Updated: Mar 22, 2018
"You can't live in London on less than £120k a year"
This is what a close mate told me, Triple F, a few years back. I stood leaning against the bar next to him, mouth opening and closing as I tried to find the words to explain to him that I had been living pretty damn well on a fraction of that lofty amount for many years.
In fact, I didn't even need my full wage because I was still managing to save 25% of it every month, in London, one of the most oppressively expensive cities in the world.
Fast forward three years and I feel ashamed. Oh not because I was judgemental to my pal (if you want a judgement free place, you're at the wrong personal finance website, friendo) but because I was only managing to save such a pitiful amount.
In the time since that conversation, my savings rate has rocketed to above 75% of post-tax income, and around 60% of after tax income. That's a massive 35% increase in how much money I am putting aside, month in month out, to secure my financial future.
As for my friend, just a few months back I brought up the £120k figure to see how it stood up for him.
"What?" he said, his Rolex catching the glint of the pub lighting as he lifted his beer to his lips, "there is no way you could live in London on anything less than £200k a year."
And that sentence is what made me think I had to start this website, because that belief is a bloody shocker.
Frugal for fun
"Being frugal means living a rubbish life"
Triple F has heard this a gazillion times. It comes in a variety of forms, pick your favourite from below or mix and match to come up with your own saying which is ultimately responsible for stopping you from being everything you deserve to be.
"I work hard, I deserve to spend my money"
"No point in being the richest man in the graveyard"
"I love things, my life wouldn't be as fun without them"
"What would people think if I didn't have the latest [phone/car/TV]"
What if I told you that there was another way, a better way?
Imagine you're watching your favourite TV show. Let's go right ahead and call it Game of Thrones because I'm still annoyed by how long the world has to wait for the next series.
Who do you care about in the show? The heroes and villains, right? The people who go out and do something to shape the world around them. The people who look at what the world has to offer and think "nah, keep that mate. I'm going to go ahead and make a better world for myself".
On hearing about the dangers north of the wall, Jon Snow didn't decide he'd rather wait it out in his castle. He saddled up and went to kick some undead arse. For the one non-GoT fan that exists in the world, pick literally any hero of any story you've ever read or watched. Imagine if the time for them to rise up came and instead they went and had a bottle of wine and went to bed early instead.
What the eff does this have to do with financial freedom, Triple F?
Well imaginary reader who happens to ask exactly the right question for me to segue into the next point, what this has to do with financial freedom is that every time you make a decision not to break free of the confines of money worries and the trap of ever increasing spending habits, you are stopping yourself from becoming the hero in your own story.
When you convince yourself that you need an enormous £200,000 a year to live a happy life, you are the money slave equivalent of Jon Snow telling himself that he's happy with the way the world is and he is glad to be subjugated to it. Let the white walkers invade, he'll just go back to bed and accept the misery when it comes.
By becoming financially free, you are taking the world on. You are hearing the call to arms and reaching a state of living that lets you shape your life into what you want it to be. You are becoming your own goddamn hero.
Now, I know this is not a popular stance. Capitalism, societal pressures and highly targeted advertising beamed directly into your brain via your computer because you happened to Google scented candles yesterday all compete to make it harder than ever to chose the less trodden path.
But I've done it, and I'm here to tell you that on this side of the wall, the grass is greener than the finest emeralds (£484 a carat). And above all, once you get through the early stages, it is easy. So easy that I simply could not believe my pal up there when he said he "needed" a fifth of a million pounds a year just to get by.
So join me, Triple F, as I explain the practical, philosophical and life-changing steps you can take to join the rare group of people who no longer worry about money, who don't have to check their bank balance at the end (or middle in a shitty month) of every payslip and who can finally live a life that is theirs and not the one given to them by a world that just wants you to do the following:
Work > Spend > Sleep > Repeat Until Dead.
I jumped off that horse, and it really wasn't that hard, so now my life looks more like this: