1. Who are you and why are you here?
My blogging name is [HCF] and I am the guy behind www.haltcatchfire.com. My job title is full-stack web application developer. I have a wonderful wife and two awesome daughters.
2. Did your parents talk about money? What did they include you in?
My father did not talk a lot about money, he is kind of a silent warrior. My mother is a little bit different. As a kid, I have seen her a thousand times keeping track of spending in workbooks and she taught me some budgeting. They ingrained frugality into me, sometimes driven by necessity other times by intention. I have never really heard about advanced financial topics until I was a young adult.
3. Did that help/hurt you in the long run?
Frugality always pays out, so that part definitely helped me. Same time, I have to (sadly) admit that I have learned a lot from their mistakes too, so there are lessons where they paid (are paying) the price and I got the knowledge.
4. When did you start taking personal finance seriously? What was the trigger?
It happened in 2013 and as for many of us, becoming a father triggered the change. Coincidentally I started to work at my current job the same year and started to earn a little bit more so I had to become more diligent with our finances.
5. What is the most important part of personal finance to instill in kids?
From my experience, frugality, in general, is pretty much in the first place, but avoiding debt and mastering compound interest follow that closely.
6. What’s your favorite thing to cook at home?
Funny fact here. My favorite thing I prepare for the girls is American pancakes 🙂 spiced with vanilla and cinnamon and greased with homemade apricot jam, but I bet you have better recipes for that than me as I only discovered this thing a couple of months ago. My other favorite which is my specialty and I am the chef in charge when we are cooking outside. It is the famous Hungarian beef stew, a simple but very delicious meal. Cooking it in a cauldron over the campfire gives it the perfect taste and ambient, however, you can cook it in a simple pot on the cooker.
Here is the most simple variation:
Hungarian Beef Stew
- 1 tbsp Pork Fat
- 2 medium Onion
- 3 lbs Beef
- Ground Black Pepper
- Ground Red Pepper (paprika, can be slightly hot)
Put the cauldron over the fire and melt the fat
Add the chopped onions and cook until softened while stirring constantly
Throw in the beef (should be cut into roughly 1” x 1” cubes)
Add some salt and black pepper with a teaspoon according to your taste
Let it roast for a couple of minutes but don’t let it burn
Pour water into the cauldron but only that much to cover the beef
Let it cook and add water constantly when it evaporates
After an hour check the beef and when it is half cooked add a huge tablespoon of paprika
Stir it well and add some more water to cover the beef totally
Cook it until the beef is done, add more of any spice or water according to your taste
If you consume all of it immediately you can add a glass of dry red wine
Serve it with pasta (optionally topped with cottage cheese or sour cream) and/or coleslaw
7. What’s your biggest financial regret?
If I take out the emotional and other variables from the equation and try to answer purely from financial perspective then not moving to a country where I could earn 4-8 times more with the same job early on was my biggest financial mistake. I have two actual regrets by the way but both are not realized losses yet. One of them is our home which was a little bit above our price range and will be paid off in the following two years. The other one is buying whole life insurance policies both for my wife and myself. I am evaluating the options with this currently so no clear standpoint on this yet.
8. What is your favorite thing you do to save money?
Saying “not being stupid” counts? I developed a very stable immunity to advertising and not really give a sh*t about the Joneses. So my favorite kind of saving is when I don’t spend on things other people do because think they need it and I know that I don’t.
9. Overall, how would you say your perspective of money has changed?
When you grow up at a place like I did it can easily make you think that success starts when you have a stable job and you are able to make ends meet. When I discovered the personal finance blogosphere it opened my financial mindset too much more and now I see bigger opportunities and have bigger goals in life than ever before.
10. What short term or long term goals are you most excited about? Why?
I know it will sound like a cliche, but raising happy and talented adults is my biggest goal in life. I think this doesn’t need any clarification. On the financial/professional field, my biggest goal is to find out how could I turbo boost our financial situation.
11. What do you want to retire to?
When mandatory work ends I could still remain in the industry, just not full-time. Maybe starting or participating in a non-profit project which helps to make the world a better place. Teaching kids coding is another thing which is really picking my brain.
If not in IT, there are a lot of other things to do and learn like traveling, organic gardening, learning to play the guitar and form a punk-rock band, pyrography. Planting trees and writing a book is also amongst my lifetime plans 🙂
12. Any parting wisdom?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings
I am on my journey to reaching FIRE, even if I just stepped out of the door and I have no idea how to reach my destination. It is frightening and discouraging but if you never make the first step you will never know what lies behind that door. Also, don’t forget:
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”
-Morpheus, The Matrix
P.s. This isn’t limited to people with personal finance sites.