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Live it up like a graduate student and save a fortune

A sophisticated bohemian with a pipe, living the dream.

I had an older friend in college in the 1990s called Guy who was significantly cooler than me.

Guy got his mathematics PhD two years early. So far so nerdy. But like the best Chinese food, French movies, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, everything else was contrast.

Guy was a geek, but he had silky long hair that would have flattered the court of the Sun King. He seemed relatively disinterested in women but had a whip smart lover who looked like Maria Carey studying biochemistry. He saw the world in numbers but freelanced for the NME. He taught me a lot, and was generous in other ways, too.

“I read your short stories, you’re the next Martin Amis except you’re nicer to your girlfriend,” he said. “Come over for dinner.”

The graduate student lifestyle of kings

Guy shared a place with Faux Maria in Ladbroke Grove. It was a trendy area on the front line of gentrification. I didn’t know anyone else who lived there.

In fact, I didn’t know anyone else with their own flat. Everyone I knew lived in a crowded prototype of Big Bang Theory before technology was hip and deodorant was universal.

Guy welcomed me in with a smile and some quip about his castle.

The flat was on the first floor. Evening light fell through bay windows that would cost millions to buy in situ a few years later. There was no carpet, just rum-hued floorboards. You could see the worn heads of nails.

It looked like a photo shoot. But not pristine – everything was a bit battered and scruffy.

There were brown leather armchairs, wire shelves, a mannequin in the corner wearing a combat jacket, other intriguing stuff. It seemed like someone had cherry-picked the best of Portobello Market, but Maria said they’d found most of it in skips. All around, houses were being gutted and refurbished. Maria had an eye for the best of what these developers were throwing out.

Guy made me a cocktail – he’d just got into them – and joked he should be wearing a smoking jacket. The ice in the battered silver shaker sounded sophisticated.

Later he poured me the first glass of red wine I can remember drinking, because it was memorable, and told me he’d started spending more than £3 a bottle on that, too.

They made Thai food, also trendy then, and we listened to the vinyl stacked on the shelves. Like my other friends, I had a CD Walkman that plugged into a cassette player that I’d brought up from my teenage bedroom. Guy had black separate units he’d wired into the sort of Marshall speakers I’d seen at gigs.

They lit some candles and a spliff, and things sparkled.

I wasn’t half as good a writer as Martin Amis – I was a grungy student who’d recently ploughed through Marx.

But I now knew I needed some money from somewhere because I wanted to live like Guy.

Living well on less

Here’s the thing – Guy’s lifestyle wasn’t expensive. All his stuff was cheap, artsy, and secondhand. His flat was well located if you didn’t mind the drug dealers. But it wasn’t massive.

He and his girlfriend went to two or three gigs a week, but it was all free, either through NME or the student newspaper. Thai is cheap to cook and eat from plates off your lap. Billionaires listen to the same good music as the rest of us.

I’ve had some lucky breaks in life – my saving gene, my frugal dad – and another was being entranced at an impressionable age by Guy’s graduate student lifestyle.

I have friends who grew up wanting the same sports car as their uncle, or a cupboard full of expensive high heels.

I wanted my own secondhand separates system on a wooden floor.

And for many years, with variations, that’s what I got.

My DIY Guy

I lived below my means for decades. I rarely felt like I was doing without.

I didn’t drive, own more than one suit, or refurbish a kitchen.

I ate out and partied around the world in my 20s, but it was almost all through my (lowly paid) work.

I created this blog, which was a cheap, time-consuming hobby. Eventually it even made a few quid.

I didn’t have kids, which probably shortened relationships but helped my bank balance. New partners tended to be taken with the whole bohemian investor angle.

I pushed it for as long as anyone I knew.

Graduating from the eternal student lifestyle

To be fair, I have spent more in recent years.

I’ve certainly long stopped cutting away like my zealous co-blogger, The Accumulator. I’ve felt like a spendthrift buying a discounted Ted Baker jacket at TK Maxx or taking the odd Uber instead of a night bus.

