Interviews

FIREside chat with Mr. Avocadough: "Break down complex financial topics"

April 29, 2021
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FIREside chat with Mr. Avocadough: "Break down complex financial topics"

Hi! Could you introduce yourself?

‍Hi! I’m Minhaz – the creator behind the Mr. Avocadough finance blog. We’re an Instagram page aimed at providing financial literacy to the masses. We break down seemingly complex financial topics and present them in an easy-to-understand (and cheeky) way for the people who need them most!

 

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

The Artist. Not entirely accurate as the Artist appears to be less risk-taking but I would say I do take risks but always ensure they are calculated and comfortable risks. Also suggests that artists avoid forward planning which is totally inaccurate for me!

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

Personal finance has always been a topic I am interested in and passionate about. I followed several other blogs and read articles frequently in order to improve my own personal finances (prior to starting my own page!) 

I think poor handling of personal finances (not really by myself but by those close to me) really shaped my childhood and continues to shape my life today. It’s incredible how much one bad financial decision can affect the rest of your life!

I really wanted to take stock of what I had learnt so far and spread the knowledge with other people!

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 a very good relationship with personal finance today. I’m lucky to be in a strong personal finance position through years of managing my finances meticulously! 

I really enjoy managing my finances now and that was definitely not always the case. In the early days I would hate to look at my current account statement as I knew it was bad news. Now I enjoy pay day when I can watch money come in and then promptly flow out into investments and savings. 

Over time I have made several changes. It all began with a simply budget on an excel sheet. It was nothing fancy – just the incoming number less the expenses I had to make less the investments I wanted to make. This single change has been so powerful in putting me in a strong financial position today.

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

That’s a tough question, primarily because I wouldn’t say many people have given me bad money advice! But I would have to say a few people close to me who frequently recommended taking out high-interest loans when I was younger in the hope of using the funds to further a business venture. Sure, there is much to be gained in being ambitious, entrepreneurial and taking risks. But I prefer to take calculated risks and in my youth I was often encouraged to take out high-interest debt without a solid plan as to how the funds would be used. Be careful when you take out credit!

 

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

I really like balancing the need to save with the need to enjoy yourself a maintain a healthy mental space. Saving and building for your future is so important but so is enjoying your life. I just don’t see the value in limiting every aspect of your life and living miserably to save for a day long into the future. 

Try and strike a balance – commit to saving an amount each month which works for you but also allow yourself to enjoy simple pleasures. If your financial plan doesn’t allow those simple pleasures then think of things you can do for cheap (or free!) which allow you to enjoy your life. 

Is there a specific financial goal you are working towards right now? What steps are you taking to achieve that goal?

I would really like to buy my first home in the next year or two. I’m continuing to save and invest (responsibly) my money to put me in a strong position to have a healthy deposit when I am ready to buy. 

In all honesty, I could probably buy now but I just don’t like the way the market is right now (I see it as a sellers market due to the stamp duty holiday which has massively increased competition). 

Therefore, whilst I am not a fan of timing markets, I would prepare to bide my time and see how things play out once the stamp duty holiday ends. So right now patience and saving are key!

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

Do investments count? Because I genuinely love that feeling when I add to my index funds! Really feels like I’ve just taken another step in the right direction.

Aside from that, I’ve recently bought a nice car and I do enjoy taking short trips to nice areas around the UK. It’s definitely increased my expenditure – petrol, insurance, maintenance – all of these things are decently costly! But as I say, we need to assess our individual situations and identify what guilty pleasures we can allow into our budgets.


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

Mostly just working and reading. My full time job is fairly demanding and takes up a large chunk of my day. Outside that I’ve gotten into reading consistently this year which is a massive positive to come out of the pandemic. 

I try and read 20 pages a day which usually sees me finish a book each month. I’m currently reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I will admit however that this book feels more like a textbook! Tough read.

I’m so excited to get back to normalcy. I’m a bit of an introvert so sitting at home for a year reading and learning hasn’t been the worst for me. But even I can’t wait to get out to a restaurant and spend time with real people again.


How often do you check your finances?

A few days a week during the pandemic. Before that, maybe twice a month?

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

I always say to read the r/UKPersonalFinance page on reddit. It’s a weird suggestion but there’s just so much knowledge on there from completely normal people with no ulterior motives. It’s an awesome resource. 

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

Halifax current account, American Express credit card. I keep it simple. There are a few apps I use (Emma for example) but nothing religiously if I’m honest. I think these apps are super useful but I’m (usually) on top of my finances so already aware of the insights they share.

You can follow Minhaz at @mravocadough


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