Welcome to the Route 2 FI interview series. I’m starting this series to get inside the heads of people that inspires me on my way to Financial Independence.
Today’s guest is Araminta from Financially Mint!
She’s a young FIRE-seeker at age 20(!). I’m so amazed. Think if we all knew about FI at that age? *Compounding*
She read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” when she was 18 years old, and shortly thereafter launched her blog.
Well, even if you’ve passed 20 years old (as me), there’s alot to learn from this girl! She has a really interesting story, and I know that she will be in the front row in terms of shaping the FI-community in the future.
I know you’ll find this interview interesting and might learn some things that you can put into action in your own life.
Hey hey everyone! My name is Araminta and I’m effectively half Spanish (or should I say Catalan?) half Scottish, my parents being from each nationality. As a child I moved a lot between Spanish and English speaking countries, so I now say I’m from both.
My parents were actually financially intelligent, my father selling his successful business and then moving to Andorra – a then tax haven – to protect his money.
The plan backfired when he lost all his money in the stock market in 2011 (thanks Fukushima). They were financially intelligent, but stuck in emotional challenges which made it hard for them to talk about money.
This meant that they never took the time to teach me anything – I just observed but was mostly oblivious to what was happening.
At the age of 18 I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and yes, it changed my life. I realised that I knew nothing about money, but I immediately understood the power of financial education.
So I thought – why not write about it? Hence the birth of Financially Mint. Initially it was a blog to help me educate myself – I researched and then wrote the articles to help me understand the weird financial jargon and concepts. I still do this, but now try to make it useful to others at the same time.
A lot has happened since then, from very briefly (like 2 min) appearing on the BBC Radio 4, to starting a podcast with 2 awesome guys to organising our very own FI retreat in May in Portugal. So yes, financial education is pretty darn powerful.
Education is essential, and I think we can all agree it’s the key to solving pretty much any problem.
My own education was a bit hectic as I kept changing school (and country) every 2 years. The last two years of high school my parents divorced and my mum and I moved in with my grandparents.
I finished high school in a tiny town close to Barcelona, and got the highest grade in my year. Woohoo! Until I didn’t get into the university I wanted to with the degree I was interested in getting: Politics at University of Edinburgh.
I was burnt out from the hellish studying, frustrated and decided to take a break. I did a gap year where I worked as an au pair in Italy and an English teacher in China. I learnt how to make friends, how to travel and how to be myself. I was a different person after that year.
After the gap year I thought it was finally time to try university again, and so went to a different one in Edinburgh. I lasted 3 months, and then tried The Open University online.
I’ve been at it for 1 year and have decided to stop and pursue a programming course instead. Needless to say, it’s not education I dislike (and I believe no one really does), but the format it is presented in.
Edior: I totally agree!
I’ve accepted I prefer learning through blogs, books, podcasts and doing my own thing. So far I’m surviving.
I recently finished an internship in a fintech startup in Barcelona, and am now back in Edinburgh freelancing, connecting with people and waiting for my foot to heal (plantar fasciitis from a ski accident).
I’m trying a new thing where I treat my career like a scientist, testing different hypotheses. Everyone says how important it is to specify and to focus on one career to build wealth.
But to be absolutely honest, I don’t know what I want to do yet. I love doing a lot of different things, and I don’t want to commit myself to something that will make me hate – or even worse, tolerate – my job, and then force me to retire early.
So I’m spending the next couple of years doing internships, working abroad and building the skills which I feel will take me in the right direction. My next career test is working for an NGO in Malaysia. Yes, I’m very excited.
My attitude is that I’m investing time and energy into figuring out what I want to do now so I can then focus on my career 100%.
I don’t feel like I’m jumping around from one thing to another, as they are all something that I know I’m interested in and that will help me build skills, connections and a solid portfolio. It is a theory that I am testing out – talk to me in 5 years and I’ll let you know if it worked!
One thing that has been consistent for nearly two years is Financially Mint. It’s now part of my identity, and I treat it more as a portfolio than a business – which is why I’m ok with the fact that it doesn’t make money. It’s helped me gain connections, jobs and clients, so I use it more as a freelance base.
In terms of work details I currently work 9-5 at a co working space which I can easily get to in crutches (the foot, remember), and in the evenings I enjoy hosting couchsurfers, going to Toastmasters, meeting up with friends and attending entrepreneur events where I pretend to be an entrepreneur.
Let’s get on to it, Financially Mint!
In one of your newest posts you state “Don’t follow your passion, here is some real career advice”. For myself I think that it is important to follow something you’re passionate about, but you make some really good points on why it’s not worth it. Can you please tell why we shouldn’t necessarily follow our passions in life?
Passion is very important, but I don’t feel that finding your ‘dream career’ starts with looking inwards and asking yourself ‘What is my passion?’. Currently, I have a lot of passions, how would I know where to start? And there many other young adults who would think ‘But I have no idea what I’m passionate about’. What do you say to those people?
It’s also true that as humans as a whole we are pretty bad at predicting what makes us happy. Your passion may be basketball, but if you have mean co workers, bad pay and a shitty boss, you probably won’t be so passionate about it. Which is why I believe it’s important to start with the career and then ask yourself if this is something you can bring passion to. Once again, it’s a theory. Feel free to disagree.
I talk a lot about this on Financially Mint – how to find a career that personally fits you best. I believe it starts with doing a lot of investigating. Talking to people who have your dream job, doing internships and a ton of research. And then you test, test and test. If you’re interested check out my post titled: Don’t Follow Your Passion – Here’s Some Real Career Advice
In the post “You don’t need a million bucks, you need a cash cushion” you’re talking about the advantages of having extra money saved up so you have some extra for a rainy day. Do you want to be FI yourself, or do you think you’ll always want to do some kind of work? Do you think your answer will change later in life?
It’s a difficult question, since I am right at the beginning of my career and can’t see that far into the future. Being FI is great, but it’s certainly not my priority at the moment. When I talk about cash cushions I would mean some cash that covers 6 months to 1 year of expenses. At the moment my emergency fund is slowly dying after the huge amount of money I spent on my foot, so right now I’ve got about 4 months of expenses.
Ideally, I’d be close to FI or have several years of expenses saved up when I have children. Then I can focus on them 100% and manage my extremely successful business from home.
And yes, it’s totally possible that my answers change. From the podcast alone I have learnt so much; when we first started I thought I wanted to be FI asap. But after talking to so many people, I realise that FI is a backup plan. The first plan is to find a career that fits me best. Who knows what I’ll be saying in 5 years.
You’re only 20 years old. You got an awesome possibility to compound a lot of money and retire extremely early or just be badass rich. Have you ever considered trying to copy big shot investors like Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger?
I do try to save and invest 15% of my income, but as I mentioned before I am trying to concentrate on building skills, portfolio and cool connections. I can explain this more easily with one of my favourite quotes from the amazing book Essentialism:
An Essentialist takes their time to explore their options. This is investment which is justified because some things are so much more important that finding them in the first place repays the effort ten times more.
I invest 15% because compound interest is indeed God’s gift to Earth and I’m not relying on any country’s money for a pension. I also am not too worried because I know I’ll make most of my money in my 40 to 50s, and 15% will be a larger number then. So I’d rather invest in myself now so I can make the most money in the future. Hopefully it works!
Can you describe your perfect day? What will you spend time on and why? What do you think stands in the way between you and living the perfect day every day? Will FIRE help or is it possible to live that life now?
Good question. Success for me means a balance between work, play, love and health. So I’d want a bit of each in my every day. I love hiking, running and skiing, and I love meeting up for tapas with friends (which is more beer in Scotland). I’m trying the whole casual dating thing too, which has been pretty interesting. I love going on road trips and I love working on things that put me in ‘flow’ state.
And I feel very lucky to say that if I was FIRE I would probably be doing the same as I am doing now, just maybe a little more travelling, more charity donations and more helping other people. I’d also probably hire a business or career coach to help me speed up the career testing process.
Most people in the world don’t have this inner drive to pursue financial freedom. Where does your motivation for reaching FIRE come from? Do you think your personality type is somehow related to you being good with delayed gratification?
I am an ENFJ, but it’s funny because I remember doing this test when I was 16 and something like INFJ came up. I wouldn’t call myself either an introvert or extrovert, I would say something in the middle like ambivert.
I’ve not always been driven, I’ve not always been secure and I’ve not always been satisfied. But there is one thing that I feel I am and that is a self-improver, meaning I always strive to improve myself and my surroundings. The last 6 months have been the best of my life. And I say that every 6 months – so something must be working!
I used to be much more impatient. But now I meditate, and try to be mindful and I see the value in things taking time. An example is my swollen foot. I haven’t been able to walk for 6 weeks.
If this happened a few years ago, I would have shut myself away from everyone and suffered in silence. But I’ve told myself I couldn’t let this stop me getting on with life. I’ve still managed to go partying, do a road trip and start new hobbies.
What are your life goals? What are your reason to wake up every day?
I have one BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and that is to start my own successful business in about 5 years. Everything I do is a build up to that.
Imagine running for President now – what’s the likelihood of you winning? Probably in the negatives (at least in my case).
That’s because it takes time, skills, connections and money for such a BHAG to be a success. And that’s what I’m trying to focus on at the moment: the building part. Once I start the business, I want to be ready and I want it to succeed.
To me, having a good life also means having as many experiences as possible. And without trying to sound like a total hippie, that means having a good variety of experiences with love, with friends, with travel, with family and with anything the world has on offer (yes, that includes trying cricket tortilla).
Obviously we can’t do it all, and I’m ok with that. But when I’m 90 and ready to die, I want to be able to say I really tried it all.
Could you please tell us about how much you earn, spend and save a regular month? What do you think is the most important factor for FI?
At my internship I was paid 400€ per month. I earn about 300-400€ per month freelancing online – although this is increasing now since I have more time.
My emergency fund consists of about 3,000€ and a couple thousands in Vanguard Lifestrategy 100% equity and in P2P platform Mintos.
I achieved this over the years of working and thanks to my parents, who have been immensely supportive with the no-university thing and helped me out with rents and emergencies in the past. I also save 15% of my income.
To me, the most important factor is looking at the big picture. One interesting way of looking at FI is sitting down and responding as honestly as possible to the question: What do I want to do with my life?
If you don’t know, investigate. If you do know, will FI help you get there?
But if you don’t know and spend years trying to reach FI… you might be in for a surprise once you retire early. So it’s always good to look at the big picture, the end goal. This is what we’ve gathered from FI people on the podcast.
What has been your biggest challenge in life, and how did you overcome it?
This is something I don’t talk much about because I’m still trying to understand what happened, why and what this makes me as a person.
I suffered a deep depression for 5 years from the age of 13 to 17. There’s no need to say much about it, apart from the fact that saying it ‘drastically transformed me’ would be an understatement.
When I recovered I was stronger, more confident and stopped caring about stuff that didn’t matter.
Would I want my children to go through the same thing? No. Do I feel it was necessary to go through such an experience to become the person I am?
Honestly, no. All I say is that I am very lucky to have come out a better person.
What are some of the most influential resources (books, blogs, podcast..) that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
It all started with the famous book Rich Dad Poor Dad which I was lucky to discover at the age of 18. The minute I finished that book I knew my life had changed, and that I would spend the next few years learning as much as I could about personal finance.
I read quite a few other personal finance books; The Little Book of Common Sense Investing taught me everything I needed to know about index funds. And through reddit, facebook groups and podcasts such as Listen Money Matters and ChooseFI, I started investing at the age of 19.
But I believe personal finance to only be one part of it – if you don’t have the right mindset, the knowledge will go in one ear and leave the other.
When I discovered the immense power of books, I went all in. Other books that have changed my life are Deep Work by Cal Newport, the E-Myth, Good to Great, and many others.
Over the past 2 years since reading Rich Dad Poor Dad I’ve probably read over 50 books, each allowing me to adjust and improve my theories on personal finance and career in a unique way.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I still read a lot, averaging about one book every two weeks.
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
Honestly, no. It’s pretty much all on autopilot and if I start discovering new things it’ll just distracts me.
I know that index funds is all I want to invest in for the moment, and maybe real estate later on.
Anyone who follows Financially Mint might notice that blog posts are slowly covering more career than personal finance topics.