But I’ve still been saving around half my income.

It was only when I hit 40 that I began to feel a bit sheepish having people over. Not old friends – you’d eat fish and chips in a tent with them – but new people I met later in life.

By then I’d been sharing a house with a pal from university for a few years. It was a good arrangement – we had lots of space and a social circle in common – but we’d begun to be joked about as a married couple who’d die together.

We were definitely a couple who didn’t want to spend anything on where we lived. Instead we saved for the ever-postponed future homes of our own. And it began to show.

Some people all but asked me where it had all gone wrong. My assets were invisible, up in the floating world, and I rarely talked about money. (I always talk about investing, but that’s different.)

It’s nice to think you are immune from all this but let’s be honest: Few of us look at those tin can collecting millionaire tramps without asking if something hasn’t gone a little wrong.

After that it’s all a matter of degree.

Someone will say in the comments: “Ah, so you caved in to keep up with the Jones!”1 And I suppose I have, a bit.

The real story is I got bored of not spending, of semi-disposable furniture, of not hanging anything bigger than an ironic postcard on the wall.

I started to wonder why I was still working if it was just to save money I can’t touch, or to hit arbitrary targets.

I felt ready for something new – and willing to let go of obsessing over the maths.

And I like nice things! I’ve been making occasional sightseeing trips to Heals and Habitat since I graduated. My former housemate couldn’t care less – if you can’t plug it in he’s not interested – but I’ve always loved the boutique hotels I stayed in through work.

So I am going to recreate one here in my new home.

A time to save, and a time to spend

Just how much money my eternal graduate student habit saved me has become apparent since I bought my own flat.

I don’t even mean the heartbreaking cash evisceration of paying stamp duty. (Guaranteed to move anyone two paces to the right.)

I mean that complete lack of four-figure home-related purchases for my entire adult life.

I knew I’d saved by living like Guy for so long. But I thought mostly about rent or utility bills. I was used to paying those. I didn’t think much about the cost of furniture that didn’t come from friends, IKEA, or Gumtree.

Now the savings are clear – in a punch to the gut sort of way.

People have been spending like this since college? Really?

I’m like some hunter-gatherer brought to civilization and left staring at a wall of flatscreen TVs. After years of writing about how much stuff costs, I can’t quite believe it.

I’m set to spend 2-3% of my net worth making this place the home I want. I’ll shop well and kid myself I’m buying quality. I’ll get the odd affordable antique and claim it’s an investment. Really I know I’m stepping on to a treadmill.

I just ordered a mattress for £600!2 A year ago I promised myself I’d buy such a mattress after I woke up at a friend’s feeling as if I’d had a full body massage.

But £600? That’s £10,000 in tomorrow’s money!3

The mind reels.

Still, the money I’m spending on my flat – after 20-odd years of living light, saving, and compounding, remember – looks surplus to my foreseeable plans, given my aim is not to quit work anytime soon.

In unhappy contrast, a 40-something friend recently told me she’s yet to start a pension.

I can’t avoid being hit by that bus forever

Roughly 97% of my post-house purchase money should continue to compound unmolested. I’ll save less in the future, but I’ve realized I don’t want to be the richest eternal student in the graveyard.

When I was still dithering about buying my new flat, an ex-girlfriend asked me: “Well, what ARE you saving for then?”

I didn’t have a good answer.

Many of us have to learn to save. I’ve had to learn to spend.

But put it off for as long as you can, I say. Have eclectic tastes and comfortably scruffy friends. Keep dinner at the Indian a treat for as long as possible. Go to Menorca, not Barbados. Look after your things.

Have fun when you’re young and rich in other ways.

And save, save, save.

