Aussie Firebug: Nick, welcome to the podcast.
Nick: Thank you very much for having me, Firebug.
Aussie Firebug: Now where we begin, how about we just tell the audience, or you tell the audience a little bit about yourself.
Nick: Sure. I’m probably the most blend generic person that’s been on the Firebug podcast [laughs]. I sort of email: [email protected] saying, you know “Love the podcast.” Actually I sent him a little bit of a brief email that I was in a bit of a brief that is financially. I think it was a year or two before that never got back to him. But, yeah I’m a different—I’m a bit older. I’m 34, and I know there could be people much older than that but a lot of the Fire sort of community in their 20’s doubling come no kids, where singling come with three kids and a crazy dog. Trying to make that work, so that’s sort of who I am.
Aussie Firebug: And you are in Queensland?
Nick: I’m in Queensland, I’m in Toowoomba which is west of Brisbane about an hour and half awesome original city, I love it. I moved from the Gold Coast about 11 years ago. Parents and family still trying to get me back but Gold Coast is a lot different place now plus I’m already into the beach, so this place works perfect for me. It’s good for families. Probably not good if you into night clubbing and all that but I’m old now. I watch down that being drinking a cup of tea and not toggling something that I would say.
Aussie Firebug: Nothing wrong with that mate.
Nick: True, it is perfect.
Aussie Firebug: And what do you do, if I could ask Nick?
Nick: I work in the public service and so I may have posters from Canberra. Which means my job is based in Canberra but I’m in Toowoomba which is great so you kind of working autonomously pretty much to sum up IT sort of projects, data stuff, along isoclines.
Aussie Firebug: Another IT brother.
Nick: Yeah, I think it’s pretty strong throughout the FIRE community. If anyone is listening and don’t know what FIRE is, that is Financially Independence, retire early. I think if you good with computers you’re probably good at researching stuff and learning things and math. A lot of this is about math, not complex math, just like, if you don’t spend this and you save this amount in the future time, it will most likely be worth this. It’s kind of simple but I think maybe as computer data nerds, maybe you’re attracted to that, or you pick it up a bit quicker maybe.
Aussie Firebug: There definitely is a correlation between the two but I think Matt once said some post about it or something about. It’s like you said, not very logical, you know, you do this, you get this. Almost like a bit of programming’s, you know.
Nick: Yeah, a little bit. Throw me a whole bucket load of crazy human emotion at the same time.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, exactly. So you’re 34 years old, three kids.
Nick: A bit old.
Aussie Firebug: [Laughs] that is not, definitely not that old. 34…
Nick: No, no unconscious. I say that because I feel old and you know, you read a lot of people who are a lot younger and you get, “Men, why didn’t I do this when I was 18 and the compounding by now would have been done. But equally there are people who are…you know, could be 44, 54, at 64 you know you’re listening to and you go, you know, I am not really that old. So I feel it’s more about where you are right now, what you can do for the future than looking back otherwise you will pick yourself around all the time.
Aussie Firebug: That’s right. You aren’t any as old as you feel Nick or any as old as you feel.
Nick: Let’s say 44.
Aussie Firebug: [Laughs] 44, you’re right, so you know, you have three kids, dog, living in Queensland. When did you come across financial independence?
Nick: I was actually thinking because we had a bit of a chat before we recorded this and I was going to say end of 2016 because that’s when I sent you my Help Knee OB canopy through the RTD tweet.
Aussie Firebug: Which we’ll get to in a second.
Nick: Which we will. I think it’s probably a couple of years in the lay up to that but nothing serious and I think you got a hit of a point before maybe you dived in a bit and actually waste your time…Not waste, invest your time on mine learning about this stuff because I was on Mr. Money Man Stashes. For some reason I think there is obviously something in me that I must have some across in the summary in the news article or something. Went there and we sort of connected and went, “This guy is really good.” And I remember sending a number of guys at work and not sending them the boxes. Despite the fact that I hadn’t ever really acted on either but I’m sending them that. ‘This is awesome. It’s awesome, but not actually applying any of it to myself. And that was probably a slow bone until the end of 2016 where I had basically hit the point.
Aussie Firebug: Right, so when, what made you, what was the point where you…like you are whining toward a little bit more serious and then I guess you discover that, “hey this financial independence stuff is real” you crunch the numbers. Did you have an idea in your mind of where you wanted to be because of financial independence? Or like what made you want to pursue that goal and you know reach out to me as one thing, but you know, go down that path?
Nick: Yeah, I think it is probably a bit normal for everyone I guess but just work. Like you sort of hit that point where all the math is on payback out there and sideway and particularly to me in my mid-thirties, you’re in that grow end of the career where you’re doing okay income wise, you’re quite stable, you know, being with my employer for 11 years which is pretty good, you know, at this day and age and you know, and you simply go, you look around the office and there is the guy who’s been there for 20 years, and the guy who’s been there for 30 years then you go, “Is that going to be me.” And those guys are great, I love them to bit, but you go, ‘I don’t know if eventually I can keep doing the same job.’ So, but it wasn’t so much about retirement but I was like is this what is making me happy and other things I prefer to do with my time, and I’d sit there and to me super was the only thing I could think about. And it was, “Okay, so super I can’t access until I’m sixty so that’s my life.” That’s the price that’s mapped down till I’m 60. And I just started towards the end of 2016 get…I wouldn’t say depressed because that’s a very serious thing that people get but just really down and just going to work in my work, Vic. I remember coming home to her and just saying, “I can’t keep doing this, I can’t keep doing this.” It wasn’t completely hating the job but I just…I can’t do…you know, being forced to do this work even though I’m good at it, and you know, you have days where you really do enjoy it but is going to be something old. And I think I must have gone a little bit more into Mr. Money Man Stash maybe read a few more things and then I think by then I was listening to your podcast too and it’s good to hear all this, and it just started to connect and I thought now I can do this, and I can really start to…I think it’s over those holidays then I bought another book invest book which every man with dogs literally has this days and J L Collins, Simple Task to Wealth and it just really start to kick my brain and I think that’s when I really got into it.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I think a lot of people are going to relate to that. Nick, I know for myself, you know, it was a similar situation. I like my job, you know, I don’t hate my job by any stretch in me, but it is definitely days where you don’t want to be there and…It’s funny because when I discovered financial independence it almost made it worse for me, you know, always quite happy, I was only like three years anyway fulltime working career. So I was like…
Nick: This is just going to keep going on.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I was like, “This is just my life and it’s good, I got money, I got ample of weekends and it is fun but then when I discovered this thing I was like, “Whoa, this is what I need to do” but then it’s like, “Oh my God, it’s years away like decades potentially.”
