Bloggers on FIRE – Cashflow Cop
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
Hello everyone! I’m the Cashflow Cop, a.k.a ‘CfC’.
I’m 34 years old and live in the UK with my wife and two young boys. As you can tell from my name, I am a Police Officer full time. My wife is in the military and together we are working hard to reach financial independence by the time I’m 40 in 2025.
At my blog, I write on various different topics including property investing, how to achieve financial independence and parenting. The three most popular things on my site are: 1) The FI Score Test [FIST]; 2) The Ultimate Directory of FIRE Calculators; and 3) Humans of FI.
What is your backstory?
I am an immigrant and came to the UK when I was still a baby. Our family fled a war-torn country on a wooden boat and were miraculously rescued after spending 10 days at sea.
We were the lucky few who survived such a trip.
As a result of fleeing where we came from, freedom is something which I am truly grateful for and appreciate. This is why financial independence is so important to me.
Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?
When I travel, I sometimes see how those living in much poorer countries are strangely happier. They do not value ‘things’ but care more about the people and the environment around them. They have a strong community spirit.
Once I return home in the UK, I just see people rushing around, spend time commuting to work, stressed once at work, return home tired only to spend what little time at home preparing for work again.
Is this really freedom?
Many people are chained to their jobs, brainwashed into trading their precious time for endless shiny new ‘things’.
For me, this is a sad existence and not what my family risked life and death for.
To ensure I stay true to myself, I use what is called ‘The Stone of Life’. The concept has helped me as I progress on the path toward Financial Independence. It does not let me forget that money is only a tool to help me buy more time with my family.
Money is not the end goal. My family are.
How much is your “enough”?
I am aiming for FI+ which is 1.25x ‘normal FIRE’, with a withdrawal rate of 3%. Yup, I’m conservative! You can see my full FIST Score Card here.
Our enough is likely going to be between £3k to £5k per month after tax.
It’s quite a big range because we haven’t decided on the level of FI we want yet.
Looking at our past numbers, we should live comfortably on £2k per month after tax. Our wildest dreams further below will explain why we we want to keep our options open by aiming for a higher number.
We have set a date of when I’m 40 because it would give our eldest child a good few years of full-time travel before he hits secondary school.
What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?
Our plans for once we’re FI relates to tracing my roots. In summary, this means family travel, having the time to be present, to teach our children and do charity work. Yes, a hammock and beach might also make an appearance, but in seriousness, I might choose to continue to work in some small capacity.
The key word here is: ‘choose’. Having the freedom to do only the work which I am passionate about so long as it does not impact on my valuable family time.
Our aim is to also pass on the experience we gain along the way to our children and have decided to invest for them as soon as they were born. We hope to arm them with not only the knowledge but the tools to help them forge their own path towards FI.
What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?
Our strategy is heavily dependent on rental income. We have a number of investment properties and by the time we are FI, they will all be mortgage-free.
We have also built in a number of contingencies: investing in index funds, savings bonds, work pensions and state pensions. All these extra sources of income will become available at various stages of our lives on top of our rental income. They will act as our backup plan.
What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?
As this moment in time, rental income will remain as our dominant financial strategy once FI. However, we have had some discussions about possibly selling one or two properties in order to invest in high dividend funds.
The reason why we haven’t made up our mind yet is because our rental properties have been very reliable so far both in terms of income and capital gains (on paper). Although, I’m not going to lie. The truly passive nature of receiving dividend income is appealing.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
After I finished university, I took out a used car finance loan. That’s not the worst part. When the vehicle arrived at the dealership, it had twice the mileage on it than what was originally advertised. Rather than renegotiate the deal, I took the sales person’s word that it was “still a good deal and the best price they could offer”.
A few years down the line, I got bored of the vehicle and it started to have engine management problems. In the end, I had to pay the dealer to return the car! The reason for this was because of a few chips to the paint work and I drove the car for more miles than was agreed.
I said to myself, never will I buy a car on finance again.
True to my word, to this day, I have only ever bought a used car for cash.
A couple of years after that experience, I bought a brand-new motorbike on finance. Within 18 months, I (again), paid the dealer to return the bike.
…I’m not perfect.
Never again, will I buy a motorbike on finance.
Did I tell you about the time I bought a boat on finance?
I’m only kidding.
My rule is now never to buy anything using debt unless it generates an income. It’s been over 10 years since I said that to myself and I haven’t broken it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. Believe me, you will be making plenty of them.
You are only doing the best you can based on your knowledge and experience at the time. Hindsight is a gift for the future, not a punishment for the past.
Invest in a world index and buy rental properties sooner.
What’s your wildest dream?
To live a life of adventure and travel with my wife and children. To bring up our kids to be confident and kind who will make a positive impact on the world and the people around them. To be able to build our own passive home. A home that does not harm the environment and is specifically designed for our family. A place for our kids to return to often once they have flown the nest and for wonderful memories to be created.
What’s your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?
Landscape photography whilst hiking. My most memorable hike was doing the TMB (Tour Mont Blanc) with my wife. It’s a multi-day hike where we slept in mountain huts. We loved it! I hope to take our kids on a return trip one day once they are older.