Financial Independence : An immigrant’s story

meet up3

I met Ken at one of the FI London meet ups. I didn’t realise how interesting his back story was until I read this post.

Ken is now financially independent aged 34, having come to the UK from Nigeria ~20 years ago.

Ken’s story reminded me how easy and safe we have it in the affluent West.  It also made me feel slightly embarrassed about the level of whininess that we see and hear all around us.

That’s not to say that everyone can (or even should) do what Ken did. One size does not fit all and there are many different paths through life.

Sometimes people tell me that not everyone can get to financial independence. I file that information under “N” for No Shit, Sherlock.  Not everyone can run a marathon in 3 hours either…but more people would be able to run 5 or 10 miles if they put down the fucking donuts and went for a run.

The same principle applies with saving money. It’s not a binary choice between being broke or financially independent. How about being debt-free, having your pension set up properly and a years expenses tucked away as an emergency fund? That’s not full financial independence but it would be a massive improvement for most of the population.

Case studies like Ken’s show what is possible, not what is normal.   I’ve noticed in my financial coaching that people with an immigrant background often have the right mindset for financial independence. Having parents that worked hard, took risks and modelled self-discipline and hustle would no doubt have helped.

So enjoy this guest post from my friend Ken Okoroafor.



I’m an immigrant who came to the UK as a child, 20 years ago.

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. My parents were survivors of a major civil war in which more than a million people lost their lives.

Before that my parents lived in a fishing village. They would tell us stories of how they hustled to sell yams and fish, whilst staying alive in a war driven by the quest for power and territory. My parents grew up valuing education and saw it as a way out. They were the first generation in their families to go to college.

The 14 years I lived life in Nigeria was dominated by military rule and coups were not uncommon. This was the way in which one government took over from another. No votes or handshakes.

My experience at school in Nigeria was rough. Bullying was not just common, it was celebrated and was a right of passage. One way I found an identity at school was through reading. If I couldn’t beat them physically, I’d out-geek them. As time passed, I became top 5 in class and grew quietly in confidence. Like my parents, I started to believe that education might be a way out.

There is no safety net in Africa. No benefits, no free health system, no functioning state pension scheme, no free education etc. You have to get out there and hunt or hustle. If you don’t, you steal. And if you steal, you die. I often saw men burnt to death with tyres around their neck for being caught stealing.

So you can imagine how I felt when I was told we had the opportunity to move to the UK. I felt like we’d hit the jackpot. All I knew about the UK was that it had a Queen and she lived in a palace. I assumed this country must be an amazing place and all its people would live in amazing palaces.  I wanted a piece of that action and I wanted it badly.

My dad went alone to scope out London first. This is typically how immigrants make a move. When I (as a father to two boys) think about that today I can’t imagine being without them for a month, let alone 6 years as he was.

I am eternally grateful to my dad. He did what he needed to do and that decision has had generational implications. My approach to family life has been deeply influenced by the decisions my parents made to ensure that we had a bright future.

I never forget my flight to the UK in 1998. That plane journey would be my last for the next 10 years…the decade from 1998 to 2008 was all about my quest for security.

We arrived the UK in July and it was supposedly hot. It wasn’t hot for us and we wore jumpers. As we got the tube from Heathrow, I marvelled at the idea of an underground train. I hadn’t seen a real life train before, so this was a big deal. I noticed some odd things on the tube. No one spoke to each other. Everyone sat in silence. And they all looked kinda miserable.

We arrived at a bedsit in North London. It was one room for a family of 5 with nothing in it other than a double bed, a fridge and a TV. That night, the children slept on the floor by our suitcases and my parents slept on the bed.

Immigration is newsworthy and understandably so.  However, let’s not forget that we are referring to human beings here, most with hopes and aspirations and a hard working ethic.

Immigrants are sometimes referred to in the media as third class citizens or worse. When you’re caught up in this sort of messaging, you can feel unwelcome or hopeless or both. Having listened to this for the last 20 years, I’ve come to realise that the immigrant’s perceived disadvantages could also be advantages if they’re understood and used.

