Sunday 14 July 2019


Personal Finance is a major hobby of mine.  I’ve now been absorbing everything I can about saving, investing and financial independence since late 2007.  In November this year I will have also been blogging about it for 10 years!  When I go on holidays I’m also the one reading Wall Street Revalued  and not that latest John Grisham novel

In my last post I mentioned the Ikigai model and if I apply that to personal finance I get the following...

Click to enlarge, Source

What you LOVE:
  • Sad I know, but I never have to force myself to read a personal finance book, read the latest post from great blogs like Monevator or fire up Excel on my steam driven laptop.  In fact it’s the opposite for me.  I gravitate to this stuff so yes I’d say I love it.
  • If I think about my previous (and even current to some extent) work/job I also used to love enabling others with training, coaching, process improvement and then with light touch sitting back watching them succeed.  I always took little satisfaction out of my own success but I took a huge amount of satisfaction out of watching my team succeed over and over.  I think this is why I’ve also stayed blogging for so long.

What you are GOOD AT:
  • I am reasonably good at maths and now have more than 10 years of personal finance knowledge under my belt.  Sure, I’ve made mistakes and I’m sure will continue to do so but on the whole I think I’ve managed to get more things right than wrong.  I don’t think I would have achieved financial independence in 8.7 years if that wasn’t the case.  So yes, I’d say I’m good at it.
  • In my previous day job I was also pretty good at teaching and developing others to succeed.  In some of my later roles it would have been impossible for me to do my job well if that wasn’t the case.
  • While not being a fantastic motivational speaker I am pretty confident in smaller training / workshop environments where on many occasions I’ve been successful in getting the message across.

What you can be PAID FOR:
  • This one is sort of optional for me right now but the world is full of financial advisors, financial coaches and accountants carving a living out of individual’s financial situation.

What the world NEEDS:

Piecing all of this together I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t try and build a personal finance education part time gig.  It could be a win for me as I get increased life purpose and a win for the punters as they get more control over their financial situation.  I’m thinking it could start out as say a 1 day personal finance 101 showing how to earn more, spend less, invest tax/expense efficiently, manage financial risk including with insurance, figure out your goals including how much you need to achieve them and then finally how to ensure you stay on track.  I’m not sure there is charitable or otherwise funding for this sort of thing so by the time I hired a venue, provided some lunch, registered/run a company to protect the innocent (me!) and gave myself some beer tokens (I don’t drink much alcohol these days) I’m guessing the cost would run to £50-£100 per person.

Importantly, I would not be offering any financial advice because I’m not licensed to do that.  It also doesn’t interest me as I don’t like the selling side of it.   I also would not be offering any taxation advice because I’m not licenses to do that either.  What I would be offering is my more than 10 years of personal finance knowledge which includes what in my opinion doesn’t work and also what does.  In Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) speak I believe I’d be offering unregulated guidance but I would check with the FCA that everything I was about to do was appropriate if there was enough interest.

What do you think?  Do you think something like this is needed in the UK?  Is it something you might attend?

Finally, if it’s something you might genuinely be interested in I’d love to hear from you at contact.retirementinvesting at  If I could get, say, 10 people who were genuinely interested I’d say it would definitely be worth a go.


  1. Hi RIT,

    thank you for all your posts during the past years, it's been an invaluable source of information and inspiration.

    On your latest post / intentions: Have you considered volunteering for your local Citizens Advice Bureau:

    You could "try your hand" and "get to know your customers", without spending anything on infrastructure. Just a thought.

    Thanks for all your posts!

    1. Thanks for the hat tip Anon. Funny you mention Citizens Advice. Way back in 2010 I actually reached out to my local Bureau them asking if I could volunteer as an adviser. Unfortunately, nobody ever responded to my email or calls. A lot of water (new area so different Bureau, lots more knowledge these days, lots more time also...) under the bridge since then so might be worth another go.

    2. After redundancy and early retirement at 51, I volunteered with my local Citizens Advice.
      As an accountant, who had a strong interest in PF (and had built more than sufficient financial resources to be FI and certainly need not need find paid work) I also wondered if this knowledge could be put to use.

      It turned out rather differently then I had expected. Many of our clients were excellent at managing money - they had to be as their income was so low. The bureau had a project funded by a local Housing Association. I helped ensure clients maximised their income, and would help clients claim Pension Credit, council tax benefit, relevant disability benefits, etc. Help them access discounted water & utility tariffs and join the local credit union. Refer clients to my specialist colleagues for debt advice, and for help with benefit appeals etc.

