them, obviously, each of the sort of big bloggers or big personalities, and FI, they’re all different, and they each have their own personality. But I think what makes them great. And what made them speak to me is they each have their own voice and their own personality. And if you follow that they don’t disappoint. When you meet them in person, you’re like, wow, like, I feel like I know them. But then the mistake that I always make is I think they must know me just as well. They don’t know me at all. So that part could be kind of embarrassing.

Chrissy
Well, they all know you really well now, including I know Jonathan and Brad also have mentioned that you’re good friends with them, which I think is just so cool. You’re really entrenched in the whole community,

Marla
Which is I guess so. I mean, I did meet Jonathan and Brad from ChooseFI right before they started the podcast so it’s kind of enlighting for me I’m a big fan to listen to them and follow their story because, man that podcast took off. So yeah,

Money Mechanic
It sure did. Now, you’ve been on this will be in our show notes. And Chrissy I dropped the ball a little bit at the beginning of the show here. We wanted to give a shout out to our volunteer transcription person, Alexi, (Hi!) thank you so much for spending the time to create detailed shownotes transcribed for all the listeners who want to go on and check out links and what we actually said,

Chrissy
Yeah, I’m so grateful to Alexi for his help. And it just frees me up to do other things. So thank you, Alexi, you’ve really done a huge job for us there. (You’re very welcome!)

Money Mechanic
Yeah. And along those same lines that I did want to mention about the show notes is Marla, you’ve been on three previous podcasts that we were able to find, maybe there’s more, you can email us, but you’ve been on ChooseFI, you’ve been on the Mad Fientist. And you’re also on What’s Up Next. So those will be posted in the show notes for people that want if they haven’t heard them to go back and listen, because they’re really good shows. And we’re gonna dive into a little bit of the things you talked about in there. And one of the things I kind of want to start off with is, how did you find out that you were FI? Because you didn’t? You weren’t on an FI journey like the rest of us for years and years and years? What happened? How did you just like, what happened? How did you become FI? Or FIRE? I should say?

Marla
Well, I guess I mean, the cool thing on the one hand was that I was always a good saver. So I knew that I was saving, I knew I was unusual that I never bought a new car. And I did so many of the FI principles. But I just thought I just came from a frugal family. I didn’t really talk about it with other people, even though they knew because they could see I didn’t have any outward appearance of earning the kind of salary I earned. Or, you know, I didn’t behave like other people did that, that had the kind of salary I had. So I was always a saver, but they didn’t really know what I was saving for other than this sort of proverbial, you know, saving for your future or saving for a traditional retirement. And so a couple things happened. One, I, sorry for the pause, I guess what I stumbled on was, I had sold a house. And I had a whole bunch of thankfully, a whole bunch of profit. And I was so paranoid about how to invest that money that I just thought Oh, I better like read everything I can about investing in the stock market. And so I actually started with this is good for Canadian listeners, it’s exciting to be on with the Canadian content podcast, the blog, greaterfool.ca, which you guys probably are both aware of that Garth Turner has written for ever. And it’s mostly a real estate, I’d guess you’d call him a real estate bear because he’s been a real estate bear for a long time. But he also is really smart. And he’s witty and really smart about Canadian politics and Canadian investing in the economy. And so I really followed him for a long time. And he has like probably one of the most robust comments sections I’ve ever seen. And that’s where I found Mr. Money Mustache is somebody linked to Mr. Money Mustache. And the second I found it like, I know, there’s some people who are turned off by his style. But those of us that love his style, as soon as you read the very first thing, you’re hooked and you just start reading more and more and more and more. So that’s basically what happened. And then very soon after I found I guess within a year with finding Mr. Money Mustache, and then he led me to JL Collins, which is JLCollinsnh.com You guys probably all know about also, as soon as I found those two blogs very soon after they announced that there was going to be the Chautauqua in Ecuador. And I just said to myself, You know what, I’m looking at these numbers. And I’m thinking I am maybe I’m very close to retiring. Maybe I should go there and see what they think.

Chrissy
What year was that?

Marla
Accidental FIRE. That’s kind of what happened.

Chrissy
It was, Yeah. So what year did you discover Mr. Money Mustache?

Marla
I don’t know if it was the end of 2011 or 2012.

Chrissy
Oh, that’s right at the beginning of his blog.

Marla
It must have been 2012 then because I definitely wasn’t one of the beginning people. So the Chautauqua was in 2013. So I’d say about a year before that I probably started reading.

Money Mechanic
So you go to Ecuador to meet a bunch of people you’ve never met? You’re just like, While they’re bloggers so we’ll see what they have to say. So what did you have to get up and say, Here’s my spreadsheet. Here’s like, you know, you’ve got some giant spreadsheet. What do you guys think? How did it go down?

