Welcome to the very first interview from my new FIRE Around the Globe series! I’ll be featuring a different person weekly from around the world who is pursuing the path to Financial Independence (you can read all about the series here).
Let’s jump straight into the first interview, which comes from the Netherlands!
Hi, we are Team Cheesy Finance and we blog over at https://cheesyfinance.nl (and tweet cycling and food pictures on twitter: @cheesyfinance). Well I say we, but it’s primarily me (Mr. CF) that runs the blog/twitter account. Mrs CF does a lot of the “behind the scenes” thinking, providing feedback and giving concerned criticism.
We are very much a financial team as we firmly believe that finances should be discussed, strategies developed and that a compromise should be in place before (major) financial decisions are made.
A bit of background, we are a Dutch Engineer and Accounting specialist (both in the second half of our 30’s) with a nearly 4 year old little girl. We reside in the western part of the small country that is the Netherlands. We both have full time jobs at this stage, but are planning to go down to 1 full time job and starting up small businesses as of 2018. On top of that, we are also planning for a 9 week holiday touring Europe or making and around the world trip. The jury is still out on this one. Lots of fun plans and ideas!
Q1. How did you first hear about/become aware of the concept of FIRE (financial independence | retire early)?
We saw the light of FIRE around Q3 2014 and have drastically turned our finances around since that time. Mrs CF actually read an article in Moneysense (Canadian finance magazine) about Jacob Lund Fisker from www.earlyretirementextreme.com. Interested by the philosophy, and me being tired of the daytime job, we made the decision to commence a new phase in our lives.
Q2. After becoming aware of it, how long did it take for the idea to take hold and become a plan?
It was already partially in place before the actual reckoning, as we purchased the first two rental properties before the we discovered the FIRE community. We realized that we needed to start additional income for retirement, as we don’t believe the current systems will be able to fund retirement as we have it today (we will be eligible in about 30-35 year). But the ideas out of the FIRE community did supercharge the strategy and we went full in about 9 months after we first discovered the various blogs. We actually sold our McMansion and moved everything we had into the various investments.
Q3. Why do you want to achieve FI?
Freedom to do what you want, and the time to actually do it!
Q4. What’s your own personal strategy for achieving FI (stock market investing, real estate, extreme frugality, etc.)?
As we believe in compromises, and are curious by nature, we are trying it all. We always have been quite frugal, but we upped it a bit more. We are investing in real estate, dividend growth shares, index funds, crowdfunding and are even considering other venues including owning (franchise) businesses. But so far we realized that we prefer cash-flow investments, such as real estate and dividend shares. These two also comprise the bulk of our investments.
Q5. Do you know how you’d like to spend your time in ‘retirement’?
Yes and no. Yes we know how we like our individual times in retirement, but they don’t really align well, nor are they very practical/possible. Mr CF would like to travel a lot, do international house sitting, get dogs (not a great combo with travel) and help others retire early. Mrs CF would like to spend extra time with family, build a permaculture garden and read too many books. Miss CF does not have an opinion yet, but probably wants to play with friends and go to school (this might change….). Lots of ideas, not sure how we are going to merge this all into one plan. But will figure out a way to compromise, as we always do.
Q6. If you could achieve FI in any country in the world, would you stick with where you are or relocate? (Do you look at anyone in another country and think their path seems a whole lots easier than yours given their location?)
There are definitely better ways to tax shelter money in other countries, specifically Canada and the US, of which the latter is probably the best. The Netherlands has a very good tax system (i.e. few loopholes, everything is taxed…..) . Fortunately we also have a good /social security/benefits system. However this means you also have to pay a lot of taxes! This really hurts our path to FIRE.
If Mr CF had his way, we would probably try to become FIRE in Hawaii, great place to live, with all the benefits from the US tax and pension account systems. But this is a pretty good place to live, so no plans to move any time soon.
Q7. Do you think your country has a well represented community of FIRE folks?
Divnomics.com actually had a great post about this the other day (see here: https://divnomics.com/2017/05/17/whats-the-deal-with-fire-in-europe/ ). We think that the community is underrepresented at this time for various reasons. Probably more people would like the idea of FIRE, but are just unaware due to relatively few blogs about this in Dutch. Also there is virtually no media coverage, similar to what you see in North America.
However, we (us and Amber Tree Leaves) have started to organize meetups for FIRE folks to share ideas and discuss various items. Great fun, lots of interesting people and very informative. Hope to keep doing more of these in the future and expand our circle of FIRE minded people.
Thanks so much to Cheesy Finance for kicking off FIRE Around the Globe with a brilliant first interview! I have to agree with what he says about being wary of the current pension system in his country still being in place by the time he reaches state pension age. I have the same reservations about the UK State pension and what that’ll look like as I approach state retirement age, which was one of the reasons we decided to pursue FI.
Stay tuned for a new interview from a different part of the globe next week!