Total freedom: Week 1


The dream…

What a week its been!

When I first started working aged 21 my vague dream was to work until 40 and then buy a little farm in the English countryside complete with an old Land Rover and some wellies.  Think Shaun the Sheep and you have the picture. I’d have kids who’d roam free outdoors, scrumping apples and making camps in the woods.

Reality intervened and I ended up in the ‘burbs via Battersea. Whilst we do have a decent size garden, not even an estate agent would describe it as a smallholding, let alone a farm.

As keen eyed readers will have spotted from the About page, I handed in my notice at the Job in March 2014, aged 43.  So about 3 years behind schedule.  Funnily enough, the salary income and investment returns went as well as I could have hoped; it was excessive spending from lifestyle inflation that meant I missed my early retirement target by just over 3 years.  However, I figure that 3 years (~ 10% slippage) is an acceptable level of overrun on a large, complex project like getting to Financial Independence.

Since March, I have been easing myself into freedom after a 23 year stretch in the Prison Camp. I can not even begin to tell you how much more awesome life has been since then.

But even in March, I wasn’t fully clear of The Job. I had a six month notice period in my contract which ran until mid-September. There were also some handover duties that needed to be taken care of professionally.  But here is the thing. I finished 100% last Friday. From now on, some one else will be sewing the mail-sacks and peeling the potatoes.

Given that I am only one week in, a lot of great things have already happened. I want to share some of these with you as they may help illustrate the reality of financial independence and may help address some of the irrational fears that people have when confronted with the prospect.

I have not been bored

Not for a minute. I’m buzzing and no substance abuse is involved.  It is as if my life force has been returned to me (along with my civilian clothes) when I was discharged from the Prison Camp. Here is Dilbert’s classic take on where this life force goes when you are working.

My new business went cashflow positive

The thought of never earning any money ever again is scary.  But its very unlikely that this will be the case.

I have been doing some financial coaching, helping people with the stuff that I bang on about on this blog.   This is about helping people to have the confidence to make their own decisions and to stop getting screwed by overpaid fund managers and parasitic financial advisers.

This week, the first income started to come in from this baby business. T.E.A. Consulting has a low cost base due to the lack of fancy offices and staff. There are no employees trawling Facetweeter, bitching about the boss (me) and flirting with each other. Unfortunately, it is not what venture capitalists call scalable because the Escape Artist is “special” and can not be cloned or manufactured in a factory in China.

I taught my children to invest

Our children are between 8 and 13 years old. We decided that now is the right time to start teaching them the essentials of capitalism. Actually, the magic of compounding means that the right time to start saving and investing is always NOW.

To help in this process the grandparents have kindly provided them with a token amount of money to invest. I gave the kids my portfolio list and told them to choose one stock each.  Unlike fund managers, they performed this task without bleating about how difficult it is or being paid £500,000 per year.

The shares have been bought without fuss via a low cost online broker. Its funny when you consider how many adults are sitting on idle cash balances, nervous and paralysed by indecision. In contrast, my children had no problem making these decisions. I also doubt they will fret much if the share prices go down next week. Sometimes our children teach us whilst we teach them.

The most important thing here is not the money that the investments will ultimately deliver (though I suspect that will turn out pretty well) but that children learn that shares are not just for people like Mr Burns from The Simpsons.  I want them to have the confidence and knowledge to own a slice of the Casino.

I learnt about something called “cleaning”

It turns out that houses do not clean themselves and all those years when I was at work, the house was being cleaned by someone called “a cleaner”.

A couple of months ago our cleaner told us that she was going to move on to greater things. Good luck to her. We took the opportunity to right size our cost base and have not replaced her. I am now sharing in the cleaning.  It’s actually more fun than you might imagine.  By replacing all of the effort in our lives with convenience, we risk turning into jelly babies.  If you put some music on while you do it, its a bit like a free Zumba class in your own home.

I made new friends

People worry about losing the social aspect of work.  They really shouldn’t.

This week I went to a social evening at a local running club that I joined recently. This has turned out to be a good way of making new friends. If you work in the City for 20 years, you become accustomed to people trying to screw you over all the time. This breeds a certain cynicism which can be healthy in moderation but ultimately toxic to the soul if that is what you are continually immersed in.  Out in the real world, its surprising how friendly normal people are.

