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Pizza delivery driver aiming at FIRE in a few more years
Old 05-29-2014, 04:51 PM   #1
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Pizza delivery driver aiming at FIRE in a few more years

Love the forum. I'm 47, my wife 44 and we have two teenage kids. Working as a delivery driver (pizza plus pasta, salads, sandwiches etc) over the last 15 years we've saved a lot, and currently have assets of about 675k, including 10 % share ownership of the restaurant we work at (I work close to full time, my wife about 6 hours a week), and including 335k in our home which has a paid off mortgage. Other assets are a vanguard account with a REIT and an S&P index fund. Having a paid off mortgage has enabled us to save alot every month inspite of a modest income. In five or so years if we continue to save, and our investments keep growing FIRE might be possible if we sell our house and live in a smaller house or move outside of California.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:09 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Rob.

I bet you have some interesting stories of the people you've met or the places you've delivered pizza to over the years.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:15 PM   #3
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Congratulations on being that close to retirement at a relatively young age.

And welcome to the forum!
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:22 PM   #4
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Good job on the saving and having no big debt. Only thing that may put a hurt on your savings is the teenage kids and school costs. Given your modest income (your description), there may be some good need-based scholarship money that you can qualify for? You can probably retire and if you have a good idea on your expenses and will consider moving to a lower COL area.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by rob in cal View Post
Love the forum. I'm 47, my wife 44 and we have two teenage kids. Working as a delivery driver (pizza plus pasta, salads, sandwiches etc) over the last 15 years we've saved a lot, and currently have assets of about 675k, including 10 % share ownership of the restaurant we work at (I work close to full time, my wife about 6 hours a week), and including 335k in our home which has a paid off mortgage. Other assets are a vanguard account with a REIT and an S&P index fund. Having a paid off mortgage has enabled us to save alot every month inspite of a modest income. In five or so years if we continue to save, and our investments keep growing FIRE might be possible if we sell our house and live in a smaller house or move outside of California.
Very inspiring! Great job at saving and all the best. I know many earning six figures and no way near ER --- just blowing money on luxury cars/lavish vacations/fancy toys and five bucks on starbucks coffee twice a day - yikes.
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Old 05-30-2014, 12:44 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rob in cal View Post
Love the forum. I'm 47, my wife 44 and we have two teenage kids. Working as a delivery driver (pizza plus pasta, salads, sandwiches etc) over the last 15 years we've saved a lot, and currently have assets of about 675k, including 10 % share ownership of the restaurant we work at (I work close to full time, my wife about 6 hours a week), and including 335k in our home which has a paid off mortgage. Other assets are a vanguard account with a REIT and an S&P index fund. Having a paid off mortgage has enabled us to save alot every month inspite of a modest income. In five or so years if we continue to save, and our investments keep growing FIRE might be possible if we sell our house and live in a smaller house or move outside of California.
Welcome to the forum (I don't normally post "welcome" replies). I am also "rob in ca."

Good to see a post like this after seeing so many "I have zillion dollars ... can I retire?" posts from so called "long time lurkers."
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Old 05-30-2014, 01:05 PM   #7
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Good to see a post like this after seeing so many "I have zillion dollars ... can I retire?" posts from so called "long time lurkers."
+1 to that. I hope you'll post here on at least a semi-regular basis as I think your experience could be inspirational to anyone who might be under the impression that you need to be in a high-paying "professional" career in order to stand a hope of retiring early.

I don't know your income, although you say that it's modest. You seem to have done well to have a paid-off home and the assets you have, as well as having raised a family.

Welcome to the forum and please post more!
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Old 05-30-2014, 02:46 PM   #8
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Welcome! I am something of a newbie here myself.

Let me add to the chorus of people who find it inspiring to see what you have accumulated as a delivery driver. I'd love to know more about your income, but that's just me being nosy. Are the tips that generous? I imagine delivering in a ritzy area might be akin to being a waiter at a fancy restaurant - higher tips?

