Welcome to episode 10, yep, that is one? zero? we have reached the dizzy heights of two-digit podcast episodes. And at this rate of one episode per week, it is going to take nearly two years to get to the next big milestone of three-digits so let?s celebrate!
So when I thought what was best to talk to you about this week, I thought well a lot of the focus has been on managing costs and budgeting, which whilst vitally important is only one part of one side of the equation. The other part is, income, because in order to save we have to earn and then spend less than we earn, it is remarkably simple when you boil it down to this ? the hard part for us I suppose is being able to optimise both at the same time as they are often two separate journeys. When I look at my income journey, it has certainly been a roller-coaster.
As a kid, I was always overly optimistic about my earning potential. I am not sure where exactly where this came from, thinking back my Dad always seemed to do very well in his career and he achieved early retirement at 57, and I suppose I just thought I was a chip off the old block. I was very fortunate in my early experience of work, whilst I was at school, I stepped into jobs that paid relatively well for a young student ? great for buying Versace jackets but gave me a false sense of security thinking I would just step into a high paying career when the studying was finally all over.
As mentioned previously, I made a few mistakes in my earlier years, and when it came to income, this was not investing time in my personal growth to create value to potential employers. My first role was trainee manager of a ?Gentleman?s Club? and yes for those that can?t see I am doing the universal sign language for inverted commas ? oooh I made my Mum and Dad so proud ? so as glamourous as this may have sounded at the age of 21 it wasn?t a great foundation for where I wanted to take my career and earning potential. But heck at that age I was just after the good times, I wasn?t thinking about my financial future and security ? I was earning good money for my age, but I was spending it all on the good times, so when it came to spending on stuff that would actually keep me alive and healthy I was living off the smell of an oily rag. When I decided this wasn?t the career for me, my income actually declined considerably. I started in a number of different types of sales jobs over the following years, but again there wasn?t the presence of mind for saving, it was living paycheck to paycheck, having as much fun in between with what available spend I had and going into debt when I didn?t have any available. So the debt pot grew, and the savings pot was some mythical legend that I didn?t even know existed.
So by now, you will know there was a turning point, and that came with a different mindset, leading to retraining and a change of career. But what the very early years taught me is that to start saving properly, you really have to get both things right, and that is conscious spending and conscious earning. It is interesting looking back on where and how I earned money and how much I was making and comparing this to my bank balance whilst abstractly in the back of my mind debating how happy I was at these particular times and noticing if there is any correlation there. To be honest I had some really great times during my twenties and there were periods where I felt really happy and content ? but I suppose in hindsight ignorance was bliss ? not focusing on the future also meant I wasn?t aware of any potential pitfalls I was always just so confident that I would always get by and eventually there would be a big paying gig to get me out of trouble. As a side note, as this show is all about taboo-breaking, I am going to put some personal financial data to show my history on happyfiday.com so look out for that, and I will announce it in the episode after it has gone live
It frightens me now to think how little money I had, until around the age of 31, my net worth was negative (even taking any mortgage I had out of the equation). Certainly, after the change in career in my mid-late twenties, this helped as it put me on a path to the increased earning potential which meant I was able to start paying down debt I had accrued, but man I have been living precariously! If I thought I lived off the smell of an oily rag when I was schmoozing at the ?Gentleman?s Club?, I really knew about it a few years later when I was earning $18,000 dollars a year with no potential of commission to top it up as a trainee Quantity Surveyor and paying a mortgage ? whilst still trying to portray I was living the high-life from my city-centre studio apartment, which soon became unaffordable.