  1. They will probably be the same people who say everyone should be happy renting while opining from the comfort of their paid-up own homes, but hey ho. []
  2. Or £50 less through that link, and I get a referral fee too. Go on, it’ll help me pay for my new lavish lifestyle. []
  3. £600 compounded for 30 years at 10%. []

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{ 46 comments… add one }
  • 1 Accidental FIRE February 21, 2018, 5:51 pm

    Great post, love your writing style. I’m financially in dependent but also have struggled to “learn” to spend. I have spent lavishly on big trips many times in the past, but on most everything else I buy like a college student (or like your artsy friend Guy). The way I see it, as long as I’m happy and have what I need, I don’t see a need to change.

  • 2 MyRichFuture February 21, 2018, 6:26 pm

    Nice post, right from the heart. It will be good to revisit this in a year and then 5 years to see if your attitude has changed. Definitely a new chapter in your life has started. Best of luck.

  • 3 The Rhino February 21, 2018, 7:10 pm

    Question is, what’s Guy doing now?

  • 4 PF February 21, 2018, 9:15 pm

    What does Maria Carey studying biochemistry look like?

  • 5 Lad's Dad February 21, 2018, 9:21 pm

    Brilliantly reflective post and very thought provoking.

    Being a geek I amortise the cost of high value purchases to better internalise the cost. With an average lifespan of 10 years, your £600 matress will cost you £0.16 per sleep (excluding siesta’s!), which sounds like money well spent.

    Unfortunately this approach still doesn’t make Stamp Duty seem value for money…

    Hope you enjoy your new home!

  • 6 Dave February 22, 2018, 5:01 am

    Divide that by 8 hours to get 2 pence an hour!

    I had to go through this process a few years ago setting up my own place.

    I kept thinking things like: Curtains FFS! Why would I want to spend anything even approaching that on curtains?! Nevermind proper furniture.

    Then a good friend advised me: buy the best and you’ll only cry once.

    10 years later, same curtains, same sofa (got the cushions re-done), same pans etc etc and I say it was good advice!

    Lovely post and enjoy your house!

  • 7 Neverland February 22, 2018, 8:26 am

    @Rhino

    I think Guy is a literally device. In the early 90s my boss’ boss lived in Ladbroke Grove and he inherited the family baronetcy (sp?) eventually. Also so did David Cameron at the time if I recall correctly. I don’t really remember much about west London but by the time Notting Hill came out in the cinemas in 1999 that whole area had been pure money for nearly two decades

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notting_Hill#Late_20th_century_gentrification

  • 8 The Investor February 22, 2018, 9:22 am

    Guy (absent a few composited details) now lives on the South Coast; like most people his ilk and age I know/knew, he left London in the early 2000s.

    As for the area, this was the first half of the 1990s, the flat was the top / North Kensington end of Ladbroke Grove, and that area was far later to develop than core Notting Hill / Holland Park.

    I watched the area pretty closely from the day I arrived in London for various reasons, and it certainly wasn’t all “pure money” at the start. All Saints Road was long pretty colourful, and when gentrification finally hit it, the Evening Standard described it as recently having been the “front line” for the police.

    Even back in Notting Hill proper, I interviewed a band in the mid-90s in a massive Notting Hill terraced house where I pushed through the rickety door when nobody answered, called out and followed the replies, and looked up to see the band waving down through a hole in the ceiling!

    There was definitely already very expensive property around by then — and plenty more being refurbished etc — but it was not uniform.

    Just had a Google, here’s the Telegraph from 2004:

    People who live amid the 19th-century splendour of Holland Park now claim to live in Notting Hill, a place classed by police in 1987 as one of the three most troublesome inner-city areas of London.

    Thanks for the generous comments everyone else… hopefully we’ll get a few more war stories from the front line of retail therapy / consumer cash bleeding here!

  • 9 The Rhino February 22, 2018, 10:16 am

    @NL – yes, Guy is literally a device. Good to clear that up.

    A device living on the South Coast.. Just like me! A genius with a PhD in bistromathics who spends his days like Brody watching the horizon with a thousand yard stare waiting for the hundred year storm to come.. Maria Carey gazing wistfully from the sidelines, eyes glazed with a heady combination of love and lust, secretly wondering if that latest tit-job was a step too far?

