June 9, 2022

#316 Captain FI – Transcript

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Jess Brady
This week’s chat is with Captain FI (stands for financial independence). He’s 31. And he has quote unquote, retired. So many clients tell us that they want to retire early. But do they really know what it takes? While he’s done it? And so I asked him, How do we get there? What sacrifices do you need to make? And there were a lot? And what would he do if he could turn back the clock? Enjoy? Hello, Captain FI.

Captain FI
Hey, Jess. Hey, going?

Jess Brady
Good. I’m good. I’m super duper excited for today’s conversation. We’ve got a lot to cover.

Captain FI
Yeah, let’s crack on.

Jess Brady
Okay, I don’t think many financial advisors will know your story. They might. But let’s just indulge me you asked. Can you tell us a little bit more about you?

Captain FI
Yeah, sure. Well, you know, I can actually say that a couple of financial advisors would because I have spoken to a few and got some advice recently, which was good. But for me, I am just a guy from Australia. I’m a retired transport pilot. And I just tried to learn a little bit to get a little bit better with my money and finances. I got really into the fire scene. And that stands for financial independence retire early. And probably as we’ll talk about got a little bit obsessive about it. But in the you know, with some Okay, results, like I went pretty hard. I built up some passive income. And I’ve managed to leave my work, which is cool to basically pursue my goal, which is to eventually get a small farm hobby farm and start a family. So yeah, so for the bulk. I’ve worked all around Australia, all around the world. i My most recently was in Sydney for a number of years. And yeah, about Oh, Gosh, gosh, it’s almost a year ago now. I I moved to Adelaide. So yeah, I just have a little apartment here in Adelaide, and yeah, looking for looking to buy some land. That’s, I don’t know, I don’t know what to say. That’s that’s kind of me. I’m 31. And I like long walks on the beach.

Jess Brady
And pina coladas. Um, I think that I keep this exceptionally open ended. So for exactly that reason, you can tell us whatever you like. It’s pretty exceptional to have a 31 year old be at the point that you’re at. So before we get into all of the good bits in the, in the short bits, because they’re always I want to say a huge congrats to you. That’s really, really exciting and very rare.

Captain FI
Oh, thanks, Jess. And I just I put it out there, though, that I the strategy that I wanted to do with fire. It definitely evolved. And, you know, we can get into the nitty gritty about like, you know, how how people in the fire movement, plan, their retirement, but I had a number of side hustles in the background, and I can kind of we’ll talk about maybe the ironies about some of these, you know, side hustles and the stress they kind of put you under. But, you know, one of them was built building, designing building websites. And I had some great success with that. And that sort of allowed me to accelerate reaching financial independence. And so, you know, I’m not like, quote, unquote, retired, you know, play golf, go fishing, sit around watching daytime television, like I’m still actively trying to try to build a business. And it’s just now that it’s kind of on my own terms.

Jess Brady
Hmm. So let’s, let’s step back a sec, because I think you’ve got an interesting approach to the fire movement. But let’s bring everyone along for the journey, because financial advisors may not know a lot about this, and it is quite a community. So help us learn a little bit more about what is the fire movement, and talk to us more about your involvement in the community? And I guess, what got you thinking about starting to lean into this community as well?

Captain FI
Yeah, sure. So okay, so fire, financial independence, retire early, it’s, I guess, it’s probably like a community of typically, younger, you know, throw away the term throwaway term Millennials are essentially, you know, realizing that we don’t really want to work this, you know, eight to five grind five days a week, maybe six days a week, keeping up with the Joneses, a high amount of spending, and then as a result having to basically work and be paycheck to paycheck. And so it’s kind of all about just really trying to sort your shit out financially. And if I could say that, maybe we’ll get bleeped down. It’s, you know, and one of the main tenants is building passive income, rather than consuming consumer debt. So in general, like the word, you know, like cheapskate and tight, our stuff gets thrown around a little bit. But I actually prefer to use the term frugal, and I think frugal has a positive connotation, and it’s about being efficient. So before I started my flying career, I was an engineer and efficiency, like I totally geek out on it, like, I love it, like, I love my permaculture garden, you know, I gotta get all the plants growing as efficiently as possible. And, you know, I just like, also, I like to optimize things. Like it’s just, it’s one of the things we learned at uni. And it’s a fun, it’s a fun hobby. And so I’ve just, yeah, I found this community, I was like, Great, now I can, I can optimize my finances, which really is what it’s about. It’s about, you know, working hard, but efficiently, to build capital, and then trying to like, allocate that capital into investments that will give you passive income. And, you know, there are many different ways people can invest. I mean, I’m not a financial advisor. So I’m not going to sort of offer any advice on that regard. Other too, early to say is I did try stock picking, and I couldn’t seem to beat the index. So I just have a boring index approach. There’s a lot of people out there that disagree with me that thank you can beat the market everything until those people would say good luck. But a lot of the research, I’ve read shows that you can say. So typically, in the FIE community, most people do look at things like index funds, and superannuation, sorry, index funds and real estate. Obviously, Superannuation is a still a part of fire. Because if you want to retire, let’s unpack the word retire, really. So what does that really mean? Well, I guess it means before preservation age, so the community is about building assets and passive income that can provide you either an income stream or you know, you can sell down parcels of you know, whether it be shares, properties, websites, you name it, to fund a gap between when you stop your full time work as an employee, and when you hit preservation age, so for some people, that’s 30. For some people, that’s 40. For some people, they’re happy to keep going into they’re like 55. So yeah, it’s very personal. It’s hard to just to sort of define the IRA aspect of it. But I think anyone anyone who wants to retire has to hit fun, it has to hit financial independence, you know, whether you’re 3040 or 67. You have to hit financial independence, because you got to pay for your groceries somehow.

Jess Brady
Correct. Unless you’ve got a beautiful permaculture nerd garden and you’re doing subsistence farming. Can we miss boss the word retirement though, because you’re not retired in a traditional sense. You’re you’ve got things on the go.

Captain FI
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why I say like, mine isn’t like a two ditional like fire journey. I think in many times like the fire, it’s like a, trying to find the word here. It’s like, like a cultural thing. It’s like, it’s just it’s become like a symbol like, like fire, it probably could be better described as, like the fire community. But I don’t know what someone in the media in the media is like, he’s the tagline. And now everyone just uses the word fire. But I do prefer to probably use the term financial independence. And yeah, so like I blog, I’ve blogged about my journey to file my journey to fi online. And that was a great way to stay accountable to it. And one of the one of the side, hustles, ironically, came from blogging. So I learned how to build websites, I learned about a skill called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. And that’s basically how you get your content found on Google. And then I was just like, Ah, awesome. So I took what I learned from my blog, and applied it to a whole bunch of other industries. And I did do some training, and I’m still, I’m still doing some training on it. It’s not like, you know, official uni or anything, but it’s our vocational training program. And where I was sort of mentored and taught these kind of technical skills. And so what really started as a bit of a side hustle kind of grew into, yeah, almost like a full on business. So it’s great in that I don’t need to, you know, put in the crazy hours that I used to when I was flying. And I can work from home. And I’ve started to build like an awesome team of people that I can trust and rely on. So in that sense, like when we think about shares, what are you buying when you buy an index fund? Okay, you’re buying shares in a company? And what is a company? Well, it’s a business. It’s a business that provides value by, you know, providing a service or products. And he’s employing people to do that. And so when I consider, okay, well, I could be investing in someone else’s business, or I could be investing in my business. And so it was, I haven’t necessarily put a lot of capital into it. I’ve certainly put a lot of time into it. But it is super fun. And it’s like, you know, it’s like that optimization thing. It’s like that puzzle, that yeah, so. So I don’t really consider myself like archery, retired, I consider myself to have reached fire. And so now I have a little bit more time to kind of do the things I really want to do, like getting the gun, hopefully get a bit of land soon. And I can get my plants all in the ground, cuz they’re all in pots at the moment, which I don’t like. And yeah, hopefully start a family in the next couple of years. And yeah, we’ll just keep playing it day by day.

Jess Brady
It’s pretty exceptional. And I think time is, well, time is the most valuable resource that we have. And I live in Sydney, where there just never seems to be enough of it. Everyone is very stretched and time poor and people that come to see me for advice. They really want what you have, but they aren’t prepared to do some of the things that you’ve done to get there. Can we talk about? What would the trade offs and sacrifices you made? To get to where you are now?

Captain FI
Yeah, it’s a it’s a really, it’s a what they call a catch 22? It is. It reminds me of a quote. I can never quote things properly. But is it live like no one else so that you can live like no one else? I forget who said that. But basically, yeah, you do need to you do need to follow a few steps and tighten your belt. And there are trade offs.

I love the concept you brought up about you know, money being time, or people say time is money, but I think money is time. And Vicki Robbins wrote an amazing book. And I read it’s called your money or your life. And, you know, she wrote this book in like the 80s. And so for everyone that’s interested in like the fire movement, or basically every finance book, you know, whether it be like the Barefoot Investor, Dave Ramsey, like all of those guys. They’re all basically just a rehash of Vicki’s book, which I think itself is a rehash of a book from the 1700s. So you know, it’s not this stuff isn’t like brand new, shattering the world. Like, honestly, it’s common sense. And when I when I talk to my mom about, you know, how did she manage as a single mom, with three kids, you know, she says, Oh, you just always got to have a little bit more coming in than you have going out. And, you know, so it’s really not rocket surgery here. But I would just say, if I can summarize it in a few sort of steps. The first one is you really need to be motivated. So you need to understand why you want to do this. So I guess For some of your clients that are coming in saying, you know, I need more time, and I totally get that Sydney can be chaotic. You know, I used to have coworkers that would drive two hours to get to the airport. That’s each way. Yeah. And even then you’re paying so much money on these toll roads, and it’s still congested, or there’s still roadworks, there’s never any spots in the carpark all the groceries are gone. Like, I mean, I was there for the COVID debacle when people were like grabbing stuff off the shelves. Okay, I’m getting off track. But the point I’m trying to make is these people, they want time, and they want options. So it’s awesome that they’ve recognized that they want that, and I would kind of call that like, you know, to sound cliche, until that like sparking your fire. Alright, so that’s like, you need to understand why there’s an awesome book on the behavioral psychology of that, by Simon Sinek. Start with Why. So that’s what I always say to anyone’s journey, whether, you know, be career financial, personal moment, they need to start with why. And then you move to the how and what comes down the track. So for people that are interested in like, financial independence, after they sort of go, Okay, I’m going to put attention to this, I’m going to prioritize it. The next thing, right, and everyone hate is this to make a budget, okay? And it’s, again, it’s a cliche, I think everyone’s like, CSVs throwaway line, but like, seriously, just track your expenses, not saying you need to go out and say, Okay, I’m gonna allocate $47.22, to buying peas this month, like, no, that’s when I say make a budget, track, your expenses, don’t just don’t gender change anything, just just start recording them writing them down. There’s a whole bunch of like apps and stuff that will do it for you. But honestly, nothing beats a pen and paper, writing it down, because then it’s real. Yeah. Once you sort of have a bit of an idea about where your money is going, that’s going to give you a lot more ammo to sort of understand how you can make small changes. But while you’re doing that, the next best thing, right, and this is something that, again, all of the financial advisors, all of the authors of the books are going to tell you, you need an emergency fund. So build up a buffer. So most common number thrown around is a couple of $1,000. But it’s obviously going to depend on you and your expenses. And that’s why tracking your expenses with the pseudo budget gets you an idea of like, okay, if I’m spending $4,000 a month, and I have an $4,000 emergency fund, I’ve got a month’s worth of Runway Left, right. So you can, you can, you can fix that up later. But the first thing is to basically create a buffer, because a lot of people get themselves into trouble dealing with credit products. And whether they’re like using it with it’s the Buy Now pay later or credit card or, you know, a line of credit or Rachel, it can be dangerous to play with debt. I’m not saying debt is bad. I personally have a mortgage on an investment property. But I think everyone should have some cash stashed away as their emergency fund for when the shit hits the proverbial fan. And so the way underly Yeah, the way I built up my emergency fund was just selling my junk. And I’m a pretty, like, I like to consider myself a little, you know, a little bit like utilitarian the word like, I seem to really only have things that I need, but yet, I still have so much crap in my apartment, you know, like a snowboard that I have for like four years, right. So selling that kind of stuff is a great way, great way to build up

Jess Brady
Sunny. So that’s why I was just gonna jump in and say, um, I have a member who’s come to me, and she’s a single mom and her budget is tight. And I’ve said to her in no uncertain terms, you we need to get you an emergency fund. Turns out her budget is not tight to buy clothes. And so she’s been selling lots and lots of clothes that she’s never worn in her wardrobe to develop a emergency fund. But I just want to, I want to tell you something that might shock you, because obviously you’re telling us the steps to how you got here, which is really interesting. But for all the financial advisors listening, I think you might I think I’ll be fascinated to hear your response to this. With the exception of a couple of basic questions around this, do you know that most financial advisors don’t talk at length about cash flow with their clients?

Captain FI
That yeah, that would come as a surprise to me, I would have thought that that would have been one of the most important things when it comes to personal finances.

Jess Brady
Mater. I completely agree. And so just hearing how you’ve done it and the focus and attention that you have had on expenses and tracking and monitoring that I think it presents a really good reminder to advisors who are trying to coach people to get to this goal, which many of us are that if you’re not helping people create awareness or understanding of where their money’s going, it’s going to be really bloody hard for them to hit that goal?

Captain FI
Yeah. And again, coming back to the why of fire is, I guess, maybe not just the client that the advisor also needs to understand the why. And that will sort of give everyone the respect that it deserves around the cash flow.

Jess Brady
Can we talk about that underspending? So, because there’s such a focus is part of the fire movement on reducing cost, and part of that is reducing spending. And you being a very detailed, clever engineer who is dedicated to goals by the sounds of it. That’s a pretty interesting experiment to see how low you can go if you like. And you can go too far, right?

