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FIREside chat with Luke: "The number one thing is having accountability"

June 3, 2021
FIREside chat with Luke: "The number one thing is having accountability"

Hi! Could you introduce yourself?

Hi everyone! My name is Luke - I run @casuallyinvesting which is a platform on Instagram with the aim to educate and empower people on all things personal finance. I primarily cover investing and currently run a series called ‘How to start investing” but touch on pretty much all topics.

I’m a regular guy with a passion for helping people understand money who has been fortunate enough to work in both consumer and investment banking.

I’ve always wanted to help, but my early years in consumer banking really highlighted to me how much people outside of my friends and family were suffering with their finances. I found myself upset and frustrated with society for allowing people to have no clue about something that is, whether we like it or not so important in our lives. The skills I have learnt in my diverse career combined with a decade of personal learning allows me to understand my money as well as encourage and educate others to do the same.

What personality type did you get? Did you find the results to be accurate? 

“The Explorer” - Fairly accurate, however I am very detail orientated but I did get “The Optimizer” the first time I took this test, I figure I’m a combination of them both. I have always found it hard to fit into one category. I quite like not being just one personality type. In fact I would hate it if I was.

What inspired you to start a social media presence about personal finance? For completely new readers, what is the “tl;dr” of your brand? 

I just want to help people. I made it on a whim and didn’t overthink it like I usually would. I’ve been holding off so many things for so long out of fear of not reaching the success I want but realised I was measuring success by the wrong things. I’m so glad I did as there is an amazing, friendly community providing so much value to anyone who needs it.

What is your relationship with personal finance? - If applicable, how has that defined your current pursuits? What changes have you made that have helped? How has it changed over time? 

I have always had a pretty healthy relationship with personal finance mainly due to committing the time to build knowledge and understanding over the years. Money was always something I valued as I understand the power it gave to the holder. I guess as a young adult I was naive, in the pursuit of money but with no real end goal. Realising I wanted money to pursue freedom and help others was a turning point. Not so sure when that happened but slowly, as I grew older I tried to become less dictated by money. It’s tough when living in the western world. It’s a work in progress. 

What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever received? 

“Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves” like what does this even mean lol? Many common cliches like this are passed down generations with few able to use and apply it to their own finances in order to build long-term wealth.

A huge problem we have with the lack of financial literacy is taking money advice from people who don’t understand it. A touchy one but parents often try to control and dictate what their children do with money when they lack the basics themselves. Especially those from lower socio-econimic backgrounds. Maybe it's being so close to that poverty line which heightens risk aversion or simply not understanding money which leads to things like investing or moving jobs seemingly super risky. 

What are some things that worked for you for maintaining balance and managing your spending? 

The number one thing is having accountability. If you don’t have a reason to achieve a goal, it’s very unlikely you will do it. A budget is also super important because it makes things so much easier. Once you have worked out the numbers and been reasonable with the allocations, sticking to it is light work. Despite making sacrifices, I don’t think I have ever missed out on doing anything I actually wanted to do due to lack of money. Partially due to fortunate circumstances but mostly due to good money management. 

Congratulations on achieving a major financial goal recently! Is there a new goal you are working towards right now? What steps are you taking to achieve that goal?

Thank you, it was quite the journey! Originally I set out to save £30,000 in 15 months for a house deposit which was challenging enough but soon changed my goal. I increased my side hustle effort and took advantage of the stock market which was in the early days of its historic bull run and aimed for £50,000. See how I did it...

My new goal revolves less around finances and more around happiness. I’m not entirely sure how to quantify this as I’m yet to fully figure it out but i’ll know when I get there. 

You started a sneaker reselling business which helped you reach your goal. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a side hustle to earn extra income? 

Just start! Waiting for the perfect time can result in it never happening since there’s no such thing as the perfect time. Choose something you have a vested interest in as you are more likely to remain committed. There’s a plethora of side hustles so feel free to dabble in a few. Lockdown was great in highlighting so many people's success with new ventures. 

What do you most enjoy spending on? Or any guilty pleasure you can share? 

Food & Travel have always been frequent on my statements and I doubt that will ever change. Food is just amazing right? 🍱 & for me, there is just so much joy in new experiences ✈️

In the last few years I’ve shifted my spending away from materialistic items as previously my guilty pleasure was fashion. I still have a love for it but it's a much lower priority. More of an appreciation now than participation. 

How have you been spending your time through the pandemic? How does it feel to be on the cusp of normalcy? 

I spent the first few months playing Warzone, it was a chance to relive my love for gaming (which was actually my first ever job).  Then for the past year or so I have been focusing on more productive things like my Instagram pages. I am excited about the ability to go and do as I please because the restrictive nature of the pandemic has certainly felt oppressive at times. I haven’t quite digested the fact things will get back to normal pretty soon though. Travelling is a main miss for me and that is still a bit up in the air. I did squeeze in a cheeky holiday in November which was great but I’m more than ready for the next. 

How often do you check your finances? 

Maybe once or twice a week very briefly then once a month more intently. My management of finances is quite passive since everything is automated. I put a lot of effort into budgeting and allocating my money at the beginning of the year or when something changes significantly so I don’t need to monitor it frequently. 

For someone who is starting completely new to personal finance, how would they get started? What specific tips would you have for newbies?  

Don’t overwhelm yourself with information. Pick a specific topic to focus on each week. Learn via a method that suits you - Youtube, Books, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs, there’s a vast amount of resources available. Personal finance is very much individual so take information from sources with a pinch of salt, while it may help you figure out what's best for you

‍What’s your stack? (Accounts, credit cards, apps or other tools) 

Sooo there’s quite a lot! But they all serve a specific purpose for me.

Current Accounts.
Monzo - My day to day spending account for variable expenses.
Halifax - Salary in. Investments, savings and bills out.
Natwest - This could probably go. I only use it to send money between friends & family. It was my first account so I’m emotionally attached. Plus I really don’t want to set new payees up.

Credit Cards.
Amex - Cashback & Rewards
Clarity - FX Spending

Savings Accounts.
Marcus - Emergency Fund
Moneybox - Lifetime ISA
Halifax Saver - Opportunity Fund
Halifax Saver - Sinking Fund

Investment Accounts.
Hargreaves Lansdown - Main brokerage with my Stocks & Shares ISA
Trading 212 - General investment account, stocks I can’t hold in an ISA
Freetrade - Trialing it.
Nutmeg - Trialing it.
Vanguard - Index Funds
Coinbase/Pro - Crypto account
Crowdcube - Crowdfunding account

Other Apps.
1Password - A password manager which securely stores all my passwords and sensitive financial information.

Quirk - Currently trialling the app to see if it has a place in my stack. 

Experian - Credit reference agency so I can keep on track with my credit score.
Paypal - Manage money from my reselling and other side-hustles.

My Holy Grail.
Excel Spreadsheet - Over the years I have built quite the extensive document where I simply track anything financial - Budget, Investments, Reselling etc.

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