Hello there! This is the third interview of the guest post/interview series by people who are well on their way to financial independence (FI) or have reached it already.
I met Mel and Sam in early 2012 in Berlin. Our paths split into different countries and jobs but we still have the goal of FI and a taste for adventures in common. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did!
Can you introduce yourself?
Mel: In a nutshell, someone that lives off adrenaline and does not stop moving. Built a career in design and technology but is tired of the day to day bullshit that surrounds women in technology and is keen to achieve financial independence to focus on the things she loves the most – her wife, her dog and having fun!
Sam: An Aussie who went on a short working holiday 16 years ago and is still on it. A digital nomad who has (kind of) figured out how to work and travel and keep a wife all at the same time. It’s not always easy but it’s certainly worth the ups and downs along the way.We recently added a dog to the mix and it’s the best thing we’ve done.
I work in technology but am currently building up our property investment company so we can eventually live off passive income completely and choose the projects we want to work on.
What does financial independence mean to you?
Mel: Passive income through assets and not income. Financial freedom means that you are not bound to one thing to bring home the “bacon”. Also, it means we don’t have to be bound to an office for most of our adult life. It’s about getting out there and enjoying your time on earth. What’s the point of earning money if you can’t spend it and enjoy life?
25 days holiday and a 9-5 office job…? BOOOORING.
Sam: Not having to think about the next paycheck and having the freedom to choose what I want to do rather than doing the same thing over and over again for different companies. It’s still work – it’s just a different kind of job, you have to manage your passive income like you do a job but if you do it well then it’s independence you can’t get with a payroll situation.
Also, I’m done with office politics, it’s worth getting away from that at any cost.
What would you like to dedicate yourself to when you reach financial independence?
Sam: I’ve always wanted to work for NGOs who really make a difference whether that be animal welfare or human rights. I’m also keen to get involved in politics, not as a politician, but as an activist or researcher, especially since it’s crystal clear that the current politicians are not at all doing the job they’re meant to and democracy is going down the drain which leaves us with Trump and Brexit.
It’s more important than ever that people get active and bring these regimes down. There are so many things I want to get involved in and be helping, rather than just earning a buck. I also love photography so that will play a big part no matter what I do.
Mel: Haha uh oh. I’m totally the materialistic one. So for me, it’s about buying myself a truck AND a sports car… I know they are complete money pits but I’ve ALWAYS wanted both and I will reward myself with them one day. Also, both of us really love to travel and so a huge road trip where time is not an issue because we are not bound to holidays from work would be awesome.
What is your financial goal?
Mel: No figures in mind, it’s just about not being bound to a day job. Of course, we will most likely still work – we never want to be sat idle. But we don’t want to be reliant on someone paying our bills.
Sam: To replace both our current wages by the end of 2019.
What is your strategy?
Mel: Property and other passive income through other means (currently undefined).
The biggest mistake people make when trying to get on the property ladder is they look for a house/apartment for themselves. Sam and I have never really bought a house for ourselves that we believed we would live in for the future. To be honest, I think we would still be looking…
Look for something small, something affordable and something rentable. As Kate and Phil say…. Location, Location, Location! It really is all about that!
When I talk about cheap, I mean something less than 100,000K. Something in a convenient location. Does not have to be a modern palace. If it needs work it’s even better. Buy it cheap, do some cheap cosmetic improvements and rent it out. If it’s in a good location then it’s easy to rent out. If it’s a cheap place then the mortgage is going to be paid by the rent so there you go… your first asset.
Sam: Buy-to-Let investing at first but later on will probably branch out into commercial real estate. We already have some property which is generating income so it’s just leveraging that and increasing our portfolio.
High rental yield is the first metric to live by but I’m currently building out my network and alternative strategies will be found through that. A good network is the only way to do it in the aggressive timescale I’ve set. Without surrounding yourself with like-minded people you never learn more so that’s the key. I’m also doing some coaching with property investors in London to learn their methods.
What motivates you to follow the strategy day in day out? How do you stay on course?
Sam: It’s actually fun when it’s for yourself and you always have to keep the target front and center. I’ll probably print it out and hang it in front of my desk if I feel I’m losing momentum. But right now I’m enjoying it. I love learning and it’s a new field to learn.
What are the obstacles you are struggling with?
Mel: Time to educate myself on the topics and stay ahead of the game. It’s hard to invest so much time into it when you have to focus on the day job and enjoying the remaining time you have with the family.
Sam: Access to a network. I spend a lot of time in Austria which is not the focus of our property investments, at least initially. It’s not easy to build a network remotely I have to spend time away doing this and now we have a dog that’s not what I want to be doing.
But it comes back to the previous question, you keep your target in mind and then you can push through any obstacle.
Also, you need to learn from difficult situations, use it as a learning tool and nothing then feels too big.
Having a supportive partner who I can lean on, and bounce things off when I’m feeling stressed is also crucial.
What is one thing that I can apply today that will have a positive impact on my finances?
Sam: Don’t let money sit around in the bank – you’ll never get ahead doing that and banks are the parasites of society. Do something with it – if you have savings put them in an Individual Savings Account (ISA), or investment of some kind, so they at least return more than the banks will.
Always put your money to work.
And educate yourself – read up on how to invest, learn the stock market, things like that. I day-traded for a while when the economic crash happened in 2008 to learn how to do it and because I knew the best time to make money is during a crisis. I lost some, and I gained some, but I educated myself and that’s the most important thing.
There’re plenty of MOOCs (Massive open online courses) as well you can take on the economy and investing. Know how the economic system works otherwise you’re a slave to it for the rest of your lives.
Where can we find you online and learn more?
Mel: On Instagram and Twitter as @missmonkee or on LinkedIn.
Sam: I’m on LinkedIn – Samantha Rechtorik, or Instagram and Twitter @gurlsam – feel free to connect!
Photo credit: Mel and Sam’s photo archive
Did you enjoy Mel and Sam’s story? Check out the first two interviews of the series: The Minimum Goal I Want to Reach is 1 Million Euros: Interview With Alexis and Honoring My Compass: Interview With Sarah Burch
If you found yourself nodding your head through this post or learned something new, please share it with your friends and followers!
Do you have a well-thought strategy for reaching financial independence? I would be delighted to interview you and feature your story on the blog.