Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

Ask Firebug Fridays 23

Ask Firebug Fridays 23

Nothing written below is financial advice. The below questions and answers 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 (2:30)

Hi Aussie Firebug,

I currently have some cash funds that is used as my emergency fund. Given the poor cash rates on bank savings accounts, what would you recommend I invest in, in order to generate some return whilst still having access to the funds? I know Mutual Funds do have some fixed income funds.

I assume this would be a similar position for most investors when they save up for a deposit on a property.



Firebug’s Answer

Hi Franco,

This is always a tricky one to answer and it depends on a few factors.

Firstly, your emergency fund should always be in cash and I wouldn’t be using it as a down payment for a home. It’s possible that I’ve misinterpreted your email but it sorta sounds like your saving up your emergency fund to one day use as a deposit for a house? Sorry If that’s wrong.

When are you planning on buying? What’s the timeframe? Your investing horizon will dictate a lot. If you’re realistically going to be buying a house within the next year or two, I’d personally just leave it in a HISA.
You could potentially make more by investing in other assets but you run the big risk of a market going downhill when you want to pull your money out to use!

Unfortunately, the current economic climate is punishing savers 🙁


Question (6:40)

Hi Aussie Firebug,

My partner has been following you for some time now and he has recently introduced me to your blog! My partner and I are 23 and 21 and are keen investors and avid followers of your blog. I feel as though we are in the very position you would have been in at our age with similar goals in mind. We were considering buying a house over the next few years but having read your blog, we’ve opted to rent until kids are in the picture and we’ve even decided to delay our euro trip as well lol.

I am just messaging you to see if in hindsight you wish you had done anything differently roughly 8ish years ago or any advice you would give to your younger self! (Other than the value of investing in ETFs :P). Specifically speaking in terms of investments.

Thanks so much and look forward to hearing back from you.

Firebug’s Answer

Hi Jess,

I would have never set up a trust if I’m being honest. Too complicated and you don’t need it to reach FIRE. A 50-50 split or 100 to the lower income earning wll work just fine. It also makes accounting difficult. Having it in your own name is a lot more simple and sometimes it’s worth paying more for simplicity.

I would have bought IVV instead of VTS because IVV is almost the same (same low MER) but is domiciled in Australia which means no W-8BEN-E forms. Small change but again, less complicated.

I don’t regret investing in property even though it’s way more work. It has taught me many life lessons.

I wasted a whole heap of money before discovering FIRE around 23-24 so you’re already way ahead. You guys are so young that getting the snowball started now is so beneficial.

The other thing I’d say is that you need to make sure you’re living a great life too. A great life doesn’t cost much but don’t deprive yourself too much. I was way too hardcore at the start and in the long run it doesn’t actually make that much of a difference.

I bought a car worth $21k that I slightly regret. Could have had a similar car which would have got me from A to B for around $6k but oh well…

Other than that… Not much really. I’ve always been pretty frugal in general so no major stuff ups.

Hope that helps


Question (16:25)

Hi Aussie Firebug,

Firstly, thank you for everything you’re doing. The information and content that you put out is truly life-changing. You’re inspiring me to save, invest and get excited about what’s possible in my financial life, for that, thank you.

I’m also looking for your advice on this topic, here’s my current situation.

My partner and I began our investing journey about six months ago. We currently own Betashares A200, VAS and VEU since following your strategy which makes sense to us.

We also follow Scott Papes work and he recently released his ‘Idiot Grandson Portfolio which listed reasons why he prefers VAS over A200. We’re now considering switching to VAS and I’m trying to understand the implications of buying different ETF’s (although they are both index-tracking ETF’s). And the primary question I want to get clarity on is; will the dividends pay more if we hold more of one ETF versus holding two ETF’s? For example, will I receive more dividends if I have say, 200 units of A200 shares versus having 100 VAS and 100 A200?

I guess overarchingly, I want to understand how having a bunch of different shares that are the same in many ways affects the overall dividends and compound interest. I know you recently switched from VEU to an iShares product and I keep asking myself, ‘doesn’t that affect his compound interest longterm?’.

Any advice you can shed on this topic would be greatly appreciated


Firebug’s Answer

Hi Nu,

I’m pumped to hear that you’re enjoying the content so much mate 🙂

I’ve read Scott’s ‘Idiot Grandson’ Portfolio too, it’s a fantastic read with great reasoning behind the decisions on investment products.

The price of any unit of a company is largely irrelevant as in it’s an arbitrary number. That’s because when they first go public, usually another company comes in to give a valuation for the IPO but after that, the market sorts out it’s worth through supply and demand based upon how much of the company a single unit is worth.

Theoretically, if a company is worth $100 and they have 10 units outstanding, that would mean each unit is worth $10. But what happens if they dominate the market and are worth $100M in five years? Each unit is now worth $10M which means it’s very hard for people to sell their units to other buyers. What a company can do is a share split where the board of directors increase the number of outstanding shares to current stockholders. The primary motive is to make shares seem more affordable to small investors even though the underlying value of the company has not changed.

So each company/index fund may have a different value for their unit price, but as long as the underlying assets are the same it should not impact return at all.

A200 and VAS are a bit different in terms of dividends because of how new A200 is as a fund. I believe I’ve answered why that would be the case in another AFF as it’s a bit lengthy to go into. But over time they should be extremely similar.

I hope that answers your question mate.



Matched Betting Feedback

Matched Betting Feedback


Matched betting is not for everyone. If you have an addictive personality or have had a gambling problem in the past, close the page right now. This is an advanced strategy that is susceptible to human error which could cost you a lot of money. 


