The Young Millionaire's Club is going global!
Our interview this week is with Ms ZiYou who hails from London. She's graciously opened up her financial life and allowed us to peek inside so we can become a young millionaire like she has.
Ms ZiYou shows us the power of growing your income while you're young. Get motivated and enjoy!
How old are you? If you have a family, tell us about them and their ages.
Hi everyone – I write under the pen name Ms ZiYou and I’m currently 37 years old. I am single and childfree.
Where do you live? Do you own your home or rent?
I am British and based in London in the UK. Currently, I live in a home I own in outer London. It’s close enough to get to vote for the mayor and be an acceptable commute yet far enough I could afford to buy a house.
When did you start tracking your net worth? What was it at that time?
Good question – and please note as I’m in the UK I’ll be using pounds sterling here.
(We’re currently at an exchange rate of around £1=$1.3).
After referring to my spreadsheet, I can confirm I started in June 2013 (when I was 32) and I had £126k (or $163k). This was two-thirds property equity in my home and a third in my company pension.
What is your current net worth? What are your assets and what are your liabilities?
I’m currently at £778k ($1.01 million) net worth. This is broken down as follows:
· £260k ($338k) equity in my home in outer London – I was very lucky here
· £258k ($335k) in pensions – invested in tracker ETF’s
· £244k ($317k) in investments – these are tracker ETF’s
· And the balance slushing around in cash
I only have what I call good debt – a mortgage of £134k ($174k). I am keeping this debt as the interest rate is only 1.5%. As you can see from the numbers above, I could pay it off tomorrow but choose not to.
If you like reading about numbers, I share them each month on my blog – it’s been a good year so far but I am committing to keep sharing when the going gets rough.
What are your current sources of income?
My income comes from working – trading my time for money. I work freelance in a technology role. I have spent a lot of time working on my skills to get towards the top of the industry – and I bring in around £120k ($156k) each year.
My investments are structured so the income from them is minimal – by using ISAs (a UK tax-free saving account). I don’t have any other sources of income.
What has been the single best thing you’ve done to increase your income up until this point?
Without a doubt, the biggest impact was going freelance. My income tripled at that point. I was underpaid previously and by taking on the risk of being freelance I could further increase my income. Nothing else I have done has ever had this level of impact.
What ways do you invest your money?
I have to admit I am very boring investing-wise. I stick to a buy and hold philosophy and have low-cost index ETFs in my portfolio. There is a little spice in my portfolio as I am quite heavy in emerging markets – but still an index tracker.
If you want more details – you can have a look here.
Did you receive an inheritance or windfall of some kind during your life so far?
My parents are very comfortable middle class and ended their working lives as senior civil servants. This means they have benefited from stable jobs and gold-plated pensions – hence they have never invested.
I’ve not had any financial inheritances or windfalls. However, I was lucky enough to be born into a white middle-class family that has great frugal values. And I’ve always had the privilege of knowing my family had the means to help me out if I ever had money troubles.
What debts do you have (if any)? If so, what are they? Which have you paid off?
Only my mortgage remains today, but I did have the maximum student loans which topped out at £15k ($20k). I eventually paid these off when I was 33.
I use credit cards mainly for cash back and purchase protection and do not carry a balance on them. I’ve always bought my cars in cash and saved up for items, so I have never had loans.
Related Podcast: Destroying $87k in Student Loans by Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation
How do you track your net worth?
The old-fashioned way – I have a spreadsheet that I manually update each month. I log into all my online banking accounts and note the balances in the spreadsheet – takes around 30 minutes each month. And then I write the update post and reflect on the figures for another 30 minutes.
(Fintech Tip: Check out Tiller to have your net worth spreadsheet automated!)
Do you live on a budget?
No. I don’t budget as I don’t need to. I am one of those annoying people who are naturally frugal and just doesn’t spend too much money. Moreover, as I have a hefty income I am easily able to cover any expenses.
What are your annual expenses?
Last year I spent just over £20k ($26k) (for one person) which I was happy with. It will be more this year with inflation and some accounting changes from being freelance – I’ll be happy if it’s under £22k ($29k).
