Finding FI Interview #44: Flying Free with Captain FI

Michael QuanBeliefs, Education, FI / FIRE, How to, Interviews, MiscLeave a Comment

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Welcome to the Finding FI interview series where we highlight and learn from individuals focused on achieving financial independence and the strategies they are using.  Everyone is at different stages of their FI / FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey, so let’s learn from their personal stories and be inspired.


Table of Contents

Finding FI Interview #44

Today I have a special guest Captain FI. He joins us from Australia and shares his recent departure from having to work for money in 2022. Welcome to the FIRE club! Take it away….

Finding FI Question #1

What’s your story?

Finding FI

G’day, I’m from rural Australia and grew up with my mum and sisters, we didn’t have much money as mum was a single parent, but she always went above and beyond to provide for us. I was quite gifted academically but had behaviour issues with ADHD which was a challenge for her, but she always stood up for me and did everything she could to prioritise my schooling. I ended up graduating high school top of my class and received an engineering scholarship at 17 and moved onto campus interstate to study. During this time, I lived frugally and side hustled to make as much money as possible which I plowed into my flight training towards my dream of becoming a pilot. Eventually, I qualified as a commercial pilot and worked my way through various jobs in General Aviation to build hours, becoming an instructor along the way. After working all over Australia, Finally I got a job in a well-paying position flying international freight and some passenger operations in a charter-type role. 

When I got my pilot’s license, my biggest expense suddenly didn’t exist anymore and my frugal ways were fairly ingrained so I ended up saving a lot of money – which forced me into a journey to learn about how to manage it better. I discovered the FIRE movement and well, the rest is history! 

I began blogging about my journey to FIRE in 2018 and started CaptainFI.com in 2019. I reached financial independence and retired from full-time flying in 2022, and now enjoy blogging and podcasting about fire, aviation, and online business.

Michael here – I love that you’ve documented your journey since 2019. Readers, check out his blog to get insights as to what he was thinking the past few years. 

Finding FI Question #2

What types of routines and/or life hacks do you use?
Routines are super valuable for me and after FIREing the lack of routine and structure left me feeling lost. By setting a routine it gives more structure to my day – for example volunteering once a week, dog training on weekends, and even simple things like setting a routine to aim to switch off tech and screens by 9:30pm help to promote better sleep hygiene.

Finding FI Question #3

What 3 things that you are you most proud of?
  1. Gaining my commercial pilot’s license
  2. Earning three University degrees 
  3. Reaching financial independence and being able to give back to the community

Michael here – Wow, that’s a lot of degrees!   

Finding FI Question #4

Describe your past relationship with money. How has it evolved into your present views today? How do you want it to change in the future?
Growing up poor I definitely had a scarcity mindset regarding money which has been something I’ve been working on. I somewhat latched onto the FIRE movement as a way to justify my behaviour with money and saving, and to regain a sense of control and power in my life, and it did give me a big goal to work towards that I became passionate about. Now that I have FIREd and am work optional, I am enjoying semi-retirement with projects to stay engaged with the community and my passions, and the irony is I’ve been able to make money doing these passion projects and running my business – so now I’m growing an abundance mentality towards money and repairing my previous money trauma.

Michael here – Good for you. So glad you were able to change your money story (beliefs) and now can help inspire others to do the same.  

Finding FI Question #5

Who taught or influenced you about money when you were growing up? What was the impact?

My mum famously always told me ‘You just need a bit more coming in than going out’ and always told me to avoid credit cards and consumer debt. Which was a good start, but she wasn’t really interested in investing as she barely had enough money to cover the basic essentials for household spending.

When I was older, I credit much of my financial education to reading authors such as the barefoot investor, Robert Kiyosaki JL Collins, and blogs like Mr. Money Mustache.

 

Finding FI Question #6

Do you discuss money or financial matters with friends and family? Why, or why not?
Growing up money was a  taboo topic, however now I try to be much more open about finances and money but only if I am asked, as I still find there is a stigma around money discussion.

Michael here – I’m the same way… wait until someone asks. People don’t like unsolicited advice typically.

Finding FI Question #7

What is something about yourself that only your closest family and friends know about?
When I was 7 years old I stole money from the family savings tin and used it to buy a toy that I wanted. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ashamed about something in my life!

Michael here – when I was in kindergarten I stole a crystal from the class rock collection.  

 

fatFIRE

Finding FI Question #8

How far along are you with your FI or FIRE (financial independence, retire early) journey?
I reached FIRE in 2022 and now enjoy semi-retirement working on passion projects.

