Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

About Us

This was when we first took flight and landed in Granada, Spain.  It was a rainy and chilly day in the Albaicin.

We are a family of four that took flight to financial independence, and we reached FIRE (financial independence retire early) officially in April 2021.  We then took flight from Houston, Texas to Granada, Spain in April 2021 on Non-Lucrative Visas.  

How did we do it?

In 2013 Erik discovered Mr. Money Mustache and the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement.  Erik’s career has primarily been in accounting at a pipeline company so he already handled our finances, and he immediately jumped on board.  I was a bit skeptical at first.  Retire early?  How?  Really!?  Cut back on expenses!? But the idea of ending full-time work early and having more time with the kids (in 2013 our kids were under 1 years and 2 years old) was intriguing to me why not?  Let’s do it.  

We concentrated on paying off debt first.  It took about 2 years.  In 2015 we were able to focus on investing with Vanguard (VTSAX), achieving a high savings rate (pushed to almost 70 percent), and we cut down on expenses. We basically lived off of my public school teacher’s salary (I was a public school art teacher for 11 years before early retiring after the 2019 - 2020 school year), and we invested Erik’s higher salary.

When Erik discovered FIRE we were living (and owning) a townhome in Houston near Downtown / Washington Street (Sawyer Heights), a fantastic up and coming artsy neighborhood.  But due to discovering FIRE and a few other reasons (my current job outside of Houston ...the caregivers (Grandparents) outside of Houston), we decided to sell the townhome and build our dream home near the Grandparents (yes, I (a city girl at heart) went kicking and screaming to the burbs).  This change in location definitely helped us achieve FIRE more quickly.  From 2013 to 2020 (and beyond), we also focused on cutting down expenses without shortchanging priorities.  For example, we cut the cord on cable before cutting the cord was even a thing; Erik road his bike to the park and ride commuter bus for years (one car family for a bit); and we switched to affordable cell phone providers (Republic Wireless).  We budgeted in priorities like activities for the kids and family vacations.

In 2018 we started blogging about our FIRE journey.  We initially thought maybe we could achieve FIRE around the time our oldest is done with 4th Grade (4th Grade for our oldest was 2020 - 2021).  We dreamed of moving to somewhere with seasons, a better climate (Houston is hot and humid), and nature.  Maybe Colorado?  Maybe Oregon?  (I am pretty sure people didn’t believe us or thought we were crazy.  And then we threw Spain into the mix, and they really thought (or think!) we are crazy.)

For the 2013 - 2014 school year, I ended up at a new teaching job in our new home district (elementary art ...I previously taught 6th - 12th Grade art).  At the time our kids were in preschool (or not even in school yet).  Fast forward a few years, and my oldest entered Kindergarten at my school (you can’t beat that experience!).  He was accepted into the Dual Language program (English / Spanish). Our youngest followed the same path a few years later.  Eventually Erik asked ...well instead of CO or OR, why not Spain?  The kids are already learning Spanish? Immerse in the language and culture?  Easy access to explore Europe?  (You don’t need to ask an art teacher / someone passionate about the arts twice about moving to Spain or Europe!  Picasso?  Dali?  Yes, please).

Achieving FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early)

We were then on track to achieve FIRE by 2020 (ahead of schedule).  Keep in mind we didn’t start at $0 with our retirement savings in 2015 (when we began investing in Vanguard).  We both had retirement investments from previous and current employers.  (How do you know how much you need for FIRE?  Follow the 4 percent rule, and be sure to work in your own safety margins).  We made plans to move to Spain in August 2020.  We sold our home in January of 2020 and purged a majority of our items.  

Then as we all know, the global pandemic of COVID-19 was in full force in Spring of 2020.  We decided to embrace flexibility and delayed Spain until April 2021.  It was the best decision.  We moved to Houston, started City Schooling, met new friends, had more quality time with family (during a scary year), and Erik was able to work longer and save up even more.  In March of 2021, we obtained our Non-Lucrative Visas (and both adults were able to be fully vaccinated). By April 2021, we both officially FIREd at age 42 and age 40 with two kids age 10 and 8.  We were able to stop and see family in NYC before our family of four took flight to Granada, Spain.

View of the Alhambra from Generalife in Granada, Spain.

Will you take flight with us?

Join us on our journey, and we would love to hear more about your journey.  You can comment below, or you can reach us at  Also follow our adventure on our Instagram.  Need help with your FI (financial independence) or FIRE (financial independence retire early) journey?  We can help you.  Read more here.

-Tara, Erik (+ Two Kids)

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