Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

First up, big shoutout to CaptianFI who invited me on his podcast. I had a blast chatting and would highly recommend his content. You can check him out πŸ‘‡

 

In case you haven’t noticed lately (which would be hard to do since these net worth posts have turned into a travel blog πŸ˜…), we’ve kinda been travelling around a fair bit as part of our YOLO adventure which started in January 2019 and will finish in January 2021 (our two-year working visa will expire).

It’s been exactly 1 year since we departed and I thought it’s time to do a little summary of what the last 12 months have looked like. This is more for my own personal reflection than it is relevant for this update but it might be interesting for some you following us along in our FIRE journey 😊.Β  I also had a revelation whilst thinking back on it all that I want to talk about below.

The rough timeline of events have been something like this:

  • JAN-MAR
    • Left Australia to live out a dream of working in the UK and exploring Europe
    • Took our time travelling through SE Asia and eventually made it to Dubai in March where we spent some time and made the final flight to our new home, London
  • MAR-JUL
    • It took us three weeks to land in London, find a place and set up shop. Mrs. FB already had a job lined up before she left but my work was a lot more unknown. I’d never done contracting before but had heard it paid well and had just enough experience (with a little bit of exaggeration of course πŸ˜‰) to start applying for roles
    • I eventually landed one towards the end of March and was in my first gig at the start of April
    • I ended up working one more contract which lasted until the end of July
    • Mrs. FB was working the entire time but had 3 weeks off for school holidays before the big summer break which of course is in July-September for the UK
    • Presented to me like an apple from the garden of Eden, 2 weeks before the end of my contract I was asked to extend. But this trip was not about making money. We were here to see as much shit as possible!
    • We sublet our room, packed up a whole bunch of stuff and went exploring!
  • JUL-SEP
    • Travelled around parts of England, Spain, Egypt, Jordan, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands
    • Got engaged with both sets of parents there. An incredible moment in our lives and one we’ll never forget
    • Meet up with friends throughout our travels and made some life long memories
    • Got back to London at the very end of September absolutely wrecked! I had lost weight, was out of shape, needed to sleep for days and was so looking forward to some home-cooked meals and rest.
  • SEP-DEC
    • Mrs. FB went back to work after two weeks. Teaching is seriously underrated I feel and is one of the best professionals for the travel lifestyle here in the UK. You can literally pick and choose your days and the demand for them is through the roof. My contracts, on the other hand, are a lot harder to apply for, land the interview, start working and get time off when you need (you basically can’t)
    • I accidentally feel into a mini-retirement as I was just so buggered from all the travelling we had done and just wanted to take some time off from the go-go lifestyle we were living. We’d been working so hard for months before we even left Australia (to get everything sorted) and I felt like I hadn’t had a moment to breathe in a long time
    • Feeling like a new man after my mini-retirement, I got stuck into the job boards at one of the worst times of the year (just before Christmas) but managed to land another contract for 6 months
    • Having the financial strength behind us, I, almost arrogantly, asked for 3 weeks time off over the Christmas break and thought that even if they don’t hire me for this job, we would be absolutely fine money-wise which was extremely comforting. They ended up saying yes (somehow) to my break and I ended up working a few weeks before Christmas
    • We headed over to Canada for Christmas to see my extended family in Toronto and also made it to Quebec for a bit of snowboarding πŸ‚
    • We ended our lease because our landlord was being a dickhead (long story don’t even ask) so we didn’t have to sublet for this trip
  • DEC-JAN
    • We left Canada and headed over to America (pictures below) to see my favourite basketball player Ben Simmons and to visit NYC
    • Rocked up back in London mid-January and had to move into our new place asap (we found a new place before we left)
    • Had a crazy 3 weeks of getting our new place all set up, going to France the following weekend we got back (it was pre-booked) plus busting my ass at this new contract to get myself up to speed with everything. It was crazy and a major reason why I haven’t been as active on AFB
    • Finally settled into a nice groove and feel like the routine is back on track

Wowee! It’s crazy how much we’ve done over the last 12 months and I’m buggered just typing all that stuff out lol 😴

So if I roughly tally up all the months I worked, it equals out to only be around 5 months 🀯, Mrs. FB worked closer to 7 🀭.