Immigrants are hugely diverse.  There are immigrants with more money and power than Members of Parliament. They own football clubs and control vast assets.

Then there are other immigrants without any money or voice at all. These immigrants work hard and keep the country running, often doing dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs without many noticing.

For a very long time, life in the UK felt like living in a prison. This is because we had a visa issue technicality on arrival in the UK. This meant we had no right to the NHS, no right to apply for jobs, no right to benefits etc. Basically no rights to anything till we heard back from the powers that be on what our future would be. Months of waiting turned into years.

So how did we make money to buy food and survive? The only path available was to get creative and go underground. A job at Pret would have been fantastic. However, that wasn’t an option. We needed to go lower – informal jobs cleaning factories, plate washing etc.

This was a quiet and fearful life with the possibility of loss of residency in the UK at any time…we were right at the bottom of the pile, below the poorest citizens.

It’s hard for someone who has not walked the path of the immigrant to understand what the struggles are. However, I write about this so that you can start to understand why the path to Financial Independence for an immigrant might be hard but achievable.

Here are some of the struggles I faced.

1.Culture shock

Moving to the UK was a shocker for me. Everyone spoke so fast and everything moved so fast too.  I got a lot of abuse from the crazy kids at my State school and fitting in felt difficult.

I had no friends for a very long time, and really struggled to fit in at school here. The one guy who accepted me as a friend was Angolan Portuguese. It wasn’t cool to be African, and it’s interesting to now see a lot of the UK music and sport scene dominated by talented Brits with immigrant roots.

My mum had it very hard. She went from being a high ranking civil servant in Nigeria to cleaning portacabins as Canary Wharf expanded. In Nigeria she used to have her own driver, cleaner etc. In the UK, she became the cleaner.

I remember days when she’d come home with discarded coins and tips she got for serving coffee to the builders.We’d take them to the bathroom to rinse because they were always covered in dirt. These coins went very far and kept bread and milk on our table.

My dad was a vet having spent at least 7 years learning his profession.  However, moving to the UK meant those qualifications were not good enough. He had to re start life as a technician and find his way.

2. Language

There is a direct link between your ability to communicate and your future wealth.

My top priority as a teenager was to master English and stop sticking out like a sore thumb with my strong accent. I avoided speaking much in public because it only lost me the friends I never had(!).

But I realised that without fluency I had no hope of getting a proper job. So I’d watch the BBC news and repeat aloud, over and over, everything I heard.

3. Bureaucracy and lawyers

The British passport that many of you take for granted carries privileges. It guarantees citizenship and rights to many things e.g. health care, voting, welfare, property, job opportunities etc.

For some immigrants, the journey to getting a passport can take decades. You can lose years of your life due to poor advice, being fleeced by terrible solicitors.

Money plays such a critical role here. We didn’t have money available so had to find it everytime our solicitor said “this would cost you £3k each”. I tallied up all it has cost me to become a fully-fledged Brit and it came to something like £60,000.

4. Racism

I faced racism a lot but it has never held me back.

I got called all sorts of names at school. I even faced it subtly with professional jobs (when I finally could apply for these) although I couldn’t prove it.

My saving grace with the jobs I landed always came when I told my interviewers about my life journey. People respect struggle and resilience and that has helped me land good jobs. Speaking English in a way my interviewers understood also went a long way.

I’ve always either been the only black person in the companies I’ve worked for or the only black man. Of course none of this progression would have happened had I not achieved high level qualifications needed to even get a foot in the door.

As I have come to learn, the beginning of every achievement starts with a strong desire. If your desire is strong enough, no amount of racism will stop you.

5. Lack of Money

Lack of money is high on the list of problems that immigrants face. This causes many to get involved in illegal activities that worsen their already negative positions.

The lack of money can also do something else. It can heighten creativity and make you enterprising.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

This was certainly so for me and my family. We were told we couldn’t get jobs but nothing in the order we got said we couldn’t create jobs. So we made our own interpretation and set out to make some money. Setting up companies was far easier and faster than trying to get jobs.

You remember I told you about my mum’s cleaning jobs? Well, she went on to launch her own cleaning company and hired people doing what she did. Every menial job we all took, eventually became lessons from the business school called life.