Marla
Well, it was cool, like so the Chautauqua is really special. And I know it’s when we talk about the evolution of FI it has changed a little bit too but that very first one so I went to the very first one and with your ticket you got two sessions with whichever speaker you wanted of your choice and you got an hour with each of them. So when you think of how much you would pay to go spend an hour with Mr. Money Mustache or spend an hour with Jim Collins like, it just seemed like nonsense.

Money Mechanic
Well you’re telling me that I can’t just go buy Mr. Money Mustache and beer and sit down have a beer with him. He would like charge me an hourly fee? Come on.

Marla
Oh you could but I’m not sure you could get to having that beer with them. That part’s tricky. I mean, he would have a beer with people. But whether he would say, Yeah, this is the time I really want.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, fair enough.

Marla
I don’t know.

Money Mechanic
Carry on, sorry for interrupting.

Marla
Yeah. Oh, no, that’s okay. So yeah, I didn’t really share my number. I didn’t know what the sharing would be like. I’m also as you saw with our technical difficulties at the start of the podcast. I’m not a really technical person. So I don’t even think I even had proper spreadsheets. Like I’m embarrassing the way I do stuff. But I was able to talk through my numbers with them. And yeah, that’s kind of what happened. So most people do though, at those events, they come much more prepared than I do, did. And they bring paperwork with them, and whether they share with the speakers or the other guests, because that’s the thing is the other guests are this wealth of information. And those people want to spend just as much time you know, sort of debating and discussing everyone’s numbers. And anyway, became very clear, very quickly, that I really could do it. And I pretty much retired on the spot.

Chrissy
On the spot! That’s unbelievable. Yeah, life changing, right?

Marla
Oh, absolutely. I mean, from what I read, the very first post by Pete, it was life changing, because I was like, what there’s other people who think like, like, I mean, I don’t think like him, I think he’s like, a genius. I wouldn’t put myself in his category. But just the idea that people would save. And the piece I was missing, to be honest, was the investing piece. So I’ve been putting stuff in traditional RRSPs and a 401k When I worked and lived in the States for a few years, but I was just doing regular mutual funds. I didn’t know anything about index investing until I stumbled on all these things.

Chrissy
Now, can we rewind a bit because on the other podcasts you’ve been on there US shows and this is a Canadian show, and I want to showcase that you are through and through a Canadian girl. Can you share a little bit about where you were born and how you ended up in Vancouver, and I have a bit of nostalgia because one of the teams you work for is no longer here. And I think it’s really, so let’s go back and tell us where you were born and raised.

Marla
Sure. I was born and raised in North York. So that’s a suburb of Toronto, now part of the mega city of Toronto. So at the time, it felt very suburban. I went to Earl Haig Secondary School. Shout out! And yeah, both my parents were teachers. My dad retired, my mom always worked part time. My dad retired at 55. My grandfather had retired at 60, which I think was very unusual for his era. He was born in 1909. So yeah, I just was raised with very, like we did so many things that are now in vogue, like house exchanges. And our family didn’t do things that the we didn’t have the expensive vacations or the expensive clothes, but we had a lot of time together and a lot of fun. So yeah, I grew up in Toronto, I went to I came out to SFU in Vancouver, or Burnaby, where the campuses for university, and I never left. I started my career here. So I’m in Vancouver now. I worked in professional sports my whole career. And I worked, that I just sort of fell into I wasn’t a big sports person. But it was the usual like friend of a friend recommended like, Oh, do you want to be a temp for a week or two for the owner of the team’s assistant? I was like, Oh, sure. That sounds amazing. So I did that. But it was at a very exciting time for our teams in Vancouver. They were building a new arena, which is now Rogers Arena. And when I started I could I got noticed, I guess because I was a hard worker and I didn’t mind pitching in and everything from garbage and photocopying, coffee making to whatever they wanted me to write or email or file papers and it just kind of went from there.

Chrissy
Yeah, that was an exciting time for Vancouver because it was the Canucks and the Grizzlies and, sad that the Grizzlies are no longer here. Yeah, and that was what took you away.

Marla
The Grizzlies were our NBA team. They were here only for five years. And then when the team got sold and moved to Memphis, I move with the team and they became the Memphis Grizzlies. And I went from the worst marketer in the world to a genius.

Money Mechanic
That’s fantastic.

Chrissy
So you’re with the Canucks and the Grizzlies. And then the Grizzlies took you down to Memphis and you ended your career there. Was it in Memphis that your career with them ended?

Marla
Yes. So that’s what I ended working for the pro sports teams. And then after four years, we have built a new arena there. Was an awesome project, but I really missed home. I highly recommend Memphis as a city to visit but not a place to call home. So I came back to Vancouver I actually worked for the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. That was a casino company and they recruited me because of their race horse business, so it was sort of a sports marketing and entertainment company. So that didn’t last too long, I got laid off at a corporate restructuring six months after I started. And so that was, it was very rough. It was great, because it brought me back to Vancouver. And I would say it really did play a big part in my early retirement also, because I had all that time, I wound up suing them. So I had, it was over a year of which I also do not recommend I had HR people say, you know, you should never sue because it just prolongs your anger, and the difficulty of getting through it. But what it did do was give me a lot of time to like, cool, it was almost like being retired, where it’s like, what am I gonna do with my time? How will I figure out my money, all these things? So it was good in some ways, but very difficult for sure.

Chrissy
And so I am sure when you went to the Chautauqua, that you were really ready and to be done with all that.

Marla
Yeah I think so. I mean, I think part of it, too, was having a job in sports, where your job is really your lifestyle. So it was a lot of hours, and really fun. But when I left that, and came back to Vancouver, and certainly when I tried that, working for a public company, and, you know, casino companies, you don’t kind of have that pure love that people have for, for where I used to work. So I didn’t realize at the time, like how important it was to have a job where you can feel proud of what you did. And so it became very obvious when I worked for a casino company that, oh, I don’t think I want to work for a company that doesn’t really align with my values, even though and I knew it at the time. But I was excited about both the money and the fact that they were going to move me back to Vancouver. So you probably don’t learn these things until afterwards, how important they are. But, you know.

Chrissy
Yeah, the hindsight.

Marla
It’s a gift to me for sure. Yeah. So yeah, and I did work for myself for a couple of years after that, doing some sports, marketing, consulting. And again, like that was really fun. But it also shaped like what I didn’t want to do. And it was like, wow, this is a lot of work. You get paid really well in consulting when you get the gig but so much work to try to land the gig. So that wasn’t super up my alley either. So anyway, early retirement, that is up my alley for sure.

Money Mechanic
So let’s talk a little bit about that. Because you’re 43 when you accidentally retired or you got told to retire by the experts as they were at Chautauqua and you said you had you’d kind of had some time to think about what you’re going to do. What did you do? And how did that plan work out for you over the first sort of year? What does that look like? Because a lot of us are trying to figure out what it is that we’re going to do?

Marla
Yeah, I mean, I think I might have misspoken. I think it helped me in terms of when I had that time off from when I was suing the company and I’d been laid off. Like, I think I had a lot of time for self reflection, I worked through a lot of identity issues, which I think really do flow into what happens when you early retire and trying to dislocate your identity of what you do versus who you are. So I have worked quite a bit on that. But I don’t think I’ve made a nuts and bolts plan, which I think I would very much recommend for others in terms of what I would do with my time and what an actual retirement day in and day out would look like. I think it was more like the shiny things of not having to get up in the morning, to not have a schedule, to not have, you know, all these deadlines. I think my whole career was deadline focused. And so those responsibilities having those go away, it was what I was going to not have versus what I was going to have. So I think that was I mean, I wouldn’t say it was a mistake. I think it was a luxury that I retired. And then I had plenty of time and you know, seven, eight years in counting, to try to figure out what I’m going to do with my time. But it has evolved and gotten easier. And certainly the psychology which you mentioned at the start of our call, I feel so much more at ease and comfortable in my own skin than I did at the beginning. At the beginning. It was very, very challenging to like, tell, I don’t even know if it was telling others or as much telling myself like, am I being a good steward of this gift of time? Like am I using it wisely? am I wasting time? Have I given up the opportunity cost of my career, you know, because you feel like that trade off, you should be doing something so aspirational that you can tell people, you know how great your life is. And I don’t feel that same pressure anymore. So when I tell you what I do with my time, it might not sound that great to listeners. But I can tell you that in my deep sense of who I am, it feels so much better than than life ever did. Because I’m much more at peace and I’m much less focused on comparing myself to others. I’m much less concerned about what things sound like So, in answer to your question, what did it look like when I first retired, it was much more about shiny things, it was much more about traveling and like I had, I had such great adventures, like the first two or three years of retirement, I think I was at home for five months max. And that was spread out between trips and all kinds of adventures. And then when I was home, I was planning trips. So, It was great. And I don’t regret it. But I don’t think that gets you along the way to like, who are you? And how are you going to spend the next 30 or 40 years.

Chrissy
And I feel like your journey, it kind of reflects how the FIRE community has evolved from the beginning up to now. And since I joined in 2014, till now, I’ve noticed quite a significant shift in the way everyone talks about FIRE and how the bloggers and podcasters discuss it with each other. And have you noticed that because you were there even before I was it was quite early when you joined and so have you seen that the community has changed in that time?

Marla
Yeah, I think that’s interesting. Because I mean, you shouldn’t sell yourself short, because you’re just about the same as me in terms of how long you’ve been in it. I think what you’re talking about, and what I’ve seen is just how broad it’s gotten where like, you can’t really believe that now when you bring up FIRE, or you say that you’re early retired, you get more people who have heard of it or know something about it. Versus at the beginning, it was like what the hell are you talking about? Who the hell do you think you are? So that part has changed. And I think certainly some of the voices like we’ve seen a lot of content creators come and go, there’s certainly many who would have stuck it out. But even as a very avid consumer of content, my tastes have changed. And I’ve kind of moved on, like you were talking about the psychology like, I’m much more interested in the psychological part of it, and the building community part of it, than I am in the nuts and bolts, because you do learn that, you know, if you’re interested in it, you can learn it fairly quickly. And then it’s more about the bigger things in the life questions about what you really want to do and who you are without those trappings. Because even FI can can give you a whole lot of things to do that can replace your job, right? You can read endlessly. And you can delve into 4% rules and schedules. And I even see that in some of the bloggers where they’re spending so much time like almost being devil’s advocate with themselves that I kind of wonder Oh, are you really are you kind of struggling with what to do with your time? And I’m not saying that as a criticism, I’m saying, I went through that too. And so I think that’s natural and it’s very tempting to say, Oh, I’m going to retire and I need to retire to something, well maybe all retire to telling other people about what to do when you retire or how to retire, or what FIRE is. So there’s some of that for sure. But I think more specifically to your point, because there’s been content creators that have come and gone. There’s also been different sort of different flavors of FI and something for everyone. And you can you don’t have to be as prescriptive in terms of, you know, somebody like Early Retirement Extreme or somebody like Mr. Money Mustache, or the people who really live on a very, very, very lean budget. Nor do you have to be the high income earner that retires with huge amounts of money. And you’re sort of telling everyone else that they better, you know, make sure they get only can do 3% safe withdrawal rate, which in my mind starts to get a little bit too crazy the other way. So is that kind of what you were talking about to?

Chrissy
Yeah, and also like how you mentioned in your own journey, psychologically, how you went through those stages, where you really discovered that once you move past the nuts and bolts of it, you really get into the psychology and I find that that is the way the community as a whole has shifted, where we’re really focusing on the happiness towards and during the journey, not just at the end. And I think earlier people had that expectation where FI or FIRE would give them that happiness that they were seeking, when really it’s you find it all along the journey. And you really do need to do that otherwise, you end up at the end completely dissatisfied. And I’m not sure what to do at that point. Because you reach your goal. And you’re like, I’m still not happy. Why not?

Marla
Yes. And I think I mean, you’re so right. And I hope and I think you’re right, that there is more exploration of that and more answers to get, but maybe it is still lacking, like there’s probably still room to have more discussion of those things. Because I think it’s the same as people going on a weight loss journey or a spiritual journey. Like we’re all looking for a prescription of how we’re going to be happy or what’s going to be the answer. Like it could be money, it could be how we look. It could be a partner, it could be all of these things. And then if you traveled down each of those paths, I think what we all find is that deep at our core everybody Just looking for community. And if you have community, then you can layer in some of these other things like what you’re actually doing with your time, you know, are you? Are you do you have a hobby that you love? Do you have people that you want to do things with? Do you have challenges that you’re building? But it’s the easy answer is to just follow the rules of FI, get piles of money, figure out the 4% rule, and you’re going to be happy. And, you know, sadly, it’s not quite that simple. But that’s not to say that having the time I think the time is really the answer. Having the time to work on all of these other things without having to worry about money. That’s the greatest gift. And that’s where FIRE gets all of us to such a great spot. But figuring it out along the way is so much better than arriving at this end of the Yellow Brick Road and looking behind the curtain and not finding what you’re hoping for.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, that’s it kind of reminds me of the whole Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is it’s awesome that you’ve made your way towards the top of it. But when you get there, self actualization is the hardest part of it. And one of the things I wanted to ask you is, you’ve had seven years now. And maybe at the beginning, like you said, it was about shiny objects, you did a bunch of travel. And how did you begin to internalize how you wanted to spend your time? Because before I think we’re all motivated by external factors. And even as you brought up, when we have a career or job that’s like an external thing that basically says, This is what you are, this is who you are, we have a bit of an identity with that. And when you get rid of that, that externalization is gone. And you kind of have to like you mentioned look inwards, and and start working on that. Did you find there is anything that helped you after you got back from travel? And you realize is like, hey, every day, I’m still gonna be with me? What’s gonna make me happy today? Or what is it that I’m looking for? How did you find that inside yourself? Was there books to read? Was there an attitude? was it yoga? Was it like, what kind of things helped you get there?

Marla
I think what you just said is super profound. That whole thing like you’re just there with yourself, you’re still with me, here I am. So I read tons of books, like so many books about, and I won’t be able to give you a good list. I’m sorry about that.

Money Mechanic
No, no, it’s fine. I wasn’t putting you on the spot for books. But.

Marla
But between, like, I’ve always was an avid reader and I had so much time. So it was so fun to read, not just things about FIRE. But yes, I read things about meditation, I read all the different, maybe not all, because there’s so many, but lots of books about happiness, you know, studies, things like that. And ultimately, I think part of it was time, and part of it was like, I guess, to me, the biggest thing is ego, I think the ego is so powerful. And some of it just naturally goes away over time because you don’t have that crutch. Like when you first retire, or at least for me, and I think it’s common with everybody I’ve met, is when people ask you, what you do you say what you used to do? Like that’s kind of your answer. Or you kind of have a branch off of it. And again, to me, I don’t care what people tell other people, the telling other people to make your story short, and to move on to talking about something more interesting. That’s fine. But if inside, you’re still always having that question, that’s the piece that it’ll flag for you. And you’ll say, oh, there’s some work I need to do there on my ego. Because what I do and what I drive and where I live, and how much money I have, isn’t me. And so I can’t tell you that something specifically turned it for me. But it became okay for me to say, you know, I spend a lot of time with family friends, trying to be a good like, my parents have both passed away, but my dad was elderly and got ill and I was able to have time to spend with him, I’ve been able to have time to spend with other people who’ve gotten ill or needed some help. So like the simple stuff that kind of hits you in your life that’s like, so hard, you have like this luxury of time, where you can drop everything because you don’t have this big high pressure job anymore to deal with. So I don’t have kids, but for people who have a family, like I just see that stress of like if you’re working and then your kid gets sick or you like layering on all these responsibilities is so challenging. And when you can strip away some of them and just be able to, to kind of say like, oh, here I am like, I’m happy like in the garden or going for walks or meeting people for lunch and reading great books and whatever other hobbies people have. That might not sound like it fills a whole day. But it’s amazing what can fill that time and so every week is different. And having that flexibility is so valuable to me, and I’m still searching for ways to have it be more like, I’d like to be more like give back in whatever ways I can, whether it’s through money or knowledge or mentorship or those kind of things. I’m still working through that. And I think that’s going to be the direction I put more of my time toward. But I’ve also really just enjoyed that whole, like, not having a lot to do. I think most people, if you ask them, like, how long can you spend without looking at your phone? Without having something that you can? Okay, first of all, I would say that the pandemic probably taught everyone a lot about this issue. So in some ways that might have been actually helpful for it was so stressful, I found it so stressful, but maybe it gives you a taste of what it feels like to be like, who am I now? What am I going to do I have, I have to just sit here with myself. And at the beginning, that can be quite painful. And over time, it gets easier. And then it’s like, suddenly something happens where you’re like, it’s okay, like, I’m good enough, and I don’t like I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be somebody else’s ideal vision for their own retirement. But I think I could be an example of like, you will be able to figure it out. No matter who you are, you may have a lot of doubts, but giving yourself the time and space and sitting with yourself. You will be surprised what may bubble up to the surface and help you answer those questions.

Chrissy
I think that’s fantastic advice that I going to share with my husband because he is about to retire.

Marla
New retiree! Yay!

Chrissy
Yeah. I mean, he has been doing some of this work along the way. But I think he will be dropped into that space where it’s like, okay, I really am done now. What now? So I want to move on to the next phase of your life. But before we do that, we’re just going to take a quick break for our ad and then we’ll come right back.

Money Mechanic
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Money Mechanic
Alright, we’re back talking with Marla here. And we just had a great monologue about how you feel, you know, and how to get there in your earlier time. And and I really resonated with one thing you said Marla, because I am definitely struggling with it right now. And it’s like this kind of identity thing. I’ve I am sort of on a Coast FI journey, which is, like we talked about earlier, there’s all these flavors of FI and FIRE now. Right? So I’m on the Coast FI part of it right now. So but I think along the lines of I have actually sort of told my current employer, well, my contract who’s anyway, it’s a long story, but that I’d like to change my schedule next year. And I’ve been meeting people because I’ve been shopping around for a car from my mom, which don’t get me started on that trying to be a frugal person shopping for cars these days. But it was you know, people ask, what do you do? And I’ve been thinking like, well, I don’t want to answer with what I used to do. But it’s so easy to identify with that. Because it’s much easier for me to just say, Oh, I’m a helicopter mechanic. Because it’s so much more comp, like complicated for me to say, Well, I’m kind of self employed. I’m kind of a content creator, I like walking my dogs like, it’s really interesting that I haven’t found how I feel what I should be saying to people when I’m you know, hopefully, you know, I’m not really a retirement type person, I’m going to have projects, right. But you know, kind of going, will people want to know what you do that makes money or what makes you quote unquote, important. So yeah, I kind of really resonated with that part of your story. Is that big adjustment, and I don’t think any of us are ready for it, because it just kind of creeps up on you and you go, Oh, I can’t really say that anymore about myself. So great part of the story. I think that’s something we’ll deal with, in our own ways.

Marla
Yeah, absolutely. And like I say, like, first I struggled with the what do you say to others? Now, I just think no one actually cares. It’s just the social norm.

Money Mechanic
It is, yeah.

Marla
It does reveal how important it is for all of us in terms of our identity and trying to let that go. So it’s not important to me that you don’t say that you’re a helicopter mechanic. What’s important is that for you inside that you kind of reshape and take a look at it to be like I am all these other things like I’m a good son who goes to houses to help my mother buy a car, right? Like, those are the kinds of things where you could just, you can be like, really what are my values? What’s important to me, and that can be the way you start to at least say I am so much more than a helicopter mechanic

Chrissy
And that’s really the key.

Marla
As cool as that sounds. To me,

Chrissy
Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head is looking at your values, when you get stuck when you’re not sure which direction to go and go back to your values and they’ll guide you in the right direction. Because you’ll feel it, you’ll know that that’s where you should head.

Marla
Yeah, absolutely.

Money Mechanic
So with your seven years of retirement, eight, whatever, I’m not counting but Yeah. I’ve talked recently about having like, hobbies or activities that you’ve tried, and left behind. What is it that you know, you mentioned also that you traveled extensively at the beginning. I think a lot of us, we do have things that we want to do when we have the time we have these goals, you know, everyone’s like, I’m going to, you know, fix the old car that my dad left me or I’m going to have an amazing garden when I have the time to get out there or I’m going to become, I’m going to get into pottery. Is this you Chrissy? Is this M that wants to be a potter, I saw in your article

Chrissy
Yeah it’s my husband, it’s a huge, long list of things.

Money Mechanic
Yeah. So it’s interesting. Marla, what did you come across? Did you find things you tried and you moved on? What in that time? Would you sort of suggest for people that have lots of ideas or just let it flow?

Marla
I think it’s great to do the exercise of thinking, like they say, and I think this is true that however you spend your weekends now is how you’ll spend your retirement. So being able to and I don’t think I was good at that. And I think that was a weakness in because I didn’t really plan for retirement. I’m not too hard on myself about that. But I think that was what caused my planning to take longer. So if while you’re on the journey, you start to really think about, Well, how am I spending my weekends? Or how am I spending my, because you can’t really look at vacation, right? I think a mini retirement is such a great thing for people to do. But you kind of have to force yourself to not be your mini retirement can’t be all traveling or van life for that kind of thing. You have to kind of sit with yourself to really see what a mini retirement would be like. So I would encourage that type of behavior. But for me, I don’t know what I try to mean, like I say I’ve read so many different things. And then I think it was the inputs of different people. In terms of like I really did expose myself, like when we talked about sorry, that sounded like an awkward, I did not expose myself to any FIRE folks. But because I got so engaged in going to all the FIRE things. And maybe this sounds like a bit of a cop out. But I think it helped me, like finding this community of FIRE people and then realizing that I could work on things or do projects with these people. So it’s less that the projects have to be about FIRE or about writing a FIRE blog. But it’s finding people who also have free time, because that’s been one of the issues for me. And so I haven’t like really, I’ve come up with like 20 different ideas of businesses or things that I wanted to do. And none of them have really happened. But each of them is helping me get closer to what it’s going to be. And I feel like what it is going to be is collaborating with friends that I’ve met through FIRE, mostly because they’re like minded. And I’m sure you guys have found this like minded in so many ways. Like when we speak about values, the fact that we all love playing board games, for example, we all think the same way about like, Have you ever gone grocery shopping with another FIRE person. Like you’re all doing the math of your unit costs and all these things, you’ll pick the exact same, like, Give somebody a list of Airbnbs to choose from, you’ll all pick the exact same one for the because you’ll go through the value proposition the same way. So it’s yeah, it’s like finding these people where you go, Okay, we all and I think everyone wants to spend more time around like minded people. And what I realized is a lot of my friends are still raising their families, and they’re gonna catch up to me and their kids are gonna be off in school, and they’re gonna have time on their side. And so I’m working on my plan that is like then popping some of these people into my plan to say, what I crave is collaboration, working together on something, and hopefully giving back to our FIRE community through both knowledge, money and kind of because we have time we can we can offer time. So that’s kind of the outline of what the plan that I’m working on. But it’s really too early to talk about. So

Money Mechanic
Awesome. I just want to run through this list because it’s pretty impressive. You talked about the Chautauqua that you went to an Ecuador you’ve been to every Camp Mustache. I don’t even know how many there are but you’ve been to every one of them. You’ve been to to camp FIs. And was it a weekend FI camp at a castle in Holland and you’ve been to four FinCons like FinCon is for like content creators. There you are. schmoozing it up with you’d like the thought of it that’s it’s so cool. Can you pick out any you know, little sort of anecdotal story from any of those huge meetups, something that you found was fun or inspiring or kind of helped sort of change your mindset or just I don’t know, I’m putting you on the spot here a little bit. So take your time. But I think we’d all like to hear just a little story of, you know, what do Brad and John eat for breakfast? I don’t know.