Earlier this year I published a podcast to chat about a peculiar way to make money online that I’d never heard of… matched betting.

If you want to learn more about how matched betting works go listen to the podcast. In today’s article, I wanted to highlight some of the feedback I’ve received since that episode and clear up issues that arose from it. It’s been a good 6 months since that pod and I felt like that episode needed a follow up because many of you out there have reached out and there were a few keys things missing from that initial discussion that really needs to be brought to attention.


The Blow Back

I received some criticisms for the matched betting podcast from both my audience and other online forums.

I want to address some of the main criticisms.


Matched betting is a scam and doesn’t work

This is just straight-up wrong. You’ll see in the feedback below that people are using this technique with success. It’s not perfect and there are things that can go wrong. But to say it doesn’t work is no different from someone saying that the stock market is a scam because they lost money.


AFB didn’t highlight the negatives of matched betting well enough


This was probably the one criticism that, upon reflection, was not addressed well enough at all. We did speak about human error in the pod but after listening back to it a few times, we (Nico and I) could have spent more time on it and highlighted the traps and pitfalls. You can lose money if you don’t execute correctly and there are plenty of points where you could make a mistake.

The other major negative that we didn’t touch on at all is matched betting could be considered a gateway into gambling and/or re-traping a person who’s already had gambling issues. I have updated my resources page and that podcast to highlight this more but in hindsight, gambling is a major issue Australia is facing in general and I dropped the ball here.

If you’re reading this right now and are thinking about trying matched betting please please please stop and think if this advanced side hustle will cause you more damage than it’s worth. If you’ve had issues gambling with anything at all in the past, skip this. If you’ve got an addictive personality, skip this.

I’d even go as far as to say that this technique is only really suited for people who are good at learning something new. Because if you make a mistake, it can cost you a lot of money. And mistakes can and are made by pretty switched on people all the time.


AFB made more money through his affiliate relationship with Bonusbank than he did actually using matched betting

Guilty again.

But I don’t see the issue even though I know there will always be people who don’t like affiliate relationships.

Fair enough.

I ended up making a touch over $2K from matched betting but received a lot more through affiliates from that podcast. I can’t give the exact dollar figures or details of the contract because that’s against the terms and conditions (although you’re free to speculate using my 18/19 income review), but know this:

Matched betting, regardless of whether you used my affiliate or not is a legitimate and legal strategy for Australians to make some extra money on the side.


Once you have exhausted the sign-up bonuses, matched betting isn’t worth it

This is such a strange criticism.

Like… so what?

If you’ve got the time to put into learning how matched betting works, going after the low hanging fruit makes the most sense to me. If you feel like the time to reward ratio is off after that, cool, stop doing it.

If done right, you should have made a nice little tax free profit. How is that a negative?

I was extremely time poor when I tried matched betting earlier this year so it wasn’t worth it for me to continue after that. And I’d rather spend my time on other projects (AFB being one of them) than to do matched betting right now, but not everyone is like this. There’s plenty of people who have the time and an internet connection that can continue to make money online (a tad harder mind you) through matched betting. Examples of this are below.


Although I didn’t cover everything, those were the main ones that kept coming up in one form or another.


The Good

Ok, now the good stuff.

I can’t describe how happy it makes me feel when I receive positive feedback from readers. It’s been a decent chunk of time since I published the podcast and I’ve reached out to my audience through emails and the Australian FIRE Facebook Group to get some feedback from their experience.

Below are just a tiny per cent of emails I received that was positive (I couldn’t publish all of them).

*I’ve removed names for privacy reasons


Profit: >$11K. Continued past the signup bonuses

I signed up to Bonusbank after hearing your podcast. I’d always enjoyed a punt but had backed off quite significantly in recent years as I’ve been saving to retire early. It’s nice to have a team or a horse to cheer for again in each game and race again now.

I’d had prior experience using betfair to lay bets which helped immensely. Some of the people I’ve introduced to the site have not been able to get their heads around laying on betfair and have stopped matched betting thinking it’s too difficult.

When I first started it was football season so I did a lot of betting on the NRL and AFL, it was quick and very simple. Would take me 15 mins per week and I was making around $250 per week in profit on average. That lasted for a few months before some of the lesser-known bookies banned me (Bluebet, Palmerbet). This had little impact as their promos were few and far between. Then I lost Ladbrokes and Sportsbet a few weeks later. They both had amazing sport promos and after that my winnings dropped to $100 a week on average. Then I decided to give racing promos a go, these are much more difficult and the markets change quickly. Often by the time you use the bonusbank calculators the odds have changed and you’ve missed the boat. After a few weeks of using the calculators I got an idea of roughly what they’d say so just started using estimates to put the lay bets on. That made it much quicker and although you can get a slightly better or worse result on a race it seems to even out over the course of many hundred bets in the past 6 months. Once I got the hang of race betting my winnings increased dramatically to around $500 per week and over the spring carnival when there were many additional promos around I was routinely making $1,000 per week. Time invested was around 5-6 hours per week to get this level of winnings.

It’s important to put “Mug bets” on to keep your accounts alive. These are bets on non promotional markets that make it look less like you are matched betting. Pointsbet seem to offer the best promos but are quick to ban, my account is more than 6 months old and still going strong due to mug bets. You can often put several hundered dollars of mug bets on an have it only cost you $5 in losses. Obviously this is a tiny amount compared to what you are winning so well worthwhile. I have accounts left at only 3 major bookies now after losing Bet Easy today. I’ll still make $300-$400 per week I’d imagine from those accounts as long as they last.

Total profit now is over $11k. Biggest challenge is funding betfair. My total balance across the accounts is $21k so I’ve needed to lock up $10k of my own money in the past 6 months to keep rolling. Many people may not be able to afford to do this.

