Thank you 2016!

2016 was a great year
2016 has been a great year for our family. We have much to be grateful for.

It is sometimes easy to focus on the bad stuff in life – the irritations and the niggling worries. So this year I made a conscious effort to acknowledge all the wonderful things that I have to be thankful for. I sat down and wrote a list, and as I wrote I realised that I am indeed fortunate and have much to be grateful for.

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The Importance of Trying New Things

Sailing the Med
We made some wonderful memories on our sailing boat, but the time has come to try new things

Five years ago my husband and I bought a sailing boat. We had never owned a boat before and did not come from boating families, so we had no idea whether we would like it or not, but we felt it was worth a try. Over the years we had some great times on the yacht with our kids – we got to see some beautiful scenery including lovely beaches that are difficult to access from land. We also crossed over to Sicily and spent long days lazing on Sicilian beaches and eating pizza and pasta. So it has been great and we are very grateful that we plucked up the courage to try it out.

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The Value We Derive from Going to Work

Breaking out of jail!
Some people talk about going to work as though it were indentured slavery – do we really only go to work for the money?

Many people often talk about going to work as though they were serving a prison sentence. This is particularly prevalent in the FIRE community, where bloggers talk openly about the number of years they still have to slog away before getting to the coveted holy grail of financial independence, when they would throw off the yoke of gainful employment and finally experience freedom for the first time. The fact is, however, that fixing your sights on a future date when you will be “happy” and “live life the way you want to” greatly reduces your ability to be happy in the here and now – which is very sad, for after all life is short and nobody can afford to throw away years of contentment during this journey we call life.

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An Update On Our Debt Position

It is important to keep on top of your loans. Interest and fees can squeeze your wallet.
It is important to keep on top of your loans. Interest and fees can squeeze your wallet.

In April I wrote a post about our loans – Debt: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  I looked at our three loans (a mortgage, a home equity loan and a commercial loan) and concluded that it made sense to use part of the proceeds of the sale of my company to pay off our home equity loan (which we had taken out to buy a boat) while retaining the other two loans.

The reasoning behind that decision was that the home equity loan had a higher rate of interest (which was not tax-deductible) and had been taken out to acquire a depreciating asset, while the repayments represented a fair chunk of our annual expenses (just under 12%). Given the fact that some turbulence was expected in the markets at the time (I am talking about you, BREXIT!) and the positive impact that paying off the loan would have on our savings rate, it was clear that this loan had to go.

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Encouraging Girls to go Tech

Having fun on the beach in Summer
Summer living 🙂

It’s been a while since I last posted. Life can get in the way of blogging sometimes, particularly in Summer when the beach beckons and the heat makes you lazy.

Last week, however, something happened that kicked me out of my Summer stupor and motivated me to get writing again. If you read any of my previous posts you will know that I started a web development company 18 years ago. This became one of the leading digital agencies in my country and a few months ago I sold it to a big consultancy firm. Continue reading “Encouraging Girls to go Tech”

Teaching our children about money

Monkey see, monkey do. If you want your children to be responsible with money, then you have to demonstrate the same responsibility yourself!
Monkey see, monkey do. If you want your children to be responsible with money, then you have to demonstrate the same responsibility yourself!

One of the issues that worries me as a parent is whether I am doing a good job teaching my children about money. When I look around me I see people who have a totally dysfunctional relationship with their cash and even more so with their credit card, and the last thing I want for my kids is that they end up like them.

There are many different approaches to instilling a sense of fiscal responsibility in our youngsters. There are those who swear by pocket money, since it teaches children to budget – see my post about a cute Baby Looney tunes episode about saving money. Others give their children jobs and pay them for work done around the house to teach them the value of work. These are all good ideas and I use variations of them for my three children. Continue reading “Teaching our children about money”

Entrepreneurship: a family-friendly career choice

Entrepreneurship is a tough career choice, but it is very flexible
Entrepreneurship is a tough career choice, but it is very flexible

When I started my business around 18 years ago I did not have a family in mind. The desire to create something from scratch, something that was totally mine and reflected my view of the world, was my main driving force.

However as the years passed and I got married, and I had one child, then two and finally three, I realised that my choice of career had been extremely fortuitous. Owning and managing my own business gave me a level of flexibility that my friends in regular employment did not have. I could make my own hours, work from home if necessary, and generally mould my work life around my family. Continue reading “Entrepreneurship: a family-friendly career choice”

Status update: Time is flying – and so am I!

Time is flying - and so am I!
Time is flying – and so am I!

Time really does fly when you are busy and travelling the way I have been over the last 4 weeks. I clocked 51 hours sitting on planes (covering a total distance of 45000km) in May and it is now looking like June is going to be just as hectic.

It is all very tiring but from my point of view extremely worthwhile. When I was reading up about company acquisitions and mergers, prior to taking the leap and signing the final papers, the general consensus in several articles was that there is a critical time window to capture synergies between two organisations when going through an integration. The period ranges between 6 months and 1 year, depending on the particular sector and the circumstances of the acquisition, and if this opportunity is missed the likelihood is that the resulting synergies will fall short of expectations – something that I am determined to avoid. Continue reading “Status update: Time is flying – and so am I!”

Climbing the property ladder

We started small and then worked our way up the property ladder.
We started small and then worked our way up the property ladder.

20 years ago my friends and I had graduated university, were starting our careers and looking to set up house. The trend at the time was for first-time-buyers to max their budget when looking for a house. The reasoning was that they were buying a house that they wanted to live in for the rest of their lives, so it had to be big enough to accommodate their future family. So they all took out big loans and started paying off the bank.

I did not get it. I was single and had no kids, so what was the point of aiming for a house that was big enough for a brood of munchkins? Maybe they would come and maybe they would not, but it definitely did not make sense to take out a massive loan at that point in time to buy a big house for them. So instead I decided to go small and I started a hunt for a small apartment in a trendy area that was likely to go up in value over time. Continue reading “Climbing the property ladder”

Is FI a net worth pissing contest?

The Manneken Pis in Brussels - statue of a little boy doing his thing :)
The Manneken Pis in Brussels – statue of a little boy doing his thing 🙂

Money is a dangerous beast. You start off using it as a tool but it slowly gains a hold on you and becomes your master. There comes a point where if you are not careful, money will become the be all and end all, instead of a means to an end.

I write this after reading a post on another blog where the author bemoaned the fact that she sometimes goes on some of the well-known FIRE blogs whose authors are very open about their net worth and gets depressed after comparing their numbers to her own. I can understand where she is coming from. Man is a competitive animal and ultimately we are all too prone to getting pulled into a pissing contest. It happens to the best of us, whether we want to admit to it or not. Continue reading “Is FI a net worth pissing contest?”