Marla
I mean, I have. So I am like the queen of anecdote. So I have like, way too many. So trying to pick something that’s not just a funny story. But that’s like, there’s some value in it is the trick. I’ll tell you one cute one that came to mind just from this most recent FinCon. So FinCon was in Austin this year. We know as Canadians like, going to Texas in the middle of COVID, like their cases are high, like everything about it just seemed so wrong. And I just told myself, Okay, I’m vaccinated, I’m going so I went, I did not get sick. Thank God. It was really fun. I’m so glad I went. But the story that is so cute to me, and just in a nutshell showed me like, not only what our FIRE community people are like, but it was also just a little snapshot of how cool we can like the positive influence we can have on other people. So I was staying at the Hilton, we went down for breakfast, my friend Bob, who is also a Chautauqua alumni, and JD Roth, who you guys probably know from Get Rich Slowly. And who’s, you know, been around in the space for a long time. He’s a really good friend of mine. So the three of us meet for breakfast, or so Bob and I are at breakfast, we’re chatting. And Bob is the friendliest guy and has already started chatting with the waiter. And this guy’s name is Shawn and Bob’s like, how are you? What’s up? dadada, so we’re just having like a friendly, normal, polite conversation. JD joins us after 10 minutes, sits down, see Shawn and says, Shawn What are you doing here? Shawn’s like, Oh, good morning. Hey, nice to see you again. And JD says Shawn was our server last night. What are you doing still working like it’s morning and you’re still working. And JD says We spent an hour chatting with Shawn last night at dinner, because Shawn is already going to be FIRE. But he’s never heard of it before. And he’s living in a van. He’s able to save money because he works at a hotel. So he could shower at the hotel and save all this money. He doesn’t even really need to sleep in his van. And he’d never heard of FIRE or knew what the FinCon conference was. But we told him all about it. He’s super keen. He’s already going out to buy books and learn about it. And now he’s met all these people. And sure enough through the weekend, so I was like, This just shows me the kind of quality people that these people are like, they spend the time to talk to somebody that they don’t know. It’s just like, I’m like that I love talking to people. It doesn’t matter who the person is. There’s no status, there’s no nothing. And yet you can have this amazing connection with a stranger. And then at the very end of the weekend, so Shawn, we saw him like, the next night he was working at the bar. The next night, he was a valet, like he the guy was everywhere through the weekend. And then JD and I really need to go to the airport. JD goes, Oh, just give me a second I see Shawn. He goes and runs and gets this woman he says I met this woman. She’s from Austin, she lives in a van. She and Shawn can like, she can become his mentor. And so when we left, they were standing out by the cars in the lobby of the hotel, and they’re probably gonna be like, this guy’s life will be changed from these small little, you know, connections. I’m like, that’s wonderful.

Chrissy
I love that. And that is a huge part of why I love the FIRE community. It’s just so welcoming, so supportive. Today, when I published my blog post about us reaching FIRE, I can’t even count how many messages I received. And it’s all happy. People are cheering. It’s just I feel loved. You know, I feel like I get a big hug from the community. And I feel like it’s always been that way. It’s just warm and welcoming and friendly.

Marla
Yes. And everyone wants to help each other because it’s like you’ve been let in on the big secret. It can’t wait to tell people and not everyone wants to hear your secret. So when you find somebody who wants to hear your secret, it’s so exciting.

Chrissy
Yeah

Marla
So yeah. And I couldn’t be happier for you. Like, it’s so exciting to be at that point for you guys. And yeah, I mean, with every person that gets to that point, it’s just so like, it’s a lot of hard work, right? All that planning and everything that you’ve done to get here and here you are. So yeah, kudos to you guys.

Chrissy
Thank you.

Money Mechanic
So one of the things that really stands out for me about that, especially the story I love the story, is that you keeps saying community. And I really want our listeners to think about that. And you know, you may not be on social media, and that’s fine. But reach out to bloggers in your area or in Canada. Even if you don’t have like a local meetup to go to, you know, join a virtual one. It doesn’t even have to be in your town. I know there’s lots of active ChooseFI Canada like group in different towns across the country, and you’re absolutely 100%, right, once you start putting yourself out there a little bit, which is interesting, because I think a lot of us are generally introverted in the FIRE space to a point. But you’ll find such a welcoming group of people. And you, when you find this, you’re so passionate about FIRE and getting there. It’s so awesome to have people to talk to about it. That’s the key point. And then when you get to that point where you’re like, Oh, I’m in the FIRE doldrums, because I’ve learned all the nuts and bolts. And now I kind of have to just wait and keep working on it. Well, by then you’ve created a community of like minded people that you can discuss that with you can share with and you can generate ideas and have that sense of community, which is so important and, and I hear it from all the bloggers and all the content creators. And yeah, it’s so warming to hear that from you that all these people that I’ve looked up to along my journey, are kind of exactly how I hoped they be with their generosity and their time and their personalities.

