New readers: This is part 2 of the Our Story series. If you haven’t read part 1, I suggest you do that first and then come back here. 🙂
A Shock to the System – Welcome to the Rat Race
I finished uni and started my first “real” job at the ripe old age of 27 (this is not unusual where I am from, a lot of people stay in uni until they are 30!).
After only a few months in the rat race, reality hit me. This couldn’t possibly be what adult life is supposed to be like, right? Getting up at the same time every morning. Forcing down breakfast. Putting on uncomfortable clothes to look “professional”. Watching the depressed faces of my fellow morning commuters on the train. Being stuck behind a desk for hours on end (no matter how nice and inviting the weather is outside). Looking at the clock every 10 minutes. A brief sense of relief when it’s finally time to go home for the day. Watching the depressed faces on the train again. Dinner. TV. Bed. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT… What a nightmare!
It didn’t take me long to realise that life as a full-time employee is not for me, especially not for another 40+ years. I actually didn’t mind my job and the work itself at all. But the general lack of personal freedom that came with it really bothered me. The thought of having to be at the office for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week was unbearable. Having to live my life on someone else’s terms made me feel very uneasy. I changed jobs a few times, but my general sentiment about life as an employee did not change at all.
It became clear to me that if I didn’t find a way out, I would probably end up like this guy:
In addition, there was the nagging feeling that I was wasting my youth and health. A few years earlier, I had been diagnosed with a rather serious autoimmune disease that generally gets worse with age. I was very aware that every day I spent behind my desk was a day I would never get back. A day I should instead have spent hiking, swimming, travelling or skydiving – while my body still allows me to do these activities.
A Way Out
A few months after starting my first job, I started poking around the internet to see if anyone else out there felt the same way. I finally stumbled across Jim Collin´s F-You Money post. Mind blown! This was in 2012. I did a bit more digging and finally discovered Mr. Money Mustache (his blog was only about a year old at the time). I was hooked.
I had never had any interest in finances and building long-term wealth, so all of this was completely new to me. In the months after my discovery, I read everything I could find on Financial Independence.
And then… I did nothing about it for several years.
Why I Didn’t Start Working Towards FI
For some reason did not believe that WE could REALLY pull this off.
I ran our numbers and – according to the 4% rule – it would have taken us 20 years to get to FI (we were not on the biggest of incomes at the time). If only I had known about shortcuts like Flamingo FI back then!
I was also not willing to make too many sacrifices to get to FI at the time. Since my job was already making me miserable, I didn’t want the path to FI to make me even more miserable.
There was also no one in my life I could share all of this with. All the FI blogs I read were US-based. So in a way it also felt like this magical concept of Financial Independence was only for people in the US and not possible in Europe.
The Loser’s Game
After about 2.5 years in my corporate career, I had enough. I just couldn’t do it anymore. In mid-2014, I quit my job.
My plan was to build my own freelancing business in the field I had studied at university (my corporate jobs were in an unrelated field). I was approved for a government grant for new entrepreneurs. The government would pay me 65% of my previous full-time salary for a whole 12 months so that I could get my freelancing business off the ground without having to stress about money. Great, right? I had finally escaped the corporate world. Freedom! This was the lifestyle change I needed. Or so I thought.
When I became a freelancer it was suddenly up to me when, where and how much I wanted to work. I was no longer chained to my desk from 9 to 5. Unfortunately, there was one problem: I was not really interested in starting a freelance business. It was just something that offered me a ticket out of corporate prison. I ran into a wall.
I quickly learned the hard way that running away from something because you hate it is not enough. And how important it is to find something that excites you and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. I realised that freedom has to be earned. I couldn’t handle the lack of structure. I was unable to motivate myself. I was aimless. I felt like a failure. All of this was completely unlike the normal me. Mr. Flamingo was working abroad on a project for a few months during that time and we only saw each other once or twice a month. So there was no one there who could have noticed that I stopped getting up in the morning and hardly ever left the house.
Within a few short months, I found myself drinking mulled wine at 9 am most days. And what goes better with a drinking habit than gambling? I started playing blackjack and poker online. Of course, I lost some money. Then I broke the number one rule – never continue playing to win back your losses. So I lost some more. And drank some more mulled wine. I was playing a loser’s game. Have a look at the cover photo of this post. There is a reason the Queen looks so depressed.
It was a sad time in my life.
As you can see, I didn’t exaggerate when I said that this story is not your everyday FIRE fairy tale.
Want to know what happened next? Here is part 3 of the series.
9 thoughts on “Our Story Part 2 – Mulled Wine and Online Gambling”
Haha I’m with you! Didn’t take long to realise…”what the hell is this all about, why does everyone just accept this?”
Sorry to hear about your misadventures, looking forward to the next instalment!
I find structure is definitely important for me, I get quite down without organisation and some plans.
Thanks Dave! Glad to hear from someone who understand where I’m coming from! 🙂
I always wonder if everyone has this realisation when they first start their career (and just doesn’t do anything about) it or if people are just ok with the whole 40 hours a week for 40 years thing…
Well, after asking a few people they’ve simply said ‘I didn’t know there was another way, that’s just what everyone does’. Amazing! Maybe we’re the weirdos but I just couldn’t accept it.
Hi Money Flamingo,
I am writing under Mr Why925 on the whyninetofive.com . I actually spent 17 years in Sydney most of it building our own FIRE. It is incredible how some of your situations and feelings were similar to mine. That time when I landed my first full time work. I was devastated. My Uni freedom finished and I was chained to cubicle for 9 hours a day 5 days a week. That totally destroyed my spirit. Luckily many changes happened including moving to Australia, finishing another degree in Sydney, finding Mrs Why925, flipping couple of properties and househacking and having twin boys. That was time when we realised we should quit our jobs and become full time parents for a while. Luckily we have found MMM and ERE blogs half a decade earlier and we were naturally frugalists.
So we took a leap and at the age of 43 we have quit the jobs and moved to beautiful Sunshine Coast. Currently I am out of work 2 years and though financially we are OK, slowly we are having more time and we will try to earn some cash not to stay idle. Considering significant stash of F-u money, it has to be interesting for us to work. I have written about our story and our thoughts on the whyninetofive blog so you or your readers can have a look.
Good luck on your journey and keep pushing. You will get there and it is awesome feeling to be doing just what you decide you should.
I can definitely relate to learning about FIRE early but then not really doing anything about it. I took some vague steps, but it wasn’t until recently that I got really serious about it. Makes me wonder what could have been, but at least I finally got started now 😀