Bloggers on FIRE – Cheesy Finance

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.

Bloggers on FIRE Profile Card Cheesy Finance exp

Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

We are a Dutch couple with one kid living in the Netherlands. We are now in our late thirties/early forties and married. I stopped my regular nine to five in 2018, and have been muddling about/playing a stay-at-home dad since. Mrs CF kept working full time until a few months ago. She then stopped for three months during the summer, and now has a part-time job. Life is good.

What is your backstory?

The way we came into contact with the FIRE philosophy is through a money magazine (2014). It had an article which mentioned Jacob and Early Retirement Extreme (ERE). Since I was not too happy at my job at the time, the message resonated, and I started digging into the world of FIRE.

Fortunately, Mrs CF has also been thinking (and reading up) about the concept of passive income (not in the context of FIRE, though) and attended a free seminar from Rich Dad, Poor Dad years prior. So she was fairly quickly on board with the FIRE idea, and we got started.

We further optimized our expenses (we were always pretty frugal fortunately). Sold high-fee mutual funds we had in pension accounts and replaced them with a dividend portfolio. We used the equity in our house to buy our first two properties. After that, we continued to expand the dividend and real estate portfolios. However, we also explored other investments along the way and now also have a portion of our investments in index funds/ETFs and sustainable loans.

Why do (or did) you want to reach Financial Independence?

The most important reason to reach FI for us is to be able to make our own decisions about what we do with our time, a.k.a. freedom! Time is indeed a scarce commodity, so it should be used wisely. Being (closer to) FI helps you have a more balanced life and less stress.

That being said, you don’t NEED to be FI to make more balanced decisions in your life. Already having a little bit of FU money makes life a lot easier and less stressful. Heck, it might even get you more money as you are more confident and can negotiate better salaries at your job.

How much is your “enough”?

We strive for “normal” FIRE, which for us translates into between €25.000-30.000 a year in net disposible income (varies per year as it depends on travel plans).

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

In cash-flow terms we are currently about 90% there.

Not sure when we will consistently hit over 100%, and frankly we don’t really care as Mrs CF (and even potentially me) will still be performing some part-time work or have the occasional side hustle to provide some extra money.

If you are not FI yet: What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence? (lying in a hammock on the beach, continuing working, volunteering …?)

We are not FI. However, I’m pretending I am FI at the moment 😉 See comment below.

If you’re already FI: what do you do all day now that you’re FI?

I do like a hammock! I discovered over the past years that I’m really good at being lazy, and enjoy a very slow pace of living. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t dislike working if the conditions are right, so I might get back to (part-time) work if the opportunity presents itself. Once we are fully FI, and our kid is out of the house, we certainly will travel more. Likely also some slow travel for a couple of months per year.

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

We primarily use real estate and dividend growth stocks to get us to FI.

What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?

As we are pretty close to be fully FI, we will initially continue on the current path. However, we will just keep looking what the investment landscape looks like as to where our money will be allocated. If we do get a major stock market correction in the coming years, we might divert some of our funds into index funds and dividend stocks for example (it’s definitely more passive and better diversified than our real estate is now).

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Buying a home that is way too big for our needs. This has cost us more money than all investment mistakes with options trading, leveraged financial products and dividend investing combined.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Start earlier, start as soon as you get your first pay check (well maybe the second, you are allowed to “waste” the first one on fun)! When you start, just get going with index funds and take it from there. You can always read up on other investments and diversify at a later stage. Albeit I do like house-hacking, which is a great way to start as a younger person to get into the real estate game.

What’s your wildest dream?

Owning a castle! I’ve got a soft spot for castles and I’m not completely sure why. I guess it’s the combination of a grand piece of real estate with a decadently large garden/yard that rocks my boat.

Funny thing is that I know they are generally money pits (I did my homework many times already), so I opt for organizing the occasional meetup in a castle as some form of compensation. If you are interested, there is one organized in France in 2020 and we have a few spots left.

What is your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?

I love watching movies, it makes me really happy. Needless to say I enjoy my DisneyPlus, Netflix and/or PrimeVideo.