Best of Both Worlds podcast: Harmony Smith on financial independence, lawyer life, and homesteading

In the personal finance world, lots of people talk about achieving FI — that is financial independence. Yet the stereotype of those pursuing it — often a young, single guy keeping expenses low because hey, there’s only one person — doesn’t look like a lot of us.

Enter Harmony Smith. This blogger (behind Creating My Kaleidoscope) has been writing for the past decade (under a “nom de blog”) about her family’s financial journey. They paid off significant debt while having five kids, and then they bought a homestead while aiming for “semi financial independence.” In this week’s episode of Best of Both Worlds, she talks about life as a lawyer, and the steps she’s taken to make work and life fit together as her family’s primary (and for a while, only) breadwinner. Hear about her family’s month-long RV trip, her forays into craft fairs, and how the family drives a decommissioned school bus (sounds more roomy than my mini-van!).

In the Q&A, Sarah and I address a question from a listener about how to keep track of and deal with life administration without feeling overwhelmed.

Please give the episode a listen, and please consider joining our Patreon community! We have great discussions on the forum (3-4 threads a week, often with 30+ comments). We will be hosting our (Zoom) book club discussion on Virginia Sole-Smith’s Fat Talk on November 28th, and then on December 12th, Sarah will be leading us in her annual goal-setting workshop. Given that membership is only $9/month, this is an inexpensive way to get a taste of Best Laid Plans Academy content. Plus we have a lot of fun! Hope to see you there.

In the meantime, do you have a target age for retiring? Has this changed over the years? I can’t see myself retiring per se as I like what I do. We shall see.

10 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Harmony Smith on financial independence, lawyer life, and homesteading

  1. My target age for full retirement keeps……moving, I told the managing partners of my law firm in January of 2020 that I wanted to start scaling back. They were supportive. We all know what happened two months later. While the world was shutting down, I wound up continuing to work a lot as my clients are health care facilities and practitioners, many of whom needed help navigating the daily twists and turns of Covid at all hours of the day or night. At the end of 2021, I sent out an e-mail advising my exiting clients that I REALLY was retiring and would be working to wrap up a few pending transactions. Or so I thought. Several of those transaction wound up stretching into late 2022 and 2023….My husband, kids and friends all tease my endlessly about my alleged “retirement.”
    It is not all that unusual in the legal profession to fade away gradually and keep your hand in for quite a while after making the retirement decision. If you’ve had a good relationship with your clients, it is hard to walk away from them sometimes. In addition, colleagues that take over on client work often need some transitional help. In a way, I have had a “BOBW” kind of phase-in-we’ve been able to take two different 6 week long vacations in the past couple of years plus additional shorter trips, I’ve been able to pad my 401(k) and health care flexible spending accounts a bit more, and I have continued to feel like I’m helping people. By the same token, I’m ready to finally be done. After wrapping up what should be my last big project, I told my husband that I feel a real sense of contentment now that I’m not checking e-mail constantly and can craft days which are truly my own.

    1. @BethC – your retirement journey has been a long one! But it is good to be able to phase into a new part of life sometimes. And it has helped your bank account I am sure.

  2. Two years from this coming January! I will be 65 and completed 20 years at my current employer. (I’m a nurse so the past 3 years have been crazy. No remote work for me) My husband took early retirement 3 years ago so he’s my house husband and he loves it. Really the only reason I’m working is for health insurance and waiting for Medicare age. One thing I don’t understand is how the FI crowd handles insurance. I guess they can buy it but $$$$!

    1. @LM – yep, the health insurance thing is no joke. At least now you *can* buy it. Very exciting to look forward to your new life in 2 years!

  3. I found it odd that Harmony repeatedly said she didn’t enjoy her job and wanted to get out as fast as possible. I would be a little concerned my co-workers would hear me on a podcast saying that.

      1. @Harmony- yep, there is a certain freedom in blogging under a pseudonym…which I have totally given up by blogging as me, but oh well. On the other hand, a lot of people in my kids’ life would assume my last name is the same is theirs so I have some anonymity…

  4. It’s funny when starting to work retirement seemed like such a far off, unimaginable thing to me but as it does, time goes quickly. I do mostly enjoy my work and enjoy being a working person. I realized a couple of years ago that I am now in the position of now being more than ‘halfway’ through. I have the incredible benefit of a defined benefit pension plan at work and so they send me statements and I can see very clearly that I can retire at age 57 (at least from this employer) and I am 43 – that does not sound all that far away. I still don’t want to fall into the trap of not living my life just waiting for retirement to do things I want to do. I don’t foresee myself staying past my retirement eligibility but it is super interesting to think about the possibilities of a relatively young retirement and what that might mean.

    1. @Jen – yep, that is not that far away! But even if it is relatively young, you don’t want to *not* do things, assuming you’ll do them at age 57.

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