Momentum Series Interview – The Humble Penny: Creating Financial Joy
This marks feature #26 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice that others can take value from and insights about their blogging journey. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing career earnings, the road to financial independence or other strategies for financial and blogging success.
This week I’m happy and excited to welcome Ken from The Humble Penny to the Momentum Series today.
Ken lives with his wife and two sons in London while working as a CFO for a venture capital firm. He shares his thoughts on personal finance, financial independence, career growth, creating financial joy and much more on his blog.
I’m a big fan of Ken’s content and message he carries forward.
If you want to connect with Ken:
Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Ken and enjoy this Momentum Series Interview – The Humble Penny: Creating Financial Joy.
My name is Ken, I am 34 and I’ve been married to Mary for the last 7 years. We have two sons aged 5 and 3. I was born in the bustling city of Lagos (Nigeria) and I lived there for the first 14 years of my life before immigrating to London (UK).
Having lived life extensively on two continents, whilst having traveled to over 50 countries, has taught me a great deal about life and people.
We currently live on the outskirts of London and enjoy a light commute into central London by train or by driving our electric car.
I love music (Film compositions, Grime and Afro beats), travelling, sport (football and tennis) and street photography.
I write at The Humble Penny where it is my mission to help people Create Financial Joy in their lives. When people think of money, I want to help them think of it from a happy place. Part of that process is helping them achieve the necessary goal of Financial Independence.
I write about Relationships, Life Hacks, Money Making, Money Saving, Investing, Financial Independence, Side Hustles, Debt Management etc.
I am hugely passionate about the subject of money and life, and my website is essentially my canvass for being creative and sharing.
I attended an all boys former British school in Lagos (Nigeria), then I immigrated to the UK and fell into the State school system.
I powered through and attained a First Class Honours Degree from the University of London, then trained as a Chartered Accountant. I also hold an MBA from the University of Cambridge.
However, my biggest progression has really come from the informal learning from books, coaching etc.
I currently work as a Chief Financial Officer for a Venture Capital firm in London. I also wear the hat as Head of Compliance and Chief Operating Officer. We essentially take money from high net worths and super high net worths and invest that money (circa £5m in each company) in high growth companies in the creative industries in the UK and Europe. We’ve invested about $400m so far.
I love this job because it offers me complexity, autonomy and a significant wealth creation opportunity.
To get to this level in my career, I’ve risen very quickly through the ranks starting as a trainee Chartered Accountant, then a Management Accountant, then Financial Controller, then Finance Director and CFO.
Has taking control of your money and mastering your personal finances always been your mindset as an adult? Can you share the coles notes version of your financial journey?
Here’s the thing, I actually grew up poor. We immigrated to the UK in 1998 with zero assets and minimal rights. However, we needed to survive somehow and find our path.
Taking control of my money came naturally because when you have so little and unsure what tomorrow will bring, you tend to want to protect what you have.
My parents have also been fantastic role models and essentially formed my money blueprint. My family are deeply entrepreneurial, and a lot of that has been an inspiration for getting me to where I am today.
I never had student loan debt for example, purely because I grafted to pay my way. Then in 2009, I met my wife to be at a Rich Dad Poor Dad property investing conference in London.
We got married a year later and set off on the journey to Financial Independence. Our path has been very different to most. More on that below.
What strategies and tactics have you implemented in your to life to best set you up for financial success?
I approach money and all things in life using the secret sauce for winning. This strategy has led us to a multifaceted approach to financial success.
In summary we:
- Maximize upside through side hustles (We run a nursery business with 4 branches in London, run a party business, run the blog). From these we invest in other asset classes.
- We focused on personal development and have high paying jobs
- Invested in property – A few rentals and one commercial property
- Live simple and minimize costs – Frugal living and multiple saving strategies.
- Tackled debt aggressively and on schedule to pay off our initial $430k mortgage in 4 years or less (total period of less than 10 years).
- Invested through the stock market for years
- We seek strategic collaborations e.g. we collaborate a lot with family members and pull funds to purchase assets e.g. property etc.
- We prioritize building positive relationships and living as generously as we can.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
Oh yes! I wasted a lot of money on buying an expensive car during my single days. It was a sporty Mercedes and ended up costing me more than money because I also attracted the wrong type of women into my life!
The car went on to cost me more and more money each year and I had a few break ups to go with it too. I basically lost years of my life in terrible relationships, partly also because I needed to become a better person. Having a flashy car did not help! Today we drive a 2013 Nissan Leaf and we love it!
Is there an area or area(s) of your own personal finances that you’re still looking to better master and improve?
I need to get better at giving. Although we are already quite generous, I know deep down that there is so much more that we can do. Running the blog is one way we are doing that through our time and money.