 

Finding FI Question #9

What is your household net worth? Income?
As of 2023 it’s Currently just over $2M split between index funds in conventional brokerage accounts, investment property, superannuation (retirement account), and business,  producing approximately $70k per annum in dividend and rental income (mortgage repayments mean the property is cash flow neutral though), and the business cash flow is an ongoing saga as at the moment I choose not to withdraw distributions from it and instead choose to reinvest it into staff and growing the business, but reasonably I think I could draw a six-figure salary from it if needed to by reducing the focus on growth and outsourcing. I’ve tracked and published my net wealth and passive income on my blog at

Michael here – thanks for sharing and inspiring others, Capt. FI!  

Finding FI Question #10

When did you first hear about FI/RE?
Around 2017

 

Finding FI Question #11

Why does FI or FIRE appeal to you?
It gives you back your power and personal freedom to work the way you want to, and not be tied to a certain role or job, or lifestyle.

 

Finding FI Question #12

What does RE (retirement early) look like to you?
Retire… eventually? Redirect employment? Recreational enjoyment? All jokes aside, I think the RE really just means choice. No body is going to sit on a couch and watch TV or just play infinite amounts of golf – we all want to stay productive and work on projects, so for me the RE is all about freedom, and choice to work hard and sacrifice for what you really care about ,  and work and build in a different way.

Michael here – CHOICE = FREEDOM  

Finding FI Question #13

What type of FIRE are you pursuing (i.e. leanFIRE, FIRE, fatFIRE)?
Initially I was leanFIRE, and progressing towards fat fire or what I call family fire (same thing) – wanting to produce about 70k after tax, so looking at around $90k in taxable income or thereabouts to cover lifestyle for having multiple children and a growing family.

 

Finding FI Question #14

How has life changed since reaching FI? Or, if you haven’t reached FI yet, how will it change?
One of the main reasons for retiring early was to care for my mum who had terminal cancer. We got six months together and unfortunately, she passed away.  I felt a bit lost initially, but after a period of ‘destressing’ and not doing much, I am now getting into meaningful work with things like volunteering, dog training, and working on my business.

Michael here – sorry about your Mom and glad you had the opportunity to spend time with her at the end.  

Finding FI Question #15

Do you believe sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve FI? Why, or Why not?
Yes, sacrifice is a huge part of life, but within reason – as Paula pant says – you can have anything, just not everything. At least, not all at once. Life is about prioritisation, optimising and negotiation. If you want to hit FIRE sooner, yes it means some lifestyle choices, but honestly we live such amazing lives in modern society and we are generally so bad with money and mindfulness I think people do become a bit entitled and hopeless with money – you don’t need to make huge sacrifices about your safety and comfort to reach FIRE. Very basic things like not using consumer debt, not buying everything brand new or the near constant lifestyle upgrades we are constantly marketed for will go a long way.

Michael here – well said   

Finding FI Question #16

What are your favorite FI or FIRE websites, podcasts, blogs, etc.?

Mr money mustache 

  • Mad fientist
  • Simple path to wealth 
  • Aussie firebug podcast
  • CaptainFI financial independence podcast 😉
  • Afford anything podcast

Michael here – nice! 

Finding FI Question #17

Do you actively speak with others about FI / FIRE?
I run my blog and podcast at www.CaptainFI.com  so that’s pretty active, and I’ve also been running ad hoc FIRE meetups around Australia whenever I travel and that’s been great. I’ve been thinking about maybe doing some public speaking or events about FIRE but not too sure just yet!

Michael here – you’ve got time to explore now!   

Finding FI Question #18

Is a side hustle a key component of your FI / FIRE journey? (i.e. second job, side biz, real estate investing, etc.)?
Absolutely, in just under 4 years I’ve built a portfolio of two dozen websites that produce more revenue than any of my investments do which took 14 years to build. Whilst I’m not cashing in my index funds to buy more websites anytime soon, I think businesses, and in particular online businesses (websites) are an amazing way to build wealth for the right person, and if you stick with it the results can be astounding – and of course? I think it’s only sensible to ‘harvest’ some of these results by either paying yourself distributions which you can invest, or of course if you decide to sell the business to then invest the proceeds into more passive assets like index funds and property. I’ve written about this in detail in my article series www.CaptainFI.com/make-money-online where I shared my lessons learned and success stories.

Michael here – awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing your story and insights with us.  

Readers, what is your favorite takeaway from Captain FI’s story?

Michael Quan
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