The pursuit of financial freedom – Year 3 (2022(I) – The First 100k)

There is a lot going on – so I decided to split the annual updated into two parts: To make the blog posts a bit shorter, more readable and to hold myself accountable to sticking to the FI plan.

This annual update has been titled „The First 100k“ in advance…my excel spreadsheet „Playbook“ prognosed me to reach this milestone mid of 2022. What could have been an smooth journey turned into an epic battle.

Boom Boom Boom Clap!

2022 threw everything at me what it had in store: Double-Digit Inflation Rates, Global Supply Chain Crisis, War in Europe, Endless Bear Markets at the Stock Exchange and Cryptos, Declining FX Rates, Dictators, New Covid Lockdowns, Narcissists, Farewells, Broken Hearts and another Work Relocation. I have cancelled my Netflix account, because for three years now there is no movie or show that could keep up with reality. So we are down for another turbulent (bi-)annual recap. Will I reach my milestone or do I have to revise the title of this blogpost at year end?

Lets start from the beginning….

In 2021 I implemented a couple of measures to join the Slow FI path, optimizing work-life balance and focusing on other projects outside of work. It was a year of mini-retirement and figuering out how I would spend my time once achieving FI. After giving it considerable thought, I came to the conclusion that there won’t be a life after FI without work. Losing purpose and daily routines would leave me depressed.

„Part of growing up and moving into new chapters of your life is about catch and release. Decide what is yours to hold. And let the rest go.“

I decided to use FI to find my purpose and search for enjoyable work. Relocating to another country definitely was an eye-opener. Even though I was still working full time, most of the year felt like a big vacation. But every vacation has to come to an end, right? Well, after one vacation is before the next vacation. So I started looking for work in locations I would like to spend more time than just a few days.

„You’ll never be home again. Not completely. Part of your heart will always be elsewhere. This is the price you pay for finding happiness in more than one place.“

And I came up with a list:

  • Amsterdam
  • Munich
  • Barcelona
  • Lisbon/Porto
  • Copenhagen
  • London
  • Singapore
  • New York City/Boston
  • Los Angeles/San Francisco
  • Sydney
  • Cape Town

I could move to those places and be a digital nomad. But I could also relocate there with my job. Explore the city and surroundings, learn a new language, save half of my income…and once it gets boring, relocate to the next place. Slow FI while traveling the world. That is all, what FIRExplorer is about. Or have I just created a new form of FI? Global FI? Relocation FI? Travel FI!

I like Travel FI – I will stick with it for now.

„You wanna fly, you got to give up on that shit that weighs you down.“

While I was thinking about my options, a couple of negative factors came into play. Inflation rates surged in 2022 and the Global Markets did no take it well. Even though I wasn`t much affected by the rising prices, it would not have been smart to miss out on the higher salaries which came with the Great Resignation and Inflation. Changing jobs regulary became kind of a necessity.

Then Russia started a war in Europe. In a way no one would have expected it could ever happen again. Which made me rethink, if it may not be the best option to relocate to a country not sharing borders with Ukraine. Mix in a decline in FX rate, horrible politics and getting bored at work…and you get out another relocation. Let’s pick the first option on the list – Amsterdam, here I come!

„Change of Scenery II is coming out really cool.“

Why Amsterdam? Well first of all, the company has an office there. Assisted relocation is always the easiest option. Further, with the 30% tax ruling for expats it probably offers the best (net) salary to cost of living to quality of life ratio in Europe. And it is a great city to live in. So summer 2022 was again all about moving countries as smooth as possible. Relo-Road-Trip 2.0!

„Not being a noun, being a verb. Being moving in life, not being fixed. Is a privilege.“

The first half of the year I still spent in Hungary (Marcus in Budapest – Season 2). I got very comfortable in not spending any money, so even though the salary was small, I was able to save around 50% of my income. However, some months I lost more money on the markets than I was saving.

At least I was able to tick off a bunch of stuff from my bucket list: Celebrating New Years Eve abroad, Cherry Blossom in Budapest, Cycling around the Balaton, Watching the Giro d’Italia at the Fisherman Bastion, Travelling through Eastern Europe, Finally getting the 10k on Instagram and many more. But I was stagnating at work and also not feeling inspired to pursue any of my side hustles anymore. It was time for change.