      I'm now past my SRA and I'm still working (as a paid benefits caseworker) with Citizens Advice because it's a job I still find very satisfying. I have worked alongside some truly inspiring colleagues, and made good friends. That decision to volunteer has enriched my life.

      P.S. It's likely that your training expertise (and teaching others to succeed) would be very valuable to your local Citizens Advice.

  2. How hard is spend less; earn more; save the difference; save mainly through the stockmarket?

    No one needs a financial adviser or worse a "coach"

    1. You'd think it would be easy wouldn't you but I think those of us on the other side maybe underestimate what we actually now know. For example:
      - why is the grocery bill of the person in front of me far more than mine for similar levels of nutrition;
      - why does a colleague who retired about the same as my first attempt find himself in the default high'ish expense default pension fund where my money is already in a low cost SIPP invested in low cost ETF;
      - why did a number of people find themselves with large chunks of wealth invested in the Woodford Fund who of course outperformed the market right up until the point that he didn't.

      Note, not for a second am I suggesting becoming a coach. I'm just questioning whether there could be a benefit in providing people with some financial education.

    2. Many readable short books have been written on the topic. Too many. You wrote one yourself, I'm sure it was a pretty good primer. I worked with someone who retired early and wrote one too. There are also 100s of blogs. Making the information available isn't the issue, try it out yourself with Google.

  3. If you're serious about going freelance Personal Finance coaching, you could much worse than check-out Pop Up Business School ( Most of the live events are sponsored by local businesses. You'll learn how to road test and trial your ideas before you've committed too much time / resource. Oh, and one of the directors, Alan Donegan, is a closet FIRE fan ... just ask The Escape Artist

    1. Thanks for the link Felice. I like the quote on the website "Fail fast and fail cheap, You'll find success much quicker." At the current rate of enthusiasm this idea is going to fail very fast and very cheaply with the total cost being a single blog post...

    2. But remember most of your potential audience probably isn't reading this! Yet.

  4. It sounds interesting, RIT and I'd suggest that your regular readers may not be the audience for it. After all, they are already likely chasing down that last fraction of a percent in their SIPP management charges and hanging around the bargain section in Tescos. It may be easier to ask your local geology to dispense haemoglobin than to get a RIT reader to part with a 50 quid note.

    When I think about developing a new product or service, I always think about solving a problem for either myself (even a past version of myself) or someone I know. Try and build as good a picture as possible and talk to them. The first person who can write a cheque is the person to concentrate on.

    I think your blog post has done a good job of saying why you'd want to do it, but needs work to convince someone else to sign up. You may be well served reviewing your comments and book reviews to find out what questions come up and how you could help solve them.

    I'd also suggest not being too frugal in testing. You can probably afford a few hundred to test this with a few friends/family/blog readers by offering free/discounted places on a time limited basis. Tests don't necessarily have to wash their face if they provide you with valuable learning.

    Lastly, have you considered whether you might get more fulfilment from helping individuals from underserved communities voluntarily? Helping people make the first step may be rewarding than helping a bunch of tightwads optimise their finances further ;-)

    1. "...they are already likely chasing down that last fraction of a percent in their SIPP management charges and hanging around the bargain section in Tescos. It may be easier to ask your local geology to dispense haemoglobin than to get a RIT reader to part with a 50 quid note." Love it!

      You make a good point about problem solving. I think the corporate speak for that is Voice of Customer. I also think that the only problems that need solving are those that have a high frequency of occurrence or high consequences of occurrence.

      Lots of other good food for thought in there as well so thanks. Very early days and as I mentioned above I'm at the point right now of "Fail fast and fail cheap, You'll find success much quicker." Right now I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store so thinking about quite a few different directions.

  5. When I loom at Twitter and LinkedIn there seems to be a lot of people offering the same type of thing - maybe if you go for it you'll find yourself out marketed by others who don't have a best story but do have better patter.
    I have seen some of these motivational at close quarters and i am not convinced you make a lasting impression so maybe focus on just helping a few people instead of converting the world.

