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FatBritAbroad – The Financial Origin Story

I don’t really know why I am the way I am.

I come from a high income household, privately educated. My dad came from nothing and was self made. I always felt I had to stand on my own two feet.

I also had a mortal fear of being poor in old age. Since my parents divorced, and mum not being any good with money and suffering from a long term illness, I always thought I’d eventually have to look after her financially.

I think a relatively unstable upbringing with my parents splitting up several times when I was young, plus my mum suffering several issues (nervous breakdown, alcoholism, and a spell in a private hospital) probably formed my need for security and self sufficiency.

My dad comes from a poor background, and worked his way up to become CEO of a company, having left school with no qualifications. I naturally looked to him as a role model and was very driven to succeed in my career, however earnings wise, I was fairly pedestrian until about 8 years ago. I worked to the exclusion of everything else I think, other than a love of travel.

I’ve always been fairly frugal, saved alot in a pension from 18 (I had over £200k before I was 40 despite not earning much above the average until I got in my 30s) and over paid my mortgage, but was always looking to upgrade constantly.

I bought my first flat at 20, on a shared ownership scheme with my childhood sweetheart right after she left university. I remember her laughing when she was asked for ID when buying booze on the day we got our mortgage!

We then upgraded to a 2 bed semi. 5 years later we upgraded again, to my current place.

I’d always just chased a higher income until about 9 years ago. A change in contract at work meant I had a huge raise, and steady increases since then, took me to my target of a 6 figure income. Imagine my surprise when I looked up and realised I wasn’t any happier (who knew, right?).

I had almost a mid-life crisis at 31, as I realised all my goals had been financial.

Being frugal meant an amicable divorce 5 years ago didn’t ruin me as it does so many. I bought my ex out the house and kept it. Left with a mortgage almost 6 times my salary, I got lodgers in and paid it down again.

I was asset rich, with a good pension and decent equity, but felt poor so the missing link was investing in ISAs despite the tax hit for me. This led me on to Jack Bogle’s book, and then on to Monevator and the rest of the FI community, which has been transformative. I’m no longer chasing a bigger house or newer car!

For me, financial independence is about security for myself and my family. I’ve always had an irrational fear that everything would be taken away from me at some point, so building a financial moat is now my priority.

Currently aged 40, in about three years time I’ll be FI apart from my mortgage (which is less than 3 times my salary now), with a net worth of around £750,000.

My secret fear is getting made redundant, and I struggle with idea of taking a pay cut even though I may be happier changing jobs. I feel like it’s ‘going backwards’, even though your self worth shouldn’t equate to your net worth. I don’t judge anyone else like that, just myself.

I’m self aware enough to know that’s nonsense, but not quite enough to do anything about it.

Psychologists would have a field day!