I’m sure we are one of the ugly ducklings in the personal finance hemisphere. As many know to the penny how much their net worth will be. And we? Well, that’s a long story.
Three years ago we set out on an adventure and started investing. Our goal was to accumulate a 100.000 euro net worth within five years, starting from zero. Ambitious, yes. Daunting, yes. Impossible? No.
Although this was our very first financial goal, and the one on which we started our journey with, we never made work of tracking the progress. We never even knew when we reached this point. Because as it turns out, we already did.
With so many blogs, coaches and gurus telling you how to retire early, it’s no surprise that many are following the footsteps of those who have already done it. And all these stories have the same steps in common: live below your means, pay off debt like crazy, saving and invest the rest, hit your target number and live the rest of your life comfortable while withdrawing a certain amount of money each year.
Sounds simple. Their focus is on analyzing how much wealth you have to accumulate in order to quit the 9 to 5. When you hit that target, you have enough to retire early. Your accumulated wealth will last a lifetime when keeping your lifestyle at the same level. Within the FIRE community, this is a very common mindset, which is often referred to as the ‘regular’ FIRE approach.
And if this is the ‘regular’ approach, are there any others? Well, thanks for asking. Because yes, there are. You have the Lean FIRE and Fat FIRE ‘movement’. People who’ve set up a different set of rules that deviate a bit from the status quo of FIRE.
When we started invested almost 3 years ago, our first objective was to get rich(er). We started buying stocks of which we believed would reach up to great heights so we would be able to cash in. Of course, this wasn’t build to last. By researching more and more about investment strategies and how to deal with money, I stumbled on some PF blogs that were talking about a whole different way of thinking than we had at that time.
So, we shifted our focus to the long haul and started investing in dividend stocks. Aiming for a more meaningful and happy life by reaching financial independence, and the freedom to do whatever we choose. In other words, being opportunity-rich and time rich.
I can tell you, that it’s working. And over the years we’ve built up a small portfolio providing us with some passive income. We’re still far from reaching financial independence and it will take over ten years before we get there. The thing is, my objective that motivated me on this journey was the promise that one day I would be able to stop working my day job and could ‘finally’ pursue what I really wanted and when I wanted it. But I’m not that willing to wait until then, in order to pursue the things I like to do now.
Our second BE/NL FIRE meet-up is already in the books. Last weekend we came together with 28 other money and PF geeks, to talk about investing & financial independence specifically related to the Dutch and Belgium circumstances. And this time again we’ve had the fortune to be in good company with new but also many familiar faces from the meet-up earlier this year. In short, it was a great success.
During the Meet-Up, I had the pleasure to give a talk about F.I.R.E. in general, and in relation to our situation in Europe. The outcome was that because of some big differences in legislation, the build up in pensions and the closed mindset of Europeans, talking about it and reaching FI is far more difficult than it would be in the US.
Another outcome was that the equivalent of FIRE doesn’t really exist in the EU society, and possible nowhere else as well. Simply because the whole idea of an early retirement doesn’t cover what it actually means. Simply put, we don’t have a word or term for the kind of lifestyle we are creating for ourselves.
But we might have another that comes very, very close!