Bloggers on FIRE – Fire the Boss

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 Fire the Boss exp

Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

I’m Bas, a 26 year old guy from The Netherlands. I live in one of the four largest cities in our little country, together with my girlfriend. I work as a business consultant and recently made the switch from being employed to freelancing.

On the side I’m a personal finance blogger (on Fire The Boss since August 2018, but started in Dutch in 2017), and a podcaster (in Dutch, the Goed met Geld Podcast).

What is your backstory?

My money story began at a very young age, where I learned the value of money: to buy things. As a kid, I got a small allowance, and used it for all kinds of crap. Money was there to buy things with, right?

As I became older, I started working for money instead of having an allowance, but I still used that money to consume. I was going on holidays with friends and buying my first gaming computer.

As a late teen, that behaviour changed. I saw the interest rate on my bank account dropping and went looking for more interest. Not that it had a material impact, I mean I didn’t have a lot of money. But still, I got to discover investing so that was cool!

By reading more and more, I slowly learned about FIRE and that resonated with me. It got me on the path in my early twenties, right when I was finishing university.

How much is your “enough”?

I guess for me there are two reasons to become FIRE. The first is that I simply don’t want to be forced to work until I’m 65 67 72. I like my job, but it will be very hard to keep up with new technologies as I become older. I want to free myself from the need to work for money so that when the time comes, I can walk away.

Another reason is safety for me and my future family. I have seen (close by) what financial setbacks can do to a family and it’s not pretty. I am determined never to let that happen to me. That means I’m always spending less than I make. I want to earn more, spend less, and invest the difference. By doing that, I’m slowly creating the freedom to eventually walk away, but also the security to deal with bad times.

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

Since I’m still quite far out from FIRE, I don’t know yet what “enough” is for me. I defined FI as having passive income equal to or higher than my expenses. Passive income can consist of many things. It can be a certain withdrawal rate from a stock portfolio, or rental real estate income, or passive business income.

Currently I mainly invest in stocks through low-cost index funds such as VWRL (Vanguard FTSE All World ETF). I’m also looking into real estate, and my side businesses (blog and podcast) should be able to generate some income as well.

What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?

For now, I choose to measure my progress by looking at my investments and applying a 3.5% withdrawal rate. That gives me a yearly cashflow number. When I express that number as a percentage of my yearly expenses. Currently I’m at about 10% but that number will fluctuate much. Since I expect my income to rise significantly next year (as I started my own freelancing business) but also my costs will likely increase in the future (when moving for example, or starting a family) I’m not sure where I really am.

For now, the 3.5% withdrawal and current costs give me some kind of direction, but it’s certainly not set in stone!

What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?

I want to be able to pick work that I really like. I mean, I do like my job, however I wouldn’t do it for free. For me, that’s the definition of FIRE, being able to choose what you do or do not do. I always say I want to be FIRE at age 40. Whether I’m going to make that or not doesn’t matter. It’s the direction that counts, and the amount of action I take to get there.

Do I stop working at 40? Probably not. Will I work less, and in less stressful projects? Probably, yes.

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

My current strategy is all about increasing my savings rate through increasing income. The income side is handled through starting my own business and having a blog and podcast as side businesses.

The money I save is invested in ETFs, mainly VWRL. On the side I am playing with P2P-lending a bit, and I want to get into real estate, but my main focus are ETFs. I like how efficient they are, both in terms of costs and returns as well as in terms of time invested.

Once my passive income from the withdrawal rate of ETFs + any additional real estate cashflow surpasses my expenses, I could declare myself FI.

What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?

Kind of answered above.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I started investing at a very expensive wealth management bank. Never ever do this! If you’re reading this, and just saw an add for an investment product that was marketed to you as being easy to use, think again.

Instead of paying someone 1-2% in fees every year to invest in sub-par products, learn about index investing and put your money in index funds or ETFs. On my blog I have written a lot about how this works, some examples are:

DeGiro ETF Investing – an Ultimate Guide in 6 Steps

VWRL vs IWDA: Which is Better for European Investors?

VWRL Dividend – Yield, Payments, and More

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Start investing from a really young age. I would be as aggressive as saving 50% of your allowance and income as a kid. Learn to hustle, learn to live on less. And above all, learn to invest and not care about the market going up or down.

What’s your wildest dream?

I would like to see the world. Not that I’m the guy that goes backpacking in Asia for a couple of months, but there are places I really want to experience but that cost a lot of money. Examples are the Norwegian island Svalbard, for being so remote and so far north (24 hour days at summer), but also paradise islands such as Bora Bora. Another thing I would like to do is taking a 4-month road trip through the United States.

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

Sports. Definitely. In university I was one of the top ranked guys in my sports, of the country. Currently I switched from that individual sports to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a combat sports that combines judo, submission wrestling, and some others. It’s amazing to fight other human beings. The things you learn, not just technically but also mentally, are amazing.

Next to that, people need to move more. We sit in our cars and offices all day every day. Get off your ass and move!