What got me fired up?

People get rarely born being fully convinced of the vlaue of  a FIRE journey. So, what got me fired up? I can’t remember who started this series The Money mine started this series, I liked most post that I read. It shows that there a phases you go through, you can identify yourself and sometimes adjust where needed

The younger years – learning from the parents
At home, my parents were always frugal. There was money, not always in abundance. This meant that some times, we needed to make some choices on certain activities.
At a rather young age, I got an allowance that should cover for all my clothing, party and travel expenses. I did some weekend and summer work to complete my budget.
This period is the basis of my personal budgeting and intentional living.
I now try to pass this measure to my kids…
There was some windfall as well. My parents brought me in contact with the bank and I discussed with the  ranch manager on how to invest this money.
The first job – Doing what is expected – splurging a little 
At my first job, I kept  living at home. I did pay a monthly allowance. My first salary went towards a really nice car-radio and speakers. My brother in law helped out installing these in my car.
As explained by my parents, I started pension saving. At that time, it was 550EUR per year… Not a lot, so, I started. ever since, I never missed a year.
That year, I also went twice on a ski holiday. One part was actually paid by capital gains I made on an nasdaq fund. This was 1999, I not only missed the big peak, I also missed the great crash. I prefer the ski trip anytime – guilty pleasure!
 Second round of studies
After the first job, I went back to school to get an MBA. This was surely a challenging period as I paid all out of my own pocket. I still am thankful that my parents decided to refund me the allowance I paid them to live at home. That covered a lot of my expenses. and kept me debt free. I required some budgetting to stay within my means, especially compared with some other students. I managed to stay debt free.
Second job & third – living the good life
My second job was rather intense: I traveled each weak, sometimes between continents.  During the week, I lived on company expenses and went out to eat almost every day. The travel did put a lot of stress on my relation and I moved back in with my parents… Life happens… and then moved into a bought apartment and changed jobs.
I had some budgeting issues: No more company expenses to pay the restaurants. Luckily, I found this out rather soon and was able to control myself and push my spending  lower so that I lived below my means again. This was a key moment! The budgeting got firmly into place and living below my means became a habit.
Travel and parties with my friends were the main budget items that I had. Really good memories…!
Meeting Misses ATL
At the time of yet another job switch, I met miss ATL. Quite soon, she moved into my apartment. At this time, my career really took off. Income increased big time, expenses dropped as they were shared between the two of us.  With hindsight, this is where the seeds for our Early Financial Freedom could grow further: we avoided life style inflation. At the same time, we enjoyed life with travel, diners and get aways with friends.
We did not invest, we saved for a house.
Looking back, I have been a big part of my life very risk averse. Cash and a main house were my go to assets, and then some funds from the bank. At that time, I did not call it an asset allocation, I did what I saw at home.
The classical next steps
after a house and a wedding, we got kids and we still managed to live below our means. Fitting in daycare in the budget was doable as we were living frugally already before and had a big monthly surplus. Once the daycare was over, that money went into saving again.
I started to feel more and more secure on our situation and got more interested into investing.
The big change here is that I became a landlord. My mother and wife convinced me to keep the apartment (and the mortgage on it). Most of my bonuses went to an accelerated paydown of the mortgage. At one point, the mortgage was gone! Cashflow was good!
Getting FIREd up!
Sorry for the cliché!

At one point, we had many plans and ideas for the house and garden. We had cash. My risk averse me wanted to keep our cash. When the the tenants divorced, got into payment problems and finally moved out, I decided to sell the apartment. I got a good price, higher than I estimated the property. It was sold in one week, close to the estimate of the real estate agent. As a plus, I did not need to spend time and money on refurbishing the apartment. It was now 12 years old and could use some paint and improvements.

Some of the money went to our house mortgage, some went to the garden. The left over needed a destination. This is where I started to google about how to invest and finally stumbled upon the FIRE community.
After a lot of reading, I decide to invest a the left over money via our Stairway to Freedom.  It does not bring the best possible returns, it does make me sleep at night and allows me now to even have playmoney. It is personal finance, we each have our background and we each need to find a system that works for us.
We now have an intentional asset allocation in place, have a budget and plan for a freedom and start to live more and more the life we want.
What got you FIRE’d up?

16 thoughts on “What got me fired up?

  1. I can very much relate to the travel, dining and friends parties as income increased. Hey, experiences are better than stuff!!

    And as for those daycare costs, what a euphoric experience to see them go away. It was for us. In the US in suburban Boston, we were paying $2,000 per month at peak when both boys were being cared for. That and more goes to Vanguard now on a dollar cost averaging basis.

    Our fire’d experience started as smoldering embers with our constsnt maxing out of 401k. Gradually the fire was stoked more with other investments and importantly when we realized our enjoyment from life came from simple things that meant we could reach FIRE within two years.


    1. 2000 USD daycare peak wow… we were peak at 1300 EUR. After that, most of that went to saving. We also adjusted our budget when the kids went to school, especially regarding clothing and food and fun activities.


  2. I started the series 😉 I’ll add a link to your post! http://www.themoneymine.com/what-got-you-fired-up/
    Thanks for sharing your story, I like how you started like many of us with no particular financial knowledge but eventually got FIRE’d up when you were looking at ways to do better.
    How was the MBA? Do you think this has played a part in the looking for ways to better invest or become financially independent?


    1. The MBA is what got me in my big corporate job where I had the biggest salary boost so far. In that way, It was money well spend. I do not think it played a roll in becoming a better investor, nor in getting the FIRE idea in my mind.


  3. Nice story. I got fired up realizing I did not want to keep on running the threadmill till age 70. I stumbled on Your money or your life and that was a game changer for me. MMM blog also was an inspiration. Ever since I have found more pleasure in stashing than in spending.


  4. Hey AT, nice life story. Seems you have done rather well and did not make any big “mistakes”. No doubt you will make yourself a good and financially stable life. Good for you!

    Our FIRE moment came after Miss CF was born. It was a combination of the good life during the period of parental leave (traveled 9 weeks straight) and not liking my job at that time. Still yearn for the good life, the job got a bit better, but still very much looking forward to doing something else, something more rewarding (and without a commute).


    1. There have been mistakes. Or, you can call the learning opportunities… Some of them were itentional, so it is ok, others are just plain learning moments. These are good when you are young, then there is less money at stake!


  5. Awesome! This has been a great series and I’ve enjoyed reading your story along with others.

    What has stood out is the habit you developed early to pay yourself first which carried you throughout life, wife and kids. Not too different from me, them I began learning about early retirement and thinking it could be an option for me. Quite a process and a blessing… All because of the development of positive habits early on.

    Thanks for sharing!


  6. ATL, thanks for sharing your journey. The key is avoiding lifestyle inflation as the income grows during the “expansion” phase of our careers. Your path is a good lesson for your readers. Application of the principle is the key!


  7. For me after I started to max out my 401k, I found that I enjoyed buying stocks more than material positions. Hopefully down the road these stocks will pay off so I can translate them into memories with my family. I really want to go to Iceland some day 🙂


  8. I loved reading through your story ATL, at each stage I can see how your finances and financial attitude improved. You have done very well to get to where you are today – really well! It’s a good thing you kept the apartment, I bet that was really good seeing all the extra cashflow.

    It sounds like you’re all sorted for the rest of your life 🙂 You and Mrs ATL (and kids) have a wonderful family together.



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