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 Radical FIRE!
She’s a young FIRE-seeker at age 24. She works as a financial consultant in the Netherlands and wants to become FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) at 35.
The blog “Radical FIRE” is relatively new. It was started in December 2018, but has already produced a lot of quality content. This girl is damn productive! Until this date she has produced 57 articles. Wow, and I thought I was productive!
I know you’ll find this interview interesting and might learn some things that you can put into action in your own life.
I am a 24 year old who was born and raised in a small town in the south of the Netherlands. The Netherlands is an amazing country in a lot of ways. It has great healthcare, great education, and a great social security net. I’m happy to live here.
Back to the point, I did my bachelor’s in economics, where I also studied a semester in California. That was great! Afterward, I had my travels through the US and a year later my 4-month adventure through South America. I really got the hang of traveling and never wanted to go back!
Eventually, the money ran out and I returned back to the Netherlands. Within a few months of returning, I started working. After I started working, I was already getting sick of it. I was wondering: will this be the rest of my life? Is this it? Will this fulfill me on the long term?
I did what I do best, I asked my friend Google if there was a way out. I ended up finding the blog from Michelle of Making Sense of Cents and the Mad Fientist. I devoured all their articles and was finding more and more great blogs to read. That’s when I decided that Financial Independence will be my path.
As I do with everything I dived in head-first and decided to take it to the next level with starting my own blog. Hence Radical FIRE was born, and here we are, 5 months later. Since starting my blog I’ve met the most amazing like-minded people, I’m so happy I took the leap.
My grandmother always put a lot of pressure on me with regards to my studies. My dad passed away when I was very young, and my grandmother always told me stories about how hard he was studying and how well he did in school. Subconsciously that motivated me to study hard, in order to make my grandmother proud.
I was the first one in my family to go to university, where I chose business economics as my major. Economics was my favorite subject in high school, I’m positive it’s because I had the most amazing teacher. After that, I followed a master’s degree in Corporate Finance and Control.
This interest in economics has always naturally been there for me, so I’m positive that it brought me closer to FI. Without my basic knowledge, I’m sure that it would be a much bigger step to strive to be financially independent and retire early.
I got my master’s degree in August 2017, went for my travels in South America and started working in April 2018. My career is relatively short, but everything I do is radical so it has been quite a ride.
I’m a financial consultant here in the Netherlands, which means that I’m working for clients for an average of 6-9 months. However, my current (and first) client has liked me so much that I’m still allowed to work there (I’ve been working there for over a year now).
I loved the beginning phase of my career, as it was fast-moving and always changing – just the way I like it. I got promoted from 1st of January 2019, which normally happens after 2 years of employment. I’m happy that I was able to speed it up, and I’m motivated to get the most out of my career before I FIRE.
Currently my client’s office is in the same city I live in, which is totally amazing! I have a commute of 20 minutes one way. I get in the office at 9 and out of the office at 5:30, so I’m working 8 hours per day. I work 5 days per week, which I don’t mind at all.
I am currently in accounting, which has been good at teaching me the basics of company finances. I learn so much more skills at my job that are of massive value: communication skills, presenting, networking, it’s all in there.
In terms of skills, I think having a job is amazing. It’s a playground where you can learn by doing, where you can fall & stand up again, and where you can take all the skills and apply them in every aspect of your life.
Let’s get on to it, Radical FIRE!
You wrote in your blog post about your 8 month mini-retirement that you went to South America for 8 months with an annual income of 13.000 euro, and it seemed like you were having an awesome time. Does it sometimes strike you that you could become a digital nomad and just live the life you want right now, instead of delaying it for 11 years until you FIRE at 35?
I did have an amazing time in South America, it was incredible to have the opportunity to go there straight after I graduated. I was earning €13.000 annually while I was studying, and this amount enabled me to save a total of €3.000 before I went to South America. (Full disclosure, I was able to save this amount because of the low tuition fee in the Netherlands of €2.000).
I traveled a total of four months on this €3.000, but I have to admit that I didn’t make the best financial decisions. I made the impulse decision to go to the Galapagos, a once in a lifetime opportunity, still it cost me around €1000 for two weeks. It was worth every penny! After month 3, I decided to try Couch Surfing, where you can sleep on people’s couches for free. It was an amazing experience that made me a few very good friends.
