Why I’m Retiring the Day I Graduate from High School

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Today we have a special guest. My youngest daughter, Brooke, is 18 today. I have two daughters and I managed to keep them alive until adulthood. In my mind I’ve done my job. There is some trepidation, however, which will become clear in a moment. I raised my girls to the best of my ability. They’re fine young ladies. But their path to financial independence is a unique one.

Brooke is finishing up her senior year of high school and has some pretty big plans. I asked her to share her story. She listened to me talk around the house for years. She can repeat my financial rules with perfection. I think you’ll hear a bit of dad in her voice. Enjoy.

 

Why I’m Retiring the Day I Graduate from High School

By: Brooke Schroeder

I’m different. I’ve always been different. I was born with a big disadvantage. Before I was a year old I had more surgeries than most people in a lifetime. At twelve I started taking over a dozen medications. Pill after pill is cut and placed in a dispenser like that of a 90 year old man.

I’m on the right standing with my sister, mom and dad. We had our picture taken in Kentucky a few minutes before the total solar eclipse.

Dad picks on me that all the pills I take are a meal in itself. My parents are supportive, but they have no idea how much of a pain it is to be sick all the time.

I’m also different from my family in other ways. My sister wants to travel the world and teach English (more on that later). My dad hates traveling past the mailbox at the end of the driveway. He says he wants to build a wall around the farm. When Trump came out with his wall on the Mexican border dad said he needs to talk to Trump and see if he could get a section built around the farm.

Everybody in the family reads a lot except me. It’s not that I don’t read, I just don’t want to do it twenty hours a day!

My mom stopped working a normal job when she was around 30. My dad is a workaholic. He gets crazy ideas and can’t help himself.  He has the farm and his tax office. Then he writes his blog. He is always starting a business or doing something. And he reads more than my teachers at school. He reads everything. You would think it would get boring after a while.

There is one trait I share with my family: frugality. My dad is tight with money; I mean real tight. I’ve seen my dad pass on an ice cream cone just to say he didn’t touch the money in his pocket for the entire month. Like I said: tight.

I try not to spend too much money either. I certainly spend less than my friends. Every dime I earn goes into an index fund. My first money when I was a baby was invested. It wasn’t much, but it got the account opened.

After the eclipse we visited a botanical garden. It was research for me.

While everyone else is reading I head outside. When not working with my hands I play with computers. I’m not 100% sure yet, but I might go to college someday to learn more about IT. Too be honest, I’m in no hurry to go to college. I like school and get good grades. My friends are there too. As graduation approaches I already miss them.

My friends all have plans. A few plan on getting married. Many are going to college. I guess some will buy a home and car and all the other stuff that messes with your happiness in life. The kids at school don’t share my frugal ways as much as I do.

I started working for my grandparents when I was like eight or nine. My dad has an accounting business and I help out over the holidays getting organizers ready to mail, but my heart is outside an office. My grandparents (dad’s parents) have a landscaping business. Digging in the dirt doesn’t bother me and once I learned a few tricks of the trade there can be real money in it.

When I was younger I worked summers and weekends landscaping. Winter was either a few hours at dad’s office or homework. The money was slow during the school year back then.

I’m milking Bess for all she’s worth. Free is better than any car I could buy.

My dad was adamant I save most of my income. I stuffed my Roth IRA and regular Vanguard account every year. After all these years I have amassed $487,916.12. (My dad made me look it up because he says it’s impressive.) The stock market had a lot to do with it too.

The last few years my income exploded while my expenses stayed near zero. I use my dad’s old 2000 Honda Accord with duct tape holding on the spoiler in back. My plan is to milk that car until it dies. Dad picks on me he is kicking me out on my 18th birthday, but I’m staying. Free rent is good.

The income part has grown nicely over the years. I discovered I could find plants and supplies and sell them in projects for a lot more. We also have a 10 acre farm where I grow trees, flowers and other landscaping plants.

My sister is going to China this summer to teach English and is staying with a host family. I decided to not go to college, at least not right away. After graduation I plan on visiting my sister in China for two weeks. After that I have a few landscaping gigs I need to get back to.

Here is one of the first trees I planted. Dad isn’t taking care of it as you can see weeds and the need for mulch. It’s hard raising good parents.