Another thing is that I could be a lot better at delegating certain things. E.g. property investing is a real pain and can be draining if you have terrible tenants. I’ve been dealing with a lot of the issues myself and should really just let go and let someone else run this bit for a fee.
If you could send a memo to every 18-22 year old about better managing their finances and understanding money but it could only be 3 sentences long, what would that memo be?
- Begin saving and investing as much money as possible through the stock market.
- Remember that when you hoard money, it doesn’t return to you. Let it flow.
- People usually aren’t short on money, they’re usually short on creativity. Focus on the latter and on solving real problems.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your money mindset or financial situation?
- Designing Your Life: How To Live A Well Lived Joyful Life
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less
- Three Feet From Gold
- Think And Grow Rich
- Winners: How They Succeed
- Know Your Why
- Getting To A Yes
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Who are the Fearless Generation and can you explain what that means to you?
‘The Fearless Generation’ is the name I give to the subscribers of my blog. They are the people I have created the site for because they’re people at a stage of their lives where a switch has been turned on in their minds and they want to do life very differently.
They typically face some big challenges (e.g. debt ridden, doing work they might hate, come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are Millennials, or just seek Personal Freedoms)
These people are motivated for change and seek a transformation. My blog is there to help them on that journey.
Based on your story and the experiences you’ve had, what are the biggest financial challenges that you feel those with a similar story face?
The Millennial generation will not be as rich as their parents on average. They’re more debt ridden and potentially face tougher overall economic times.
However, this generation also have significant advantages (e.g. technology, mobility, access to capital etc).
We have to turn our disadvantages into advantages and ride the wave. The focus shouldn’t be on what’s not possible, but what is possible because of the times we are in.
This group typically have to start all over again and don’t have the luxury of inheritance. They also face people and cultural challenges and barriers and typically focus on survival as the main goal.
With greater risk taking and seeking opportunities, people in this group can make positive moves with generational consequences.
People in this group typically have not had savvy parents. As such, with the availability of information, a lot of people are now only learning what others knew decades ago. This lack of financial literacy has compounded for generations coupled with other bigger racial challenges.
Are there 1-2 strategies or best practices you feel individuals or families can implement if they’re just at the beginning stages of looking to better their financial situation?
- Focus on eliminating debt, in particular mortgage debt. As this group value experiences more, they’ll live a more free life without a debt hangover.
- Save, save , save! Think of this as a way of fighting for your future.
- Stay legal and protect your name – It is all you have and has value.
- Seek side hustles and businesses. More wealth will be created through this path and more quickly.
- Focus aggressively on personal development. Invest in your number 1 asset – YOU!
- Don’t buy a new car to show “you’ve arrived”. No one cares. Invest your money instead and grow you wealth. Track your wealth too and be intentional too.
- Finally, work together! There is no success without unity.
When did you first start blogging? Was there a specific launching off point or what influenced you to go down that path?
I launched my site on 3rd December 2017. My inspiration came on a flight from London to Philadelphia at 40,000 feet.
I was reading 2 books I recommended above “Designing Your Life” and “3 Feet From Gold”. At that time of my life, I also itched for doing more impactful work.
A blog seemed like a perfect platform to get my message out there and see if anyone would listen.
Is there a mission statement or underlying purpose to what you intend to accomplish with The Humble Penny?
The Humble Penny (THP) has the mission of helping others Create Financial Joy in their lives. I want to show through our lives that unity in a family is important and that money can have purpose and help people live desirable lives.
I have BIG goals for this site. I would one day like to create a charitable arm of THP and tackle specific causes that affect many people. Poverty and lack of financial literacy is one of them. I follow Bill Gates and Roger Federer alot and currently learning from their charitable endeavours.
Do you have any specific goals with your blog(s) over the next 12 months? What tactics are you planning to leverage to accomplish these?
My biggest goals for the blog right now are to:
- Build an Ethical Money brand
- Turn my flow into stock i.e. Create products that are solving real problems for the readers through my existing and new content.
- Continue to generate traffic for the site.
- By doing the above, the site will become sustainable and grow revenues and net profits.
- By achieving iii, we can have some more impact.
Tactics – Prioritizing positive relationships, strategic collaborations using the Dream 100.
If you could recommend 3 of your blog posts for Making Momentum readers to check out, what would those be?
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Financial Independence is achievable, but it also has a lot to do with personal development and riding your fears. I’ve focused on both and they’ve helped me achieve Financial Independence from zero assets in 20 years ago.
I’d highly recommend i) Doing things NOW, ii) Always Be Closing (ABC), iii) Take Risks and iv) Prioritize Honesty and Integrity in all that you do.
Any special shoutouts?
Scott, beyond thanking you for being Amazing (!!), I’d send a special shoutout to John at ESI Money. He will know exactly why. He has been incredibly helpful to me on many levels.
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