As a side note, I was talking at one point to a woman who I’d guess was about the same age as me. She asked me the standard “What do you do?” question. Previously I’ve always muttered something about doing something in finance. Whilst I was never embarrassed about my job, I wasn’t exactly proud of it either. Its great to be able to answer the question positively.  I told her that I had just quit and didn’t intend to get another full time job. Her jaw dropped as she assessed my age and tried to do the maths.  You could almost hear her brain whirring and see the error message pop up.

I got paid

My former employer has used the fact that I’ve stopped working for them as an excuse to stop paying me….I know!

Fortunately my Vanguard ETFs pay out dividends towards the end of each quarter which was this Friday. I also received 3 other dividend payments from individual stocks during the week.

The blog reached 45,000 page views

I appreciate 45,000 views is like nothing for serious, well-established websites. But it’s pretty amazing for my little baby.

When I started tapping shit into a computer a few short months ago, I did not expect that The Escape Artist would be read in the following countries: Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Israel, Thailand, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Brazil, Malaysia, Romania, Russia, Macao, Kenya, Cambodia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Peru, Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, Etheopia, Indonesia, Columbia, Argentina, Uruguay, Brunei, Nigeria, Bolivia, Chile, Honduras, Qatar, Bermuda, Mauritius, Kyrgyzstan, Equitorial Guinea, Venezuala, Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Maldives, Northern Mariana Islands…

…but it has been.

I helped an old friend

One of my best friends had been having a tough time, capped off by his wife recently telling him that she was leaving him.

I have been doing my little bit to try and help my friend. You may think I should be able to do this with or without a job. And you’d be right. But the reality is that having more time in my life has made this possible.

Now this area is not my speciality, but I do know how to find the best advice in different fields.  I identified some resources that have helped my friend get his shit together and get back in the dating market. This has had surprisingly powerful results.  It all depends on what his objectives are but, if he wants to, he will now be able to score like Michael Jordan (see clip below):



  1. Love this post. So pleased to hear that week 1 was a roaring success. I look forward to hearing about the coming months. What a fantastic adventure.

  2. underthemoneytree · · Reply


    Congratulations! Enjoy and please, think of us poor bastards you left behind!

  3. Congratulations. What an inspiring post! It made me have another look at my spreadsheet which resulted in me paring off 18 months of work by re-assessing the contributions I am making into my SIPP. Thanks. (btw I suspect the shine will rub off the cleaning very quickly. Or haven’t you been on bathroom duty yet? 🙂

  4. @TEA, I would be interested to know how you reached escape velocity, was it when your passive income exceeded your expenses ? how are you paying for everyday bills – by dividends and coupons or selling capital ?

  5. Congratulations! Oh how I long to retire. I think we are over the hump and rolling downhill now towards it but now it is even more painful because I can taste it. Good luck and sounds like things are going well. Can’t wait for the updates

  6. Lucy, UTMT, Cerridwen and MM – Thank you – much appreciated!

    Jon – a mixture of dividends and selling stuff as required – I focus more on the safe withdrawal rate than the current cash yield on the portfolio

  7. Congratulations – what a positive and motivational post!

  8. Awesome stuff, glad to here the other side appears to be as good as advertised, at least a week in anyways.

    Please keep sending those of us still in the camp updates on your journey to use as inspiration as we count the days till our own escape.

    1. Weenie & Sundeep – Thanks! – I will indeed keep the updates coming

  9. finansnerden · · Reply

    Congratulations on your newly won freedom! Slowly getting there myself. Btw you forgot to mention Norway 😉

    1. Thanks! Just to be clear…I didn’t forget Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, America, Canada, Ireland, UK etc etc where many readers are based. I didn’t mention them because I expected to get some readers in the rich western parts of the world…it was the less obvious countries that were a (positive) surprise!

      Last time I was in Norway, the cost of partying was very high and the temperature was very low…but, boy, what a fantastic country that is….

  10. “My former employer has used the fact that I’ve stopped working for them as an excuse to stop paying me…”

    Ha ha love that line.

    Glad you are finding your new found freedom so stimulating… Even the cleaning! And congrats on the 45,000 blog views! That’s really good going in such a short amount of time. Keep it up son!