Over the years, together as a family, we’ve run companies doing a variety of very different things. We owned a hair magazine, ran an events business, owned a medical personnel business, opened up nail bars and salons, created an African wholesale food brand and even opened children’s nurseries.

With each company we created, our confidence grew. And so did our cash. I discovered the idea of money working for me from Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It was a revelation. For the first time ever, the possibility of another life path began to sink in.

Rather than working for money, our money could work for us.

It was at this time that I met my wife Mary. Mary would change my life and give me a level of acceptance that I’d never had before. Together, we ventured into property investing, driven by the need to invest in cashflow generating assets.  The awareness of the concept of Financial Independence gave us a framework which in turn gave us purpose.

There are two things that have played a critical role on my journey:

i) Formal education

I got a degree in Economics and Accountancy, and went on afterwards to train as a Chartered Accountant (ACA). Later followed by an MBA.

In all these paths, I was really aiming for two things – Knowledge and Understanding. When I went to university, I was really there for knowledge. When I went back 10 years later to study for an Executive MBA, I was really there for understanding.

Knowledge and Understanding and very different things, and are both steps on the path to wisdom.

These bits of formal education had two major impacts –

  1. Expanding networks and relationships, and
  2. 6-figure income.

A high income coupled with low expenses = A high savings rate.

ii) Informal Education

A lot of the books I read focus on self-development, entrepreneurship, life hacks, relationships etc.

I found that reading feeds what I think, which in turn feeds my actions, which again then feeds what I think.

As well as learning from books, I’ve accelerated my learning by seeking out mentors and coaches.  There’s no quicker way to learn than through those that have been there already.  If you think about it, you realise that every aspect of business success, personal success etc comes down to an encounter with the right people in life.

The other bit of informal education comes from trial and error and that means taking some risks.

If you are too risk averse, you’re unlikely to become financially wealthy. Intelligent risk taking is fed by your self-awareness, a must-have ingredient for Financial Independence. It is calculated and motivated by goals you’ve set yourself having an understanding of what you want out of life.

If you’re waiting for a guarantee or for certainty before you make a move, you’ll never do anything.


Although I’m financially independent (lean FIRE!) at 34, I have a day job that I thoroughly enjoy…mainly because it offers me autonomy, challenge and a wealth creation opportunity. I work as a CFO for an investment firm specialising in the creative industries.

It remains an exciting journey and a lot of my spare time these days is spent enjoying the process of learning about money, life and people. And where I can, I teach what I’ve been learning.

Life today is vastly different to where I started out. It isn’t perfect and still has challenges. However, I’ve been extremely fortunate in this country, and I remind myself of this fact everyday.

When I hear people complaining about how terrible things are here, I smile quietly. Those people have no idea how incredibly fortunate we are to live in this beautiful country. I guess you never fully understand this unless you’ve seen another world out there or understood how rich we are today compared to other times in history.

If there is anything I hope you’ve taken away from my story, it’s that your perceived disadvantages can be your advantages and that you already have the raw materials you need to get to improve your life.

No one is saying that everyone can get to financial independence. Its hard and takes sacrifice and determination. There are no guarantees. But you don’t have to get to full financial independence to reap rewards. Just getting out of debt and starting investing will massively improve your life.

The question is, will you abandon what others think and start the journey?

You can learn more about Ken on his blog : The Humble Penny

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  1. Paullypips · · Reply

    Well done Ken. A great story. It reminds me of how “outraged” I felt after coming back from India (having been quite shocked by the general acceptance of terrible poverty there) and hearing people on the radio whining about how hard it was for them here in the UK. I have cured the outrage by turning the radio off.

    1. Paullypips, I appreciate you reading. India is certainly one country I have on my list of countries to visit. More so for a different perspective of life around the world.

      Interesting point you make about turning off the radio. I find that I have to do that daily to lots of the free media we have out there… Otherwise, I’d sadly drown in negativity.

  2. Good on you, Ken! It’s almost worth jumping on a plane and coming to the meet-up at the London pub to have a chat.
    Pity I still have the day job…

    1. haha, it would be great to meet in person. Those meetups are definitely worth attending. There will be more if you can’t make this one.