    As @Neverland says - the message isn't that difficult does the world need another coach?
    If so then maybe helping at a foodbank or such would be a good way to start - practical and rich pickings (of poor people)

    1. Definitely not interested in competing with others in this space. I have absolutely zero interest in selling this type of thing as in this space I think that could be a very slippery slope and it's definitely not something I want to spend my time on. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

      Your idea of helping a few people instead of converting the world is exactly what I'm thinking. I'm not trying to scale the idea but more thinking that success is if the output is meaningful for all parties including me. I'd guess I'd probably need about 10 people to make it worthwhile.

    2. Well, the FIRE movement is expanding rapidly at the moment and there's lots of interesting events like this one ( - maybe a one option is to just work with people who go to this type of event and need the mentoring and support to keep motivated and to be held more accountable for their plans...
      Bonus is that you could rove between spending a week here/there every couple of months and satisfy your wanderlust (something you can't do from sunny Cyprus).

  6. Maybe team up with a lifecoach, IFA or tax accountant?

  7. People who are interested in this stuff, enough to have found your and other sites don't need help, as once you know how simple it is, you just adjust your life and wait, and wait and wait, then one day you are FI (barring any life upsets). There is very little value you can bring to those who are already in the club.

    And those who are not in the club will never in a million years pay money to learn the secret to get rich quickly as they will see it.

    There may be value in one-on-one coaching, I know there are others who do that for those who value confirmation of their plan more than a few hundred quid.

    But good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  8. How about trying the local adult education service, and see if they'd be interested. Our local one offers both evening classes over a number of weeks, but also one off sessions. They'd be also able to provide the facilities, marketing and enrollment, leaving you to just handle the content and delivery.

  9. If you have the time (and the inclination) would it not be better to get certified as an IFA? Would you be able to, for example, bill per hour, and give good advice rather than be obliged to 'sell' sub-optimal products for commission?

    Once you have a bit of a reputation (and I expect you would develop one very quickly) you could then use that as a platform to run one-day workshops that cover the whole 'earn more, spend less, invest wisely' on a firmer footing.

    1. I've thought about becoming an IFA a few times over the years. Having interacted with some of them and looked at some job ads over the years selling seems a big part of the role for many. That's of course only relevant if you're working for a company or need fees to feed your family.

      In my case I'm not sure being an IFA would help me. I'm not trying to compete with IFA's but more accelerate DIY'ers through the learning curve that I went through. If I knew what I know now I believe I could have achieved FI many years ago and in a much faster time. I also could have started thinking about purpose many years earlier...

      I need to think about this a lot more though so thanks for the suggestion.

    2. Yes. Understand your reticence about the IFA route.

      It's quite difficult, I think, carving out a niche where you could add the most 'value'. I think with DIY-ers who are already started, your abilities would best be utilized providing quite specialized tax related and situational advice (e.g. SIPP or ISA, lump-sum or annuitize, withdrawal rates etc.) this is the type of stuff which I've found most useful on your blog. In my circumstance, I could see myself looking for this sort of specialized stuff, directly related to my situation, at some point in the future. This would include decisions about pension and tax related to a country move and retirement. Most likely, this sort of work would simply be someone who could confirm my own conclusions but it could still add value. I'd rather be paying someone like you, who I know has more knowledge than me, than a generic man/woman in a suit who wants to sell me a managed fund.

      Of course, this is the type of advise which you would need to be certified to offer.

      Good luck with it though, it's a good thing that you're doing with this blog and your future plans.

    3. A few years ago my employer arranged an information session with a financial advisor from the States. I'm not in the UK and the people at my work place have slightly specialized requirements related to 'Ex-pat' tax status.
      The presentation was actually quite well targeted for the attendees giving them an overview of different asset classes and products (pensions, mortgages etc.) there was also a tax specialist on hand as well who was quite useful.
      The problem was that at the end we were invited for individual consultations with their 'partner' organization whcih is a Luxembourg based platform selling ridiculously pricey active funds for ridiculously high commissions. I'm talking fees that would make your eyes bleed.
      Such a shame really.

  10. Glad to see you going through this process RIT as I'm going through the same and have on repeat over the last few years, unable to resolve.

    Does anyone have any recommended reading on fulfilment or finding a sense of purpose?

    I can work hard no problem but the time I'm losing to what I see as very often bullshit work is very frustrating (software engineer with a test niche.) . I've optimised for FI but I'd much rather continue to work for a long period of time doing something I enjoy.

