If you have landed on this site you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about.
"PURSUIT of FIRE", to the uninitiated this might sound like a cave man's journey to work out how fire is created. If that is what you were hoping to find I am sorry to dissapoint you.
FIRE in this case stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. It is the movement dedicated to becoming financially independent and retiring much earlier than most professionals would think is possible.
Much like the book and film "Pursuit of Happyness", Pursuit of FIRE is about the journey it takes to get to financial independence. Unless you win the lottery most of us won't wake up financially independent. It takes work, sacrafice and ultimately there is a path people have to follow to get there.
This blog is really about my path to financial independence and early retirement and I am hoping in some way it will also resonate with some of you as well.
At the time of writing this (Nov 2019), I am really at the start of my journey to financial independence. However, having always been a fairly financially responsible person I am already off to a good start.
If you aren't interested in reading my life story then this is really the question that started this blog.
TLDR; Is it possible for a family of 4 with a single income under £100,000 to retire before the age of 40?
I tend to think I had a fairly typical upbringing for someone of my generation. Born in the late 80s, I grew up in a world with no internet and really only the well off had mobile phones or satellite television. Living in the UK meant only 4 TV channels so most of my time was spent playing with lego, reading books and as I got older, to my parents dismay, taking things apart.
It was a stereotypical family with myself, Mum, Dad and Sister. My Mum, stayed at home to raise me and my sister. My Dad worked the typical 9 - 5 job in London, a job that he ended up staying at for 37 years.
Around when I turned 8 we got our first computer, but still no internet. I started to get into programming with Basic. This was the start of me really getting into technology. By age 12 I was building websites and even managed to sell some software online.
With my sister nearly an adult and me turning into a typical teenager, my Mum decided to go back to work. So now both my parents were working the 9 - 5 and we only really got to spend time with them at the weekend although with both of us in school this wasn't much of an issue.
My parents always guided me down the traditional route, getting good grades at school, going on to university and getting a stable job. Parents want to keep you safe so they will always guide you to the safest option. To be honest, I am currently still on this path and it has worked out fairly well so far.
It was 2009, I was in my 3rd year of a 4 year degree at University when my view on life started to change. My Mum who was 54 at the time, had just been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Over the next few years my Mum went through quite a major surgery and chemotherapy and the outlook was positive. I graduated from University with a 2:1, went straight into a graduate software engineering job and even got married in 2011.
However, the big C wasn't done with my Mum yet. Over the next couple of years she was diagnosed with breast cancer, unrelated to her bowel cancer. Luckily this was caught early and another round of radiotherapy and chemo seemed to put it to rest.
In 2013, my wife and I had our first child a beautiful girl. Having kids really does change your perspective on things. It didn't make financial sense for my wife to go back to work after our daughter was born, as the nursery would have cost more than she earned. So she stayed at home and I became the sole breadwinner.
I earned enough to cover our expenses without going into debt but there wasn't really much left over at the end of each month for any luxuries such as holidays or going out.
Not long after our daughter was born, the big C came knocking at my Mums door yet again. This time it was lung cancer which had spread from the original bowel cancer. Luckily chemotherapy seemed to keep that at bay for a while.
At the start of 2016 my wife and I decided we would like to have another child. At the time we lived over 160 miles away from any family. So we made the decision to sell up and move back to live closer. With my Mum's cancer spreading, it was nice to be able to live closer and see her on a more regular basis. I managed to get a job in London within a couple of weeks of looking and we put our house up for sale.
During the summer of 2016, my Mum had what we thought was a stroke. In fact later scans revealed it was a brain tumor. The cancer in her lungs had spread. My Mum went under surgery again, this time to have the tumor removed and the operation was successful. The same month my wife gave birth to another beautiful girl, which my Mum managed to hold once she was out of hospital.
My Mum underwent more chemotherapy during 2017 and got to spend time with all her grandchildren. However, in August 2017, 8 years after the initial diagnosis, my Mum lost her battle with cancer.
Everyone copes with death differently. Some go into depression, others throw themselves into work or hobbies. I enjoyed my work but long hours and a long commute meant I didn't get to see my children properly until the weekend. Your priorities tend to change after you lose someone close and you see the world a bit differently.
My Mum, never got to retire in the traditional sense (being off sick doesn't count) and I realised that the probability of me reaching retirement age and still having my health was slim. I quit my job and took a year off of work. During that time I tried starting a software startup and a few other small businesses as well as spending a lot more time with my children.
I loved the freedom of being able to pick my children up from school, go on child free coffee and lunch dates with my wife, being able to help out around the house and in general taking on a more active role in my family. However, none of the businesses I had tried starting were bringing in much money. With little income coming in, my savings were taking a big hit.
With a heavy heart, at the start of 2019 I went back to work full-time. This time however I managed to negotiate 2 days a week work from home. It wasn't the freedom I was used to over the last year but it was better than I had before and at least it was 2 more evenings I get to spend with my daugters.
However, at the back of my mind I was still aware that unless I can make a change I was still destined for retirement in my 60s and by the time I get there I may no longer be in sound health. What I really wanted was to be at home, spending time with my wife and kids (while they still were kids) but without the worry of running out of money. Sounds like a dream doesn't it?
I was determined to make better use of my commute this time. I started reading the Mr Money Mustache blog and learned there was a whole movement of people who were working towards retiring early. Mr Money Mustache himself retired at 30 and there were plenty of others that had followed in his footsteps.
However, there was a catch. Even though these early retirees gave great advice, many of them were San Francisco software developers who were on 6 figure salaries already. In some cases they had other halves, who were also bringing in near 6 figure salaries. Saving 75% of your income doesn't seem so bad when you are earning $200,000 a year, you still have $50,000 left. On top of that, the income tax in the US is a lot lower than we have over here in the UK. On the plus side we do get free health care thanks to the NHS which tends to be the number one concern for those retiring early in the States.
So the question and the reason for starting this blog:
Is it possible for a family of 4 with a single income under £100,000 to retire before the age of 40?
I am hoping my journey to financial independence will give ideas on how you can get there too.