  3. sowhendidyoufinish · · Reply

    Great stuff Ken.

    I spent some time on the oil rigs in West Africa (Gabon) and the genuine warmth from strangers was amazing. I remember going to a family for an authentic local cuisine and the bathroom literally being a hole out back and yet people had true community/happiness.

    Coming from a immigrant family myself your story resonates’. Congrats on getting to FIRE!

    1. Glad to hear my story resonates with you. What’s interesting is that there are so many of these stories out there, but they never get told.

      Oil rigs in Gabon? Wow, you’re adventurous! Most people have no idea where West Africa is let alone Gabon or Nigeria etc.

      Happy to see you use the “C” word – Community. My wife (native London from H-Town aka Hackney) did some voluntary work in Kenya a few years back. She had the same experience you did and still talks about it till today.

      Something about changing our environments and routine is good for perspective.

  4. Thank you Escape Artist for introducing Ken to us. What an incredibly great story. It resonated tremendously with me though I never had it as challenging. There is a lot of truth to what Ken says about immigrating into a new life. I immigrated 11 times now, and it is a lot easier being FI and doing it for fun than having to proof oneself over and over again in a strange environment with people you don’t quite understand and vice versa; on the other hand, succeeding, and overcoming those risks, reaping small and growing benefits each time, it gives you the mentality, drive, and confidence to take risks and most importantly see the world through different eyes. Lastly, let’s take a moment to remember how many immigrants never make it this far and fare far leas fortunate.

    1. Immigration is a hard subject, especially for those moving for a materially better life. Right this very moment, on the same streets that you and I will walk today, there will be many people at varying stages of their immigration journey.

      Most are certainly far from fortunate and most of the time are seeking acceptance and a home. These are some of my motivations for writing and talking about this subject from a more positive light.

      Such people are really just like you and me. They seek a better and more rewarding life and are to do what it takes to get it if given the chance.

      I thank TEA for sharing this story.

      1. Agree fully again! 🙂 Am looking forward to reading more from you. Thanks, mate.

  5. FI Warrior · · Reply

    Immigration is one of the hardest things you can do in this world, especially in hard times when those already there feel you are coming to ‘take’ from them. Immigrants really have a sink-or-swim barrier at the first hurdle which many don’t survive, they go back or give up in other ways (like homelessness) if there isn’t enough luck/support. As such, the lifestyle of financial independence is obvious and a natural instinct for them, faced with the hostile environment, they had to do it to cope.

    It is interesting that so often the wealthier countries that demonise immigrants so easily, refuse to accept the part that immigration played in building their own wealth, as did looting the immigrants’ birthplaces. (whether through colonisation or unfair trade arrangements even today) Equally, we go to other countries to work, but call that ‘expatriates’ or retire in colonies, but don’t expect second class treatment there because ‘it’s different’; funny what you can do with cognitive dissonance.

    1. I like your thinking, FI Warrior! FI was definitely a HUGE attraction.

      But I first had to know it existed, and secondly had to believe that it could exist for me. Both of these do not happen overnight and there is a huge barrier to overcome re limiting beliefs (e.g. I am poor and will always stay poor… or I am on the wrong side of life and will never be successful… etc).

      As for those that don’t make it, I know many of those people too. My mum’s sister, for example, has tried immigrating to the UK… it failed…then America….it failed too… That alone has created a massive emotional blow and we are having to manage that remotely.

      Re wealthier countries demonising immigrants so easily given history… It’s an interesting one. As humans, we’re all naturally selfish but to varying degrees. So naturally, people in better parts of the world want to protect what they have… As you point out, there is a larger dimension at play, and I think a lot of that has to do with some people believing that they’re better than others.

      1. FI Warrior · · Reply

        Re: some people feeling they are children of a superior god, the saddest thing to see is those obvious immigrants at the highest levels of society who have the power to make a real difference and given their own experience, doing nothing or even worse crushing the others who a few years ago they were the same as. I call them ladder-kickers, they somehow managed to scale the ladder of injustice to enter the fortress promising hope, then kick away the ladder to increase the possibility of their own wealth, switching sides. This was the whole concept of George Orwell’s book ‘animal farm’, most people don’t think further than their own noses; but fate alone has a way of teaching those who are willing to learn; otherwise we are doomed to repeat the same lessons until we die.