Since we spend over 80,000 hours of our life working, I’m now on a journey to learning as much as I can about career, using Financially Mint as my thought processor. I give huge credit to the following websites and books for this:
- 80,000 hours website and Effective Altruism
- Doing Good Better
- Designing your life
- What should I do with my life?
And probably many more to come as I work my way down my book list!
You started blogging in 2017. Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
Yes. I finished Rich Dad Poor Dad while I was working and studying in Shanghai, China. I was 18.
That August I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to go to university (for 3 months) and I think I officially started publishing posts on the 20th of August or something similar.
I always knew I wanted to have a blog and that I liked writing, but never knew what about. Finance was the first stepping stone.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with “Financially Mint”?
Helping other young adults understand and manage their money (and now career). As I grow, so does Financially Mint, and vice versa, so it’s also my way of brain dumping ideas and concepts into writing form.
Are there specific short-term and long-term goals you’re working towards with “Financially Mint”? How long will you continue to write on this blog?
I used to focus a lot on the blog, hoping one day it would generate some money. Since then I’ve realised that this blog is like my portfolio, and more of a stepping stone to get a job, to get clients, etc. So as I said before, the business part isn’t my focus.
Short term, I’d love for it to gain more exposure on mass media. Long term, I’d love for it to genuinely help other young adults figure out their career and money. I do get some positive feedback, but I’d love more.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Route 2 FI’s readers to check out, what would those be and why?
I love this article because this is the advice I would give to every single 18 year old after they finish high school, and it’s the advice I wish someone had given me. It’s a well thought out theory on how to assess whether university is for you and how to make sure it’s well worth it. It hasn’t received a lot of feedback, so I’d love to hear if people think it’s a good strategy or not.
One of my favourite books ever is Essentialism by Greg McKeow. I feel we live in a world where we’re always striving to do more, to have more, to be more of a better person – especially I fall trap to that. The Essentialist principle is simple: do more with less. In this article I break down what it means to be an Essentialist and how to implement it in your day to day life.
I absolutely loved writing this article because I was able to condense all the amazingly packed information on career in the book ‘Doing Good Better’ into one article – doing that is what really gets my jazz going.
Once again, this is career advice I wish I had heard at the age of 18 and which I believe every other 18 year old should hear. I also love the article because not only do I explain why ‘following your passion’ isn’t always the right path, but I also propose a solution (based on the book of course). This is what I believe to be actionable and good advice!
What is your net worth and what does it consist of? Do you currently have any debt?
I’m lucky to never have been in debt – it’s not such a big thing in Europe and since I didn’t go to university I kind of escaped that one. As of today my net worth would be about 5400€, but it keeps fluctuating depending on how many emergencies I have and of course, our good friend the stock market.
Here’s a sneaky blog post on why I feel you shouldn’t focus on your net worth in your twenties:
What is your biggest passions in life?
I have many, but I’ll just talk about one: philosophy. Or I should probably say ‘philosophising’.
I love building theories to explain issues and certain problems. That’s why I love writing on Financially Mint so much – it helps me put those theories into words. I also love history.
Once I’m older and I feel a bit more comfortable about the direction that I’m going in, I would probably go to university to study philosophy. I wouldn’t use this degree for employment, or for anything, just out of pure interest.
Do you think anyone can become a millionaire today?
Yes of course, but as I said before, it helps if there’s a good reason for it to be your main focus.
Personal finance is essential, because once you have it under control you have the headspace and mental space to focus on what truly matters: life. If that million will help you get to the right focus, then by all means!
The most interesting thing for me about this community and blog is that I get to debate certain topics with the amazing people in this community.
So I very much appreciate people who disagree and who are open for debate. I am constantly modifying, adjusting and improving my personal theories on personal finance, career, self-development, etc, so your feedback helps me a ton.
Maybe one day I’ll write a book!
The FI community is a very special place, where people are constantly supporting each other, helping each other and giving advice.
We’ve interviewed fascinating and inspiring people on the podcast, and I get to meet and debate with bloggers and entrepreneurs I didn’t think I would get to meet.
I feel very fortunate to be part of such a welcoming community, and I’m excited to see in which direction it will go in.
Thank you Route2FI for such excellent questions and for helping spread the word of FI.