Today I want to introduce you to my new friend Stocky Squirrel who is passionate about bringing FI/RE to mainstream London. He has paid off his student loans early and now debt free. He is currently saving towards his first home purchase. We met on Instagram and I enjoy his story to FI/RE and how he wants to help others.

In this post, you will learn:

  • Great ways to save money in London
    • Transportation
    • Housing
    • Recreation
  • How to reach Dinesh to network in London

 

Becoming Financially Independent in London

Hello from across the pond! My name is Dinesh, I’m a 20-something year old project manager living and working in London. It’s a real privilege to be featured on WisePennySaver. I write a FIRE blog under the alias The Stocky Squirrel and I first connected with Kay of WisePennySaver on Instagram. We thought it would be a cool idea to do a little collab to get different perspectives on what it’s like to reach FIRE across the pond.

The question I get asked all the time is “what has financial freedom got anything to do with squirrels?!”. Firstly, I’m not obsessed with squirrels, I assure you. But squirrels are a good metaphor for how we live. I learnt that red squirrels collect their food and store it in piles, whereas grey squirrels bury their food underground. Seeds stored underground grow but seeds stored overground don’t. As a result, grey squirrels can live off the food they grow but red squirrels are forced to keep gathering food. In the same way, if you invest your money, you can live off the investment returns. But if you keep your money in the bank, where it doesn’t grow, you’ll be forced to work for money. Most people I know and meet act like red squirrels. And as it happens, red squirrels are dying out in the UK, while grey squirrels are thriving. The mission of the Stocky Squirrel blog is to help people be more like grey squirrels and less like red squirrels.

I grew up in London with 3 younger siblings into a fairly frugal Indian family. Unlike other people around us, we didn’t splurge on things like expensive cars, extravagant holidays and things with labels. As a result, I noticed that my parents could stop working decades earlier (they reached FIRE in their 40’s). Only as I grew older did I realize how peculiar this is.

In my blog, I talk about my own path to financial freedom. After I left university I was lucky enough to move back in with my parents to save for a house deposit. In London, house prices are eye-wateringly expensive. The AVERAGE house price in London is half a million pounds. Yet everyone around me pays around £1,000/month ($1,316) on average in rent. For reference, the average UK salary is £27,000 ($35,557) before tax. So, a large fraction of their earning goes straight to rent. I hope to buy my own house in the near future (preferably around London). It will be a lot cheaper to buy outside London, but I prefer to live closer to friends and family.

I use the London Underground to commute into Central London for work. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to get around London. Annoyingly, it costs around £200/month for a monthly travel pass, which there is no way around unfortunately.

I’m getting to the age where my peers are progressing in their careers, earning a bit more, and upgrading to fancy cars (BMWs, Mercedes Benz and Range Rovers- the usually suspects) and pay hundreds of pounds in monthly installments. Instead, I bought a used 2005 Toyota Corolla that’s still going strong. I’d much rather be rich and retire early, than look rich.

I think it’s fair to say that London is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. Meeting up with friends usually involves meeting for food and drinks (I don’t drink alcohol so I save a lot of money). But with a little planning and vouchers I can reduce the cost by half. Also, London have many beautiful parks (Richmond Park, Hyde Park, Regent’s Parks) which are free.

I’d love to hear about where you are in your journey to financial freedom and for you to join me on my journey. You can do this by subscribing to my blog (www.thestockysquirrel.com) to get my posts straight to your inbox. Or you can follow me on Instagram (@thestockysquirrel) and Facebook (The Stocky Squirrel), where I try to post a least once a day.

Love,

The Stocky Squirrel

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