BTU #81 - Doug Nordman: Submarines to Financial Independence at 40


“In the 14 years of financial independence that I've enjoyed since retirement, I've found that you can relax, you can figure out what's really important to you and you can focus on that. And so I do maybe look mellow and free and easy and having a good lifestyle, and some of that is because I've been able to do whatever I want all day for the last 14 years or so. But it also means that you get to design the type of lifestyle that you want, and you really are responsible for your own entertainment."– Doug Nordman

Doug Nordman is an early retiree, who has found financial independence far before he thought it possible. He is the author of The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement - a book where all royalties are donated to military charities. He started out at the Naval Academy, after which he served on submarines for 20 years. Since retiring from the Navy, Doug has worked to help other veterans reach financial independence, for free. Doug's spouse is a Navy Reserve retiree, and his daughter is about to start her 2nd Surface Warfare Officer junior officer sea tour on the USS GERALD R FORD. He holds a Masters in Engineering Science/Computers/Weapons Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

This is one of those rare interviews I do that I would recommend to every single listener - whether you're on active duty or have been out for twenty years, this is an episode for you. The top two reasons to listen to this episode are:

  1. Financial Freedom - Doug retired from the military just after he was forty years old and hasn't worked since then. At first, he and his wife didn't even realize they had achieved financial independence. Since he retired, Doug has helped countless others achieve financial independence, and he talks about it in a very open and transparent way that I know you'll find achievable and accessible.
  2. Tactics - Doug talks about "the fog of work" and how easy it us for each of us to get caught up in to do lists and the daily grind. He talks about taking time away from work to gather ones bearings, but also how you can use 20 minutes a day to get perspective and move towards your goals.

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Show Notes

  • 2:02 - Doug's background as an early retiree
  • 2:52 - At what point Doug knew he was going to leave the military and how he approached this decision
  • 3:31 - Doug was slow to realize that he and his wife had achieved financial independence. Doug shares actual numbers about what financial independence looks like
  • 6:02 - The 4% withdrawal rate, and why this is critical for financial independence
  • 10:00 - How retiring in the military is a choice... it's not crucial for financial independence. But if you're enjoying it, it's a great option
  • 11:40 - How Doug chose a life pursuing what energizes him, rather than letting a single number - salary - define his life
  • 13:45 - A look at Doug's life, where he is able to pursue whatever fulfills him and makes him happy
  • 16:25 - How completely attainable financial independence is, and how it is something anyone could achieve. It centers around mental shifts rather than monumental changes in your lifestyle
  • 18:26 - Chronic fatigue and "The Fog of Work" and how it can hinder us from reaching fulfillment. We can get caught up racing from one thing to the next, without thinking about what we really want, or what our ultimate destination is
  • 24:37 - Doug's book and website about financial independence, and what started this path
  • 28:00 - What guided Doug to donate 100% of the royalties he receives from his book, and why this was an enormous advantage in the writing process
  • 32:00 - Other resources Doug would recommend to listeners
  • 34:27 - A few of the most common questions Doug has seen over his last 14 years of financial independence
  • 39:23 - Doug's advice for those on active duty who will transition under ten years of service
  • 43:55 - Doug's advice for those on active duty who are past ten years of service or plan to get out after at least ten years of service
  • 46:09 - Final words of wisdom