1. This is all a ruse!
Not really a question, but almost the first thing people say is that I’m making it up. I can assure you I’m not.
2. So you won the lottery then?
Nope. No scratchcard wins. No gambling (more on that in a future post).
3. Aha! So your parents were rich?
Again no. My widowed mum was a hairdresser, my dad was an accountant. He sadly passed away in his early 50s when I was 16. I inherited a small six-figure sum.
4. I knew it! You can’t do this without help!
The money I inherited would have just about covered student loans in the US and a deposit on a small apartment in London where I live. It’s not enough to live on. Through saving, working hard and investing wisely that money is now multiple times bigger. But I’d give it all up to have my dad back.
5. OK, but I bet you also earned a good salary?
I worked in the City in London and by the time I quit the job I was earning a high five-figure salary. But you don’t need to work in London or in finance to make good money. Anybody in a profession (doctors, builders, train drivers, engineers, surveyors, policemen) can and will make an above average salary if they put in the hard work up front.
6. So you needed to earn big bucks to retire?
You don’t need to earn loadsa money to retire early. In fact, it can hold you back: with bigger salaries often comes more frivolous spending. If you can save 50% of your income, you can retire in less than 20 years. That is regardless of whether you earn £10k, £100k or £1 million a year. The combination of working hard, saving hard and investing wisely you can turbo charge to retirement. I call this The Three Levers.
7. But don’t you have to live like a miser?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about Financial Independence. You don’t have to live a hard-up life to save big money. Mrs YFG and I shop at Ocado, enjoy decadent foods, have a beautiful home and by any definition live a great life.
8. What does Mrs YFG do?
My better half is a lawyer. She’s not yet Financially Independent. We split all our bills equally and share expenses. But my money is my money, her money is her money. But we share the same outlook in life: we want to do more of what we want to do and less of what other people (especially horrible bosses) want us to do.
8. That all sounds too good to be true, what’s the catch?
The catch is, we don’t spend money on things that we don’t really value. For example, we don’t have a car because we hate driving around the busy South East of England – we use public transport and minicabs. We don’t go on many holidays as we both don’t enjoy travelling – we visit our family or go on short breaks. We don’t spend money on expensive clothes – we don’t care what people think of the rags we parade in. We had a cheap wedding, and we try to fix things ourselves.
9. But I need a [car/holiday/Prada handbag]!
Do you really need it? Do you even want it? Most of the time we buy things not because we want them, but because of some underlying reason. We get a car because we want to save time making journeys. We go on holidays because we want to be more relaxed. We buy expensive items to make us feel more beautiful or powerful. But none of those purchases actually solve the underlying problem. Even with a car, you’ll find yourself perpetually out of time. Even with a holiday, you’ll go back to being stressed. And even with your Rolex, you’ll still feel insecure. I think it’s better to find the things that truly bring you joy and spend money on those – most people find that spending money just doesn’t equate to happiness.
10. So why have you set up this website?
Because so many of my friends and ex-coworkers are broke, unhappy with their work and complain about how hard their middle-class life is. But at the same time, they are doing outrageous things – like buying a brand-new Range Rover – then wondering why they have no money! We (including me) get so wrapped up in a society that is constantly trying to steal money from us and bamboozle us with jargon that we become blind to what we really want. I hope to share my experiences and thoughts so that you can achieve what you want to achieve and do what you want to do.
I also think that the financial services industry has done a great job of making saving and investing for retirement very scary for people and confusing and difficult. My aim is to try and write some easy to follow explainers for people wanting to take control of their finances but don’t know where to start.
All the best,
Young FI Guy
[last updated: 19/09/2018]