Bloggers on FIRE – OdysseytoFIRE
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 blogging under the pseudonym of Odysseus (aka Ulysses), born in the 80’s, married, father of 2 lovely kids and a not so lovely dog, immigrant living in the European Union (EU), working in the primary sector of the economy, and aiming for Financial Independence and Early Retirement (FIRE) by 2028. I would say more FI than FIRE. 🙂
What is your backstory?
I grew up in a family in which the majority of the discussions between my parents were related to money, I mean, lack of money. It was mainly due to bad administration and/or overspending on senseless things. I can remember stories such as my mother stopping at the gas station and filling up with 2, 3 liters of gasoline in order to go to some places, the guy from the electricity company knocking on the front door to cut the electricity due to lack of payments, use of silver-tape to “fix” some shoes with “extra air entrances”, etc. Now I laugh when I remember most of the stories, but back then I somehow decided to do my best to not have the same issues. Those things made me concerned about money.
Concerning FI, I guess that I discovered it back in 2015-16, I cannot remember for sure. I somehow ended up on one blog, Mr Tako Escapes (www.mrtakoescapes.com), a FIRE guy living in the USA, 2 kids and seeming to have a very nice life. Reading his profile I saw that he was not a CEO, a big manager or something like this. He looks to be a normal guy who has a frugal life, worked, invested and reached FI. At that moment I realized that I could also look for that kind of life.
By that time I was just saving and investing without a clear purpose. From the moment that I started reading the above mentioned blog and others, I focused my investments on reaching FI and, more specifically, using Dividend Growth Stocks (more about this below).
Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?
I would like to spend my time doing things that bring me joy, without being concerned about generating income from them in order to cover the bills at the end of the month.
How much is your “enough”?
My enough is more linked to the amount generated from passive income and its relation to expenses than a proper number itself.
As of today our “enough” will be the time my passive income exceeds my expenses by 10%. In other words, the year that my passive income will cover 110% of my expenses.
We believe that this 10% is more like a safety margin. My current portfolio has increased the dividends by a (gross) rate of ~6.5% YoY, so we forecast that it will be sufficient to keep our purchasing power over time.
I’m aware that what happened in the past is in the past and we may go through a recession soon, which will decrease the dividend growth and increase the dividend cuts. We also have the governments that can change the taxes (usually increasing them…), inflation, etc, but in the end, I have to go by some numbers.
I would classify it as a normal FIRE. And you, dear reader?
Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?
I keep constant track of passive income and expenses, so I can easily see the trend on the passive income covering the expenses.
Our latest number, from 1st Semester 2019, gives us 28% of our expenses being covered by our passive income. As a reference, our 2018 number was 19%. It is clear for me that I may not be able to continue increasing it at 10% per year, but somehow a minimum ~5% increase per year is feasible (from organic growth of dividends + reinvestment).
And we always have geo arbitrage. We currently live in a city where our cost of living is quite high. From what I have checked, we could manage to go to other countries like Portugal or Spain, and our current expenses would be covered by more than 50%.
So, short answer, we are at 28% on our road to FI. We plan to reach it by 2028 when we’ll be in our mid 40’s and the kids teenagers.
What do you want to do with your life once you reach Financial Independence?
I have an idea, but I know myself and I’m aware that I can change it very fast.
I would like to spend more time with the kids (they will not be so young by the time we are planning to reach FI…), being able to take them to school in the morning and pick them up by the end of the day. Besides this, I would like to spend more time doing courses (drum, bakery, cooking), watching movies (I love) and take more care of my health.
I do believe that I’ll not stay at home all day. I see myself doing something because I want to, and because I find pleasure in it, not caring if I’ll receive some money by the end of the month for doing it.
I hope to see this interview in the future and check how much I have changed my mind…
What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?
My strategy is simple: Work, save, invest (mainly in dividend growth stocks) and wait for the compound interest to work.
On the Dividend Growth Stocks (DGS) side, there is a yearly check on the holdings using a scoreboard adapted from other blogs in order to see if any stock is under risk, but besides this, nothing else.
One rule that I try to follow (one exception with ABI stock) is that if a holding has a dividend cut, it must be sold. If the dividend is frozen, a close analysis must be done in order to see if to continue with the asset
What will be your financial strategy after reaching FI?
Continue with the same strategy pre-FIRE (dividends from DGS)
What was your biggest financial mistake?
Only one? I would say that I made quite a few. I’ll mention 4 that I constantly remember:
- Not buying a house in Portugal before the recent house boom. We could have made around 50% flipping the property.
- By 2011 I was living in a country with the national currency rate to USD of 1.11. By that time I thought of moving all my money out of the country. I was afraid. Now the current rate is ~4 and my money is still there.
- I bought American Airlines stocks by 2012, after the huge drop in prices. At that time I paid around USD 0.5 per stock. I sold it in 2013 for USD 1.5x, very happy about the 200% profit. Nowadays the stock price is USD 27.xx. A difference between 200% and 5000%.
- By 2013 I first heard about Bitcoin. At that time I did not understand the concept and did not pay attention to it. I still do not believe in it as an investment, but I could have allocated some risk money on that.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Start investing in Dividend Growth Stocks as early as possible and take more care of your health.
What’s your wildest dream?
Hm…maybe buy a house close to the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, and just relax. I do not think that it is too wild.
What is your favourite just-for-fun activity that brings you joy?
I do not know what kind of activity is embraced by the question, but for physical activities I would mention hiking and staying outdoors. Non-physical activity, watching movies.