It seems unfair of me to preach about living this good life of minimal spending and maximum living without sharing what my business actually is.
Here’s my journey to FIRE.
While I was at university in Glasgow studying for my Physics degree I couldn’t decide what career I might want, a PhD seemed the most tempting path but I wasn’t sure.
But while I was pondering that I was thinking about saving, I saw the advice to always save 10% of your paycheck, I worked out what that would mean from an average salary of £25,000 and wasn’t thrilled.
So I looked at compound interest from the bank and gave a generous 3%, I still wasn’t impressed. Over a 40 year career that would amount to £200,000. Not great.
So I turned to the internet for answers!
Several rabbit holes of Reddit searching later I popped out at Mr Money Mustaches blog.
I knew it!
If you save more than 10% and invest the rest you can get rich, become financially independent and retire early!
You use something called the 4% rule which is essentially where you can withdraw 4% of your saving every year and they should last forever.
Mad Fientist has more information on the 4% rule which I highly recommend reading.
I had no idea how much I’d need but figured £25,000 was an average salary so that’d be fine and boom £625,000 was my goal. It wasn’t set in stone but it was a goal.
I also figured retiring by 30 was a nice age leaving plenty of time for fun activities and when MMM himself retired so I had 9 years to do it.
But It turned out to do that I’d need to save £40,000 a year every year until then. Now with the £14,000 a year that a PhD had in store for me this seemed a bit of a stretch.
So what did I do?
Once again I turned to the internet.
I still had no career in mind so looked at making money online. I looked through various methods and came across day trading the FTSE100. Thought I’d give it a go, spent many months researching, got myself a practice account and it went reasonably well.
Until the total started going down and down and down.
Luckily it was a practise account so nothing was lost. Back to the drawing board.
This was all a bit of a pipe dream so I kept studying and was still working towards a PhD. Then I got a summer job in one of the Univesity labs as an intern looking at laser microscopes.
It was mind-numbingly boring.
Got a paper published at the end but fuck me it was a grind…
I finished uni, me and my fiance eloped, deciding to travel for 9 months instead of having the traditional big wedding. (a post for the future)
This is where the fun starts.
I kept reading various FIRE blogs and noticed a pattern of the retiree’s, a lot of them were talking about how they were still making enough money post-retirement to cover all living expenses, but they’re earning it on their own time doing work they love.
While we were away I came across a Reddit post where I guy was claiming to make $30,000 a month from a bunch of Informational websites he ran. The premise was he’d pick an interest, then create a website with everything you’d need to know about it.
My perfect job! A professional hobbyist!
So I got to work figuring out how to create a website, and how to write a blog. 2 months of faff learning and procrastination later and Flat Calm Living was born, a lifestyle blog centred around meditation, mindfulness, healthy eating, exercise. All interests of mine.
3 months went by and I had a lot of fun. My earnings? A grand total of $1…
Hmmm, maybe not quite right, but I kept going and at the same time came across another Reddit post, , where someone was creating a website from scratch and grow it to $50,000 A MONTH in 12 months using affiliate marketing. (This is an archived version of the post)
So I read all I could about affiliate marketing (That link is a good place to start), which is where you promote a product on your website, then you get people to visit it and if they click the link and buy something you get a commission. The result of all this learning was that I started DjentHub.com a guitar website that I was going to use to promote guitars and accessories, after another 3 months I’d managed to earn $20…
Moving in the right direction at least, another 3 months brought me up to $50 a month, a nice start, but I learned guitars are a dying niche. It’s going the same way as the grand piano and I didn’t want to invest in that much of an uphill battle so I had to try again.
Me and my wife were home by this point, back in Glasgow and I started Thedozyowl.co.uk, a sleep based website. It’s something everyone needs and always will need so seemed a good start. I didn’t know how I was going to monetise it past pillows and bedding but it was a start, I figured if I kept working with a goal in mind I’d get there eventually.
I decided to give myself a 1-year deadline, I’d get a minimum wage job, work 20-30 hours a week and bust my ass at making this work. I thought if I hit £2000 next August 2017 I’ll go full time, if I don’t I’ll find a “real job”.*
Fast forward to August 2017 – after a year of hard work, learning and uncertainty – and I’d made it! I earned a little over £2000 and handed in my notice to the shoe shop I worked in.
I still had the 4% rule in mind so I thought I’d work my ass off some more and try and get The Dozy Owl to the point where I could sell it then use that to live off, it might take a few more years then I could switch to more fun projects. But after about a month of that, I thought, why bother?
I don’t work to anyone schedule but my own. I get to decide what to work on. I already am financially independent. All selling my sites would do was give me something to retire from.
Why not outsource the grunt work and live off the rest (turned out this is the premise of the 4 hour work week).
And I did!
But the reason I did was that I kept my expenses low and was comfortable with what I had. If I’d grown accustomed to an expensive lifestyle that a career was giving me I may never have made the switch.
Your journey will be different to mine, I don’t even want you to start an online business (though it is fun!), I just want you to learn that if you learn to live on less you can have so much more free time to do the things that matter to you.
With the chance that if you’re committed and hardcore enough to make work will likely end up leading you to make even more money!
I want you to become a Spark and join me as we fight against all the Wet Blankets out there telling us we can’t do it and trying to put us out.
*£2000 because online earnings can be up and down, I figured £2000 was enough that if it suddenly halved I’d still be OK.