Bloggers on FIRE – SavingNinja

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 SavingNinja exp

Please briefly introduce yourself to readers

Hi there! I’m a 28-year-old guy living in the South East of England and working as a Software Engineer in London. I married my childhood sweetheart last year, but we’re hoping to postpone starting a family until we’re more or less financially independent.

I’ve been tracking my FIRE journey over on SavingNinja since 2018, and in this period I’ve managed to grow my investments from £20k to over £100k (I hit the six-figure goal last Christmas!) I publish my stats each month and I’ve almost reached 100 posts.

My blog is filled with a lot of moaning, some Maths, and a good heap of philosophising about happiness. I’m still very much going through the iterations of becoming my best self – financially and otherwise – and I’m using my blog as a think tank for that.

What is your backstory?

I grew up in a lower-income area in the North of England with no siblings. I spent most of my days playing video games and learning about the importance of wealth in online gaming economies.

For my first two years after University, I squandered all of my programmer’s pay on material items and soon had filled up on financing agreements; a particularly nefarious one was a sports car that not only cost me each month for the asset but incurred hefty repair and maintenance bills every few months.

I ended up with over £10k of debt and I had zero saved, I even tried to buy a MacBook on credit and was rejected. Around this period, a friend at work gave me Jacob Lund Fisker’s book to read: Early Retirement Extreme, and also continuously prompted me to read ‘Mr Money Mustache.’

After reading that book, I flung myself fully into the FIRE movement; and not long after, started my blog.

Why do you want to reach Financial Independence?

My ideal FI lifestyle is forever changing; my blog is what is helping me refine my dreams. I’m currently of the thought that I will enjoy a hermit lifestyle, away from society – but with the option to ‘plug back in’ if I want to.

I’d love to own a ranch-style property in Canada or the US with a big acreage where I can build, tinker, and farm to my heart’s content. I’d also like enough money to comfortably travel and partake in the latest tech.

With the first part of my FI dream being location dependent, the second is having more time to pursue projects and hobbies. Not just building and farming; it’s always been my dream to create an RPG-style video game (think Stardew Valley) – my degree actually specialised in video game development; I want to write an epic fantasy novel; I want the time to fully explore the hundreds of video games in my to-play list, and I want to go on reading stints for months to fully explore and research a topic, the list is endless!

There are too many deep learning projects that I want to complete; FI is the only way that I can begin. These projects require a lot of time and commitment – I’d like to give them my full attention without a job shackled to my ankle.

How much is your “enough”?

My yearly expenses stand at £10k and I’m aiming for £300k as a leanFIRE goal; this will cover £12k at a 4% withdrawal rate. I’m a big advocate of using the 4% rule as I currently have a lot of passive income streams like matched betting and EW betting and I have plenty of ideas to add more! I’m also lucky enough to work in an industry where I can easily pick up remote part-time work whenever needed so there isn’t a strong desire to aim for a “never need to work again retirement,” especially as I hope to FIRE before the age of 35.

I don’t intend to ramp down work drastically after I leanFIRE, I’m hoping to continue on to £1m net worth; although the pathway from leanFIRE to fat FIRE will hopefully be filled with either remote working, partial working, or working abroad in the US or Canada whilst I begin to transition into my post-FI life.

Where are you on the road to Financial Independence?

I currently have a net worth of around £150k. I’m on track to hit my leanFIRE goal at 30 years old by saving £60k per year; although I’ve set myself the goal of reaching it before I turn 30!

If I keep up my savings amount after I reach lean FIRE, I should hit my £1m goal six years later; although this will depend on where my career takes me as I will only continue to work, if I’m in a new country, and/or working for a dream employer like Google (I’m currently training for one of their brutal interviews).

What is your strategy for reaching Financial Independence?

I’m a big believer in simplicity; up until last month I was solely invested in Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% Accumulation fund, I’ll be putting all additional savings into Vanguard FTSE All-World ETF from now on.

I plan to stay 100% invested in equities throughout my pre-RE and post-RE life, my property is the only alternative asset that I will hold. This is due to two reasons: the first, I’m planning to fatFIRE and still spend as little as possible, this should see my withdrawal rate be sub 2% most of the time (I’m allergic to spending money, but addicted to making it.)

The second reason is that, as previously mentioned, I plan on working on passion projects when I retire and continuing to create additional passive income streams. Most projects that I want to complete involve creating something, some money should come of it, if not, I can always code for a month of the year until the markets recover.

There’s no reason in forfeiting a higher rate of long term return due to volatility, I can spend very little if need be – especially if I have my ranch!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’m pretty happy with my career choice and I don’t think I’d change it. I’m lucky enough to have only really ‘lost’ two years of potential savings from my career. Even then, it was when I was earning much less than I do now, so I’ve not got that much regret.

If I could speak to my high-school self, I’d tell him to try and invest anything he can, even a couple of thousand can go a really long way in 10 years. I’d also tell him not to worry so much, try not to be as anxious, and try not to care about what other people think – it will all get better.

What’s your wildest dream?

To be part of a settlement voyage heading to a new planet. Nothing can beat the excitement of purchasing a one-way ticket to a new life and setting out on an adventure; that’s probably why I want to move to America or Canada so much!

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

My favourite activity that I’ve found so far is snowboarding. Nothing can beat the sensation of gliding down a mountain on fresh snow with my wife by my side; it’s like floating on a cloud. I listened to a podcast recently that explained that some people pursue extreme sports because it brings their minds to the present; it forces you to stop worrying about the future or regretting the past, you can have internal silence, you can then finally be content and happy.