    Perhaps wrongly, I seem to believe if I'm going to spend 40hours a week on certain activities, it needs to be something I can deem worthwhile

    1. I'm with you Nick. I'm just so pleased I now have the space to go through this. It's brutal but brilliant all at the same time and I wouldn't change it for a second. I'm so excited about every day now and know that what I now have are very first world type problems.

      I don't for a second claim to have the answers but I'm really enjoying trying to answer them. I also back myself to find the answer - eventually. Might take me days, months, years or 10's of years but I'll get there. Watch this space and if you figure it out before I do please do share.

    2. > Does anyone have any recommended reading on fulfilment or finding a sense of purpose?

      Know thyself. It's as old as the Delphic Oracle ;)

      Look to psychology, rather than business. Who are you, what are your values, whom do you serve. You are what you are, not what you do. Seeking purpose in what you do has great hazard. The light has got to shine from within.

      @RIT I'm sadly with Neverland. Most of us don't get to FI because we don't think about what we want enough - so expecting people to pay for your advice is going to be a tough sell IMO. I'm sure you're competent to do the job, after all, the principles aren't hard. But it involves living differently to your peers, and that's hard for a social animal

  11. Hi RIT

    Worth getting qualified as a Financial Planner?

    As someone has mentioned already, your blog readership will not be your target audience.

    I see your target to be among those who don't have debts (aside from mortgage and perhaps car lease), who are actually quite comfortable financially but who may be concerned that they don't know how much is in their pension pots, or that they're not saving enough for their pensions or that they want to retire early but don't know how to go about it or plan for it.

    I'm thinking about those who may have quite a bit stashed in their ISAs but it's all stuffed in cash ISAs; those with little pension pots all over the place, each one being whittled away by high fees.

    Helping those nearest and dearest to you might be an idea in the first instance and then perhaps the local community. Any of your friends or ex-colleagues know or are curious to know how you were able to just quit your job and go for a 'jaunt in the sun' in Cyprus?

    I'm with Unknown, I'd say the appetite to pay would be very low.

    Will be interesting to read about how you progress with this idea, so good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  12. Hi RIT, your blog posts are appreciated, and we need advice on DIY investing. Of course for this audience free advice is what we are after. Working as for a IFA is an option. Thanks

  13. Hi RIT , is it not too easy to find a " tool " that ends up saying what you would quite like to hear ? I have never heard of Ikigai but I have heard of quite a lot of these ( and used them) -

    Might be worth trying a sample of some of these and see what " answers " they come up with for you.

    It must be the hardest quest - finding yourself.

  14. Hi RIT

    Always enjoy your blog posts and reading about your journey here.

    The Ikigai concept is great. When you are not in the Ikigai zone in life, it is like pushing one of those shopping trolleys with a wobbly wheel!

    My employer, where I've worked 20 odd years and now work part time only 2 days a week has been running something they called "wellness week" for employees. It is sort of touchy-feely stuff to make you feel better as an employee and take advantage of the benefits amongst other things and keep folks healthy and working. One of the talks was titled "Financial wellbeing" or something like that, so being someone who reads all these FIRE and Monevator type blogs I went along. It turned out to be about the long term health / life insurance benefit our employer provides so not as interesting as I thought although important to know about (I have myself needed to use it unfortunately and knew how it works).

    Anyway, it occurred to me after seeing your post, is there a niche for someone like yourself to do real "Financial wellness" talks at companies / employers for their staff? I imagine you could get paid for this. Not necessarily the full on FIRE thing (it might freak people a bit) but some of the sensible financial things you blog about. But hey, maybe even leading into the full FIRE thing, but I don't see most employers wanting to encourage trained staff to FIRE and exit the workplace?

    Many employers provide good benefits like employer pension match, ability to choose investments in a SIPP or pension plan (my employer used to pay into a SIPP with HL - my younger self had no idea what funds to choose, I just left it in the default), share / stock plans etc. I sometimes feel my younger colleagues don't know how to use them to their best advantage and if only they knew more of some of the basics yourself and others like the TEA guy blog about it would give more life options.

    I'm 55 and lucky to be able to completely stop work if I wanted, but I think my younger self would have found it useful to have found out some of this stuff earlier. I got to a FIRE/retirement possibility through trial and error and some false starts in my saving and investing over many years. I think people in the UK do need help!