Tell our readers a little about yourself, your blog, and your early retirement.
Hi! I'm Marc from Switzerland. I'm in my thirties and plan to retire from my tech career by 40 with my wife and our two kids. We started our journey towards FIRE six years ago and should get to the finish line in 10 years (more or less, depending on the country we chose to retire in). I document our adventures on my blog "Mustachian Post".
Tell me about the early days. How did you get started?
The whole thing about financial independence and early retirement started in the spring of 2013. I was in a point of my life where I realized that I wouldn't get rich by just believing it. My 30th birthday was at the doorstep and I always thought we would be homeowner by then. But in Switzerland, an apartment with 3 bedrooms costs at minimum CHF 800'000 (i.e. almost 800'000 USD). And to get a mortgage, you have to pay 20% of downpayment in cash.
This was the trigger to find other ways. I first read the "4-hour workweek", which led me to start budgeting with YNAB. While learning tips and tricks on the YNAB forum, I heard for the first time about the FIRE realm with links to blogs such as MMM.
Then I was hooked.
But I quickly realized that all existing blogs were US-centric, and not applying at all to Switzerland so I started my own to document my journey and inspire others.
We then had two goals: buy our own home, and then become financially independent.
We achieved the home-ownership thingy one year earlier than planned thanks to frugality. And now all of our efforts goes to the bigger objective of being FIRE by 40.
In terms of money, we kickstarted in 2014 with around CHF 30'000-50'000 in stash (including our retirement pension). We're now above CHF 380'000 as of March 2019.
What roadblocks did you hit along the way? Any mistakes we can learn from?
The main roadblock along the way was (and still is) the lack of knowledge.
Let me give you three examples:
- I thought accumulative ETFs were great as a Swiss investors
- I thought Swissquote (a Swiss-based broker) was the best alternative here in CH
- I thought I had the best and cheapest recipe for my morning DIY muesli.
These examples all share one thing in common.
In all three cases, I was wrong. Plain wrong.
And that's what is great and made me move forward.
I take all topics with a beginner's mind, act upon them with what I know at the moment, and most importantly, I share about it. Endlessly. Then I feel ashamed when someone tells me that Interactive Brokers is actually a way cheaper option for Swiss investors.
The main point is to not care whether you're right or wrong. As long as you gain knowledge, this is know-how that brings you more powers. So you're winning.
I have plenty of other examples. Another one I like to share is when someone challenged me that index investing was cool with its 5-7% yield, but that rental properties were bringing in way more income. Three months later (that was two weeks ago :)), I was buying my first multi-family rental building!
In summary: try, share experience, be ashamed, learn something new, get new powers, make more money. Rinse and repeat.
What does your lifestyle look like? How were you able to save such a high percentage of your income?
The key thing for me is to visualize my end goal.
I've two dreams.
The first one happens in Switzerland, our home country. It's Spring time. I see myself waking up, going for a walk in "our" forest nearby on a Tuesday sunny morning. On my way I have a huge smile on my face because I see the yellow Swiss bus passing by with people going to work for 8h in a row. Then I come back full of C vitamin thanks to the sun, and I have a breakfast with my wife. After this, I'm ready to enjoy financial independence and head to my home-"office" until noon to write on the blog or yet another-book-idea.
My second dream takes place in a plane. I'm heading with my wife towards Canada. We'll spend the end of summer there, from August to October, to enjoy the beautiful colours of the Quebec region. Actually, while in the plane, Mrs. MP tells me that she may like to stay 6 months there this year. She wanna enjoy the huge snow falls. I tell her "Why not! We don't have fixed plans anyway". The luxury of financial freedom.
That's what made me change and adapt our lifestyle without feeling any deprivation. I know why I want to reach at least 50% of savings rate (we're around 40% these days). And I know why I keep optimizing our budget since 2014.
The other important thing for me was to backup my plans by maths. The first trigger that made me believe in FIRE was this online calculator. I then went to a professional and independent financial advisor to build an Excel sheet matching Switzerland reality. Both things proved me that it's possible. Now we only need to work to make it happen.
So: visualize your dream, backup your plan by math, and then all the rest (motivation and determination) will follow.
What's the biggest misconception about FIRE?
Some think we are greedy deprived people that don't care about the rest of the world except themselves.
It's the opposite.
We're the most vibrant community who help each other via blogs and forums. And we focus to bring as much purpose and value into our own life. Which often leads or imply to adding value to other people too (think humanitarian engagement and co).
To give you a sense of my vision of FIRE, I created the following principles:
Passive income rather than employed for life
Frugal rather than spendthrift
Minimalist rather than consumerist
Efficient rather than lazy
Critical thinker rather than conventional
Deliberate rather than unintentional
Lifelong learner rather than complacent
What books, tools, resources do you recommend to others?
The easy one if you're interested in all this FIRE thingy is to:
- Read the entire MMM blog
- Read several books from Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger
- Once you got these basis digested, look for a local FIRE blogger in your country via https://directory.rockstarfinance.com/personal-finance-blogs/
The second part, which is the less easy one, is to share. Just share with as many people as you can about your journey. Be it via a blog or on forums or in real life.
What you will gain can only be positive: respect if people learn something from you, and else, knowledge if it's you learning something.
In both cases you win.
So forget about shame and all these stuff that your brain generate (which by the way only exists there, that is, in your brain), and go tap in the world potential. It's right here, waiting for you to use it!
That's how I started to invest on the stock exchange. As well as in rental properties. And that's how I will make FIRE my reality.
What's next for you?
Next for me (or actually already started in 2019): I'm in the process of writing a book about FIRE in Switzerland as this small country has many specificities with its own currency and financial rules.
In parallel, I will deep dive into rental properties in Switzerland and abroad so that anyone can have the tools to start his own journey too!