So what’s the revelation I talked about earlier?

Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Have you ever just sat there and daydreamt of how good your life will be once you hit financial independence?

Back in the day, this was something I did regularly! I would often drift off in thought (usually whilst I was at work actually) and think about how epic it would be to just travel around all the time and see and do as many things as possible.

But now that we’re in that position and living out this dream I can tell you right now, imagination can sometimes be a lot different to reality!

We discovered over the last 12 months that our sweet spot for travelling is around 5-6 weeks. Anything past that time period, our enjoyment of experiences starts to decline. Meals don’t taste as good, the wine is less sweet, paying €17 for a shitty pizza that wouldn’t fill up a toddler suddenly starts to piss me off.

Don’t get me wrong. The year has been incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But I do wonder how many people out there have dreams and aspirations for something that might not actually turn out to be as enjoyable as they once had imagined.

We’ve only got this year left to see as much stuff as possible before we head back to Australia and enter the next chapter of our lives… marriage and kids!

 

We’re back into the swing of things now and I’ve been doing pretty well at work which is such a great feeling. There’s honestly nothing better for me to be apart of a team working on a fun problem and actually contributing to the solution. In fact, much like working out, sometimes you need to go through a painful and uncomfortable experience to receive the best and happiest of outcomes.

No one enjoys the act of lifting heavy weights. You get the joy from the results of lifting heavy weights or running a marathon or spending weeks developing a solution from scratch. It feels really good to finish a set at the gym and know you’re improving your health and fitness. It feels even better when you start to see results.

I get similar satisfaction from working on projects I’m interested in. Keywords being ‘projects I’m interested in‘. That’s the power of FIRE in retired life. You can still work and make money, but odds are you’re only ever going to be working on stuff you like doing.

Speaking of things I like doing. I ended up buying a bike!

I was really pushed over the edge by the great advice from a reader (thanks Prash!).

It’s probably well overdue actually. I have a bike back home and used to ride everywhere, but I only worked in the city 1 day a week last year and never had to get the dreaded tube. But now that I’m in a contract until June and I’m having to catch the tube three days a week (I get to work from home for the other two), a bike makes sense.

The bike will pay for itself in just over 9 weeks but there are so many more benefits other than just saving money. Cardio exercise is a big one! I do run at the gym but I must admit, without footy training to keep me in check, it’s a lot harder to get off the couch and actually make it down to the gym. Avoiding the tube has to be the greatest benefit. Yes, the weather sucks right now, but I’d rather ride in the rain then have to be on the tube.

Would you believe that it’s actually quicker to ride your bike than it is to catch the tube! It is amplified in my situation because I have to walk 7 minutes to the station and then 7 minutes to my work but still.

And lastly, the TravelBug part of this FIRE journey can be followed along with the pictures below which are all the places we hit up in January.

Philly VS Boston @ Wells Fargo Center

My BOY! Ben Simmons got it done that night with 19/9/3 and the W

Living out a childhood dream. Rocky is my favourite movie of all time! Adriaaaaaaan πŸ₯Š

Couldn’t go to Philly without trying a cheesesteak 🀀

Getting destroyed by a chess hustler in NYC. He said he was rated around 1800-1900 which is really, really good.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Louvre

 

Net Worth Update

Boom!

We passed the $750K mark and are rapidly closing in on $800K.

It still boggles my mind when I look at our net worth graph below. How TF did we managed to accumulate that much? Well, thanks to these net worth posts which are sort of like financial diary entries, we know exactly how we did it but still! They say the first $100K is the hardest and it only gets easier from there, oh how true this is. Almost laughably easy once you past ~$300K in shares I feel. You really start to see it compound around then and it’s just crazy how it all adds up.

The philosophy of building a snowball and letting it compound over the years is such an incredibly powerful concept.

The sharemarket continues to bullishly rage on with all indexes trending north. Our share portfolio along with our Super had an incredible month.

We only worked the last 2 weeks of January because we were in America up until the 16th but I received another contracting paycheck for days built up in December and a bit between the holidays.