„That toxic monster you saw at the end…That is who they really are. The rest was a lie, a fairytale, an illusion of the truth.“

So in summer I said goodbye to the heat of Budapest and started the Mission Impossible: Finding a flat in Amsterdam. There is a huge demand for flats in Amsterdam. It feels like the place to be right now in Europe. Maybe its the beautiful scenery, relaxed work-life balance, tax advantages, the location far away from the war in Eastern Europe. Or a combination of everything. Everyone seems to move here now.

„I don’t know who needs to hear this, but no job title is worth your mental health.“

But lucky as I am it took me only few attempts to find a flat. After a virtual viewing on Instagram Live and with the help of my relocation agency and an inspiring introduction letter (including headshot) I was the lucky one chosen to move into the flat. A seven month rental, fully furnished, close to the office and city center. Gives me full flexibility to decide how long I want to stay and what’s next for 2023.

Too good to be true. And that was before I spotted the hammock on the sunny balcony. New dimension of WFH (aka Working From Hammock) unlocked.

„Upgrade your enviroment, because your environment upgrades you.“

So here I am now: Marcus in Amsterdam – Season 1. The sun is shining, 26 degrees Celsius, sitting on the terrace of a boat hotel, overlooking the IJ river and Amsterdam harbour, having a Cappuchino and sourdough with scrambled eggs for breakfast, writing my blogpost. Feels like holiday. Who needs financial freedom when a workday feels like a holiday?

In these times we are just very privileged, I guess. Just a few days ago a law in Netherlands gave more rights to employees who want to work from home or remotely. And my company passed a new policy which allows me to work from home full time. Before COVID this was the dream life. Now it is reality. So, not everything that happened in the past few years was bad.

We’re on a floating rock…you know that, right?!

Time to start a new season and to write new chapters of my life. Now I`m cycling through Amsterdam, exploring fancy places, feeling like a hipster. Riding through the streets and docks with my shady second hand bike made me feel like in the good old Grand Theft Auto gaming days. Cruising through a city without any destination, exploring the huge new map, discovering hidden places and just having fun.

GTA 22 – Amsterdam.

So much for the first half of 2022. The Euro is losing value compared to the USD day by day. I`m afraid the goal of reaching 100k USD by year-end will become unattainable. Also I just booked flights to Copenhagen, Budapest, New York City and San Francisco for the next two months. Another kind of inflation – We call it Lifestyle Inflation and we try to avoid it! Guilty.

But who knows, maybe there will be a surprising recovery at the markets? Or we will all be dead by December? You never know what the future will hold and that is what makes life so exciting.

See you at year-end for „The Pursuit of Financial Freedom – Year 3 (2022(II) – After the Storm?)“.

Back to the Numbers, Numbers, Numbers….

Summary 2022 (I)

  • Annual saving rate: 57%
  • Investment depot: – 6.7%
  • Crypto depot: – 65%
  • Increase savings: 26%
  • Increase net worth: 24%

Wins in 2022 (I):

  • Annual savings rate in green zone (57% for first half of 2022)
  • Increase in savings/net worth by 26%/24%
  • Monthly Net Salary tripled

Negative Effects in 2022 (I):

  • Inflation
  • Global Crisis (China, Ukraine, Recession, Gas prices)
  • FX rate (HUF, USD)
  • Crypto and stock bear markets

Potential for future:

  • Increase income to adjust HCOL & create passive income streams
  • Reducing expenses (Rent, Groceries, Eating out, Travel) to increase savings rate
  • Investing into bear market – increase cash-flow into investment depots, higher returns after recovery

Current forecast (savings rate 50%, ROI 5,34%):

  • Financial stability (6 months expenses saved): OK
  • Financial flexibility (2 years expenses saved): OK
  • Financial independence light (live from savings/returns for 5 years): OK
  • Coast Financial Independence (reach retirement savings w/o further saving): OK
  • Financial independence light (live from savings/returns for 10 years): 2023 (t+1)
  • Financial independence light (live from savings/returns for 15 years): 2024 (t+2)
  • Financial independence (live from returns 25 y/pass. income, 4% p.a.): 2027 (t+5)

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