Marla
Yeah, I think that’s totally true. They everybody’s that way. And I think for anybody who’s listening, you know, some of them are so busy that they might not get back to you if you send them a note, but certainly, you know, signing up to go to it, even if you are introverted, and I would agree with you that I don’t identify as introverted.

Money Mechanic
No way! Haha

Marla
But some people are and you would never know it like I’m always like “What? You’re not introverted,” but um, yeah, putting yourself out there starting with the stuff you can do online, and then moving to going to some of these in person events, like, you won’t feel alone, because everyone that’s doing it has that same feeling the butterflies in their stomach, they’re scared to go. But that only lasts like five minutes, 10 minutes, and then you’ll find something so fast that you have in common that you can talk about. And you’ll suddenly be like, Wow, I really like these. I hate the whole like tribe. But it feels like that. So it might sound like a cliche, but it’s so true. And it’s not just the things that you do but who you are that you wind up feeling like you have in common. And that’s pretty cool.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, for sure. Chrissy we should work towards wrapping this up for us and the last things that you want to discuss with Marla, we could keep going for a long time, maybe a part two?

Chrissy
Absolutely. No, I think we covered a lot. We’re going to dive into the travel hacking, but I kinda like that we went on this psychological tangent.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, I think travel hacking is a whole other episode. And, Marla, it was a few years ago that you did the interview or the panel with Doc G on What’s Up Next. But you talked, No that was sorry, it was ChooseFI, you talk a lot about travel hacking, wasn’t it? Yeah. My apologies for that. But yeah, you’ve got a lot of interesting background there and a lot of knowledge to share with that as well. So people can listen to that. And are you available for people to reach out to for things like that, or questions from our discussion here? Are you staying flying under the radar these days?

Marla
No, no, I’m not at Well, I never was above the radar. Still not above the radar. But I when I go on these things I tell people to just reach out on Facebook, because my name is very simple. There won’t be anybody else. So it’s Marla Taner, Taner with one n. And yeah, just send me a message on Facebook, I’m sure I’ll be able to chat with you. And I’ve met lots of people, they every time I go on a podcast, I get, I don’t know, 20 or 30 messages. And it’s great. Like either I’m pointing somebody in a direction where they want to have a phone call, because they’re a lot of it like because I like to talk about the psychological stuff. And I really think one of the best qualities than any human is to be vulnerable. So I try to be vulnerable. And I welcome other people to you know, hopefully I can create a safe place and be somebody who can relate to a lot of the struggles that you might be having. Because definitely seven or eight years of trying to figure out what to do. I’m not gonna put myself out there as a somebody who has it all figured out. But I can tell you I’m so much better than I was. And I think I can help people by avoiding some of the things I think I struggled with. And certainly the gift of being able to work on a FIRE journey, enjoy the journey and plan for it is going to serve everyone in great stead and probably put you miles ahead of where I’m at.

Chrissy
That’s a lot of wise words. So I think it’s time to wrap it up. And thank you very much Marla and I look forward to seeing you again in

Marla
The Choose FI Vancouver group, and hopefully we’ll get to do some live meetups. I think there was one this summer but we’ll do one again. Yeah, the great part with meeting Chrissy, so Chrissy and Shaidah, who’s been on the show, I met them because I was the moderator and now they’re the moderators! All the events I try to come to

Chrissy
You do you always show up And you’re the reason why I got to meet Paula Pant in person. I was just like “Ah it’s Paula!”

Marla
That was a fun surprise to get to bring Paula to an event.

Chrissy
That was amazing. She was so nice. I couldn’t imagine how that she’d be that nice. She went to every single person, very consciously to speak to each person at the meetup, which I thought was just so nice of her to do that.

Marla
Yeah. And she’s smart as a whip eh? like, yeah, she has the Afford Anything podcast. And I mean, anybody who wants to figure out real estate, even though it’s not as relevant for Canada, but she’s so smart, and she’s so cautious and conservative in the advice she gives, which I think is really important, because especially in our market, it’s pretty wild. Sorry, you’re trying to wrap up.

Money Mechanic
Well, thanks a lot for joining us. Marla.

Marla
Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Money Mechanic
Yes. And even though you’re not a content creator, it’s sharing like this. You’re a true asset to the FIRE community. So congratulations, and thanks a lot.

Marla
Thank you.

Chrissy
Thank you, Marla.


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