Last week I did a personal finance Lunch & Learn with a company here in London. I usually judge the success of these Lunch & Learns by the length of the Q&A section at the end.
It lasted 40 minutes 🤯
I guess something resonated during the 20 minute talk.
In the session, I shared my own personal story and the 3 money revelations that changed my life. I’d like to share these with you in this newsletter.
I hope they are as eye opening for you as they were for me!
6 years ago I was pretty bad with my money. I had nearly £20,000 in credit card and student debt. Years of overspending, bad money management, and trying to keep up with my friends on Instagram, landed me in a pretty rough spot financially.
The weird thing is I thought this was normal. “Everyone has debt, it’s no biggie!”
One summer’s day back in 2016, I would experience something so embarrassing, and so painful that it would completely transform my life.
I was on the way to my mates wedding with my new girlfriend, Basia. I invited her as my plus one. She suggested we drop by the cash machine and grab £150 each for the wedding gift.
I told her that it was near the end of the month, times were a bit tight, and I didn’t have £150 just lying around. Basia said, “No problem, just take it from your savings account and replace it in a few days when you get paid.”
My response...”What savings?”
I will never forget the look of surprise and disappointment on her ace in the backseat of that taxi. Here I was, 28 years old and I couldn’t even afford a £150 gift for a close friend. I felt so stupid that I didn’t have my financial £&*@ together.
Here comes the kicker, my date had to loan me the money for my own mates wedding. To this day it remains the most embarrassing moment of my life.
The silver lining of my story is that as a couple, we began to openly talk about money. It wasn’t pleasant, believe me, but it was necessary.
I had never stopped to think about my future and plan financially for it. I figured it would honestly work itself out. I was the kind of the person who lived in the moment, never thought about tomorrow, and had a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
But after some reflection, it became very clear what would happen if I neglected my financial health. If I kept living this way, paycheque to paycheque, overspending on holidays and racking up debt, I would never be able to get ahead financially. There wouldn't be any surplus money left over at the end of the month to save or invest for my future, as well as our future.
If something didn’t give, I would be stuck in this endless cycle of living hand to mouth. I would be trapped on a treadmill forever working for the next dollar or pound.
And then it hit me...
Revelation #1: Spend less than you earn, or work forever.
It quickly became clear that I needed to have money left in my bank account at the end of every month. Otherwise I would be working forever.
So the next question I asked myself was, “How much money would I need to NOT work forever?”
It was great to start to see money in my bank account on a regular basis. But how much would I need to retire, maybe even retire early?
(For those who may not have heard of this before, the ability to retire early is associated with Financial Freedom. My definition of Financial Freedom is having enough passive income to live off indefinitely, making work optional).
At this time in my life, trying to answer the question “how much do I need to retire early?”, wasn’t easy to figure out. I didn’t understand the concept and lacked good ressources.
I found a survey that asked the UK public this exact question, “How much do you think you need in your investment accounts to retire comfortably? Here were the responses broken down by generation:
What do you think?
Too high? Too low?
Well based on those numbers, assuming you left your money invested, you would be able to pay yourself an annual salary of:
Not really my idea of a comfortable retirement...
Revelation #2: Financial Freedom is expensive!
At this point, all I knew is that living off of £5k-8k per year in London was literally impossible, and I had a lot more work to do!
I then came across a very simple formula that will help you calculate your financial freedom number. It’s not perfect, but it does give you a really good indication of how much you will need.
You can do it in 30 seconds following these three simple steps:
- Calculate how much your ideal monthly lifestyle will cost (for example: £3,333.33 per month)
- Take your ideal monthly lifestyle number and multiply by x12 (£3,333.33 x 12 = £40,000 per year)
- Take your ideal yearly lifestyle number and multiply by x25 (£40,000 x 25 = £1,000,000)
In this example, I would need £1,000,000 to be financially free.
Because if I withdrew only 4% of my money each year (this is called the “safe withdrawal rate” in personal finance) and left the rest invested to grow, I would be able to safely withdraw £40,000 each year without the fear of running out of money.
4% of £1,000,000 = £40,000
Wow! £1,000,000 smackers. It felt like a lot. Actually it felt impossible.
I started crunching some more numbers and asking myself more questions.
How long would it take me to hit that golden number of £1,000,000 if I saved 10% of my £40,000 income every year (or £4,000 per year)?
Maybe we’ll be able to live this long in the future, but 250 years of work sounded awful....
Ok. What if I invested 10% of my income instead at 8% annual return (the average return of the stock market for the last 100 years)?
40 years. Ok. Better.
I started to look at increasing the amount I invest. Would it make any difference?
What if I invested 25% of my income instead of 10%? How long would it take me to reach £1,000,000?
29 years. Now we are talking. Totally possible!
What about one step further? What if me and my partner both made £40,000 per year and we chose to live off of one salary vs two?
Tough I know, but possible if we made some different life choices.
How long would it take me to reach £1,000,000?
15 years. DAMN!
What started out as an impossible feat, saving £1,000,000 in my lifetime, had become totally possible through investing.
Revelation #3: It’s impossible to save your way to financial freedom. But it’s possible to invest your way there.
These principles changed my life. I went from a life of living paycheque to paycheque, constantly stressed and working until infinity, to the prospect of financial freedom and peace of mind by 40.
My life course has fundamentally shifted because of these revelations.
This is why TOMII is so passionate about teaching people the power of investing.
Don’t get me wrong, saving is the backbone of good financial habits. If you don’t learn to save money, you won’t have money to invest. You will be stuck in the never ending cycle I was in. Living paycheque to paycheque, constantly feeling stressed and never getting ahead.
But if you can learn to invest, you can build wealth much faster than you think, and it can lead to endless possibilities on the way you live your life.
I appreciate that everyone is at a different stage of their financial lives.
We all have different careers. We are all on different salaries. We all have different lifestyle costs.
However, one thing we all have in common, is that we can all become financially free through investing.
It may take some longer than others, but we can all get there!
❤️ Patrick & TOMII Tribe
What We're Watching/Listening to 🍿
A Guided Meditation When The Stock Market Is Dropping - HERE
One of my investing mentors, JL Collins has a great youtube video to calm your nerves in a stock market drop. With his soothing sultry voice, it gives you comfort and peace in times of market volatility. Couldn’t be more timely!
What We're Listening to 🎧
Tim Ferriss Podcast - Jerry Colona: How To Reboot Yourself and Feel Unrushed In The New Year
Tim’s guest Jerry goes into detail about how little a sabbatical can cost you financially, and the amount of joy you can get in return!
What We're Using 🤩
Investing Calculator - HERE
One of our favourite toys here at TOMII is to use this investing calculator to project our future net worth based on simple habits today. Have a go based on your own habits!