You are currently viewing <span class="entry-title-primary">L2F 023 Chris Mamula of Can I Retire Yet</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">People Who Are Later2FIRE Have Some Powerful Advantages</span>

L2F 023 Chris Mamula of Can I Retire Yet People Who Are Later2FIRE Have Some Powerful Advantages


Show Notes

  • Chris Mamula worked as a physical therapist for 15 years before retiring in 2017 at age 41.
  • Chris holds master’s and doctoral degrees in PT.
  • Shortly after retiring, Chris became a partner on Can I Retire Yet which was founded by Darrow Kirkpatrick.
  • On Can I Retire Yet Chris Mamula writes about financial independence and retirement.
  • He’s made guest appearances on many podcasts including Bogleheads on Investing, The Morningstar Longview Podcast, Bigger Pockets Money, and Stacking Benjamins.
  • Chris is the co-author of Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence
  • Chris, his wife and daughter moved from western Pennsylvania to Utah to pursue their passion for outdoor adventure and start the next chapter in their life.
  • They were unintentionally on the path to FIRE for over a decade.
  • Their families instilled good spending and savings habits in them. They were not materialistic.
  • She had student loan debt ($20k). They quickly eliminated it because they wanted to start their marriage debt free.
  • They lived on her salary ($35k) while he was in grad school. Chris worked several jobs and used that income to get them out of debt.
  • Once he began his career, they continued with that model of living off her salary and saving his which gave them a very high savings rate. One benefit was they never grew into an extravagant lifestyle (lifestyle inflation).
  • Because they got the big things right when it came to controlling spending in order to maximize savings, Chris and his wife were able to enjoy many great experiences (including attending the Super Bowl). So they never felt deprived based on their values.
  • Chris talks about inflection points which are changes that occur in life that present an opportunity to save. For example, when adult children move, parents can look into downsizing.

Chris Mamula on the Advantages of Late Starters to FIRE

  • Older workers typically earn more which enables them to save more.
  • Family expenses drop after children become independent.
  • Empty nesters are free to downsize or devote more of their free time to work and earn more.
  • Deferred tax accounts such as 401ks have catch up contributions.
  • Older workers have fewer years to fund in retirement which helps reduce longevity risk.
  • Late starters have fewer years until they qualify for Medicare. Younger workers face the challenge of what to do about health insurance for many years.
  • The principles of FIRE present a great opportunity for Late Starters to catch up their retirement savings.
  • The complexity of the world of personal finance may intimidate some. So Chris says FI is not binary. It is a continuum, e.g. eat the elephant one bite at a time (using FI milestones).
  • The first step, how to increase your savings rate, can intimidate. How do you cut back on big ticket items like housing, cars and food? It sounds like a lot of sacrifice.
  • Once you simplify the complexity of finance (by using the principles and practices of FIRE) you can save a lot of money.
  • FIRE is more than hitting a number. It’s also about designing your life.
  • Chris talks about the value of belonging to the FIRE community because choosing FI is not the standard path most people follow.
  • He and his wife had to acquire and build upon their financial literacy. Fortunately they have a growth mindset which led them to the writings of J. L. Collins – The Simple Path to Wealth. Chris says it’s his mission to help other people improve their financial literacy but breaking down the complexity that the financial industry puts out there.


  • In his book Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence, Chris identifies 3 paths to building wealth. The key is to take the approach that plays into your skills and strengths.
    1. Invest in stocks and bonds which require a high savings rate. He recommends index funds and ETFs.
    2. Buy and manage real estate which is not passive and may require sweat equity.
    3. Start and build a business which entails a different type of investment and risks.
  • Chris lists 4 books on his website that he recommends.
    1. The Simple Path to Wealth
    2. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
    3. All About Asset Allocation
    4. The Intelligent Asset Allocator
  • Chris Mamula is a contributing writer on Can I Retire Yet. In addition to figuring out how much you need to retire, Chris says the better question may be “should I retire now”?
  • Adjusting to retirement is hard! Ted mentions his popular video on The 6 Stages of Retirement. Stage 3 is Disenchantment.
  • Retirement isn’t always your decision. So there’s a lot of value in knowing your current financial status.
  • Regardless of your personal situation, the principles and practices of FIRE apply. You just use different tactics to implement them.
  • To newcomers, don’t be put off by misconceptions. Have an open mind and look at what’s real.

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