The way I traveled in South America is not very sustainable for the long term or with a partner. I would love to go traveling with my boyfriend, meaning that I wouldn’t be able to couch surf and would pay a premium for having a room for just the two of us.
I’ve thought about being a digital nomad before, and if I can make a living from something online I would do it. First I will try to find something that I will like to do, and when I make more than €13.000 per year I will most probably do it. Let’s hope that day comes sooner rather than later!
In one of my favorite posts you are writing “How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything”. Can you tell Route 2 FI’s readers more about the concept and why it is important?
The concept of “How you do anything is how you do everything” is quite straightforward. It means that everything you do matter. If you’re not managing your €1.000 very well, you will not manage your money a whole lot better when you have €100.000.
In my case, it was something at work that taught me that. I was rushing through some things at work, things I didn’t like doing so much. I was of the opinion that they weren’t important, so why would I pay much attention anyway? This resulted in me forgetting a minus sign later that day, which is kind of a big deal in accounting.
It means that instead of booking revenue, I was booking cost. It was a €700.000 transaction.
Why did this happen? Because I didn’t pay attention to the basic bookings, so why would my brain pay attention to the significant bookings?
How you do anything is how you do everything, your actions now are determining your actions in the future.
If you want to save money when you have a high income, start saving money on a low income.
Your plan is to retire in 11 years and you explain that you feel this is a really long time in your post “The Waiting Game”. Could you tell us about your investing strategy? And your FIRE-number? A lot can change in 11 years, is there a possibility that you will retire earlier?
I started investing in June 2018, after reading and studying it for years. Finally I had some money I could invest when I started working. I settled with the cheapest index-fund at my broker, which is a Vanguard World ETF. Also I have two individual stocks, going off from my economics background I expect to be an above average stock picker – aren’t we all?
My FIRE number is currently €600.000 for both me and my partner. I am still trying to get him all in, but at least he’s dipping in his toes now: we’ve started a joint investment account since last month. Yay, that’s a huge win!
I hope to get the opportunity to retire earlier than in 11 years, but I prefer having a deadline and moving it forward than being too ambitious and having to push it backward..
Most people in the world don’t have this inner drive to pursue FIRE. Where does your motivation for reaching FIRE come from? Do you think your personality type is somehow related to being good with delayed gratification?
I’m an ENFP with a slight extraversion over introversion. I love to surround myself with INFJs. They give me the reflective part that I really need otherwise I would be bouncing off the walls.
My motivation for FIRE doesn’t come from my personality type I think, but from things happening in my life. Like I’ve mentioned to you before, my dad passed away when he was 39 years old. That’s reminding me every day that life is short, it should be enjoyed every second of every day, and you should be grateful for all the things you have.
Do you have other life goals than FIRE?
My other life goal would be to have a successful business. I’m certain that I’ll be able to do it, but somehow something is holding me back. I’m hoping that after I FIRE I can have the courage to have my own business with a safety net and no consequences if I fail.
Could you please tell us about how much you earn, spend and save a regular month? What do you think is most important in your journey to FIRE?
After my promotion I’m earning €1980 net, of which I spend €500-€700 and save the rest. My average savings rate for 2019 year to date is 76,5%, which I’m very happy about!
Currently, I’m keeping my expenses extremely low by living with roommates, but this situation is not feasible over the long term. Over the coming years, I will focus more on increasing my income since me and my boyfriend will want to look for an apartment together within the next year. I’ve never been a big spender, so I’m sure that I will be able to keep the savings rate high!
What has been your biggest challenge in life, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is a hard one. It always feels like the biggest challenge of all when you’re in it, but afterward you’re thinking; that wasn’t so bad. Or is that just me?
One big challenge that I overcame is wanting to start to work on my own project. It doesn’t need to be generating revenue, I just wanted to add a sense of purpose to my life that I was missing. When I started my blog I was really afraid of putting myself out there, which I do now on a regular basis. I’m happy I overcame that, as my blog is really giving me a sense of purpose and community that I’ve never experienced before.
There is one challenge that I’m still facing, and it’s my biggest goal of all, that is waiting to be financially independent and retire early. I feel like striving to be FIRE is really a waiting game – a game that I’m trying to win but it’s just taking so long compared to any other goals I’ve had.
I’m focusing on enjoying the ride, accomplishing short term goals, and following my progress.