Interesting enough I’m always putting money into betfair – meaning my bookie bets are winning regularly. I’d be up $18k if I just bet with the bookies and never laid a horse on betfair. This would be stressful though as there are times I’d have lost several thousand in a day if I hadn’t laid.

I am starting a trial of non matched betting now as I believe I’ve identified a pattern in horses that have betfair odds close to the bookie odds that win enough to make it profitable. I’ll be starting with $5 per race though rather than $50 per race I’ve been betting to manage downside risk whilst I trial the idea.

Next I’ve got a friend who is opening some accounts for me to play with, will probably take it slower and use it to top up my cash flow when needed. Just bet a little to pay for a game of golf, a carton of beer each week etc rather than going hard at it again. Would be nice to see if I could keep those accounts open for years and just slowly milk them.

Thanks for the amazing podcasts – I commute a 6 hour round trip once per week and it’s always great when I see a new podcast from you pop up before I get in the car.


Profit: $3K from the sign up bonuses

Hi Matt,

I’m a really big fan of your blog/podcast. I cannot thank you enough for providing such high quality Australian FIRE content.

Anyways, onto my personal thoughts about matched betting.

For me, the matched betting podcast couldn’t have come at a better time. Due to my partner taking on a 6-month work contract at short notice earlier this year, I had to move my work from Sydney to Newcastle during this time. Since I run my own services business (locum health practitioner), I initially didn’t have many contacts in the area and hence didn’t have too much work lined up in the first month. I was, on average, working about 2-3 days a week.

It was during this time that I listened to the podcast and decided to give matched betting a shot as I had more free time on my hands. I signed up to the free 1 month trial at BonusBank, made multiple betting accounts under my own name as well as my partner’s and just did all the sign up bonuses. I made just under $3000 tax free and that was with some mistakes on my end (inputting the wrong numbers into the back/lay calculator). It was enough for me to make up for the shortage of work/income I had during the month and only took about 15 hours of my time. Most of this time was spent learning how it all worked, signing up to the various bookies and doing ID/bank account verifications.

There was also a weird sense of productivity that came about when I was watching sports and also matched betting. I remember enjoying a NBA playoff game knowing that no matter what the outcome would be, I would be pocketing a few hundred dollars. It definitely reduced the guilt of me sleeping in on a day off to watch the playoffs.

After the sign up bonuses, matched betting gets much more complex and the effort/hours required is significantly higher especially if you wanted to sustain it as a steady side income. Also, most bookies tend to pick up when you’re matched betting and I have been banned from quite a few of them. Luckily, by this point, my usual work picked up again and I didn’t feel that the increased effort/time involved with matched betting (beyond just the simple sign up bonuses) yielded enough income for me to continue.

Overall, it worked out well for me and I’m very thankful for you publishing the podcast. I feel most people should give it a try as it’s effectively just free money with very little effort especially if you just do the sign up bonuses. However, they should also be wary that errors can cause some huge losses if they’re not careful.

As a side note, despite matched betting being the main subject of the podcast, I think we can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I viewed the episode as offering one of many ways to make a “side income”, which I’m sure some FIRE enthusiasts would definitely consider to accelerate their journey. Perhaps this can be the first in a new series of podcasts which focus on how various people create and sustain “side incomes” or “side hustles” (just to add to your already long list of things to do). Or perhaps, we as your audience could simply view the episode as a story about how the guest found his own unconventional path to FIRE through turning his own niche skills into a profitable business model, which I’m sure of us in the FIRE community will find interesting and perhaps even inspiring.

Nonetheless, I love your podcast/blog and thanks again for the amazing content (sorry for the long e-mail).
All the best

Profit: $14K knew nothing about matched betting beforehand

Hi Matt,

I have probably made the most money out of all your listeners from Matched betting. I knew nothing about matched betting before your podcast and joined bonus bank and started matched betting about 1 week after your podcast. So far I have made 14k profit after taking off all costs like bonus bank monthly fee and cost of a separate device I got to use for matched betting.

I could have made more money but lost about 1k worth with some silly mistakes. My overall profit got boosted due to me getting access to one of my family member accounts about 2 months back as well. Most of my profit is made in the last 3 months once I got the hang of racing promos and took advantages of all those spring racing offers. I have lost most of my own bookies but still got 80% bookies on my family member accounts so hopefully I can make a bit more money before calling it quit.

My end goal is to make 20k profit and my grand plan is to invest all the profit I made from matched betting to an ETF or LIC I don’t currently have in my portfolio currently(most likely argo) and turn on DRP and just watch this part of my portfolio grow over the next decade or so.

Thanks a lot to you for doing this podcast as well as putting lot of quality content on your blog. I have learnt a lot from your blog posts and podcasts.


Profit: $4.2K but was promo banned from nearly every bookie

Hi Aussie Firebug,

Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for all the great financial tips and inspiration over the last couple of years, particularly for getting me on to matched betting. I’ve made $4200 in the last couple of months and counting – that’ll go straight to buying LICs!

I managed to get promo banned from nearly every bookie in Australia in the process though so I’m gonna wrap it up now that footy season is over.

Keep up the good work and good luck in the race to FIRE!

Profit: $5K in three months. Money was in the horses but the time commitment was too much in the end

Hey Matt,

Hope UK is treating you well?

Matched betting. The first time I heard the term was on your podcast with Nico. My initial thoughts were this is s bit left of centre and suspicious. Nico however, came across as down to earth and genuine enough to spark my interest to explore further.

