Bloggers on FIRE – Mustachian Post

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.

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Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

I’m Marc Pittet from Switzerland. Readers of my blog know me as MP. I am in my early thirties and am the lucky husband of Mrs. MP with whom I’ve two kids. I work in the IT field.

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The MP family in the forest near our home!

What’s your backstory?

I grew up in a frugal family that knew what it meant to work hard. Both of my parents were spending money only on qualitative items that brought value to their life.

This education played a crucial role for me, as frugal lifestyle was ingrained in my life during my earliest years. That’s what I’m trying to show (not tell!) to my children.

Another thing I always knew is that I would be rich when I would be an adult. I knew I would have quite a bunch of money.

Nevertheless, getting rich doesn’t happen by daydreaming.

One day I woke up. I was 26. I realized that we were lacking about CHF 100,000 (~90,000 euros) to buy a home in Switzerland (one of our main goal before FI).

I was shocked at how this objective seemed unattainable at the time. And that I would not be rich anytime soon if I didn’t do anything about it.

Hence I started to look for ways to make more money.

First, I bought the book “The 4-hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. This led me to be willing to budget for my life. I stumbled upon YNAB. As I was getting better at budgeting via their forum, someone there mentioned the term FIRE and the famous MMM blog.

I was hooked. I never went back since then. And I documented every step I went through since 5 years in this journey.

Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?

Back in the days when I started my journey towards financial independence, I was happy at work but not deeply motivated by my projects. Hence the FIRE concept attracted me a lot to escape the rat race (9-5, waking up, train, work, back, sleep, rinse, repeat).

Things have changed with time as I took actions to make my career motivating like hell. So nowadays, I’m still committed to FIRE, but more for the freedom and options it will bring me than to absolutely quit my day-to-day job.

How much is your “enough“?

My enough is CHF 1,250,000 if we retire out of Switzerland. If within Helvetia, then it’s CHF 2,150,000.

Like timing the market, we have no clue how political events will impact the European countries we think about: Spain, Portugal, or France. Also, one important factor will be where our kids settle because we don’t want to be too far from them. And we just love Switzerland so it’ll be hard to leave our beloved country.

Regarding our income level, we design our current life so that both of us are satisfied with it: frugal but not too lean neither. And we aim to keep the same lifestyle once we will retire.

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

We’re planning to retire in the next 7-10 years.

It will be tough but we got very focused on making it happen lately. See next questions.

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

The thing I miss the most at the moment is to be able to travel more and for longer periods. I want to take a plane tomorrow for Vancouver or Tokyo, and to be able to rent something for 1 or 2 months without having to care about any IT projects being delivered on time and on budget (see what I mean?).

Imagine, just waking up in front of the Pacific shore. Going for a swim. And reading or writing on the beach or in a wild forest for the rest of the day. Can’t wait!

That’s also another thing that drives me: to read and write more. I want 2-3h of reading a day. Same goes for writing on my blog or for my book project.

We also have a friend who runs an NGO to help orphans in Togo. We talked with Mrs. MP about spending some time there too to help as much as we can with our skills and time (building schools, teaching IT, etc.).

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

My main strategy so far has been low cost ETFs (think VT and VWRL). Looking at our retirement graph, even our Swiss salary increases and some market returns between 5 and 7% won’t do the trick to bring us on the FIRE coast within 7-10 years.

Hence at the beginning of this month, we bought our first multi-family rental building. I say first because we aim to buy more. At the moment we could sustain to have 7.5 of them (i.e. if we hit a crisis, we could still rent at lower prices and keep reimbursing the mortgages). With an internal rate of return around 15-20%, this is the trick that should make us back on track to reach the coast in less than a decade.

One other key strategy to not forget is my current job. I put a strong focus into identifying where we have gaps in my company. And then I put the same efforts into filling these voids, which helps my salary to raise quite significantly and quickly.

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Why FIRE? To be able to be from 5am to 7am, meditating on top of the Jura mountains with this view on the Neuchâtel lake (that’s one of my pictures, not a stock one!!)

Last but not the least: my side gig with the blog. It’s more of a passion but as affiliation brings money in, well, that’s a transaction, hence there is business being made. I’m super cautious though to not chase profits there, because among everything I do that to inspire others in an authentic manner. And I simply hate blogs where you feel you’re just a cash cow via plenty of blinking ads and links that you feel the author doesn’t even use himself. I just don’t want my blog to become such a marketing bullshit platform.

What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?

So far I would have answered 4% SWR (to be adapted depending on our retirement country).

But now that we entered the real estate market, we will maybe rely on rent being paid monthly. Or we may sell properties in 10y and put everything back into stocks once we’ve got the profits we needed.

As we’re at 20-30% on our FIRE goal, I don’t bother too much with these questions nowadays. I will figure it out by then.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I think there are two. The smallest one which was a good learning was when I took a credit to purchase a car. I reimbursed it in a few months but still, it was good for me to experiment how one feels when he sees his money depreciate while he still reimburses his loan… Lesson learnt: never borrow money to buy a car. Never. Ever.

The more expensive and hurting financial mistake is one that many newbies and foreigners make when coming to Switzerland: getting a private pension fund (called 3rd pillar here) tied to a life insurance. You usually realize your mistake during the first years of the contract. The thing is that all the “insurance” part of it gets financed in the first 3-6 years, i.e. if you cancel the contract within this timeframe, you just lose money. There are so many people that get cheated by this system that I can’t help but to spread the message on my blog. Hopefully this reminder will help at least one reader! Lesson learnt: never ever get your Swiss 3rd pillar at an insurance. NE-VER.

What advice you would give to your younger self?

Automatically transfer 50% of any money you make to a low cost fund. And live off the rest. Even without budgeting if you don’t feel like.

I wish I did that since my first summer jobs when I was 15-16…I would be FIREd today. If you’re around 15-20yo, and want to be rich, just drop me a line so I’m jealous for the rest of the day. You lucky guy/gal who will retire before 30!!

What’s your wildest dream?

Live all my future years between Switzerland and Canada. Something like January-July in Switzerland and August-December in Canada. Snowboarding in the Alps, then enjoying the Swiss Spring. And then moving to Quebec for the colourful season in autumn, and enjoying real snowfalls from October on. Oh boy! LOVE IT!

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

Coding a “Savings-rate live calculator” based on the YNAB API. Well that talks about money but that doesn’t bring any money.

I also like a lot to play FIFA19 against my son who start to beat me regularly.

Last: watching Narcos! Love the entrepreneur side of it! Seriously, my next career maybe drug dealer! But no worries I’d blog about it for sure !!