Ten years in the cubicle – a reflection. Part 2

This is a continuation of my post on reflections of my experiences and finances after a decade in the workplace. In the previous post I looked back at my first “proper” office job, the realities, how my lifestyle inflated and the impact of the great recession of 2008. Here I conclude the article and describe how I saw the light, things changed, what I have learnt and the approach for the future.

Click here to view Part 1 of the article.

How I turned things around

Still 2011 to 2014. Things had to change. I vowed to not make the same errors which had led to this. I started making changes to get my finances in order. I moved back to shared accommodation which eliminated all the various bills and cut the rent. With the additional savings I started paying hundreds of pounds a month to clear the credit card debt. This was accomplished in a few months. I then found another job in the software industry which provided guaranteed pay rises every six months for two years plus bonuses based on company performance.

I started saving properly and even bought my first FTSE All Share index fund. The problem is that I was still financially illiterate and assumed that investing was very risky business and akin to gambling. As a result I only invested tiny amounts on a monthly basis, just to test the waters. All this soon changed however, as I started self educating about investing, reading some very the very useful books A Random Walk on Wall Street and The Millionaire Next Door.

Lightbulb moment!

2014 to 2016. Work was going ok then but my problem is that I was working in an industry which I had not directly studied for. The company I worked for made software for engineers but I had studied to be an engineer. This did not feel right as my day to day tasks had no engineering in them but the pay was good.

Fortunately this is when I discovered Financial Independence. While reading up on ways to optimise my investments I stumbled upon the monevator site. On here there was loads of information about investing in the UK. This led to discovery of mr money moustache. He had managed to escape the cubicle at just 30 years old! I was fascinated and thought that this was very possible to do. At this point I was over that age and wished I had known all this earlier. Another inspiration at the time was Jason Fieber over at Dividend Mantra. Jason was fed up with working in a car dealership and getting abuse from customers. He detailed his process for achieving financial independence using dividend growth investing. Finally free, he now writes about his experiences at mrfreeat33.

Recently the community seems to be exploding with many podcasts, facebook groups, blogs and news reports coming out. It is possible to dictate how to live your life and have more options rather than being a wage slave to the man.

The business of investing

2017 to Present. I am now back working in engineering and on reflecting after working in a few different areas over the last decade, common workplace themes remain. I know for sure that there is more to life than doing what you have been told and are expected to do. The ideal is to have an occupation where you find meaning, contribute to society and are remunerated well for it.

Instead what I notice is a strange assortment of people who may or may not like each other having to sit and work with each other for the majority of their waking hours. This often leads to personality clashes, stress, harassment, bullying etc.

As Warren Buffett said: “Working with people who cause your stomach to churn seems much like marrying for money – probably a bad idea under any circumstances, but absolute madness if you are already rich.”

I have also started learning more about Buffett’s approach to life and investing. An interesting and useful resource is his annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Well written and full of nuggets of wisdom. The Snowball, Buffett’s autobiography is an excellent read and one of my favourites.

Some define success as using debt to purchase the largest possible house, new cars, keeping up with the Joneses or going on expensive holidays. To me, success is having the freedom to choose what I want to do with my time; whether this is travelling, learning, choice or type of work or flexibility. This can be achieved by saving and investing to ensure that enough personal income is available to have the choices. This has given me more confidence and focus in the workplace as I work towards financial independence.

The next ten years should be exciting, when all the lessons learnt are applied and new knowledge is gained. Hopefully along the way, being confined in a cubicle and turning the hamster wheel blindly will no longer be a must.

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