I read bonusbank in detail and researched more from other sources which all appeared to align. I decided to give it a crack. Chucking in $500+ into betfair was a bit scary initially but this soon was eased when I started to see the concept working.

I quickly learned that after sign up bonuses, the money is in horses. As experienced by everyone, horses were initially daunting however, if you stick at it you’ll grasp the concept and then go on to perfect it, which is what I did.

I started off making roughly $50 a week to quickly smashing up to $500 per week. I became more proficient in doing the betting on my phone and not requiring calculators to figure out the correct lays etc. This was great as I was able to access mid day promos whilest at work and then convert the bonuses on weekends. My biggest day was making x17 $50 bonus bets across multiple bookies in one day which roughly worked out to $600 after conversion. How crazy is that?

The main negative that I experienced with all this is time required. All the best promos are on Saturdays with all main races happening then and to access majority of them you have to devote most of your day to it. This was exciting initially however, quickly weaned. Over time I was doing less and less focused Saturdays and mainly doing few races on my phone whilst out and about. This was a bit annoying to my partner and anti social as we would be enjoying the days activity but I quickly had to pull out my phone to put a bet on. She loved it though when we would cover whole days expenses in a couple of bets!

The other negative is getting promo banned. There is plenty of tales on bonus bank forum and chat of how people try and prevent getting gubbed however, I saw majority of them required even more time to properly play the game. They may work but were not guaranteed. I did get gubbed by three bookies so far but there is still plenty of fish in the sea.

Overall, in a period of approx. three month I made $5,000. I was very happy with this! I could have made more if I tried harder but have been losing interest slowly over time mainly because of time required on the weekends which I was unwilling to sell.

Nico and his team have done a fabulous job in setting up the site and all the calculators. They are always there to answer any questions and I love how Nico is always on chat on Saturday mornings going through the race line ups with everyone and celebrating their achievements.

I have no negative comments to say about bonusbank or your decision to associat with them The concept and idea was nothing short of genius. It’s sad to see you’ve copped some criticism but as with anything there will always be people who see the glass half empty and want to critique others for their failures. The main issue I would see turning people off, as highlighted by Nico in his podcast, is human error. It’s very easy to make mistakes especially with horses and people may rather blame the system then themselves. This can be learned and mistakes minimized.

Thank you for bringing light to matched betting and for everything you do. I’ve said it before but it has to be said again, you’ve done a fabulous job with your blog and podcast! Be proud and I look forward to reading and listening to more of your content.

Enjoy the UK winter and if you can, visit Ireland and Scotland. Beautiful places!

Profit: $1K. Avoid if you’re bad at maths

Hey Matt,

Sue here. I tried it after your podcast. I live in Vic so not all sign up bonuses were allowed. Still made $1000 easy off the experience. Quit after all bonuses were used up. I would advise people who are bad with math to avoid it, it takes a bit to wrap your head around what’s going on with your money. Mistakes can be made and can be costly even with the help of the bonus bets website. I had a good experience and thanks for introducing me to it.


The Bad

A lot of the negative emails I received were from people who made human error mistakes and lost money. Or they only made <$200 and were angry (lolwut?). I’ve tried to include the more serious and unique ones below. As a percentage, I roughly received one negative email for every 20 positive.

Potential identity theft 

I tried out match betting and decided it wasn’t for me. I did find that while trying to close my accounts, Betfair asked me for a selfie holding my driver’s license as confirmation of my identity. Two weeks later my identity was used to open a Sportsbet account and a CBA transaction account.

The only reason this was discovered was the CBA sent a bank card to my address.
Both accounts were flagged by Sportsbet and CBA as potentially fraudulent before I received the card, but it still cost me almost a full day between dealing with CBA, Sportsbet and advising other agencies (Betfair didn’t seem particularly concerned that they were the most recent company to have my details, IDCARE, notifying the credit score agencies, and making a report to ACORN takes time).

I can’t say that I can recommend match betting after my experience, but I do acknowledge that identity theft isn’t unique to their industry, and far from the only source of it occurring. My issue stemmed from trying to close my accounts rather than the use of them.

Thanks for all the work you do with the blog and keep up the fantastic work!


Profit: $6.5K but impacted re-financing application

I have been match betting since Feb this year and have made $6500 so far. I have two mates that have been doing it for about 3 years and they would be about 20k up in total.

One of the issues is that match betting is that sign up bonuses have legally stopped so where I could get a $500 sign up bonus then convert it to $375 risk free these opportunities are limited. Also the agencies are on to people betting like this and they are quick to ban you off there promos that are required for this type of betting. Basically now I have only two agencies left to bet with. It probably makes it easier for people who are actually interested in sports and horse racing as I have been, otherwise it would be dead boring. But even if I only ever make this amount, who wouldn’t take 6.5 K free cash?

Other thing that people may need to be wary of as you have to shuffle money around at times, I recently applied to re finance my loan to a lower rate, but was knocked back even though I wanted to borrow only $200 k against a house worth 480 K and have a holiday house worth 350K that is owned outright plus 75K in shares!!! So people should consider this before getting into it.

Profit: $2.5 not worth the time


I jumped on the matched betting bandwagon after your podcast. As it was right about the time that the welcome bonuses were drying up, I joined a whole heap of bookies all at once and had a lot of bonuses to work through in a short space of time. I found it pretty easy to get the hang of, I settled for some lower returns due to the time constraints, made a few mistakes not reading the T&C properly on some of the bets.

Once I had used all of my bonus bets, I found that the time involved vs the payout just not worth it to me. I tried as many different techniques as I could but it seems that horse racing is about the only way to continue beyond the initial profits and it was too time-consuming and less set and forget. Plus you are competing with all the other software users to jump on the horses once they hit the sweet spot so you don’t have long to get on board. I found the assorted matched betting websites quite helpful and there were lots of good how to guides.

