I am so happy to introduce to you a new series here on Ms ZiYou, Let’s meet UK Personal Finance Bloggers. This week please welcome Mindy from Bangkok to Blighty.
What I love about Mindy is how she’s been following her dreams and living the life she wants. In her case this has been working abroad and experiencing new cultures.
Handing over to Mindy – About You & Your Blog
Please introduce yourself and your blog
Hi everyone, I’m Mindy, and I blog over at Bangkok to Blighty. I moved over to South-East Asia in 2010– initially for just a year. But the high quality of life, low cost of living, and interesting work opportunities have kept me in Asia until now.
I decided that 2018 would be the year I would transition back to living in the UK/Europe and take some time to figure out where I want to settle with my partner, and what to do longer-term.
What sort of finance blog do you write?
My blog is a broad mix personal finance, lifestyle, travel, and living abroad. In terms of personal finance, I write about lessons I’ve learned by turning my finances around. In my twenties, I was so focused on developing a career in non-profits, that I was digging myself into a financial hole.
My first job in Thailand working with refugees paid me just £400 a month, which was high in comparison to local salaries but wasn’t financially sustainable for me in the long-term. I’ve since managed to find a balance between meeting my financial needs while still working in line with my values. I’m also passionate about financial independence (FI), so I hope to use the blog to document my own alternative ethical and sustainable route to FI.
I’ve also been blogging about Bangkok life and will be writing about my travels around Asia. I’m currently on a mini-retirement, and will be backpacking with my partner for at least the next 3 months.
How would you describe your current stage of life?
I’m in a transition phase where I’m not sure where I will be in a year’s time. This is both exciting and scary. I look forward to resettling closer to home – missing friends and family is a big downside to living so far away. But I’ve also learned that the 9-5 office environment is not really for me. I will, therefore, need to find a way to earn money on my own terms while adapting to a higher cost of living.
What are your personal values?
I’ve had progressive values from a young age, which have only become stronger as I’ve grown older, especially after working with communities impacted by neoliberalism.
I believe something has gone very wrong with the system, and that we’re seeing the impacts: environmental destruction, climate change, and widening income and social inequality. This presents a personal dilemma: traditional financial independence relies on capitalism chugging along as is, but my values and beliefs go against this. This is why I need to find an alternative route to FI.
Tell us about the challenges you have overcome
In the past 5 years, I’ve managed to get myself out of negative net worth by increasing my income and upping my savings rate to at least 50%. I’m now so in-tune with what I value spending money on, that there aren’t many things I regret when I look back on my expenses each month.
What are your dreams and plans for the future?
I would love to be as self-sustaining as possible; to make my own things, grow my own food, and generate my own power. But I would still want to have access to amazing culture, like theatre, museums, and exhibitions J
How do you keep fit?
On good weeks, I exercise about four times a week and do a mix of yoga, swimming, jogging and high-intensity interval training. But as I’m on the road right now, my exercise options are limited, so I’m walking thousands of steps every day and fitting in squats and stretches whenever I can.
Tell us your favourite drink?
There are too many to choose from! I’m partial to a glass of Malbec, and a hot mug of PG Tips, but having lived in Asia I also love matcha green tea and bubble tea.
I’m writing this from Japan and I would say Japanese plum wine has to be one of the most delicious things ever created.
UK Society and Media
How do you get your news?
I’m an absolute Guardian addict, which is unsurprising given my views. On my real-life Twitter, I’m active in the social justice space, so it’s full of news and updates from activists around the world.
And the UK housing market – what are your thoughts?
While the situation might be different in other parts of the country, the house prices in London/ Southeast are absolutely nuts. Most of my friends have now bought houses after scrimping and saving for years, but I’m not sure I’ll get on the housing ladder unless there’s a major correction in price (which I wouldn’t necessarily wish for as that would be bad for those friends who’ve just bought).
Please share your top 10 blogs you follow with us.
My current favourite blog is The Luxe Strategist. I love her writing, and while I don’t care for luxury items, we do have a love for vintage in common. I find Jillian’s content at Montana Money Adventures incredibly impactful, while the writing at Triple Bottom Line FI and Frugasaurus matches my values. And of course, I like to follow UK-based bloggers, including Ms Ziyou, Weenie from Quietly Saving, and theFIREstarter.
On reflection having a look at the list above, do you have any thoughts?
Most of the blogs I currently follow are written by women, but it wasn’t that way when I first encountered the FI space about 5 years ago. I’m glad that more women, and especially women of colour, have entered the FI blogging community.
How do you feel about privilege in the UK?
I would definitely say that privilege plays a massive role in our society and politics, and that systemic discrimination is very real. However, I do believe that regardless of background, most people do have the means and opportunity to improve their situation; it’s just that there are greater obstacles to overcome, and others have a massive head start.
What questions would you ask people to understand their priorities?
What does your ideal day look like?
If you could write your own obituary, what would it say?
Do you have a financial tip for someone interested in learning about money?
There is so much that the average person can learn about when it comes to money, whether saving, earning, or investing. But reading Your Money or Your Life will transform your money mindset, which is more fundamental.
How much do you talk about money in real life?
I blog anonymously, and none of my friends know about my blog. But they know I’ve managed to save enough money to stop working for a year, so they’ve been asking more questions, and I’ve been more forthcoming about my savings goals.
What advice would you give to people about investing?
Make it simple, and just start. The easiest option would be to invest in a Vanguard LifeStrategy fund, which is how I got started. But when I’m back in the UK I would like to research alternative ethical options.
What is one awesome thing in your life now?
Flexibility. I had my ideal job in Bangkok, but the daily 9-5 grind really wore me down. I’m currently spending my days exploring incredible cities, meeting new people, and stuffing my face with amazing food!
Anything else you’d like to say?
A big thank you to Ms Ziyou for having me participate in this series!
How can people connect with you?
Ms ZiYou Back Here
Thanks so much to Mindy for sharing her unique experiences and perspectives, I’ve found them so interesting. And I might steal the obituary question, what a great way to get people to think!
If you blog about money in the UK and would like to be featured on Let’s meet UK Personal Finance Bloggers – please get in contact.
And as always, it’s over to you – what are your thoughts after hearing from Mindy?