School’s FIREd!

In my last post, I mentioned the other Great Leap we’d taken in our lives lately. It’s nothing wildly exciting, but it is a bit different to the norm and it could be hugely relevant to FI-focused parents.

For the past year, our youngest two children have been home educated.

You won’t believe the reaction and puzzled looks we’ve received from friends and other people when we tell them our children don’t go to school anymore.  People just cannot get their head around this.

This reaction has reinforced our own recent realisation, through our discovery of FIRE,  that we have been conditioned throughout our lives to accept the ‘norms’, and with a little thought and planning there is no need to follow the prescribed route.

So what’s the relevance to FI?  Well, home education (HE) is EXTREMELY FIRE friendly.  In fact, if you were planning FI to coincide with your children leaving school, then this is a post that might help you bring forward your FIRE schedule.  Why restrict yourself to thinking that you have to send your child to school from 5 to 18, and tying yourself down for 13 years?

Just like FIRE, home education has freedom at its core.  There are no requirements to follow a particular timetable or curriculum, no need to sit tests or exams and no need to educate in any particular style.  If you choose to travel Europe as part of your child’s education, that’s fine.  Learning can be structured or informal, or a mixture of the two.   HE parents don’t need qualifications or teaching skills, just patience and time to facilitate learning.

In terms of day-to-day expenses there are no uniforms to buy, no transport costs, no school trips or holidays, no dinner money or school fundraising events.  Whilst there’s no financial help from the government, home education is as cost-effective or expensive as you want it to be.  Any costs will be driven by your interests, needs and circumstances, not those of school.  Your child might want to take formal qualifications eventually, but some further education colleges now accept students from 14 to study vocational courses and GCSEs, or they can be taken privately at exam centres.

We weren’t thinking of costs at all when we deregistered our youngest 2 boys (we hadn’t even thought of FI then!)  Our reason to HE was driven mainly by their happiness, or rather the lack of it, in school.  (As a side note, our other 3 children still attend school and are quite happy, but we are now questioning if this is the best route for them, too.)

How did we do it? – We knew HE existed, but, in our conditioned state, we never gave it much thought.  We thought it might not even be legal.

WRONG.  HE is legal in all parts of the UK.  For children in a mainstream school, all parents need do is de-register*.  But that’s probably a long-winded, court-ridden process, right?

WRONG again.  It only takes as long as the time needed to write a letter or email to the child’s school. The letter can either give notice of the child’s deregistration or be sent in place of the children.  It is the school’s duty to inform the local authority.  That’s it.  Ridiculously straightforward.

We used a template for a deregistration letter we found online (there’s a huge online HE community) which quoted section 7 of the Education Act 1996:

‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable a) to his age ability and aptitude, and b) any special educational needs he may have, either by attendance at a school or otherwise.’

A year on – and have we any regrets?  Actually, yes we have.  We regret thinking about it for so long (a full 12 months), but like most people we thought of school-based education as a given, just like we thought retiring early would be impossible, but we now realise the freedom that both FI and HE offer are accessible to all.

On a final note, our recent ‘awakening’ has opened a Pandora’s box of further questions – about life in general, HE and FIRE – that we need to answer.

I’d love to hear other people’s thought/ideas on home education.

Has this post opened up your thinking/options on school-based education?

Is HE something you’d consider or have considered for your family?


* England & Wales: If your child is at an ordinary school then the school must delete your child from the register; you do not normally need permission to HE.

Special schools: If your child has special needs and attends a special school you need permission to deregister.

Scotland and Northern Ireland: You need permission.

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Little FU#1 – the plan, steps 1&2

In my previous post on Little FU#1, I outlined the steps I am putting in place for Little FU#1 to start his journey to FI.

I intend to do a series of posts to expand upon those steps so that anyone setting off on the same journey can get some ideas about how they may start on the path themselves.

I am going to keep it quite simple if possible, as there is so much information out there already you could spend months reading it all and end up not doing anything.

1 – JUST START – There is nothing more to add to this step. Just take action now.

2 – MAKE A BUDGET – Now some of you reading this may think ‘OMG I hate the thought of making a budget. Do I have to list out every single thing I spend money on and keep a track of my spending on a spreadsheet? That’s so boring.’

