How to Retire at 40 (and My Continued Love Affair with Channel 4)

I’m passionate about personal finance and investing, and if you’re reading this, you probably are too.

Our interest is a niche one, which bores the pants off most people. But, every now and then the topic rears its head on mainstream TV and we get to enjoy the novelty of watching a show on our beloved hobby – personal finance, investing, early retirement etc.

That rare opportunity has arrived for a brief 30 minute show called ‘How to Retire by 40‘, which airs on Channel 4 on Monday 10th July at 8.30pm.

A bunch of the UK personal finance blogs were contacted by the production company that eventually made the program, asking if we would be interested in featuring in a show about Early Retirement. The majority of PF or FIRE bloggers write under pseudonyms to remain anonymous or are in the pursuit of ER. I was fortunate to be open to share my identity, and had just become financially independent after benefiting from the sale of our house. So I agreed.

I had 4 separate phone calls and skype calls for them to find out a little bit about me. We sent each other a few emails and that was it. They said they would let me know if the show goes ahead.

Last night I received an answerphone message from my best mate saying he’d seen me on an advert on Channel 4. I told him previously that I put myself forward for the show but was unlikely to be featured. He filmed the advert and sent it to me, for which I feature all of 0.5 seconds (at a push!). Still pretty cool though.

He filmed the advert and sent it to me, for which I feature all of 0.5 seconds (at a push!). Still pretty cool though.

I had to sign an agreement for them to use my image and conversation on TV, but they said I was unlikely to feature very heavily in this pilot episode and they might stick with a skype screenshot. My internet kept crashing and the lighting in this office wasn’t great. The production company are hoping that the program does well so they can film a full series on the topic. Then they can go into a little bit more detail on how to retire early by following some people.

They said they liked my personality and would like to film me for a day if the series lands. That might be ‘TV speak’ so I’m not holding my breath on that, but it would be cool if it happened. It would be nice to look back on and could add some credibility to my Blog and online course. Perhaps I could put “As featured on Channel 4” on my Blog. Yes, I can see it now…..

Here’s a question for you…

…At what point can you say that?

Does the advert with my face count or do I need to speak on it? 

What if they use one line from my conversation? Will that count? 

I think it 100%, almost definitely, might do!

It doesn’t matter much either way. I’m genuinely pleased that a show like this is being aired on TV. I would prefer that the show gains some attention without me featuring on it all, rather than have an episode dedicated to me, and for it to bomb.

OK, that’s a lie, but I feel there is some sincerity in that statement. 🙂

I have no idea if I’ll feature in the episode, but I’ll definitely check it out nevertheless. I’m interested to see what people have done to get to FIRE, and I hope it inspires more people to get out of the rat race and live more on their own terms, rather than someone else’s.

As my post title suggests, this isn’t my first appearance on Channel 4. Our now, 17-year long love affair remains strong.

 

My Brief Fling with Channel 4

I’ve had my face flash up on Channel 4 three times in my life so far, including the adverts for the upcoming show. I’d love to be all nonchalant and ‘what-evs’ about it, but if I’m being honest, I took great enjoyment from seeing my face on the big screen, even though they were all for split seconds. Here are some (all) of my best bits.

Bar Wars

The first was back in 2001, when I went on a Lads holiday to Kavos. We inadvertently went onto a Reality Game show called ‘Bar Wars’, where a group of males pitted their business skills against a group of females to see who could run the most profitable bar in the resort.

During a drinks order at the female bar one evening, I held a gormless (mouth open) pose, whilst the lady explained what was inside a cocktail. I think the combination of the confused look, ginger hair, and bright yellow t-shirt made me stand out to the TV exec’s, who decided to use a brief still of my mug on every channel 4 advert for the show during the series. I took great joy in seeing my face on TV, even though I looked like an idiot. I went so far as recording it on VHS to ‘capture the moment’, although I have no idea where that it now.

Me and my buddies featured a few times on one of the episodes, which was so exciting at the time. It would be great to watch that again, but it looks like the show missed the digital age. The series has stopped selling online, and was only available on VHS in the first place.

I’ve tried searching for the episodes online but I can’t find them anywhere. Probably for the best.

(Pointless request) If you have a VHS copy of ‘Bar Wars Exposed’, get in touch!

White Teeth

My next feature was during my Uni days at Reading, in 2002. A pair of twins (Andy and Pete), who were in our class, and offered a few of us lads the opportunity to be extras on a TV show called ‘White Teeth’ on channel 4. We got paid around £60-£100 if I remember, which to us was a lot of money back then.

and for what? 

We just dicked around for the day dressing up in some ridiculous early 90’s clothing for some school scene, and then played football in the background for an hour or two for a playground scene. It was the easiest money we made in our lives at that point.

I had a quick google to see if it was still around and low and behold it was!

You see me for all of one second in ‘Episode 3 – The Trouble with Millat’. If you want to check it out (I wouldn’t bother) the link’s below:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/white-teeth/on-demand/31903-003

At 1:57 the bell rings in school for the end of class, and you see a cheeky redhead (with hair on his head rather than his chin) walk out first on the left hand side. One of the twins follows me out of class, my one buddy (Jon) throws the ball against the wall in front of me at the same time, and a few seconds later the other twin gives the lead character a high five. Ha ha. great times!

It makes me laugh everytime I see that clip because me and Pete were arguing over who was going to walk out of the class first to get that all important first shot on camera. We agreed to take it in turns and see who the editors decided on later (if we even made the cut). Sorry Pete 🙂

 

How to Retire at 40

So, will I extend my air time on Channel 4 this coming Monday? Who know's, but I'll be tuning in to find out.

Who know's, but I'll be tuning in to find out.

If you end up watching it too, rest assured, that if I do feature for another split second, or god forbid..... even a line. I'll be giving it a big old cheer from my front room.

Leave a comment below if you watch the show and let me know what you think. It's called 'How to Retire by 40' and airs on Channel 4 (xoxoxo), on Monday 10th July at 8.30pm.

23 Comments

  • EarlyRetirementGuy

    Reply Reply 7th July 2017

    Famous indeed! I was contacted as well and had a brief chat but I think they soon lost interest once they realised I hadn’t yet retired, ah well!

    I hope the show does do well, if only to raise awareness. I saw the DM ran an article on it this morning and was sad to read a majority of the replies were exactly as I predicted; people either disbelieving or thinking abyone doing this must have a miserable existence. What a shame but I guess we can’t all be retiring by 40..

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 7th July 2017

      Yeah, not too surprising there. It’s a shame they needed to ‘sex’ the topic by making it before 40 to gain attention too. I understand why they’ve done it, but still.

      The age is irrelevant tbh. The lifestyle and intention are what truly matters. I don’t class myself as retired, as I want to work. The advantage I have now is that I get to choose what I do, rather than be forced into it. I hope people who watch it take away the realisation that it’s possible for anyone to achieve that, and its pursuit is truly life changing.

      I think it would make great TV to show people like you, and the MANY others, well on their way to FI by doing side hustles. I think people could relate a lot more to that and find it arguably more inspiring.

  • Organised Redhead

    Reply Reply 7th July 2017

    Hey Huw!

    This is all very exciting. First of all, like you, I’m delighted that a TV program (even if just a pilot at this point) has been made about early retirement. Secondly, this has to be a “must watch” now for anyone in the FIRE community to see how much of your interview makes the cut! It would be brilliant if they do make a full series, especially if you get a whole episode dedicated to you. Do you know who else they interviewed for the show? Any names we’d recognise? Maybe you’re not permitted to say…

    With regards to when you can put “as featured on Channel 4”, I reckon as long as they mention your name or website or feature your picture again at some point in the program then that’s fair game.

    Looking forward to the big premiere!

    OR

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 7th July 2017

      I totally agree.

      I’m seriously not expecting much of an appearance based on what they told me about this episode. Looking forward to seeing it though.

      I have no idea who else put their name forward for it so that in itself will be interesting. Good point, perhaps we’ll recognise some names or faces from the community.

      FYI – I’m already canvassing Channel 4 logos! Ha ha! 🙂

  • The Rhino

    Reply Reply 7th July 2017

    Mon 9th July doesn’t exist in 2017..

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 7th July 2017

      Love it! Thanks for putting the world to rights Rhino!

      Monday 10th July

  • Playing with Fire

    Reply Reply 7th July 2017

    “As featured on Channel 4”, I would say no, unless they contact you back for an episode. “Featured” is quite a strong word IMO and suggests that you were somewhat central to the programme.

    Now “As seen on Channel 4” is perfectly fair game. You have been seen, on C4, get the logos uploaded right now!.

    TBH, while I’m pleased that this show might tune some wavering savers into the possibilities, I’m a little concerned that it could expose our secret ways. I’m so far in the FI closet with most of my colleagues, but I guess that most of them wouldn’t find it that interesting?

    Did anyone see Sarah Beeny’s Mortgage Free show? That opened up some interesting conversations among with friends (and less of the “That’s impossible” talk than I was expecting).

    It’s a shame that the presenters have limited themselves to only FI/Retired folk. There are so many great stories out there from people working at it.

    I’ll be looking out for you!

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 7th July 2017

      Hey PwF,

      Thanks for sharing your opinion on using Channel 4 social proof. It’s a little early for “I am Channel 4” but “As seen on Channel 4” would be an understatement based on the evidence I supplied in this post. Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

      It’s interesting that you raise the Sarah Beeny show. I did catch each episode and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love how ordinary and achievable some of the examples were. I’m glad others saw it the same way.

      When you say “expose our secret ways”, do you mean our individual identity or one of the methods we use to achieve FI? I assume you mean it instigating conversations like “I haven’t invested anything yet, have you?” type thing. For which I understand your reservation.

      Maybe it’s just me, but despite running the FFB40 Blog for over a year at the time, and talking to people about investing openly (not mentioning specific numbers), people were still shocked and mystified that I quit my job to do my own thing. I was surprised by how so many were surprised.

      I agree with there being so many great stories out there. I hope they portray just how achievable it is for everyone else to do, rather than put these people on a pedestal. I actually prefer the stories that are simple as opposed to unbelievable.

      Cheers
      Huw

      • Playing with Fire

        Reply Reply 7th July 2017

        I’ve got it!

        “As seen on Channel 4 in the 90s, 00s and 10s”.

        [Sidebar, why haven’t we come up with a good name for this decade? 70s, 80s and 90s would work so much better.]

        Good question re outing myself. I want to share our methods with anyone that is interested: there are far too many people living (what seem to me to be) miserable lives stressing about paying back their payday loans and struggling to stay housed. Sharing ways of making, managing or saving money can be a really good thing.

        My concern is people at work putting together the fact that I have a shit phone, go camping on holiday and live in a modest house altogether and recognising that I don’t need their salary this month. I don’t see it helping me get through the next round of redundancies or do well when pay rises are being allocated. But more than that, I don’t want to be looked over for interesting work or training because they think I’m not going to stick around. I might be paranoid, I’m okay with that. I recall you saying that your work were supportive of your plans, I think mine would not be.

        There are actual multi-millionaires in my office, people know about it and gossip about it. They do not get pay rises or bonuses. I don’t want to be in than group (of course, they wouldn’t have me because of the aforementioned phone and house!).

        I agree the simple stories are more powerful. When I was first getting my financial act together and I saw simple stories of people like me doing well it was so much more persuasive than all the more dramatic stories. We will see.

        • Huw Davies

          Reply Reply 7th July 2017

          Great point PwF…. what do we call this decade? ‘The Teenies’? It sounds like a kids program, but I’m not sure what else we have.

          Thanks for getting back to me RE: Outing yourself. That makes perfect sense. Your memory serves you well, my manager was very supportive. She advised me against telling her boss (Director) about it though, due to the same reasons you stated. I didn’t have too much contact with him on a regular basis so I took her advice. Prior to becoming FI, and not having a close and honest relationship with a manager would lead me to the same course of action I think.

        • Felice Pazzo

          Reply Reply 11th July 2017

          PwF – I could be wrong, but I suspect 2010-19 is being referred to as “the teens” LOL

  • wephway

    Reply Reply 9th July 2017

    I’m sure this has been discussed before but part of me worries that if the whole FIRE scene became an actual movement it could backfire on us. That is, if a significant portion of the population began spending less and retiring early, what would that do for the economy and therefore our investments?

    On the other hand, we’re already using too much of the world’s resources as it is. And it can’t be a bad thing for more people to think more about their financial health. And so many people my age (I’m 32) have never invested or even considered investing – it would be great to spread awareness of the benefits of investing over mindless spending (and mindless saving as well for that matter).

    Anyway, good luck with the show appearance, I will be tuning in!

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 10th July 2017

      Thanks for the comment! I’ve certainly not talked about this before on here, and it’s an interesting concept.

      Personally, and I might be in the minority here, I think it would be a good thing. I would prefer a world where people choose their own path rather than relying on companies to do it for them and reduced consumerism overall. Taking the leap isn’t easy, and as such, I think it makes more of the people doing it (more resilient, more accountable, more appreciate etc).

      If the economy declined, and therefore our investments, we would need to find alternative avenues to prosper, learn to live on less or invest more, which could be seen as a negative, but I believe we would live in a much ‘richer’ world in many other ways by having less consumerism rotting the world’s brains.

      However, I don’t see it happening, especially not anytime soon. Just like getting fit & healthy or education after University/College, people just aren’t interested in delayed gratification, even if they have a vague idea of what to do and what will come.

      Thanks for the well wishes, and once again, thanks for the comment. Very interesting topic!

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 9th July 2017

    Hey Huw

    I saw the advert for this programme and have already set a reminder on my phone to watch it!

    Like others, I saw all the disbelieving comments made by DM readers against their article. They seem to think that people are miserable whilst being frugal yet I’m sure some of them are more miserable trying to pay off their massive mortgages and debts from their excessive lifestyles. If only some of them could be inspired by what they are reading, instead of dismissing outright.

    Fingers crossed you get featured on the programme!

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 10th July 2017

      Hey Weenie,

      One of the producers asked for my thoughts on the filming, and how they could capture the ‘best’ of retirement. I think the answer has to lie in the freedom it creates. The choice to do whatever you want.

      If they just focus on the cut backs and sacrifices, people will be drawn into the perceived pain (rightly or wrongly). Even if people say “it’s great walking to work, or not having a tv”, I think people won’t believe them. If they spend time highlighting the complete freedom and choice, display relaxed and genuinely happy people, then hopefully others will get a sense of “I want that too”, and are perhaps more open to learning the ‘how’.

      Ultimately, I think it would make for a much more powerful message by filming someone prior to living more financially aware, sharing their lifestyle, happiness etc, and then film the transition into the lifestyle. The choices they make, how it’s going, the inevitable ups and downs etc. Like on ‘Grand Designs’ where you see the idea turn into reality. I think the power is in the transition. Seeing them get happier, more confident etc. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen in this episode, but at least it’s a start.

      I’m very interested to find out how they go about sharing their paths either way. Thanks for crossing fingers! I think there’s less than a 5% chance of hearing me speak, but I’m still interested to find out.

  • Felice Pazzo

    Reply Reply 11th July 2017

    Was it just me, or did anyone else out there find “How to retire at 40” very disappointing? On this form, I for one will rate FFB40 website 1000 times better than Channel 4 😉

    • Richard

      Reply Reply 12th July 2017

      Felice

      I agree it was very disappointing and also misleading. I watched it with my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews all of who think I am sad for chasing FIRE and to me this program gave that illusion.

      I also read the article in the Daily Mail and Independent about Jason & Julie Buckley who were featured in the program. The article was very poor and got a barrage of abuse in the comments section.

      Maybe it is a good thing as I need people to keep buying their cars, phones etc. to keep my dividends coming in.

      • Huw Davies

        Reply Reply 13th July 2017

        I’m sad to say I agree with you. It kind of highlighted the negative connotations associated with FIRE rather than expanding people’s minds. I didn’t read the article, but I’ll steer clear of that based on your feedback.

    • wephway

      Reply Reply 12th July 2017

      I agree, I found it disappointing.

      Partly I think it was too short, one half hour show is not nearly enough to explore financial independence and the retiring early.

      But I think what bothered me more was how anecdotal it was. Like the girl who made a load of money selling nut butters for example – that sort of success story isn’t replicable for the majority of us. Or the restaurant selling leftovers for a knockdown price – great but it’s not gonna change my life.

      Also the statistics had so little context as to be meaningless. They said 55k people in the UK retire before they’re 40, but how many of those were born into wealth and how many built up that money from scratch?

      I’d have liked to have heard more from the accountant who talked about the different savings rates, or the young couple from Canada who retired at 31.

      There was a documentary on the BBC a few years back which I thought was really good, it was called ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ It was quite balanced I thought, with interviews with both the crazy people and the intelligent people interested in financial independence. It’s here if you want to have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPARaL3F498

      • Huw Davies

        Reply Reply 13th July 2017

        Wephway,

        Thanks for the comment. Yes, 30 minutes was always going to be a challenge. I think an hour is still a big ask. In fact, I think a documentary like ‘The Minimalists’ did is the base required to get the concept off the ground for a beginner.

        I couldn’t agree more with the nut butter girl focus. It’s way too much to conceive for most people, and alienates the viewer. However, focussing on basic investing in index funds and earning some money on the side can be done by everyone.

        The accountant flew the FIRE Flag for the show (based on C4’s editing anyway. I’m sure everyone else had more to say). It was a shame they didn’t go a little deeper there.

        Thanks for the link. I didn’t watch the documentary and it would be interesting to compare it.

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 13th July 2017

      Felice, you’re certainly not alone. Thanks for the backing!

      One positive I took from the show was feeling determined to offer a superior source of information to help people retire early.

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 12th July 2017

    Yeah, it was disappointing (especially as Huw’s interview wasn’t used!).

    Too many mixed messages – the girl selling nut butter and the guy selling potatoes – were they aiming to retire by 40 or only just embarking on their entrepreneurial careers? What did getting cheap restaurant food have to do with retiring early?

    Could have done with showing some meaningful numbers/maths, given some examples of how someone was able to save 50% of their wage and mentioned that investing and compounding can play a big part in retirement plans.

    Ah well, at least the subject got some tv time, which is something I guess.

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 13th July 2017

      I couldn’t agree more Weenie. It was very disappointing.

      I like your suggestions too. In my recent post, I made similar points. They touched on the subject, which was encouraging but they left far too much off the table.

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