All in all I enjoyed it and made about $2500 but have cashed out of all my accounts now. But thanks to your podcast as I had never heard of it before that.


Profit: $430 BB software is good but not worth the time and effort. Better to spend it on another side hustle

Hey Matt,

I gave matched betting a go with bonus bank after your podcast and made ~$500 from converting signup bonuses into cash and then extracting it which was about ~$430 after a couple months of bonus bank fees to use their calculators…

My honest feedback is that the site is really well set up, tutorials are fantastic and calculators work brilliantly.

However, the time and effort involved to extract a pretty small return in my view was just really not worth the effort – plenty of other side hustles or optimisation efforts you can make for a far greater return. I was based in NSW too which I think was one of the more restrictive states…

I gave up after the signup bonuses as they were supposed to be the low hanging fruit… I can totally see that if you are living in south east asia or something with all the time in the world on your hands and a cost of living <$50 a day or something that it isn’t a bad idea to play around with for a bit of extra cash… however if you are working full time, optimising your investments, living your life and looking for a high value side hustle – this isn’t it.

Hope that’s useful mate. Love your work – keep it up!


Some Stats

A few months after the podcast was released I worked with Nico to survey some of the members that had signed up with BB to see what results they were getting.

We surveyed a total of 66 people and found the following

The ‘count’ is how many people recorded their matched betting profits.

The splits are broken down like so (in ascending order of count)

  • $1000 – $2500 – 39.3%
  • $500 – $1,000 – 23%
  • $2500 – $5,000 – 21.3%
  • $250 – $500 – 9.8%
  • $5,000+ – 4.9%
  • $0 – $250 – 1.6%

Nearly 40% of people made between $1,000 – $2,500!

These stats were only after a few months as well. After I posted in the Australian FIRE Facebook Group I was swamped with emails, mostly positive but some negative.

I went through a heap and roughly added up the figures and calculated that my audience has made in excess of $100K through matched betting. Probably a lot more considering most people can’t be bothered with surveys and responding to my emails 😅. I can’t take the credit for that as many had been doing it for years and there are many factors involved but still.

To think that my podcast could have collectively helped that many people is mind-boggling to me. I’d imagine that these numbers are absolute pittance compared to someone like the Peter Thornhill or the Barefoot Investor. It’d be impossible to measure but could you imagine if we knew how much money Thornhill or Pape has not only saved people but also helped them make through investing/debt recycling/side hustles etc. It could honestly be in the $100M+ mark… maybe even >$1B.


And now we finally come to the big question.

Is matched betting worth it…

And like most things in life… it depends.

It’s been a good chunk of time since the original matched betting pod and after reading 100+ emails (not even kidding) from my audiences I’ve come to the following conclusions.

Matched betting:

  • Dangerous for some individuals who are susceptible to gambling or have an addictive personality – Don’t try
  • Risky for people who have a hard time understanding a new concept that involves maths – Don’t try
  • Time intensive after the signup bonuses. Effort/reward ratio wears off for some
  • Depending on how aggressive you are, you may need to float a very large amount of cash in your betting accounts, this involves risk
  • You can be banned from the bookies and have your account closed. If you’re someone who extrapolates entertainment through these types of accounts, separate from matched betting, you could be banned permanently
  • The low hanging fruit of the signup bonuses is relatively easy money for people who execute the technique correctly
  • The longer-term income is in the horses. It requires a lot more effort but depending on circumstances, you may deem this effort to still be worth it and it can provide a nice little tax-free side income

If there’s one thing you take away from today’s article let it be this.

Matched betting works… for the right person 

People have a negative experience with matched betting when applying the technique incorrectly. It’s complex and mistakes can be made.

But I still stand by my original conclusion.

Matched betting, when done right, is a valid form of income for any Aussie on the path to FIRE. I, like many others, went after the low hanging fruit and was richer for it. But the required time commitment after that wasn’t worth it for me personally. That’s not to say it won’t be for you, however:


Never Stop Learning

I’d expect nothing less from the astute Australian FIRE community to meet, what I’d consider to be a relatively unknown technique, with scepticism and caution. I myself even ignored matched betting a few times before taking a closer look.

But what I don’t want to happen is that we, as a community, don’t allow ourselves to be open to new ideas and techniques that can help us along the journey. Some of the best ideas I know of were discovered by reading about different and weird strategies others were using to save/make money like CC points, debt recycling, trusts, credit card tarting/stoozing etc.

Hell, for the majority of my life even the stock market was seen to be no more than a casino.

My point is that whilst we should be sceptical we can’t shut ourselves off completely to new ideas and be forever stuck in the echo chamber of ‘Vanguard ETFs everything else is a scam or not as good’.

I think a major part of the FIRE culture is looking for legal ways to ‘hack’ the system and being really clever by thinking outside the box.

I’m always interested in new strategies and techniques and from what I gathered by a whole bunch of emails, most of you guys out there are too!

If you’ve got an unconventional way to make money on the side I’d love to hear about below in the comments 👇

Spark that 🔥

Podcast – Ted Richards

Podcast – Ted Richards



Today I’m speaking to the former Fullback of the Sydney Swans, AFL premiership player Ted Richards.

Although Ted has had an illustrious career in football, he is also passionate about investing and is currently the director of business development at SixPark, an Australian Robo advisor investment platform. Today’s pod combines two of my favourite things which are investing and footy!

