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A millennial couple who reached financial independence by their mid-30s but don't want to retire early share how they still save 80% of their income

Noah Sheidlower   

A millennial couple who reached financial independence by their mid-30s but don't want to retire early share how they still save 80% of their income
  • Lindsey and David Barber save 75% to 80% of their income for retirement and their son's future.
  • Despite having enough to retire early, the millennial couple plans to keep working.

Lindsey Harrison Barber, 34, and her husband, David Barber, 35, have enough to retire early, but neither intends to slow down.

Lindsey owns a marketing agency, while David owns an insurance company, which bring in a combined eight figures in top-line revenue. They put aside six figures for retirement and their son each year, saving about 75% to 80% of their income, according to financial documents shared with Business Insider. Though they have the means to retire and travel, both said retiring would be antithetical to everything they've worked toward over the last decade.

"We are very intentional about the flexibility that we have and because of that, there really isn't a need for us to retire because we're able to enjoy the life that we've created that fits now because of the hard work that we put in 10, 15 years ago," Lindsey said.

Neither are bound by the 9-to-5 corporate lifestyle, and they make time for a personal trainer, eat lunch together, and spend time with their son between work hours. They're not working toward a bigger house, and they said they see little reason to jump to the next big thing when they're content with what they have.

"I almost feel like to some degree we're living like we're retired because we've got the flexibility and the freedom, but at the end of the day we're not; we're still putting in the work," Lindsey said.

Many Americans are working toward achieving financial independence, often defined as when you have enough money to cover all of your living expenses without having to work again. Some are part of the FIRE movement — financial independence, retire early — though others are moving away from early retirement, whether to continue building generational wealth or transitioning to lower-stress roles that still give them something to do.

Growing their agencies and wealth

David grew up lower-middle class. His dad was a manager at a retail store, and his mom stayed home to care for the kids. The family moved to North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, and Ohio for his dad's job. His dad eventually moved into insurance and raised his kids with the philosophy of living frugally.

David said he's worked since he was 16, starting at a grocery store between 25 to 30 hours a week during high school. He also got his insurance license in college so he could work part-time. He paid his way through college with a small contribution from his parents and graduated debt-free.

Lindsey, who grew up middle class, said her mother, who worked for a drug addiction nonprofit, was her role model for working hard and making an impact. Her dad traveled frequently for work and eventually opened a lawn mower business on the side.

Throughout college, she held internships at marketing and PR agencies, and right out of college, she landed a communications role. She leveraged her contacts to open her own full-service marketing agency in 2014.

Lindsey said that even though she was making good money on the leadership team of her past company, she wanted to take a big risk. She began with one client paying her $1,400 a month and slowly built her client base. Eventually, she shifted from just social media marketing to a full-service agency within the first five months.

Lindsey said her goal was to achieve stability as quickly as she could so she could help her husband get his foot in the ground with his new insurance agency. Sometimes, they would stay up until 3 a.m. working, though both have achieved a stronger work-life balance.

"I wanted him to be able to grind without feeling I was in the way and vice versa," she said. "We had a really good balance with that at the beginning of our businesses, which really afforded us the flexibility now to spend more time with our son and not necessarily have to go in at 8 a.m. and grind for 90 hours."

Although he didn't generate much revenue for the first few years, he grew his client base through word of mouth and referrals. His agency now employs eight people.

"It was a lot of 70, 80, 90-hour workweeks of grinding since the agency was started from scratch; it was $0 premium when we started, and we have worked it up over the 11 years since it opened to the size that it is now," David said.

Achieving financial independence

At the beginning of their financial independence journeys, Lindsey and David lived well below their means, spending just on essentials and investing in their companies. Both knew they wanted to have a robust nest egg by their 30s so they could theoretically retire or take on fewer responsibilities at work.

The couple bought a home in 2016 and recently purchased an eight-bedroom beach house in North Carolina, which they manage as a short-term rental. David said they were lucky to have bought their homes when they did, as both have nearly doubled in value, though they attribute their luck partly to how fast they committed to homebuying.

Despite the success of their businesses, both said their philosophy on saving hasn't changed much. They said they're not even thinking of retiring until their mid-40s, and even then, they expect to continue working in consulting or financial advising.

They have no debt beyond their primary home and beach rental property and locked in low mortgage rates on both.

"Buying real estate has been a big boost in our ability to be where we are, but I do think to be fair, we were very strategic about grinding, putting our heads down, and being very intentional about how we were spending money in the early years," Lindsey said.

The two still maintain some of their savings strategies, like cutting coupons to save on coffee and groceries. Lindsey said she'll still catch herself from buying a $30 purse if she doesn't need it.

"We see people a lot online flaunting their stuff and talking about how much money they make and throwing out these arbitrary numbers, and it makes us laugh because we easily could do that but we just don't," Lindsey said.

Still, they'll spend on big purchases that have a personal meaning to them, such as an "astronomical amount" on seeing the North Carolina State Final Four game. They try not to sacrifice the quality of food purchases, and they invest in their long-term health.

"It's just interesting how we'll walk in somewhere clipping coupons, but if there's something that could be a life experience, we don't even think twice about it," she said.

Are you working toward or have achieved financial independence? Reach out to this reporter at

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