Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another journey to follow

Are you interested?

I'm starting a blog that will document my road to financial independence. Feel free to look around and who knows, you might find something interesting here. I'm not trying to sell anything, there is no scam. I'm just keeping a journal to document my journey.

The reasons behind the journey: school

I never really thought this hard about personal finance until was in college. The more I went to college, the more I disliked it. The problem lies in the fact that all teachers want you to do assignments for their own subject, without thinking about the other work we need to do. You need to prepare exercises for every subject you get on Monday, which may or may not compomise your weekend if you have a lot of classes on Monday.
The result? No more free time. All you do is study and work, just to get your degree.
I was determined to get that degree, mostly because I already spent several years studying and I did not want to waste those years (and for other personal reasons too, but I'm not gonna go into that). But when I started my last year, I wanted it to be over as soon as possible, so I could start to work for money. Many others didn't want to work yet and after 4-5 years of studying, they still wanted to study more. I didn't understand then and I still don't understand.
It's not just the loss of free time, but also the exams that make studying a bad thing. You work hard during the year, to satisfy the teachers only to be stressed out for more than 3 weeks during exams in order to learn it all again, in a very short amount of time. Humans where not build to have that much knowlegde in their head, that's why we invented databases, elektronic documents and the internet. Exams are just not healty.
And the longer we live, the more information students need to remember... so it just gets worse.
And do you think that's the worst? No! You don't get paid for it... worse, it costs a lot of money to get through that. And all that, just to get a better chance to find a job that pays more?

The reasons behind the journey: work

School has been tough, but I was glad when I got my masters degree. Not because of the degree itself, but because I could finally quit school and start earning money.
By now I already knew that the way our society works, did not compute with me. Something was wrong. I just hadn't figured it out yet.
And then came my first work experience. It was a real eye-opener.
For my first job, I was a software engineer for a big animal nutrition company. A standard 9-5 job, sitting behind a computer all day. Seems logical, because I studied ICT in school. I did my best to do well, but I never got a lot of good comments. It seemed like nothing was ever good enough. Sure, I had to develop applications on a system that was different then every other system I knew (AS400), which made me a little less productive, but still...
Add to that, the fact that my boss and his boss where fighting a lot... it made the atmosphere over there a bit unpleasant. I kept wondering if this is what my life was gonna look like from now on. Studying 5 years, to end up here?

Finding work you love

During that time, I started to look up stuff about "finding a job you love" and related information. It turns out that only 10% of all people have a job they love. The others either don't or they're lying (to you or themselves). That's information I gathered from studying many different articles I found by searching the web.
But I started following some of the advice I found and did the following:
* list everything about your current job that you like
* try to find out what you want from a job
* try to match what you want, with your skills

Especially the second one was difficult. I like programming, but it appears that I don't like it when I have to do it 8 hours/day on software I have no interest in. This is still a problem for me today.

So now I'm at my second job, working for a smaller and more modern software company. It's a different atmosphere, which is an improvement over my previous job. But I still have the same feeling. The switching jobs has learnt me a lot, however, and it got me thinking even more.
I'm no longer tied to a particular job, I use jobs as a tool to get to where I want to go. (I'll explain this in detail later.)
And during the last period of my previous job, I started to read articles and blogs about financial independence. I got inspired and wanted to learn more about this.

Financial independence and early retirement

It was more of a dream at first though, but maybe it could become reality? I needed to do a lot of investigating, which led me to several interesting articles.
The most notable where:
* HowStuffWorks: How to make a Million Dollars
* HowStuffWorks: How to Retire Early

They thought me the secret of compound interest. Because I used to like saving and I was never one to spend much money, I already had money in a higher interest saving fund. But I knew I had to do more then that to make compounding interest work. So I started to find ways to maximize my returns and gain money faster, while spending little money.


There are some of the conclusions I made while starting my journey to financial independence:
* School prepares you for a job where you are stuck working for the man.
* Working a regular 9-5 job means making other people money.
* It's very difficult, finding a job you love. My main interests and hobbies will not get me a job.
* It's possible to become financial independent.

This article was a quick summary of a whole heap of information. I made it to let you know a bit why I started the journey to become financially independent. There's a lot more to it off course and I haven't touched all subjects yet, but I hope you get an idea now what my blog is about. The road to financial independence is long and difficult, especially when most people around you think differently or don't believe you. If you want to take the journey, I'm here to explain what I go through, so you can now that you are not alone. After all, if you read this all the way to this point, you must be interested in this journey too, right?