Nick: Very tricky.
Aussie Firebug: It almost made it worse for me, yeah, and I went through…I was like a bit depressed as well, at work I’ll be like, “So I want to go.” And then I really, it took me a year also to make that mind shift to enjoy the journey to the end goal.
Nick: Exactly right. I was going to say very much the same. But if I jump into a hobby in a bicker my wife would probably, you know, laugh in agreement there. Because if I get into a hobby or something like that, I try myself all in I’m just all in from day one, I would be decked down any accessory now into men or something like that. It’s a terrible impulse spender, but it sounds fly like, “This is it, this is an awesome straight way you’re going, ‘I am going to cup this and this and just shave everything when you live like monks and then will get big, you know, X amount of months sooner than we would have otherwise or saying it is not that bad.
Aussie Firebug: It’s not a healthy thing to do.
Nick: Not a healthy thing to do and also deeply when you start to tell your in-laws or family about it and it is actually very tricky because they will start thinking, you know what? You are not going to spend any money ever again and it is a whole lot of, that is a whole lot of amount and since I could not… I ‘m going to spend but on things that are determined to make me happy or we that we see their value in and also they can think you judging them too because they’re spending money on stuff but it’s very important, I guess if you’re in this world to not judge people and everyone’s got different things I like. Like, you know, I like guns and shooting or paintball or things like that, but you know, someone else might like fishing, skydiving or something like that and they might be saying that they’re really going to spend their money on.
Aussie Firebug: Sure, and that was definitely, I don’t know if you’ve seen the term before, but you know, financial snobs. I was definitely one of those people, I’d see someone like person you are on a team with just bought a brand new X trail or whatever, and in my mind I’d be like, “Pathetic.” I’d be like, “Oh my God.” What a move.
Nick: A little bit of that there on Facebook or someone’s got a new house that looks incredible and you’re like you know basically what it will be worth. And you go, “Oh, Jesus it’s a lot of money they could have done same cheaper, particularly cars. But now, you know, you’re mature in life and you are mature far enough and you sort of go, you don’t know people circumstances. It’s the same way that people look flashy you don’t know their debt. Other people can look flashy, else other people can look cheap and poor but they’re actually wealthy and there is that middle ground someone kind of wealthy but they might actually…That’s where they’ve decided to put their money. But they don’t blow it every other place that we blow it in the…There is a balancing act, I guess don’t judge, more internal, do your own path, do your own thing, but you’re only endorsing in, don’t worry about everyone else’s.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, It’s easier said than done but I really like you got to get to that point where…you know, I can, other people can spend their money on what they want to spend their money on and you don’t have to feel bad even if you’re on the path of financial independence by going on a holiday every now and then or amount of the…
Nick: Which is particularly true for someone with a wife and kids, because I’m lucky my wife, Becky…she, I’m actually the really discretionally spender she is always, even though I’ve always been the budgets guy in a not so much strict but all of that bills I’ve always been prepaid this is sort of like even in our early marriage and all that, even though we live to it through week, it was, “Pay all the bills. Yep, that’s great. Everything is prepaid just spend the rest. You’re still wake to wake. You’re never investing, you’re never getting ahead, you’re never really saving so I thought it was quite great and all and you know a frugal person. But once you get onto FIRE and you crack it and you really red point of a start, you say to your wife, “We’re not going on a holiday, you say, you’re not buying presents for your friends at school this sort of stuff.” You can very quickly get chopped down. So I think if you’re by good kids or if you’re doing FIRE it’s the whole family unit, and if they’re not completely on board and you’ve seen that on forms down to formalities to husband or wife or partner whatever is not into it. That’s super tricky. I’m lucky that Becky she just sort of trust me. I said “Look I’m into this stuff, you know I was just observing.” And she just sort of have to nod and go, “I trust you.” But she also had to sort of teach me to pay it back a little bit too, you know, from the passion of it all…We still have the passion but I guess being hanged on about it you can spend a little bit more money and all of a sudden you get that right mind set too. I think we’re doing pretty good like, you know, this Christmas time we have probably spent a bit more than we probably should have but saying that we’re not in any debt. There is no debt growing, we got the mortgage in that but it’s all money that we had sort of set aside that even if we shuffle it from this it will balance to this one because we prioritize where we want to go. That’s cool, don’t beat yourself down.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I couldn’t agree anymore, mate. When I joined finances with my partner it was a great balance because when I was on my own it was a bit too extreme. It was like…I would go to restaurants with her sometimes and just not order anything, like with the embarrassment look of “I’ve hit the budget for this month I can’t spend any more money which is outrageous. I just…
Nick: We love spending time with her family in town and I remember in the early part of it, you know, after I’d gone through the rough path and I’d got into FIRE and I was like, “Yeah.” You know, the family would say, “Who wants to go to this place for dinner?” Just a standard family place nothing huge expensive,
Aussie Firebug: Yeah.
Nick: But no, we’re not. That’s it. We’ve spent our grocery money and that’s it, like we’re not doing anything else just to learn that. Sometimes that’s fun, you know, It’s a bit like teaching the kid to have lolly’s, sometimes you feel lucky, sometimes fine to you know, spend money on some stuff.
Aussie Firebug: You got to save in other words honestly.
Nick: You do.
Aussie Firebug: It’s used to be at where…where do you get the most bang for your back? It doesn’t matter if you split your bit but you’ve had really…Is a kickass experience or you really want this whatever it is you want, Apple watch don’t care. If you’ve thought about it for days and you still want to pull the trigger.
Nick: And that’s a great thing and you’ll probably read that in a lot of books if anyone is listening to this one they might not be.
Aussie Firebug: Listen to one ever.