        1. Yes! this is a really important point, FI Warrior. One of the reasons why I write this stuff and put it free on the internet is to show other people “the ladder up” and illustrate ways to (greater) financial freedom for everyone that is willing to do the work.

        2. Absolutely FI Warrior. There’s even a specifically British-term for it: “I’m alright Jack”.

        3. donaldtramp1 · ·

          Great post Ken. Thanks for sharing your story. Very inspiring. Kens story and FI warriors post hit home for me.
          I’ve researched my family tree back and I’ve seen the X that marks the spot in the records where my Italian and Irish immigrant ancestors couldn’t write or sign their own name. I’ve always been very aware of that and how challenging it must have been. How could I possibly judge anyone when I come from the same background? Makes you realise just how thankfully we should all be. No more whineypants!

      2. FI Warrior · · Reply

        Hey, there are some hunter-gatherers in Tanzania that DNA testing shows to have been there as long as can be calculated and they are unrelated to the surrounding tribes. Present thinking is that humankind arose somewhere on the savannas between the cape and equatorial east africa, from which new peoples split off and moved away to populate the earth in search of a better life. As such, unless you are a Hadza or Khoisan for example, wherever you are and whatever your nominal citizenship, almost every person is an immigrant, the only question being ”How recent?”.

        It is the ultimate evolutionary test, starting again for most at the bottom, and the scars, both physical (from the hard work locals shun) and mental (from the daily petty indignities) are carried for life. This is already the 4th country I have lived in since birth, none from any real choice, moving ahead of the trouble you learn to see coming. We were always a minority, never felt accepted or safe, only tolerated, with that expiry date not always clear. We were taught from toddler age as with any crucial survival skill like talking and walking, to manage financial affairs wisely and that we had to do twice as well just to get what the others were entitled to.

        I assume you are Biafran in origin, or one of the peoples (so cruelly ironically) unfortunate enough to live in the oil lands of the gulf, so in that regard I am luckier than you in never personally being affected by war. Our hope was that even though qualifying to stay in the UK through ancestral right, enough money would free us to live somewhere that actually appreciates that small percentage of an entire population that could succeed against all those odds; you know what we can give back.

        1. FI Warrior, if only many people had the perspective you have…

          By the way, yes to the Biafran origin.

          “We were taught from toddler age as with any crucial survival skill like talking and walking, to manage financial affairs wisely and that we had to do twice as well just to get what the others were entitled to.”

          This rings such a bell for me. When I was at university, I had 4.30am starts pretty much every weekday because I so badly wanted to nail that degree. I always assumed everyone else was ahead and putting in the hours and smashing the degree would help me cover ground a bit.

          It worked!

          Interestingly, I am no stranger to those hours these days. If ever I have to get anything done so badly, I default back to 4.30am when there is no noise and work can actually get done.

  6. Wow what an amazing story Ken, this is just what I needed to hear. For the last couple of months I’ve started to feel very disheartened and started to think FI was unattainable for me but this is the story I needed to hear to give me the kick up the behind, MMM would probably have punched me in the face by now at my whininess. I’m glad I kept reading and have eventually found a story that has inspired me again….. it just proves you really can do anything if you put your energy and mind to it – Thank you Ken!

    1. Ani, I’m so happy this hit home for you. I told TEA that if this story means anything to even 10 people, it would have been worth it.

      FI is such an important goal to aim for that I think it would be a shame to give up… Many do.

      What I think helps massively with this journey is to meet others on the journey too. When I talked about how coaching had helped me, I had sought people who I felt had been through the gutter and also found a way out. I needed those people to drag me along when it got tough.

      Some of these people were other black men (I needed to meet such successful people just to cross a barrier in my mind), and women who had been through adversity (one of my coaches was a South African woman who moved to the UK and rose to Prominence at Barclays Capital)… I had adversity in common with these people and wanted MORE out of life. As time passed, I met even more diverse groups of people, started blogging and that opened up even more doors to meet the likes of TEA and others who have been there and done it.