When summer winds down here in Wisconsin I hope to live someplace warmer in the winter. (Dad keeps the house 60 so I have plenty of motivation.) I’ll probably travel the southern U.S. mostly this winter and the Mediterranean the next winter. It is hard finding people my age to travel with, however. They all have to work jobs.

So that is the plan my dad wanted me to share. I saved and invested. My investments are now big enough so that I don’t have to work after I graduate from high school. Like my sister, I like to travel and see stuff. I give my parents credit for teaching me how money works. I’ll probably always do some landscaping work on the side. If you know what you are doing you can make a year of income in a few summer months. Just finding one big rock a rich person wants in their yard can bring over a thousand dollars!

My dad isn’t kicking me out no matter what he says. If he does I’m still not leaving. My health is reasonably good right now, but with all the medical stuff I deal with it is no guarantee. People with my condition usually live to their 40s at most. Medical technology will probably let me live a long, normal life. But just in case, I saved so I didn’t have to waste time with a demanding career. There might not be enough time for me to do it the normal way so I’m making the most of the time I have.

 

This is where dad swallows hard. I’m so proud of my girls on one hand and sad they are living their own life of which some will be without Mrs. Accountant and me. Brooke is 18 today. She has a plan. I taught her all I know. I hope it is enough.

 



 

Posted in

Keith Taxguy

25 Comments

  1. christina on March 14, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Awesome you go girl!!!

  2. AJ on March 14, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Thank you for sharing. I’m very proud of your daughter too!

  3. Jen on March 14, 2018 at 8:08 am

    So powerful and inspiring. Great Job.

  4. Wise Money Tips on March 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Very impressive indeed. Congrats and enjoy!

  5. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance on March 14, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I love your plan, Brooke. Happy Birthday! It’s so impressive that you’ve saved enough to do this at such a young age.

    Keith – You must be proud. I too invested my kids money in index funds and have started teaching them everything I know. My oldest is almost four so the lessons are still early but he has a better grasp of money than most adults I know. When I left work early because I was sick he was worried if I got paid and if we’d be able to pay for the house and his toys. Anyway, I can only hope my sons will have the financial maturity that Brooke has when they turn 18.

    Great post!!!

  6. Gene on March 14, 2018 at 9:24 am

    “My first money when I was a baby was invested. It wasn’t much, but it got the account opened.”

    “My dad was adamant I save most of my income. I stuffed my Roth IRA and regular Vanguard account every year. After all these years I have amassed $487,916.12. (My dad made me look it up because he says it’s impressive.) The stock market had a lot to do with it too.”

    I have a small child, and have been wondering what account to open for her. She is 4. I do not believe we can open a ROTH IRA for her, but my question is….what was the first account that was opened for you (Brooke)?

    Great story btw. I wish I would have been a little more relaxed about life when graduating high school. I was too focused on building wealth to have a life…don’t make the same mistake.

    • Keith Taxguy on March 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Gene, Brooke’s first account was at the bank (very short term) and then I added enough to open a non-qualified account at MFS and later moved to Vanguard. Once she had earned income (before age 10; she’s a farm girl) we opened a Roth as well. She also has a retirement plan which I changed (so she has more than one retirement account) because I changed my mind after we started.

      Also, Brooke owns stock in Aflac(AFL) and had stock in Wrigley (WWY) until Warren Buffett gave Mars Corp money to buy WWY out. Brooke and I still have a hit out on Warren. Both stocks are/were in a DRIP. She also has a few other minor investments she didn’t include.

      • Gene on March 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

        thank you for the information.

  7. Sam on March 14, 2018 at 9:36 am

    You have a very good foundation for journeying through life Brooke, congratulations on finishing High school and making the decision to pursue what you enjoy.

    Keith, you’ve done a marvelous thing living out what you believe and guiding your family for their well-being. Great post!

  8. Lisa on March 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

    So inspiring, and WOW on the net worth! Pls tell your daughter she will meet all sorts of people her age traveling on their own in hostels all over the world. We are in year 3 of perpetual world travel (your nightmare, right?) after retiring at 53. We have traveled in many parts of Asia, South America, some Europe, Australia & New Zealand and have met some of the coolest young people also hitting the road. Even tho we do not stay in hostels ourselves, the “kids” we meet on ferries, buses, beaches and in tiny local restaurants & bars tell us they meet alot of their travel buds in hostels. She will find and meet all sorts (esp Dutch!) that take a year or more to wander the world before and even during college. Par for the course across Europe and even in Australia. Many, including lots of girls we met, travel alone, but many kids sometimes travel together for a while when planning to visit the same places after they meet. Plus, they are all on budget to keep traveling as long as possible, so uber frugal as well! Keep your net worth to yourself, obviously. There may not be alot of kids traveling the world from Wisconsin, but there are lots from other places! Starting out with a visit to sis is a great way to start. All I can say is, You GO, girl! There is a wonderful, interesting, exciting big world of wonder out here for you to explore! Also, lots of different plants, haha!

