The Final Step In Moving From Good to Great (Good To Great Part 6)

We just completed The Final Step In Moving From Good To Great, with only 42 days to spare.

13 months ago, I began writing this “Good To Great” series with How To Move Your Retirement From Good To Great. That post has proven to be popular, with over 16,000 people reading it to date (I pause, and realize that’s 2X the population of the small Michigan town I grew up in.  Isn’t the internet amazing?).

That first post in the series explained our decision to downsize twice in 13 months in our attempt at moving to Great for retirement. This series has followed our progress moving from Good To Great, with our goal being to complete the transition from our “Good” to our “Great” Retirement Cabin in the North Georgia mountains before my retirement date in June 2018.  Our great retirement cabin is pictured above.

We Made Our Goal Of Moving From Good To Great, With 42 Days To Spare. Click To Tweet

The entire Good To Great series is below.

The Final Step In Moving From Good To Great

In today’s Part 6 of the saga of Good To Great, we officially announce the completion of our move in “The Final Step In Moving From Good To Great”.

It’s been a Great year.  We took on a tough Challenge, and…

…We Achieved The Goal.

The culmination of our moving from Good To Great may come as something which you would interpret as materialist at first glance, but I urge you to look beyond that and see something much bigger:

The Culmination Of A Dream

A Dream represented, in this case, by the remodeling of a kitchen.

The Great Kitchen – The Final Step In The Move From Good To Great

The Kitchen Remodeling Project

For over 30 years of a great marriage, my wife has dreamed of doing a kitchen remodeling project.  Given the transitory nature of my career, we could never justify the investment in the various homes we’ve owned along the way (10 homes, at last count, with an average stay of 3.2 years.).

After just a few short years in a house, we would inevitably Obey The Man when he asked us to take the next Corporate Relocation to a city far away.  We did what we had to do, in the pursuit of the almighty dollar which is required, like blood, to flow through the veins of our lives.  Until it’s not.

Financial Independence changes a lot of things.

My wife has been unable to realize her dream for three decades.

Until now.

She recently achieved her dream of designing the perfect kitchen for our Great Cabin.  The remodeling was completed 42 days before my retirement.  Yes, it may sound materialistic, but I assure you it’s not.  A kitchen is an important room in the house, especially for spouses who love to cook.  It’s reasonable to dream of building a space which matters to you.  A space with your fingerprint, a space with your style.  A kitchen to match your dreams.

A Kitchen That’s Not Just Good, But Great.

We’ve decided to use the successful conclusion of The Kitchen Remodeling Project as a milestone to mark “Complete” our retirement transition from Good To Great.  We’re Checking The Box. We always knew we were going to do the kitchen project, and felt our move to Great wasn’t complete until the kitchen was done.

The Kitchen Is Now Done.  The Dream Is Complete.

The Dream Is Realized. We've Finished The Move From Good To Great. Click To Tweet

Other Moves We’ve Made From Good To Great

Mountain Biking In The Cohutta Wilderness

In the 6 months since our last post in this series, we’ve intentionally targeted other areas of our lives in moving from Good To Great.  Summarized, we…

  • …joined a health club in our mountain community, and are working out regularly.
  • …bought a truck (F250) and 5th wheel (Reflection) for our retirement travel adventures. (future post planned).
  • …had our first camping trip, to a nearby State Park.  With all 4 of our dogs.
  • …started taking free classes at our local gym (I’ve fallen in love with Spinning).
  • …become “regulars” at our local church.
  • …bought a used Mountain Bike and started playing around with riding in the nearby mountains.
  • …rescued dogs every Saturday with a local dog rescue.
  • …found new Passions, new things to pursue as a Purpose.  My wife, pottery.  Me, mountain biking.
  • …volunteered more, with my wife now also volunteering at our local Animal Control, gotta love those dogs.
  • …booked a 3-week trip cross-country via Amtrack in August to visit our daughter.
  • …made new friends.

