Bloggers on FIRE – ¡al fin libre!
In our Bloggers on FIRE series, we interview European FI bloggers to find out what makes them tick. Our aim is to build up a “who’s who” directory for the European FI blogging world. We hope you enjoy the series and discover some new blogs to follow. You can find a full list of our Bloggers on FIRE interviews here.
Please briefly introduce yourself to FIREhub.eu readers
I’m a 37 year old male, single, no kids. My name is Jesús (it’s a very normal name in my country, but you can make all the jokes you want about it :P).
I was born in Spain and at this moment I’m living there, nearby the city of Salamanca. It’s a temporary situation as I’m quite nomadic so I’ll move to some other place in Spain or abroad soon.
I’m financially independent since 2016. I write about my story and learnings on my blog alfinlibre.net
What is your backstory?
I was raised in a normal family. Studied in public school and graduated as a computer engineer in 2006. I worked mainly as a consultant for a big Spanish bank. It was growing internationally, and it gave me the opportunity to work abroad. 6 months in Brazil and 7 years in the UK. That increased my salary a lot in comparison with salaries for the same roles in Spain.
I tried a higher expenses lifestyle, but I was never that type of guy. So I saved a very good percentage of my paycheck every month. The time came when I felt the need of doing something with my savings. I started to surf the web and read everything available.
What I discovered was a totally new world for me. Investment, frugality and eventually financial freedom. It was a blast. I devoured lots of information during several months, and finally I was sure it was something achievable with the situation I had. So I made the most of it. I pushed hard to get an even better salary, made sure all my savings were working either for interest, dividends or capital gains, and started to figure out when I would be able to jump and quit my job for good.
Why did you want to reach Financial Independence?
Mainly because I was not happy with my life. I was living in a country I didn’t like, and I was doing a job that didn’t fulfil me.
From an objective point of view the conditions I had were really good, but I could not continue living that type of empty life much longer. Every day, every week, every month was kind of the same as the previous one.
I wanted to grow in different aspects, to live adventures, to explore the world and all the opportunities available, to pursue my dreams and to unleash all the potential I had as a human being. Financial freedom was the perfect way to make all that happen.
How much is your “enough”?
To be honest, I think the exact figure is something quite difficult to calculate. At least in my case. For someone who knows their expenses very well since their FIRE life will be the same life as before, just without going to the office, it´s very easy to calculate. But I’ll be changing my lifestyle quite a bit. Starting from the country I´m going to live in. In short, I have a big capacity to adapt my expenses to my income.
In any case, my main base country is going to be Spain. So I proclaimed my financial freedom when I achieved sufficient passive income to sustain my lifestyle in Spain.
I could have been more conservative and waited some more years to increase my safety net. But to me the opportunity cost was more important than the bullet proof financial status, so I retired with a lean FIRE approach.
In any case I still have some room to make my passive income grow even now, as I have invested just 40% of my wealth for example. Apart from that, I have all my time back and opportunities arise without much effort to make some extra cash while I do activities I enjoy.
In my opinion, the definition and categorization of financial independence levels and approaches is still poor. As an exercise for myself, and in order to add a new and more precise viewpoint I wrote this post. Using that system I’m financially free, living in the lower band of my abundance zone. My financial freedom scores “good” on quality and “medium” on soundness.
Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?
I’m financially free since 2016 when I was 33 years old.
What do you do all day now that you’re FI?
The first thing I did when I got FI was to quit my job and to start traveling the world. I traveled for 20 months (599 days), visiting 25 countries and living countless adventures. It has been the best experience of my life by far. You can see the whole itinerary here.
After that, I wanted to try some other things of a different nature. I settled in Barcelona where I started my blog in order to share knowledge about financial independence with Spanish speakers.
Apart from taking care of some obligations I had related to my return to Spain after so many years abroad, I dedicated more time to learning about buddhism, meditation, public speaking, and Russian. I joined a co-working space, visited the gym everyday, and started to cook and read more often than before. Thanks to the co-working, the blog, a meetup group I created and some other activities and events I attended I made many new friends.
Life is unpredictable, so I had to cut all that off for some time due to personal issues and I moved to Salamanca, where I don’t have as many opportunities as in Barcelona. I try to keep up some of the stuff I was doing back in Barcelona but in a different way.
For example, as I don’t have any co-working space nearby, I joined an online one created by a friend (sinoficina.com). I do yoga and exercise on my own every morning. I keep meditating and following buddhism teachings via the Youtube channel of the temple I used to attend in Barcelona. My routine will keep changing. My plans are to travel more in the future, to keep learning and to keep sharing it.
What was your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?
My strategy was to work very hard and get the maximum salary possible. No matter whether I had to travel or to accept more responsibility.
Second, to save the maximum without compromising on an enjoyable way of living. (I reached a 80%-85% savings rate at the highest point, but I continued travelling during vacations and living in a nice flat shared with a friend).
Third, to put all my savings to work. At the beginning, I put everything in interest-paying bank accounts, moving it to the stock market from there. My investment strategy until now is to buy and hold shares of big dividend-paying companies.
What is your financial strategy after reaching FI?
As I saved quite fast and was reluctant to go “all in” the stock market, I still haven’t invested everything. Now I’m 40% in stocks and 60% in cash. I know it’s not an optimal distribution. But, for now, I sleep better that way and the return is still higher than my expenses.
In the future I plan to keep buying dividend-paying companies whenever I detect good opportunities. But I’m also not totally convinced of this strategy, as it has some downsides. So I’ll also be keeping a big chunk of my cash in order to start buying index funds when the markets start panicking again.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
So many mistakes:
- Not sticking to my own strategy, and buying some small cap companies. Some of them nearly went bankrupt…
- Not sticking to my own strategy, and selling some good companies to realize capital gains.
- Start investing solely in the Spanish stock market.
- Not investing in index funds from the very beginning.
- Not lowering my exposure to GBP before the Brexit vote.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t make the mistakes above! Hahaha.
Don’t worry so much about the future. Flow.
Take this course as soon as possible.
What’s your wildest dream?
It used to be to become FI, quit my job and do a round-the-world trip.
But that’s fulfilled now, and I’m into a self-discovering phase again, setting new objectives and goals.
I guess another wild dream is to travel to the antipodes avoiding planes.
Another one is to visit every world heritage site in the world, every country and every region of the world, as they are described on this site.
To be successful with my blog and help many many people to improve their lives, be happier and fulfil their wildest dreams, too.
What’s your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?
I think by now you know the answer. To travel. 😊