We ended up speaking about financial freedom, debt, budgeting, investments and time. I quickly started to get a picture about Sínes’ own Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) journey and was naturally interested and I never stop being amazed at the type of people I meet daily on this journey.
Síne mentioned her passive investing strategy into Degiro and the 41% exit tax she will have to pay on her portfolio, and this was after maxing out her work pension. Naturally this led to a full interview on her own path to FIRE in the interview format you with the same 3 key interview questions I ask everyone on firedave.com
Here are the Q & A, enjoy:
Who are you and how did you discover fire?
Hi, I’m Síne, I’m in my mid-30s. I got engaged and married within three months in the middle of 2020. (When everyone else was cancelling weddings, I started planning one!). I’m still quite early on in my FIRE journey. I’m debt free and am working on building up investments to get to FI.
I started using the budgeting app YNAB about four years ago and was really impressed with how much I was able to save when I started paying attention to where my money was going. I got really hooked and became much better at looking after my finances. I spent time watching YouTube videos about personal finance. One YouTuber, Canna Campbell (Sugar Mamma on YouTube), was doing something called the $1000 project where she found ways to make and save money in $1000 chunks and invested that money in shares. It sounded like something that was very achievable, but I didn’t know the first thing about investing. I tried to educate myself a bit and somewhere in the course of my researching, I stumbled across the FIRE movement and found it very appealing.
I’m lucky to be married to a man who is a natural saver and has similar values to me in many ways. I have a brother who has a strong interest in finance, business and personal development too. It’s great to have people that you can bounce ideas off or trade book and video recommendations with.
What is the backbone of your fire strategy?
For me, the key is figuring out what you value. By getting very clear on what’s important to you and prioritising those things, you get more value for your money. For example, my husband and I really love good food and we also enjoy cooking. We don’t eat out very often because usually we can make better food at home than we’d get from a takeaway or a weekend carvery. When we do eat out, we’re happy to spend more money to get really special food that we couldn’t make ourselves. By knowing what really makes us happy, we find we spend more mindfully and don’t tend to waste as much money on things that don’t really matter to us.
The Covid-19 pandemic has helped us to dramatically increase our savings rate. I started working from home last March and my (now) husband and I were able to give up the house we were renting in Dublin, which was our biggest expense each month, and move to the house my husband owned in Limerick.
From an investment perspective, I have a pension through work, but I can’t access that until I’m 65 so I’m leaving that out of my FIRE plans. It will be a welcome addition when I do get it but I’m hoping to be in a position to retire long before that. I’m investing in a couple of accumulating ETFs. I don’t like that the tax situation in Ireland is so harsh and complicated for ETFs but, if I’m paying tax, it means that my investment is gaining value. So, even after taxes have been paid, I’ll still have more than I would if that money was sitting in my savings account.
I’m still learning lots though and, as I learn more, I might make adjustments to the plan. For example, I recently changed from distributing ETFs to their accumulating equivalents which means I won’t be paying tax on dividends I’m not withdrawing.
I think that getting into good routines is important for success in anything. Good habits, repeated regularly, compound into success. I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of people who are successful in different ways. One common factor has been that they are consistent in what they do. I like listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast where he drills into the habits of people who are at the top of their various fields. He has compiled a lot of the information his interviewees have shared into two books, Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.
What do you plan to do once you reach FI?
Ooh, there are so many things… Being able to spend more time with my family is an important one for me. I’m also a big believer in life-long learning and I like to take on new challenges regularly. For example, I keep bees, I play music and sing, I like to write, I’ve been dabbling in growing vegetables… I try to spend time on these things as it is but it’d be great to have another eight hours a day to focus on the things I enjoy most. I love to follow my curiosity and I hope that FI will help me to free up more time to go down rabbit holes and dive into new things. I might even go back to college and do some more study, just for the fun of it. I look at my parents, who are both retired and their lives are so full and fulfilling that they wonder how they ever managed to fit work into their days too. I look forward to that. I definitely don’t see myself being bored!
I hope you enjoyed the interview today and like Síne if you want to join the live FIRE event head over to Financial Independence Ireland – FIRE HQ
If you would like to be interviewed as a guest on the blog or have any questions please comment below or contact me directly.