Coders Of Finance – WhatLifeCouldBe

Coders Of Finance – WhatLifeCouldBe

Welcome back geeky FIRE seekers. Today I brought you the story of my newest (ex)coder-blogger friend all the way from the heart of Europe. Shame on me, I only found out about the existence of their great blog,  a couple of weeks ago but digging through it is in progress. It turned out that they are very close to us both in terms of family situations and geographical distance. Enjoy!


Tell us about yourself!

Heya. I’m Rob. We’re a Scottish (her) Hungarian (him) couple with two young kids who reached FI at 32 years while living in Germany. We started investing in real estate, started several side hustles, a profitable business and also invest in the stock market with ETFs. After more than 10 years in Germany, we moved to rural Romania where I’m from and where my parents live.

The Beginning

When was your first encounter with computing?

I picked the IT class at high school (9-12th grade) so I started with 14 years to learn about coding and by my 18th birthday I did my first proper piece of software.

What was your first machine?

It must have been around ’97, it was an Intel Pentium 166Ghz, 1Gb HDD and… pff… less than 512Mb Ram. 🙂 It was a great PC. Later I’ve got a Voodoo graphics accelerator and I rocked Tomb Rider on it…

Did you started with games first or jumped straight into programming?

Well, in Romania back then nobody bought licenses so I’ve spent a lot of time hacking some PC games to make them work. I’ve learned a lot. I think this was the reason we have so many good developers now in Romania.

What about education? Was it related to computing? Did you learn in a traditional way? What kind of degree do you have?

Yeah, it was IT focused. Algorithms, Pascal and it got quite sophisticated with Backtracking and Recursivity. I then went to IT& Economics which was a really good choice since it gives you insight in so many areas like marketing, management, finances, accounting, HR, stock market etc plus, 50% was coding.

When did you start to work? Was it in your field?

I always wanted to be a web programmer (PHP & MySQL) right from the start of university. I actually became one and started working in this area. A couple of years of professional coding was enough for me to realize I don’t enjoy that so much and I gradually switched to consulting.

How did you become an entrepreneur?

I think it all started back in 1999 or so when I’ve got a CD burner and burned CDs for people for money 🙂 I made enough money to buy a Dial-Up modem 🙂 I remember that… Later I started making money with building websites from scratch. On paper, I became an entrepreneur by coincidence. The Germans didn’t want to give me work permit so the solution was to become a freelancer. Which I did. This meant, that I could keep those few little clients I had before and also have a kinda fulltime job as well. This was quite nice.

This was also an important milestone in my life. As a freelancer, I didn’t have to pay state pension. This made me a bit worried about my pension. I knew I had to do something and the private pension plans were not very appealing so this is when we started investing in real estate.

What kind of services did you provide?

I did the usual little websites. It started from scratch then the frameworks (Joomla) appeared. Then PHP / MySQL / JavaScript coding followed. Before I “retired” I’ve only used JavaScript a bit.

What are your experiences about the industry?

I didn’t really enjoy the fast-changing technology. It always felt a bit like hacking, especially with JavaScript. So I’m not the sort of person who sits in a dark room and codes all night. I’ve done that, now I know I don’t like it. The industry? Well, huge future. Software and algorithms are going to shape our future world more and more. Look at Uber, the world’s biggest taxi company who don’t really own cars. Look at Amazon, the biggest online shop who don’t really produce anything and the list could go on and on. If you learn how to code, you’re future proof.

What were your biggest challenge, failure, and success?

My biggest challenge was my first project. I had to build one for my graduation. I was so proud of myself. I felt like there are no limits to what I could build in that programming language (FoxPro). Loved the feeling.


What is your current financial situation and what are your financial goals?

We’re FI for about 3 years now but, as it happens we’re still earning money with stuff we enjoy doing.

Would you share your FI strategy and journey briefly?

Basically, we’re pretty diversification freaks. We invested a lot in real estate (1st pillar), I started an online business (2nd pillar), we both have skills that we can use anytime to make money (3rd pillar) and all that left is going to the stock market (4th pillar) if we feel like it’s good time to invest. We wrote about this strategy here and this is how we reached FI in detail.

How did your profession affect your finances?

Fun fact about us is, that our highest paying side hustle (150-209€/h) had nothing to do with our professions (see details here), which was a caretaker job we did for 1.5 years. So if you ask me whether you need to be a coder or engineer to reach FI, my answer would be absolutely not!

Still, being a coder and having experience in building websites helped us a lot reaching FI, no question about that. The thing is, that if you have a good idea for a portal, a software or an App it can catapult you into FI in no time (sometimes a year or less could be enough). It allows you to build your money-making-machine, your source of passive income if you use your skills wisely.


Did you regret becoming a coder? What would you change?

Being a coder helped my consultant career a lot. I had to deal with IT guys and they like to talk to consultants who know their “language”. Most consultants in my field didn’t have a coder background and for me, this made a huge difference.

If I could, I would change the educations system in a way that it allows kids to find their passion as quickly as possible and I would let them focus on that rather than learn about chemistry if you clearly want to become a coder.

What would I change in my career? I would start being properly self-employed a lot earlier.

Would you recommend starters/career shifters to step on this path?

If they enjoy it yes. If not…no… One should do what one enjoys doing. But EVERYBODY should learn a bit of algorithms and coding early on so the can decide for themselves. It should be mandatory!

Do you have some tips for beginners?

Don’t sit in front of the TV or on Facebook so much. Start thinking about what you really want to do. What do you want to build? Virtually everything could be learned from the internet. Start doing it. Invest in your education. Not necessarily money, but time.

