Welcome to another post of my blogger interview series. It’s been a while since I’ve interviewed another blogger. Today’s interview is with Benjamin Davis. Benjamin’s blog is From Cents to Retirement. This is the 20th blogger interview I’ve done. If you missed any, here’s a link to all of my Blogger Interviews.
Benjamin is 28 and he’s gunning for an early retirement at the age of 33. This will require laser focus on his part, but it’s achievable. I hope you enjoy learning more about Benjamin and his blog From Cents To Retirement.
20 Questions With From Cents To Retirement
Who is Benjamin Davis?
I am the man behind From Cents To Retirement. I recently became a self-published author, as I published my first book, titled “My strategy to retire early“. I was born in Portugal to an Italian and Canadian family. As my father had a job which required him to travel, we ended up traveling a lot, and most of my time was split between Portugal and Italy. When I turned 18, I moved to Canada, where I studied for a few years. I hold a PhD, awarded by a German university.
Where do you live?
In Germany, although I am currently in the process of moving to Portugal to start a part-time research position there, and focus on my blog and my investments.
What are your hobbies?
I love hitting the gym, but because I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) I can’t always workout. It recently got so bad in terms of dizziness that I can’t even leave the house for a few days. I am sure I will improve after I move to a less stressful job (which I am currently doing, as I said). I am also preparing a new diet for the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which I’ve used successfully in the past.
Which countries or major cities have you lived in or traveled to?
I am fortunate enough to have been able to live in many places (although primarily in Portugal, Italy and Canada) and during my PhD I’ve been to 25+ countries. This includes exotic places like China, Russia and what not. I’ve been all over the place, really.
Which sports or teams are your favorites?
I love soccer. I am a huge fan of Napoli (from Italy) and Sporting Clube de Portugal (from Portugal). I watch every game of these two clubs and I am also an associated member of Sporting.
What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Hands down, south of Portugal.
When you were a child, what profession did you want to be?
I wanted to be a computer programmer, which I ended up becoming. I loved tech and computers, but interacting with them as a user was boring. Today, as an engineer, I love optimization and computers, but I don’t want to be a programmer any more. I actually prefer to blog. 🙂
What is your career today?
I finished my PhD last year and although I’ve got plenty of offers, I decided to take one year off and look for a part-time position, which I ended up finding. I am in the middle of a big transition and I am not sure what I will be doing in 12-months from now. Ideally, it would be managing my investments and blogging, but let’s see what the future holds.
What is your primary motivation to reach financial independence and retire early?
The fact that I developed CFS, really. One day in Germany, I woke up exhausted, with intense muscle pain and a few other symptoms. Although I rested for a few weeks, I didn’t get better. I got depressed. Specialists took almost a year to diagnose me with CFS. Symptoms I have on a daily basis include extreme fatigue, dizziness and chronic muscle tension. Over the years, I have learned to manage the symptoms (some better than others). This was really an epiphany in my life, which made me re-think everything and come up with the idea to retire early.
At what age are you planning on retiring?
33. This was my original goal and what I though was possible. Today, I am a little bit more optimistic about that and I’ll consider 33 as the worst case scenario. I am excited about the future, anyways.
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you retire?
I will take a huge resting period and do a 3-month spiritual retreat.
If money were no object, but you had to have a job what would you do for a living?
I’d definitely work for myself. I would probably set up a real estate company to sell and rent homes.
If you could go back in time, what investment advice would you give to your past self?
I would read as much as possible. I would set up a compilation of the best books on personal finance, and closed topics. If I could I really go back in time, I would advise myself to read those. I am a huge advocate of financial education – I see a lot of struggle out there and it doesn’t have to be that way. Many people send me questions about real estate. I typically point them to free resources online, which they can learn from. I also did a post on free real estate books, which you can download and read right away.
If you could only use one metric to evaluate a stock, which one would you choose?
I’d rather use metrics to assess the entire stock market and buy in bulk. My favourite metric is Household debt as a percent of GDP.
How do you stay the course when markets are down?
To be honest, I haven’t experienced any major down in the market since I started to invest for real. I am waiting for the next stock market correction, and I will probably buy like there is no tomorrow. Currently, my stocks are limited to a handful of shares because I believe that the market correction won’t take that long and I will try to capitalize on it as much as possible.
What’s your favorite aspect of blogging?
The fact that you can build your own thing. If you have a Facebook page, it belongs to Facebook. If you have a Youtube channel, it actually belongs to Youtube. If you do SEO, Google can shut you down in no time. If you have your blog, its yours. I love that.
I also like networking a lot. Since I started to blog I’ve discovered there is a wonderful community of bloggers out there, always ready to help one another.
Recently, I’ve also started to make money with my blog and to be honest, I love the idea. I think it’s a highly scalable business and I will work hard to make it a success.
Why should people read your blog?
Inspiration, motivation and knowledge, I think that’s what it boils down to. I blog to share my knowledge and keep myself motivated. As I said, I also started to monetize my blog recently and I like the idea.
Which 5 blogs do you visit the most?
In the beginning of my blog, I definitely visited many blogs, like FI Fighter. However, today I am so focused on my own content (and books) that I am not a regular reader of almost any blog. Right now, I am working on my second book, which will be called “10 lessons I’ve learned by interviewing self-made millionaires”.
What’s your best source of traffic to your blog?
I think Quora and Facebook. I am a very active Quora, with over 5m views on my answers. When appropriate, I link to my blog and I do get some traffic from there. I am currently working on improving my SEO dramatically, which is currently a joke.
Why do you blog?
Keep myself motivated and spread my knowledge on financial problems. I also hope that people get inspired by my blog and books.
What’s the name and URL of your blog or blogs?
From cents to retirement. You can also find me on Social Media, including Facebook, Pinterest and more recently, Twitter. Finally, if you’re interested, check out my book “My strategy to retire early“.