This post was originally written in September 2018. Since then, the German FI community has grown substantially.
You probably noticed that mosts posts on this blog are available in English and in German.
I think this kind of bi-linguality is rare, at least I haven’t seen it on other blogs yet. So why am I doing this?
Originally, I had planned to write exclusively in English since English is still the lingua franca of the internet. On top of that, the financial independence community is very heavily US-and anglo-dominated, so English is quite a natural choice from that perspective as well. I want to be able to share my experiences and insights as broadly as possible.
But apart from this ‘technical’ issue, there is a cultural element that I really like about the US, which is quite apparent within the US-FI-community, too: a generally positive, encouraging and enterprising attitude towards life.
That’s a spirit I experienced in real life as well. I graduated from High School in the US and worked for one of the large US-based advertising networks in different European countries, serving a range of multi-nationals from the US among other clients. In school, achievements were celebrated, and people were admired for successes, no matter whether they were academic, sportive or artistic – quite a difference from my experience in Germany. Work culture was low on hierarchy and formality, competitive, and generally quite hands-on.
I think this kind of ‘can do’ attitude is closely connected with a world view where people have to take responsibility for their own lives. Being self-dependent rather than relying on the administration makes a lot of sense when you look at the historical development of US society. And it could be the smarter mind-set facing the challenges of the future when compared with the ‘Vollkasko (comprehensive coverage) mentality’ still quite prevalent in German society.
Now, I’m not saying that this kind of world-view does not lead to it’s own set of problems on a political and social level. When I lived in Alabama in the 1980’s, I saw real poverty there. And my impression is that things have not necessarily gotten better overall, as the level of homeless people in the tech-centers on the West Coast shows, for example. The discussions around universal health insurance coverage in the US being another case in point.
Finding your tribe
But particularly for someone who wants to achieve a long-term goal such as Financial Independence, it is crucial to believe in being able to take his or her fate into their own hands. Pursuing Financial Independence is going against conventional lifestyles and the mainstream. If you follow this path, you will have enough people in your ‘real life’ telling you that this cannot work, as they’re too caught up in traditional thinking.
So you need social connections into a community with positive role models who have successfully taken the path towards Financial Independence and now share their knowledge. You want to be part of a community that interacts in ways that encourage and motivate you. The English-speaking (FI)RE-community offers all that, and therefore my blog reaches out in English.
Okay, but why German posts then?
As the German-FI-movement is growing, there are more German bloggers writing on broader topics than traditional personal finance sites which are often too technical for my own interests. I think that’s a great development and it helps to demystify and encourage access to financial planning in general.
People in Germany tend to know English quite well, but being able to read about a topic like Financial Independence in German makes it much more accessible. Take my sister for example, who’s a chartered translator for English/German, that just to say that her English is perfect, but who told me that she would never even think of searching for a blog on a topic like personal finance in English. Quite an eye-opener for me…
The German FI(RE) movement is still very young. There are only few – and even fewer female – bloggers in Germany who have already achieved financial independence and can serve as positive role models. So that’s another reason why I want as many people as possible in Germany to be able to enjoy reading here as well.
By offering my thoughts in both languages, this blog might be able to serve as somewhat of a bridge between the English- and German-speaking worlds of Financial Independence.
Financial Independence Rocks!