Nick: It’s going to break the internet. You better watch here. Have to think it better if you still want it cool, grab it. I’m a terrible impulse buyer so if you’re an impulse buyer, you know, It’s a tricky thing and I still get over…I’m sitting in a really dodgy chair because the kids have ripped it to bits at the moment. You know they get that clever, I’ve just reaped it to bits and I have Christmas, there is all these things popping up on Facebook, you know fairly personal some amazing gaming chair and you just going to be the coolest dude ever. I actually had my hand on the button to buy one even though it’s basically impulse buying but we hadn’t really spoken about it with my wife Beck. And I’d close that, I’m not going to get it, and then Facebook’s brilliant it shows up the sponsored, I’d say, “Hey, you didn’t finish it, you check that, come and do it again.” I’m like, “get away from me Satan. Get off my shoulder.” Really smart and nearly got me by a surprise but for that, that’s where I always see my brain going. I would have impulse bought that before like a $400 chair and I was like I don’t need this chair, I’m still sitting in it and there are other things that are more important at the moment. It’s not I’m not going to spend money. It’s I will probably spend some money but I would put it, you know to other things that need to be done more importantly because we don’t want to write it into a savings or…
Aussie Firebug: Absolutely, Black Friday a couple of months ago I was so close to buying this $250 sand bar.
Nick: Are you going to need a sand bar?
Aussie Firebug: I absolutely do not need this and this is…
Nick: Oh, you can listen to this podcast would have been brilliant.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, that would have been the only…Well, I ended up not buying it but that was like, I tried to do that as my only possible mean, I would be like, I really, really want that but let me just sleep on it. And if I still want it after she dies I will just get it, but thank God I didn’t because I literally woke up the nest day thinking, “What was I thinking?” I don’t need that at all but it was like cheap and it looked really nice. So this is it, everyone goes to the road. Now I want to get back to…
Aussie Firebug: That’s all right.
Nick: You got to completely bring me in because I would just go and go. You can edit junk head of this. If people hear lots of weird pauses that’s fine, but we just chopped it to bits so you might get some quality
Aussie Firebug: No, there will be no editing so far. [Laughs] Let’s get back to…Because I really want talk about how we first started emailing each other, so can you just go through the story it was back in 2016, I got an email in my inbox from you just tried to be about that.
Nick: Sure, I can set the same. I imagine the skinny not so good looking but you know, probably thinks he’s good looking bloke really struggling at work learning about FIRE thinking, how can I do this? And who’s the army and is AUSI doing this FIRE stuff? It’s very tricky when you’re new because you don’t…you generally…If you’ve got a close circle that knows about this stuff and they’re telling you about it and you’ve gotten into this podcast because you’ve got mates, you’re doing well, you got someone that you can chat to who gets this stuff already. I had to reach out to random guy on the internet which worked out well. We had a pretty good email exchange. I’m not saying everyone bombarded on us [Laughs].
Aussie Firebug: 700 emails.
Nick: But if you going to do that give me money on patron or something like that first. Any way I did and it worked out well. I can read you a few lines from it if you want. This is if you want to shoot back to 2016.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, so, just while you’re getting that up, so you’re having a rough day at work and you need to…I could feel it through this email, it was such a genuine email and it was, I was quite touched that you emailed me, you know, with this. Here we are in the podcast I’m glad you did.
Nick: [Laughs] That is right, it is hard, I think particularly if you’re a dad too with kids or…If you’re the bread winner where sort of the singling comes three kids, and if you’re the bread winner, you’re wearing everything that little bit hotter because you’re feeling even more trapped instead of being like, “Oh we’ve got a mortgage we got to pay it off.” It’s, “Yeah, I’ve also got mouths to feed; I don’t have the ability to just go and say, “I’m going to move back at mum’s and dad’s house. I can’t just say, “No, I’m just going to pack in and go backpack for two years or something like that.” You’ve got responsibility. You’ve got to man up and own that. And that includes manning up and owning your mistakes and nothing really goes struggling with no mistakes going. I’ve got a good solid job but we’re not getting ahead. And I think a lot of people has that where you go, “Well, hopefully they’ve got the good solid job you don’t know these days, but you go, “I’m not getting ahead, you know, I look at other people and they’re getting ahead. I was in a rough spot so I thought I would email and just sort of send the email.
Aussie Firebug: Yes, so can you go into just a little bit about what we discussed in those back and fourths and what you were, you know what you are going through mindset and…?
Nick: Yeah, so I sort of said that I listen to your Fire podcast it was really good. I didn’t even know which episode actually it was, but it must have been a good one. I mean they’re all good, but it must be one that maybe resonated with me. Or perhaps it was someone who was just crushing it and I was like, “Uh, men, these person is crushing it. Who I’m I to even enter this FIRE world or even feel like, you know, I could post in a forum I am a shamble at that because would get shaved in and there’s a lot of people a lot worse than me. I’m sort of preaching at the people on my level and below, so If you’re brilliant you got 50 investment profit is you need and you need a 17 if you are killing it right, you should tune at it because I haven’t got anything to tell you. I said, “Look I’ve got all this financial knowledge on my head. I’ve always been, I’ve actually done most of my family’s tax returns and stuff like that. I do people’s budgets. I’ve brought young brother in laws get mortgages and I do up there their budgets and sort of this is how much your wage is, they very open with me so I’ll give him all the figures. This is what you’re going to need from rights, to all these things that come out but still that’s just a week, two week you’re not getting anything ahead. I think I said to you that everyone that I seem to have come across Mr. Money Man Stash and these other ones are women. Very young, they didn’t have kids so I get sort of hectic about financial independence but I just can’t do it. I don’t feel like I’ve got all these excess disposable cash to save and invest. Now people go, “I got to save your ID interest, I’m done. 100% has gone each way and I think most Australians families will probably relate to that. Where you just go, because you…you lost all quick. I remember one of my old jobs, it must be 20 years ago after high school I remember being like 34k, and I remember finding out that a manager’s wage is like 50 something k and if I ever got to that I will just be like flicking cash out the window down the street.
Aussie Firebug: Making it rain.
Nick: Yeah, making it rain, absolutely. But obviously there’s inflation that too but you just lost when you get mortgage, and you get kids, and you get a car, and you do this and then in discretion where you go, “particular pave way where you get to throw that sucker everywhere. And it disappears.
Aussie Firebug: It’s bad isn’t it?