      Your point about putting your mind to it is so important. Hence why “The Why of FI” is sooo important. I had specific ‘points of no return’ that I would always reference on this journey.

      As this journey is tough and unusual, having the right people, knowing why and taking it all day after day helps massively. I tell Mary all the time, the battle is won day after day.

      So do not give up! 🙂

  7. Well done Ken! Not just a great story, a concise analysis of important life lessons.

    Perhaps the case study addresses the real issue of why so many scoff at FIRE – such people simply lack the ‘drive’?

    1. Ian, appreciated. Point well made.

      I think many scoff FI partly because they don’t have the drive (and you need a catalyst for this to exist) and secondly, because people do not like pain. Most do not want to execute the important trade of giving something up to get something else. As such, nothing changes.

  8. Powerful article, thanks for sharing your story Ken. I’m an immigrant myself, but cannot compare to any of the struggles you and your family faced. I had it very easy, moving to the country of my choice because “why not, it looks fun”, with lots of financial backup from my family and not fleeing away from any terrible national situation.

    And yet I’ve found it tough sometimes, so I can’t begin to imagine how it feels when there are actual real problems to face (money, racism, …) like your family did.

    1. Great to see the readership of TEA is super diverse.

      All change it seems comes with some challenge. I had always wrongly assumed that people who move in the way that you did typically had no issues.

  9. Well done Ken.

    I commend your achievement, and your ability to articulate so well those hard won lessons you have learned along the way.

    Powerful stuff.

    1. Much appreciated 😉

  10. Thank you for sharing your story Ken, it is incredibly heart-warming. I really liked your conclusion: “your perceived disadvantages can be your advantages and that you already have the raw materials you need to get to improve your life.” Very wise words.

    1. Someone told me that line could make an entire TED Talk. I laughed. Hope to see you on the 19th!

  11. Awesome post Ken – cool to read it all.

    And it’s fascinating how your parents managed to cope as they had to start at the bottom again and work their way up alongside raising kids in a foreign country – truly impressive.

    1. Ms ZiYou, I reference my mum and dad whenever asks me if they can become FI one day even though they’re now in their 40s or 50s.

      My response is always – HECK YEAH!

      It all comes down to how HUNGRY one is. Although I’ve written the above story from my perspective, an entirely different story exists of my mum for example who at 44 had to hit the reset button, move to a new country and start at the bottom. With no time on her side and 4 kids, she just had to find a way out.

      One differentiator I’d like to point out is the importance of collaboration among family members. So for example, when we launched our first Childcare business in SE London, my mum (in 2008) rocked up with a business plan. She knew absolutely nothing about childcare as a business, but she wrote a business plan anyway.

      She couldn’t get the idea off the ground without her children. We all had different skills… I brought Finance, my sister brought “Operations” and my brother brought “Coding” skills etc.

      Then we each had to borrow £10 – £15k each cheaply to spread risk and just give it ago.

      It worked so well (years later) that all my mum’s 7 grandchildren (including my kids) have never had to pay childcare costs.

      However, none of this would have happened without the need to collaborate and take some risk.

  12. Ken, wow, an amazing story. When is the book coming out?!

    1. Ep, LOL. An idea is a pretty dangerous thing 🙂

      Reminds me of a scene from one of my best films of all time:

  13. ladyaurora · · Reply

    Intriguing. I was glued all the way through reading Ken’s story. What a remarkable man. Just shows what can be done…the odds were stacked against him but he and his family won through. My mind now considers all the useless British complaining layabouts, living off benefits, pretending to be disabled so they don’t have to work. They need kicking out and more people like Ken and his family bringing in.

    1. Ladyaurora


      Interesting reading your message. I’d say that what you refer to about benefits has a lot to do with the balance between true necessity and mindset.

      When given the choice of the low hanging fruit or hard work (with high upside), many will likely choose the former. The question then becomes, why?