We spent last night going over this years travel itinerary and we basically have 2 short (1-2 weeks) trips and 2 big (4-5 weeks) trips left for the next 12 months. I have full time work up until June but after that, I’m not sure what my plans are work-wise. I’m pretty sure they are going to extend my contract but this would mean I miss out on travelling over the summer which isn’t an option. In a perfect world, they would allow me to have 5 weeks off during summer and keep me on until the end of the year but that doesn’t really happen with contracts.

The entire point of contract work is that they get you in for a short amount of time where you work really hard in a specialised area that they don’t have in house and you’re paid accordingly. I feel like I pushed my luck already by asking for 3 weeks off over Christmas πŸ˜… but we’ll see. The power of having a net worth near $800K is that you’re not forced to take more work. My only concern would be going through the whole process of finding another contract to last me until the end of the year. I’m all set up in this one and have built my routine already. It would suck to have to start over again.

 

Properties

I’ve started to get off my ass and actually look into selling at least one of these bad boys for the end of the year. I’ve engaged with a few real estate agents so I’m keen to update you all on the progress of this in the coming months. I would usually try to sell the properties myself as I did with IP1, but I’m not in the country and I’m really choosing the easy/lazy option here but I just can’t be F’d doing it again myself.

Can anyone recommend an agent in the gold coast area?

Updates on this soon…

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

$2.5K in dividends, don’t mind if I do 😁

Strong performances across the board (except for AFI) last month. VTS has actually been going off its head and it just keeps defying belief. Would you believe that currently, our annualised return for VTS is sitting at 24.78% 🀯

And I’m pretty sure (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) that Telsa has officially entered into the S&P500 which means we will now own it upon the next purchase of VTS βš‘πŸš—βš‘. This is a big deal for me because I’ve been a Tesla fanboy since like 2012 and was always showing people how epic their electric car was. My mates would ask me if I invested in it and I always said no because that’s not how I invest in shares even though I love the company and πŸ™ they succeed.

Can’t wait until VTS drops in our weightings so I can pick this bad boy up and officially say I own part of Telsa!

Oh and we made a big transfer from £££ to $$$ for the first time using TransferWise(affiliate link). Because we have a solid 4 months worth of work coming up. I didn’t feel the need to float so much £££ in case something happened. We sent home around Β£7K which cost us Β£26.07 in fees (the lowest out there) and converted to be $13,768 AUD which hit our Aussie account. It helps that the GBP is doing well against the AUD lately.

We then transferred that along with some other money we had into our broker account and purchased $5K worth of A200 since the Australian part of our portfolio was the lowest split. We’re running a 70/15/15 split atm. 70 Aussie, 15 US, 15 world ex US.

 

Networth

 

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

DEC19 Net Worth $743,570 (-$1,028)

With the risk of virtue signalling, I’ll keep this really brief:
Sometimes really bad tragedies unfold in the world that puts our personal issues into perspective.
The bushfires near my home back in Australia is one of these events. Everyone I know is doing ok (the fires have not reached where I’m from) but there are so many people who aren’t as fortunate.
If you’re thinking about donating, the CFA has an option to donate to the ‘Bush Disaster Appeal‘.

 

Heading back to full-time work reminded me of how insanely unhealthy it is for humans to not move around for 8+ hours on end. During our ‘mini-retirement’ in Oct/Nov this year, we were doing something active every single day without even trying.

Just shooting hoops, throwing the frisbee or walking everywhere within a 3km radius because the extra time meant there were no pressures to get somewhere quickly.

The extra time and no commitments to be anywhere really helped. I would purposely look forward to walking down to the Super Market and even take the longer, more scenic route because I was digging my audiobook and wanted to listen a little bit more.

I’m still listening to my audiobooks but now I’m in a stationary position for 30 minutes on the incredibly polluted ‘tube‘ crammed full of people coughing and sneezing all over me πŸ˜“

I’m loving the work we’re getting stuck into, but again, I’m sitting down (I have requested a standing desk) for over 8 hours a day and because I’m trying to get my head around everything, often I’m working a few hours from home each night.

