I remember first stumbling across FI and getting completely sucked in.
Devouring every one of MMM’s blog posts, listening to every Choose FI podcast episode from the beginning and scrolling through Reddit’s Financial Independence page 20 times a day for ANY new content I could get my eyes on was all I could focus on.
I was absolutely mesmerized and the only limit on the amount of content I could consume was my need to sleep at some stage in a 24 hour period.
It consumed my day, my night and my dreams. I was creating spreadsheets left, right and centre to predict how many days I would have to work before I had enough money to NEVER HAVE TO WORK AGAIN!!!.
But it came at a cost.
Work became a burden. It became this ‘avoidable’ disease that I had found a secret cure for (FI) but did not have the money to fund yet.
It was affecting my relationship as I resented Bee for spending money that we could’ve been investing. I was turning down opportunities to do things with friends because it was going to cost money. I was becoming a little bit of a hermit crab. Hiding inside my shell, hoarding all the grains of sand I could find so I could build a little sand mountain and hang out on it by myself.
I’m sure you can understand how that started to make me feel. I was becoming depressed. I had no motivation to succeed at work because I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be FIRE and doing something else like kayaking, or paddle boarding. Things that I could’ve been doing at the same time but wasn’t because of the cost. It’s feels fucked up to be writing and reading this back to myself but it’s the truth.
So I laid off the FI related materials for a bit and tried to focus on enjoying our last 6 months in Australia before heading off to the UK to live and things improved dramatically. We were still able to save a good amount of money to help us with the move while making the most of the time we had left.
Our three-week stint in Thailand in between AUS and the UK, as well as our first month in the UK before we landed jobs, gave our savings a pretty hard knock – wiping out almost half of the $20K we had saved up. In the first few months in the UK we had some pretty big set up expenses but managed to build that Emergency Fund back up to over $20K and start investing for the first time ever.
This whole time, though, I’ve still been listening to FI podcasts almost every day.
Radical Personal Finance.
There are so many bloody podcasts and the content is never-ending (albeit very repetitive). There is always something to listen to. Some stranger with a completely different life story and situation, sharing the past 5,10,20 years of their financial life story in under 60 minutes in an attempt to motivate the masses.
But, for me – it does the opposite. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. It makes me feel like I am failing.
At the start all the podcasts inspired me, now they just leave me with a feeling of underachievement, despite absolutely being on the right track, only much earlier on in my journey.
You see, I’ve listened to enough podcasts to understand what I need to do to achieve FI.
- Pay off debt (and stay out of it) – DONE
- Build a 3-month emergency fund – DONE
- Consolidate Superannuation and reduce fees/insurances – DONE
- Live a little more frugally* (or like a hermit monk) – DONE (the first option)
- Invest a good portion of our income – DONE (30ish% is our current rate)
- Work on increasing income** – CONSTANT WORK IN PROGRESS
The rest is all just fluff, including most of the shit I post on this blog.
What does absolutely nothing to motivate me is listening to Suze Orman spout on about how I need 10million dollars saved to even contemplate not working. I’m not motivated by the 45-year-old single American bloke who has been purchasing houses all over the world during his 20-year stint with the US army and now doesn’t have to work. A recluse software engineer who sacrificed his entire 20’s and 30’s to work 80 hour weeks for 250K/year and now is RE thanks to his massive pot of savings isn’t making me feel great about myself or pushing me forward.
I am where I am. I’m making a ‘pretty good’ effort to move towards financial independence and the benefits are slowly compounding and will do so for many YEARS and YEARS. This is a long game, that’s for sure.
I could attack this like a crazy person. I could go back to my old corporate career and earn twice what I am now. Bee and I probably could cut our already tiny grocery spend in half by coupon clipping and eating really basic foods.
But these are things I just don’t want to do. I like not taking my work home with me. I like eating the plum tomatoes instead of the bigger ones – they have more flavour.
I’m pretty confident I’ve listened to my last FI related podcast. I’ve listened to my last ad for Audible or Quickbooks or Self Wealth. I’ve listened to my last podcast talking about 401K’s and Roth IRA’s and all the other non-UK/AUS bullshit that doesn’t relate to me in any way.
It’s time to focus on living and loving the present day while being mindful that the future is always approaching at a constant speed.
TLDR (to myself); Jay, you know what the key steps are. Set those in place and then get on with living your life. Want to speed up the journey to FI? Spend less, earn more, invest more. Want to spend more time actually living your life? Stop listening to Jonathan and Brad from Choose FI interview random people who’s situation is nothing like yours.
*This is a constant exploration of what sacrifices I am willing to make.
**This is the real winner here I think. If I redirected all the time and effort I put into trying to shave dollars from my spending into increasing my income, I feel it would have a much bigger impact on my journey.
A £5k cut in spending, housing costs and food would require huge lifestyle changes for us, however surely I can add enough additional value at my work to justify an additional £5k? Reminder: Explore this one further Jay.