Fucking Up, Less
This article is about how I could be financial independent today if I had been more wise about my money earlier in my life.
I have always thought that to become wealthy you will need to start a successful company or invent something awesome.
It will be easier to become wealthy if your salary is big. But if you don’t follow the basic rules of personal finances, it doesn’t matter how big of a salary you have.
You will still be broke.
That is what I call “Fucking Up, Less”.
If you just “Don’t fuck up that much”, by not spending money on glamorous things. You will come ahead. Without a doubt.
This how you unfuck yourself:
- Pay yourself first
- Never get a loan to consume
- Invest simple
- Don’t keep up with the Joneses
I know many people who have worked hard their entire life, and in their 60’s have nothing to show for.
I still don’t get how people manage to spend +20.000 DKK/month without flushing them down in the toilet.
But they do.
My Financial Upbringing
When I was three years old my parents got divorced.
Not that has anything to do with my financial upbringing, but my parents had a different approach to finances.
My mother worked part-time so she would have more hours with me and my sister. So she didn’t have a tremendous amount of money. The ones she had did go to spoil me and my sister.
My dad worked full-time but mentioned often how he always had debt. I thought that it was normal to have a big amount of debt because of that.
No one in my family invests in anything. I never had a rich uncle.
So it was never something that we discussed.
Both of my parents got a car when I was in my early teens, and my dad always had a boat.
So we were the perfect middle-class family.
Both of my parents are about 60 years old, and they are dreaming about quitting the rat race and doing something they are passionate about.
But both of them have to wait for their “normal” retirement to hit.
Looking at them only confirms the plan that I’m doing now.
Having enough saved and invested so I later in life can do more what I’m passionate about, and less of what I’m not.
In the following headlines, you will see two calculations.
They are called:
- Total fuck up
- If I invested the money instead
The total fuck up is an estimate of how much money I have spent or lost.
If I invest the money instead, is what the money could be worth today, if I had invested the money in a global index stock portfolio.
So the returns will vary according to when I did the fuck up.
If I made the fuck up in 2008, then I have made the calculation like an investment in 2008 till this date.
Confirmation Gift Presents
Total fuck up: 12.000 DKK
If I invested the money instead: 45.800 DKK
I got baptized back in 2004. Which is something that I regret to this very day.
I don’t see anything good in religion (except for Buddhism), but I got the ultimatum from my parents.
It was either confirmation or nothing.
That is the same as asking a teenage kid,
“Do you want 10.000 DKK and many awesome gifts or nothing?”
Of course, I chose the confirmation.
This is the first time in my life that I can remember where I screwed up with money.
There is a tradition in Denmark that you give big presents to a confirmation.
It was not uncommon among my friends that you received +10.000 DKK and many huge presents like vacations or a diving license (like I got).
As I can remember I received about 12.000 DKK in presents.
Straight after my confirmation I went to the bank and exchanged all the big bills into small ones.
Then they would seem like more.
I carried that money in my jacket everywhere I would go.
And I wasn’t shy about showing them to some friends or a cute girl.
As a year passed by 90 % of the money went to cigarettes and pizza slices for me and my friends.
I can’t remember that I bought anything that would make sense.
Taking Investment Advice from my Bank
Total fuck up: 6.000 DKK
If I invested the money instead:14.700 DKK
After several years of successful archery, I decided to “retire” as an archer in 2006.
It was because one of my best friends decided to quit the sport. And it was not the same without him. So I lost my passion.
I had a very nice longbow my parents had bought from the US.
When I quit I sold the bow to one older member in my club for 6.000 DKK.
It was a lot of money, and I did start to regret how all my confirmation money was gone.
So I did the only responsible thing I could think of.
I went to my bank (Nordea) and asked the lovely lady at the cashier what I was going to do if I had 6.000 DKK that I wanted to buy stocks with.
“Invest in Nordea! We are a good bank. And our stock is super good!”, she told me.
So I did.
That is the worst financial advice you could ever give someone.
It would be the same as if I asked my local pizza man the following:
“Hey, Pizzaman. What is the healthiest food I can eat?”
And he would answer.
“My pizzas of course!”.
A couple of months after I bought 6.000 DKK of Nordea stocks, the stock market crashed, and my 6.000 DKK was now worth 2.0000 DKK.
Every day for two years, on my way to work as a mason apprentice. I would collect the free newspaper at Roskilde station to see what the price of Nordea was.
I promised myself when the stock was back to normal, I would sell it and NEVER buy Nordea stocks again.
After a couple of years, they did go back to normal. And I sold them.
I can’t remember what I did with the money after I sold them.
Living a Glamorous Mason Apprentice Life
Total fuck up: 100.000 DKK ish
If I invested the money instead: 372.000 DKK
I started as a mason apprentice when I was 16 years old.