And as the old saying goes…

“If you don’t use it, you lose it”

Over a period of around 3 weeks, my lower back started to tighten and I knew it was probably just screaming out at me to stretch it more and actually use its muscle instead of letting it waste away sitting around all day.

The human body is incredible at adapting. If I had not made it a priority to get my ass to the gym a few times before Christmas, the backaches would have probably resided and eventually it would have become comfortable to sit down and not move at all for the majority fo the day.

In fact, I’d argue that the majority of 1st world adults have bodies adapted to moving the least amount possible during the day.

I mean… we build bloody ‘moving walkways’ just so people don’t have to walk for 15-20 meters. I wonder how much those things cost to build and maintain πŸ’Έ

The minimalist in me finds it insane how there’s a billion-dollar industry trying to fix all the illnesses/diseases caused by our lack of exercise. Wouldn’t it be easier to be proactive vs reactive?

I think I’m going to buy a second-hand bike and try my hand at riding into work each day. The only thing that worries me is the rain. I’m cool with it being cold but the rain sucks and makes things a lot more dangerous.

Are there any London bikers reading? I’d love to hear your experiences riding around London below please πŸ™‚

This was my second time starting a new gig in late November/December and it seems to be a really great month to join an organisation. With the lead up to Christmas, most people are winding things down and social events are peaking which makes it easy to get to know your colleagues and move past that ice breaker stage.

But there’s a hidden trap with all the festive food and drinks…

Heathrow Injection Noun
 
heath-row in-jec-tion
 
A metaphor for the weight one inevitably gains when one migrates to London for an extended stay. It is attributable to the fast-paced lifestyle that leads one to eating mostly take-away and fast foods.
 
Person 1: “I reckon i’m getting a little tubby. I think i’m developing love handles.”
Person 2: “Yeah well you’ve been here in London for three months now. That’s the Heathrow injection right there. I’ve been here for two years now. Look at this flab on me. I slap it and it makes waves.”

 

London and Christmas parties, name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait…

I think I’ve been out and about more in December than I have in the last 4 years combined. Add all that with all the Christmas food that’s been getting around of late and I feel I’ve been well and truly blessed with the Heathrow Injection.

I can’t blame it all on London though… The land of maple syrup, poutine and Ice hockey definitely played a part.

O Canada! O Canada!

We decided it would be nice to have a white Christmas for once in our lives and head over to Toronto where I have 3rd cousins. We thought about heading back home to see family but it’s just such a mission. An 8-hour flight seemed a lot more palatable.

What else seemed a lot more palatable was all the delicious food we got to indulge in.

Smokes and Timmy Horton’s. Doesn’t get much more Canadian than this!

La Banquise Poutinerie, Montreal. The best poutine on the planet.

BeaverTails- a delightful Canadian pastry shaped like the tail of a beaver with your choice of topping, yum!

We spent a week in Toronto for Christmas and then a few days in Montreal before heading to Mont Tremblant for a bit of snowboarding which is where I’m posting this article from right now

Downtown Toronto

Sled dogging on Mont Tremblant

Quebec has been freezing!

The day we left, it was forecasted to be -27 and I can tell you that human beings are just not meant to live in such conditions even with snow gear on πŸ₯Ά

I didn’t bring my snowboarding mitts overseas so we had to buy $3 ones at Dollarama. Safe to say these were not designed to be used in -9 conditions and basically every chairlift consisted of me taking off my gloves to warm up my hands underneath my armpits lol.

Mrs. FB learnt to snowboard which was great but if you’ve ever been snowboarding before, you’ll surely remember how hard it is when you’re just starting out.

Her arms were absolutely cooked from pushing herself up every few minutes three days straight.

Dog sledding was an incredible experience. We got super lucky on the day we went with sunshine and a tiny bit of snow.

At first, I was hesitant about doing the sledding because part of me felt like it was similar to seeing the elephants or tigers in Thailand. I made that mistake when I was 19 and quickly realised that these animals are miserable and are being forced to do the tricks.

I did a bit of research about dog sledding and came to the conclusion that like every industry ever, there are some dickheads that are running shitty businesses. But ultimately if the dogs are well looked after and get to enjoy a comfortable retirement, I’m comfortable participating in their own desire to run/mush that’s been bred into them for thousands of years.