    He sounds like a good lad?

  • 10 FIRE v London February 22, 2018, 10:39 am

    Brilliant post, @TI. Thank you.

    I still use, daily, the Monitor Audio speakers I bought in the early 1990s. Sadly the Pioneer A400 was thrown out last year, kaputt.

    I remember, in the early 2000s, when I had started to earn reasonable money, a friend remarking that London property had been more achievable back in 1995, as a fresh graduate, on a (decent) graduate salary, than it was for us less than 10 years later with salaries having roughly tripled. I had a look and she was right; a Marylebone flat would have cost me around £80k in 1995, i.e. around 3.5x income, and quickly spiralled above £250k. My earnings multiple capacity roughly kept pace but my ability to save the deposit definitely didn’t. And while the millennial generation must read these house prices and weep, we were dealing with mortgage interest rates of >7%+ back then of course.

    I remember Ladbroke Grove well. The area I worked in hasn’t even changed that much since then; it remains an area where every yard you travel counts.

    For me the key answer to “what are you saving *for*, exactly?” is ‘independence’. I infer that you are financially independent at this point but don’t recall if you have explicitly called that out? I am still not independent enough for my liking, albeit that is because I learnt to spend some years ago and you can’t unlearn things, right? Getting the balance right is much harder than simple FIRE formulas suggest.

    You allude to the hidden costs of ownership, and I await a future post about these. Quite apart from the four figure furnishings, as a landlord/property owner I am now confronting a damp issue, a hard-to-source repair, and a possibly public-safety-menacing exterior wall problem. “You’re throwing money away by renting” has never felt so inappropriate! Welcome to my world.

  • 11 Neverland February 22, 2018, 11:17 am

    @Investor

    Judging by this timeline you must be around c. 43 +/- 4 years since you went to university. Was it a big factor that if you left it much longer you wouldn’t have been able to get a standard term mortgage?

    It seems to me you simply made a bet against the UK housing market and ran out of time

  • 12 The Investor February 22, 2018, 11:33 am

    It seems to me you simply made a bet against the UK housing market and ran out of time.

    Yes, with nuances that pretty much sums it up. 🙂 But I will save discussing that side of things more for my dedicated house purchasing post in the next few weeks.

  • 13 The Investor February 22, 2018, 11:40 am

    @FireVL — I am vaguely, sort of, kinda financially independent, by my own rough terms, but it is definitely not in the sense that many would define it here or elsewhere. And it was very definitely calibrated on my old affluent graduate student lifestyle; I couldn’t keep spending like I expect to spend over the next few months forever! 🙂

    Keep in mind also I have no dependents and have in theory a lot of flex when it comes to potential curveballs. Makes a massive difference! Plus I am happy to keep working, on my terms, so all moot for now.

    Glad you liked the post, and thanks for the further London comments, which I can only underline in triplicate. More musings/moanings/opportunity for schadenfraude from some quarters in that future property post.

    But there will be no big clever reveal — it was ultimately an itch I had to scratch! I still think the renting is dead money argument is silly, skewed by 25 years of super-normal gains, and can be unpicked in interesting ways.

    E.g.:

    http://monevator.com/a-mortgage-is-money-rented-from-a-bank/

  • 14 Ducknald Don February 22, 2018, 12:11 pm

    I’ve owned for 30 years now. On paper it looks like a good investment but I’m not convinced it was the right decision. I had two forced moves due to changing work circumstances which incurs extra cost. Life would have been easier if I could have moved when my kids started secondary school and when they finished and right now there is a disruptive development going on right behind my house that I could do without. That’s without the additional spending you talked about that you don’t have with a rental.

  • 15 Survivor February 22, 2018, 12:25 pm

    There is a time for everything & this is your next experience, savour it & enjoy the fact that it is a nice thing to have the dilemma of choosing between options, most of the population have no power to direct their own lives.