Captain FI
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I totally do. So. Oh, God, because it’s not the back of my head, I gotta get it out. Alright. So with like, the steps to fight, and I think this is important, because it’ll put some context to my answer is that, you know, after you’ve got emergency fund, making sure you have appropriate insurance. Yeah, make sure you have appropriate insurance, right, that’s, you know, you can talk at length about that. And I think that’s a fantastic thing that a financial advisor can help. Five dipping, dipping a toe, I getting a small amount of skin in the game in some kind of investment, as a part of learning. And then that brings me to like step six, and the generic fire retirement plan, which is reduce your expenses. So one of the things that I tried to experiment to do was to like cut them back 5%, like every month, until I could, you know, get my target budget. Now, I was fortunate in that, you know, I had, I got a subsidy, for my, for my living arrangement, I could also eat food at work, like, you know, in flight meals, was we would get that, and I would get like a travel allowance and like a meal out. Alright. So, you know, what I did was, I would basically try and take as much money as I could, and I would stash that into my investments. And yeah, it sort of it almost became like a bit of an obsession. Like I was thinking, Well, I got a 70% savings rate this month, what can I get next month? Oh, I’ve got it to, you know, 75. And I sort of push myself, and I would, and I would I post this publicly on my blog, you know, not like, you know, how much money but I would, you know, I would put the percentages. And it was almost like I was bragging about oh, wow, look at look at how little I can live on. And it’s like a bit of a feedback loop. Because a lot of people are like, Wow, good, good work, man. Like you, you are going to retire in no time at all. Yeah, so reducing your expenses can really only go so far. And it’s important, everyone should do it. Okay, because we generally, very wasteful consumers, you know, things like looking at a plant based diet, you know, negotiating a better deal on your insurance, actually looking at do you need that level of cover for insurance. And again, by the way, that can be a massive trap. Because I’ve seen I’ve seen people change their insurances or change their super, and they’ve lost like income protection insurance, or all that, or something like that. So this is where you have to be really careful when you’re reducing your expenses to actually know what you’re talking about and speak to in this case, I think it’s important to speak to a financial advisor regarding, you know, the insurance and the covering aspect. Because if you change, for example, super products, and you don’t realize you’re losing your insurance, like, oh, man, that’s such an issue. And it’s something that I don’t like is that interlinking of insurance and investment products. And so it’s almost like a trade off. Right. And so this is, I guess, one of the reasons why the FIE community like to separate and why it’s super is probably not super popular, it obviously has its place because normal retirement fits within an early retirement. But there are these little idiosyncrasies, I guess as to why people would prefer to invest in a conventional brokerage account. Yeah. So reducing your expenses only goes only goes so far.

Jess Brady
You’re preaching to the choir here to a community of financial advisors. So we agree that the the trap of of insurance reducing at the cost of losing your your protection or safety net is a very dangerous game. But I think it’s an interesting irony that there’s communities out there that are so they’re designed to help you live a life. I mean, that’s what the fire movements really designed to do. So that you’ve got all this time. But then if you develop a really unhealthy relationship with money, you can have so much guilt and fear around spending and I have seen that tell me what your relation Cheap with money is like today.

Captain FI
Yeah. So well, for example, yesterday, I went out and got takeout for dinner was awesome. So that rare. Yeah, I try, I try and like go once a week now. And like, there’s like a restaurant and it has like $10 meals on on Wednesdays. So, you know, it’s I just got a couple of takeaway pizzas, which is cool one to eat, and then one for the fridge. But yeah, I think I definitely relaxed a lot, because when I was when I was in the thick of it. And to set some context, you know, I was working in pretty high stress job. And we’re going through some family health emergencies, I was living into state, and I felt really trapped and out of control of my life. And so I really had latched on to the fire movement, and it was becoming a bit of a coping mechanism for me. And I was coming at it from a scarcity mindset, which is, I need to reduce my expenses as low as I can, so that I can, you know, invest as much as possible, so that I can build passive income so that I can have my time back. And it was this hamster wheel effect. And so when you look at like, you know, the steps to fire after reducing your expenses comes boosting your income. And so, you know, again, another cliche line, you can only save so much, but your ability to earn is unlimited. Yes, is if you if you’re an employee, or even if you’re self employed, and you want to build up, you know, some passive income from some investments. So you want to, you know, build capital, for whatever reason, I was just gonna say, if you can, if you can reduce your expenses, you can live off less, which means you’ve got more to save invest, it also means you can potentially work less and pay less tax, not the paying tax is a bad thing. But I’m saying if you can live off less, you don’t need to earn as much. So that makes it a little bit more efficient. And when we’re talking about fire, and the 4% rule, the 25 rule, you don’t need as much saved up. So reducing your expenses is an effective way to strategy towards financial independence. However, it can lead you to this trap of guilt, with anything to do with spending, and it can make you miserable. So, really boosting your income, I think should be given a lot more like influence over reducing your expenses. Like, of course, you can’t be silly with your money and go and go out buying crap and expect you know, to be on top of your money. But as long as you know, you’ve had a good crack at these steps, and you try to do the right thing. There’s no problem with a little bit of spending on stuff that makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just seeking happiness, right?

Jess Brady
How long did it take to get you to the point where you are happy to accept that?

Captain FI
Yeah. So look, I I go on to like a counselor, like a therapist. And that’s been awesome. And that’s helped me sort of realize why I did, why, what I did. And so, you know, I’ve sort of been to seeing therapists now for about a year. And it’s been awesome. Really, I got to the point of leading flying, and everything sort of boiled boiled over. And it was when it really was the catalyzing event was my mom sickness. So my mum has cancer. And, yeah, I just needed to get home to Adelaide. And I guess that was the thing that reinforce like, oh, I need to get home to see her. I’ll just save even more money so that I can quit my job sort of thing. And then when she sort of took her health took a turn, that was kind of like the catalyst. So I had sort of reached my figure from quote unquote, like passive income I from a plan to sell down my share portfolio, plus rental income from a investment property which was which is almost finished. Thanks COVID delay hashtag just firstworldproblems. And again, that like fire number was a very, I call it single fire or you know, some people call it lean fire. It’s basically you’re not really spending much amount and that’s this thing about fire is that your savings rate the formula basically, is if you can save, you know 25 times your annual expenses, you can retire based on some some investment and maths studies called the Trinity study. There’s heaps of cool stuff that you can read up about that online. And there’s a great graph on Mister Money Mustache, its website, which shows the savings rate and the years to fire or financial independence. And so you know, the average I’m gonna just thinking off the top my head here, I could be wrong On but you know, your average Australian savings rate swap that 10%, something like that.