Some of the topics we cover today include:

  • Investing as an AFL player
  • What Ted learned in footy that can be transferred to investing
  • The power of rules-based investing
  • Why understanding behavioural economics is so important
  • Six Park Robo investing platform
  • The Richard Report
  • Quickfire AFL related questions

And much more!

Show Notes

OCT19 Net Worth $735,977 (+$2,631)

OCT19 Net Worth $735,977 (+$2,631)

Before we get into this month’s update I want to announce that I’ve created a Facebook group

I wanted a forum type group for those who are interested to talk about FIRE with me and bounce ideas.

I will be happy to answer questions in there too so please join and ask away. I’m currently running a poll as to what topic the next podcast will be about.


No photos for October.

We didn’t go anywhere special and didn’t do anything spectacular but in a weird way, I fell into something quite remarkable in the month of October that wasn’t fully intentional but has had amazing consequences.

For the first time in around 10 years, I completely unplugged from all the pressures of life and spent 5 weeks focussing on recharging my batteries and the payoffs have been off the charts!

Heres some food for thought. Think back to the last time you didn’t have to worry about the following:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Work
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Running out of time
  • Eating healthy
  • Looking after others
  • Not looking at your phone every 2 minutes

For me, the answer was when I was at uni (except for the social media part 😁).

Such an amazing time in my life where everything was much simpler. I worked at Coles and while it wasn’t the most prestigious job in the world, it paid me more than enough to have fun and wasn’t stressful at all. I trained footy twice a week and had most of my healthy homemade meals made for me at home (thanks mum). I frequently slept in past 11 AM after an epic session of COD (World at War) on the Xbox the night before and all of my mates lived in the same town and would always meet up at the pub most weekends.

Life was simple and I was very happy… and then my adult life started.

Now I don’t want to suggest that my adult life has been crap. Far from it! But from my experience, things dramatically change when you start working full time (which is a major reason why I’m on the path to FIRE).

Over the last 10 years, I’ve been quite ambitious with my career and have always aimed high! It’s hard for me not to try my best at something even when it makes no difference. I knew I was getting a job once but stayed up all night preparing the application to the best of my abilities even though it was a forgone conclusion and decision had already been made.

This ambition along with just the stresses of life, in general, came at a price. I was constantly worrying about something

  • Am I doing enough at work? Could I be doing more?
  • Should I get another job? A better job?
  • My fitness is ok but it’s not as good as I know I can be
  • I need more sleep
  • I should read more
  • I wish I could spend more time on AFB
  • I feel bad playing online chess for an hour. That’s a waste of time and doesn’t improve me

When we’re at uni or school, everyone is at the same level and there are no real expectations of anyone other than to get good grades. But once you start work, you start comparing yourself to everyone your age and where they’re at in life. Social media is absolute cancer in this regards. One of the worst things about technology and I feel terrible for youths growing up in today’s landscape of Facebook and Instagram.

Everyone knows you shouldn’t be competing with anyone except yourself but it’s easier said than done.

So what does this have to do with the October update?

Well, for the first time since Uni, I was in a situation that alleviated most of those pressures that I’ve had for a good part of the last decade.

We got back from our Euro-trip at the end of September and I knew I wanted to take a break. I know that sounds strange because we have travelled for over 4 months all up in 2019 so far. But travelling and taking a break are two different things in my book. I’m one of those weird people that lose weight if I’m not eating healthy and lifting consistently. Spending two months travelling made it hard to keep muscle on so I came back in September down nearly 4kg, feeling crappy, tired, and I hated it. I could have jumped straight back on the job boards but knew that consulting can be a demanding gig and I really wanted to get my body right before starting up again.

We have enough £’s in savings from this year to last ~5 months without working not to mention all the other sources of income we have back in Australia plus the snowball. We’re not financially independent yet, but our financial strength allowed us options and to relax for a bit.

I originally planned to take a little break (2 weeks max) but it turned into a full-blown mini-retirement during late September/October.

I really couldn’t remember what an almost zero obligation life felt like.

I had:

  • No job
  • No commitments
  • No deadlines
  • No exams to study for
  • No financial pressures

I just wanted to get back into a nice routine during the first two weeks, and Mrs FB wasn’t working either so we hit the gym together and cooked a whole bunch of meals. We made it a priority to get in as much sunshine as possible during the day because England’s Winter is coming up and we’ve heard it’s brutal. That meant walks every day, going to the park to throw the frisbee and shooting basketball in the afternoon. We watched movies and TV and basically just chilled out without the anxiety or guilt of knowing you should be doing something else. It was absolute bliss 😊. We had a mental recharge.

After the first week, I felt like I was back into the swing of things but wasn’t quite ready yet to jump back into work. I started to read and smashed through 5 books in October.

*The above books have affiliate links

‘Sapiens, a brief history of humankind’ has become one of my favourite books of all time! I loved the start with all the historic facts about where we came from and there’s even a chapter in there about money and the share market. ‘Can’t hurt me’ and ‘Shoe Dog’ are incredible stories and ‘Atomic Habits’ has some very practical guides for forming better routines and how they all add up over time which can be very powerful. Sort of like investing actually.

But out of all the books, ‘Why We Sleep’ probably had the greatest impact on me. I’ve always struggled to sleep and never prioritised it in my life at all. I’m lucky to get 7 hours a night but always powered through. Getting a good nights sleep was high on my priority list during our little break and this book opened my eyes to just how incredibly important a good nights rest truly is. Resetting my circadian rhythm (internal sleep clock) has been an eye-opener, to say the least. The immediate benefits in energy, alertness, strength, attention… basically everything lol after a proper nights rest is incredible.

After three weeks I felt a million bucks. But I wasn’t ready to stop just yet.

