Women on FIRE – Ms. ZiYou

Today I’ve got another awesome interview with a woman seeking financial independence – Ms. ZiYou. She’s from England, my age (37) and works in tech (like me!). She’s got big plans and big dreams, and is well on the way to making it happen. Lets get to know her!

Tell us about yourself!

Hello everyone, I’m an anonymous British personal finance blogger, who writes under the name Ms ZiYou about my journey to financial independence. I’m 37, female, single and lucky to live in London which I adore. I currently spend my days working away in a high earning tech role, to save my pennies for my dream life. This leaves my evenings and weekends free for making the most of London and my hobbies. I am on track to retire in 3 years at 40, and am concentrating now on enjoying this journey to financial independence.

How did you become interested in personal finance, and financial independence?

I’ve always been interested in personal finance and saving money, even from a young age. I remember being really excited to save my pocket money in the local post office. We had paper passbooks (remember them?) which you have to hand over to get updated. I remember the simple joy that came over me when I got four figures in the that account, my first thousand pounds. So, from these promising beginnings, the path became a little wavy in my twenties. I enjoyed my university years, yet struggled to find my feet in the working world. I saved enough for deposits on property and to cover any rainy days. But I didn’t have any goals for the future, or any investments or serious long term savings – I spent the rest of my income and had a great time.

My thirties is when I started pulling it all together. Firstly I realized the steps I need to take to increase my income. And slowly my plan started working, you can read the details why it took me so long to reach six figures on my blog. Once I had conquered achieving a high income, I needed plans for the money. I took a few trips of a lifetime, hiking the Inca Trail and Kilimanjaro, which were both awesome, and left me wanting more. Around this time I found lots of FIRE blogs on the internet, and realized that my dreams were achievable. Loads of bloggers were presenting an alternative blueprint for life, and I wanted in. I believe the main ingredient to financial Independence is income. Without a doubt you cannot achieve financial independence without a solid income. And the higher your income, the easier the journey is. So once I had ticked off the first ingredient, I got to work on the second. Reducing my expenses. I always thought I was frugal, but in reality I had quite a bit of fat I could trim, and that I did. And managed to reduce my expenses without losing any pleasure in life, giving me a 80% savings rate. So two years ago, at 35 I evaluated my position. And realized I could do it in 5 years, if I kept to the plan.

Tell us about your FIRE journey – and motivation. What does FIRE mean to you?

So my personal motivation to FIRE, is probably quite common in the FIRE community; freedom to travel. I plan to become nomadic and slow travel, giving me the opportunity to really see how people live in different places all around the globe. The plan is to spend this time relaxing and just enjoying life. Traveling allows me to see the world in a different way, and gets me to challenge my privilege. It also provides concrete proof that western comforts are not necessary to live a good happy life. As for my plans I like to leave things flexible, as I know I don’t know how I’ll feel when traveling. But my current thoughts and ideas are to spend a few years on the road. The type A geek in me is quite fascinated by the idea of counting countries, and seeing if I can make it to every country in the world. This would probably take about 15 to 20 years at a slow-ish pace on my FIRE budget.

There are also many other plans I have formulated. I fancy a season Munro bagging, that is climbing all the mountains considered Munros in Scotland. And also tackling all the long distance paths in the UK, such as the Coast to Coast. Then onwards to longer paths such as the Spanish Camino’s in Europe and Latin America. And even debating if I could tackle one of the US super long distance trails, such as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail. I’m also a keen runner, and would love the time to get in serious shape to improve my times. Then I’d love to try a Kenyan running camp. Yoga is also a love, despite my lack of flexibility. Attending a long yoga retreat is on the menu, to see what progress I can make with consistent practise. Although my Chinese is at a basic level, I’d love to go to China and learn in an immersive way. Spending a year or two studying Mandarin in China is also very do-able on my FIRE budget. What I think you will agree from this, is I’m not short of ideas or hobbies to fill my time when I FIRE.

What’s unique about pursuing financial independence as a woman?

