I retired at 34, moved to Scotland and now travel around the world -- here's how I spend my savings

Courtesy of the Mad FientistBrandon, aka the Mad Fientist, is enjoying early retirement.
  • Brandon, aka the ‘Mad Fientist,’ is a former software developer who achieved financial independence and early retirement at age 34.
  • Today, he writes about money and his own financial journey on his blog the Mad Fientist.
  • For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, he shares how he spends his money in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • He doesn’t usually spend a lot when he is at home, but he splurges on food, drinks and entertainment when he is travelling with his wife.
  • Want to share a week of your spending? Email [email protected]

I’ve been saving money my entire life.

For the first five to seven years of my career, I wasn’t saving for anything in particular. I was just saving because I wanted a portfolio. Then I learned about financial independence, and I was like, ‘This is perfect. This is what I’m saving for.’

Now, since I’ve retired and my wife and I moved from the United States to Scotland, we optimise our spending when we’re at home. We don’t have any crazy recurring expenses. We eat healthy, go to the gym, do our hobbies and things like that – but we don’t spend that much when we are at home. And that means when we do want to go somewhere, we can then feel like we can spend as much as we want.

We can afford to travel all the time, and yes we can afford to eat out all the time, and we can afford to do a lot of things all the time, but we find it more enjoyable when we treat ourselves every so often and give ourselves something to look forward to.

I tracked my spending for a week. This week was a great representation of how I spend my money because we laid low and also took a short trip to Manchester, England.

Here’s a look at what I spent:


Every month, my wife and I generally spend about $US500 at restaurants, $US317 on travel and $US266 on alcohol.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderWe don’t waste money on things like cable.

The bulk of our spending is discretionary – which is great! All of our core expenses are super low which means we can spend freely on the fun stuff when we choose.

My wife and I settled in Edinburgh for the year in 2017 and rented a $US1,412 a month, fully furnished two bedroom apartment. We were planning on having a lot of guests this year (which we did), so we decided to splurge on a spare bedroom.

Our everyday travel costs are quite affordable because we don’t drive a lot and we invested in a cheap 2006 Honda Jazz a few years ago. Not only do I love the car, it gets 50 miles a gallon and only cost $US3,400 to buy.

Alcohol was quite high, in which we will be cutting down on next year – we spent $US266 going out to bars or picking up beer.


We spent $US335 (65% of our weekly spending) on Wednesday and Thursday when we were in England.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderI like to go to the gym, eat healthy, and savour the fun stuff when I do treat myself.

My typical day involves going to the gym which costs $US17.99 a month for a membership, doing some hobby stuff, stopping by the grocery store and sometimes visiting the local butcher shop.

I do most of my shopping daily because it’s nice and easy to pop in when I’m on my way back from the gym. I hit the grocery store 5 times this week and spent $US66 total.

I have some income from freelance work from my blog Mad Fientist, but I spend most of my time enjoying life and travelling with my wife. This week we hopped on a train to England on Wednesday to see one of my favourite bands in concert.


On Friday I spent $US34.93 —  a typical day for us in Edinburgh.

Tyle_r/ Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderThe meat from our local butcher is really delicious.

I went to the gym in the morning and stopped at our local grocery store and butcher shop to pick up some dinner for $US34.93.

At home I just did some normal routine stuff – made progress on a few hobbies I have, got some freelance work done, had dinner and relaxed with my wife. We don’t have an actual TV or cable, but we usually watch about an hour of TV on our computer monitor after dinner every night and then read in bed before we go to sleep.


On Saturday, I took advantage of our local library.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderThe library in Edinburgh is a really nice, old brick building.

It shocks me that more people don’t take advantage of their local libraries. It’s just a bunch of books, movies, DVDs, music and anything you can really think of – and all of it is free!

Similar to Friday, I also hit the gym and stopped by the grocery store on the way home. That night my wife and I had a really nice dinner. I made homemade carbonara, opened a nice bottle of wine and we watched some Netflix. As always, we read a little to unwind before bed.


My wife and I decided to go out for brunch on Sunday and spent $US38.74 total.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderHere I am enjoying some brunch.

We walked into town and then spent $US34.16 at the restaurant. Afterwards, we picked up some last minute ingredients for dinner and headed home to relax.


Monday was another mundane day for me.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderBack at the butcher again!

After hitting the gym and the grocery store, I stopped by the butcher again to buy some more fresh meat for $US7.27.

I prefer to buy meat from the butcher shop despite the added expense – the taste makes it well worth the cost.


We had a big grocery delivery on Tuesday for $US56.90.

Every once in a while we get a big grocery order delivered. It’s super cheap, and it allows us to buy all the big stuff we need for the apartment like toilet paper, toiletries, paper towels and stuff like that. We paid $US56.90 for that.

As per usual, I stopped by the gym and our local grocery store to pick up a few more things for just under $US10.


We were ready to spend on Wednesday.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderWednesday was a bit of a different day for us.

My wife and I woke up and headed straight to Manchester, England to see a band I really like – Fever Ray!

We grabbed some breakfast at a local bakery for $US6.09 and took the 3.5 hour train down to Manchester. I previously purchased the concert and train tickets, so we didn’t have to worry about those costs this week.

When we arrived we got some lunch at a Vietnamese place for $US27.74 and stopped in Chinatown for some bubble tea for $US4.85. After checking in to our $US118 per night hotel, we went to my favourite UK Brewery called Cloudwater to have a few beers for $US25.60 and then grabbed some burritos for $US16.84 before the show. On the way home from the concert we picked up some water from the local Tesco before hitting the hay.


On Thursday, we did some sightseeing and headed back to Cloudwater.

Shayanne Gal/ Business InsiderI bought a few beers for the road.

I wanted to buy some cans to take home and some presents for my buddies from my favourite brewery.

We also enjoyed a leisurely breakfast for $US35.27 at a local cafe and grabbed some more bubble tea because my wife loved it so much. After walking around the city we worked up an appetite for a quick $US24.87 lunch and headed back to our normal routines in Edinburgh.

**All dollar amounts have been converted from Pounds to US dollars. The author uses a 0% foreign transaction credit card.

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.