Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

Nothing written below is financial advice. The questions and answers below are for general information only and should not be taken as constituting professional advice. You should always do your own research when making any financial decisions.

Question (01:30)


HI AFB,

I would like to know what you have sacrificed at a young age to achieve your current Net Worth?

Kate

Firebug’s Answer


Great questionΒ Kate!

I’d love to say that I haven’t sacrificed anything because you really shouldn’t give up all of life’s pleasures just to reach financial independence but there were a few sacrifices along the journey.

These are the main ones:

  • I never lashed out on really nice things (clothes, shoes, cars) but tbh, I didn’t (and still don’t) really crave those things anyway so not really a sacrifice.
  • Some social events. Things like going to the pub every week got old really quick and I always hated burning so much cash drinking out and about anyway. But there were other social events that I regret not attending. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I would say no to a trip to Melbourne with the boys, or an overseas trip because I was thinking of how much it was going to cost. In hindsight, this was a mistake and wouldn’t have moved the needle much anyway.
  • My independence because I stayed at home until I was 26. There’s pros and cons with this one but the last few years at home were a bit of a drag and I was well and truly ready to get a place of my own. I almost bought a house back in 2012 because I really wanted my own pad but the deal fell through, and that ironically turned out to be one of the best outcomes for our wealth due to what happened over the next 7 years. But those 3-4 years at home working full-time leapfrogged my savings a lot! So I’ll always consider this worth it, plus I get along with my parents so it wasn’t really that bad.
I honestly don’t even consider most of the above as real sacrifices.
The truth is I was extremely fortunate that a lot of dominos fell into place. But the most important one was discovering the concept of FIRE in 2013 and the philosophy of how to live a good and simple life. The next few years after that I became laser focussed on investing as much money as possible and probably went a bit overboard.

But the life philosophy of meaningful consumption, optimising waste/expenses and sustainable living has never left me. So people might look at how little we spend and think we’re depriving ourselves, but I can honestly say with hand over heart that we’re living an abundant (in my definition) lifestyle that makes us extremely happy. And that’s the most important thing IMO πŸ™‚

Cheers

πŸ”₯🐞

Question (11:12)


Hi Matt,

What are the reasons/perks of living in country Australia (outside of the relatively low cost of housing)?

Thanks,

Cityslicker

Firebug’s Answer


Hi Cityslicker,

This is a timely question as the wife and I were just talking about this on our walk the other day.

I won’t try to list all pros and cons but I’ll just talk about why we decided to move back to the country after a two-year stint in one of the biggest cities in the world… London.

First and foremost, we moved back to the country and bought a house to be close to our family. Mrs Firebug’s entire family (parents + 3 siblings + all the nieces and nephews) live in our hometown. Words cannot describe how great this is. The support network with kids is next level, family events are only ever 10 or so minutes away and most of us live within walking distance which means we can walk back home if we’ve had a few too many drinks πŸ»πŸ˜…

My parents also live in the town which makes everything so much easier in general.

My two older sisters however do not live here. We make the effort to see them and their children but it’s obviously nowhere near as convenient as having everyone in the one spot.

This isn’t necessarily specific to the country but I just thought I’d mention the main driver for us moving back and buying a house.

Other than that, here are some pros I love about living in the country:

  • House prices… I really can’t emphasise this bad boy enough. I see the prices of houses in Sydney and Melbourne and remind myself how lucky we are to be from a low-cost area. I know everyone is free to move but relationships you build whilst growing up with family, friends and the community cannot be understated.
  • I can ride my bike from one end of town to the other in less than 20 minutes. There’s nowhere in my hometown that I can’t get to within a reasonable timeframe on my bike 🚲
  • Access to the great outdoors. I have the beach, rainforests, snowfields and national parks all within a 1.5-hour drive (some being a lot quicker than that).
  • The more relaxed pace of living. Jesus Christ was everyone in a hurry in London! It has been nice not having to rush here and rush there since we’ve been back.
  • Greater sense of community. This might not be for everyone but I like running into someone I know when going for a walk down the street. I like meeting someone for the first time at work and realising that I use to play footy with their cousin. I like the idea of knowing a lot of families and people in my community. I feel like that tight-knit sense of community has sorta been lost somewhere along the way in modern cities. This is so strange to think about because you’re living in a big concrete jungle with millions of people but somehow it can feel more lonely compared to a small country town of five thousand. Building cities to accommodate cars surely has been a big reason for this. One of my favourite things about the old European cities is how friendly they are to pedestrians because cars weren’t invented yet. The tiny winding streets of Old Town in Trapani, Italy is a perfect example of this. Walking through the cobblestones streets, marvelling at the church architecture, grabbing a bite to eat in one of the restaurants in the middle of the path… magical! I’ve come to despise big roads and noisy cars. We need to start designing cities/towns with a lot more focus on walkways and not accommodating everything for bloody cars and trucks.

But there are also many things I miss dearly about London that you can’t get in the country. Here are some cons about country living:

  • Unlimited access to world-class concerts, festivals and sporting events. We are blessed to have Melbourne just up the road but it’s still a bit of a mission to attend these events. Living in London was truly epic in this regard. We could jump on the tube and pop down to the West End to see some of the greatest performers in the world. Spotify notified me one day that a John Mayer concert was coming up in London so I jumped online and bought tickets that night. Wimbledon was just down the road and on and on I could go but I think you get the idea.
  • In my experience, less desire to think outside the box, especially when it comes to working. I’m sure plenty of cities are like this too but London was simply overflowing with ambitious entrepreneurs and people on a mission to make real changes in a raft of different areas. And ambition is very contagious! I work with wonderful people now but there’s simply not the same vibe in the office compared to when I was working in the WeWorks building at a startup. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it first hand but there’s really something special when you’re given creative control over something and no one at the company does something just because that’s always how it’s been done. Things are changing though! Covid has made it very interesting and I think a lot of city talent is starting to trickle out of Sydney/Melbourne so this is one area to watch out for. Having my own freelance business these days, I long for the announcement of a WeWork style office set up in my hometown. I would definitely pay for an office space a few days a week if that meant I could be surrounded by other freelancers in the tech industry. I really miss this part of London.
  • Public transport! OMG, I did not realise how much of a difference good public transport makes, especially if you want to have beers on a Friday night!

I could have probably added a few more but honestly, home is where the heart is. And if I’d had grown in Sydney or Melbourne, there’s a very good chance I would have stayed there and just delayed my financial independence goal by a few years with the higher house prices.

Cheers,

πŸ”₯🐞

Question (24:56)


Hey Firebug,

Thanks for all your great content. My partner and I love your work!

Have you covered in a blog or podcast why you’ve sold/selling your investment properties? I’m keen to know as I’ve recently purchased two properties that are doing well for me and considering whether I buy a 3rd. Keen to know your reasons why you’re moving away from property.

Many thanks,

Chelsea

Firebug’s Answer


Hi Chelsea,

In a nutshell, I can’t be bothered managing the properties anymore and I’m very comfortable with the returns I’m expecting from shares. I’m not making this move because I think it’s going to make me more money (although I don’t think the share returns will be too shabby either), it’s simply moving away from a more active style of investing (property) and becoming 100% passive (shares) to free up more of my time and energy so I can use it elsewhere. I used to be really into property investing, but I’m more focused on my business these days and thinking of ways to grow/improve that.

And for the record, I’m not against property investing in any way shape or form, I’ve just reached a point in my life where passive investing is a better approach for my wife and I’s lifestyle.

Hope that helps πŸ™‚

Cheers,

πŸ”₯🐞

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