I must admit that whenever I have tried in the past to make a budget and keep track of spending to the exact penny that this always falls by the wayside after a few days, as the daily routines and general busyness of life take over.

However, I think it’s important to know what your essential and unavoidable expenses are, and where your money is going.  You will need to go through your bank statements to identify these and find where savings can be made.

So, after identifying the essential expenses and dealing with those,  do we need to track every other item of expenditure?  No, after some thought, I don’t think that we do.

The process that I am going to put in place for FU#1 is, therefore, a quite simple budget strategy that anyone should be able to follow without having to track every little thing (and let’s face it – a 19-year-old wouldn’t do that, anyway!)

  1. Pay yourself first – Automate your savings to immediately come out of your net pay. This way you will never miss the money and be tempted to spend it.  Aim to save at least 50% (why 50%? – I’ ll explore this in a future post, but basically 50% will allow FU#1 to FIRE in about 15-20 years, in his late 30’s).

2. Pay your essential bills – For FU#1, this means housing costs (board – usually straight to Mrs FU, I never get to see this!) travel costs to work (bus), and mobile phone contract.

3. The rest is yours to spend, or not, as you wish.  Use only cash or debit card. There is no overdraft facility on FU#1’s bank account.  This way you will not be able to overspend or go into debt.

In the next post on FU#1, I will detail out his actual budget figures at the moment and projected budget figures in the future.

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Little FU#1 – the plan

Can a young person on an average net salary of £25k buy a property and become FI by the age of 40?

“Impossible!” the mainstream media and the regular man on the street would scream. “Young people can’t even save enough up for a deposit to get on the property ladder due to the housing ‘crisis’. It’s so unfair.” would be the negative response.

I would have thought it impossible too, 12 months ago, before I discovered FIRE.

So, is it possible?

Damn right it is.

I’ve done some figures for my eldest son FU#1,  who is 19, and you can read below to find out how I plan to help him to financial independence by 40.

I will expand on the steps in future posts, but here’s a brief outline:

1 – JUST START– For myself, I find it’s too easy to avoid starting something unless there is a perfect plan in place.  I’m working to rid myself of this trait. You’ve just got to make a start with a rough plan.  It won’t be perfect and can be refined/changed as you go along. The most important thing is to actually start on the path now.  So what are you waiting for?

2 -MAKE A BUDGET – This identifies the savings rate you will be able to set up and achieve at the current/future expected salary. 

3 –  SET UP A PORTFOLIO SPREADSHEET – This sets out and tracks the year by year value of the investments made and determines when you will actually become FI.

4 – SET UP THE REQUIRED ACCOUNTS – Following on from steps 2 and 3, we will have identified the savings/investment accounts in which we need to contribute to. These accounts now need to be set up. FU#1  already has a bank account with a 5% regular savings account attached, LISA (Lifetime ISA), Stocks and Share ISA, SIPP and an auto-enrolled workplace pension.

5 – PAY YOURSELF FIRST – This is one of the most important steps to achieve financial freedom.  Automate your savings so that the money immediately comes out of your net pay before you are tempted to spend it.  This forces you to manage/live on the remaining amount.

6 – DON’T GO INTO ‘BAD’ DEBT – Avoid at all cost credit card debt, and don’t take on ‘bad’ debt or loans for depreciating assets such as cars, holidays, clothes, furniture and consumer goods.  If you can’t pay for the item in full you can’t afford it.  If you really want something, save up for it and pay in full. ‘Good’ debt can be used carefully for appreciating assets such as property etc., as long as it doesn’t affect your FI plan or stretch you financially.

7 – ACHIEVE FREEDOM – Monitor and follow the plan to reach FI. Once you achieve FI you will be able to lead a fantastic life with 40+ years to do as you please, whilst most of your peers will be working into their late 60’s burdened with debt.


FU MON CHU will go into further detail on the above points in future posts.

There may be flaws/doubts in the plan I have set out, and no doubt other people will have different views on how to reach FI.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules on how to reach FI and it obviously depends upon each personal circumstance.