I started to study different technologies that I’d always been interested in just for the hell of it. I learnt the basics of the programming language Python and have been doing a few tutorials over at Code Wars (you can search for Aussie Firebug to find me). I spent a few days spinning up environments in Azure and AWS and had a play with their data warehouses and ETL tools. This is part of what I do for work and I really love learning new things and using the latest tools.

I finished a whole bunch of life admin work and caught up on my emails from AFB from readers.

But most importantly, for the first time in nearly 10 years. I had the time to sit back, relax and reflect on everything we (Mrs FB and I) have done and put serious thought into where we’re heading and ultimately want to be. Some of the best ideas in the world have been born through free time/boredom.

As I learnt when reading the Sapiens book, the agriculture revolution not only enabled our ancestors the ability to harvest crops and raise livestock. For the first time in our history we didn’t have to spend every waking hour looking for food or avoiding danger. And what happens when humans have free time?

We think!

Which more often than not leads to improvements. We can build on top of those improvements in a continuous feedback loop with each generation thinking of new ideas.

The point I’m trying to make is that if you don’t take a break (a proper one!) every now and then you might be missing out on some serious thought-provoking questions, and answers, that will only ever arise in your consciousness if given the opportunity to do so without constant distractions. I’ve heard great things about mediation but can’t say I’ve had a serious crack at it.

Tim Ferris who is the author of the very popular book ‘The 4-hour Work Week‘ talks about mini-retirements. It can be really healthy to take mini-retirements throughout your working life to give yourself a break and not be discouraged by the large numbers of years you might have until your FIRE date.

I have not felt this energised, stressfree and rejuvenated for a very, very long time (maybe ever).

It was just a little taste of what retirement might look for us and I even thought about some big projects I want to start when I get back to Australia (but that’s for another article).

For now though, I’m ready to dive back into work. I’m honestly missing the camaraderie of a team and tackling complex problems. I’m one of those lucky ones that enjoy their work, but I’m even luckier to be able to take time off without the anxiety and stress that can arise from financial pressure 🙏.

If there’s one thing you take away from this month’s update, it’s that you start to reap what you sow long before you reach the finish line. The seeds you plant bear fruit along the way that only makes it easier and easier as you go, both financially (compound interest), and mentally (mini-retirements)!


Net Worth Update

I cannot believe we finished October up anything let alone $2.6K.

Mrs. FB worked the last 1.5 weeks of October which definitely helped along with Super and Shares chipping in around $4K plus another ~$3K from the blog.

I’ve had a few interviews for consulting gigs so fingers crossed I’m back in a job within the next week or two. I’m not looking forward to the cold mornings but can’t wait to get back into a problem-solving environment again. There’s something really cool about project-based contracts. You’re hired to get a piece of work done and don’t get bogged down with the day to day mundane tasks that can happen with a standard PAYG job.



No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018


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 above graph is created by Sharesight

Big month for dividends clocking in at around $3.5K!

It’s interesting to notice the capital gains losses are almost identical to that of the dividend. And that’s exactly what should happen in an efficient market. After the ex-dividend date, the fund should theoretically decline by the same amount of the dividends it’s passing on to shareholders.

We didn’t purchase any new shares in October even though we have quite a large amount of cash laying around. And the primary reason is that I’m tying up tax obligations for back in Oz and I’m currently unemployed. As soon as I land a new contract I’ll be transferring £ into $ and continuing investing.

Also worth noting that the current splits on the shares portfolio are almost a perfect 70% Oz, 15% US and 15% World ex US.



Ask Firebug Fridays 23

Ask Firebug Fridays 22

Nothing written below is financial advice. The below questions and answers 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.

So I’ve got a bone to pick before I get started today.

I’m well aware of my struggles with the word ask (thank you for constantly reminding me 😂). I pronounce it like A-K-S (arks) instead of ask.

Well! I opened an email from a reader the other day who shed some historical light of my pronunciation of the word.

In a stunning turn of events, it turns out the pronunciation of the word ask, now considered standard, descends from a northern England version of the verb that in most midland and southern texts through the 1500s was spelled with x or cs (arks).

The reason that it’s now pronounced ask is because of a process called metathesis which is the transposition of sounds or syllables in a word or of words in a sentence.

I don’t claim to know what that exactly means but from what I could gather from the Wikipedia page, it’s basically when two very similar sounds switch inside of a word. Other common ones are
comfortable > comfterble
nuclear > nucular
prescription > perscription

The word ‘ask’ was most likely pronounced incorrectly but over time people wrote it the way they said it and it became the standard we have today.

They’re also a lot of evidence to suggest that the way you pronounce the word will be heavily influenced by where your ancestors were from as it was spoken differently in different places in England.

So wrapping up. The word is definitely pronounced ‘ask’ but now I have a better understanding of why I and many others say it the way we do!

And with that, let’s jump into today’s episode.


Other readings: 
Metathesis (linguistics)
People Have Been Saying “Ax” Instead of “Ask” for 1,200 Years
Why do some people say “aks” or “ax” instead of “ask”?


Question (4:15)

G’day AFB,

I am 29 with $70k saved and I don’t own any property. I am completely sold on parking my 70k savings into a LIC, re-investing my dividends plus contributing an extra 5k/year at minimum and not touching it for 30 years. But here’s the plot twist – through my work, I am entitled to a one-off 20-25k (after-tax) payment that can only be used to purchase a first home (which I must live in for 12 months). This is not including the Queensland first home owners grant of 15k, which I am also eligible for.

I have never been interested in real estate, and I am just about to pull the trigger on shares… but now that I consider the 20k+ extra that I can access, it is really making me think about buying a cheap two-bedroom apartment, living in it and renting out 1 room… instead of investing in shares.