Jess Brady
It’s grown during COVID. But I don’t know what it is right now.

Captain FI
Yeah, it’s, well, it’s pretty sad. Either way, it’s pretty sad.

Jess Brady
It’s sad, we’ll just call it sad.

Captain FI
And if you say that amount of money invested in, you know, boring index funds, it takes something like 50 years or so, something like that, to, to be able to support yourself on it. But the proviso is, as long as you don’t inflate your spinning once you stop work, that’s the providing this format. So if you can get to like a 50% savings, right, which is pretty reasonable. And I know a lot of people that aren’t interested in fire, and just a lot of friends that I’ve worked with, and people I’ve gone to school with. And they say, oh, yeah, I try and save 50% of my income. And so that’s like a pretty reasonable figure, I think that’s a 17 year career. So if you if you work for 17 years, and you’re consistently saving half of your income, you’re investing into diversified index funds, after 17 and a half years, you should be able to draw down 4% of that portfolio every year. And you’ll be left with the same amount of income that you had when you’re working. So that’s how the theory works, right. But then as you start to go higher, say you go to like an 80% savings rate, then it’s like eight years, or maybe maybe it’s even a little bit low, I think it might be six years. And so that’s the trap that I got into, I was like, I’m going to boost my savings rate as in the percentage of my take home salary that I save and invest as high as possible. And, you know, some months, it was even, like, 90 the same. And again, I don’t want to anyone to think that I was like, you know, living in a cardboard box or anything like I had subsidized housing from work. And you know, I had food, because be handed freezers in flight. And you know, so I still, I still felt like I had a, an okay, life. I just didn’t do the things that my colleagues were doing, like I wasn’t financing new cars, or buying a $2 million home in double bay, that kind of stuff. So

Jess Brady
but it had, it had pretty significant life consequences for you, right?

Captain FI
Yeah, it did. So one of the things that, you know, got, I started to get really anxious about spending money. And when it was like, you know, whether that would be taking in interstate flight home to see a partner, or, you know, just going out for dinner, that kind of stuff. It kind of made me feel really, really guilty about the spending because I wanted to, I wanted to save and invest that money. And so that’s where it sort of became, I think, a bit of an unhealthy obsession. The nature of my work was that I worked a lot, like ridiculous hours, like, I mean, 80 hour weeks, were not uncommon, as well as you know, being overseas. And I loved that I chased as much of those trips, overseas bases as possible, because I wanted the money. And again, weather again, that was probably linking into, I wanted the money so that I could have a higher savings rate as possible. And so the fact that I was like away, I think it did have negative effects on my mental health, not being able to support my family. And yeah, when I was working in Dubai, was there for a while. And yeah, it was really challenging, maintaining long distance relationship.

Jess Brady
No, it’s okay. It’s a beautiful irony in that. And look, this is why I was so keen to have you on today. Because I think financial advisors don’t often hear from people who have done this much earlier in their life to think about how they could have supported people like yourself through the journey better. But one of the most beautiful ironies, I think, in these situations, is that many people today are working so hard to have financial independence, to help themselves lived the best life they can or help their family. But in the quest to do that, they become extremely unhealthy, either physically or mentally. So they’re not in a good health position to enjoy any of the time that they’re able to create, if they do become financially independent. Hopefully, they make it there. And what state the relationships we’ll be in with the people they’ve worked hard to build a life for. That’s a big unknown as well. So I think there’s this really interesting, unspoken about irony, where people are working so hard to help themselves and others, but in the quest to do that, they are damaging those relationships.

Captain FI
Yeah. 100%. And so if I had, you know, if I could have a conversation myself, or if I could sit down with a financial advisor, what I would want them to have told me is like, amen, chill, like, you’re good. You are good. You’re on a good income. You know, you’re not, you know, pissing it up against the proverbial wall on lottery tickets and, you know, other wasteful spending. It would just be Hey, ain’t like just just take a deep breath. It’s okay. Maybe you need to go and chat to like a counselor and work out some other things that are going on in your life and stop projecting that onto your personal finances. That’s that’s probably not it’s really hard one, probably not, I’d like to I would, I would hope that I would have by I, you know, I got pretty like, like I was pretty into this. And it did make me a little bit miserable. And I just felt like, I’ve got to double down like, I got to just that little bit more. And it’s that trap. And a lot of people in this like the fire community, can you get in that trap of just one more day, just one more percent savings. I’ll just work another week, I’ll just work another month, like, because I think like a lot of it is like this fear and this uncertainty and maybe this anxiety of the unknown. And craving stability. And so having sort of passively is a little bit more stability. So yeah, so I guess my advice, or my early stuff would be just just chill, take take deep breath.