Please feel free to comment, criticise or contribute any thoughts on anything written above.

I am still learning and won’t be offended by any comments.



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The Not-So-Magic Roundabout (more musings from Mrs Fu)

The discovery of FI is, for me, the equivalent of writing out your life plan as a young adult, following it pretty steadily for thirty years and then scrunching the whole thing into a ball and throwing it into the bin.  No, not even that. Setting it on fire – no pun intended!  Hearing those Choose FI podcasts started the blazing epiphany that has literally stopped me in my tracks, life-wise.

That sounds a bit dramatic but there are lots of times in life where you’ve been doing something forever then someone or something tips what you’ve been doing on its head, and you can’t believe you didn’t know it before.  Here’s an instance of that  – I’ve seen umpteen life hack memes on the internet on how bobby pin hair fasteners are not designed to be used the way everyone uses them (smooth side to the head) but the other way up with the wavy side to the head – FOR MORE GRIP!  Who knew?!

So FI did the same with my life plan… but we’re not talking about hair here, we’re talking about life.   Basically, everything I had lined up in my life as a goal or important started to look a bit silly. I was definitely freaked out.

Mr FU MON CHU and I consider ourselves pretty money-savvy (well, he is – I just do as he advises – I have little interest in money apart from spending it if I’m honest.  I just know that he reads about it all the time and has worked out good pensions, knows all the money-saving bonuses and researches the best savings rates, etc.  I just trust him to sort these things, and he’s done a lot better job than many of our peers so I have just relied on his ongoing research.)  Savvy or not, neither of us had even heard of FI until this past year.

Why hadn’t we, though?  Why isn’t it all over the tv, press, taught in schools?  Who doesn’t want to retire early?  I know we always did, and we had a general idea that it might be possible if everything went ok and we worked our socks off.  By ‘early retirement’ we were thinking 55-ish.  We didn’t think it possible to do it any earlier (without getting lucky in the lottery or getting a cash windfall from a rich old uncle, which neither of us has).  It was just a matter of running like hell on the hamster wheel of life, as some call it.  I prefer to think of it as a roundabout.  Things come round again and again, you’re not really going anywhere but the whole experience is dizzying.  It’s certainly not a slow ride.  The roundabout goes so fast it’s really hard to see anything from on it, never mind get off.  No wonder we never realised there was a different view.  It’s actually too exhausting just keeping up with the revolutions – repayments for this, replacements for that, endless school trips and opportunities not-to-be-missed.  They keep reappearing almost as soon as the last fades.   It’s impossible to look out, only in.

If we are honest MR FU and I both feel a bit stupid that we were tricked into getting on the roundabout from the day we set out as adults, maybe before.   We were sold on the idea of getting a good job, buying a nice house, filling it full of stuff and keep updating it, having expensive but very worthwhile children, buying a nice car to transport them in, having holidays to create memories, putting some money by for our pensions.  Away we went, just like all our contemporaries, embarking on busy and hardworking life where everyone just jollies along bravely because the reward will (hopefully) be some time in our twilight years where we’ve enough cash in the bank to maintain the comfortable lifestyle we’ve slaved to build.   The years fly.  Decades of them.

And then, suddenly, out of the blue, someone on a podcast said something that stopped me in my tracks….  We don’t need to be on the roundabout.


We listened, pretty-much open-mouthed.  Cynical Me initially tried to pour scorn on the ‘far-fetched’ ideas but to be honest they don’t seem like scams or pipedreams and it’s difficult to be cynical about them when people are doing this – have done it.

It works …and I want it for us.

So right now we ARE still on the roundabout, but it feels like we are scuffing our shoes to slow the spin enough for us to hop leap off.

This past 12m has actually already been a year for leaps into the great unknown, so what’s another one?!   I’m pretty sure most of our friends think we’re insane already, so wait till they find out about FI!

More about our other ‘Great Leap’ in the unknown next time.


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Little FU #1 – Start of a Journey

You hear every day in the news about the housing ‘crisis’, that young people are hard done by, and that they will never be able to afford their own homes, will never be able to retire or will need to keep working into their 70’s.

