The squirrel early years
I am not from a wealthy family, I was born to parents who while both clever left school and started work aged 14. I grew up in social housing until I was ten. I was as a youngster quite a saver. I remember saving over £1 in 2ps and 5ps to buy myself a Barbie, only to experience the crushing disappointment of realising how boring she was and how now I needed x number of outfits, a car, accessories and a boyfriend called Ken for it all to be worth while. An early lesson in stuff doesn’t buy happiness.
I worked from aged 15 for my own money in boring jobs in supermarkets as I studied for A levels. My early squirreling had petered out, I was interested in clothes and going out with my friends. I worked until I was 21 in what was the DHSS, panicked at the thought of doing it for the rest of my life and went to Polytechnic. After which I studied a bit more and worked in the voluntary, community and further education sectors, never earning a great deal but earning and working and on a par with my peers. My earnings did start to increase during my 30s and 40s to a reasonable amount and well above national average wages. But I never had or felt I had a lot of money … until the Epiphany.
Before getting into the Epiphany its worth saying something about luck and the role it has played in my financial present. While I am at heart a liberal and believe in personal agency luck plays an enormous part in my life as it does for most of us. We are for example lucky or fortunate to be born in a stable, liberal democracy, we did nothing individually to have this good fortune but we benefit from it enormously. I am lucky to have been born to loving parents, have kind and generous friends, a caring partner and my physical and mental heath. Many people have less than this due to no fault of their own. Coming back to finances I have I think been very fortunate, I
- benefited from a state funded higher education
- was able to purchase my home on a single very average income
- got a job with a defined benefit pension scheme
- have experienced low interest rates for the last 10 years
- seen my house value increase x 6 and have used the equity to purchase a second property
I used my personal agency to make the very most of these opportunities, I worked hard at University, I saved for a deposit for a house on my very average income, I panicked again aged 35 when I realised my pension pot was minuscule and blindly without really understanding the benefit signed up for AVCs, I overpaid my mortgage and took the leap of remortgaging to purchase a second properly. But luck helped me along the way.
It was 2012 the London Olympics. They didn’t have anything to do with the Epiphany except it helped me remember the year as it was such a great time.
Something happened at work, it made me feel uncomfortable and undermined, I wanted out, so I decided to look for my perfect job and in the meantime, make every penny count, save what I could in case I had to take a pay cut or retrain. As it happened I got a new job at the same salary.
At the same time I read somewhere or it was on TV that it can cost you in excess of £10,000 a year to raise a child, my sister has two , I have none. So at 45 I was looking round for my nearly half a million pounds I’d saved over the last 18-20 years by not having children – guess what – I couldn’t find it. That is when I became focused and intentional.
Discovering FIRE and finding my tribe
After the Epiphany I started listening to The Property Podcast and personal finance podcasts; Meaningful Money Money to the Masses, and Moneybox. I built up my knowledge and expertise, bought a buy-to-let property in 2013 with my partner, started saving mostly in cash and monitoring my net worth from 2014. After seeing a financial advisor in 2017 I gained the confidence to transfer my stocks and shares ISA, increase my monthly contributions and transfer in some of the cash I had saved.
And then in Summer 2019 The Escape Artist was interviewed by both Pete Matthew on the Meaningful Money and on the Maven Money podcast, after that I followed the crumb trail to his blog, Mr Money Moustache, FIRE Facebook pages and FIRE blogs!
Where is here?
Getting obsessed with FIRE, getting laser focussed to FIRE by 57!