Good luck and fortune to you!
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Old 05-30-2014, 03:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the kind replies, and yes I hope my story will inspire others. Incomewise I make around 40k a year, not counting ownership income which varies, but is a fraction of that, and not counting other investment income. I also only work about 30 hours a week, so if I went back to six nights five lunches like I did 10 years ago, (now I'm at four nights, five lunches) I'd be doing even better. Our restaurant is high end for delivery, and the fact that often its non-pizza is all to the good. My average tip must be in the 3.50 per stop range, plus 2 dollars delivery fee, which basically covers automotive expenses. Nights are usually busy and I usually take about 15 to 20 deliveries a night, and on the two nights my wife works we combine for somewhere in the low 20's. Also, in California tipped employees are paid at full minimum wage which is 8 and soon to go to 9 dollars and hour. My low housing costs has enabled me to continue saving more and more, and that is leading to more and more investment/dividend income which certainly inspires me to keep on working.
Our one piece of luck was buying our house in 1998, right before prices took off in our suburban Sacramento area. We paid 174k with 40k down, and then attacked the mortgage like crazy. In 2002 we had 50k left (there was one year where my wife was teaching, so that year we made extra income) on the mortgage, so paid that off with a home equity line of credit, then got that down to 20k by some point in 2003. Then my parents loaned us the last 20k, and we paid them off by October 2004. That was a clear case of mortgage annihilation. Since then we've just kept on saving.
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:08 PM   #10
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Very impressive! It puts the lie to all those who are paid multiples of your income and bemoaning "I'll never be able to retire!"

Example A of "It can be done."
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:06 PM   #11
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Absolute proof that anyone at any income level can retire with financial security if they LBTM, plan well and invest reasonably.

Super impressive!
Way to go
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:48 PM   #12
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Impressive! Welcome to the forum.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:23 PM   #13
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Welcome, Rob. Your story is an inspiration to many.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:48 PM   #14
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I am repeating what others have said, but cannot help it. Impressive and inspirational!

It shows that at every level of income, it's not what you bring in, but what you keep. Way to go, Rob!
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:49 AM   #15
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Solid results. Your discipline is commendable. You will definitely be able to retire because you have had the right mindset for it and are working your plan for decades. Super

Dave Ramsey, of whom I am a recent fan but have been following similar adage of no debt and live below my means always recommends delivering pizzas for those who are short of income and suggests one can earn 1500-2000 per month working the evening shift.

A few questions:

1. What are your vehicle expenses and what kind of vehicle do you use -- to keep expenses low any tips ?

2. if advising others of this work, what's the one or two golden words of wisdom that you'd give ??

Hard work - love it. Hope the next generation or two learns what that is soon versus handouts.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:47 PM   #16
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Great story and very impressive! Welcome to the forum and I hope that you stick around also!
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:50 PM   #17
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Wow, someone looking toward early retirement that doesn't have $7,500,000 and a $8,000 a month pension. My head is going to explode!
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:50 PM   #18
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Papadad,

I drive a 2001 toyota corolla, which now has 201k miles on it. We bought in 2003 when it only had 20k on it, and most of the miles is delivery. For repairs and maintence I found a good mechanic thru Craigslist and he charges very fair rates. We always buy good used, but not too used, cars, and of course pay cash.
I enjoy Dave Ramsey, and discovered him while delivering no less several years ago. He usually has great advice, though I don't know his general feelings about FIRE, but following him one certainly can achieve, and its great to hear his support of pizza delivery.
My main advice about what to look for in a delivery job, is 1) work at an independent place with a diverse menu. Ours is amazingly diverse, sometimes I'll go three or four deliveries without one single pizza, just pastas, burgers, sandwiches, salads. Other times we will get more pizzas however. 2) Regardless of where you work, its got to be a place with a reasonable sized delivery area, and one where you can expect to take about 15 deliveries a night. Many places hire too many drivers per night, and it destroys your hourly net pay, and sometimes they do this because of a large delivery area, so thats a double warning. And of course, deliver in a nice middle to upper middle class area, where tips are good to great.
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Old 06-01-2014, 07:42 AM   #19
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Thanks Rob. Good insight on tools of the trade.

In prep for eventual FIRE, We purchased a demo 2013 corolla earlier this year to go along with the 1994 Subaru, and My sister also is selling me her 1998 Honda CRV that my kids will use.

Just Can't best Toyotas Hondas and Subarus for longevity and low total cost of ownership.

Is car insurance high given line of work?

After I FIRE I want to open a small food truck business for seasonal income - seasonal to allow for global travel, low overhead, and easy for me to self manage/self operate. That's one of my plan B's anyway. Got a couple others but I keep coming back to that as a business which won't cost a fortune to get into and can be positive cash flow and then profitable relatively soon there after. Working on the business plan now. Will see ...

Feel like I am getting close to fire and then panic as I know we will need extra income with 2 kids x 4 years of college each coming soon. That starts in a year, and we will have one overlap year where we are paying for a freshman and a senior presuming both can get through university in 4 years ....
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:45 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Turboslacker View Post
Absolute proof that anyone at any income level can retire with financial security if they LBTM, plan well and invest reasonably.

Super impressive!
Way to go
+1

and +1 again !

thank you for joining and posting !
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