    I’m FI only conditional on living like a student in my 40’s, but had the standard suburban consumer dream a few years ago & chucked it all in for freedom. I’d been unhappy for a long time & faced the opposite question – what are you working so hard to spend for/is it making you happy? …..& I also had no answer for the first part. Hitting the midpoint in your life is often also a factor that crystallises issues that’ve been festering – you eventually admit that if you want the second half to be better, you have to do something different to get a chance at that…..

    It is embarrassing at times when your peers look at you with pity, assuming you must have failed when living ‘student/budget-style’, (euphemism for poor) but equally, knowing how precarious their situations are, I couldn’t sleep in their shoes. Each to their own, I’d feel panic if like some of them I had no pension of significance or like others, would be in deep-fried sh*t within weeks of losing a job, what with having no savings.

  • 16 hosimpson February 22, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Ah, NME… why do I feel so old all of a sudden?
    I think you did it in the right order at least. I didn’t live like a student when I should’ve had, and am now paying for it with a 60%+ savings rate and a mortgage hanging over my head. I get what you mean about nice things, though I’m more OKA and Pottery Barn than Heal’s and Habitat. £600 is a decent mattress and well worth it. Having children is overrated (just ask my mother 😉 )
    Port Mahon is lovely, I haven’t been to Barbados, but will probably splash out on a trip to the Arctic. I’d like to see it before it melts.

  • 17 Rob February 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

    Bravo! Great post! It’s all about evolving as people isn’t it.
    Casper link for mobile is fkd btw if you’re not getting many referrals…

  • 18 hosimpson February 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

    Also, gentrification or no gentrification, the police describe Clapham as the “front line” for the police.

  • 19 Neverland February 22, 2018, 3:23 pm

    @investor

    My central thesis on London property is no one buys it with earned money: it all comes from inheritance; dirty money; windfalls or (mostly) just borrowed from a bank

    The equity you are plowing in seems mostly to have been made on the stock market since you seem to have been 100% equity from 2009-2017 so you’ve probably doubled your money across the whole net amount invested in aggregate. Which sort of illustrates my point about nobody using earned money to buy London property

    My central question would be – where is the all the free money to continue the party going to come from now?

    Median average household income (net of tax and plus benefits) in London is only about 55k, while mean for the same is just scraping above 40k

    But… Nobody knows anything. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one. (William Goldman)

    You only get one life. You’ve taken a big bet. Good luck.

  • 20 Andrew February 22, 2018, 4:33 pm

    Great piece! That sort of living is when you get ‘normal’ people (or a bitter ex) say things like ‘when are you going to grow up’. Grown up it seems means you should have more stress, higher expenses and a less easy-going life 🙂

  • 21 Mike February 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    I’ve been a pretty obsessive saver/investor from being at school (my mother used to tell me off for putting money in my piggy bank and not spending it).

    I’m now 45 with a pension I no longer save in to and no mortgage.

    I swore the first month (and only for 1 months) after my mortgage finished I would spend every penny over the £600 monthly bills and have nothing left at the end of the month.

    I didn’t even get close because i’m just not interested in ‘stuff’.

    When my IFA came round and checked out my finances he said I was overdoing it and I needed to spend more but if it’s not in your nature then I guess it won’t bring you much pleasure.

  • 22 Hospitaller February 22, 2018, 8:10 pm

    Sounds rather familiar. I am not entirely sure where the lifestyle choice came from (the main suspect is a very long and deep classical education full of worthy Stoics and Horace stressing the virtues of a Sabine farm over a swanky address in Rome). But yes, I spent very little on the things most people spend on. I spent decades in a high-powered bank effectively dressed as a tramp. But then I thought that time was getting short and started to unload on a sports car and a boat and going on more expensive holidays so forth. And those spending forays have been a lot of fun – am still dressed like a tramp though.