Nick: Yeah. I think I said to you, I said like I just feel useless I feel like a bit of a fraud that. I thought I was a finance guy because I’d actually watched the several budgets and stuff like money and numbers but personally you’re just churning it in the bank account and nothing is getting ahead. And when you find fire it’s exciting but it can be crushing if you didn’t make, this is another level and this feels like the people who got old money but they got their parents helping them out not to buy a house and all these sort of stuff, like it’s not for me. You see average PIYG, the money goes in the bank every 4 month end but also that’s not also… I grow up saying, “Why always me?” A lot of these stuff you aren’t chose is not always smart enough after high school I could have studied more about personal financing or maybe could have done things in reverse where you had kids light and all of that. We got married young, I was 21, Beck was 19 and a lot sort of got on but just for whatever reasons everyone makes their own choices now. And it’s not about saying, “My life was really bad.” Because there is someone listening to this whose got a million times worse, it was just saying, “Look, this is where I am at now.” What can I possibly change now” I think I reached out to you saying. I said, like my ideal lifestyle and a little bit of casual stuff in town and I said to you, “Doesn’t sound like anything achievable. I really don’t know what to do.” That was sort of where it wound up. I think that was basically where I signed off and then you came back with some good encouragement which is what I needed. If somebody got encouragement face to face brilliant, but for a lot of us this amount of heavy stuff is how we learn about it and I mean why we can interact with it, so thank you for that.
Aussie Firebug: Very wise, and when I read your email for the first time what I took away from it was you laid a lot of things here and you’re just talking about your life and how you listen to one of my podcast and you’re hearing other people’s stuff online about this young early 20 people in their 20s with no kids chewing gum making $200,000 each and this inspired you, how was any job with…
Nick: That is well said you know, I sort of, it is been the World form of forums. The show runner is 200.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, of course. But it was just so genuine, that email that you sent and I immediately started talking and applauding you. Basically what I wanted to get across was everything you told me and from everything that I know in my life and even the statistics prove it, you were doing way better than majority of people are doing. But it doesn’t feel like that when you’re consuming all that content or people that are doing better than you, that are younger than you.
Nick: Exactly right.
Aussie Firebug: So, I really just wanted to try to get it across like you said, just the encouragement of how well pretty put it to perspective how well people in Australia in general are doing with other people all over the world. And I show you a whole bunch of you know a bunch of websites,
Aussie Firebug: But a lot, one of the ones that I really like and I’ll put it in the show notes, there is a website, now I’ve got it in front of me. Yeah, here it is, theearthawaits.com, I am going to put this end and basically you can punch in how much passive income or just income in general that you have and it will show you all the places in the world that you can currently live which is really cool. It’s a bit of motivation because Australia has a very high cost of living and if you have a passive income of let’s say, $10,000 in Australia, there is a whole bunch of places in the world that you can live off that. I ‘m not saying you got to move to other places in the world, but it’s just an example of even though you’re thinking you might drowning a bit in your current environment it’s so much. It’s so many people all over the world that you’re ahead of. And even like your situation you’re ahead of hades of people in Australia and that’s a lot of people that I know personally in your age with kids and everything so like I just really wanted to get across and hopefully encourage you a bit and make you feel a bit better about the situation. Honestly it was a really good spot to be in to be honest and then I don’t think I heard from you after that. I totally didn’t, I put my hat I didn’t seem like…
Nick: I know. You did well. I put my hat out and you put your hat away and it’s like we met in the field gave each other a hug and walked away. So it was all credit, it was all brilliant.
Aussie Firebug: We were like wing man of an airfield football match.
Nick: We were.
Aussie Firebug: Shook hands at the start of the game and said, “I’ll see you at the end of the game.” Just relax as much as possible as you can.
Nick: It’s brilliant. That was basically. I was processing all that and processing books I was reading at the podcast and stuff like that, and gathered all these stuff and start putting some of this into action. Basically 2017, we’re at 2018 so 2017.
Aussie Firebug: That is crazy. It was a year of getting stuff done. And it is amazing what you can do in a year. And I am not, If anyone is listening right now I don’t think now he’s going to say he’s got an investment properties, goes to TED talks and tells everyone about how awesome he is.
Aussie Firebug: He is now financially independent.
Nick: Yeah, that’s right.
Aussie Firebug: Surprise.
Nick: Yeah, I definitely I’m completely low in the middle of the road I guess you would say there is always some lower there is someone higher, and I think it would be an estimate people overestimate what they can get done in a year and underestimate what they can do in six years, and I think that’s very true. He probably stole that from somewhere else, who knows but it’s completely true. In a year we’ve done enough stuff that is gone and you know we can see where this is heading here. We’re not going to a mortgage off in two months. We’re not going to have enough invested in funds and stuff like that to be gone in four years and all that. We did six to ten years. My 10-year self, my 44-year-old self right now is absolutely high fiving me because of what I’ve done now at 34. And that’s not to say I’ll be completely checked there I can do whatever I want. It’s actually not about retiring like, “My job is actually kind of cool now. It is been a year and I think that is partly in your mindset you say now that I know that I’m not stuck or working in this job or a job until 60. The fact that we got a trajectory now, there is a chance shuffle things around that part and I think that changes your mindset at work. You’re not growing in there because of why? I’m just paying tax each you know, running low on the hamster wheel. You can see a bit of a lot of the tunnel and it’s not a lot to get there. It’s a lot for these other opportunities and I keep working happy.
Aussie Firebug: Exactly right Nick. The mindset difference that you’re probably even feeling now. Like you think back, you rewind one year to 2016 and how much. Better work certain years, the grass is greener. The sun’s shining a little bit more brightly as you approach it. Because on the same amount I have in my mind as you hit financial independence that’s when throw out the Xbox and just play games all day or something like…It’s not going to be like that. I will work most likely forever in some capacity.
