It all started at my job’s desk.
During lunch time I usually dive into Reddit.com for my daily update on what’s actually happening with the world. One day, while going through all those subreddits I ended up on /r/personalfinance, where thousands of redditors ask for help every single day on assessing their options, either regarding easy budgeting questions or specific insurance problems.
As I was looking through all those threads, trying to learn from others life experiences, I could see that there were people desperately trying to find a way out of their financial problems. The most common ones were things like ‘how would they get out of their credit card black hole that they got themselves into’ or dealing with unexpected health issues, getting fired from their jobs with no emergency fund set up or even getting dumped from their parents home with no money and no direction.
After months reading dozens of threads every single day, I finally came across the windfall flag and went through quite a few pages where people were asking for advice on how to invest/manage their recently earned fortune. Some were massive amounts of money from inheritances, some from company sell outs.
This, of course, got me thinking about what would I do if I received such a big pile of money, whether from an inheritance (nope, whole family pretty healthy, thankfully) or via a lottery ticket (won’t happen, i’m not spending money on that…).
What I also found out was that, in every comment on their threads, I would always find a particular set of rules:
1) Don’t tell anyone about your windfall;
2) Invest the whole sum into a Vanguard Index Fund and go enjoy your pina-coladas under the sun.
And that was when I fell down into the rabbit hole…
From this point it didn’t took me long enough to find the place where thousands of redditors share their knowledge and looked for the smartest way to get out of the rat race: the /r/financialindependence subreddit. After months of reading all the concepts around index investing (and being a risk averse guy), the whole slowly and steady investing thing had me completely convinced.
With the help of a few online FIRE calculators I quickly realised how “easy” it would be to retire comfortably within 20 years from now without much effort, even sooner if we really committed to it or even if we went leanFIRE. I was amazed by that idea. Never had given any thought on the concept of ‘retirement’, but quickly realised that i wouldn’t want to be forced to work until i’m 67 years old (probably even older by the time we get there).
Before approaching Mrs. WB with this new adventure that we would embark on, I needed to be 100% sure about the whole subject and be ready to answer any questions that she would eventually ask or even calm her down if she freaked out.
It took me about three months of daily reading before thinking about introducing her to this whole new concept and asking if she was fully on board. I was slightly afraid that she would have react like: “OMG! Are you crazy!? Do you wanna gamble all our money!!??” but she didn’t. At first I thought about introducing her the idea during dinner but it ended up being in a night out after 2 shots of tequila and a few beers (you know, just to smooth things a little bit in case it all went south). We weren’t drunk but definitely tipsy. After explaining to her the whole FIRE concept, she asked me for a few days to process all that new stuff, which was perfectly normal since I had compressed three months worth of reading into a one hour talk. I handed her a book called “The Simple Path to Wealth” by J. L. Collins, which I had read before and found it really good for introducing people into the whole FIRE idea. This helped her consolidate all the information and get her fully on board.
After months worth of reading around the FIRE concept and since the majority of its members are located in America, I had to inspect how things would work here in the United Kingdom. Which index funds were available? Which broker would be the right one? Are there any tax implications?
Turns out that we did find what we were really looking for. Through Charles Stanley Direct and using their Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% equity fund, which tracks 10 well diversified Vanguard index funds and is automatically rebalanced regularly, we were able to setup a monthly payment and start treating it like an expenditure in the beginning of each month.
And that was when I realised that in order to keep us disciplined about maintaining our spreadsheets updated, tracking our monthly earnings and expenses, we should share it with an audience, which hopefully will keep us motivated to work smarter and focused during these next exciting years to come.
With all that said, we are looking forward to start sharing our investments progress, life experiences and hopefully we will help some of you getting in the right direction towards financial independence.