Today is the 46th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. 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 of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
Today, for the first time, we feature a zombie! Not just any zombie though, the Finance Zombie! Everyone knows that the undead have an appetite for brains. Not many know that zombies are also financial wizards. Today’s zombie comes all the way across the pond from the UK!
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
First of all, thanks so for much for having me. Hello Mr and Mrs. 1500days and 1500days readers, all the way from the west coast of England. It’s like London, but with much, much, more drizzle.
I started the finance zombie around September 2014, following some pretty intensive reading sessions in the summer. One lunchtime at work was spent researching saving strategies for retirement, in truth I was looking for a little pat on the back,. I was saving 20% towards retirement and knew this was more than plenty of my peers, so assumed I was some kind of savings god.
“You are a Mega Savings God” – is what I wanted confirmed by the Internet.
Talk about a smack upside the head.
“Meh, you are ok” – the Internet told me.I stumbled across loads of blogs about saving for financial freedom or financial independence. Queue reading for about 3 hours straight then working late to make up for it, haha. It blew my mind clean off it’s hinges, there were people out there saving more than 50% of their income and there were others who were already ‘retired’, younger than me (I was 32 then) and living the good life. I was hooked. So I decided to get super serial about saving and trying to get the option of retiring early.
It’s weird because when I started the blog it was meant to all be around investments, analysis, charts and maths. I had recently studied some pretty heavy investing maths as part of some actuarial exams (heavy going for my undead brain anyway) and quite enjoyed it. My initial idea was the blog would be around pulling apart all the complicated maths you can find in investing if you go looking for it and perhaps my rational for investing in certain areas.
It’s quite quickly moved on from there, not sure if you or any other bloggers found the same thing, but it’s kind of taken on a life of it’s own and constantly changing. Love it.
The articles aren’t supposed to be polished ‘advice style’ articles, but currently seem to be rants about consumerism or me struggling with my own investing strategies. Sometimes, investing websites (not the blogs 🙂 ) are so polished and the writer seems so damn clever that’s it’s easy to get intimidated initially and think “I’m far too dumb for this, it’s not for me”. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far, passive investing isn’t difficult. Choose an asset allocation, diversify, set it and let it run. Low maintenance and less inclination to tinker!
I want to keep the blog as honest as possible. I’m learning as I go along, and don’t want to hide any of the mistakes I make along the way. I had a couple of posts where I was struggling to figure out my asset allocation (here, here and here) and writing about it out and the following reader interaction helped loads.
So my blog is following me, from nearly the beginning, and my saving journey towards FI.
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
One goal for the blog is purely selfish, to keep me motivated on the long road to financial independence. Writing can be hard work, and a time suck, but I find it so helpful in stopping my mind from bouncing off to something else, that might be newer and appear more interesting.
Obviously I’d like to keep the site growing, it’s pretty awesome to see your traffic growing month on month. A huge thank you to J$ at rockstar finance as I have had a few articles up there which has pushed plenty of traffic my way! Like this one or this one.
I’d love to keep writing for the next 10 years, all the way until I reach FI. To have that whole journey documented would be awesome. Especially as at some point it’s might to include two of the major stumbling block (or excuses, haha) for not starting to save for the long term, moving house and having kids. We are getting married next year, another common excuse for not starting saving, hopefully we will plow straight through that whilst the saving steam train carries on chugging away.
And if it helps even one person along the way, then that is truly amazing.
What post are you most proud of and why?
In some ways, my first post. As it marked the start of committing to leading a simpler life and saving for Financial Independence. It’s not the greatest, but it makes me feel all nostalgic.
I like my post reviewing a year since I started the blog and how a few small positive habits and changes in my values had a huge impact on my life.
Do you enjoy writing?
For sure! It doesn’t come naturally, I did engineering at university and now I’m in finance, neither typically known for their artistic flair. But I love it, and like anything you keep at, I do feel like I’m getting better at it.
If anyone was struggling with getting started with savings I’d suggest writing a blog. Don’t worry about traffic or monetizing it, just be selfish and write for yourself. It helped me!
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
I’m right at the start of saving towards early retirement, debt-free, but just beginning to build up some funds. I’m aiming for 10 years from now, so around 43. Which, rather spookily, is about the same age as you both, I believe.
I’ve created so many spreadsheet projections trying to estimate the day when it will happen. Most of the time I look at it and Think “This is easy, I just have to do this for another 10 years and I’m there. I’m hardly a pauper, living in the woods, eating tree bark and talking to rocks for entertainment. I went snowboarding last year FFS”.
And other times I look and go “Awwww gawwwdd this is so long, and so many things could change, I might not make it, wah wah wah“.
I’m looking forward to that moment, that single speck in time, when I commit to it and pull the trigger, hand in my notice and am truly free. I suspect after two weeks off of playing computer games in only my socks I will start to get all fidgety and then try and figure out what it really is I want to do.
Until then, it’s all about keeping the motivation topped up. Which is where reading awesome blogs like 1500days comes in 🙂
If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
Not very exciting I’m afraid, I’m an actuary. I play with models all day long 😉
I’m enjoying it at the moment, but who knows how long that will last. It’s part of the reason for wanting to gain my Financial Independence, I’m not going to want to work in finance forever, surprising I know.
I don’t want my life to be restrained by a construct like ‘salary’, if I wanted to retrain as a carpenter I’d hate to never have the chance to do it purely because my lifestyle could’t afford the salary cut.
So while me and my peers are getting payrises and promotions, they are upgrading their houses, phones, clothes, cars and underpants. I’m just increasing my savings rate. A few small tweaks to your lifestyle and ignoring consumerism will mean in a few short years I can pick and choose what my full-time gig is, without worrying about raking it in or getting promoted for the sake of it. Hell, I might change career every year just BECAUSE I COULD.
When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?
What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
Can I rather arrogantly say myself (or yourself)? (I am a bit of a tool).
What I mean is, if you can change your approach to money and tweak your habits around the magical stuff it has huge impacts.
My approach was to try and attack my unconscious habits, rather than use a specific tool or a method for budgeting. I find a budget too much like having a dictator run my finances, it feels like a constant battle to ‘stay within budget’, even a few pennies over can feel like a complete loss. So try to understand what’s making you spend first, make changes here and your spending will plummet without the need for the S&M Dominatrix “Miss Budget” whipping and screaming at you. Worked for me. Mind you, I do miss her.
Having said that, I do use Excel extensively. I update a networth tracker every weekend manually, that way I’m actively looking at my finances. I don’t concentrate too much on the expenses side, other than creating some average weekly spend and estimating the required fund to support it :).
A quick weekly NetWorth update keeps me in contact with my savings and my goals. Regular enough so that it doesn’t become a huge task and not so often that I’m checking things every day. And of course you can muck about in Excel creating wonderful projections for your investments and time to FI 🙂
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
I generally think “each to their own”, and try not to get to fired up when I hear people complaining about money. It amazes me how often people I work with complain about not being able to save, we aren’t on minimum wage, you know.
Admittedly, I do want to suplex about them 5 or 6 times and then, whilst they are lightly winded, explain how easy it really is, it’s just a mind set! But I forego the suplexing and agree with them to remain stealthy and assassin like about my actual spending. I genuinely think they might have a stroke if they thought someone they knew was saving 60%.
My close friends are generally awesome and pretty thrifty, early retirement has been raised a couple of times, and while they aren’t completely taken by it, they find it interesting and haven’t shot the idea down
I haven’t always been a berserker of frugality, you see, so I do have a slither of sympathy for them. My spendy curse has been lifted. It’s weird, now a trip into town or a shopping centre feels like a special mission, I’m an undercover agent in a world I don’t belong in. To see all these drones wandering about aimlessly, shuffling about like actual zombies just buying stuff is so creepy.
I went into town recently to pick up a pair of glasses for Mrs Z and it’s so manufactured in there. Why would you go into town ‘just to browse’? The only thing that happens there is your will crumbles against the super powers of marketing and you end up buying shit you don’t need. At the very least you’ll have a coffee and a slice of cake.
So how do I handle spendy people?
Haha, I think I try to ignore them and stay out of their environments.
What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
I love a pale ale, especially an IPA. But, this is my favourite at the moment. It’s a Gem. If you get the chance to sample it…you should.
We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?
Yeeeeeeeesssssssss. Love a good board game. The ones we are playing currently are;
- Zombicide Season 2
- Puerto Rico
- Settlers of Catan – the seafarers expansion is fun
- XCOM (this one can be preeeeety intense)
You should check them out if you haven’t already. They are great.
Thanks so much for having me here 🙂
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