And Most Importantly, We Achieved Early Retirement (ok, not until June 8th, but you get my point)

Look more closely at those moves, and you’ll notice an intentional mix of “Hard” ($, truck) and “Soft” (Purpose,) moves. Put it all together, and I think it’s fair to conclude that we’ve completed our initial move from Good To Great.

The Plan Has Come Together, and we’re now experimenting with new activities in preparation for our June retirement.  I’m even finding a bit more time to fish.  (BTW, I can’t wait for retirement, and more free time to enjoy the many outdoor activities in the beautiful mountain region we now call home.) 

Trout fishing on The Toccoa River

For these and other reasons, we feel we’ve completed The Final Step in our move from Good To Great for retirement. We’ve achieved a major goal, and it’s time to celebrate.  Sure, there will other goals in our future, but it’s important to stop, reflect, and celebrate when you achieve major goals along The Journey Of Life.

So today, we celebrate.

Our move to Great is completed. We just finished The Final Step, with 42 days to spare. Click To Tweet

On the day our kitchen remodeling was complete, our Retirement Countdown calendar hit 42 days.

We Made It To Great – With 42 Days To Spare

We’d always planned to complete all of our “Major” expenditures before we hit our retirement date of June 8, 2018.  We’d been given advice by those who have gone before us that it’s wise to get all of the “Big Ticket Items” cleared before your retirement date.  In reality, it’s often hard to shift from being a lifelong “Saver” to a “Spender”, even when backed by an Intentional Plan To Achieve A Great Retirement.  We made a plan, and we executed. We decided what moving from Good To Great meant to us, and we took the steps necessary to get there.  Yep, we spent some money.  But that’s ok, it was all part of the plan.

Once you retire and that paycheck stops flowing, my friends who’ve retired have told me that we won’t feel like spending much money in the first few years of retirement.  I’ve started a draft of a future post on the subject.  Also (double secret) I’ll be making a big announcement on a collaboration I’m working on regarding a case study of our transition into retirement. I’ll be going to Nashville for this one, and I’m excited about it.  More details in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Bottom Line:  We put a lot of effort into determining what Great looked like to us.  We developed a plan to move from Good To Great, we budgeted for it, and we put together a detailed spending plan via our retirement cash flow model.  We knew what we could afford to do.

So, We Did It.

Sure, we spent some money.  But…

…We Moved From Good To Great.

Good To Great Doesn’t Take Money

While part of our move from Good To Great included some significant financial outlays, the more important point is that the “Good To Great” philosophy is NOT about material possessions.  It’s about designing your life to be the life you want it to be, and then going about getting it done.

The “kitchen remodel” may sound a bit hypocritical in a personal finance blog about early retirement, but our focus was the Achievement Of The Dream, within the guidelines of the money we could afford to spend.  We were free to create our vision for what a “Great” Retirement looked like, within the guardrails of our retirement cash flow.  As long as we knew we could afford it, we were free to choose, with other criteria becoming more important than the money involved.

Note, however, that our safe withdrawal rate will be below 3%.  That’s not the case for a lot of folks.

And that’s ok.

Moving to Great means being intentional in deciding what you want your life to be within your pre-determined spending limits, and then taking the steps to get there.  If you want to “Go Lean” and retire young, go for it.  If you prefer to work a bit longer, and Great means a later retirement for you, give yourself a gold star.  I suffered through the One More Year Syndrome and didn’t retire until Age 55.  Now, that tradeoff is providing payback, and we were able to remodel our kitchen. We could have retired earlier, but we wouldn’t have had the Financial Flexibility that we’ll now have for the rest of our lives.  That was a tradeoff we were willing to make.

The Definition of Great Is Personal. Live Your Own Great. Click To Tweet

Sidebar:  The Relocation Of The World HQ Of The Retirement Manifesto

Back in May 2017, I sent the following tweet, which was the official announcement of our move into the Great Cabin.  It was the first public picture of my new World HQ Office in the upstairs loft of our Great cabin:

It’s been a year since I hit “send” on that Tweet, and it’s now time to call this, officially, the new World HQ of The Retirement Manifesto.