Nick: In some capacity and I don’t know if anyone is listening to this there is a guy called J L Collins. I really like him. He’s got a blog which is—it a bit scattered all over the place but I like his book—He did a book and he talks about the FU money on there. That’s obviously the swear word FU money. It’s just a pair of that saying and he talks about a story that when he was younger his first job he basically wanted to go overseas for like five weeks and his boss said no. And he said, “Okay.” This was back like in the ‘70s or something like that and he just felt like so I can’t go. And then he thought about, but I actually have enough money. He just went back in to his boss’s office and said, “I’m just gonna quit if that’s all right.” His boss said, “Whoa,whoa, don’t quit, why are you going to quit.” He said, “I don’t really need the job.” But he had enough just to survive a couple of months or something. And his boss said ‘let’s work something out, and take the time and do a little bit of part time here and this sort of stuff,” and without even knowing what that was back then- he told us back then- it’s so true. Like if you don’t have to have to work because you’ve got enough income coming in from other sources, you can apparently go, “Yeah, I’m going to check out,” or “I want to do part time,” or “I just want to go to another occupation that really interests me,” but most of the time you’re going to start up on the lowest rank, you’re going to be the plate or you start your own business or everyone has got a different thing that they like.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, that’s powerful, powerful stuff and I look forward to the day where I can wane back to four-three days a week, two or eventually have the option to do none or throw my hand into someone else.
Nick: And the cool thing is that you can just on average income, like average my income or something like that and you go and it can actually work like you don’t have to go “Oh, I’m not a doctor, I’m not someone earning 150-100K.” Technically, those people should be able to get there a lot sooner but what happens is they get lost: they get expensive cars, they get expensive houses, they keep up with the Joneses, you know they’ve got to be in a certain post card or whatever and then they’re still sixty towards seventy and they’re still not checking out because they lost all this selling large. Yeah, it’s exciting to know that you pretty much can do this just depending on I guess your standards, we need to lower our standards people.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I think that’s one of the coolest things about it as well, 100% agreeing. You know we touched on a bit about this when we were chatting before; average people can achieve this. It might take a little bit longer and the doctors will try to achieve it or someone earning a lot of money but if you live in a first world country, you should be able to achieve it. I don’t care about circumstances, okay it’s going to be harder for some than others but if you live in Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, you know first world countries, this should be well within your reach if you want it bad enough.
Nick: Absolutely, absolutely.
Aussie Firebug: So back to the email so the one that I sent you, it’s sat in your inbox for a while, is that right?
Nick: Well, for everyone listening, I didn’t actually ignore him, I actually kind of did but I left it there basically at the top of my inbox essentially for a year, why? And it’s the same reason why I’ve kind of gone a little quiet on this, that I haven’t said it live is I feel like [00:32:38] I don’t want to reply back and, yeah, yeah cool, I’ve done this tiny little thing, I wanted to basically prove to myself that I can make some changes and I did. We did a bit of stuff, we got rid of our credit card and it was only a small credit card, like it was like a 2K credit card, $2000. People go, “That’s tiny man, I’ve got like 89K.” Yeah, that’s a problem. 2K is also a problem when you’re churning twenty or thirty thousand through it not the points or not to pay the rights and all that, a card that’s meant to be emergencies became emergencies for lunch time because Subway is really tasty. Getting our mortgage interest rate down from 8.19% now down to 4% because we had it locked for so long which is terrible. Discretionary spending, you know I think we spent like- this is our entire family, one income plus I do some side work for another business plus my wife does some casual teaching which stops during the holidays- I think we spent like 117000 but we only earn like 105000 so that’s already a red herring and that was one of the granular things I did which you suggested and you’ll see a lot of people suggest it; go through your spending. It doesn’t mean you have to be this being counter every day plugging it in. What worked for us is always being counter for 2016 transactions. So I went through all of 2016, I used money brilliant, there’s heaps of other ones out there and basically categorized where I could and what things were and it really showed that pretty much I was the problem, with the discretionary spending and these other things were doing silly also, having a leased car was terrible. You get a leased car so easily through work. “Hey, get a leased car, package your vehicle,” you know this sort of stuff, it’s great. You get this magic little card and you swipe away, you don’t even know what things really cost. If you go and get a service, you just swipe the card, done. It’s not like when you pay through EFTPOS, they put in, you know it’s $328, it all gets charged back to this place. You don’t really see the money, you’ve got to log in through these portals to check it out. There’s like $8 card fees every month and all these other transaction fees. If you go to the wrong serve out, it’s an extra $3 per tank. You don’t even see the interest rate. You know if you were to get a car through- I wouldn’t advocate, I’m kind of anti-financing cars, they’re a little different- if you would go through a car dealer, you’d at least know what the interest rate is 3-4-5-6-7%, but with the lease you don’t; it’s just hey yeah, it’s all approved, don’t worry and the lease in it was like 9% or something like that; little things like that. So we went through all of our spending, paid off the leased car so we own it outright now and we’re just going to probably drive that thing into the dirt and my wife’s sort of onboard with that. I say that now because it’s actually got something leaking at the bottom of it but in no way am I going to buy like a super- it was not a super expensive car, I think we bought it for like 28 grand but I can’t just put that in my mind to alignment and someone else here might think, “Man, this dude’s just being a cheapskate, buy a new car,” and that’s cool if that works for you and you’ve done the math and it’s like us, for us a 2K credit card doesn’t work for our family. I know you can get points on things there but for us it’s a fog of war, it’s a way of masking the true cost of living because we had our bank account which has our money in it but this is extra one that sits here so you do that one and it’s just a money tune, you’re just constantly sending money to reduce the balance on that one. What else did we do? Oh yeah, we put more into a super which is probably a contentious one in the fire. Our community- if we can talk about that a little bit- put like an extra 400 Bucks [00:36:13] on the mortgage so like 200 in the super, 400 into the mortgage, saving like 400 a fortnight and things like that and putting 50 a fortnight into my wife’s super because she gets a contribution match because she only earns a small amount every year at this stage, she stays with the kids and I’ve [00:36:31] so yes, we’re one income with the kids but it’s important for me not to go, “Oh wow, it’s me.” Society hasn’t done that to us, that’s our choice. We’ve chosen that the way we’ve done life is having kids before you’re financially independent because I didn’t know about that beforehand because I’m an idiot, is we’ve got kids. The kids are awesome. I’ll say that when tomorrow probably they’ll hit a vain and we’ll go nuts. The thing through school holidays and all that is that’s great, the way we’ve done life, it is great. A bit of that is choice about where you live and cost of living and all that, we leave in a regional Queens [00:37:08] which is west of Bristol, I think I said it earlier. It’s the point where I can at least pay the mortgage on my income which obviously that compounds the dramas that you have earlier where you are the bread winner and any little issue at work or any kind of stress or mental health you’re dealing with, that’s compounded more because you’ve got to keep that income coming in, health and all that but the flip side is that Christie has been at home, this is kind of like a file without paying for it. She gets to have that awesome time with kids and I get all these brilliant messages on my phone at work so if I’m having a crap day at work and if we were both having a crap day at work or we’re pursuing fire, that would be really sucky, we did message each other saying, “When do we check out?” At least I get a message from her because she’s taken the kids to a cafe or a playgroup or you know, you get the little video of your kids’ first steps and that sort of stuff so that itself is worth its weight in gold so I’ll start paying the penalty for my silly mistakes earlier in life of not investing and not getting onto this stuff sooner is at least we’ve been through some choices like living somewhere cheaper and cutting that cost of living down, you say Beck’s going to be home with the kids and that’s awesome. Yeah of course that completely destroys you firepath for how many years till we can check out but it’s a tradeoff. We just thought that we wanted her to be home with the kids, she was very keen on that- I’m probably going to get smashed by feminists there but that’s just the way it worked there. She really wanted to be a mama with the kids and we could afford it. Yeah, so we’ve done that, it’s silly like for paying the mortgage down and technically, if you do the math for most people getting rid of the mortgage if you’re living in an own-occupied it’s usually you know, mortgages are like say 4%. It’s pretty smart money just to put money into that and pay it off because it’s basically if you take tax into account like a 6% return guaranteed, pretty easy, put it into your mortgage but as I said to Firebug in sort of the catch up email after the year, I said, “Look, it’s dumb but I wanted to feel like I’m a bit of a cool kid in the fire thing and I bought 5K I think index funds just to feel like I’m part of the crowd.” We’re all social animals like a herd and I didn’t want to be too left behind even though that’s tiny and someone listening to this has probably five million and yeah, our savings rate’s up. So our savings rate before was pretty much like I guess 0% or 5%, now we’ve got it to say 37% which isn’t bad for like a single income family, it’s 56% if you include super so that’s not bad. I’m including in that like the principle, we’re paying off the mortgage.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, definitely, you include that for sure.
Nick: Yeah, so our super’s a funny one, that’s a different topic and I feel like no, don’t touch super because you get the people for the [00:39:56] have time to talk about the government’s going to steal all your money and all that but aside from that, that’s right down the track. If you’re talking to Fire, you want to have this happening earlier, then absolutely. Once we’re on sort of two incomes, yeah I can get into all that later in the podcast if you want to consume more time but for now it’s more of a tax thing; it’s we can’t do heaps to smash other investments in that but it’s something I can put aside because I’m a bit older too, I’m 34, if we think sort of ten years is when we’ll probably would maybe hit fire, then I’m only looking at say ten to fifteen years for that to sort of last before super also kicks in so it’s a different thought. If you’re 45 listening to this, then your super would probably be a pretty serious part of your whole investment portfolio. So that’s something to think of. If you’re twenty it’s obviously different or if you’re 30, if you’re 40, if you’re 50, if you’re thinking of compounding and all that.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I think you’ve just gone through most of the talk points that you sent me but I remember coming into my inbox and seeing this message from you like a year later and I was so happy, had this big grin on my face reading it at work and I really liked this email because like you said, there’s a lot of people that are doing very well and there’s other people that are not doing so well but this was just a very genuine email from a guy that emailed me a year ago and had some mindset things and I tried to give him my best as possible and he comes back with all these wins that he had and I just thought it was absolutely fantastic and it is those little mental wins that like you know you said even though it might not to be the smartest move which is debatable but you bought some vanguard funds. That’s a mental win; even if it isn’t financially the best thing to do, there is a psychological win that cannot be understated. It’s like a lot of people say don’t pay off your HECS debt which is financially the correct move but then there’s other people that just need it paid off, they just got five thousand and they just want to pay it off.
Nick: Yeah, everyone’s completely different. I don’t think that whole mortgage versus investment thing, there’d be like a million blog posts out there that will do this math and everyone’s different and there obviously no mortgage means you have a less amount you need in the future but if you delay the investing, it means the compounding is just a chicken and egg kind of thing. Yeah, I think at the moment it’s obviously mortgage for us just because that makes a bit more sense and then once we’re on two incomes, we can really think about the other investing.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, and like you mentioned in this email, one of the lines that you wrote was “I guess I’m now a mix of a one of a wannabe fire person (coming from two incomes) and an average good with money person. I read that and I thought there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and if anything, if you just have the knowledge and the internet is a wonderful thing these days, in your mind of where you want to be and your average with money which is I would say you’re good with money–
Nick: We know a lot of people who are terrible with money so that’s good.
Aussie Firebug: I wouldn’t put you average with money to begin with but even if you’re average with money and you’re getting average returns and everything like that, you’re going to get there. It’s can you be in the right mindset to reach the end goal and can you enjoy the journey enough? If you’re hating the journey, you’ve got to change things up. This goes out to anyone listening to this, if you’re struggling with reaching fire and you’re not enjoying it then you’re doing something wrong. You should be enjoying your life on the way to financial independence, not in a vacuum where you’re thinking oh, I’m just going to grind out these next seven years of this crap I hate and this life I hate, then everything will be rainbows and cactus.
Nick: It gets hard like anyone who’s married or partnered and got kids and in the grind like I am most weeks, finances are massive stress in most marriages or partnerships anyway. If you’re living week to week, a fortnight to fortnight, it is stressful; you’re at each other because you’re like: we’ve got to pay for this, now you want to do that, you can’t do that. That causes fights. If you go and then stress about the next seven years of your path, ten years or fifteen years of your path of getting enough investments going, you just kind can’t handle that stress. Instead of just stressing about the fortnight, you’re now stressing about the next seven years and I would get that like I ride a push bike which is great. If you read about Mr. Money Moustache, he’s like, “Yeah, ride a push bike, it’s cheap, you’re saving the environment and whatever…” I actually ride a push bike and that’s because we’ve made a choice to just have one car so even before being fire, I was probably already somewhat in that mindset plus [00:45:10] is a small town and I’d feel like a bit of a douche if I did get a second car because it’s seriously like a three-minute drive to work or a ten-minute ride but I ride the push bike, I listen to podcasts, I get so much enjoyment listening to podcast. I used to hate riding a push bike, now when I listen to them, I’m learning every day. Now, I love it when your podcast comes in, like “Yay, an Aussie one, this is great!” If anyone is listening to American ones, I highly recommend Choose FI and Brad and Jonathan, they’re brilliant as well.