I find it hilarious that a lot of young people have this view whilst simultaneously posting on Instagram about how fabulous their lives are with all their nights out, holidays, new clothes, and drinking Costa coffee every day. I even see school kids walking to school carrying their chocomochachinos.

As I said in my first post, a big motivation for me is to set my children on a path to FI in their lives.

The initial questions that I’m looking to answer are:

  1. Can a young person starting out on a low apprenticeship wage forge a path to FI and what would this roadmap look like?
  2. Is getting on the property ladder actually as hard as the mainstream press makes out or can it be done relatively easily with a proper plan in place?
  3. Is it a good idea for young people to even get on the property ladder?
  4. Is it worth going to university or is the apprenticeship path now a viable option?


This brings us to Little FU #1

Current net worth – £2500.00

Little FU #1 started out in the world of work, aged 17, in mid-2016 on an IT apprenticeship.

Prior to that he did his AS levels but felt carrying on to complete his A levels and then going to university wasn’t for him.

After looking around we found an IT apprenticeship with a local company that looked appealing, which meant that he could earn and learn at the same time.

At the end of his 2-year apprenticeship, he will have achieved a level 4 qualification (a degree is level 5) whilst earning approx £15k+, and he may have the option to do another year to achieve his level 5.  His contemporaries who stopped on in education to complete their A levels and go to university will, at that point, have completed their first year of uni and be £9k in debt.

FU #1  started on an apprentice wage rate of  £3.30/hour (£130/week, £6.8k/year).

Up to now, he has about £2500.00 in his bank account, which over 18 months is roughly a savings rate of 25% – not bad on such a low wage and considering that there has been no deliberate conscious effort to save any money up.

FU #1 has hit 19 years old, and now he is in the second year of his apprenticeship he will get a pay rise to the national minimum wage for his age, which from April 2018 is £5.90/hour (£220/week, £11.5k/year). This equates to approximately a 70% pay rise. We don’t want to lose this increase to lifestyle inflation.

It is time to get an FI plan in place…

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Mrs Fu Mon Chu speaks…

Mr Fu Mon Chu just loves a new project. He is a laidback but enthusiastic kind of guy and I’ve been playing devil’s advocate to his ideas and plans during twenty years of marriage, and ten years of dating before that.

I’m always full of admiration for his enthusiasm (and simplistic optimism) about how his ideas and schemes are going to work out, but my role has, for the most part, been to ridicule and pick holes in them.

I call it applying the voice of reason.  He calls it being negative.  Our house is amazing but not as amazing as it might be if it were finished (but he just skims over those minor details!)

It was honestly no surprise to learn of his interest in FI.   As a family we’ve had many a holiday where Mr Fu Mon Chu sits sunning himself whilst Tim Ferris murmurs sweet nothings through his ear pods, and where we’ve watched Mr Fu browsing the musings of Mr Money Moustache… we’ve really tried not to get involved, to be honest.  I quite like some of the principles and ideas (in theory) but riding here, there and everywhere on a pushbike, with a basket on the front, in the cold and wet north of England with six children in tow? That’s not tempting. So I just switched off (and nodded in all the right places) without really signing up to anything.

FI, then, really took me by surprise.

Initially I was my usual self, dismissing it as the latest procrastination tactic to avoid finishing the bathroom project he started in October….

I was honestly too busy to listen.  I let him get on with immersing himself in the world of FI while I got on with organising Christmas, birthdays and the social lives of our children.  I was probably a bit annoyed at how fascinated he was with it all when I was so damn busy!

So the podcasts were just an irritating background noise for a while.  Slowly, though, I started to pick up on some of the things I was hearing.   Strangely, I found myself agreeing with some of the things being said.  That was a bit of a shock, if I’m honest.  I’m not into self-help or anything which purports to be life enhancing.  I know my own mind.   I actively ridicule such things… but here I was, nodding in agreement.

I am a natural cynic – so how come I was suddenly thinking about FI at random times of the day?  What had happened to me?

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The Bride of FU MON CHU

Mrs FU MON CHU is generally quite cynical.

She quite often ridicules my latest interests/fads and it is quite difficult to get her on board to new ideas even though she is very intelligent ; ) . Once she is convinced of something though she can be very powerful in achieving what she sets out to do.