For the past two years, I’ve been writing the majority of my posts while Alone in my City Apartment. In less than a month that all changes.  The apartment lease expires on May 31st, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  From this point forward, most of the posts you’ll be reading from me will be created in our new Great cabin headquarters (and, perhaps, from an occasional coffee shop along the road as our travel increases).

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to write those words.  I’m Going Home.

We’ve Completed The Move From Good To Great.

The Final, Final Step In Moving To Great

This past weekend my wife and I were driving down our gravel road, less than a mile from our Great Cabin.  Ironically, we were talking about how we’d just completed our move from Good To Great.  Suddenly, we saw a whole flock of smaller birds swarming a huge hawk.  We slowed down to look.

We stopped and got out of the car.

“That’s An Eagle!!  We both shouted at the same time.  We stood in awe and watched as he swooped down and picked up something along the side of the road in his powerful talons.

We have an Eagle that lives by our Great Cabin, near the banks of the trout-filled Toccoa River!

How Great is that?

Don’t Settle For Good.

Go For Great. 


Like An Eagle.


  1. Great post Fritz and congratulations 🎉🍾🎈. Your new kitchen is beautiful and so is your vision of the future. So many people in our family past struggled with retirement but you guys are relishing in all the change. Only way to be.

  2. Jackie did an amazing job on the kitchen remodel!! It has been a honor to follow you through these past couple of years of blog posts and i’m So excited to see what the next phase of life brings to you both. You have been intentional in your decisions and moves and soon it’ll be time to enjoy the fruits. I am looking forward to hearing about the Nashville connection and what happens there. All the best to you both – just 42 more days!!

  3. One thing to keep in mind, Fritz — you are not done. It is not like you have crossed a finish line, and everything stays static from now on in a “perfection zone”. Yes, you’ve done well to make a plan and complete it, but you have to keep assessing where you are, what you want, what you can (and cannot) control. Perhaps you are now (or in 42 days) free, but that just means you have to keep exercising that freedom constantly to get the best personal bang for the buck.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Marty. We know there will be future goals, and are constantly striving for the best we can do with our lives, and we realize there are many elements outside our control. We’ll keep charging ahead, while also taking time to celebrate the achievement of milestones along the way!

  4. Ha ha, I can’t believe you actually said words like “Final” and “Done”, with a house?! Or a kitchen. Just kidding, but those home projects always have one more thing (like one more year syndrome!).

    Congratulations now on 25 days. I know you write ahead of posting, so I guess there will be a day we read a post that sounds like you’re retired that you wrote on your last week or two. That’s an interesting thought. Knowing you, you’ve got it figured out. It’s fun for us to stay tuned.

    1. Ok, ok, I get it. No doubt there will always be “one more thing” (or two, or three), but it just felt “right” to celebrate the kitchen as the conclusion of our “Pre-Retirement” move to Great!

      I do write ahead, but will likely be writing only 1 week ahead through my retirement date of June 8th. I’ll be traveling 3 of my final 4 weeks at work, so it’s impossible to stay ahead with the blog. I might even (gasp) have to miss a week, but we’ll see how it goes!

  5. Nicely done and congratulations! I enjoy following you’re steps to retirement.

  6. Another great post and good-looking kitchen! As one of the FIRST blogs I started following last year after my early retirement….I continue to enjoy EVERY single post…..most are very thought-provoking and align with many of my experiences. Also looking forward to hopefully meeting you and your wife sometime this summer at the barking lot when we are up in Blue Ridge a few months this summer! Congratulations on your final glide path to your GREAT retirement!!

    1. Can’t wait to meet you!! You’ll love Blue Ridge, and you’ll love The Barking Lot! We’ll be there, every Saturday except when we’re traveling. 11:00 – 3:30, right across from Harvest On Main. Looking forward to meeting you this summer!