    1. Thanks TFS…its now >50,000…if you can round them all up, I’ll book Wembley Stadium…

  11. Wow, great to see someone who has literally just made the jump into early retirement and loving it! 43 is an extremely impressive age to have archieved it, especially with a house and kids.

    Congratulations and enjoy the freedom.


  12. Good Financial Choices · · Reply

    Congratulations, such a fabulous achievement (even if it was 3 years behind your super aggressive schedule).

  13. First off, not seen your blog before – very nice!

    Second off – Congratulations on your FI! Well done keep it up,

    Thirdly – “I am now sharing in the cleaning. It’s actually more fun than you might imagine” – I have to laugh in your face!!!!! WTF a cleaner?! What the hell were you thinking? I think a serious face punch from MMM is in order there.

    But otherwise well done, you’ve earnt it, spending more time with your kids must be really rewarding, hopefully my own track will put me in a similar situation although i suspect a little later in life (50ish) due to a more than misspent youth!


    1. Dom. Thanks. Re the cleaner, I plead guilty. Consider yourself authorised to print off an A4 picture of The Escape Artist and apply the face punch direct.

  14. As a basketball fan who’s trying to reach FI by 40 (5 years away) this post is heaven sent. Congrats to you.
    BTW, they’re right to show the dunk on Ewing last, it’s amazing as was that whole series.

  15. Congratulations.

    Mixed with ungenerous envy. Because the lightbulb didn’t go “bing” for me until last year when I was 48. And I condemn my own lack of vision hitherto.

    Seeing you have made it over the wire is cheering, and I near enough agree with all your posts on what to do, why and how. I just regret the waste of time up until now. Well done – you b*stard! Come on, you legions of ER retirees.

  16. […] not alone, both Ermine and TEA have already done it. I’m a few years younger than them so unless I get fired, I have a risk […]

  17. · · Reply

    Also read in New Zealand.
    We are new to this idea of early retirement and only came across these FI blogs recently. Dammit we’ve left our run late (mid 50’s) but we are well on the way to be able to retire in the next 1-2 years.
    I agree with Mrs Frugal? – our strength is also as a couple we have always been open and able to discuss money in its many contexts, from mortgages to investments. Consequently we have been mortgage free for about 5 years and have been saving hard.
    FI is now just around the corner, or some might say round the bend!

    1. Yes, plenty of page hits from New Zealand (and Australia, Canada, USA) – all are welcome! I’ve not yet been to New Zealand but, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like an ideal place to pursue / enjoy FI….a high standard of living, incredible outdoor beauty (all free) and perhaps less rampant consumerism than the UK or USA?

      Also don’t worry about leaving it late. Firstly you are ahead of perhaps 95% of the population. Second, its about the journey not just the destination…so it always makes sense to start living how you want to live.

  18. Hey there! I am a first time reader. Rockstar Finance sent me! I’m excited that someone in the UK is blogging about FI. You have gained a subscriber!

    1. Welcome to the site bad boy…tell a friend, pay it forward!

      1. Definitely used the wrong login there!

  19. […] to the uneasiness of not having an income in retirement. Despite the reassurances of TEA (who went positive cashflow in week 1 of FI) it’s one of the biggest fears that FI holds for me. My day job is risk management so […]

  20. Hey TEA, great article, I still have quite a way to go to get to where you are but even this far out I try to imagine the sense of freedom that will come with retirement in my early 40s.

    Out of interest what was it that you did in your working life? I know that you worked “in finance” but as an accountant I am curious about what that actually was!

    1. Thanks! I did an economics degree, qualified as a chartered accountant and then worked in corporate finance advisory…most of what I did involved valuing companies.

      1. Hey TEA. I am a fellow chartered accountant and do a bit of corporate finance work, but mainly accounting/tax work.

        I find it interesting that there are people from all backgrounds out there that are striving for FI and early retirement, but those that are actually making it seem to largely be finance people and engineers. That isn’t to say that those careers are guaranteed success in this area (far from it, as many are terrible with their money), but I guess they have an advantage of having access to quite high incomes.

        Do you know of any bloggers that have achieved FI or ER that didn’t have careers in these fields?

        1. Yes – I believe that pretty much anyone with the right mindset can achieve FI in a rich Western country – check out the or blogs

  21. I’ve made it to FI and used to work in the IT Industry in sales. Earned pretty decent money but still took 8 years from the moment of realisation to pulling the plug.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: