Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

FEB 2018 Net Worth $407,315 (+$9,248)

FEB 2018 Net Worth $407,315 (+$9,248)

What a month February turned out to be!

The market had a big dip at the start of Feb which I included in my net worth update from last month because I didn’t get around to writing it until the 7th of Feb.

Now, what separates an astute investor from a novice? An astute investor has a plan and strategy they stick to and don’t let emotions get in the way. One of the worst things you can do if you follow the Bogglehead investment philosophies (which I mostly do), is to listen, read or watch too mubo jumbo market updates/predictions usually published by financial noobs who probably don’t invest at all and are living the consumer lifestyle.

The thing is, these media outlets, be it print, online or TV. All really exist for one reason.

To make money.

What do you think sells more. A headline that says “Markets ticking along fine with no need for concern”.

As opposed to “BIGGEST MARKET CRASH SINCE 1929 INCOMING*written by our intern who majored in finance

A lot of people can have predictions without any accountability. Where were all these experts in 2008? Or 2000 when the tech bubble crashed? I pay no attention to what 99.9% of people say about the markets and neither should you. Because at the end of the day, I subscribe to the philosophy of investing regularly no matter what the market is doing.

To quote John Bogle (the founder of Vanguard)


Our Lord and Saviour

Which is why we bought in the middle of Feb just after the dip. This turned out to be lucky because of the rebound that followed after. We were going to buy anyway, the timing was just lucky. And in the long run, it doesn’t even matter that much.


HUGE news for the entire FIRE community in Australia came in Feb when Pat The Shuffler was asked to write a story about financial independence by the ABC.


Pat out there repping the Aus FIRE community like a boss

When I first started blogging back in 2015, I could not find another financial independence retire early blog out there for Australians. There were plenty of money and finance blogs, but no specific FIRE ones (to my knowledge).

Fast forward just 3 years, and now we have one of our very own published in one of the major media outlets in the entire country!

If you’re after a good laugh, have a read of the Facebook comments from that article. People cannot wrap their brains around someone being able to live a great life by only spending $40K a year.

There was actually another dude who wrote a response piece to Pat’s article that was published by the ABC too. I can’t even begin to tell you how factually wrong it is but it’s another example that FIRE will never become mainstream because normal everyday people just don’t get it and won’t even entertain the notion of cutting down their spending habits.

I did an improv podcast with Pat about the whole article the other week to get his thoughts. I haven’t released it as a proper podcast yet (I just wanted to get it up quick).

The FIRE movement must really be making waves among the Aussie journalists because Aussie Firebug himself was actually contacted by one to contribute to a story that she was writing about the community. I actually had already responded to an online request from another media outlet looking for people involved in the movement but it was nice that one journo reached out.

Long story short, I made a few paragraphs in Sydney Morning Herald along with Ms Frugal Ears and Get Money Wise.

Pretty cool right!

I can now add that ‘As seen in’ cool little graphic on the front of my blog even though it was only a few paragraphs 🤣.


Net Worth Update

Back over the $400K mark 👊👊👊!

Decent bump this month mainly due to saving well and the markets bouncing back. We made a nice little gain by buying on the dip too.

We went a little over our budget for the month but nothing too major.



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.


The ETFs bounced back after the first week and a bit of Feb!

The recovery was almost instant, but it made me wonder how I would go to see those sort of drops happen for an extended period of time.

I know the strategy that you shouldn’t sell in a bear market. But it will be interesting when push comes to shove to see how both Mrs FB and I respond mentally when we go through a proper crash.

Almost looking forward to it 😜



JAN 2018 Net Worth $398,066 (-$2,106)

JAN 2018 Net Worth $398,066 (-$2,106)

2018 has not been kind.


Firstly, this is the first time since I’ve been posting our net worth updates that we have been in the negative two months in a row. I secretly knew that the run we had in 2017 was not sustainable but I was hoping that we could at least start to make some gainz at the start of the new year after taking a pretty hefty hit in December 2017.

I knew it was going to be a big month expenditure-wise, so I checking pocketbook religiously but it still got out of hand a little bit. It was like sort of like when you’re fully aware of the danger ahead but you can’t do anything to stop it from happening.


We had our most expensive month in a long time! Pre-booked a few holidays, went out a lot (such nice weather), and there were a few one-off expenses like new tyres for the car.

Mrs. Firebug is a teacher so the school holidays between December and January are always a bit more expensive because we’re out doing stuff and being social.

It didn’t help that I’m writing this update after our portfolio just got smashed by the biggest day drop in sharemarket history. So a few things factored in to explain this months drop.

I causally messaged Mrs. Firebug this on Tuesday afternoon right after we had figured out what we wanted for dinner.


She asked if we should buy more during this drop.

I shed a tear of joy


Net Worth Update


If one image could summarise nearly all our assets classes during last months it would be this one.

down down prices are down

You can almost hear the signing *shudders*

Sooooooo basically we got smashed on the shares front. Property stayed the same. Cash reserves went down paying for everything and Super was around the same too.

The market has already bounced back again today as I’m writing this. But I’m not including the updated stats from today in this months update. Next months should have some decent gains as I’m already up nearly $3K from the losses and we dumped in some money during the downturn so we should see a decent increase next month.

So sad to fall below the $400K mark 😭😭😭



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 almost $8K during January!

This has been our first real test of a decent drop, but I believe we responded correctly and actually bought more shares during the dip. Who knows where it goes from here but we are being disciplined and sticking to our monthly schedule of dumping $5K into ETFs come rain hail or shine.

It was a bit strange to see so much of your money just vanish like that though.

But you only make a loss if you sell!



December 2017 Net Worth $400,877 (-$11,746)

December 2017 Net Worth $400,877 (-$11,746)

The last net worth update for 2017 ends with a… whimper.


Down nearly $12K!



A few things happened in December.


Firstly and most damaging to the net worth drop this month was some repair work (more about this to come) that was done to one of my investment properties.


I am covered by insurance but I had to fork out just over $10K to cover it before the insurer could refund me.


This emphasises a point I always tell people who are thinking about investing in property. You need a big buffer when things go wrong. Even with insurance, it can be hard sometimes to cover yourself until the insurer comes to the party. That’s why we have such a big cash buffer. Having 3 properties has the potential to have big expenses.


The other big one for December was a holiday that we booked for August 2018. We paid for everyone flights because it was just easier that way. They are going to pay us back their share so that’s probably another $1.5K-$2K.


Did everyone have a good time over the Christmas break?


Between my own job and Mrs. Firebug’s job, I went to about 5 Christmas break up parties lol.


My job had a social club one, an official one that was on a Thursday (wtf were they thinking) and we had another unofficial one at the pub on the last day).


So between all the parties/birthdays/Christmas and new years eve festivities.


It’s safe to say that the budget was blown out just a little.







It was a relatively quiet Christmas break this year. The best part for me was there was minimal traveling.


Nothing worse than having to spend half of Christmas day driving to and from a destination that’s >1 hour away. We stayed local for Christmas and new years which was awesome. It meant I could ride my electric bike to each location within the town.


The Beast

One of my favorite things to do when it’s good weather is to ride my E-Bike all over town. Puts me in a great mood and makes traveling fun.


We started 2017 with a net worth of $258,857 and ended it at $400,877 meaning we added $142,020 bucks! 😱🤑👊


Bring on 2018!


Net Worth Update


Super had a very good month over December. We added around $4K for both our accounts combined. I’m not sure if this is because of the markets doing well, a dividend payout maybe, or our employers adding in an extra Super pay (we had three paydays at the end of November instead of the normal two).


Our cash savings took the biggest hit due to a repair bill and holiday that was booked and ETFs didn’t really do much for December, only moving up about $350 bucks.




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.


Not much happening here. VAS was the only ETF that went up during December with the other two (VTS and VEU) going down. About $350 all up for the month



November 2017 Net Worth $411,918 (+$16,574)

November 2017 Net Worth $411,918 (+$16,574)

It’s beginning to feel a lot like…


Ahhh yes.


It’s that time of the year again.


When every conceivable marketing tactic known to mankind is deployed among the general public in hopes that you spend money on shit you don’t need because of some dude that was born a coupla thousand years ago…


And what about Black Friday the other week? Isn’t that an American thing for Thanksgiving???


I mean really! Do they honestly think we are going to spend even more when Christmas is just around the corner!


Ahhh haha umm yeah about that… We were sucked in harder than a tornado.


Well, not exactly but I did treat my beak to a new pair of Nikes because the discounts were just insane.


If you haven’t already, check out Oz Bargins. It’s basically a site dedicated to finding all sorts of deals within Australia. I bought my shoes that were on sale for $112! A pretty good deal I thought because I had been keeping my eye on these shoes for a few months now. I finally bit the bullet to buy and the site took another 40% off the already reduced price at checkout!!! Ho Ho Ho, Christmas had come early.


Mrs. FB was a savage over black Friday with the deals too. I had an RDO on the following Tuesday and the parcels just kept rocking up. Had around 4 deliveries before 10 AM.


A huge milestone for us this month, hitting and surpassing $400K! Woohoo

We hit it pretty much at the start of the month after being so frustratingly close last month.


It’s been insane the amount we have been able to add to our net worth this year. I had a rough estimate that we would be nearing $400K by the end of 2018. So to hit it at the end of 2017 is incredible.


We had an extra payday this month too which added another couple thousand to the pot.


Now we just have to get through the festival season with one more month to go before beginning a new year ?? where has the year gone???




Net Worth Update


Another stellar month for the stock market with both our ETFs and Super gaining healthy amounts. We had an extra payday in November too which bumped things up. I had an insurance claim come through for one of the properties after there was some damage caused by a tenant. It’s most likely all going to be spent so not really adding to net worth but the cash came in so I’m going to include it for this month at least.

$3K Super, $4K from an insurance claim, $3.3K ETF bump and around $10K was earnt.




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.


Another great month with an additional $3.3 bump in cap gains for the ETFs.



October 2017 Net Worth $395,344 (+$13,208)

October 2017 Net Worth $395,344 (+$13,208)

Pretty quiet month for October.


Had one major expense pop up out of the ordinary which was having the cats shaved.


*Not actually my cat but basically the same (man boobs and all)

We have two cats who must be around 2-3 now but left them at M.F.(Mrs. Firebugs) parents house when we moved in together. It was just going to be too hard to move them when they were so settled and I’m pretty sure that the parents love the cats more than their own children (not kidding).


I once witnessed Mrs. Firebugs dad come home from work during the day in summer to turn on the air conditioning for the cats (not kidding) and leave. This is the same man that yells when a light is left on too LOL!


Anyway, the cats need to be shaved once a year which turned out to cost $550 for two this year  ???


I floated the idea of just buying two new cats every year to M.F. but it didn’t go down so well…


We still managed to come under our budget for October through which was a miracle.



Did everyone have good October returns wise for their shares?


We sure did.


It was our best month ever in terms of returns. We made around $5K from capital gains during October ????


Putting us up to around $118K worth of ETFs (we bought another $5K lot this month as per usual).


I recorded a really interesting podcast with Ms Frugal Ears in October.


Some of the topics were pretty deep and I’m glad Serina was brave enough to open up about sensitive issues, particularly what happens after a divorce and the power that comes with knowing your financial position.


I reflected on Serina’s story after the podcast and thought that if I ever have a daughter, how important it will be to make sure that she knows her financial position at all times and what the power of having your own money enables you to do…and not do.


Reading all the allegations about Harvey Weinstein can make you feel pretty sick pretty quickly. Even if it’s only half true.


I can’t think of many more vulnerable positions than an aspiring actress trying to ‘make it’ in Hollywood. You read countless stories of people in the entertainment industry often working for pennies trying to chase their dream of making it big. And this guy is one of the head honchos that decides who gets the role and who doesn’t.


Could you imagine the emotional roller coaster it must be for these girls to go meet him thinking they are about to be offered their first big role only to have him force sexual favours on them? It really is disgusting and an abuse of power to the highest degree.

I know Harvey Weinstein is only one of many though. And unfortunately these people exist everywhere in every industry.


I would hate to think that some of these victims couldn’t turn down the unwanted sexual advances simply because they needed the job to survive. A positions nobody wants to be in, but unfortunately some are.


Net Worth Update


$1.5K bump from Super, around $6K from savings and another $5K from the ETF bump bring us ever so close to the $400K mark!




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.


Huge month for ETFs in October. About a $5K increase!!! ???



September 2017 Net Worth $382,136 (+$4,898)

September 2017 Net Worth $382,136 (+$4,898)


I can’t believe that September has finished already. Weren’t we just starting 2017 a few months ago?


We hit a big milestone in September. We reached $100K in ETFs!


We were so close last month and it felt like the market was just toying with us. It got to $99K a few times before dropping.


I knew we would eventually break through $100K because we were going to buy another lot of ETFs anyway but I really wanted it to get there on its own.


This was a big milestone for Mrs. Firebug and I and it’s important to celebrate the little wins along the way to financial independence.


We bought our very first bunch of ETFs on the 29th of September last year which means we managed to get to $100K within 12 months which was definitely unexpected and I’m actually shocked we did it in such little time. My payout this year when I switched jobs definitely helped, but other than that, it was mostly savings.


We made the decision to diversify our assets since we were too heavily weighted in property in Australia.


The plan was to get to $100K in ETFs and then decide from there as to what we were going to do.


We sat down and discussed our options. We could either:

a) Buy another property investment

b) Continue to buy more ETFs

c) Invest in something else


Option a) might have been more appealing if the market had suddenly tanked or the rental yields improved. But as it currently stands, option a) was not very appealing to me for the following reason:

  • I can’t be bothered putting in the effort required to purchase a good IP. This includes the proper research, potentially value-adding exercises on weekends, dealing with agents and banks (errrr banks. No thanks) and having another IP to manage all the book work for
  • The risk associated with Australia right now. A recession (whilst I don’t think it’s likely) is well within the realms of possibility. And if it did happen… Who the hell knows what the fall out would be.
  • Cash flow just isn’t there for me.

Don’t get me wrong. You can still make a killing in real estate right now but you have to put in the effort. Which I can’t be bothered doing. There was a time when I could. But now that ETFs have proven such a great alternative. Why would I work hard when I can get great returns from hardly doing anything at all?


No other investment really caught my attention for option c). I did look into P2P and maybe someday I will dabble in that. But we are looking to build our base foundation for a prosperous wealth machine. P2P feels like a fun exercise and not something you could comfortably retire on.


So the only option that was left and the clear winner was option b)


More ETFs 🙂


The returns played a big part to our decision too.

Here’s what our last 12 months looked like




A total return of just over $9K (8.77%) after investing roughly $100K which isn’t too bad. To put that into perspective, Australian based robo investing company Stockspot has 5 funds they offer. And only 1 fund managed to beat my return for the last 12 months.


You can see their returns here


This is a company I have had on the podcast before. They also invest in ETFs but offer rebalancing and a few other things.


My point is that with a very simple three fund portfolio, I got a great return with 0% research into what are the ‘hot’ stocks this year or time spent managing my investment and still came out similar to a professional investment company.


And when the dividends started to roll in it was like Christmas!


I also looked into our interest rate for the IP loans to see if there were any better deals out there.


I already have a mortgage broker, but didn’t have any luck with him being able to lower my interest rate.


I ended up signing up with a company called HashChing* who is basically a marketplace for mortgage brokers and loan deals.


Their website boasts some insanely good rates and it doesn’t cost anything to sign up so not much to lose I thought.


I ended up being contacted by a mortgage broker who has been great and is currently giving me options on all three of my loans.


The lowest option being 3.88% which is a whole 1% lower than what my current rate is at now.


This works out to be a savings of $6,791 bucks per year just from making a few phone calls!


I’m still in the process of choosing a deal but the bottom line is if you have a loan (home or investor) you need to have a mortgage broker working for you to get the best deals. They don’t cost you a single dollar as they get their commissions from the bank and 9/10 times they will get you a better deal than you could get by walking into the bank.


*The Hashching link above is an affiliate link to which I may receive a commission from if you sign up to their service. This is a service I have personally used and would recommend anyone to use if they have a loan to get a better rate. I would never recommend something I didn’t believe in (and there have been plenty of offers trust me)

Net Worth Update


Pretty quiet month with our smallest gain this year. There was a bit of Super bump and ETFs but mainly just savings.




No changed 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.


ETFs more or less stayed the same, slight bump I believe.



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