Behind the scenes: Who is “Michael from Foxy Monkey”?

Michael from Foxy Monkey
From our trip to Mauritius, 2016

– Mum, I managed to save up 20€ from the pocket money you gave me last week!
– Well, in that case, I’m giving you 20€ less next week.
– But, if you do that, you’re not allowing me to have any savings.
– Hmm, fair enough (Mum looking confused)

That’s a real conversation I had with my mum when I was 15 years old. For some reason, I still remember it as it struck me as a little bit odd that my mum wasn’t congratulating me but instead wanted to give me a money haircut! I was so disappointed that day – maybe that’s why I still remember it.

Not that I complain about how my parents raised me. In fact, I wish every kid to feel the generosity my parents possessed. They paid for my private lessons, piano, tennis etc. Then they paid for my university studies and I can’t be more grateful, really.

I’m not sure if I got the frugality bug from my father, or I was just born this way. I was always feeling excited by the concept of having more money – either by saving more or making more.

Not that was a big saver anyway, over my younger years but I was always making sure my wallet had some room for spending, just in case.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self, that IT’S OK not to save 50€ a month ‘for the future’. Or to go to an expensive concert since these small savings are really trivial to the amount you can make or save later in life.

Although these small 20€ savings wouldn’t make a difference in nominal terms later in life, I’m happy they were part of my life. It’s all about the mentality you’re building that allows you to grow your frugality muscles early in life. Then you can be a lot stronger when you really need them.

It’s all about the mentality you’re building that allows you to grow your frugality muscles early in life. Then you can be a lot stronger when you really need them.

I wasn’t really sure what I was saving for, to be honest with you.

After graduating I got a job as a software engineer, something I was very lucky I chose. The market, globally, was at a very high demand for software engineers. It still is. Going from 0k to £100k salary came surprisingly fast and suddenly my savings increased at levels I had not experienced before!

Improving my quality of life was one priority, which happened to a certain extent (stop sharing space with flatmates, take a big holiday every now and then etc). But inflating my lifestyle for the sake of doing it looked pointless. I didn’t really care if I had an expensive car to show or top-brand clothes.

What do people do when they have more money than they need?

I asked myself. Ok, they probably save it. But for what? Then I started looking around the internet searching for those answers.

It wasn’t until I was 26 years old that I realised investing is something normal people can do too. It’s not only the rich that have the privilege to have their money working for them!

Savings accounts are not the only destination for money-not-spent-yet. 1% bank interest when you lock your funds for 5 years is not the only option!

Early Retirement Extreme was the first blog I found talking about how making more money combined with saving more can lead to financial freedom. The blog was too hardcore but it was enough to get me very excited about passive income, early retirement, money in relation to happiness etc.

Blog after blog after blog made me think that’s not as alien as it seems. Financial independence, in fact, has started to become mainstream!

Fast forward to 2015 I started doing it more actively. We were keeping track of income and expenses with my then-girlfriend-now-wife and started budgeting. Late 2016, I created Foxy Monkey in order to discuss my rat-race escape plan with YOU and get feedback. Enforcing my beliefs or proving them wrong is essential to keep steering the ship in the right direction.

As of 2018, I’m now 31 years old and want to be able to quit mandatory work by the age of 36.

Increasing your income certainly helps you to invest more given you’re not trapped by the lifestyle inflation marketing tactics. Here’s my list of financial independence resources to get inspiration.

Some of you may think, the guy is a genius. Far from it! I believe anyone can do it too because all it takes is enough willpower.

I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m struggling to find the balance between mindful spending and joyful living. Another thing I suck at is time-management. I run the blog, earn money doing matched betting, run a greek podcast and all that on top of a full-time job.

That’s certainly good for boosting your income and keeping busy. But sometimes, I feel I’m working on all these side projects without spending enough time with people I love. My side projects take a toll on relationships with friends. Not only I feel I’m missing out, they also complain and rightly so!

The other thing I suck at is this ‘mania’. My mum used to call it that. When I find a new fancy addiction I give 100% of my focus and energy to it. It could be anything, from mastering Blackjack to watching tennis matches for 5 hours straight. I’m still trying to contain it.

But overall, I like the journey so far. I like the confidence I have built in seeing things with a positive mind.

A partner that shares the same plan is as important as building one in the first place. I’m very lucky and grateful to have Mrs Foxy. I can’t hide though that it was a struggle to unite our finances. That’s a big topic for another blog post – convincing your other half to join forces on financial independence.

Maybe my greek friend Spyros is right. Money is a game and for some people, it can be a hobby or a nightmare. I just like playing this game.

I’d be very interested in hearing your story. Please share something in the comments below…

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8 thoughts on “Behind the scenes: Who is “Michael from Foxy Monkey”?”

  1. Love this post! Getting personal is important – it helps us understand people’s investing decisions and money habits. And quitting at 36! So exciting!

    Personally, I feel very lucky I discovered the money game so early. I have about 10 years to self-educate, make mistakes and try out the weird stuff. My aim is to reach FI doing something I enjoy – we’ll see if that works out!

  2. Hey Araminta! You certainly deserved finding the ‘money game’ so early and it looks like you’re way ahead already.

    I don’t think you’re lucky. We create our own luck 😉

  3. Hi Michael,
    I like the post. For getting the Miss into the financial investing I found the book “Barefoot Investor” by Scott Pape really good. I like the concept of the Financial Date Night during which you discuss and action a particular topic each week:
    – Spending
    – Insurance
    – Pension
    – Legacy and giving etc

    It is an Australian based book, so need to tailor some of the suggestions to UK market.
    cheerio

    • Added Barefoot Investor to the list, thanks, Ryan. Getting the missus into investing was tough but was worth it.

      We now have a clear plan and follow it strictly loosely 🙂 I believe first come the goals and once you align those you can then start making actionable steps. Interested in hearing other people thoughts!

  4. Wow, reading this post has made me realise that we share a lot of similarities! I too am as frugal as can be, and I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that I grew up always seeing my Mum and Dad struggle with money. I vowed never to be like that. I’ve been a big fan of saving whatever I can, whenever possible and it’s definitely a muscle worth training early if possible. I’m 27 years old now, and still as obsessed with saving money as I was when 16 years old.

    You also spoke of this ‘mania’, and that’s something I can relate strongly to as well. I tend to go to extremes with things, it’s either everything or nothing and I can never truly find the right balance. Here’s hoping I too can ‘contain’ this soon!

    Great post!

    • Thanks for sharing, Iain. Glad to know there are more of us out there 🙂

      Let’s be honest though, I’m not always frugal but I hate reckless spending for the sake of spending! For example, we just spent £4,000 for holidays which will give us some very nice memories once again. But I’m trying to focus on long-lasting happiness instead of buying unnecessary things that will last for a month.

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Hi! I’m Michael and I love writing about different ways to earn, save and invest our money. Coffee addict :)

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