From the age of 13 to about 21, I held a number of part-time jobs – I worked as: a babysitter, paper deliverer, waitress, order picker on a factory line, “pot collector” in a bar, shop assistant in Toys”R” Us , receptionist in a builders’ yard and a teaching assistant. I always loved working and earning money, and family members often remarked on how I always managed to find summer, Easter and Christmas jobs while at school and college. Subsequently, since getting my degree, I have mainly been working in financial services. For several years, I lived abroad and enjoyed a wonderful lifestyle – I travelled a lot, and ate out probably more than I ate in, and always seemed to be en route to some or other social occasion! I contributed the basic amount to my workplace pension plan, and did not save in any structured way or analyse where my money was going, or consider any other option other than the fact that I would probably work until my 60s. I loved my job, and generally lived in the moment!
Then I returned to Ireland a number of years ago, and a couple of things changed. I left behind a situation where most of my rent was being paid for by my employer, and entered into a situation in Ireland of spiralling rents. In the fallout from the financial collapse I went through a redundancy. When I got back into employment, and things started to pick up for people in Ireland, rents immediately followed. My rent was increased by 40% in one year! It had always been my intention to buy my own home when I returned to Ireland to provide myself with some security and to protect against this very situation, though this was temporarily put on hold by the redundancy. A little over a year ago, I finally moved into my own home. It was around the same time that I stumbled on a news article by the early retirees known as “Go Curry Cracker”. I delved deeper into this concept of financial independence, and realised what a huge amount of waste there is in our lifestyles. I started to run my own calculations to establish how much those twice daily lattes were costing me in terms of the number of additional years I would have to work, and started wondering where the fruits of my labour from all of those years of working had gone! There was no doubt that the “latte lifestyle” was costing me! My earlier youthful enthusiasm for work in general had also ebbed following the redundancy experience and subsequent workplace uncertainty. I began to wish that there was another way, other than going cap in hand to an employer, and enduring whatever conditions were necessary in order to keep a job and earn a salary. I delved deeper into listening to podcasts and reading blogs on Financial Independence, and realised that many others could relate to this sentiment, and several had even done something about it – Jim Collins, and the people behind Afford Anything, the Mad FIentist, along with Go Curry Cracker, were some of my favourites. On some vague level a goal started to form in my mind, although I had no idea of where to begin or how to reach it, how long it would take, or indeed whether it was even possible!
In the year since, I set up a pension plan and contributed a back-dated lump sum for 2015 (capturing a nice tax refund in the process). I also decided to invest in some home improvements which would allow me to rent a room in my house to make a little side income. After months of procrastinating, I recently finally sat down with my laptop, a box of receipts which I had been saving, and my online bank account to set up a spreadsheet to track all of my expenses for 2017 to date. This had been the elephant in the room for me some time, since I knew that the whole process begins with establishing how much money I was spending, and on what. At the same time I had been dreading this step, probably afraid of what I would find out! I think it was Michelle Mone (the self-made millionairess who built the Ultimo underwear brand) who said that success came in her personal life when she started to run that area of her life like a business. Michelle was referring to her exercise and fitness regimen. It is with this same business mindset that I have now started approach my own finances. This is just the start, the beginning of a journey which this blog was set up to share, with others in Ireland or elsewhere who may be on a similar journey! I follow on an ongoing basis several empowering stories of individuals in different parts of the world who have taken control of their finances, and invested their incomes to use as a springboard to financial freedom, allowing them the freedom to design their lives as they see fit. Welcome to my journey!