My story so far

My story so far

Childhood

I’ve always been good with money. Every since I was a child I knew you had to save up before you could purchase things and that debt should be avoided. I remember saving my pocket and birthday money for years to buy my first TV. I drew out a huge thermometer and divided it into 120 lines to represent the £120 needed to be saved. Every time a pound went into the piggy bank, another line got coloured in and eventually I hit the target and proudly purchased my TV/VCR combo.

90stvIt even had colour!

Paper round

As soon as I was legally old enough I went out and got an after school paper-round.  This provided great exercise  but also, and more importantly, a regular £16 ($27) a week. It doesn’t sound like much now but to a 13 year old this was a huge amount of spare cash. Instead of splashing it on drugs and fast cars I was sure to save most of it for larger purchases like a bike and camping tent. To this day I still have both sat in my garage and are regularly used.

 First proper job

At 16 I was able to get a ‘proper’ job. Most of my friends went off to work in McDonalds or on a checkout, however I wanted something more interesting and that paid better. I’d always been a good swimmer and so applied to be a lifeguard for my local council. With this job I was getting regular exercise, customer service experience and best of all.. it paid a hefty £10.09 ($17.20) per hour adjusted for inflation! Back then the UK minimum wage for 16yr olds was only £4.14 an hour. By taking the time to look for different jobs instead of following all my friends I was able to secure over double their hourly rates.

For the next 2 years I worked alot! Finish school at 3, Catch the bus into town and be at work for 4 till 11. Double shifts at the weekends 7am – 9pm (plus a voucher for free lunch if you worked over 12 hours). I was averaging 35 hours a week whilst still in full time education and not having to pay tax.

lifeguardNot quite as glamorous as this

University

I went to university with £7000 saved up from my life-guarding job. This meant I never needed to go into an overdraft or borrow anything other than the minimum tuition fee loan. As this loan was set at the rate of inflation it’s effectively interest free . I lived cheaply while still socialising and enjoying myself. By the end of university I still had £2000 in the bank and decided to take a gap year.

Traveling

I spent the next 15 months traveling across  Australia and working odd-jobs on farms and activity centers. It was awesome and I loved every minute of it. I kept applying my cheap living principles and ensured I never had to get into any debt. Eventually it was time to come home and back into the real world.

1930996_580024903892_4143_nWorking on the farm

The career

When I was offered my first permanent job back in June 2010 I was offered the opportunity to join the company’s pension scheme. The scheme was relatively generous offering a 4% matched contribution which increased to 6/8/10% after years of service. I signed on the dotted line, begun contributing the minimum amounts and calculated my retirement in 45 years.

It wasn’t until a year later that I stumbled upon a forum discussing early retirement. To me, early retirement meant quitting your job a year or two before the normal state pension age (67). However here on this forum were people in their early 60s, 50s, 40s and even 30s who had retired and were enjoying life. It was a real eye opener and something I wanted to be a part of. I immediately upped my pension contributions to take advantage of the tax allowances and started planning the path to early retirement.

Early retirement plan

If I was going to retire long before my peers then I needed a plan of action. I live in an expensive commuter town for London where house values have shot up and rent prices risen even steeper. First priority was to get together the house deposit so I could stop throwing money down the drain on rent and be able to ride the house price rise. For 3 years I shared a house with some friends, lived cheaply and saved every spare penny I had. During this time I met a girl and started dating but never took my eye off the final goal.

After 3 years I had enough for the house deposit and bought a reasonably cheap house with my girlfriend. The plan now is to massively overpay the mortgage and be mortgage free by 35. Once that’s done I’ll divert the funds into other investments and retirement income generators.

 

And that bring us up to present day. Please contact me if you have any questions or leave a comment below.

19 thoughts on “My story so far

  1. Well played. I think your plan is great. Keep expenses low, get that mortgage paid off and build investments. I’m not sure if you’ve stumbled on Bogleheads.org, but it is an amazing site for investing advice and general life advice. Pretty much every topic imaginable is covered out there. Thanks for the post.

  2. Hello Guy!

    Great to see people are getting into this at a younger age! You sound like you’ve made your money go further than most and had some great experiences in your life so far. Australia sounds amazing, I would loved to have done that, I was no where near as frugal as you were at University by the sounds it though! I managed 6 weeks round Europe which was still a blast.

    Good luck with your plans and I really enjoyed reading your story, I feel like we’d get on well in real life :)

    All the best!

    • Hello FireStarter,

      Thank you for the words of encouragement. I’m glad that I started on this path from a young age.. although it does mean I dont have an epic debt pay-off story to begin the journey with like most! Australia was fantastic and even better to have done it without ever going into debt.

      Thanks for reading my story and I hope we’ll see you pop back to stay updated on the journey!

      -Guy-

      • Ha ha… you actually stand out from the crowd in the financial blogging world if you DON’T have an epic debt to pay off it seems. There are far more of those about. They don’t particularly interest me if I am brutally honest as a lot of them are in the high earner/high spender camp so it’s not exactly hard to get their debt down without too much sacrifice. Your story is far more unique in this day and age of YOLO and all that.
        The only debt I ever had was student debt, and looking back I could have done Uni without it and still had a blast, so that is slightly annoying, but it’s so long ago now it’s not really worth worrying about. Seems like a different life back then!
        I’ll definitely pop back! Cheers!

  3. Hi Guy
    Great story and well done to you for getting started so early! I was very good at saving as a child but went off the financial rails during my 20s and spent my entire 30s paying off my debts!