What are some of the most influential resources (books, blogs, podcast..) that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation? When did your interest for FI start?
The book that really got me started is Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki . I recommend it to anyone who want to know more about the basics of finances, it’s an easy read with lots of great stories.
I started the idea of not working a traditional job a few years ago, when my dream of starting my own company really came to me. I wanted to save enough money so I could start my own company with a few years of buffer. About a year ago I read about financial independence and retire early ideas, that further shaped this belief of not wanting to work in the traditional workforce. That’s when it all started!
Is there an area or of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I really worked on saying no in the past, and I’m still improving on it. When people ask me to join them to a festival, dinner, or party, I almost always say yes. I could be better with that, as it’s always costing loads of money. It’s not something that I regret, just something I’m aware of I can do better in.
You started blogging in December 2018. Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I started blogging because I wanted to pursue the path to financial independence and early retirement. I react really well to external accountability and community, so this is truly the best thing that ever happened to me. A combination of both!
My mindset is really to use blogging as a tool to not only educate others, but also to educate myself. I’ve learned so much already from interacting with readers and fellow blogger, it beats every school there is!
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with “Radical FIRE”?
I basically want to help millennials to earn more and save more, so they can be free without working a job they hate!
Are there specific short-term and long-term goals you’re working towards with “Radical FIRE”? Do you think you will continue writing on this blog until you’re FI?
I am setting monthly goals for myself in my monthly review post, just to keep myself accountable. I’m not saying that I don’t know what I’m doing, but most of the time the goals are quite random.
I love writing and the interaction with the readers, so I want to keep blogging as long as I enjoy writing! Currently, I’m waking up every day at 6am in order to write blog posts. I never expected to actually enjoy the time between 6am and 8am more than the rest of the day combined!
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Route 2 FI’s readers to check out, what would those be and why?
How I Live On Half My Income – And You Can Too! This post is about the areas I’m trying to save costs, in order to get the high savings rate I’m getting. I believe that everyone can save half their income if they’re willing to make the changes in their lifestyle.
Money And Confidence As A Way To Living Your Best Life. This post is about my struggle with money and confidence. Money and confidence are the two things almost everyone struggles within their life. Many people, myself included, try to fill the void of confidence with money. This means that changing your attitude towards confidence will radically impact your money mindset!
The Waiting Game – Feeling Impatient on the Road to Financial Independence. You’re getting impatient on the road to financial independence? Me too! Learn how to deal with the waiting game, to make the process sustainable.
What is your net worth and what does it consist of? Do you currently have any debt?
My current net worth is €17.089, which mostly consists of stock investments and savings. I have an amount in P2P lendings (€2000) and a small amount in crypto’s (€800).
In my net worth is my €19.000 student debt included, which I’m not planning to pay off in 2019.
What is your biggest passion in life?
My biggest passion in life is to be of value to others. When I can contribute to the life of someone else, I feel totally accomplished.
My most important mission is to teach others to help themselves, so they can step up their game and create the ripple effect! I love to see when something truly clicks with someone and they’re applying it to their life.
Do you celebrate the milestones along the road to FIRE? How?
I did celebrate when my net worth crossed the positive mark. Mostly I’m not the extraverted celebrational type, I just like to see where I’m at and be happy about where I’m going.
I celebrate with a glass of wine or some good food mostly, enjoying the good company of my friends or my family. I’m thinking about treating myself with a good holiday when I cross bigger net worth marks, but I still have some time to think about that!
What has been the average rate of return on your investments? Do you have a strategy you will follow if the market suddenly would drop 50 %? Why do you choose this strategy?
Since I’ve started investing last year, my average return is 10.3%.
When the market would drop 50% I would pump all the savings I have left into the stock market. Historically speaking the market always moves up, so I’m sure the market will correct on the long term.
Back in December 2018 when the market dropped a lot in a week, I invested extra money in the stock market and I got really excited. I am even sad that I didn’t invest more!
Do you think anyone can become a millionaire today?
Anyone can win the lottery, that’s for sure!
I really feel like I’m lucky to be born in the Western world where we have so many luxuries that we take for granted. I am lucky enough to have a roof above my head, never having to worry about food, and I can save more than half of my take-home pay.
I don’t think anyone can become a millionaire, but I do believe many can go far by striving to be. Good financial education, strong habits, and focus will go a long way.