Imagine what you could do if you didn’t have to work. For Brad Barrett, ’01, that dream is a reality.

“It came down to saving money to the point where working was optional,” Barrett said.

He left his job as a CPA four years ago, and hasn’t looked back. It’s part of a movement called FIRE: financially independent, retire early. He and his wife, Laura, are huge proponents and leaders in the movement.

The Barretts thought they had hit the jackpot after college, both receiving positions at the widely known accounting firm Arthur Andersen. But, a month after Brad started working there in 2001, the Enron scandal was publicized, and suddenly their entire professional future disappeared.

“To see this accounting firm disintegrate that first year made a big impact on me,” Barrett said. “So I knew I needed to do something different.”

They found new jobs, quickly started prioritizing saving money, and increased their savings rate to more than 50% of their income. Now, they have enough money saved where they no longer need to work in order to take care of their two kids and pay all their bills.

“We saved diligently for 10 to 15 years, and it worked out,” Barrett said.

They live a frugal, yet normal suburban life:, both drive older cars, cook their meals at home , save significantly on cell phones, and adhere strictly to their budget to ensure they can continue this lifestyle. They say those minor sacrifices are well worth it reclaim decades of their lives and spend every day with their kids.

“If you’re working full time, you usually can’t take more than ten calendar days off at a time,” Barrett said. “I get to spend all this time with my family, and it’s better than I could have imagined.”

He and his wife do have some additional income. Barrett hosts a Top 50 iTunes Business podcast about financial independence, which provides income, and Laura prepares taxes for others during tax season to add to their nest egg.

Still, many people would argue that it’s not enough money to live on for the coming decades, but Barrett says, it’s all about the numbers and some flexibility.

“There’s a safe withdrawal rate, about four percent every year, and that money will last you 30 to 50 years pretty easily,” Barrett says.

And he thinks his time at the Robins School has helped him confidently take on this lifestyle and grow his internet businesses.

“I credit my accounting background because it allowed me to look at the problem of working full-time a little differently,” Barrett said. “All these different items you pick up learning accounting, that’s helped me more than I could possibly describe.”

Specifically, he said everything he learned from Joe Hoyle’s accounting course has not only helped him as a CPA, but as a person.

“If you can get through Professor Hoyle’s classes, you can do anything in life,” Barrett said. “The preparation that I needed to do to show up to his class every day has given me the ability to succeed, prepare, and thrive not only at big accounting firms but at running my own business.”

Hoyle remembers teaching Barrett, and says he is particularly inspired when students like him take unusual paths in their careers.

“He always seemed like a really good guy with a lot of ideas, a person who enjoyed learning about things that were new and different,” Hoyle said. “He did well in both of my classes, so he definitely had the discipline to do the work that was necessary. I think he has had a fascinating career, setting out on his own path and making good things happen.”

Many would still argue Barrett may need to go back to work at some point, and he acknowledges that is a possibility, but says that by understanding yearly expenses, net worth and a safe withdrawal rate, plus adding in some flexibility, it nearly guarantees success.

To learn more about Barrett’s podcast, Choose FI, click here.