Bloggers on FIRE – MonkWealth
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 The Monk, the author behind MonkWealth.
I’ll start with a more structured introduction and will let my thoughts flow naturally in the subsequent questions.
I’m a Software Engineer in his late twenties, living in The Netherlands, focused on maximizing the value I get out of every investment, whether it’s financial ($) or non-material (effort). I live with my girlfriend in a union recognized as DINK (double income no kids) and we currently share similar values and expectations for the future.
My blog, although FIRE-centric, sometimes also covers other areas I’m interested or involved in. It’s best summarized in the About page, describing myself as an advocate of frugal lifestyle, focused on living a fulfilling and peaceful life, nurturing productivity and physical and mental health.
Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?
Financial independence equals freedom in the society we live in. And thinking about it, I really can’t find a single downside of pursuing FIRE.
Trying to cover every justification will make this interview really long, so I’ll try to include a high-level summary. Here are ten positive reasons that motivate me to pursue FIRE:
- Being self-reliant
- Nurturing mental health and well-being
- Being an attentive, considerate, and caring partner / son / husband / parent
- Being at optimal to prime physical condition
- Ability to satisfy my emotional, physical, and intellectual needs
- Stimulating the inner child
- Maintaining deep connections with people I choose
- Undertaking ventures I believe in and doing things I enjoy
- Reading, learning, and teaching
- Spending quality time with myself, my family, and my friends
And 10 negative ones, all associated with having almost no spare time for ourselves:
- Showing disregard to friends and family
- Doing things just for the money
- Indulging in activities detrimental to my well-being
- Not reaching my potential
- Spending most of my life in an artificial environment
- Being in the least advantaged tax bracket
- Waking up with an alarm clock and being drained daily
- Spending the free time for recovery
- Little to no time and energy to maintain proper diet, exercise, converse, and relax
For the record, the lists originate from the post Why FIRE? where I try to answer the same question.
How much is your “enough”?
Currently I have a FIRE goal in mind, the progress to which is shown on the sidebar of my blog. But it’s not really a magic number I’m chasing. It’s a lifestyle. The money was, is, and will be just a mean to an end.
In regards to the amount I’m after, it’s neither in lean FIRE nor fat FIRE range. Although I’m living pretty frugally, the idea of reaching a minimal threshold seems pretty risky to me, while the idea of having 10x more at the price of working another decade is not cost-effective.
Basically, I’d like to be able to sustain a normal way of spending anywhere in the world.
Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?
Let’s say I’m around 40% there.
But the real answer is: it depends. I have a few other, non-financial, objectives I’d like to achieve before hanging up the gloves.
If I’d give an estimate, it would be my mid thirties.
What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?
Well, the things I do in my spare time shouldn’t change that much. But the scale will, for sure.
I’m committed to Financial Independence because I want the perks of having an abundance of time to spend on things I enjoy or believe in. Life doesn’t start after FIRE, so I already do the majority of the activities I’ll do after I stop being an employee. However, I aim to do them bigger, better, and more.
That being said, I find as much joy in knowledge & self-improvement as I do in providing value to others. I’m sure I’ll allocate time in building communities and helping people improve and be successful, as it’s a rewarding experience every time I do so.
For example, one of the things I’m especially proud of on my blog is the Become an Investor Series, taking a person from having no previous experience whatsoever to being able to make intelligent long-term investment decisions. And it’s not the feedback that’s most fulfilling, but the fact that I’ve helped someone find answers and change his/her life for the better.
What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?
No better way to summarize it than earn, save, invest, repeat. I love the simplicity of wealth accumulation supported by a passive portfolio with a diversified index as its benchmark.
So, I have the safety net of a career and a skill-set, coupled with conservative investments to build long-term wealth. However, I’m on the lookout for opportunities daily. FIRE is somewhat of an obsession for me, so I’m having a hard time looking at the world without seeing the risk-reward ratios in almost everything.
For example, when I was young but still financially illiterate (thinking that higher income is the sole contributor to not working), I played roulette (IRL) using a modified Martingale strategy with the daily earning goal of around 20% of the minimal salary. Good news is that I was never indulging in wasteful behavior because it never made sense.
But let me not digress that much. The thing I’m trying to convey is that I try to see an opportunity in everything I’m interacting with and I need to be right once. And if I find such an opportunity, I won’t be afraid to scale it as much as possible.
Until then, there is my career financing far more than I need for my basic (and thus all) needs, investments for them capital gains, and a smaller allocation in a few more riskier asset classes: P2P (diversified through platforms, loan-originators, and loans), the cryptocurrency market, and a mining rig contributing to my net-worth on autopilot.
If you want to know my approach of investing for the foreseeable future, the post How I Invest is a highly recommended read.
What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?
I’d like to be specific, but this really depends on what happens in the next 5-10 years.
At this moment, the majority of my net-worth is allocated in the stock market, so capital gains and a withdrawal rate is where I’m headed if nothing changes. However, I do expect changes, but I can’t foresee the weights that clearly from here.
Bottom line, it’s all about cash-flow. Whether it’s X% SWR, dividends, rental or other income, what matters is that the expenses are covered.
What was your biggest financial mistake?
I can confidently say that I’ve been optimizing my financial situation as much as I could since childhood.
I can’t say that I’ve made all the right choices, but given the knowledge I had, those were the best options available. However, knowing what I know now, I see that I could’ve approached the game much better.
Luckily, I have a post named My 3 Biggest Financial Mistakes and here’s the list:
- Hoarding cash
- Not missing out on side income
- Not moving to a more developed country earlier
And a reminder: I’d rather focus on what I can do today to improve my future, than what I didn’t do in the past to improve my present.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
People usually answer this question by pointing out the mistakes they did in the current reality.
But think about it… Knowing what you know, would you really go back in time just to tell yourself some vague advice like “start earlier”?
Why not an enter and an exit strategy in the crypto market or the results of all football matches over the decade, Back to the Future like?
But to answer the question – if I advise a young person on what to do with his/her life, I wouldn’t take the traditional approach and would list the things I did right throughout the years:
- Think long-term.
- Don’t settle.
- Save money.
- Don’t have kids until you’re ready.
- Invest intelligently.
- Don’t marry the wrong person.
- Be curious and never stop learning.
- Don’t drown in debt.
- Take calculated risks.
- Take care of your mind and body.
What’s your wildest dream?
Well, I can say that I’ve already lived through it. My wild dreams never required that much money.
I’m after the calmer dream now – waking up with a clear head and having an abundance of material and non-material resources to support the lifestyle I built.
What’s your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?
Learning, teaching, improving, developing skills… Too many abstractions throughout the interview, but that’s the way it is with me. I dislike the idea of being bound to a single field forever. That’s my biggest motivation for FIRE as well – I want the freedom of choice without anything holding me back.
With all that said, I’d like to thank FIREhub for inviting me to do this interview and also the readers for taking the time to read it. I wish everyone a pleasant journey in their pursuits and I’m really happy to see the European FIRE community grow.