  7. Good looking remodel. All nice and satisfying amenities, the end product of remodel – flowing very good.
    We also love open-shelving at the end-cap: for us with kids, we keep cereals, and some quick handy items, along with a few cook books (never read them, just for decor :-).

    Nice and beefy sink and great 3-door stainless refrigerator (may I say nice fridge, Fritz ? 🙂

    Is that granite or Quartz – looking almost like marble! Real good back-splash too. Glad you guys picked the remodel theme which 1) timeless, and will last ages 2) good quality 3) very functional!
    Ample natural light coming-in from two large windows from two directions

    Couple of three questions:
    1) Reason to go with re-circulating model type of Microwave over the five-burner Gas-Range ? (was outside exhaust not feasible? or due to limited cabinet space to put microwave elsewhere ?)
    2) Hoping that phone is a VOIP type phone, please don’t tell us you are still using/paying-for /landline/ phone !
    3) Are we seeing two trash-cans in kitchen, reason for that !?

    From the very Top picture – showing your cabin (?) — is that a screened-porch out in the back? Awesome to keep great weather-in, but bugs out 🙂 Hope you have a fan & outlets there!

    Nice metal roofing, it appears – sure to lasts ages !

    1. Now THERE’S an observant reader!! Thanks for the compliments. Regarding your questions: Quartz. Microwave is re-circulating? I didn’t even know that! We bought a “package deal”, the microwave came with it. Phone is actually a landline!!!!! Internet service is crap in the mountains, so I need a landline for work (VOIP doesn’t work on slow internet, I can’t even SKYPE from the cabin! Alas, there are some downsides to living the small town, mountain life! Two trash cans, yep. One is “burnable” stuff, the other goes to garbage. Finally, yes, a HUGE screened in porch, and one of our favorites things about the Great cabin! We spend a lot of time sitting on that back porch with the 4 dogs!

      Thanks for paying attention! (BTW, are you the Sri that I met at FinCon? If so, thanks for your continued loyalty to my blog!).

  8. Looking good! Or shall I say Great!!
    You’re all set to move and you already started building your support by joining a church and going to a new gym. That’s really neat. I’m much worse at that part. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Thanks, Joe! No doubt, building relationships in your local community is, in my view, a very important aspect of a “Great” retirement/life. Take some time to get to know some folks, it’s worth the effort!

  9. “It’s about designing your life to be the life you want it to be, and then going about getting it done.”

    This is absolutely it! And I think it is safe to say that you have accomplished your goal Fritz! Well done, my friend, well done. Can not wait to see what this “great” life has in store for you.

    1. I love that quote, too. Thanks for highlighting it! Congrats on your trip to Amsterdam, a very cool city where I’ve spent some time over the years. I love those canals, and Annie Frank’s home is a place that sends shivers down my spine. It’s amazing the life story that so many have to offer, including you and Mr. WoW!

      Only 29 more days until we enjoy our first Waffles On Wednesday!

  10. Duuude, that mountain bike pic is awesome – love the ominous looking sky!! And that cabin office looks to die for. Cozy, rustic, natural light. What else do you need?

    You’re living the dream – congrats!

    1. Dude, we are living the dream. For real. Wink.

      At this point, there’s really not anything else we need. Looking forward to writing more posts from that cozy office (if I have time after all of the swimming, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and traveling!)

  11. Congrats you two! Happy for Jackie to get her kitchen done. I’ve designed/remodeled 4 and it is so much fun (Yes, I’ve also moved a lot!). Looking forward to seeing you in Michigan and hearing about all your new plans!

  12. Would you be willing to share your annual real estate tax amount? My husband and I are considering purchasing a vacation/retirement home in either GA, NC, or TN. Seems like taxes in any of these are a lot lower than our current state of PA but not sure if the amounts I see are true or just a portion (ie are school taxes included as that’s our highest portion in PA). Hoping for the mountain/lake combo at less than $250,000.

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