  • 23 John B February 22, 2018, 9:02 pm

    Good mattresses are worth it. Its the thing I miss most when I shipped it to the US with relocation money, but had to give it to the Salvation Army when I finished there, and had nowhere to ship it back to.

    If anything, I’m more frugal now than I was as a new graduate, you should see my clothes! But I don’t buy things with a “how much!” based on prices ingrained in me when I was 20, as I really don’t allow inwardly for inflation. Its completely disconnected from how money I have. I can see no way I’ll ever spend the sums I did my analysis against when I FIREd

    Do buy real wood furniture, avoid veneer.

  • 24 The Rhino February 22, 2018, 10:13 pm

    @TI – and think what Guy would say if he saw that you’d made your pad look like a boutique hotel…

    PS 600 notes on a mattress is absolutely fine, I’d go so far as to say not actually that expensive

    PPS You wait until the roof leaks, then you’ll know what expensive looks like

  • 25 Ms ZiYou February 22, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Personally I’ve always been on the property ladder…bought at 19 when it was acceptable to collect everyone’s hand-me-downs to furnish the place. And I still many years later have some of them, and I noticed recently my brother has my old bed frame in my spare room.

    My home decorations style can be described as antique or old fashioned at the moment; I’m a lover of all things 1930’s. Mainly sourced from junk shops (a poor man’s antique shop). People regularly comment that my house looks like their grans. I take this as a compliment. But you can spend loads on a property without realising it…..and as a lifelong renter you maybe in for a shock. But the biggest win of owning is the freedom…you can do exactly what you want. Paint the walls blue. Or red. Get a dog. Or snake. And you can feel the joy of being settled….so enjoy your new place.

    I think Guy is a fabulous role model. We all need to learn we can consume less and we can make do and mend. And to be honest, my own spending may have regressed to less than my student days. As a student I used to go out a lot. And take taxis! Then again I do splurge on travel nowadays…..and Barbados is lovely, europe cannot compare. The people and culture is so different, and the mojitos on the beach cannot be beaten.

  • 26 SemiPassive February 23, 2018, 10:30 am

    In hindsight a frugal student lifestyle combined with owning the property they live in rather than renting, letting out any spare rooms to fellow types, whilst earning a well above average income in a lucrative industry is a surefire recipe to FIRE.

    A damn site harder when relationships get in the way, the fact of the matter is very few partners – certainly much over the age of 30 – will want to live like this.

    Congrats on the property buy anyway, stamp duty is probably the most bitter pill as you know you’ll never get it back.
    You can reframe the furnishings as still only being about a 10th of what you’d spend on them if married 😉

  • 27 green_as_grass February 23, 2018, 10:32 am

    Who is the painter of the portrait at the top of your article?

  • 28 Factor February 23, 2018, 3:36 pm

    @green_as_grass (27)

    Bumped up the zoom but still can’t decipher the signature – wrong nose for Rembrandt though!

  • 29 Fitipaldi February 23, 2018, 5:56 pm

    Frugal student lifestyle? I think I wasted (got more wasted?) more money at uni than at any point since

  • 30 john February 23, 2018, 6:46 pm

    “it was ultimately an itch I had to scratch!”

    The englishman’s urge to buy houses is rather like the investor’s urge to sell stocks when they’re down. Constant vigilance is required to avoid it.

    It’s got a lot easier to resist buying an expensive london house for me. Rental yields are so low i’ve just gotta be on the other side of that trade.

  • 31 David February 23, 2018, 9:52 pm

    Don’t feel bad about the £600 mattress, remember the old saying:

    “Always invest in a good pair of shoes and a good bed – if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.”

    (Unless you work from home and hang around all day in a dressing gown and slippers…)

  • 32 Aiming_for_fire February 23, 2018, 11:49 pm

    Great piece, felt we got to know you – a little. Looking forward to your posts on how you feel spending money.

