Welcome to episode 07 of our FI Europe podcast! Today I had the honour of interviewing Steve from Dead Simple Saving, a Brit who’s worked all the way in Dubai and has now reached Financial Independence. Since both my co-hosts were away at the time (one with a new baby and one on a plane), I was the sole interviewer and it was my first time in person! I was a little nervous at first, but Steve was a great guest and we got deep into the topic of FI and the expat life. Listen away!
Who are you, Steve?
Steve is an Englishman who has worked for 10 years in Dubai advising banks and working with sovereign wealth funds. He then started a sports science company, managed to outsource a lot of it and therefore now considers himself completely Financially Independent (he does not like the word retired!).
The coolest part: He designs his life how he wants.
This year it meant chilling in his villa in Dubai, and then going to England for 2 months. Impressive.
How did he reach Financial Independence?
After getting a high income job in Dubai and living frugally, Steve no longer needs to take on a corporate job. He knew he did not want to worry about money and had a clear vision of what he wanted his life to look like. His sports science business gives him a sweet revenue and since it’s all outsourced, he doesn’t have to be there in person to manage it.
Another big helper: Dubai. His tax-free earnings mean he saves a lot of money than if he was in the UK.
Pure geoarbitrage. Exactly what we’re looking for on this podcast: figuring out the best countries to work and invest in.
What’s life like in Dubai?
The number one thing about living and working in Dubai is that the opportunity to make money is vastly greater. There is a much lower tax regime, and because you can keep everything you earn, you’re richer than people in the UK. Pretty snazzy.
Steve describes life in Dubai: everyone has an expensive lifestyle, is living off debt and trying to seem as rich as possible. Then they crash out the system because of their lack of savings.
Steve’s mission is to help people realise that it’s not all about the lifestyle, and the importance of having discipline when saving. He admits people are starting to become more sensible and conscious, but there’s still a lot of work to be done:
- You don’t want to keep your money in Dubai – banks can easily freeze your money
- There are a lot of anti-laundering regulations which means investing in platforms such as Vanguard impossible
- This means you need to invest everything offshore, preferably through ETFs: Expat Total Freedom (you do realise that’s a joke!)
- There a lot of scams: dodgy 25 year retirement plans and insurance. Be wary.
So Steve tries to help people understand how Financial Independence works and teach them how passive income and investing works. It’s not easy to get the message across, but he says it’s very satisfying when someone clicks and gets excited (totally agree!).
Where does he see himself in the future?
These past few months Steve has been enjoying his FI lifestyle: he lives in a villa in Dubai (where his rent will soon become negative?!!) next to the beach and only needs to walk 5 minutes to get to his office. As he says: Life is good.
Now he wants to focus on having more structure so he can focus more on helping other people. This means ramping up his blog Dead Simple Saving, social media and holding on to his values.
And he says something that I like: I don’t feel retired.
He made a conscious decision to do exactly what he wants, and right now that means spreading the message of FI. He coaches people in Dubai, regularly appears on radio and now a podcast ;). We also talk a bit about the aggregation of marginal gains: working on becoming 1% better every single day.
An overall very interesting guest to interview. With Steve we talked about how he reached FI, the benefits of working in Dubai as an expat and his future goals spreading the message of financial freedom.
The important stuff:
- Want to pay less tax? Move to Dubai!
- Discipline is key to staying away from an expensive lifestyle
- The benefits of living and how to invest in Dubai as an expat
- How he spreads the message of FI
- FI does not mean retired!
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- Steve’s blog: Dead Simple Saving
- Steve on Instagram, Facebook
- The Mad Fientist
- Interactive Brokers
- Episode 05: FIRE yourself to Switzerland
- Andrew Halllam, book: Millionaire Expat
- Tony Robbins book: Unshakeable