And for these figures I am managing to do everything I want – I travel a lot and don’t begrudge spending money on things I value at all.
What is your favorite fintech tool that helps you grow your wealth?
Again I am old school – and don’t use any fintech tools. There are not any that I’ve seen that would benefit me. I’m a confident investor who understands her risk tolerance and is happy with a conventional bank account.
The only vaguely techy thing I use is google pay for contactless payments – does that count?
Why is it important for you to build up your wealth?
My main driver at the moment is to work hard now so I can enjoy freedom later. I plan to travel extensively when I hit my number and then see what life brings. Then I might go on to visit every country in the world, or live abroad, or come back to London. I want to volunteer more and try out working in different companies – such as start-up or the non-profit sector.
What is one financial mistake you’ve made during your young millionaire journey?
I have made many, and the biggest one was probably not making enough effort with my career to grow my income until my very late twenties. If I had got my act together earlier and put in the difficult work and personal development I’d be further along now.
But I firmly believe the past is the past – we can’t change it. So if you have made mistakes, don’t worry – we all have. What matters is the present and future – and you can change them.
What book has been most influential to you?
I have to say that I found a lot of the traditional books very old-fashioned in their approaches and alienating. That’s not to say there have not been nuggets of wisdom, but I struggle to recommend any in particular. Moreover, I think nowadays the internet has much better information available.
As finances can be a heavy topic, I find the shorter length of online articles much easier to digest. Not to mention the barrier to entry is so much lower, so people can follow-up easier.
What is one financial hack that has helped you that you think most people don’t know about?
I’m not really a believer in hacks – what I would say is there are always many different ways to do things. And to make sure you challenge your beliefs to understand why you do things a certain way.
Nicole: “I found our forever home, but it’s $350,000.” 😬
Andy: “Let’s get it and pay it off in 5 years. Win-win. Deal?”
— Andy Hill (@AndyHillMKM) September 19, 2018
Related Article: 15-Year Mortgage Paid Off in 5 Years
Where do you find the most joy in your life?
In so many different ways. I always spend time with friends and enjoy walking in both urban and countryside settings. I’m also a theatre buff and am addicted to both Shakespeare and Ibsen plays.
Running is another passion – yes I really do get the runners high. I’m a very slow yet tenacious runner – so distance events such as marathons are my thing.
Traveling is a big passion and I love exploring new places, both in the UK and abroad. This year I did a Baltic trip covering Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga which was amazing – I got snow and everything. I’ve also been to Lisbon which I didn’t love as much, domestically to Northern Ireland to see wonders such as the Giant’s Causeway and up to Edinburgh to enjoy the Fringe festival.
Moreover, as I’m doing well in life I also make sure I give back. I volunteer within my local community and am on the board for charities I believe in – financial literacy and women’s rights.
Related Article: Why I'm Increasing My Charitable Giving (And How My Kids are Helping Me)
For the 20-something with a $0 net worth, what advice would you give them to become a millionaire in their 30's?
If you are really keen on being a millionaire it is possible, but not easy. There are a lot of barriers and difficult situations to negotiate, so you need to prepare for them and demonstrate true grit.
Ultimately wealth is a function of income, expenses, investing and time. You need to will need to balance all these four levers in a way that is sustainable for you to make it.
And there is no doubt that a high income makes it much easier. So I could concentrate on your career first and work out what income is achievable and how you can get there.
Where can people find you and learn how to become a young millionaire?
You can find me on my blog and I am very active on Twitter. I’m keen to ensure the personal finance community is as diverse as possible and love connecting with people – shoot me a message.
I’ve also recently started a UK FI podcast called UK FI Pod, which you can listen to on all main podcast apps.
Where are you in your net worth journey?
Please let me know in the comments below!
Track your net worth today for FREE with Personal Capital. It’s the first step on your journey to becoming a young millionaire!
Love the blog Andy! Fantastic interview with Ms. ZiYou with very wise advice for young investors. Keep up the great work!
Thank you so much!