My spouse (Mx T2FI) and I stumbled upon FIRE articles in 2017, we were recently married and very comfortable in our Head of Department roles in our respective schools. Holidaying in Florida and Hawaii, a new (6 months old) car, and a mortgage of £191k, I think we were an average couple living within our means, but without very much left over at the end of the month. The first time we saw the FIRE articles I think we mocked them - living on 20-30% of your wage? Sounds like a diet of rice and beans, coupled with no holidays. No thanks.
In March 2020, when the markets dived, we considered investing and read through some FI articles our friends had passed our way. This time I was more interested. We'd had our son in 2019 and realised that childcare costs are no joke. Suddenly, our very roomy budget had to stretch an extra £500-700 a month. Ouch. So, we saw a wealth manager. Spoiler alert, we did not, and do not, need a wealth manager. The very nice man laid out that we would need circa £1M to retire on based on our, net worth, pensions and house. He offered us wealth management for £800 per year, until we hit £100k when he would take 1%. This would include one yearly meeting where he would look at our progress and advise accordingly. Mx T2FI and I poured over the numbers and realised if we're saving £900 per month, then he would be taking the equivalent of 7% each year for very little work. Again, no thanks.
So, we dug around Reddit and Google and found some very active and helpful FIRE communities. I'm sure I asked a large amount of inane, previously answered questions about ISA vs SIPP, and Vanguard vs Nutmeg, but everyone was very understanding and after a few weeks we had started and were on our path to FI. We still had this number, £1M, hanging around, and we weren't sure exactly why. How had this been calculated? Did we really need this much money? Could we ever have this much money to our name? More research led me to the Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR), which I understand is not for everyone, but it felt a good place to start. So, we took our yearly expenses (swapping out mortgage and childcare for travel) and timesed it by 25, which wouldn't you know it, was £1M.
This doesn't really answer my initial question. Why FI? Why are we not happy going to work every weekday (and 1 day at weekend for me) for the rest of our working life, until we retire on our circa (pre-tax) £30k each pension at age 68? Because I always felt there had to be something more. This can't be it. I want to travel, I want to spend time with my son, I don't want to be taking registers in my 60s.
So, this is the start of my (documented) path to FI. I've picked up additional tutoring gigs and Mx T2FI has started a reasonably lucrative side hustle and rather than adding £900 a month to our investments, we're adding upwards of £1400 each month. There's currently £13,000 in our Vanguard portfolio. It's a good start, and I intend on building it every month.
For now, I'm just a girl, standing in front of a computer screen, asking you to follow my journey.