First I’ve got to clear the air this article was inspired by the Monevator’s article “What’s your financial origin story?” The challenge has been taken up by Sovereign Quest and was an amazing opportunity for some self-reflection.
This introspection is definitely welcome as a thought experiment. Why have I fallen head over heels for personal finance? What motivates me to stick with it and more importantly what was the deciding factor?
Who am I?
At the time of writing this, I’m a 24-year-old Swiss expat based in London. I won’t divulge my exact net worth but I’m 2 years into my personal finance journey and loving it! By day, I strategize and grow revenue for hotels across Europe as a Cluster Revenue Manager and by night I work on Cent by Cent.
Now that we know where I am, how about we discover how I got here?
My financial origin story starts in Lausanne Switzerland. Where I grew up in a blue-collar family. My paternal grandfather had started his butchery from scratch in his 30s. My father took over the shop early in my childhood and has been running it ever since.
Lightning struck twice as entrepreneurship ran on both sides of the family. With my maternal grandfather traveling to East Africa and setting up a company there.
Being raised in not only a multicultural but business-minded environment meant I was exposed to “shop talk” from an early age. As a curious-minded kid, I would butt it and give my very “thoughtful” advice. At least I used to think it was…
Money was never taboo at our table. My family would discuss investments, financial upswing, and downfalls alike. This candor and openness gave me the bug for good deals. To such an extent that some could see it as cheap. I see it as thrifty.
Every cent has a purpose
From my 11th birthday, the Christmas holidays were spent helping around the shop. The frenzy would go crescendo until the 24th of December. It was complete pandemonium and hard work.
Although, some parents would have expected the help and given nothing in return. Mine saw it differently. In their eyes, any job deserves a reward. They taught my sister and me, that every franc had to be earned. Whether it was through chores, work at the shop, or in general.
Your work won’t always pay off but you need to learn the value of each cent.My father
Growing up I would, of course, spend my money on silly impulses from video games to sodas. Yet all these “blows” to my net worth were a learning step.
I might have spent a little too much money on Steam… But the hours of joy follow me to this day. Say what you will but managing an in-game economy in MMORPGs had a lot to do with my origin story as well.
As I got the university… I was able to find side jobs as a waiter, bar manager, or simply event staff. It was relatively well paid and allowed me to fund my backpacking trips.
My aim was to discover the world on a budget and on my dime. It led me to 3 continents and unforgettable experiences. When I say budget I mean it… I spent a month in Indonesia for a total cost of $1200 flights included.
Of course, I could have started investing earlier or saving aggressively. But the worthwhile investment in my eyes was to expand my mind and grow my knowledge of the world.
Money isn’t happiness
As I was graduating in 2018, I decided I wanted to leave Switzerland. Although, the cushy salaries were attractive – I could always come back. No departure is definitive but the risk of being locked in a golden prison was too high. I discuss this more in my article “Should I live Abroad? To Leave or Not To Leave”.
My dream was to work in a strategic role of some capacity. The opportunity to join a brand new graduate program in Revenue Management was perfect. So I packed my bags and flew out to London. On the way there I waved goodbye to Swiss Salaries.
It was the financial kick in the butt… I was breaking even monthly sometimes saving as much as 10%. But always looking over my shoulder raised a red flag. It was time for a change in my financial philosophy. Down the rabbit hole of Personal Finance, I went.
It started with Graham Stephan on YouTube, which led a couple of years later to starting Cent by Cent.
Throughout the first 18 months of my contract, I managed to settle my savings at 10% monthly. My Net Worth wasn’t going leaps and bounds but at least, I built my Emergency Fund. A safety net of 4.5 months of expenses saved up in case hard times hit!
2020 the game changer
And oh boy did they… As 2020 came around I was promoted and saw a salary increase of 50%. A game-changer I would be able to save and invest almost 50% of my salary!
The only problem? My flatmate left leaving with a full rent to pay. I could have found a replacement right? Well… COVID-19 hit and no one was going anywhere. I quickly found myself on furlough and having my income match my expenses.
For almost 6 months, my current account would show £100 before needing to reach into my emergency fund. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have my emergency fund. On the other hand, it was an amazing opportunity to review my expenses and learn to live a more frugal lifestyle.
I realized that I miss very little. The opportunity to fly home once in a while, pay rent now that I moved in with my lovely girlfriend, and put food on the table. Those are the true essentials! Thankfully since October, I’ve returned to full-time employment. Since then I can proudly say that I’ve consistently been saving 40+% of my income.
Where am I now?
I’ll be turning 25 in June… and although Financial Independence is a long way. The journey has been thrilling so far. Most of my investments sit with Vanguard in different ETFs and grow monthly. As I look to the future, I draw inspiration from practical guides and build my plans accordingly
It might take me more than 10 years to achieve Financial Independence but articles like “How To Become Financially Independent in 10 Years” are a source of practical inspiration.
Cent by Cent is yet to generate revenue but allows me to share what I’ve learnt so far. My net worth grows more every month and keeps me focused on my goal! Personal Finance might be personal but it’s a team effort. By working together and sharing our tips and tricks we all move forward.
What is your Personal Finance Story? How far along of the journey are you?