Aussie Firebug: I’ll put a link in the show notes, Choose FI.
Nick: Yeah, Choose FI, they’ve absolutely nailed it as well and you get home and sometimes after listening to one, you feel, ‘Damn that guy’s crushing it and I’m a loser and I had a bad day at work and I’m not going to get a promotion blah-blah-blah,’ get in the house, three kids at me, I’m sweaty from the bike ride, one wants to kick a soccer ball, one wants a hug, the one wants to show me some sticks he strung together or something like that, you just get this craziness. If you try and compound fire stress into that, it’s going to be hard so you’ve got to get an even balance between your family as to what do we all want to do together. Often fire’s about where do you want to be in ten or twenty years, what makes you happy, and for most of us in fire happy isn’t buying expensive houses and that, fire is spending time with family or doing things by choice but yeah, the whole family has got to be on board with that so you do have to talk with you wife, your partner and the kids to a degree. Like for us, if we were doing fire the normal way around, we’d be fire and then we would have kids and we’d both just be home and the kids would be awesome, we’d get to have all those early years together, it would be great. My mindset’s got to be a little bit different as to well, we made a choice for like a cheap [00:47:02] that she’s on at the moment with the kids until she sort of goes back to work so that’s great, that’s a hard job for her and for me, okay I’m going to be working and when we actually realistically hit fire, we won’t be with our little kids taking them to the [00:47:18] but I’ll probably have teenage kids or young adults and you never know, even grandkids, it’s like I may not be there to invest all the time with my kids but I could invest it with my young adult kids or teenage kids or grandkids, it’s pretty exciting. So whichever stage of life you’re on, you haven’t missed it because you weren’t at home to raise your kids but there’s always something else you can capture back.
Aussie Firebug: And that there is an epic way to think about it, Nick, like that really is awesome. You’re going to have teenage kids when you’re still in your forties that you can spend way more time and then if grandkids arrive on the scene, you’re going to be free to do whatever you choose.
Nick: Completely available, that’s exactly right. My wife Beck, she’s just awesome with kids, she’s a pro-mystical teacher, she’s just amazing, and she cooks awesome too because I’m useless. And I know that we’re going to be at the point where one of us says can say, “I am not doing the work thing anymore, I’m going to help out our kids with the grandkids as much as possible,” and that’s by design, that’s just not a lockdown because there’s a lot of people you see where the grandparents would love to spend more with the kids or they’d love to spend more time with the teenagers or young adults and yeah, to be cool. It’s just by design, it’s not an accident, it might be an accident, someone might have spammed your work email box like I was doing to my folks, it’s just kind of learning through your outbox rather than your inbox but yeah, I don’t even know where I’m going with this but it gets exciting.
Aussie Firebug: I’m definitely hearing you. Now, I want to just ask you a few questions before we wrap things up. So three kids, you’re pursuing fire, what’s the hardest thing about pursuing financial independence with three kiddies on the same?
Nick: Look, we’re public schooling at the moment which is obviously the cheaper way to do it and it’s been great, I’m a [00:49:24] about public schools so someone could say, “Oh private school is very expensive, that would be. Kids’ birthdays is hard. Our own kids’ birthdays, it’s just like you laugh on Instagram and all that, someone’s got an awesome house and car, other kids have got great toys and gadgets and I’m trying to teach my kids that it’s about doing stuff that’s fun so we really into bike riding, doing stuff in the backyard, we’re pretty active but I still get presents. I’ve bought a couple of Xbox controllers for the computer so they could play like a Lego game and all that on a computer but it’s tricky and then little kids birthday parties, there’s 20 Bucks here and there but man, that stuff disappears quick.
Aussie Firebug: Aren’t they just insane, some of these kids’ birthday parties though?
Nick: Yeah, it’s off the chart.
Aussie Firebug: Because I’ve got a sister that’s a wedding photographer but she also does like high end kids’ parties like they actually a freaking photographer for this like five-year old and it’s like she works an album and it’s actually insane like she says sometimes they’ve got catering and it’s like what is happening here? This kid won’t even remember this birthday party, it’s just the parent showing off.
Nick: I know and it is very true and if you can get invited to them, it’s awesome because you go, good these other kids at school actually like my kid, that’s nice because [00:50:41] when you’ve got kids. You don’t want to find out they’re being bullied, you don’t want to find out that who’d you play with at lunch or no one, like why? “Because no one wanted to play with me,” so you get a birthday invite, you go “Yeah, awesome great,” then you get a [00:50:53] saying that stuff is all kind of minor at the moment. I’m sure if you interviewed me in five to ten years’ time when the teenagers are kicking in, it probably gets even more expensive. Really it’s food, you know if we want to get out for tea, you pay a lot more for food because you’re obviously feeding five instead of feeding two, I don’t even know if it’s always about the money you know, about the spending issue. You should cut your spending down on silly junk, invest your money in stuff that’s worthwhile, we won’t to talk about crypto and all that–
Aussie Firebug: Let’s not open that black box.
Nick: Yeah, invest your money but really learn to enjoy life again. That’s it, stop being a consumer of economy, start earning a bit of the economy with your investments then you can focus on your lifestyle but also I guess like I was saying before, focus on your lifestyle a bit now. Be happy with where you’re at to a degree, Facebook and Instagram are harsh, you see people they’re on their overseas holiday, everyone takes that really good picture [00:51:59]. Here’s the kids, this is what we did today, it was awesome. That picture doesn’t show the crazy fights and everything else or the fact that when I was at the checkout, someone thought I was scrolling Facebook but I was actually transferring money because we didn’t have money in that account to buy this.
Aussie Firebug: Yeah, I’ve been there before.