Jess Brady
It brings up a fascinating question, which I think we should all ask ourselves, not only our clients, but you know, what is enough? When is enough? And that’s a really big question that I think is quite confronting, because there’s always another day to work. There’s always another week to work. There’s always more that you could do. But it’s like, at what cost and what trade off? Am I prepared to make? And where is the line and in a in a society where we teach people that working hard is everything, it can really normalize a really toxic culture where this exists, and people are really mentally unwell. And it comes out in either overspending or underspending. And we don’t even really talk about it.

Captain FI
Yeah, I think I definitely manifested that with with this underspending as a bit of a coping mechanism. I think sustainability is really important, not just in terms of, you know, doing the right thing by the environment, or being, you know, sustainable, and that not wasting all your money. But like, I’ll give an example with sorts, I have some seedlings that I’m growing at the moment, and I have some that like, they literally just like shut up. And so they’re really, really tall, but they’re very like, lanky, and they’re very flimsy. And there’s some really strong wind that came and this little metaphor, but it literally snapped a couple of miles really annoyed, so I wanted to put my snow peas in. But I had some other ones which seemed to be a bit slower, and they were like, a little bit fatter and, and shorter. And they sort of survived the wind. And so they’re the ones that are getting planted out later this afternoon. And so, I like to think it was like you think of a tree like, you know, a really tall, skinny one, and it’s gonna get blown over, but a nice solid, one with a good foundation, big roots and a thick trunk, it’s going to be able to weather a lot more. So, you know, rather than just kind of like dashing mad dash for financial independence, it’s probably better to just sort of have more solid foundation and yeah, doing sort of sacrifice, they sacrifice today’s happiness, for defer for future happiness. Like, obviously, delayed gratification is important. But it’s about finding the line that is balanced. And I would think for most people, that balance is probably somewhere not too far from the 50% savings, right? Like, people are probably going to think I’m insane saying that. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to to save half your income. And look, I’m saying that coming from a position of privilege, like I did have an amazing start in my life, like my mom sacrificed pretty much everything for me and my sisters. And were able to get, you know, an education. I did well in school in the last two years, I went from basically getting expelled and drop out. You know, I had to go into like, 20 different schools. But the last two were, were two very financial years, me and my mom really supported me. And I was able to get a scholarship and get paid to study and then I got a I got a good, stable job out of it. So, you know, not everyone’s going to be in a position to easily save half their income. But you know, it’s almost effortlessly easy at the higher income levels. But it’s equally it’s almost more important to learn how to save and be frugal on lower income levels.

Jess Brady
Yeah, and I mean, you’re someone who given the childhood that you had, you’re pretty passionate about making sure that specifically women are financially literate.

Captain FI
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like if you look at any figures, any like data race, and it basically shows that women are way better at money running companies, etc. You know, the men. I said, get like have, you know, you get told off for, for savings like this, but even like, in my experience as a pilot, we found that women make safer pilots and less impulsive, more well rounded. And it’s like, oh, you can’t see that. Like, that’s, that’s sexist. But, hey, it’s just an observation. I think when when women, and you know, as preachers, the sounds being a guy, but I think, you know, when women are empowered with finance and wealth, it benefits the community. So there’s definitely an awesome example of this with micro loans. So I’ll, I’ll send you a link to an article. But it’s basically, in the developing nations where small loans given to women in the community, you look at where that money goes, it gets reinvested back into the community, and overall, it builds the economy. Whereas when the the loans are given to men, it just disappears. So I think that that empathy that typically is associated with women, when mixed with finance can have amazing benefits for everyone. So a case in point was my mom, so she escaped an abusive relationship with my dad, who was at the time as a drug addict. He still is. And he was he was very controlling, and you know, physically in financial, financially abusive to mom. And I asked her, I remember I asked you about this recently, she said, Well, she worked in early childhood, she was a teacher. And she’s like, she knew the importance of those formative years on braids. And she said, I don’t want to raise kids in an environment that normalizes treating women like this. And so yeah, so she she left. And you know, the irony is, she has literally worked herself, you know, to the point of death, she has terminal illness. She works, how hard are 42 years to to build a better life and not receiving child support from my dad made it really, really hard for her for her. Yeah, so I just, you know, she made it work. But had she received the support that, you know, legally she was entitled to, I think her life would have been a lot easier. So yeah, I think financial independence is important for everyone. But it’s super important for women, because they’re typically more vulnerable. And they typically come off financially worse off in a relationship. And just for no other practical reason, then, you know, if you take time off, to have children, a you’re not earning money to all of that lost time and capital, like, my mom would do everything, like she would cook, she would clean, she would babysit, like these are all tasks that super rich people would pay someone to do. Whereas women are just expected to do this, because they’re a mom. And when you combine that with like, you know, the pay gap, it really does screw over, you know, not just Australia, but women everywhere. So, so that’s why I think financial literacy is important for everyone, but especially important for women completely agree.