      I personally think that having a growth mindset is necessary for personal advancement among other things…

  14. Ken,

    It seems you’ve already reached your goal of this article meaning something to at least 10 people, but here’s a further “thank you for sharing your story” anyway – it did remind me of how lucky I and many others are.

    I agree with you about successes often coming down to encountering the right people in life. Even if for no reason other than having the support and/or challenge to think differently and try something new. The journey to early financial independence is a good example of the importance of this, as people with this mindset are few and far between, which I personally think holds many people back. A good reason for attending on the 19th I hear you say!

    Thanks again.

    1. Rob,

      You’re a gent! I hope to see you on the 19th.

  15. Ken,

    I am 60 years old and was reduced to tears by your story.

    You and your family are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey. A book is a must, that others can learn what is possible, and yet more can learn to view immigrants’ challenges in a different light.

    Thank you so much.

    1. Jay b

      You’ve sown a seed 😉

      I really appreciate your kind message. What I find is a recurring theme on our journey so far is the importance of simply believing that things will change for the better. Belief is not enough though as seeing that change is activated by taking some forward looking steps. What I call in my world ‘faith walks’. So, literally stepping out there and seeing what happens.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. I agree. Write a book mate. I want to buy the hardcover to hit all the whining people with it.

      1. ladyaurora · · Reply

        Hear hear!

      2. You know what’s strange, I got followed by a publisher on twitter the same week….hmm…anyway, let’s not get too excited

  16. TheLuckyOne · · Reply

    Its funny how the reality and the newspaper headlines are different. I have the utmost admiration for you and your parents. I like an autobiography and you can put me down for a signed copy when its printed. I’d like to write a book but I’m too lazy to get up at 4.30 and do it.

    1. You’re giving me far too much motivation 😉

      Waking up that early is certainly not easy. It’s made more difficult with little children.

      Thinking back, I recall turning on the radio to hear other people talk… that way I wasn’t awake alone. If you ever want to try it, the key is to decide the night before exactly what you’ll do in the morning. That way, you wake up, grab a cuppa and crack on.

      Personally, I’ve found that it’s the best way of starting my day… As I’m already awake, there’s no chance I’ll snooze my alarm etc. I should mention though that waking that early also relies on sleeping early…. which then challenges the activities of the night before e.g. watching TV etc.

  17. Ken, what a life story, another thanks to add to the list for sharing it. Truly inspiring!

    I hope we can grab a few minutes to chat on the 19th but I think I may have to join the queue by the sounds of it 🙂


    1. Haha if only! Come along and let’s hang out. I’m looking forward to it.

  18. Very inspiring story.
    Although my story didn’t begin in Africa but in a far more “luxurious” rural eastern european town, our journeys have a lot in common. When I was declined work permit in Germany I became self employed to be able to stay. 9 years later I was FI with family of 4.
    It’s an honor to have met you! Hope to see you again soon. Maybe at FIWE next year ( or FIWE family!)

    1. Dude,

      Really enjoyed meeting you both!! Your events sound very tempting for sure. Let’s see what next year brings.

  19. Good job Ken. Im going on a similar path like you. People like you show everyone that there is nothing imbossible and as long as you want to achieve something there is always a way no matter who you are.

    1. Georgi

      Much appreciated! Good to read about your journey. Hopefully see you at one of the meetups?

  20. […] Ken at The Humble Penny puts it like this:  […]

  21. Thanks again for sharing your story Ken.

    I completely understand the sense of struggling to fit in. Although with age, I feel this sense has reduced somewhat. Perhaps this is because as I’m getting older, I start to care less about what people think.

    I agree that not everyone can reach financial independence. We all have to start somewhere. Whether we’ve had to overcome personal struggles or started from a position of privilege. It’s the starting which counts. After that, it just about consistency but the hardest part in starting is done.

    Well done on all that you have achieved and will achieve in the future.

    1. You make a very good point about starting and consistency.

      Given FI is a pitstop on the money journey, any step taken towards it is a good one. Whether it gets one to financial stability or security or eventually FI. It’s all good.

  22. […] How An Immigrant From Nigeria Achieved Financial Independence At The Age Of 34 […]

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