  • 33 weenie February 24, 2018, 12:42 am

    My friend declared that I ‘lived like a bloody student’ when I invited her into my home last year – perhaps it was because the place was a bit of a mess or maybe because the newest thing in my living room was the flat screen I bought 10 years ago to replace my old-school chunky cathode-ray tv (I only bought it because everything was being switched from analogue to digital in 2007).

    Good luck with the new home and yes, I need to splash out on a new mattress as I too slept better at a friend’s house, whose spare bed had a superior mattress!

    Also, NME’s the only magazine I read on a regular basis these days since I can pick up a weekly copy for free at my local Tesco!

  • 34 Colm Garvin February 24, 2018, 1:07 am

    I’ve been reading for a few years. Mate, I’m so happy for you. You’re quintessentially British statement of declaring F.I is awesome! so understated and almost apologetic and made in the comments, and only when challenged! You inspire many people on a weekly basis (and greybeard, Lars and your bro). There are so many brilliant people who comment on here. My brain is like a sponge and i soak it all up. I am in your team and for years I have clapped when you are winning and you have won!. As ever, when markets were down and your chips where fully down. I was there reading! I just regret you have done more for me than i have for you. Keep it up!

  • 35 cat793 February 24, 2018, 1:42 am

    I think you ask a very important question – what are you saving for? For me the problem with going overboard on the savings in your 20s, 30s and early 40s is that at those ages you don’t have a real sense of how fast life goes by and how precious youth and relative youth are. Financial prudence is always a good idea but it is a risk all in itself to throw away the prime of your life working and scrimping. This is less of a problem if you love your work but how many people really do? Too many people I know have died too young recently and I now prioritise living for the moment. I have swapped full time work for part time. FIRE has been put on the back burner indefinitely. I bought a home early enough and have saved enough to be financially secure though. And like you I do not have kids.

  • 36 Learner February 24, 2018, 7:30 am

    @green_as_grass
    > Who is the painter of the portrait at the top of your article?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Courbet#/media/File:Courbet_Autoportrait.jpg

  • 37 SurreyBoy February 24, 2018, 1:34 pm

    What a brilliant post – id say one of your best. Its interesting the journey we all go on.

    I took out a massive mortgage in the early noughties (and i mean massive), when times were good and looked like they would last forever. Then the financial crisis hit and City workers like me started getting culled. With a young family and massive debt I spent years and years saving like crazy to ward off the prospect of repossession and having to tell the family we would lose the house.

    Roll forward 10 years and ive lightened up somewhat and got more spendy. A couple of health jolts and the kids growing up fast makes me realize the future is actually now. Im still saving and investing for tomorrow but you need to make memories today.

    On your flat and furnishing it, you should could see it as investing in yourself if it helps. Or you could see it as: ive worked hard for years and want some nice things around me and i dont care what anyone thinks. After all, the only use for money is spending it – today as well as in twenty years.

  • 38 KayD February 24, 2018, 1:46 pm

    I’ve spent my life spending frugally like the rest of us on here but couldn’t do without reproducing (3 kids). One of my hobbies is playing with money on the stock market. I also own my own house (mortgage free since 1998). Both my partner and I work part time (my partner would like to not work though). The stock market Fund that I have been playing with/building up for about 25 years is now just about funding two of my kids through uni. When the kids leave uni the Fund will subsidise my partner being able to give up work.
    I think my friends if they were aware of my FI would be horrified/very envious of our wealth but they spend their money on sky holidays/ big houses with interest only mortgages/ camper vans etc/ £3 grand bikes!
    I’m female and not being able to have kids was a deal breaker when I met my partner.

  • 39 Brady February 25, 2018, 7:31 am

    Great post.
    Would be nice to hear in future posts your take on using spare cash on more equity investing vs overpaying your mortgage.
    I think equity investing is technically the correct way to go but paying extra off a mortgage feels like a much better choice for achieving FI!

