blog faq with the finance zombie!
Today we welcome Mr Zombie who writes over at The Finance Zombie to answer some questions in our first Blog FAQ for a while! I’m excited about this one as his writing is oftentimes hilarious… it’s gonna be a good one. On with the questions, over to you Mr Z!
Give us a brief intro to yourself and your blog, and what you are trying to achieve over there?
Hello, I go by the name of Mr Zombie! 32 and living in the West Country of the UK. I have been blogging over at www.thefinancezombie.com since around August 2014.
It started out with me trying to sort out my approach to investing. Then I realised that there is more to getting to Financial Independence than just an investment strategy. Since then it’s been trying to figure out what Financial Independence meant to me and sometimes launching a hand grenade into the face of consumerism. Also exploring a little bit, what actually makes us happy. As it sure as shit isn’t buying shiny things or being called a manager at work.
I quite liked the name of the blog, apart from zombies being cool, as it was quite apt for my approach to finances at the time. Just stumbling around my personal finances, groaning a bit. And also apt for how a lot of people seem to approach money in general, as an allowance to be spent, rather than a tool to be used.
The blog has been excellent from a completely selfish point of view. It provides a platform to explore ideas and it encourages me to do research, be more thorough and actually follow through (not like that) 1 on things. But where it is really awesome is in the comments and interactions from readers.
How did you first get into the Personal Finance/Blogging Scene…? What was your motivation and did you have a particular “light bulb” moment? (For example, mine was stumbling across the MrMoneyMustache blog in early 2013 when searching for novelty moustaches to buy.True Fact!)
Last summer I was having a look around some websites, trying to get an idea of how much I needed to save for a comfortable retirement. In truth I thought I was alright, as I was putting 20% into my company pension. Arrogant! I stumbled across Retirement Investing Today, Monevator, Financial Samurai and RetireBy40.org pretty much all within a week of each other. There were these people out there who were either already in a state of financial independence or working towards it. And it blew my fucking mind!
I have never been materialistic so have never really thrown money into things, you know, just tat. That said, I was bleeding out money because I had no direction, no reason to curb my spending. So I was travelling about a fair bit and buying the best I could for my hobbies. Finding those sites, and doing some borderline obsessive reading set me on the path.
What is your situation with your spouse/significant other. Is she also chasing FI, are your finances totally separate or are you in it together??
Our finances are pretty together. We run a joint account and joint savings, but also have our own savings and current accounts as well. Nice and complicated! I think there is about 11 accounts floating about 2.
I did manage to breach the subject of FI not too long ago…as it seemed silly just plowing on solo. And happily we are on a similar track. It will get tough in a few years if we have kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! I think if you can sit down with someone and get past the assumption that it means living like a pauper, then FI makes a lot of sense for most people. “You mean if I don’t buy fancy clothes, but invest the money, I could then stop working for The Man years earlier!?”. Sure! But it’s going to be a long journey and hopefully my blog will track that through all the ups and downs.
You mentioned Uni… Did you come out of this with any student debt? If not what are your tips for surviving Uni without going into it? What course did you do and do you think you got a good ROI on the time/money you spent on that?
I did a Masters in Aerospace Engineering and then up in Finance. I turned away from engineering because I wanted a profession that didn’t limit me to certain cities, one that was global. So I chose accountancy.
I really have no idea on the ROI, I guess it got me the interviews for my position as a trainee accountant, so it was good in that respect.
I loved uni and it taught me a lot about living with no money and not complaining.
Are you in or out of the FI closet with friends and family?
With family, 100% in the closet. They can spend money with the best of them!
I have danced around the subject with friends. “Hey, there’s this guy called Mr Money Moustache and he saved a ton of money and retired early, pretty cool huh?”. But it’s normally met with resistance and chatter about eating beans for the rest of your life. So I leave it there. I’ll be the one laughing in a few years time, right 3?
What are your main methods for generating passive income?
Index investing all the way for me. Sometimes it seems to get branded as the option for the financially uneducated, as it’s so simple. But, like a good nerd, I did my research and decided that it is the best approach for me. For the time being I’m just looking at total return on my capital to just keep my financial nugget growing and growing.
I’m going to set an allocation and stick to it. Truth be told, I don’t know what I will do when I want income. If I will trust myself with a drawdown strategy, move towards dividend investing, IT’s, real estate, fixed income (rates have to go up at some point!), annuitise etc.
So for now, keep it simple and keep it cheap.
FI Stat Attack:
Current Net Worth: £111k (including house equity)
Current savings rate: 64.7%
Savings rate target: 60%
Estimated Time to FI: It seems to change from month to month! If I could do it by the time I am 45, that would be ace. Even potentially with having kids!
What is your current job, you mention spreadsheets and that you kinda like it. I’m intrigued to know a bit more info!?
I was working for a few years ago as an accountant at an insurance company and there was a department that was shrouded in mystery, the actuarial department. They were considered a kind of ‘Black Box’ by most, no one seemed to know exactly what they did other than it was a bit complicated. I wanted to know what they did so applied for a graduate role at the age of 30 and got it. So I have been blagging it for a few years now 🙂
It’s weird as a lot of the work we do is trying to ‘value’ uncertainty and quantify risk on a book of insurance contracts, typically by looking at historical data and inferring distributions on this. Then trying to quantify the impact of large shocks on the business to ensure we hold enough capital to ride these out. Then I read the Black Swan and think what’s the point 4! But I enjoy it…for the moment.
