Hi here! I guess you are wondering who I am, why read this blog and why THE.CoNTeNDeR? Let me introduce myself. I am a late thirties Welshman (which automatically makes me a big rugby fan).

I am married to my beautiful French wife. We have been blessed with 2 adorable children and have left London (UK) to live in France's south west countryside.

This is a blog about what we have learnt down the years and what has happend since taking early retirement. In particular we share our thoughts on a simplified, decluttered life, and investing in Dividend Value Growth Stocks (Check out the stock screen).

Financial Independence for the Tribe?

Around 2005 we were wondering what really made us happy. Life at the time was all about work and getting things done. Life was a hectic scramble from meeting to bills, tax return to holiday.

We had successful carrers. Our question to ourselves was "is the right path for us?". Should we continue to accumulate material wealth, go on regular holidays then retire in our 60's / 70's or do something different?

Unfortunately the daily routine was a bit of a slog, long commutes combined with long hours and seeking productivity. We were tired, stress and unwell. Attempts to climb the corporate ladder and navigating politics was not enjoyable and just seen as a survival necessity - up or out! They didn't make us happy either.

Our path was not the life for us, something was missing - what was it? We really needed to change direction and fast.

Changing Direction

After trawling book shops and the web we came across the terms Financial Independence and Downshifting. Could this be what our little Tribe was really looking for? A way to step away from the five-day-week job.

What was stopping us - nothing! We were free to seek our own idea of Happiness. Free time to do what we wanted sounded great if not a little impossible at the time. How can you really retire early?

How, How, How...???? We wanted out. Our goal was to do it in 10 years or so. Was this really possible and if so what did it all mean and what did we need to do to get there?

My thoughts fell on the skills I had learnt from an engineering degree and 14 years in a global
corporate environment. The answer was there in front of me. I needed to use the work skills in our daily lives. These skills were applied to:
  • Changing Working Practices change the way we spent our money and saved 
  • Project Management create a plan to reach our goals
  • Interpersonal Skills Understand the changes we as a Tribe we are going to have to deal with. Training Learn how to stop spending, learn how to invest and most importantly understand what was really important in life and made us happy.
Where are we now?

Over the last seven years we have been completely focused on Happiness, Financial Independence / Downshifting. There have been ups and downs, successes and failures. And the result - we did it in 2013!

I quit my job to raise the kids at the ripe old age of 36 in 2012. In late 2013 Mrs C quit her job -  no more salaried income! We upped sticks and made our way to the South of France.

We are currently living off our investments (dividend return) whilst improvising our personal happiness plan FISH - as we settle into our new lives.  

THE.FuTuRe lies in front of us, he is unpredictable and ever changing - who knows what he will bring. The blog aims to consider current and past events to help understand the world around us and prosper in the future

What is here for you?

FISH started out in August 2012 in order to share the ups and downs of the financially independent life we were seeking. See Family Financial Independence in 7 years

The site contains some custom developed tools to demonstrate some of the skills and ideas we have helped us along the way making our dream possible. Check out the Dividend Value Growth Stock Screener and the Market Analysis PE10 and Inflation adjusted graphs

We have considered what is Happiness such as 10 Happiness Guidelines & 6 Happy time Ideas and skills used for Financial Independence 6 Habits For financial Independence & 10 Career Skills For Financial Independence

Finally what about THE.FuTuRe (who you will hear a lot about) how do you maintain finacial independence and does it really help to make you happier - will it rhyme like THE.PaST or play a completely different tune? Try posts Stuck Generation & Phi, Hero and Forecast

Perhaps this blog's ultimate aim is to look at the BIG picture of life. A passion in understanding the world around us, what constitutes a good life, planning investments, health and activities for the future.

Peace and Happiness,


Please take a look around the site perhaps browse the list all posts or have a look on Pinterest notice board. Please feel free to play with the FREE planning tools and checklists.

Welcome to FISH !
You have come here looking for answers. How to get out of debt? How to save and invest? How to retire early and how you want to live in retirement.

Well this is the right place for you as out tribe has been through all of these steps. We no longer work for a corporate employer and have saved enough to retire early. How we did this is shared here on this site for you.

Our little tribe found out these secrets to financial independence in our late 20’s. Since then we have taken early retirement, in our late 30's, in just 7 years. We now live in the South West of France with our two young children.

Along the way I decided to share everything I learnt. My articles and tips on aggressive saving and compound investing are there to help you meet your financial goals fast. I discuss ways to help you decide what you want by building a life plan. This helps to work out how to get where you want to be whilst avoiding the pitfalls along the way.

My expertise was built up working in blue chip corporate jobs, extensive reading and putting it into practice. I have condensed this knowledge into simple strategies to help you meet your goals and not those of the bank or the place you work.

There are free planning tools on this site that help you make a life plan. A plan for your future. The tools calculate how to reach your financial goals in a timeline that suits you. The tools help set out your life goals, make them happen and how to exceed them.

There are tips on how to simplifying your life to remove day to day headaches. These include ways to pay off debt fast buy eliminating wasteful spending habits. How to reduce your monthly bills through choices that actually improve your health and wellbeing. Identifying things you don’t need that sap your time and wallet.

There are little sustainability projects to reduce your dependence on shops and utilities whilst saving money to spend on things you want.

All of these little steps will show you how save 50%+ of your salary so you can meet your goal whatever it is. This huge saving rate can be compounded for very early retirement. I am sure you will find something here for you.

Darren Lee (A.K.A the Contender as in my blog)