We live in a world that’s supported civilizations for thousands of years. This world has seen empires grow and fade and borders drawn and redrawn. What has been constant over those thousands of years is a belief in male supremacy. In the UK, we are celebrating the 100 year anniversary of some women getting the vote this year. We needed to wait yet another 10 years for all women to get the vote on the same terms as men. So we have a cultural legacy of patriarchy, with females being expected to fulfill housekeeping and childcare roles. Moreover, our society today does treat females differently to men, despite all the laws to ensure equality. The gender pay gap is wide, with women consistently earning less than men in 2018, despite being as well educated for decades. So, women therefore have a harder battle earning money. And as I mentioned above, I believe income is the number one ingredient to financial Independence. If women always earn less, we simply have less opportunists to pursue FI.

What advice would you have for other women on this path?

  • Be yourself, don’t feel you have to mold yourself into something you are not. Whilst it is true, that in the past most women have had to adopt a masculine persona to succeed, the world is changing. Thinking of an example such as Margaret Thatcher, she undertook extensive voice coaching hence made a conscious effort to become more masculine. But in 2018, finally the world is starting to change. Successful women are allowed to be feminine or masculine or however they want to be. And the more of us that are just ourselves the more normalized the successful woman template appears.
  • Be brave, put yourself out there and be willing to learn. The world can appear scary at times, and no-one is born knowing everything. We all learn along the way, and to accelerate your approach you can adopt a growth mindset. This means being willing to stop and reflect, subjectively reviewing your progress and making changes. You need to be willing to do something radically different if your original approach fails, and to be comfortable with failure. We all make a lot of mistakes, and I’ve found mistakes are the best way to learn.
  • Bring up all the other females behind you. One of the key tenets of feminist that I 100% support is female solidarity and support. By this I don’t mean you have to agree with every other woman, but you do have a responsibility to ensure all people are treated equally. If you see women being treated unfairly, call it out. And then if a woman is talked over in meetings, ask for her opinion and call out the interrupters. If a woman is being hassled in the street, be the brave person that steps in and asks if she is ok.

Where can readers find you?

I always love to connect with readers, so please drop me a line if this resonated. You can find me at my blog www.msziyou.com, which has a contact page if you want to drop me a private message. I’m also active on both Twitter and Pinterest.

CMO Here Again

Thanks so much to Ms. ZiYou for coming by to share her story! I love how she advises us to help bring up women behind us. I try to do this myself at work, and do my part to help make sure all women are treated fairly and equally.

Be sure to leave her a comment below!

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12 thoughts on “Women on FIRE – Ms. ZiYou”

  1. Awesome – I climbed a few Munro’s when I visited Scotland! I would love to get back there one day since I’m a climber, but there’s so many mountains to knock-off in the USA.

    1. Cool, I believe most of the Munros are walkable in the summer and only a few are challenging climbs…probably not as hardcore as your American hulks of mountains! Which I also fancy seeing more of one day. So much amazing nature to see, so little time.

  2. Ms Zi You: If you’re interested in running marathons, why not go to North Korea and run the Pyongyang marathon? I went this year and it’s a lot of fun – and very interesting. 🙂

  3. Hi Frogdancer, now that does sounds like fun doing a marathon in North Korea, I have seen it before and wondered how you enter. But….they do look kinda fast everyone there – would it be ok to be the slow one at the back?

  4. You’re so right about the patriarchy and women’s expected roles in societies. Interestingly I think the Internet has opened many doors for women who want to be there for their families but also seek financial independence. We no longer need to work full time in an office and away from our families. And we can work while travelling too! Great plans you have Ms ZiYou 🙂

    1. Hi Peti – great to see we’re on the same page about patriarchy and society :). And yes, the internet has opened many doors, and working from home has many, many benefits.

  5. Your story is fascinating. FIRE by 40. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻. I’m excited to read the stories you will tell as you travel the world. The pacific crest trail is on my bucket list too. Thank you CMO and Ms. ZiYou

  6. Thanks Shawn, it’s exciting just thinking about how cool it will be travelling full time, no restrictions. And great to have another hiker here!

  7. Jane Has Debt

    Have you ever checked out Chris Guillebeau’s blog called The Art of Non-Conformity? https://chrisguillebeau.com/ (he’s now updated it to his name)
    You might like as he has traveled every country. Check out the archives.

    I really like how you are goal driven, seem to maintain a really nice work-life balance and have achieved all that you have as a single woman. Major congrats!

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