  • 40 Martin February 25, 2018, 8:38 am

    This post made me laugh.
    I’ve yet to buy but had to furnish a property from scratch for the first time following a relocation for work. My god this stuff costs so much money! In particular curtains!
    I really wonder how people, particularly in London, can afford typically “middle class” live styles. I feel like there may be some connection with the UK’s stonking level of personal debt.

  • 41 Jonny February 25, 2018, 11:43 am

    Another one here who’s trying to learn to spend a bit more!

    I’m still quite a way from FI, though am working towards getting mortgage free by 40. The plan is to continue overpaying, and making > average pension contributions, though I aim to use more of any future pay rises for the now.

    Great post!

  • 42 The Investor February 25, 2018, 11:43 am

    Thanks for all the comments, reflections, and good wishes everyone! I’ve now got my new mattress on top of *the* bed I wanted before the maker went bust which I was miraculously able to pick up in a liquidation sale, so life on the hedonic treadmill is off to a reasonably even footed start.

    By the way, there is some stuff on the site already about paying down the mortgage versus investing, if you have a search. It will also definitely come up in my post about the financials of this decision (which as I’ve said before won’t reveal I’ve found some miracle loophole to make it more affordable, but which may anyway be of some interest/use to others!)

  • 43 Jonny February 25, 2018, 11:44 am

    @weenie, it’s 2018 and we’re still rocking a CRT TV here (with a freeview box to watch/record TV on)! 😀

  • 44 Ben February 25, 2018, 3:43 pm

    It’s worth spending £££ on a mattress – I’ve bought expensive & cheap and regret the cheap one.

    After furnishing several homes over the years, I’ve learnt only to buy things I love. Not necessarily new, but always high quality. You can pick up nearly all the Warren Evans range on ebay, then repaint. Or antique Victorian/Edwardian furniture. If you buy good second-hand solid wood furniture, it will hold its value or even appreciate – unlike flatpack fibreboard trash from Ikea/Argos/Homebase. And it tends to be good value on ebay as shipping puts off buyers (but is easily and cheaply arranged through sites like shiply). Think of furniture as an alternative form of savings. You have to live with your home furnishings, so make sure you buy things you love so they give you pleasure. Take time to choose things, even it takes years.

    Curtains … wasted too much of life thinking/faffing with them. They don’t hold their value – styles change. Better to go for minimalist blinds.

  • 45 William III February 25, 2018, 3:56 pm

    Curtains 500
    Sofa 3000
    Two lounge chairs (used) 400
    Piano (used) 3000
    Rug 400
    Kitchen+lounge ventilation system 3000
    Washing machine 1000
    Lamps (used) 1000
    Shelving 200
    Dining table + chairs (used) 320
    Set of side tables 250

    These are the key interior items we’ve purchased over the past 8 months for the new (first) house. A mix of used and new, but always from outlet/sales etc; even so, a few things were ridiculously expensive.

    Is it worth it? Well that tan leather sofa we got (new, but a showroom model), in a very similar style to the Rondo by Lucy Kurrein, is an eye catcher that makes the rest of the interior look an order of magnitude more refined. Lighting is another one where we invested time getting the right stuff from second hand sites; we really underestimated its importance at first but it’s very much worth getting it right. The other thing we underestimated was the importance of continuous demand led balanced ventilation when you’ve got an open plan lounge + kitchen.

    I’m confident that the comfort and style is worth postponing FI with a year. I would spend it if I were you, but wisely of course, and over a year or so with sufficient research behind it rather than in a couple of months after moving, which might mean living off temporary charity shop stuff for a while.

  • 46 Little Miss Fire March 15, 2018, 11:16 am

    I too would love to know what Guy is doing now! I think saving can grown from a chore, to a habit and end on an obsession. A lifetime ago, I was an avid saver. I loved everything about it. I even loved feeling deprived because I knew the money I had put away was safe and sound and most importantly saved. Unfortunately for me, my then husband came and emptied my life savings and I’m back to zero. But I’m hoping to get the savings bug again!

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