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 Tony from One Million Journey.
He’s a young FIRE-seeker at age 33.
Tony has a rather unusal allocation of his portfolio, which is really interesting. In this interview we will get deep under his skin to reveal his ideas and get to know him better.
For us who are still on our path to becoming FI, it’s important who we get our information from.
I hope you’ll find this interview interesting and might learn some things that you can put into action in your own life.
I was born and raised in a small town close to the Barcelona metropolitan area. At the age of 28, I felt stuck with my life and needed to make a change.
After a few months of thinking I came up with the conclusion that I wanted to press the reset button and try something different, a new life-changing experience that allowed me to start off from the beginning – moving abroad seemed to perfectly match my needs.
I searched online and bought a one-month English course with food and accommodation included (host family), and a one-way flight ticket. Soon thereafter I packed my stuff and flew to England. Now it’s been four and a half years since that day, and yeah… a lot has changed!
I met my girlfriend while I was studying and learning English during the first months, that’s basically the only reason why I am still here, as she is from Chech Republic and we wanted to live in an English-speaking country. Wasn’t I looking after a change? This was it!
Since the Brexit vote in the UK, our life instability increased. We were trying to figure out where to settle down, and we didn’t know where – it became really emotionally challenging.
The time pressure was also there on us, as we weren’t in our twenties anymore and wanted to have kids and raise a family together someday.
We recently applied for a one year working holiday visa in Canada with the expectations of discovering a new English-speaking environment while having our last new experience before settling down permanently. Unfortunately, the chances to get that visa are small, as we both need to be selected from an applicant pool.
I am an introvert person. It’s not the common personality stereotype for Spanish people, but that’s me. I love spending time at home on my own or surrounded by those I trust and consider my friends.
I enjoy doing things that make me feel better, like reading books or blogs, watching educational videos or films, exercising, meditating or getting in touch with my loved ones. Socializing with acquaintance or strangers drops down my energy level, and I feel the need to get back to myself quickly.
I spent 8 years of my life studying mechanics. When I was 16 I started from the bottom. I was learning the basic mechanical concepts, and kept on until I got a Bachelors’ degree in Industrial Mechanical Engineering.
I worked during some periods, which helped me to get some cash, but that wasn’t enough to cover my expenses, so I had to use some of my inherited money from my father.
Spending all these years studying has been worth it, I developed a certain amount of skills that provides me with a higher income nowadays. The way I see studies is like an investment, the difference is investing for yourself instead for someone else. After learning some skills, these will remain, with the possibility to provide us cash, whether there’s a market crush or not, our skills will always belong to us.
If I would have invested my inherited money instead of spending it to fund my studies, I would perhaps have more money now, but I think I would lose over the long term, not only due to the salary gap but also to doing something I enjoy.
I work for a little metal fabrication company as a Design Engineer, 3D modelling and making shop floor manufacturing drawings using Solidworks.
Even though I had previous related experience in the field, it took me over 3 years to get hired, previously working as a housekeeper, chef assistant and operator in assembly lines, like most foreigners when they first come to England randomly.
As a standard, I work 40 hours per week, but I sometimes need to stay longer hours, as I am the only one doing what I am doing within the team.
It’s not especially attractive, but on the other hand, it allows me to have my own way of doing things, most of the time.
I used to spend 2.5 hours of commuting every day and would get stuck in traffic jams often. The positive side is that I had loads of time to spend on listening to my favorite podcasts.
After moving closer to my workplace, I’ve reduced my commuting time down to 24min per day, gaining over 2 hours of daily time to do other things. More than that, I save £100 per month on fuel now! The bad side is that I miss my morning driving podcast time a lot, as they helped me to stay focused while learning a lot of new concepts.
I am recently thinking about working as a freelancer, getting my own equipment and designing software and working from home. But before I do that, I still need to shape my skills better, and most importantly, build up a network, which is still much on its roots.
Let’s get on to it, Tony!
What is the story behind your blog name “One Million Journey”?
I see one million as the target line to accumulate true wealth. As Robert T. Kiyosaki says in his bestseller “Rich Dad Poor Dad”; accumulating the first million is difficult and challenging, after that it becomes “easier” to grow your portfolio, thanks to the power of compounding.
I know what growing up poor means, and I want to be in the generation that transforms poorness into wealthiness. To me, one million would give me the satisfaction of having accomplished that.
Could you tell us about your investing strategy. You told me you invest in currency. That’s not the usual thing to do in these *everbody-is-investing-in-index-funds-days*. Do you have a long term plan for investing in currency? How much of your portfolio is in stocks?
I am invested in a company which owns an algotrading software. This software trades the EUR/USD currency exchange on your behalf automatically.
Currently, 64% of my portfolio is invested in currency. My plan is to use it as a money making tool, withdraw money periodically and allocate it somewhere else.
The problem began when one of their banking providers Københavns Andelskasse based in Denmark was taken over by the Danish authority Finansiel Stabilitet for the purpose of resolution, freezing all funds and leaving me with no options to withdraw money.
That’s the reason why my portfolio is disproportionate. Anyway, I shouldn’t have allocated more than 10% of my portfolio in this type of high-risk investment, so don’t follow me guys, stay safe!
8% of my portfolio (15,700€) is in stocks. I am holding two ETFs from Vanguard; S&P500 and the Global Value Factor. Another 8% in the same account holds bonds following a 50/50 Benjamin Graham approach. I personally feel more comfortable not owning much in stocks, as it feels like the market cycle is approaching to the distribution phase.