Nick: Yeah, and I think it’s pretty normal but you walk into the store and as you’re walking in, you tap and you pin into your phone checking your bank balance just to go is tis money actually here and all that and whether that’s because you’re living week to week or because you just got money in other accounts and all that, yeah, just changing their mindset.
Aussie Firebug: For sure. I know you beat yourself up so I do not want to hear anything about the kids or anything with this one but has been your biggest mistake in regards to reaching fire so far?
Nick: Apart from learning about it later?
Aussie Firebug: I heard you say that before and it’s definitely not a mistake, everyone learns about it a different time and I would argue that thirties is an extremely early age to be involved with this stuff, extremely early.
Nick: Absolutely, because there’ll be people in their forties and fifties and sixties and all that.
Aussie Firebug: People with 65 and they’re just, “Uh honey, I guess we better start learning about super now, when they’re like 64.
Nick: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Just quickly talking about that, I’ve said that to my super fund, they sent out a survey and said “What can we do better?” I said, “Stop pitching your retirement things to people in their 55’s.” They go, “You’re 55 now,” they send out these things, come along to our retirement seminar, they even do it at my work, I said, “You should be doing this to the people who are 20. If they start saving and investing more now, by the time they hit that 60-65, they’re going to be crushing it,” Anyway, back to the question so the biggest mistake financially really apart from fixing a mortgage at 8.19% for five years just after the GFC when it all started to crash, everyone else’s quickly went down to say 4%, 6-5-4%, we were at 8.19 for five years with a break free of like I think it’s twenty five or thirty grand or something, that hurt but that was a big life lesson. Other ones would be over time is financing cars, we may not have $10000 cars which is not expensive that we’ve turned through that never actually paid off. You know, you get it, paid in like three grand of it then go into another one, go into another one, go into another one and I’m probably glad I don’t have all those loan statements down in the filling cabinet because that would be so crushing to think how much not just in interest but just in money going to depreciating assets.
Aussie Firebug: So you would not recommend leasing a car through work?
Nick: Don’t lease a car through work, everyone goes, “Oh but you saved money on the purchase price,” or “you saved a bit of tax,” but man there’s a lot of hidden fees, you don’t always understand the finance. If you’re really a fire person and you’ve done all the math and it worked, yeah okay sure do it because it’s really about the map. Everything we decide should just be about how does this work.
Aussie Firebug: Read the fine print people, read the fine print. So overall, read the terms and conditions, financing cars and the interest rate which really wasn’t your fault but yes. Next one, just super quick, what has been your biggest win so far and why has it been discovering Aussie Firebug?
Nick: Because he’s just doing what no one else doing which is also– biggest win is just being aware I think. Going through that granular spending, that took a while man, you export your stuff into a CSV or Excel then punch into something like Money [00:55:33], it takes forever because most of the things on your statement, they don’t say “This was purchased at Subway.” They say, “This was at something PT Limited” you’re like what was that? Tricky but I think I spent about four nights, a few hours each night, four nights is not too bad really for a year’s transactions.
Aussie Firebug: Which is not too bad considering how much value you got out of that, right?
Nick: Yeah absolutely and it went well. This is where it’s going and it’s not a classic “Oh my wife spends too much money,” it was “I’m spending this money, it’s me, I’m the guy who does the banking, I do all of this, I’m the guy spending on discretionary sort of junk which I can’t even account for now, well I could account for but I couldn’t see the value in anymore so that was powerful and just learning the math that if you convert that into savings and investing and doing exhibits smarter, you know, cutting your mobile phone bills from eighty to twenty and all the basics, you can free up a bit of cash. You know we’re one income and we’ve sent each month, I didn’t think we’d save in that first email sent you. I think I said to you, “I cannot imagine how we’d save $500 a fortnight,” and we’re doing way more than that now.
Aussie Firebug: Alright, tell everyone tracking your spending is the best thing you can do. Second last one, tell us a bit about so you said you’ve got a blog but it’s not live but by the time this publishes, it will be live, right? So tell us a bit about your blog, it’s Blogrollerthree, is it not?
Nick: No, it’s just rolledthree.com so like the r-o-l-l-e-d-t-h-r-e-e.
Aussie Firebug: .com? Tell us a bit about that and what the name means.
Nick: Yeah so I’ve got a good friend at work and we used to joke because you know generic public servant office jobs, you’re doing your thing, you’re grinding life out and then go this is so hard, you get down on your grumps and all that and he’d say, “Roll the three buddy, could’ve rolled a two or a one but I rolled the three, and I didn’t roll a five or a six,” and I thought that’s great and that’s like my financial life that I can’t be the worst person the world’s because there’s someone who’s absolutely got no dollars at all, they can’t even feed their kids, that serious stuff and there’s obviously support agencies out there for that. I rolled a three, you know there’s opportunity for me to hit a four or a five or a six, I think I’m in a four now, it’s around a three.
Aussie Firebug: I’ll definitely say you’re above a three but I like the name.
Nick: So it’s about being average; you know, just being aware of being average but celebrating it and also getting a bit better.
Aussie Firebug: Embracing the average, embrace the average. So you don’t have to be killing it in your returns, you don’t have to be killing it on your wage, you just have to be average and you will eventually reach financial dependence which is why it is so brilliant because it doesn’t matter if you live in a first world country. Maybe if you’re in a third world, you might not be able to reach it ever but if you’re average, it is within your grasp.
Aussie Firebug: Mate, we have finished the show. Thank you so much for coming on, I’m really glad that you sent me that email over twelve months ago now and the follow up with everything that has happened in your life since the other month. It’s been an absolute pleasure, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely, it’s great. Thanks for replying, that’s good; you know many people these days don’t reply.
Aussie Firebug: I reply to everyone, everyone. I shouldn’t say that, should I?
Nick: Challenge accepted Pet, I’ll start emailing with all kinds of random junk. But yeah, I just thought I’d contact you then we sort of talked about maybe doing this. I said look, I’m not somebody who should go on a podcast because I don’t have heaps of investments, I’m not super smart, I’m not killing it, I’m not a poster child fire person but there might be a lot of us out there who’ve got a bit of a mongoloid map but you can still get on the path.
Aussie Firebug: Right, it’s been awesome, thank you so much. And yeah, much appreciation for you coming on.
Nick: Excellent, thanks man.
Aussie Firebug: Alright, ciao.