Interview: Anne O’Sullivan – Accidentally found FIRE!

Introduction

My next interview is with Anne O’Sullivan! Anne is a regular member at our local meetup group and always contributes something when we meet up. I have met Anne a number of times before the pandemic and Anne is such a pleasure to be around.

I am delighted to publish Anne’s story next which really fountains on how a civil servant stumbled across FIRE by complete accident.

So as not to spoil anymore here you will find the usual interview in the 3 question format, enjoy..

Who are you, and how did you discover fire?

I’m a civil servant based in Limerick who discovered FIRE by accident on meetup.com 3 years ago, while looking for events to attend in my local area pre COVID 19. The Cork and Limerick FIRE groups events were recommended to me by meetup.com’s algorithm, as both groups are near the area where I live. Like many people, I fell into the rut of commuting, working, consuming after graduation. I never really paused to think of alternative ways of living until lockdown hit in 2020, and I was forced to stay at home, along with many others.

For more than 20 years, I commuted daily to an office based 9 to 5 job, and I would like to have the option of not doing that when I hit 60. I was attracted to the idea of retiring early from the job once I’ve enough to live on for the rest of my life. The holistic approach of the FIRE movement, as well as strategies on how to achieve financial independence are very appealing to me. The principles of FIRE offered a solution by providing a path to achieving financial independence as well as an opportunity of living an alternative way of life to the usual 9 to 5 life that most employees lead. The best blog post that started me off on this path is courtesy of Vince Doherty: Books such as “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin; “Reset” by David Sawyer; “Early Retirement Extreme” by Jakob Lund Fisher, as well as FIRE podcasts like firepodcast.ie; firehub.eu, blogs by Mrs Money Hacker; Mr Money Mustache have influenced my thinking and helped me realise that FIRE is a smart goal for me. Smart as in specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound in that I now know what I should be aiming for when working to achieve FIRE. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki has been great in helping me understand the mindset which is needed to build wealth.

 

What is the backbone of your fire strategy?

Currently, the backbone of my FIRE strategy is frugality and P2P lending with linkedfinance.com. I like this P2P website because it’s based in Ireland, as I’m able to do background checks on the businesses in my loans. Their customer service is good, as I’ve got responses to any queries I’ve had since I began investing in 2018 with them. P2P allows me to invest and forget while supporting local businesses whose services I may use when lockdown ends. The fact that I get interest rates between 6% to 17.5% depending on the risk category of the loans doesn’t hurt either. Loan grades are set based on how businesses perform during Linked Finance’s credit evaluation process with ‘A’ grade loans representing the lowest risk.

Frugality has allowed me to enjoy what I have and get the most out of it, rather than consume more stuff. Frugality along with lockdown is helping me build up cash reserves for me to invest with. Frugality for me, is a mindful approach to how I consume, and spend money, rather than depriving myself. It helps that I track all my expenses by using the old-fashioned method of my pen and paper diary, and I look at ways of reducing expenses. Sites like bonkers.ie, switcher.ie or cru.ie are very useful when I’m reviewing my utility and insurance bills every year before I decide on switching providers. It’s helpful that both Aldi and Lidl are based in my town which keeps down food bills.

This year, I’m hoping to invest in property with propertybridges.com, also based in Ireland. Given that property is becoming increasingly scarce in Ireland, and that being a landlord has a lot of legal issues and responsibilities attached, investing in property via funds or P2P is another route I am researching.

Alternatively, I would like to invest in index funds such as the Vanguard products with Interactive Brokers. Applications such as linkedfinance.com, propertybridges.com, interactivebrokers.com allow me to diversity my investments, which is recommended.

My FIRE strategy is flexible and open to new options, as I learn about new ways of investing and being frugal. Thanks to the Limerick FIRE meetup group, I’m constantly learning about new ways of achieving FIRE all the time, and hearing what’s achievable from others.

 

What do you plan to do once you reach FI?

When I reach FIRE, I’d like to spend more time outdoors, spend more time engaging with the community where I live in order to live in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way. Lockdown since March 2020 has taught me the joys of spending time outdoors and amongst my neighbours instead of being constantly on the road to and from work. It has made me realise how little I really need, how pointless commuting is, and how to consume more mindfully when non-essential retail was closed. At present, I don’t have the option of reducing my working hours or to give back to my community through volunteering. This is something I’d like to do, as volunteering may be enjoyable for me, as well as helping others. Living so near the Ballyhoura Mountains in Charleville will help me to maintain my interest in staying fit in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way by spending more time hill walking should I reach FIRE.

When I reach FIRE, I’d like to have the option of spending part of the year abroad, as I’ve never had an opportunity of taking a gap year or a sabbatical since I started working. This would allow me to explore my interest in travel, as well as potentially allowing my savings to stretch further. Attending FIRE events has informed me how some countries are much better than others for retirees by listening to those who have achieved FIRE, and who are now living life to the full while enjoying a very high quality of life on a much lower income. If nothing else, FIRE has taught me that I don’t really need a lot of money to enjoy life, which is a big mindset shift for me.


I have added a few new books to the Books Worth Reading section here

Thank you Anne!

 

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