Jess Brady
And obviously, that was a bit of a baited question, because I know that you’re about it. And you know, I’m about it, too. But um, you know, just thinking about your mom’s story. And it’s, it’s a really hard story. And thank you for sharing, because it wouldn’t be an easy story to tell. I wonder if that’s why so many millennials are so interested in this movement, because so many of us have watched our parents work themselves to the bone. And not everyone makes it to retirement, which is a really awful, sad story. But financial advisors are so good at telling people you know, in X amount of years, often decades away, you’re going to have this great opportunity to have a great life and so many younger people are going well. I’ve watched what it takes to get there. And what if I don’t? What if I don’t get there? And and maybe Surely, there has to be a better way and I wonder if that’s why we are obsessed might not be the right word, but why this movement has taken off because

Captain FI
yeah, well it is. Yeah, it’s it’s kind of it’s a concept it’s like a dream, you know, you’re not it you’re not saying like it’s not saying like or selling Ah, you must index fund investor, you must save as much money as possible. It’s really about you know, it’s this concept of time and having a bit more control over your over your life. I mean, who doesn’t want that? You know, and when you think like, oh my god, do I have to work every day in my life just so that I can buy expensive shit that I don’t really want Hey, I’d love a Land Cruiser. But you know what my station wagon does just fine. So I don’t need to spend $200,000 on a car, that yen where I was, you know, in my, with my my colleagues like that was normal to buy a land cruiser or an A level, you know, European luxury like executive suite car like, you know, Mercedes or something expensive like that it was almost. Yeah. So I think a lot of people are kind of in the form of this sort of rejecting this status crap. You know, like, I need the latest iPhone, you know, I need the latest car, I need to make people think I’m successful and to make people like me. I think they’re just sort of rejecting that narrative. Mm hmm.

Jess Brady
Which is awesome. And I think one of the things listening to your story and learning more about you is this idea that more and more people need to detach that worth from their work. Because I think that that in itself is a whole fascinating conundrum, which, unfortunately, we don’t have time for today. But I think that in itself is a whole different discussion point. Can I ask you, before we get to rapid fire questions, what is next for you?

Captain FI
That’s a really good question. So look, under like the whole boosting my income in the side hustle thing. I’ve really seen the power of cynic turning a side hustle into a business versus sort of scaling and outsourcing. Yep. Which is why I say it makes me feel like a bit of a cheat when it comes to fire. Because, you know, I’ve worked hard, I’ve sacrificed I’ve built up a portfolio of index funds. But, you know, the revenue from the business is more than, than I make it, like in a month is more than I’m making in a year from from dividends. And so what I’m doing is I’m reinvesting all the all that money that I’m that the business is earning, and I’m deleting now, by the way, it’s not my money, it belongs to the business as a separate entity for me. So I need to, you know, detach this concept, because until it’s until it’s been paid, until taxes be paid on it, it’s paid, it’s my account, and then I pay income tax on it, it’s not my money, it’s the business money. But so I am using the business’s money to grow at scale. And so I’ve hired contractors, we’ve got an awesome team of staff now. And yeah, I’m just gonna, you know, slowly work on that, you know, it only takes, you know, I’m spending a couple of afternoons a week on it. Because that’s, you know, I want to see it grow. But I’m spending a lot of my time with my family. So, like I said, it’s a bit of a, have just lost the word I’m looking for. It’s like a very personal time, at the moment, as we’re sort of dealing with sort of our grief, as, you know, early my mom, but my dad, who has moved back to Australia and has moved to Adelaide, he’s getting medical treatment, they both actually are at the end of their lives. And so it’s like, intimate, this is what I’m looking for. Sorry. So it’s a very intimate time. So I’m trying to, I’m trying to really prioritize spending a lot of time with my family. And just focusing as well on myself, like, fixing out some injuries that I’ve got, from my my flying career, you know, working on improving my mental health, prioritizing, for me also romantic relationships. Because a goal of mine was a very powerful movie, defining goal for me was wanting to be a dad and not wanting to be a ship dad, like my dad, like I wanted to be a great dad. And having time to allocate with my children is something that’s really important to me, because my dad never really did that. For me. So that’s maybe that’s like my paternal wounds coming out. But so for me, I’m planning to, you know, I want to slowly continue to grow, empower my staff to keep growing a business. You know, I still, I still want to nurture my investments. I want to look at maybe getting a patch of land somewhere that I can plan on my trees, and just spend time with family and friends. And basically just try to take a deep breath and being like, hey, not everything has to happen all at once. Just just chill. So yeah, that’s, that’s what I got in store.

Jess Brady
I was gonna start asking you my rapid fire questions. And the first one was going to be what do you do to look after your mental health, but I feel like you’ve just answered that. Just went yeah.

Captain FI
Yeah, yeah. So I think physically, you know, first of all, if we talk about mental health, like everyone says, Oh, just gonna get sunlight exercise and yeah, and eat a good diet, like those things do help. But also some people need antidepressants. And I would just say, Go and seek out go and see a counselor like this. No shame. CGP get a mental health treatment plan. I think they give you like eight sessions on Medicare, go and go and chat to a psychologist. A lot of people probably don’t realize the pressure that they might be under. There’s no shame. There’s no stigma. Maybe in some, in some industries, like definitely in aviation, there was I’m not gonna lie. But there shouldn’t be a stigma about oh, there isn’t financial advice. Yeah. So for mental health, like I talked to a psychologist, it’s awesome. I look forward to it. And you know, it’s good. It’s good to see maybe this is what I needed to do earlier, when someone would just say to me, Hey, you don’t need a crazy savings, right? Maybe I didn’t need a financial advisor. Maybe I need a psychologist. In addition to seeing a therapist, I do, do you know, all those sorts of things, I try and stay active, I swim, I spend time cuddling my dog, spend time with my family, and just try and do things that make me happy like puttering around in the garden. Yeah, that’s that I do.