You mention FI is not necessarily about retiring. What do you see yourself realistically doing when you hit FI. Have you got any big plans or are you just going to see what you feel like doing when it happens?
So many plans! I imagine by the time FI is nearing I will be done with all the bullshit of the corporate life, if not before then. But I don’t think I will pull the plug and then just sit in my living room staring at the fireplace.
Two things I have wanted to learn more about, but don’t have the space or the time at the moment, are carpentry and motorbike mechanics. They are both something I would consider. If location allowed it, I would consider going back to University to get a Phd. Just to call myself a doctor.
It’s clear from the blog that you like cycling. What has been your longest/favourite/most challenging cycle trip/ride? Do you commute to work on the bike as well to save extra £££?
Yeah I love cycling. I cycle to work most days. Sometimes there can be a queue of traffic miles long into the city, nearly every car with one angry person at the wheel. I can’t understand it. Why pay money to sit in traffic every working day. It’s also like ‘free’ exercise, got to do it to get to work!
I did Lands End to John O’Groats last year, 100 miles a day for 10 days 5. It was superb. Whilst training for that I did quite a few rides before work, it is amazing to get out at sunrise and be in the middle of the country before most people are up, spinning away on your bike. It’s also an awesome feeling arriving at work with 50 miles under your belt.
Have you any other hobbies that end up saving you money and would be useful to others who are interested in FI? (e.g. brewing beer, etc…)
Only cooking. I cook all our food from scratch. It’s so much better than ready made meals or eating at a restaurant. Buy a slow cooker. It’s so easy to make amazing food on a Sunday and then have left overs for half the week 6
You are from the west country, so is Huw from FFB40. Is there something in the water down there that turns people into FI chasing bloggers or is it just a coincidence?
Haha, maybe. But if my co-workers to go by I think we are the 0.01% at the moment, the rebels of the West. Rebels are cool, right? (If being a rebel is being sensible, risk aware and saving for Financial Independence 😀 )
Have you started to develop any side hustle income or are you just concentrating on your main employment?
With exams, it’s just my employment for the moment. I’d like to carry on writing my blog and then experiment with freelance writing maybe, or writing in another area. I did a bit of short story writing on Scribophile 7 and it was well received, which was awesome. But I don’t have time at the moment. It would be nice to get paid a little bit to write. And I enjoy it! I wouldn’t get up before work to write or spend some of my weekend doing it if I didn’t.
What is your number one money saving tip (it doesn’t have to highest in terms of money saved, but just your favourite tip for any reason)
Sort out your habitual spending first. It’s really fucking hard to identify and cure this type of spending, as it’s hard to be honest with yourself sometimes. But it seems to have stopped me bleeding money away.
What are your favourite relevant blogs or websites to readers of theFIREstarter that they may not yet be aware of?
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/ I would have scoffed at it a year ago. But it’s amazing how FI and minimalism go hand in hand.
What are your favourite book(s) and film(s) and why? (leaving this open ended as it’s often hard to choose just one!) (Assuming there will be some Zombie films in here 🙂 )
Ahhhh zombie films :). The original Dawn of the Dead is superb. If you can ignore the wooden acting and terrible special effects by todays standards, it is a massive stab in the heart of consumerism. And we all like that.
For books I really like The Man Who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont. It’s about a guy who, after university, decides he wants to cycle round the world and break the world record. And then just goes out and does it. It is inspirational.
Totally off topic but what are your favourite songs / bands? (I am always looking out for new stuff to listen to!)
I like my metal, punk and rock music. Have a listen the The Bronx (any of their albums), Coliseum (Sister Faith), The Melvins (A Senile Animal) or Fucked Up (Hidden World or Year of the Dragon) for something different that isn’t too hard to listen to. And the last two can be really varied from album to album. If you want something a bit different try Baby Godzilla or The Dillinger Escape Plan. Good luck!
But I also like more relaxed stuff like The Tallest Man on Earth, Great Lake Swimmers or Iron & Wine.
And remember – Spend Less, Save More & Escape the Horde 🙂
TFS: Anytime Mr Z, I found your answers very readable and entertaining like most of the writing you do on your blog. Keep it up and good luck with your plans for FI!
Readers, if you have any more questions you would like to ask Mr Z please get involved below! Cheers!
- +1 for random toilet humour… 🙂 – TFS ↩
- Haha, I thought we were bad with 5! Sounds like you need to check out moneydashboard as well mate! – TFS ↩
- Hell to the yea! – TFS ↩
- Haha… I get where you are coming from here. I think Taleb is a little too harsh in a lot of areas though and I don’t think he is saying all kinds of risk analysis are pointless. Sound like an interesting job either way! – TFS ↩
- Wow that’s some going… I’m impressed! – TFS ↩
- +1 for this. We cooked a 3KG pork joint (~£10 bought on offer) on Friday night, fed 10 people with it and now have 12 portions left over waiting for us in the freezer! That’s around 50p per serving of mouth wateringly tasty pulled pork! Awesome! – TFS ↩
- Presumably stories about the zombie apocalypse? Come on then… links please? 🙂 ↩