10 Questions and a Pizza Place with The FIREstarter

This is the 31st edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place. (The 1500′s are pizza fanatics.) We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all 17. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Today we feature theFIREstarter. Mr. FIREstarter is a 32 year old guy bloke living in the UK with an aggressive goal to retire in 5 years at the ripe old age of 37. Pretty nice goal if you ask me.

One of the things I like about theFIREstarter is that he’s come to terms with his vices. He has a big TV, enjoys golf and a good beer and is OK with all of it. I struggle with my wants.

Finally, I didn’t even know they had pizza places in the UK. Makes me want to visit even more!


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.

theFIREstarter blog is about my attempt to escape the rat race within five years. I’m a UK resident so I am hoping it will be refreshing to get a slightly different angle from most of the other financial independence (FI) blogs out there, while still remaining relevant to all. As we know the general principles of wealth building and frugality are universal. I’m interested in and am writing about a wide range of topics, so along with the standard money saving, personal finance and investing stuff, you’ll also find tasty frugal recipes to try all the way through to some deep and philosophical articles where you will find a peak into my inner thoughts. The articles are lightly dusted with my classic British wit and humour, David Bailey-esque personal photography, good looks, great teeth, modesty, oh and not forgetting sarcasm of course!

What is the worst financial mistake you made?

I should come clean at this point and admit I was a heavy gambler for most of my twenties. It wasn’t financially bad for me in terms of bottom line, but wagering large amounts of cash each week has many other detrimental side effects, one of which is that you lose your grasp of the value of money, to wit; what is the point of trying to save £100 a month when I could lose £300 in one weekend. So I guess you could call that one huge 10 year long financial mistake. I haven’t written much about this on the blog yet, but I am planning to (not that I think any of  my target audience will have a gambling problem, but there are no doubt parallels that could be drawn to other potential financial issues)

What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?

Ok let’s convert quickly to British Sterling… that’s around £600,000. I would buy myself a house got around £250,000 which would buy a very modest 3 bedroom home around my way (I’d have to be quick as the market is rejuvenated and going up again!). This would leave £350,000 which I would invest £50,000 into a deposit for buying a rental property or two, £200,000 into a passive portfolio and save £100,000 in cash for living expenses (including some decent holidays we should get 4-5 years out of that!) and any other investment opportunities that might come up, which would include the start up costs for one or more solo business ideas I have cooking. It goes without saying I would instantly quit my day job as well!

What kind of car do you drive?

A peugeot 307, if you have no idea what that is you can check out my wheels half way down this post. recently upgraded from a petrol (unleaded) engine to a diesel one, thus nearly doubling our mileage per gallon, so I’m calling it the shrewd-mobile. It’s 10 years old and cost £1200, paid in cash of course! It seems like a nice, modern car to me and is a very a smooth drive, I can’t see the need for anything more.

Who inspires you?

I love stories of people overcoming difficulties to prosper against the odds such as this guy here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Worlds-Strongest-Librarian-Tourettes/dp/1592407870. They help us to put most of our silly day to day problems into perspective, and give you a sense that really anything is possible if you put enough dedication and effort into it.

What is the best financial move you have made?

There is no one single move as such, just lots of small actions that add up over time. Generally being frugal, never running a credit card bill for any significant amount of time, never purchasing anything on credit (unless it was an interest free deal), buying a sensibly priced flat, not paying through the nose for the latest and greatest gadgets (i.e. keeping up with the Jones’), and not getting into ridiculous levels of lifestyle inflation. Of course, I still could have done a lot better in most of those areas as well, always room for improvement!

What is your favorite place to vacation?

I recently went to Thailand on honeymoon which was a beautiful, thriving country and the people there could teach us a few lessons on how to live a decent life. I am increasingly getting back to thinking why travel half way around the world when you have the beauty of the English countryside on your doorstep, so we’ll be holidaying more locally over the next few years at least, while we kick start our FIRE fund. The South West (Cornwall and Devon) is a lovely area with some great beaches and sights to see, and we are planning on a Scotland trip this year as, quite ridiculously, we’ve never been there!

What’s your favorite tip for saving money?

Developing a new perspective where money spent does not correlate with fun or quality of your life is key for me. In terms of a practical and instantly actionable tip, getting as much of the stuff you need through Craigslist, freecycle, thrift stores and so on is going to save you bundles of cash. It may require slightly more work to find what you need but that treasure hunt is part of the fun for me! Still… to enact tip two, you need have nailed tip one in the first place, otherwise you’ll be like “second hand stuff? Urgh I don’t want this!”

What is your favorite pizza place (I am a pizza nut)?

The Curious Pig in the Parlour – Sussex, England

The Pizza Place

What is your fondest memory?

Getting married to Mrs TFS of course! Closely contested with winning a million pounds* on TV Show “The Million Pound Drop”. We answered all 8 questions and put all the money on every single correct answer

*Note: This was actually on a pub quiz machine after work one evening and the actual jackpot was£10… still it felt good getting to the end and almost like winning the real million (I would imagine), the questions were really hard!

What are your biggest goals in life?