Whom do you recommend indulging in entrepreneurship?

I think everybody should be offered the chance to try different forms of entrepreneurship. They could then choose for themselves if they enjoy doing it.


You are a coder, a freelancer, an internet marketer, an online business owner, a blogger, a community builder, a real estate investor, and who knows what else 🙂 Would you share your goals and plans for these projects with us?

I’ve quit my coding customers long ago so this is not an issue anymore… I’m an ex-coder 🙂

I quit my consulting customers mid-2017. It paid well (over 100€/h) and I could do it remotely but I felt like my work doesn’t really have any impact on anything I felt even slightly meaningful so I dropped it.

My only business is my baby. I love watching it grow, watching all the new features it can do every other day. I like the fact that I can have a real positive impact on the lives of thousands of people. So yeah, I have no plans of stopping this although, who knows. Next year I might have my focus on other stuff. is a project we started at the Financial Independence Week Europe 2017 with a few other European folks. It should be the home for everything about FIRE in Europe with a curated articles list, blogs list, Wiki, Events, and Podcasts. It’s a not-for-profit project and I’d like to see other people jumping onboard and see it grow. It’s also a platform we use to get to know many interesting people.

FIWE – the Financial Independence Week Europe is a fun, not-for-profit conference-meetup that we started in 2016 and in June 2018 we have the 3rd edition. We love to meet new amazing people, make friends and connect people. We enjoy it a lot, it’s also something that Emma (my wife) and I are doing together (apart from our blog). It’s quite important for us as a couple to have shared projects.

On the real estate side, we don’t plan on expanding. In fact, we might even sell some in the future. We don’t really enjoy dealing with tenants. Luckily we don’t have to do that too much. It’s pretty passive.

Let’s not forget that we’re also parents to two really sophisticated, energy-intensive little creatures. I don’t even understand how we have time to do anything else…

Oh…we’re also environmental activists and we want to make the world plastic free and idiots free. I know we have a long way to go… but hey, you have to start somewhere… My next goal is to make my hometown sustainably cleaner and stop the authorities dumping all the plastic waste from the town into… you guessed it… a lake. Not nice isn’t it. It’s quite challenging to find solutions here without getting in trouble…


We coders have our eternal debates, let us know which side do you stand?


  • Desktop OS: Windows 10
  • Mobile OS: Android
  • Machine: Lenovo Carbon X1 Gen 2
  • Browser: Chrome
  • Programming language: PHP, MySQL, Javascript
  • And the most important… spaces or tabs: Tabs

Coding exercise

Would you write a couple of lines of code to present a simple financial principle?

FI = getYourShitTogether()

function getYourShitTogether() {
    stupid-expenses = startTrackingYourExpenses();
    expenses = expenses - stupid-expenses;

    passive_income = implementSideHustles(array_sh);

    self-employment= thinkAboutABusiness();
    passive_income += implementBusiness(self-employment)

    return passive_income - expenses;


Thank you, Rob, for participating in this series. It was very interesting to get to know your tech background and professional journey more. I honestly think that it is very interesting and we can learn a lot from you about hard work, following your dreams and most importantly bending the system to fit your goals 🙂

While this post is going online somewhere at a lovely place at Timisoara a bunch of European FIRE folks are gathering to have a great weekend at FIWE 2018 conference. A huge shout out to all of you and wishing a lot of fun, interesting conversations and plenty of good wine and food for the following days.

Hope you enjoyed this episode. See you soon.

5 thoughts on “Coders Of Finance – WhatLifeCouldBe

  1. Very inspiring,
    As someone who is trying to make the career switch to web design/development, I really enjoy this series.
    Maybe my family should move to Eastern Europe once our allotted time in Germany is up. I need to get a thriving freelance business going and some passive income streams going so my wife can quit her job.

    1. Hey, Matt. Sounds like a good master plan 🙂
      Very inspiring story indeed. For me, the most interesting part that many times when we’re talking about successful freelancers based in the US we tend to think that, yeah, it is easier to do so over there. Rob’s example shows that it is pretty much possible here in Europe. I am very impressed with what they have achieved so far and really made me think about my current job and financial situation.

      1. I know that many people first think that “yeah, that was easy: achieving fi in Germany then moving to a cheap country to reduce costs…therefor I can’t do it”. Actually I’ve tried several sidehustles that didn’t require me being in Germany at all and earn over 100€/h. For instance I’m updating a CMS based website for about 130€/h in Romania after optimizing a lot of processes and minimizing the time I need for changes. Headhunting was also very lucrative and it didn’t require my presence in Germany.
        The only reason somebody doesn’t have a well-paid side hustle is because one never sets that as a goal…

        1. Maybe some people do so, but this statement seems wrong to me because of three reasons. First of all, you never stated that you have reached FI only by Romanian standards so I assume your model works also in Germany. Secondly, moving to a lower cost of living place maybe not an option for everyone, but note that moving to a place where there are more options and higher salaries is not a simple decision. There are many other factors besides the financial reasoning. And the third one is that I think that in the first place you did not move back to Romania to only reduce the costs but to be able to live closer to family and have an overall better standard of life. The reduced costs are only the topping on the cake 🙂 Tell me if I am wrong.

          1. You’re right. Reducing costs was not at all a reason to move back, but you know…most people probably won’t believe it. That’s why I need to point out some hardcore facts 🙂
            Plus, our life intensity is pretty crazy here. We travel a lot and do so many things (that involves cost) that in some months we have the same expenses than in Germany 🙂

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