I have always enjoyed saving money. When I was a child and my grandparents gave me the odd 50p or £1, I would always cling to it with joy and put it straight in my moneybox. I used to love it when my moneybox felt heavy with coins.
That feeling stayed with me as I got older and come payday, I was always transferring money into my ISA. I took a two year gap between college and university for financial reasons. Practicalities of life such as learning to drive and having money in the bank were more important than having to go to university straight from college. I got a job in retail and when I started university I carried on working part time for extra income. No doubt part of the reason I loved transferring money to my ISA was that it paid 5% interest! Oh, those heady pre-2008 days.
Mr. LLC is very similar in his approach to saving, so we had no problem knuckling down to save for our wedding and honeymoon. This coincided with the time in our lives when we both had our first full time jobs as graduates – the most money we’d ever had in our lives!! I’m proud we saved hard and after tying the knot, we knuckled down again to save for a house deposit. However, life threw us a curve ball and we relocated Stateside with Mr. LLC’s job in 2013.
So, we obviously have it in us to be diligent savers. We always have been and I also have an unnatural (irrational?) fear of debt. Even imaging a fictional scenario of owing money on a credit card or loan breaks me out in a cold sweat.
The Middle Ground of Saving
Prior to our decision to pursue financial independence, we weren’t huge spenders but we weren’t huge savers either; we were in what I call the middle ground. Carrying on down the path we were on would have led us to a pretty typical middle-class English lifestyle. We’d have enough to pay the bills, have a nice house and more luxuries than the average person, whilst having an OK amount of money in savings.
I think one of the things that shocked us was Mr. LLC’s pension projections. He has a good job and earns a very good wage. However, the projections told us he could expect to receive £11,000 a year upon retirement. That stunned us and woke us up to the fact that simply having a company pension and some mediocre savings in an ISA does not mean you will be OK financially in later life. You need to be in control of your own savings and not be naive enough to assume your company/personal pension and the government pension will be enough to see you well in your twilight years. Given our age and the .
The shock factor of understanding Mr. LLC’s company pension would be pretty meagre and the desire to live a different kind of life outside of the constraints of the 9-5 gave us the motivation we needed to make some changes. We adapted our approach to saving, dramatically reducing our spending to live below our means to save and invest the rest. I don’t think the path to financial independence would suit everyone. However, the more time we spent in the middle ground, the more we realised it was not the place for us.