Hi all.... figured I should do the obligatory introduction post.
My initials are MM so I feel at home! I only just discovered the Mr Money Mustache blog and all of the financial concepts within, and reading that damned thing has been like getting a sledgehammer to the head. I honestly can't believe how much it has made me reassess my life and how wastefully I've been living it until now. I can't believe how many bad decisions I've made and how much has gone right over my head before now.
So a little background. I live in London, UK. I was raised by a single parent and we moved around a lot, pulling what she called 'midnight flits', where you pile everything into a car and disappear in the night when you can't pay rent. Essentially, we were being chased by debt agencies and running from landlords all the time. I inherited zero financial acumen. In fact, the only thing I did inherit was a bad credit score... imagine, aged 18 filling in a form for my first Store Card and being refused due to bad credit, when I'd barely even had a bank account for 5 minutes. Insane, right?
Anyway, despite this, there is a frugal soul in me somewhere trying to get out. You have to have something of that nature when you've lived hand to mouth growing up. I was very frugal until I hit 19 when I went to University, where I was given a lot of very easy low interest credit and soon picked up bad habits. I also did an unpaid internship in London for half a year which gave me my first mountain of credit card debt, and it's been a downhill tumble ever since.
But the Mustachian way of life and the ideas I'm finding in this forum have shown me that I have a lot of reasons to be positive and that I don't need to be a wage slave, fighting the tide of debt forever. I turned 30 last May, and I got nearly a 30% pay rise the same month. I started plowing 25% of my earnings into debt repayment and always hoped to clear it all by the end of this year......... but now I'm feeling a lot more ambitious. I'm going to clear that debt AND I'm going to save every extra penny I can and put it in the UK Government's new Help to Buy ISA for first time home buyers, which will yield 25% free money on your end sum (you can put in £200 max per month and when you want to put down a deposit on a home, the Gov will give you 25% of what you've saved on top tax free, so say I saved £10k, the Gov will top it up £2500... not freaking bad).
Why? The first step to FI for anyone living and working in London is not renting. Renting is hell. I want to buy a home far away enough for the mortgage repayments to be miniscule, and commute in (with weekday couch surfing where possible) until I've saved enough to start making some investments, making all that hard work really pay at last.
I won't be retiring at 30(!) but by 40 I want to be a homeowner, working part time, investing in a small way, and by 50 I want to be investing in a big way and to be living completely FREE.
MMM says that FI is when you have complete command of your own time. Honestly that's all I've ever wanted in life, the thing I've dreamed of for years, but the trouble is, received wisdom has always been it's impossible - "the only way to be successful is to climb the greasy work pole, earn more and work all the way until retirement aged 68". That's what all my consumerist friends believe and I have also believed that. I feel quite foolish now.
I know what I have to do and I know I can do it. It's scary but I feel determination like I've never felt before, to learn everything I can about investment and financial management from now on. So thank you all in advance for all the tips, advice, thoughts and clarity you're offering here. It makes a real difference to newbs like myself.