Having enough financial freedom to quit my corporate job before I am 37 of course! And to be happy, and spread that happiness and all the good things I’ve learnt in this blogging community around as much as I can. Once I am FI I may have some even loftier goals but one step at a time eh.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be (don’t say ‘buy Microsoft,’ everyone says that)?

Start learning about website programming and Internet business 10 years earlier. I’m sure I’d be sitting on a load of semi passive income by now and travelling the world on it rather than chained to the desk, if I’d done that.

What is your favorite movie?

The Beach. I watched it again just the other day in fact. The soundtrack and the scenery sends shivers down my spine every time!

What advice would you give to a 24 year old, just out of college?

Whatever you decide to do with your life save as much money as possible, and put at least 10% of your income into the stock market. I’d recommend a 50% savings rate (maybe more if you are still living with Ma and Pa) but the other ≈40% could be going towards saving for a house deposit, or even going travelling. Just don’t do it the other way round like most youngsters and get into debt for travelling, or anything else for that matter. Work hard, make yourself stand out from your colleagues, and when you get an inevitable salary increase, fight the temptation of lifestyle inflation and increase your savings rate instead. I’d also say to consider going into business for yourself or self employment from a young age (and therefore possibly not even bothering with college) if you think that it will suit you, it may sound scary but once you get into a corporate career it is even scarier to cut off your life line of a regular pay check. Spend money on what is important to you, not what you think will make you look good in the eyes of others (hint: they probably don’t care about that stuff as much as they make out, the TV commercials just make them think they think they do. Ok now I’m confused!)

Mac or PC?

PC but I can see the benefits of both, I’m not into the whole Apple fan boy thing or any other one company.

What are your favorite personal finance websites?

Mr. Money Mustache, Early Retirement Extreme, 1500 days, Done by Forty all for FI type themes, EcoThriftyLiving for the “green” message, Monevator for all things UK investing

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Don’t ever go into debt (apart from mortgage or student loan debt). I’m not sure who ever told me that, I am pretty sure it wasn’t my parents, but someone must have done, I don’t think I would have been clever enough to work it out on my own. I would have modified that and said don’t go into student loan debt as well, as back when I was at College/University it would have been fairly easy to escape debt free, but I didn’t.

Dogs or cats?


What is the worst personal finance mistake you see people making?

Spending money on total crap! Like £800 handbags, £1000 set of golf clubs when they got a new set last year, £300 tablets when they already have two other similar models, £800 3DTV for their bedroom (WTF!). These are all real purchases I have seen friends and work colleagues make in the last year. The same people tell me they are broke or at least say they can’t afford to pay for X, Y or Z until payday, so I am presuming they are living pay check to pay check  It’s a shame, they know I am adverse to buying things like that so it’s not worth dishing out advice. I can only suppose they have a burning desire to work to the grave.

What product or service epitomizes consumerism?

Ooooh where do you start? I hate things that are trying to be something they are not and could never be, such as diet ready meal products, or even worse “diet” desserts. Talk about the wrong attitude to solving your problem and looking for the easy way out! Put some effort into it and learn how to cook from scratch using fresh healthy ingredients. Change your mindset to wanting to be healthy for the sake of it, and away from thinking you are depriving yourself of all those “lovely treats” that are basically slowly killing you, one sugary mouthful at a time. (I’m not adverse to the occasional donut of course but not as part of your regular diet!)

What is your favorite recipe (looking at you Herb on Herbs!)?

I love a stir fry or a curry. Here is one I made recently that was pretty delicious.

What was your worst job?

I used to work at a CD packing factory when I was 15 which was pretty grim. I’ve had plenty of crap jobs to choose from when temping as a student though, as I am sure most others have!

Thank you for your submission and best of luck to you FIREstarter on your goal! Show theFIREstarter some love over at his blog and on Twitter.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

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4 Responses to 10 Questions and a Pizza Place with The FIREstarter

  1. I have to agree with you on holidaying in your own country. Quite a few years ago, I was talking to somebody when I was in Toronto and he asked me what London was like. I must admit I was kinda of embarrassed to say I had never actually visited my own capital city! Which is kinda absurd considering what a beautiful country the UK is.
    MrsFinancialFreedom recently posted…When Life Gives You A Great Big Slap In The FaceMy Profile

  2. Maverick says:

    I had the good fortune of travelling to England in the mid 80’s for work at my first employer. It was the first time I ever flew, so I had to rush to get a passport and go. I remember an older colleague said he was going to make arrangements for me to see the Norwich Broads. For the first time being outside of the States it was all so different and wonderful. I was taken to the Norwich Broads, a seaside resort (I don’t recall where) and sampled meals and beers at various pubs. On a weekend I had the chance to explore London on my own before departing. Looking out the plane window, I still remember seeing all those tile roofs for the first time. Unfortunately I haven’t made it back there again…but I certainly am planning to.

  3. That pizza looks delish and I am a huge fan of your car! I am actually really surprised it is as old as it is, and what you paid for it. Wish I could find something like that here in the states!
    Retired By 40! recently posted…Frugal Ways to Beat The Heat!My Profile

  4. FI Fighter says:

    Great fan of this blog and I love the home made recipes regularly posted on there. I hope you succeed in reaching your goal of getting to FI in 5 years brother!
    FI Fighter recently posted…My New $1400 Laptop (June 23, 2014)My Profile

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