  9. Susan @ FI Ideas on March 14, 2018 at 9:50 am

    I am so blown away by Brooke in so many ways. First, because she has faced her medical reality and is so positive and confident. I love the duct tape on the car and the idea that you can find a big rock and make money from it. What a thinker. And the idea that she can make a year of income in a few summer months. I hope that all of us older folks can take a lesson from her. I hope I can.

  10. Jim @ Route To Retire on March 14, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Holy shnikes – that’s awesome, Brooke! You’ve already socked away more money that most old farts do in their entire lifetime!

    Good luck to you and I hope all your dreams come true!

    — Jim

    PS You’re a much better writer than your dad! 😉

  11. lisa on March 14, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Great post by an awesome lady! So happy to hear of your plans and overall good health, despite a few obstacles. I’ve had my own medical obstacles since age 10 and it can be quite a struggle, so I understand!
    Dad should be very proud for raising great kids. Thanks for letting us see a bit of your world through your eyes!

  12. Mike on March 14, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Keith,
    That is an awesome and inspiring story.
    I have 2 sons that we have raised similarly. Not to that degree but in the ballpark.
    If you and your wife died in a car crash tomorrow those girls have what it takes to be just fine. Even if they had no money or inheritance.
    That has got to be comforting.

  13. BusyMom on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Wow! Super impressed. And thank you for writing that, Brooke! I am going to print this out for my son. He is 9, and needs someone to look up to.

  14. Kenneth on March 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    OMG, Wow! Does Pete Adeney know about this? This may be a new record for early retirement! I’m so proud of you Brooke, you are an inspiration!

    • Keith Taxguy on March 14, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      I was talking Pete and Mrs. Pete Monday, but taxes were the topic. It’s really not about a record, Kenneth. My kids have different dreams in life than mine. I worked hard to convince them they could live their dream and to never live anyone else’s. Brooke’s story isn’t much different than mine. She has a season side gig which covers the bills because she’s cautious with money. I did the same in the tax field. I most proud she can live her life as she chooses.

  15. Jason on March 14, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Wow, just wow! You , young lady, are AMAZING! Congratulations, Congratulations, Congratulations! As a college professor I must endorse the idea that you someday get some form of postsecondary education (doesn’t have to be traditional college). But you are so far ahead of the game it isn’t even funny. You were taught well. I am just blown away by what you have saved. I hope others see your story.

    Congrats again on your success and you deserve the opportunity to travel a bit. Knowing the environment you grew up in I am sure you will even find a side hustle to do so.

  16. Trader Travis Wilkerson on March 14, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Truly a remarkable post. Congrats Brooke and thanks for sharing.

    I’m passing this on to my wife as this is pretty much what we aspire to for our own kids. Both the financial goals, but more importantly the value system and work ethic that was behind it all.

    Most people focus on the money and totally miss the value system behind it. Again, congrats and so proud of you!

  17. Dana on March 14, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Wow! This such a stellar story. Thank you SO much for sharing it with us!!!! You guys are doing amazing!

  18. Mick on March 14, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Wow!
    Frugal, hard working, and great business sense! I wish I was half that smart when I was 18! Very impressive!
    And I personally think University is over rated unless you are going into STEM, medicine, or law. You are way beyond anything you would gain from University.
    Travel, on the other hand, is the best educational opportunities. I am fascinated by the cultural differences and basic similarities of different cultures.

  19. Catherine on March 15, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Great job Brooke and Dad! Awesome to see this and what an inspiration. Keep doing your thing. Best of luck and enjoy your travels. It’s an amazing way to learn about people, cultures and life in general.

  20. […] town. The kids are all gone. Brooke is an adult now as she reaches for high school graduation and big plans of her own. She has no plans of moving out at this time. But before long the call will be heard and eventually […]

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