Jess Brady
Love that. Again, I feel like you’ve already spent a lot of time explaining this. But just in case, there’s anything left on the table piece of advice that you’d give to your younger stuff.

Captain FI
No, I did have one reserved for this. So I would say to myself, I would say just care less about what other people think about you. Maybe you don’t need to seek people’s approval, whether that’s your peers, or in my case, I spent a lot of time trying to impress my dad, or, you know, wanting my dad to be proud of me. So it made me come back into my life. But I would say like, you don’t need approval, you don’t need it. And that translates into the finance aspect. You don’t need a perfect portfolio, just have a go. Like it’s better to dip a toe and start rough, even if it’s small amounts of money. And maybe you have some garbage investment, because you don’t understand it yet. But at least he started and then you can start to improve. So yeah, I would just say like, don’t measure yourself by other people’s viewpoints of view. Just compare yourself to how you were yesterday.

Jess Brady
Yes. Great. Um, what is something that’s on your bucket list?

Captain FI
Okay, this is a really hard one. And it was like, Oh, what a climb Everest. So I want to travel the world. I’ve done a lot of traveling for work. And I’m a little bit jaded because I kind of hate queuing up and that kind of stuff. And I’m a bit cynical. But honestly, things on my bucket list, I want to build my permaculture food forest. And I literally want to nourish as many people as I can, including kids. So for me, my bucket list, I just want to be a great dad. I just want to be there. I just want to be like that lame dad that like when the kids come home. And they’re like, you know, the dad makes some joke, and everyone groans and then, you know, I just I want to always there. So I just Yeah, I want to be there and I want to just grow plants. I don’t really have any like grandiose desires to build a skyscraper or go to space or anything like that.

Jess Brady
I think that’s a very beautiful thing to have on your bucket list. And again, don’t judge by what other people are doing. So you just do your you’re running your own race. Um, my friend last Rapid Fire question, and I couldn’t we have scratched the surface, we could have gone down just one path. But I really wanted to talk about all of the different interesting viewpoints with you today. But my last question to you, as part of my rapid fire questions is do you have a book for me to read as, as part of my fake book club?

Captain FI
Okay. I have a huge list of books that I absolutely love. And there’s a couple that have been really influential on my life. Am I allowed to Allah to recommend more than one or do I have to just stretch I have to limit to one.

Jess Brady
Well, look, this list is out of control now because I asked every awesome guest to give me their book. And so if you have a few,

Captain FI
yeah, okay. All right. So in terms of like fire, an awesome book to read is The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins, and you can read this online for free on his website. Now he just can just condensed into a book. So this would be awesome for like financial advisors to read just as much as it would be for your average punter. It’s really cool. The first one I usually recommend to everyone, right? And it’s a bit cliche and the author is a bit you know, SAS. Maybe I can’t sell it or I get sued. Robert Kiyosaki Rich Dad, Poor Dad. All right. It’s a foundational book, I think when we discussed the steps to fire and we talked with scripture about step one being start with why or your wildfire, sparking the fire. I think this book is really good for that. So it doesn’t give you any practical advice about like, open this account, invest in this product, like do this do that. It doesn’t tell you anything like that. All it is, is it’s a bit of a parabola. And you could sort of liken it to maybe like a biblical parable, and it will teach you what is an asset, and what is a liability. And so that’s a really foundational one to read. Well, of course, we mentioned that, but before Vicki Robbins, your money or your life, I think this is a book that I needed, I need to read again. And even though I read it and understood it, I think I’ve maybe misinterpreted and if I had have picked up her underlying message, it might have been, hey, maybe you don’t have to work so hard and have a 90% savings rate to reach fire. Because really, it’s about life energy, this concept of your time being life, energy, and money in just being a physical manifestation of your life energy. So those those are like three awesome books that I love. I think they’re suited to an international audience. And yeah, but the four hour workweek was, I think, what really accelerated me to financial independence through through the website upstairs. Yeah. Yeah. So I think I’ve broken the rules there by

Jess Brady
the rules. You have broken the rules, but I’m grateful for it. And I’m sure the listeners are too. Yeah. Hey, you have had such a journey. I’m you are 31.

Captain FI
Yeah, but my back tells me that I’m a lot older than that. Well, I want to say

Jess Brady
on behalf of your back, that I know that it’s been a long, hard journey, and you should be so proud of yourself. It’s so exciting to have learned what you’ve learned to have experienced all the things not all good. But to have come this far this young with so much life ahead of you to explore and enjoy. I just want to say a huge congratulations to you and a very, very good luck on your journey and your dad jokes.

Captain FI
Thanks. Thanks very much, Jess. Appreciate it. It’s some. Sometimes it’s hard to take compliments. And yeah, I know like I definitely. I’m guilty can be a bit guilty of moving the goalposts and but now I really appreciate that. So thank you.

Jess Brady
No worries, loved having you on

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