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Millionaire Who Retired at 35 and Lives Off His Investments: I'm Making ‘Almost No Changes' to My Spending Despite Recession Fears

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For the past six years, since he retired at 35, Steve Adcock has stayed prepared for the possibility of an economic downturn.

With stocks sliding and a potential recession looming, Adcock's careful preparation is paying off. Though he and his wife Courtney, who is also retired, almost exclusively make money from the growth of their investments, they are able to get through the current market turmoil without making any major changes to their spending or their portfolio. That's thanks in part to their strategy of always keeping two years worth of expenses in their savings account.

It's also possible due to the couple's minimalist lifestyle, says Adcock, now 40. They live off the grid in the Arizona desert; their home is powered by solar panels and they get water from a well installed on their property. As a result, their budget is largely made up of discretionary spending.

"People thought we were crazy living so minimally during a bull market where everybody's making money. [They said] we should be living large," Adcock says. "But we didn't do that. Now we're making almost no changes, and everybody else is."

The Adcock household is powered entirely by solar energy.
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The Adcock household is powered entirely by solar energy.

Since the market began sliding from its highs in December and January, the Adcocks have hardly adjusted their expenses at all. They've tried "to eat out a little bit less" and not buy top-shelf bottles of liquor quite as often, but even runaway inflation hasn't put a damper on their spending.

"If your expenses are low, you're not going to feel inflation like everybody else is. It's just that simple," Adcock says. "You're not exposed to the same level of inflation as somebody who spends significantly more money than needed."

The Adcocks' net worth is currently around $1.1 million, roughly the same as it was when they were featured on CNBC Make It's Millennial Money series in May 2021. It's the same in part because the drop came after the market run up that put their net worth close to $1.4 million last December.

With the prospect of a recession looming, Adcock is glad that he stayed the course and kept his spending limited when the market was doing well.

"This is the beauty of living a more minimal life. When things get bad, you make fewer changes. You might live a higher quality lifestyle when you spend more, but then you don't have to cut back when the market's not good," he says. "You have to pick your poison. This is the one that we picked, and we're certainly thankful for that."

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