As in my previous post, I mentioned I had been listening to the Tim Ferris podcasts and she generally could not be less interested in those.

I am always interested in new ideas etc.,   and therefore when I mentioned my latest ‘discovery’ the raised eyebrow look was one I had seen many times before.

I was reading all I could about FI , then Christmas 2017 arrived and went.

In the new year my ideas on FI started to crystallise and I went on the offensive again, planting seeds of ideas and concepts of where our life and our children’s lives should be heading next and in the future.

Finally in early February 2018, after seeing some rough figures that I had sketched out if we followed an FI plan, she cracked and finally showed some interest.

We listened to some ChooseFI podcasts together and she opened up to the idea of FI.

Watch this space…


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The Awakening of FU MON CHU

Despite being reasonably financially savvy, or so I thought, I was surprised to realise I had been sleepwalking on a financial hamster wheel for the past several years.

My financial education had come mainly from mainstream media sources, such as business and money columns in newspapers, magazines, and websites such as MSE.

I had a rough plan for retirement and had opened a SIPP pension. I also have a couple of company-owned buy to lets. This would form the basis of my retirement, or so I thought.

Up to late 2017 I have gone through life not really questioning the normal ‘retire at 65/67’ mindset, never mind being able to retire in your 50’s, 40’s or even 30’s.

The ‘lightbulb’ moment finally arrived in late 2017.

I had been following Tim Ferris for quite a while and listening to his podcasts since I bought the 4 Hour Work Week. I vaguely remember him doing a podcast with somebody called Mr. Money Mustache. To my loss, I was very busy at the time with work and I didn’t really take much notice of what was said in the podcast and the message didn’t really register with me at the time.

However, it wasn’t until it was quite a while later that I happened to come across a link to Mr. Money Mustache through a Monevator post. I recognised the name and happened to click on a link to the MMM blog. I read the post and was blown away.

I proceeded to consume all the MMM blog posts and was converted. During this time I was endlessly ribbed by my kids- ‘OMG dad… are you reading Mr. Money Mustache again? At least it’s not the Tim Poois podcast!’

Poor Tim Ferris. My kids hate Tim Ferris because I have listened to him in the car rather than Stormzy!

I realised I had lived my life as a drone worker on autopilot, not knowing there was an alternative path. That path was FI. What the hell had I been doing all these years and where had all the money gone?

I immediately vowed to put in place a plan to achieve financial independence as soon as possible.

Now I just had to run it past the wife…

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This is my first post – About Me



Why FU MON CHU? I know it’s a bit cringy, but it just came to me when thinking of a pseudonym linked to the theme of this blog page – so I just went with it.

The thinking behind it was a play on the blog title and the terms ‘F U Money’ and ‘Choose FI’ often associated with financial independence.

Therefore the name came from –  FiUkMONey, CHUse financial independence.

My Situation

I’m a married man in my late forties with a large family of 6 children, ranging in age from 9 to 19.

Even though I have been interested in finance for quite a few years, I only discovered the concept of FI and the FI community in late 2017 and had my ‘lightbulb’ moment as a result.

Although I do have some pension savings in a SIPP and investments in buy to let, we have generally been living month to month with no real spare cash flow to build anything up.

I have discovered FI quite late in life (I wish I’d known about this 30 years ago when I started work) and I am desperate to implement the principles into my remaining working life.  Hopefully, I haven’t left it too late for myself.  I aim to get to FI within 7-8 years, to coincide with the time I can draw on my SIPP.

My greater motivation is to ensure my kids are aware of FI, especially my eldest, who at 19 has just recently started in the world of work.

I don’t want my children to follow the mainstream path of go to school, go to uni, work for 40 years and retire at 67 with no time or money left to enjoy anything. I’m looking to set them off on a plan to FI, with the view that they will be able to achieve FI in their 30’s.

The plan of this blog then is to record my family’s FI journey, illustrating how people may achieve FI in different circumstances, whether that is someone who is just starting out in their working life, or late starters on the FI path with families to consider.

As I said I’m new to FI and I’ve never written anything before so I will no doubt make many mistakes.

Thanks for visiting



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