About Me – The Obvious Investor
Hello. I’m Mark, a retired 50-something year old ordinary individual, and one of the early FIRE Starters (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I built this website to document my investment experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. With full transparency I’m sharing where I invest, and the actual returns (and losses) realized from various types of investments I use to maintain financial freedom and early retirement.
I have built two new portfolios, specifically for sharing and tracking certain assets in real time which I believe are some of the best Investments for early retirement. A Growth Portfolio which tracks Stocks, Bonds, Gold & REITs. And also a Peer to Peer Lender Portfolio which tracks Peer to Peer Lenders I invest with and the actual income from each of them.
If you are new to Peer to Peer Lending, or the other types of investments outlined here, please feel free to follow along as we see in real time where to get the best returns, with the least amount of risk, in order to grow capital and provide income.
This is “Obi Obvious”
This is Obi Obvious. You’ll see him throughout the website. He usually pops up where the most important information is, so if you’re looking for a “readers digest” version of the website, look for Obi 🙂
How I started investing and got in to the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement
The biggest problem I had when I started investing was knowing “where” and “how” to invest, and “what to invest in”. What would help me build wealth without making any major mistakes, and having to start again? What would give me the opportunity to retire early? There was no FIRE movement back then. There was no internet (can you imagine that?). So finding the best Investments for early retirement seemed daunting.
I looked everywhere for investment ideas & the best investments for early retirement. I read books, followed “gurus” and went to conferences. It took me years to find the right investment vehicles and diversification for real, honest, growth I felt comfortable with. Of course, I went through all the “day trading” and “penny stock” phases. My first real intro into investments was many years ago from the a well known “get rich quick” commodity trading course. I spent thousands of my hard-earned cash on these and other courses, but didn’t “get rich quick”, unfortunately. In the end I decided to put my money in to stocks, which did well for the most part, but the large swings in the stock market were very unnerving. Seeing my portfolio up 40% one year, then down 40% another year never felt very comfortable.
The Permanent Portfolio
Eventually I came across a strategy by a gentleman called Harry Browne in the 80’s (an Investor, Author and U.S. Presidential Candidate). It’s a ridiculously simple investment strategy called “The Permanent Portfolio” . After I learned of it and saw the results from The Permanent Portfolio from many years in the past. My investment ideas changed instantly. Finally I had something that made sense to me! with reasonable returns and acceptable drawdowns. It was time tested, by Harry, with a track record of about 20 years at that time. Track record is very important as you’ll see from my “Backtesing” page.
I followed The Permanent Portfolio strategy for a while thereafter. Invested a little in the strategy every month from my salary, and that was a large part of how I found financial freedom and early retirement.The Permanent Portfolio assets are still a part of my personal portfolio today. However early on I made a few changes which help to improve returns, and limit drawdown. I added Real Estate funds (REITs) for increased stability and income. More recently I moved some of the cash part to Peer-to-Peer lending investments, to compensate for the low return rates from banks these days. These changes increase returns, reduce drawdowns, help stability and allow better diversification.
Even now, this strategy is so simple, anyone can set up the portfolios easily and quickly. In fact it’s quite boring. Where investments are concerned though, boring is good. 🙂 You can read more about my investments here.
One of the Early Adopters of FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)
Well into my investing life journey, once I had figured out where to invest. I didn’t really have any set targets about a retirement age. I just knew I wanted out of the rat race. This was until in 1992 (I was in my early 20’s), I read the best-selling book Your Money or Your Life written by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. After reading it, I knew that I had to make a firm plan as to when I could retire. I set the age I wanted to retire as 50 years old. Then started investing and saving in line with that target.
In the 2010 book Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker, it helped me understand even more that I had been on the right track. Then the Mr. Money Mustache blog came out in 2011 which formally introduced the concept of frugality, and it made even more sense. Although it was a little late for me as I was almost there by then. I am a frugal person by nature anyway. However I can see now, if I would have understood these concepts earlier, I could have probably retired a lot earlier.
Made it at 50
Wouldn’t you know though that just a few years later, at exactly 50 years old, as was original plan. I was able to retire, on the dot! It all actually fell in to place just as I had amassed the “FIRE NUMBER” for retirement. The company I had worked with for 14 years got purchased by a larger company and I got a nice bonus for the shares I owned in the company. This topped up my FIRE funds to make me feel even more comfortable with my decision to gain Financial Independence and Retire Early!
So, if you’re part of the FIRE movement and not yet made it to retirement, stick with it, you can do it, and it will happen!
More General Background Info About Me
For most of my 30 year career, I worked with software companies across globe. I grew up in a small village near Newark, England, however I spent most of my career-life in the USA. I retired a few years ago as mentioned earlier, and decided to move back over the pond, as I still have family in the UK and wanted to be closer to them. Now I live between the UK and The Algarve, Portugal. I wrote a blog post recently about Portugal and the benefits of retiring and living here you may find interesting.
Investments & Website
I manage my own investments in a couple of hours per month now. Originally I started to write about my investments and my FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) journey in a MS Word document to give to my friends and family. Many of whom showed interest in how I invest for financial freedom and early retirement. As they themselves are looking for the best Investments for early retirement too.
Half way through, I decided to publish the information to a blog instead. This way I can easily distribute updates, instead of mailing out a Word doc every month. Plus I thought perhaps if others take interest in my journey to financial freedom and early retirement, it might help them to make sensible investment decisions. And not to make some of the mistakes I have made over the years. Hopefully my website might also motivate some of my younger FIRE friends to stick with it and reach their goals earlier than I did!
Please feel free to take a look around my website which explains everything in detail. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me.