    Good luck, I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Hi Weenie, thanks for taking a read through.
      Many of my friends went crazy as soon as they go their first jobs after college and are now in massive debts. Im very glad that I continued saving hard even as my income increased dramatically. Sorry to hear about your 20/30s, but even by then it’s not too late to make the changes needed to retire early :)

  4. Hey Guy,

    Nice job. Very inspiring to hear that the younger generation has guys (no pun intended) like you who have the desire to save and invest in the future.
    I will be looking forward to seeing you succeed in your endeavors.

    Keep cranking,

    Robert the DividendDreamer

    • Hello Robert,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Speaking to my friends, it does seem like there isn’t much interest at our age to invest or save for the future. Perhaps this is just a generation thing or a lack of knowledge about retirement and investments?

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      • Guy, ever since I was a young kid, I knew I wanted to live a good life and do all the things I was dreaming about. I was lucky because my dad was talking about retirement when I was very young. I saw what he did, and I knew I had to try to do the same so I could live out my dreams of taking care of a family and doing the things that I wanted to do. They say money can’t buy happiness, but I should would like to try that theory out extensively. I think that in order to go to the most spectacular places requires money and lots of it. You can do things for free, but the big, man made attractions are fun also. I would love to see as many as I can and eat and sleep in nice places along the way. So, many years of planning and some luck along the way and I and you may have it. Good job so far and stay the course.

        Keep cranking,

        Robert the DividendDreamer

  5. Hi Guy,

    Found your site from a comment on FIREstarter.

    Looks like you’ve got off to a smasher of a start! You’ve got a head start in me and probably nearly 100% of the population :). Keep on saving and avoiding that pesky lifestyle inflation. Good luck and I will be following.

  6. Hi Guy,

    re-stumbled back to your site after having lost the URL and such. Loved reading your story again (properly this time). Fantastic to see such a young person who got the money/saving/hard working ethics sorted already!

    I was wondering about your strategy of paying the house off as soon as possible… as we are doing the exact opposite! If your mortgage rate is high, then it’s worth it I guess. For me, I’ve got the cheapest mortgage possible and am putting all the spare money into investments, rather than paying off the mortgage. I calculated everything on a spreadsheet, and if we hit average returns, in the same amount of time as it would take to pay off the mortgage early, we will accrue the money to pay if off AND have £11k spare. Also, inflation will eat away the value of the mortgage, so the amount owing will theoretically ‘be worth less’ at that time, whereas I’m investing in assets that will rise with inflation (e.g. consumer staples stocks, inflation-linked gilts, etc.).

    Keep up the amazing money ethics!

    Cheers

    • Hello M,
      Thanks for reading through (again!). I am fortunate to have had parents that taught the benefit of saving from an early age.

      We only bought our (first) house about a year ago at a high 90% LTV. This means that our mortgage rate is significantly higher then others available for lower LTVs. As we are on a 2-year fix, the plan is to overpay the mortgage for those 2 years to bring the LTV down and remortgage at a better rate. Once we’ve done this I’ll need to properly sit down and work out whether to continue overpaying or invest the difference and be ‘mortgage neutral’ like you’re aiming for.

  7. Hi Guy,

    Congratulations on taking such a solid and mature approach to early retirement! Like many others I wasted my time in my 20’s (well, I say wasted, I had good fun, but not a huge amount to show for it!) other than paying down a mortgage on a flat in London. If you can keep hammering the mortgage overpayments its a great feeling to track how much it goes down by. We recently moved and rather than massively overpaying the mortgage I use my other half’s ISA allowance, so I can tuck money away tax free, and then the income from that pays out goes onto our mortgage.

    Great work – and keep it up, I have added to my bookmarks and I will continue to follow your progress – good luck!

    Rob

  8. Hello Guy,

    I came across your site via Simple Living in Suffolk–and just read your story here. You are so lucky to have discovered this concept of early retirement as young as you did. We have been kicking ourselves for having come across just this year the idea of retiring while still in your 30s, 40s, or early 50s. Since we are already in our late 40s, we’re way behind. On the other hand, do you ever find that you are running low on out of energy and enthusiasm like Done By Forty suggests? (http://www.donebyforty.com/) While we wish we’d discovered early retirement many years ago, we also wonder whether we wouldn’t have been able to “sprint” the whole way.

    Best of luck with your plans!

    • Hello Julie and Will, welcome and thank you for commenting!

      I was very fortunate to have stumbled across the Early Retirement niche when I did. Really it was just browsing for information on how much to put into my first workplace pension scheme that led me to sites like MMM and Simple Living in Suffolk. Saying that though; it’s never too late to start ER planning, indeed Ermine from Simple Living didn’t do so until fairly recently before his eventual retirement.

      I haven’t (yet) run out of energy for the overall plan because so much of it is on auto-pilot now. Every month my pension AVCs get automatically deducted, my S&S ISA is transferred and invested automatically by direct debit and I transfer the mortgage overpayment money manually every month out of habit. Because I’ve always lived fairly cheaply; both as a student and then whilst backpacking, it was easy to maintain that low spending level with things like luxury goods and groceries.

  9. Thanks for sharing. We have had very similar trajectories, worked since 16 (paper round etc), ran a business before and during university building and selling computers along with other temp jobs and actually cleared my student loan a few years after my undergraduate degree. I reached my goal of being completely debt free by 34 and actually own my own home. I have subsequently become fascinated with becoming financially independent. The goal now is to utilise some of my savings for investing along with some side hustles (although I hate that term) that attempt to generate passive income. The ultimate goal is to becoming financial independent within five years (where my wealth generates enough to live a basic life) and retiring by the time I am 45. When I say retire what I mean is retiring from being an employee. I still have societal and academic interests that I would like to pursue. I have never really understood the desire to retire, I want to continue working, just on things that I see value in and not necessarily what the ‘market’ values.

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