Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

AUG 2018 Net Worth $465,711 (+$10,871)

AUG 2018 Net Worth $465,711 (+$10,871)

Three big things to cover for August.

First off, we have a brand new edition to the portfolio!


I have essentially replaced our VAS ETF with the BetahShares A200. The only major difference between the two products in terms of what they are invested in is the A200 is the top 200 (in terms of market cap) companies listed on the ASX whereas VAS is the top 300. So VAS is more diversified which is a good thing, but the reason we made the move was because of management fees.

I’ve said it time and time again, management fees are not only extremely important. But they are something I as an investor can control how much I pay to an extent. So when BetaShares offers the A200 @ 0.07% which is half the costs of VAS (0.14%)…they have my attention.

I waited a little bit in hopes that Vanguard would respond by lowering their product, because I don’t want to add another holding to my portfolio unless I really have to, but after a few months I hadn’t seen any sign of them looking to lower it, so I pulled the trigger on the A200.

I not only benefit from investing in this ETF, I also want to reward BetaShares with my business after they have produced the lowest Australian index ETF in history! Moves like this create competition amongst the providers and are good for us as investors moving forward. We might think that our current ETFs and LICs have pretty low management fees. But in reality, the US market offers much more options with lower fees.


You might not think there’s much difference in paying 0.14% compared to 0.04% but it does add up over time with a decent sized portfolio.


The second announcement is the new segment I have created called ‘Ask Firebug Fridays‘. It’s a collection of Q&A’s from readers who have submitted their questions via the contact page. It’s something I should have created ages ago. I was spending so many hours responding to readers questions and was often answering the same questions over and over again, which reminds me that I need to create a FAQs about FIRE one day.

There would be days where I would sit down to pump out an article but never even got started because I spent an entire day responding to emails/comments/tweets. At least with #AFF, I can create more content for you guys to read/listen to every Friday to inspire you with FIRE related content 😊.


And last but not least, I have been sponsored by two awesome companies! SelfWealth and Relentless Hosting are now helping out with the costs of running this blog and I couldn’t be any happier that this little passion project I started over 3 years ago is starting to pull it’s own weight and earning me some money. Now if we were to judge this as an investment it would be…ah… how would I put it… horrendous.

At a very rough guess, I’d say I would have put in over 1,000 hours into this website with $0 financial gain and honestly, I never started this site with the goal to monetize it. I wanted an Australian FIRE community that I could discuss strategies and techniques with. And back in 2015, there were 0 Aussie FIRE sites that I could find, so I decided to make my own and it’s been one of the best decision I’ve made to date.

It’s not like I didn’t have paying offers for advertising either. But I didn’t want to affiliate myself with those companies and would have definitely felt like I ‘sold out’ if I accepted advertising money from credit card companies. I will only ever affiliate myself with companies/services I either use myself or believe in 100%.

I’m not sure how the sponsorships will go, but if I can continue to push a decent amount of traffic, it could be the start of a great partnership.


Net Worth Update

The markets were jumping in August! Over $4K for both the ETFs and Super.

I was holding a little bit too much cash and finally pulled the trigger on A200 with a $10K trade. Down a little on cash due to an expensive month (new car tyres 😤).

Closing in on the half a Mil…Will we get there by the end of the year…🤔? I’m gunning for it 😈



No changes in the properties this month.



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.



Brooooooo. VTS continues to DOMINATE.

It has had a total annualized return of 26.16% (or $14K of gains) since I first bought it in 2016 and has been my best performer by a mile. I almost want to sell it to lock in those gainz because surely it can’t go much higher. And if you look at the incredible bull run of the US…surely it’s gotta come down at a certain point. But timing the market is a suckers game so I will sit for now. If Australia tanks and the US didn’t, it would be tempting to sell VTS and clean up cheap Oz shares. But we’ll see.




JUL 2018 Net Worth $454,841 (+$27,258)

JUL 2018 Net Worth $454,841 (+$27,258)

Big month for the net worth in July.

We had a few things add up which explains the big jump which I’ll cover in the Net Worth Update below but it was a great month.


I went on a business trip to a major city in July which required me to catch the train each morning.

What an experience it was. Don’t get me wrong, catching the train is a bit of a novelty for a country kid like myself, and I did feel a bit more ‘Big City Slicker’  dressing up in my nice suit each day. But maaaaaaan I could tell that the daily commute on the train could get old really quick.

I’m not ganna say it was this bad


But it was pretty cramped.

And everyone seems to be in a rush. I honestly felt like most people around me were in the rat race.

Another thing that struck me was the apparent wealth that most of these people had. I had dinner with a few other professionals from the city one of the nights and the whole conversation was just one big dick measuring contest. No one knew each other but we were all in the same industry and I had a very good idea of the income for all of them and let me tell you right now, it’s not that much higher than mine.

So you could understand my amazement as the conversation drifted from work to other topics such as:

  • One dude bragging about his $600 dress shoes only to be one-upped by another noob who was happy to part ways with $1,000. I looked at them and trust me, they look like every other bloody black dress shoe I’ve ever seen.
  • How BMW’s are an essential item and how one guy could ‘never go back to a merc’. Righto cobba.
  • Somehow paying more for a house is seen as a badge of honor. It’s amazing how impressed some of these guys were with a postcode.

And there was other stuff like fancy watches and custom-made suits but you get the point. I’m not saying that they weren’t wealthy, for all I know they are loaded. But this trend of ‘flashy’ shit was everywhere! No way everyone is rich.

These dudes nearly fell over when I told them that were I live you could get a kick ass new 4 bedroom house for around $400K. And it was hilarious when they found out I was renting. I could feel the entire table’s attitude towards me shift when that was bought up. I swear some of them must have thought I was some loser who couldn’t afford a house.

These guys definitely don’t read the blog 😂

Net Worth Update

Two big things happened which mostly attributed to the big bump this month.

  1. HELP debt
  2. Tax Returns

Mrs. FB HELP debt was reduced from her payments through the year which equated to $5K.

The other one was that both of our tax returns came through which came to around $5K mainly due to the property deductions.

Other than that, we managed to save around $10K cash after a great month and two extra pays (both of us got an extra payday due to the way the payday fell). We had a $3K Super bump and the ETFs chipped in $2.7K.



No changes in the properties this month.



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.


ETF returns for July



VAS coming in with the good on the franked dividends and the rest making up for it in cap gains. Nice little bump for July.





JUN 2018 Net Worth $427,582 (+$4,078)

JUN 2018 Net Worth $427,582 (+$4,078)

And so ends another financial year.

Which leads us to the most exciting part…


It always amazes me when I hear people say they haven’t done their tax return yet month after July or even worse when they haven’t done one for years!

You’re leaving money on the table. And it’s so easy to complete a return these days that you really shouldn’t have an excuse for not getting it done once you have your group certificate. I’m seeing my accountant tomorrow actually (my return is a little complicated this year) but I’m doing Mrs. FB’s return through the ATO website MyGov since hers is very straightforward.

One of the cool things about posting monthly snapshots of our net worth is that it creates an online historic journal not only for you guys out there reading these posts but also for myself to look back on in years to come. Looking back on June last year it is amazing to see that we have grown our net worth by $81K over the last 12 months.

Like always, I plan to do a savings review in the next few days to see how much we spent over the financial year and compare that to last year. We only really have two years worth of real data because we only joined finances in 2016. It will be interesting to see if we have spent more or less than the previous year and how our returns have gone.



Net Worth Update

Bit of an ‘eh’ sorta month. Little Super bump in Super and ETFs. Saved pretty well and we received some dividends.

Not a huge gain, but a gain nonetheless. As long as we’re moving up, it’s still a win 😊



No changes in the properties this month again (over a year since a change)!

I have been doing some research in what properties are selling for that are similar to mine in the area and the current valuations I have from CBA seem way outdated (conservative). But to avoid too much speculation, I will keep the prices as they are being reported by CBA. It’s always better to be conservative



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.


ETF performance update for June


Nice little bump from last month. Loving the dividends from the international ETFs 💪. I have the juicy franked Australian dividends coming in July which is something to look forward to.

Every time I get dividends makes me want to move to a more Australian focused portfolio and further away from a predominately capital gains international one. One on this in an upcoming post.





MAY 2018 Net Worth $423,504 (+$8,494)

MAY 2018 Net Worth $423,504 (+$8,494)

A solid month of savings with a little help from the assets sees the net worth soar to new heights in May.

Averagish (not a word I know) month expense wise with us spending a touch over $4K.

The hidden costs of certain activities added up last month. A pet peeve of mine are trips to Melbourne for events, weddings or to see family and friends. Not that I don’t want to see family or friends or go to events in Melbourne. It’s all the added costs/hassles associated with it that sucks. It takes around 1.5 hours from where I live to get to Melbourne, the trip usually means a fast food lunch stop at the servo past Pakenham which, while relatively inexpensive, leaves me feeling like shit and still more expensive than if I had made lunch myself, city link tollway adds another $17.50, you then have to pay for parking in the city which can be another $25 and then there are the accommodation costs which are around $120 p/n depending on how cheap we are going.

So a typical weekend in Melbourne can end up costing us:

Fuel round trip: $35
Toll: $17.50
Parking: $25
Accommodation: $120
Wasted time in traffic: 3 Hours

Total: $197.50

I’m not including food or anything related to the event because we would still have to eat if it was local and pay for the event. I’m just adding the ‘Melbourne’ element.

$197.50 doesn’t sound like much. But invested at 9% over 50 years works out to be $14,723 bucks… Bit of a hyperbole but you get the point.


City living to me just seems so incredibly expensive.

Everything you do seems to cost money.

City: Please drive around for 30 minutes before I give you the opportunity to pay $20 to park here
Country: You see all the spare parking spots in the main drag. Take your pick friend. Btw, what’s meter parking?

City: Hello gents. It’s going to cost ya $20 bucks just for the privilege of breathing the air in here. Also, the drinks are special tonight, $20 red bull and vodka’s
Country: Yeah, no shoes are alright mate. Just watch the broken glass down back and don’t feed the dog. That will be $3 bucks for a pot.
*Disclaimer: Well aware that city clubs offer a lot more but still 

City: Oh, you want to use the fastest route to your destination? Here is this great tunnel that you helped pay for (taxpayers money)…… But we’re ganna have to keep charging you more money to use it each time. And if you want to take the long way around, I hope you downloaded some Podcasts because surprise surprise, road works have just started 🙂🔫
Country: Follow this road for 20km straight and you’ll reach the town. Just watch for the potholes and roos.

City: And this lovely two bedroom shack will only cost 1.2M, your first born and the tip of a black rhinoceros horn.
Country: $350k plus a slab of VB and you’ve got yourself a deal cobba!



Net Worth Update

Hitting new territory in terms of net worth this month as autumn comes to an end. All round contribution from savings, little bump from ETFs and Super to cap off a solid month.



No changes in the properties this month.



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.


ETF performance update for May


Nothing to write home about but any gains are always a plus.



APR 2018 Net Worth $415,010 (+$14,906)

APR 2018 Net Worth $415,010 (+$14,906)

Finally feel like we’re making progress again this month.

The ETFs are doing great, Super is up, killer month for savings and we booked a holiday. That a domi (made up word used to describe good things) if I’ve ever seen one!

We are actually paying for flight and accommodation for not only us but both our parents too. This doesn’t sound too frugal but my parents recently retired and Mrs. Firebug’s mum retired last year so we thought it might be a nice surprise trip for everyone. I have wanted to take my parents on a holiday for a while now. They are the single biggest reason why I’m in the position I’m in today and even have the option to retire early. Not just from teaching me good life skills, how to be frugal, how to work hard, setting the right examples etc. But just for being genuinely great parents.

One of my biggest financial advantages ever was living at home until I was 26. Meals were ready for me when I finished work, didn’t have to do laundry or do much cleaning, hardly any bills. I helped out around the house (mowing the lawns and odd jobs for dad) but definitely enjoyed the luxuries of living at home. Stay at home for as long as possible people!


But seriously, it sounds easy in theory, but you have to have a good relationship with your parents and sacrifice your independence to do this. I loved my time at home but was well and truly ready to move out when I did, even though it wasn’t the best move financially.

I probably will never be able to repay my parents for everything they have given me. But I know that a nice holiday to Queensland with Mrs. FBs family will make them happy.

One more thing that pops up in my mind about Mum and Dad that I love, is they have worked their asses off to be in the position to retire around 60 completely financially independent! I would 100% support them if they needed it in their golden years. It’s the least any child can do and in many countries without a pension, this is the norm. But the fact that they have raised a family of three and set themselves up for retirement is inspirational to say the least.

Inheritance is an interesting topic that I have not even really begun to explore. But right now, I’m not sure I want to leave my kids a fortune at all. What I do endeavor to achieve is a fantastic upbringing for them and no financial stress caused by Mrs. FB or myself in the future. Just as my parents have done for me.


The FIRE community’s growth has exploded in the last few months. When some of us got featured in mainstream media, it seems the general public discovered a very niche community within the world of personal finance.

I sometimes get asked what would happen if everyone became as obsessed to reach FIRE as me.

Well firstly, it would be terrible for my investments. I invest in companies that rely on people buying or using their products. If no one was spending, the economy would not grow very fast. I want people to buy stuff!


But I don’t think there is even the slightest chance that this would happen. Time will tell, but my guess is that for the majority of new people who have discovered this blog and the community within the last few months. The concept of FIRE will only strick a cord with a small minority.

Most people will love the idea of retiring early. But I’m guessing that when they figure out what it takes to achieve it, they will pass.

The funny thing about reaching FIRE is that anyone can do it. Don’t have to be smart, lucky, an investing genius, from a wealthy family or anything else extraordinary.

You just have to be disciplined and have patience.


Net Worth Update

The markets are back!

Big month for the ETFs and Super giving the net worth nearly a $10K bump!

We also saved really well with a relatively inexpensive month! 👌👌👌

Hopefully, we can get a few months in the black and get a roll on heading into winter!



No changes in the properties this month.



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.


Here’s how our ETFs did


Not bad at all 🤑🤑

Good spread across the board and with the extra dividends, VAS was the number one gainer for last month.



MAR 2018 Net Worth $400,104 (-$7,211)

MAR 2018 Net Worth $400,104 (-$7,211)

March was a month of highs and lows. Mostly highs.

I was asked by the ABC to come on to their national radio program to chat about my journey towards FIRE which was pretty cool. They had a financial planner, audio snippets from someone who was in their mid 30s current enjoying early retirement and yours truly. It was pretty cool going into the studio and getting mic’d up and all that. I can’t lie, I was a bit nervous when the ‘On Air’ light came on haha.
The one question that I wish I could have answered again was when the host asked me what I had to give up to be on this journey. I tried to answer it to the best of my abilities but I sorta just stumbled through the classic stuff of not upgrading your phone and eating out all the time. What I wish I had said was “Nothing! I don’t feel like I give up anything. If I want something enough, I buy it”. And that’s honestly how I feel.

I don’t know about you, but when I discovered financial independence and realized the freedom it can grant you. My wants and needs shifted. I honestly don’t feel as though I restrict myself in the slightest. I splurged here and there but for the most of it, the things I enjoy these days don’t cost a lot of money or are free.

The other one was the whole early retirement thing. Everyone has a different idea of what early retirement actually is. I could tell the host was a bit taken back when I said I don’t plan to stop working ever. What I really mean of course is not working a 9-5 job and unplugging from the matrix of being a wage slave. Meaningful work is a staple of life and without it, I’d be miserable. Even the lady that was on the program with me hasn’t really stopped working. They just do a different type of work. She and her husband grow a lot of their food for example. This is a form of work expect is probably has a lot more meaning and satisfaction to it than sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 hours a day.

You can listen to the program HERE.

I also learned first hand that major online publications are not overly concerned about what an article is about, but mainly what headline will be catchy enough for people to click the link.

Let me explain.

I was contacted by the commissioning editor of because they wanted to increase their voice in the finance and money space and must have found me from the ABC radio interview. They asked if they could repost my Rent vs Buy article which I happily obliged.

I didn’t know when they were going to repost it, but I woke up one Saturday and there were something like 20 new comments throughout my blog and I was a bit confused before I realised that the article must have dropped.

First thing I noticed was the headline:

LOL. What! That’s not what the article is about.

The comments that followed were also extremely amusing.


angry5 angry8 angry4 angry6

Had to laugh about headline written by a kid comment 🤣🤣🤣

You can check out the Facebook comments HERE

I lot of people also commented on the actual article here on my site. They were really getting upset about me using 2.5% as a rate of return for capital appreciation on property. I edited the article and stated a source for property only having risen 2.8% (real rate of return) during the last 30 years. But the old ‘Bricks n Mortar’ crowd was out for blood I tell ya.



I also had another publication republish the same article.

Here was the headline







Net Worth Update

So now we have come to the lows for March. ETFs and Super were hit pretty bad to the tune of around $6K. This plus an expensive month results in us just keeping our heads above the $400K mark.

2018 has been pretty lousy for our net worth but here’s hoping for some stronger performances in April!



No changes in the properties this month.



Various data sources (RP data, etc.) are used in combination of what similar surrounding properties were sold for to calculate an estimate. This is an official Commonwealth bank estimate and one which they use to approve loans.


Down around $3K here. VAS got hit the worst with VEU doing the best (but still down).



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