I am going to start with a thank you to Mrs Money Hacker, “thank you!” Not just because she was the very first FIRE interviewee for Fire Dave, but also for taking some time recently to answer follow up questions for you guys.
Mrs Money Hacker always puts incredible detail into her work and is very conscientious as we all know. I am super excited to share her journey updates over the last 6 months.. time is flying!!
In the first interview MMH said;
“It took us a long time to find the right balance between cutting expenses and maintaining happiness but feel we have finally got to a pretty decent place..”
I continuously see an emphasis on family as a priority, strong core values and the value of time. Read on for an update on the continued focus in destroying debt, (in this case the home mortgage) before investing externally for a return. Oh yeah and almost bought a new house. Plus a car upgrade and garden upgrade!
We all have different strategies and it is certainly true that we all need a target to focus on otherwise we are perhaps just aimlessly drifting around.
Ask yourself, what is your target? And what are you doing to zero in on it?
I am releasing this interview on a Friday evening in the Republic of Ireland as further restrictions are being lifted so once I press publish and make this live, I am going to grab an ice cold Kombucha, take some time to do a mental inventory myself and reflect on the week gone and the week ahead!
Enjoy this interview..
How are you getting on with your FIRE journey since the last interview?
My last interview was in November 2020 and when I started writing this post I originally said I didn’t have much to report but then went on to write 1,200 words so in fact there has been a good bit going on in the last 6 months.
Originally I wrote that, once you’ve figured the investment strategy that works best for you and your family, the path to FIRE is not very exciting, but I guess that doesn’t have to be the case.
Mostly, the hardest part is figuring out your own strategy and once you’ve pinned down a plan it’s about slow and consistent execution of that plan and making changes as your priorities change. The problem with me is that I’m always scheming and my priorities change like the wind.
For us, our current strategy is to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible and then to invest heavily in ETFs. We currently have about 2-3 years before we are mortgage free and then will contribute more towards our ETF portfolio.
Since November we halved our mortgage with the proceeds from the sale of our Canadian property and “halve” been enjoying the lower monthly payments. Pun intended.
We also built our emergency fund back up to cover 3 months of living expenses.
New house contemplations
In February, we got to doing some bigger picture thinking and thought about what we might do once we reach financial independence. We both would like work towards either building or buying our dream home with lots of glass and sunlight, a nice garden where we can grow some food and preferably near a body of water where I can easily drop in my kayaks, somewhere with nice views and a small country school for our son.
We were thinking that to achieve this we would just work a few extra years once we reach FI and put all our earnings towards this new home upgrade. But by that time our son would almost be ready to move out, *sniff sniff*. We then thought, if we were planning on tacking on a few years to our time to full financial independence in order to fulfil this dream why would we not go for it now and get to enjoy the home for many more years while our son is still small.
We realize the irony of this in that it is the typical conventional way most people do things which is not aligned with FIRE!
Now that we have our current mortgage nearly paid, we would be in a position to take out another one for our dream family home. We got to looking at Daft for inspiration and found something that ticked almost all the boxes.
We even went as far as to get in touch with our mortgage broker and the
estate agent to enquire about the house. But alas, it was not meant to be as the house was already sold.
In order to swing this now though we’d either tack on many more years to full financial freedom if I wanted to continue working part-time while Mr. MH stayed home.
OR we’d both have to go back to work full time to keep our FIRE timeframes the same.
Ultimately, we decided the trade off in the financial security we have now and the time freedom we have to live off one part time income is not worth the trade off and we’ve decided to stay put for at least another 2-3 years.
In March, our 16 year old car failed the NCT for emissions and we started looking for a replacement car. We managed to pass the NCT with a new catalytic converter but still would like to “upgrade” sometime this year. When I started looking at cars we were very tempted to get a much newer electric or hybrid car as we’ve been wanting to move away from petrol and had the spare cash built up but then I managed to reel in the emotions by setting up yet another spreadsheet which I will eventually share on my paid member’s area where I share all my own analysis tools for FIRE and taxes.
Again, we had to fight off the temptation to buy something we can technically afford with something more functional and aligned with our goals.
My spreadsheet helped me work out how many years we’d expect to get out of the car using our annual mileage, the mileage on the car on purchase, the difference in road tax, the difference in petrol savings (if it was a hybrid) and so on. All in all it breaks down each car to a monthly cost.
Our current car has cost us about 58€/month when you divide the full cost we paid by the number of months we have owned it. And that does not include if we get anything for it if we trade it in, not that we’d be expecting much but it could bring the average down to about 50€/month.
When looking at “new” cars, this is what we’d be looking to achieve. We essentially want another newer car that will tide us over for the next 5-7 years until the second hand market for electric vehicles has more choice and longer ranges.
What this boils our search criteria down to is either a 2011/2012 car with about 150,000km for 5,000-6,000€. There are a decent amount of Japanese imports available with immaculate interiors that fall into this category. Ultimately, we may end up just getting the same car we have now just 6-7 years newer.
The downside with the Japanese imports is that while the mileage can seem low, in Japan it takes a really long time to drive a really short distance, so while the mileage can be low, the engine can be tired. A little like how you measure a tractor’s mileage in hours rather than miles (or so I’m told). So instead of getting 300-400,000km’s out of a non-import Toyota, if you really wanted to, you might only get 200,000km out of an import. Case in point, our car is “only” at 190,000km and already failing emissions tests.
The other consideration is it can be hard to find insurance companies to insure the imports. We could only find one company and so you’re kind of at their mercy in terms of pricing. Luckily though we’ve had fairly competitive prices with the insurer we found.
A month or so ago we decided to do up our back garden and are not having a great experience.
We tried to do all the due diligence in sourcing someone to do the job but hindsight is always 20/20 and we would definitely do things differently the next time.
The first part of the job was going well but as soon as they started to do some of the more skilled labour it became very clear that they were not experienced in what we had hired them to do.
We had to down tools and source another tradesman to finish the job. We have another guy lined up to pick things back up next week but we will be slightly more out of pocket than we intended.
How these things go it seems but we are still glad for going ahead as the added living space will greatly improve our quality of life and add an outdoor living space that we can enjoy and hopefully make some of the cost back when we eventually do sell.
It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a second mortgage to upgrade our home!
Anyway, all that to say, our journey to FIRE certainly is a winding one and we are only human and have the same temptations as everyone else.
We try to weigh up big financial/life decisions using calculations where applicable and pros and cons lists to really see how that decision will impact our FIRE and life goals and dreams.
The financial side of the decision is the black and white part, the tricky part is balancing that with the emotion and personal goals and dreams as the two don’t always align.
They don’t call it a journey for nothing!
What are some books, podcasts or YouTube channels you recommend?
YouTube wise there is a UK woman called Mama Fur Fur worth checking out.