In pursuit of financial independence and personal fulfillment

So long anonymity — I’m featured on CNN Money today

Well, this is a birthday to remember! Not only is today my last day of work before I start my mini-retirement, but I’m also featured in a CNN Money story about it.

Being a source in a major media outlet requires taking off the mask of semi-anonymity I’ve been wearing since starting I Dream of FIRE in June. Since the main reason I went that route was to keep my blog separate from my work identity — and my mini-retirement makes that unnecessary — I guess that means I’m going public.

I needed a professional-looking photo on short notice, so I asked my friend and neighbor Raquel Goncalves Lubbers to shoot something I could send to CNN that was more casual. So yeah, here’s me.

My name is Scott. If you’ve followed some posts of the infamous FinCon mohawk incident, you already knew that. I had already been considering whether to drop the anonymity once I left my job, and the opportunity with CNN Money just made that an easy choice.

I also was asked to join the Smart Money Squad to write monthly articles for under my real name, which I’m excited about.

I had already shared that I was behind this blog with some friends and other people around Utah with an interest in personal finance. Some of my co-workers recently learned about it, as well. I plan to redesign this site in the next couple of months, and I’ll add more of me into it.

Things have been a bit quiet around here while I wrapped up my work duties and tried to make the transition as smooth as possible for my replacement. All in all, I feel like I mentally understand that I’m not going to work on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. But honestly, it hasn’t sunk in yet emotionally what that’s going to be like.

I’ve gotten some great advice so far from bloggers at Life Zemplified, Retire Before Dad, Keep Thrifty, Montana Money Adventures, and Shift Upwards, among others. I’ve heard positive things from people outside the personal finance space who have taken time off and found it to be an important time in recalibrating their lives.

I have some plans for stretching my comfort zone to grow and learn new things, and I’m going to be open to opportunities that I might not have had plugging along in my IT position. One word I’ve heard thrown around a lot is courage. That what I’m doing takes a lot of courage that many people don’t think they have. For me, this decision didn’t feel right immediately. I had to sit with it, think about what it would look like and what it would mean.

It took many months for me to get here.

If you think this is something you want to do, but that you could never have the courage, I challenge you to really examine that notion. What would it look like for you to take a sabbatical? What would your finances have to look like? How could you cut your essential spending to make it happen if you really wanted it? How much would you have to save to feel confident to take a break for three months, or six months, or a year?

Once you put plan to paper, all you’re left to figure out is the way to get there.

You never know where that might get you. Somehow it got me on CNN.

P.S. – It turns out I’m not the only one in my family getting some press today. My brother is the lead source in this story on Nerdwallet about making professional connections on airplanes. Pretty cool!


  1. Amy @ LifeZemplified

    Congratulations on all this goodness, Scott! I’m glad I can start using your real name. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what your next chapter includes. Wishing you all the best! And thanks for the mention. Can’t wait to see what we come up with at FinCon this year. 😉

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, Amy. I’m excited to see what’s ahead, too. Surely Jim doesn’t think he’s escaping FinCon without something memorable happening!

  2. tracy

    I don’t comment very often anywhere but have been reading your blog for a while and have laughed about some of the timing things. I took the Mini-Retirements Mastered beta course from Jillian and thought my plans were for a sabbatical in 2022. Turns out I was wrong and my last day at work will be May 11th. I’m equal parts scared and excited. But the comment I am getting the most from my peers is how brave I am to take this step. It isn’t so much that I’m brave…it is that my fear of staying the same is greater than my fear of change. So here I go to find out what happens next. So happy for you.

    • I Dream of FIRE

      That’s what I hear a lot from people, too. Bravery, courage, etc. I don’t feel like that, but there’s definitely something to it since so many people want to do the same but don’t. Good luck with your sabbatical!

  3. Jim @ Route To Retire

    Yikes, I didn’t realize that you didn’t use your first name on the site before – sorry for calling you out!

    But in the end, it looks like it’s worked out well. I thought your claim to fame would be your skills as a barber, but I must have underestimated you! 😉

    Congrats on your feature and the unveiling of your anonymity – I think both will be a boon for you and your site!

    — Jim

  4. Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early

    Congratulations – on both the mini retirement and the Money feature! And non-anonymity is pretty great, if you ask me ?

  5. Garrett

    What is your path to FI? I see your expenses and seem extremely high. What is your current net worth and path to FI. Would be curious to know this.

  6. Mat

    Crazy for so many reasons. But you already know that. I promote FIRE and succeeded myself. If you work it you can do it! But this isn’t the way. Enjoy & have fun!

  7. Baby Boomer Super Saver

    Congratulations, Scott, that is very exciting! It was fun to read about your brother on Nerdwallet, too. Networking opportunities are everywhere, even at 30,000 feet in the air. Recognizing and acting on opportunities must run in your family. Great job! Oh, and Happy Birthday!

    • I Dream of FIRE

      I’m definitely going to have to pay attention to the networking opportunities more during my break. My next thing could be just an unexpected conversation away 🙂

  8. Tall Investing

    Congrats on the CNN article!

    Taking a year off before reaching FIRE takes courage (like you said) – but being able to spend time with your kids in priceless.

    Looking forward to see your posts on the non-job life 🙂

    Have a great weekend (realizing that will pretty soon be a moot statement..)

    Tall Investing

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, TI! I’m looking forward to being home this summer and doing some memorable things with my daughter during her break. I’ll definitely keep people posted on how this break affects my finances, and for sure the personal fulfillment part of my mission.

  9. Jennifer M.

    Congratulations Scott. Having retired in February after 40 years in financial services, and knowing the depth of planning required and the personal angst that accompanies the weeks and days leading up to it, I am so impressed at your mid-career sabbatical. Kudos to you, to your bravery, your focus, your sacrifice. Enjoy this time – I will be following your progress. Jennifer

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, Jennifer. It took awhile to get comfortable with the idea. Still kinda scary, of course, but the good feelings outweigh the scary ones for sure!

  10. Andrew

    This is awesome, Scott! Congrats. Can’t wait to hear more about this!

  11. Retire Before Dad

    Incredible feature on CNN. Might as well make a splash when you come out from behind the curtain. Congratulations!

  12. vivivanne

    It’s very cool to be famous. 😛 As much as I disclose about my finance to the public, I wouldn’t want people to know what I look like. LOL 🙂

    I read the article on CNN and your break down on your $100K expense/year. Despite having no more student loan to pay when you take a year off, I’d probably not comfortable enough to take off my full time job. But I guess you get commission from writing for multiples website (somewhat misleading about quitting :P). But I have a feeling that you don’t have to go back to your full time job if this year pans out. Again Congrats!

    • I Dream of FIRE

      Thanks, Vivianne! Yep, our spending last year was $100K, but that included a full year of college tuition and daycare tuition, which was a hefty chunk. Our spending should go down quite a bit just from those two things phasing out. My wife is still working, so we aren’t going without any regular income, and I have enough saved to cover what I’ve been spending on my end minus the things that are going away. It does put a crimp in our savings rate, though.

      As of today, I’ve made a whopping $30 for my writing on this site. Hardly enough to quit on 🙂 I do hope to make at least a little bit as a freelancer, but I don’t anticipate that being anywhere near a full-time salary. However, if the universe leads me to a good opportunity that brings in money I’m not opposed to that! I’m taking this year to figure out what I want to do with the next several years, so I hope something awesome comes out of it.

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