It wasn’t until I was 18 years old, that I moved from Roskilde to Copenhagen to be closer to my work.
I was at two companies in my apprentice period.
The first one was horrible and I quit the job after three months because the owner of the company was out of his mind.
The second one was awesome! It was bigger than the previous one and it was in Copenhagen. I got to know many new nice people and I liked it there.
A couple of months into the second job the owner approached and said the following:
“You are doing a great job Loui! Showing up on time, and you keep a good spirit. What do you think about getting 100 DKK/hour instead of your 60 DKK/hour”.
That was a no-brainer.
From that moment I got +10.000 DKK/month after taxes and was still living home with my parents.
As the irresponsible kid I was I didn’t manage to save or invest a single cent of that money.
Instead, the money was spent on cigarettes, weed, beer, pizzas, and drinks for people I didn’t even know.
It was cool to brag about how much money I earned as a mason while all my friends were studying in high school and didn’t make 1:10th of what I was doing.
This lasted for two years until I moved to Copenhagen.
Moving away from my parents meant that I have to pay the rent, food, and transportation by myself, which made me more responsible with my money.
Buying a Small Speed Boat
Total fuck up: 17.500 DKK
If I invested the money instead: 46.500 DKK
I finished my apprenticeship in 2011, and I got my first real job right after I finished the final exam.
Being 20 years old and making about 20.000 DKK/month was a blast.
I couldn’t figure out what to spend all my hard-earned money on.
One day my rowing club had their old coaching boat for sale for 3.000 DKK, and I thought it was the coolest looking little boat.
I had convinced one of my good mason friends that it was the world’s best idea, so we would split everything.
Luckily for me.
There was no engine on it.
But that wasn’t a problem.
I found the biggest engine the boat could handle, which was about 20.000 DKK.
The marina fees for a year of having the boat there was about 4.000 DKK.
One day I got a phone call from the harbormaster:
“Your boat has sunk! Come down to the harbor quick and get it fixed. The engine is leaking gasoline into the water!”.
“How do I get the boat up again?”, I asked the harbormaster.
“Hire a crane!”.
So I did.
The price for a crane was 2.000 DKK.
Whenever it was raining we had to drain the boat for the water.
Which we never did.
So I got a phone call like that two times more.
The third time it happened I’m sure the harbormaster could have ripped my head off.
After it happened the third time we decided to sell the boat.
The problem is that the motor had been underwater three times, which is far from ideal for a motor.
So the 20.000 DKK we paid for the motor was now decreased to close to nothing.
We sold it to a guy and told him the whole story.
He thought that he could fix the motor, he got both the motor and boat for about 5.000 DKK.
Started Studying as a Building Constructor
Total fuck up: 350.000 DKK (10.000 DKK/Month for 3.5 years)
If I invested the money instead: 978.000 DKK
This “Fuck up” will be a controversial one.
Starting to study as a building constructor is one of the worst financial decisions I have ever made.
The normal logic about “leveling up” in education is what seems rational and responsible.
In my case where I don’t plan to work from 9-5 at a “normal job” for the rest of my life.
It wouldn’t have been such a big sacrifice to keep working as a mason since I’m not planning to work full time till the day that the public retirement will come my way at age 72.
I’ve had many mason co-workers in their +60 years, and it is not a pretty sight.
Carrying heavy bricks for your entire life is not good for you.
The building constructor study lasts 3,5 years.
Those 3,5 years are a period where I could be out working as a mason instead of studying, where my income is close to nothing.
In general, we all would be way better off if we focus early in life to make a good nest egg of money, and if we want to study another thing we can do it in our 30’s instead.
Even though my salary might be higher as a building constructor.
And the bonus fuck up during my studies was a student loan.
100.000 DKK spent on nothing but miscellaneous consumption.
Summing it Up
These are the financial fuck ups I have done in my grown-up life so far.
The “Fuck Ups” are totaling in:
Confirmation = 12.000 DKK0
My Bank = 6.000 DKK
Living glamorous = 100.000 DKK
Speed boat = 17.500 DKK
Building Constructor = 350.000 DKK
Total = 458.500 DKK
The “If I invested the money instead” are totaling in:
Confirmation = 45.800 DKK
My Bank = 14.700 DKK
Living glamorous = 372.000 DKK
Speed boat = 46.500 DKK
Building Constructor = 978.000 DKK
Total = 1.457.000 DKK
As I’m writing this I have about 600.000 DKK invested.
If we take what I have now + what I could have had, that would be:
600.000 DKK + 1.457.000 DKK = 2.057.000 DKK
That is the difference between a financially independent Loui Lam, and the current Loui Lam who is sitting as his office is still chipping away on his financial independence goal.
Don’t let that be you.