I hope I don’t disappoint anyone by revealing that my real name isn’t Ern. Or Big Ern. But I am a big guy, at 6’6″ (just under 2 meters), which explains why the name “Big Ern” stuck! My real name is Karsten. I am originally from Germany but came to the U.S. in 1995. Initially as an exchange student at Purdue University and then for my Master’s and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Minnesota. After graduating, I got my first “real” job at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and I also did a number of side gigs/hustles: teaching both undergraduate and Ph.D.-level economics at Emory University in Atlanta. In 2008, I moved to San Francisco to join the research department of a large investment manager and since 2010 I also hold the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. I retired from my finance job in June 2018 after a nice, productive 10-year run. Right after leaving my job, we went on a 20+ country trip around the world and we’re now settling down in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, just outside of Vancouver, Washington.
I am married to my beautiful wife Kristal who is also an immigrant. She’s from the Philippines originally, and just like me, she’s become a U.S. citizen after spending many years in this country by now. Our five-year-old daughter Kati is the sunshine of our lives and definitely one big motivator for us to retire early and spend more time with each other. So, my wife has also just quit her job as a nurse (RN) and she will join me on this journey.
In the large spectrum of existing Early Retirement blogs, where is our niche? We hope that people will enjoy our views on everything financial. Sometimes we read other blogs and we have something intelligent and new to say, but by posting in the comments section, not many people will get to see it. We like to create a permanent record, share our views with a hopefully larger audience and get feedback and suggestions for our journey to Early Retirement. Some of the topics we write about:
- Safe Withdrawal Rates for early retirees: See our multi-part series on the topic and the SSRN working paper!
- Check out the Safe Withdrawal Rate Case Studies we have put together for ten volunteers.
- We don’t like Robo-advisors! You can easily replicate what they are doing for free.
- We like alternative investments, especially option writing.
- We think the Emergency Fund is overrated.
- Even though, we are not too optimistic about expected equity returns going forward we like bonds even less!
Start here: List of all articles
Links: Our blogroll and other useful links
Check out our interviews and podcast appearances:
- I appeared on the ChooseFI podcast several times:
- Interview on My Own Advisor, talking about early retirement, the 4% Rule, options trading, dividend investing and more: The proven path to early retirement ignoring the 4% rule
- My podcast appearance on “Richer Soul“
- Watch me on the Mission Money Youtube channel in HD(!), talk about FIRE and Safe Withdrawal Rates. It’s in German, though!
- My podcast appearance on the Your Money, Your Wealth Podcast
- I sat down with Steve Chen from NewRetirement.com
- My podcast appearance on Chain of Wealth
- My podcast with Gwen and J: Fire Drill podcast on real estate crowdfunding
- My Christopher Guest Post on Physician of FIRE
- A FIRE-side Chat With ERN on The Green Swan (link is now defunct)
- Options trading interview on Amber Tree Leaves
- Interview with ERN on From Cents to Retirement (link is now defunct)