So if I’m to follow in the footsteps of my heroes Mr Money Mustache and The Escape Artist I’ll need to come up with a catchy name for myself. Having called the site Rat Race Rejection, I don’t think Rat Race Rejector is going to cut it. So I’ll go with Irish Saver, which will have to do.
MMM and TEA talk about the path towards Financial Independence and how you need to lead a simple life and focus on self improvement to achieve this. I can freely acknowledge that I suck as MMM says, but I’ll outline here a flavour of the steps I’ve taken of self improvement and towards FI.
The low point in my life was the 2 periods I was in psychiatric hospitals with schizoprenia in Feb 2003 and Dec 2003-Jan 2004. I was still in 3rd year of college at that point and starting on work experience in a place that I hated. got through it though and finished college with a 1st class honours degree after arguing the psychiatrists down to a low enough dose of medication that I could function almost normally. It took me 12 interviews to get a job at the height of Celtic Tiger Ireland as my confidence was shattered.
However I did get a job and kept at it, and moved out from home at age 23 in 2007. At this point in my life I was convinced that what I should do was to try effectively save the world in an environmental sense (this had contributed to my illness), and I focused a lot of my mental energy on this. My thinking was I don’t care what happens in my own life, I want to make a difference to the world. This of course was obviously backwards and had the predictable result that I achieved nothing towards either goal and slowly gained weight (my vanity prevented me from going beyond a stone and a half overweight). I’d have loved nothing more than to have a relationship but was convinced no girl would touch me with a barge pole given my condition, which was sort of self-fulfilling. I had not heard of financial independence, but the one thing I was doing was focusing on saving for a house and in 2011 together with some money from my parents and fortunate timing I bought a house.
Owning a house seemed to give me the confidence boost I needed to start having some relationships, all through dating sites of some description – currently in one now which makes me happy. Most people probably wouldn’t need this kick but I guess the point is that I kept trying to improve my situation and eventually got some success. Now, onto the next step – FI!
I’d always wondered to myself, what will I do in work all the way to 65, I don’t particularly ever want to be a manager. So for about 3 years I sort of drifted – I was spending most of my money. A decent salary plus I have 2 tenants practically covering the mortgage. Then a friend introduced me to MMM. I was immediately hooked (August 2014) and it has become one of my 2 life goals (you can probably guess the other one from the above paragraphs). I was already tracking my spending, but I really focused on where I could save. So far I’ve cut out unneccessary insurances for starters. However, I’ve a long way to go, spending is still well above what I’d like for various reasons, some of which are tenant related. There are lots of people I’m sure who are much better than me at it. However I intend to improve little by little towards my goal of FI by year end 2023. I’ll upload my spending for 2014 soon so you can see how badly I was doing at the start.
The site doesn’t have much yet, does it? I’ll promote it once there is more to show. For now I’ll add a little colour (not literally yet) by introducing the second main motivation for this site – protecting the environment.
To be clear, I believe in maximising human happiness. To do this I want the maximum sustainable population on Earth for the maximum length of time, i.e. until the sun fries us all if we haven’t mastered interstellar travel. According to the book ‘The Spirit Level’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, inequality redues happiness. So for any given maximum sustainable population, the maximum happiness is associated with low (not necessarily non-existent) inequality.
According to many sources including Population Matters, the Earth is in overshoot, i.e. we are consuming more resources than can be sustainably produced. The reason this situation can continue at all is that we have stocks of resources such as fossil fuels, forests and groundwater. Clearly if we are reducing the stocks then the population is not sustainable. So the maximum population is that which uses on average all renewable resources but no resource stocks. In practice each renewable resource will be a limiting factor and the lowest one will determine the maximum sustainable human population.
I don’t think I need to prove that we are currently using stocks of resources (but I will later anyway!) so clearly we are using more of our environment than is compatible with the maximum happiness goal. Therefore I am attempting to help us to be more sustainable wherever possible.
The amount of resources used by humanity is PCT or Population x Consumption (often put as Affluence) x Technology, so the more efficient Technology is the better. However that is only 1 of 3 factors. I am optimistic that population will gradually sort itself out as birth rates have declined below replacement level in most of the developed world (we can worry about getting them back up later) and are declining in much but not all of the developing world. Most of the world needs to get richer to be consistent with my low inequality point so I think consumption per head can and should increase (on average) until it reaches the level at which people can be happy.
In the Western world however we are way beyond that point, and need to use our resources more efficiently to get consumption down without sacrificing happiness. Fortunately there is plenty of room to do this and as other Finance blogs such as Mr Money Mustache or The Escape Artist point out you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy.
So even if I don’t actively promote environmentalism (I intend to once I gain financial independence), merely reducing my own consumption and encouraging others to do the same is good for the environment!
This is a blog that will chronicle my attempt to be financially independent and stop working in a traditional 9 to 5 job by end of the calendar year in which I will be 40 (2023).
Most people are willing to accept the received wisdom that everyone should work from finishing education right up until they are 65 (or even 68 now in Ireland which is when the state pension will kick in for people my age). If someone spends most of their money then that is right, they will need to work for that long. It seems that no matter how much someone earns, their spending rises to match their earning. I think that beyond a certain point the spending is not necessary or making people any happier, all it is doing is ensuring you have to work for much longer.
I’m not suggesting it’s for everyone, some people I assume genuinely love their jobs. For me I’m not sure that 2023 will be soon enough, I’d retire right now if I could! I had dreamt often about being able to retire early, but it was only really when I was introduced to the Mr Money Mustache site that I found the moral back up I needed to do this.
Well I’ll post on specific aspects of my plan later, including the spreadsheet that plans it all.