So my question is – am I crazy not to take the extra 20k available and buy property instead?

Thanks for the great blog, and thanks in advance!



Firebug’s Answer

Hi Tom,

That’s an amazing work perk!

I’ve been out of the property game for a while now and wasn’t aware Queensland has a $15K FHOG. If you combined that with your entitlement from work, that’s creeping up to be potentially ~$45K! This is not a small amount of money and something you’ll need to put serious consideration into.

Personally, I would never make such a big decision like buying a property just because of a grant… but a grant that’s going to give me $45K… hmmm I can probably make that work tbh!

My question to you.

Are you ever going to buy a home to live in? I understand first hand the appeals of renting and investing the surplus of money into the stock market but an opportunity like this seems too good to miss if you’re ever considering buying a home in the future. Unless there’s you’ve got something specifically against it that I don’t know, if I were you, I would take advantage of the free money from your employer and government.
You have to remember, even the governments FHOG can be axed and is never a guarantee.

I experienced this first hand back in 2012. A few years beforehand, one of my mates received something like ~$40K from the Victorian FHOG to build a new home in country Victoria. 40 bloody thousand bucks from the government! And he was going to buy anyway so this was just money for jam! The grant decreased the next few years and I ended up getting a tad over $20K back in 2012. After that, I believe it disappeared for a while.

My point is opportunities like may not come back around…

Have a long hard think as your two options are both good IMO.


Question (11:31)

Hi Aussie Firebug,

I have been listening to JL Colin’s a bit and he talks about leaving a legacy for his kids. He believes his investments will, following the 4% rule, be greater when he dies thus leaving it to his kids. His kids will then live on his investment following the 4% rule who in turn can leave it to their kids.

In the Australian contexts using your strategy 3, one would have a large amount to pass onto the kids. Have you thought about how you would do this? Would some sort of trust be the most appropriate way to set up this continuing legacy? I have two girls and would like to protect the investments from any failed relationships etc they may have.

Interested to hear your thoughts


Firebug’s Answer

Hi Andy,

This is such an interesting question and I bet you could ask 10 people chasing FIRE and get 10 completely different answers. I’ve thought about this a little, not a lot, but at this stage right now (and it could change). I want to give my children as much as they need to fulfil their full potential and not a cent more.

But how much will that be you ask?

That Andy… is the million-dollar question!

I think it’s going to be hard enough not to outcast them socially by being the only kid in school without the latest phone or povo brand sneaker. I had experiences from my childhood where I was teased because of the brand of shoes I wore… but this helped thicken my skin and I had the personality type to deal with it. Will my kid be like that? Or will they suffer psychologically from something I could have easily prevented? Maybe I’m overthinking this?

Raising them through to adulthood while simultaneously teaching them the value of money is a struggle every parent goes through I’m sure.

But having a multimillion-dollar portfolio to pass on to the next generation may be a little bit more specific to us FIREbugs.

This may sound selfish to some but please hear me out. As of right now… I don’t plan to leave my kids anything!

I plan to do my absolute best raising them. This will include free housing, unlimited food, paid for education, etc. But what I don’t want, is for them to know that their future financial security is taken care of because their parents are financially independent and they will eventually inherit the colossal snowball!

I truly believe that if I choose to do that I would be robbing them of an opportunity to participate in what I consider to be one of the most fulfilling accomplishments anyone can do in their life. And that is to reach financial independence through hard work and dedication.

We’re all dealt a different hand in life and everyone receives help along the way, some more than others. But passing on the entire fortune to your kids is like giving them the Super Mario Warp Whistle so they can skip straight to the end. They won’t know how much fun the game is if they don’t play it!

I hope my kids are financially independent before I kick the bucket. I’m unsure where I want the snowball to go. Most likely a charity I’m passionate about.

If are set on leaving a legacy behind for your kids, I don’t think you can beat the estate planning of trusts. There are so many ways you could do it too. Maybe they don’t receive everything at once? Maybe they only ever receive the dividends from the portfolio each year? I’d go see a trust expert and explain what you want to achieve and I’m sure they could implement it.


Question (22:15)

Hi Matt,

Like yourself, I’m also looking at moving overseas to work for a while in the next couple of years. I’m assuming that your existing property investments may be negatively geared to take advantage of Australian income tax law. Now that you are earning income (and paying tax!) overseas, what impact is this going to have on deductions and cashflow for your Australian property investments?


Firebug’s Answer

Hi Bryce,

Nice to hear that mate. Moving and working overseas has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!

Our two remaining properties are positively geared before depreciation is factored in. With the depreciation schedule, they are negatively geared.

However, we bought both the properties in the trust which was a mistake in hindsight. So we have never been able to reduce our income through negative gearing on those properties. What we have been able to do though is reduce the taxable income of the trust using those deductions. Even though the trust earns money in the form of dividends from the shares. It has never had to make a distribution because the deductions have always been more than the income.

When we sell the properties, the trust will start to distribute income like normal since there won’t be anything left in there that will cost the trust money.

The flexibility of the trust has actually been really handy whilst we’ve been overseas and has meant that we are able to distribute income (when it comes) to other people and not be taxed 32.5% because we are not residents of Australia for tax purposes. It also enables us to continue to purchase shares as they’re not in own personal names but rather the trusts.

The money I make through will be taxed at 32.5% from the get-go which is not ideal. I did seek advice from my accountant and was willing to bet that I would have greater tax savings on my consulting checks while being a resident of the UK for tax purposes rather than staying an Australian one.

It’s all a bit complicated and I’m going to publish my Australia to UK article when I finish it that will explain this in detail.


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