Buuuuut? when I actually focussed on my career path and earning potential, I was able to make the right pivots at the right time to earn more money whilst not deviating from the path to build my value in a certain sector ? and that was just by chance, Construction. Look, I really enjoyed this change and a fresh challenge, I always felt like an imposter though as I was technically starting my career late through a re-birth in education, if I wanted to get to where I wanted to be on the ladder, I was going to have to make some bold moves. At the time this meant on taking on the tasks that others were uncomfortable to do, so when the director of a QS consultancy told me he was uncomfortable with the sales and training side, especially the training side I said I would love to get my teeth into it (even though deep down I really dreaded this too). What I was going to train people, I hadn?t even finished my degree yet! But I have learnt that sometimes putting yourself outside of your comfort zone really does pay off, and even if it doesn?t work in the short term, in the medium to long term, it really helps you to grow. And I learned this the most when I truly put myself outside of my comfort zone, taking the leap to New Zeeland to work on the other side of the fence for a contractor which I had never done before (only for consultancies) and a whole new country with different contracts, practices and culture. Opine company owner actually sited these as reasons for turning down my application when I was first job hunting in New Zealand, from the other side of the world.
I remember that gut-wrenching feeling a couple of weeks into my New Zealand venture, I really thought I had made a terrible mistake and I would be getting on the next plane home with my tail between my legs begging for my old job back. But I hung on in there, made some more gutsy moves at work and also seeking other opportunities to be closer to friends in the North Island and the opportunity for a higher paying job now I was already on the island it would be easier to negotiate. So on my very first Christmas break living in New Zealand, I took my company car on a journey from Christchurch to Auckland and back, in between I visited a friend but also set up some interviews and when back in Christchurch I had two offers on the table both paying higher base salaries. I took one of those offers in 2013, and I still work for that same company to this very day. As during this later period of my life, I learned another valuable lesson, the benefits of commitment.
I have learned enough through my various jobs, not just the technical stuff but how to politically maneuverer within an organisation to get desired outcomes, be it pay or working conditions. So when you have got it good, use this to your advantage and if that company consistently allows you the opportunity to prove your value and move up the ladder, and it suits your lifestyle and goals, go for it! This is exactly what I did, and only six months into this role in my personal life I met Leish, and the commitment I have give to Leish, and little Stella has really paid off for all of us, in every way ? so being committed to my employer who treated me well and my wife and stepdaughter have truly not made me just happy but also content. I now feel I have built the ideal platform to grow in any direction I choose, and that brings me to the world of side-gigs.
You see since I first started taking my career and earning seriously for what it could mean for the future, it also opened up my eyes to what it meant to carry out meaningful work. So for the last ten years or so I have always worked on things on the side, some for money some for learning and adapting and through this process I worked out my true passion is building small businesses that solve problems, delivered in my own unique way, better than the competition. These ventures, whether income-generating or not are built around my own core values, which have evolved over time to discipline, commitment, consistency and reliability. These aren?t the sexy values that you may see on some corporate towers, but these are my true to life values.
For instance, I earn no income from this podcast venture, but it brings me great joy, and hopefully, value to you. One day it may generate an income, but that will only be if I follow through on consistently generating value to those that choose to listen and it and do this in a consistent manner. You may have noticed I decided a few weeks ago to put out one episode once a week on a Friday and to date I have not missed this deadline, and that consistency is important to me, because I know as a content consumer myself if there is something good out there that is available on a regular basis and easy to predict and I am more likely to tune in and thank you to those of you that do. Where this has really paid off in terms of income generation has been helping Leish pivot her own self-employed career as a hairstylist to an artificial wedding flowers florist. Building this business from scratch with Leish, who really is a true entrepreneur, has given us both great satisfaction and the ability to top up our household income, now with a new supply only line in the form of married.co.nz
Being the masters of our own destiny is the path we are now on and part of that journey is giving everything to my current employer and committing to them until the time is right to move on our own thing. You see I see the value in my career for the time being as it is currently the engine behind our FI journey, but those side-gigs will provide true fulfilment in our future when we are FI and notice again no mention of FIRE as retirement in the traditional sense of the word is not the goal here, the goal is financial independence and choosing how to spend your time be that work or leisure it will be our and your choice? So until next time happy fiday.