Another 8% is in Property via crowdfunding platforms and 11% in P2P.
Do you have a plan for when you will be retired? How many years do you expect it to take?
I don’t have a proper retirement plan yet, as we barely have even a plan for what we will do next year, which is my priority for now.
My monthly expenses can change substantially at any unexpected time or in the worst situation I could even lose my job.
I prefer to let the Brexit process go ahead for some time and see how things develop, before making any serious decision. Then we also have the working holiday visa selection process going on, which could have a big impact on our lives, including income and expenses.
Regardless, I don’t follow extreme frugality or obsess to much with the Retire Early part of the FIRE movement. Whatever way takes our path in the future, one million should be enough to sustain our life in most parts of the world, so I will stick into that simple goal for now.
Roughly calculating and unrealistically talking, if I assume that my expenses and income won’t change, I should be financial free in 10-15 years.
Could you describe a typical day in your life? What do you want to use more time on when you become FI?
My daily life is simple and somehow boring sometimes. I normally wake up early in the morning at 6 am, get my stuff ready and go to the gym for an hour or so. Sometimes I meditate and do some exercises at home instead, it depends on how I feel.
Then I go to work from 8:30 am to 5 pm and back to home. I spend a couple of hours for myself, reading, researching or writing, and preparing dinner and lunch for the next day afterwards. What happens after that is my business 😉
Once I am FI I would try different experiences. One I have in my mind is teaching children from undeveloped countries. I would also like to spend time investing in individual companies I like, and that I am capable of understanding.
That requires a lot of time for learning, researching, reading financials or listening to the earnings call. Also, spending time with my loved ones will be a priority.
Has taking control of your money and mastering your personal finances always been your mindset as an adult?
I’ve always been good at saving money and have never had problems with overspending. My parents borrowed a lot of money to buy a business that didn’t work out.
I experienced what debt can cause, and I am terrified about it. I’ve never borrowed money, not even for buying a car. I don’t know how I will manage the idea of borrowing money to purchase a house in the future.
What are some of the most influential resources (books, blogs, podcasts..) that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
Books: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Robert T. Kiyosaki), Intelligent Investor (Benjamin Graham), One up on wall street (Peter Lynch), The richest man in Babylon (George S. Clason), The 4-hour work week (Tim Ferris), The little book of common sense investing (John C.Bogle) and the $100 start up (Chris Guillebeau)
Blogs: Every blog I read influences my mindset at certain level, but there are some that I particulary like to follow and learn from.
-Jørgen @ Financially Free
-Nick @ Total Balance
-Carl @ Money Mow
-Marc @ Finance your fire
-Caveman @ Ditch The Cave
-Weenie @ Quietly Saving
-Peter @ My Investment Blog
-P2035 @ Project 2035
-M @ Radical Fire
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I think there’s always room for improvement in terms of finances. In my case, my accounting skills are limited. Later this year, I may get a good book or enroll in a free online course like this one.
You started blogging in December 2018. Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I chose that time just because I had more spare time to get things started. I didn’t know much about blogging or WordPress, and I am not an IT professional or anything related, so I wanted some quietness to figure it all out.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with One Million Journey?
The main purpose of my blog is to get surrounded by like-minded people, as I find it difficult on my daily life to meet people with similar ideas. So, why not try online? What fascinates me the most is that I can be in touch with people wherever I end up living.
I am also using my blog as a learning tool. First, as English is now my main language, I want to practice writing in order to improve it. Second, it helps me track my journey and stick to my main goals. Third, it may inspire others to improve their wealth. Forth, to contribute money to charities.
Are there specific short-term and long-term goals you’re working towards with One Million Journey?
My principal short-term goal is to get a 700€ of passive income by the end of 2019. Guess the long one? One million euros!
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Route 2 FI’s readers to check out, what would those be?
What is your net worth and what does it consist of? (Is it inmostly currency, stocks, real estate, something else? Do you currently have any debt?)
I only track the total of my investment portfolio which is 194,810 €.
After my father’s death I directly became the legal owner of a flat, garage and an industrial warehouse in Spain. I don’t consider these possessions inside my investment portfolio because the beneficial owner is my mum. If I sum it all up though, my net worth is roughly 450K €.
At what age did you start investing?
I started exploring at 31 but didn’t move a penny until I was 32. I am a newbie with tons of learning ahead!
What has been the average rate of return on your investments?
I had a 47% rate of return on my investment portfolio in 2018.
What has been your average annual income up to this point? And what is your average savings rate? How much do you spend annually?
My gross annual income from work is £30k and my gross passive income in 2018 was 1715€.
My monthly savings rate varies from 30 – 50% normally. I spent a little over 12k in 2018.
Do you think anyone can become a millionaire today?
It depends on many factors, but if starting early and following a paying yourself first consistently, I think the possibilities to get to seven figures are high. I talk about this and give an example in my post Paying yourself first – how long it takes to become a millionaire?.
Put it in a nutshell: someone aged 20, paying himself 150€ per month, managing to get a 10% ROI yearly and using a tax-free account (401k, ISA) can be a millionaire after 42 years at the age of 62.
The most challenging part is discipline. Will you follow this strategy for 42 years? Or change your mind on the way and use some of the invested money to buy a house?