Bloggers on FIRE – HaltCatchFire

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 HaltCatchFire exp

Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

Hello everyone. In the blogging world they call me [HCF] and I am the guy behind the blog I live with my lovely wife and our two cute daughters in Serbia but we are members of the Hungarian minority. If AI will not awake and destroy the planet I will turn thirty five this year. Those who are familiar with my blog know that I am programmer and I am working as a web application developer. Damn, now everybody knows 🙂

What’s your backstory?

I was “lucky” enough to born in the last days of the golden era of communism in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. By the time I became fifteen this federation fell apart and we were over a war, hyperinflation, economic relapse and NATO bombing.

Frugality was a necessary skill in these strange times. My parents were factory workers but once they were experimenting with entrepreneurship also. One of my grandfathers was a gastarbeiter in Germany taking advantage of geoarbitrage while my other grandparents were public employees and hustlers. While I grew up seeing their examples they wanted me to get a degree and find a good job to have an easier life.

Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?

The trigger event for starting my research was becoming a father. By the time our older daughter born I was changing jobs and suddenly we had a little surplus so I started investigating how should we invest it. For a while I was only looking for investment options then somehow ended up on and the idea of reaching FIRE started to find a way into my mind. As our family started to grow the days started to seem shorter and shorter and I had to realize that time is our scarcest resource not money. So, my biggest motivator for reaching FI is to be able to spend more time with family.

How much is your “enough“?

In my whole life I have seen 1 million dollars as a magic number. It appeared in many movies and we somehow felt that it is all the money of the world and it is definitely more than enough. These days I see it a little bit different but still I consider that amount as more than enough.

I don’t really want to engage in the debates about safe withdrawal rates as I am more of a fan of the “don’t touch your nest egg” principle and just living on the returns. Also I don’t think that you have to choose between lean, fat or normal fire. I see these as levels not distinct options. I would be happy even reaching the “baristaFIRE” state which is when your returns on your investments covers your very basic needs like housing, food, clothing, etc. but you have to do a little bit of work to pay for your wants like a summer holiday or a better laptop.

My back of the napkin calculation tells me that for this level we would need an investment portfolio which generates 12-18k euros per year. If I follow the 25x principle this would be somewhere in the 300-450k euro range but I think if you would like to follow a more passive approach you would need a slightly more than that.

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

We are currently at the very beginning of the journey, working towards debt freedom. If everything goes well we could reach that goal by the end of this year. Then the real accumulation phase can begin. If I take into account our current situation we could reach FI in less than 20 years. I would be around 55 years old by then so it would still qualify as an “Early Retirement”.

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

Lying in a hammock, playing computer games and such time killers would be definitely the first items on the list but I guess I would get bored pretty soon. Working on my own terms and on my own projects sounds tempting as I like programming, solving problems and building things. With financial worries apart maybe I would create a startup for creating applications which make the world a better place or open an MMM HQ like coworking space or teach kids coding. Or maybe I will just learn to play the guitar and form a financial nerd punk band and write weird songs about saving rates and index investing 🙂

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

As we are just at the beginning the path is not totally clear yet. Ideally we would try out multiple different approaches. Investing in dividend stocks and ETFs are vehicles I am definitely interested in while my wife prefers real estate. Time will tell but achieving diversification through applying multiple strategies is a good thing in my opinion.

What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?

I would really like to stick to the “do not touch your nest egg” principle, living on just the returns and then pass it on to the next generation when the reaper knocks on the door. Thus earning dividend income and receiving rental income would be an ideal combination.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Time is money as they say and I was wasting multiple years by half-assing my studies. These years caused not only unnecessary expenses but prevented me from kickstarting my career earlier. The cost of this one huge mistake can be measured in thousands if not tens of thousands of euros.

What advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t listen to the outdated advice and skip university. Learn coding on your own and from experience. Start a pet project as soon as possible. Find like minded folks and found a startup. Then when (not if) it fails start another. Fail early, fail often, and fail gracefully. Learn from your mistakes and keep going.

What’s your wildest dream?

Reaching immortality. What? You asked for the wildest one 🙂 Of course I don’t imagine that as the result of some weird voodoo magic but by some kind of technical revolution, maybe transporting our brains or our consciousness into an artificial body.

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

Besides doing anything with my kids I am big fan of gardening. I am just a newbie however. It provides a deep fulfillment and joy for me to watch my own fruits and vegetables growing. The smile on my kids face when they take the first bites of the ripe fruits is priceless.