In fact, you could argue that people who buy Huskies and Malamutes that don’t walk their dogs every day are the cruel ones. You really need to see it in person to understand just how excited these dogs are when they get to mush.

I love Canada and if we were 3 years younger, I’d definitely consider living here once we’ve done UK/Europe. One item I’ve always had on my bucket list that’s probably passed me by is living on a mountain for one snow season.

But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. We prioritised saving and investing for most of our 20’s and are reaping the rewards now.

Net Worth Update

We didn’t end up hitting $750K to end the decade but no complaints here.

It was an expensive month and the markets didn’t really do anything plus I still haven’t received my first consulting check from the new job (something about their payroll closing for Christmas πŸ™„).

It was only the second month this year where the old net worth went backwards which was a pretty big surprise, to be honest.

I had it in my head that 2019 would most likely see minimal gains because I wasn’t sure of our working arrangements before we left. But to my surprise, we managed to pile on an additional $120K!

I can only hope that 2020 will be as prosperous and maybe we’ll be in striking distance of the big $1M by 2021 πŸ˜€

 

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

And so the end of the decade comes storming home with… not much happening at all.

Which is A-OK with us.

Not a whole lot to report on from the graph above.

As per usual, we continue our strategy and bought another $5K worth of A200.

 

Networth

 

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

NOV19 Net Worth $744,598 (+$8,621)

The dream is over!

Not really, quite the opposite in fact but I’ve landed a 6-month contract which means I’m back in the office.

That might sound a bit depressing, and there was definitely a stage in my life where rocking up to a cubicle each day felt grim.

But mindset makes a hell of a difference!

For as blissful as our October update was, my mind was melting a little after not being fully stimulated for over 4 months! We travelled during our time off which was fine, and our mental recharge/mini-retirement was one of the best things I’ve ever done. But both of these don’t scratch the all-important itch that all humans have and that’s challenging/meaningful work.

It’s an absolute staple for mental health IMO.

And for any other developers/programmers/admins/IT experts out there, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say there’s something really special about creating a solution that solves a real-world problem.

Whether it be crafting a beautifully written script that automates a business process and eliminates human error, or designing a custom front end form that enables field workers to enter in data and not have to double handle it when they get back in the office, or optimising a SQL query and marvelling at the efficiency and speed that it returns your dataset.

This was the part of my life that I needed back.

I’m also an extrovert and love team environments. I felt all cooped up inside for the last few weeks applying for one job after another.

There’s also the negative feelings associated with the perceived notion of rejection when you don’t get a job.

It’s funny because there was absolutely no pressure financially for me to get another job and relatively little social pressures other than my flatmates asking how I was going every few days but I still felt some kind of internal pressure.

There was a lot of valid reasons why I wasn’t landing contracts in the first few weeks, and I’m an optimist at heart but I just couldn’t shake it. And I was only searching for a little over a month. I could imagine that it would have gotten worse the longer the search went on.

I’m working at a startup now and I am loving all the tools, fresh environment and office space.

Check out my view!

Sunrise at the new office

The tech stack the IT has implemented is really cool too.

Literally, everything is cloud-based. Which means I get to work from home two days a week 😁

But for real, working at established companies usually means dealing with a heap of legacy systems that are hard to change, interface with, update etc.

With a start-up, you get to start completely fresh and they have chosen the best in business tools which just makes working a delight.

It’s my first time using Slack too. So much fun!

We visited Richmond park this month too and I was honestly blown away by the sheer size and beauty of the place.

It was absolutely gorgeous to visit in autumn, the colour of the leaves falling and the sunshine poking through really made for an enchanting Sunday walk. These photos just don’t do this place justice!

That’s right, there are wild deer at the park 🦌!

We also saw John Mayer at the O2 🎸

I only managed to get through two more books last month.

*The above books have affiliate links

This is mainly because of the sheer size of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. My god is that book long and I didn’t particularly enjoy the ending either πŸ˜’

‘A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy’ was a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while and one recommended by MMM himself.

There seems to be a lot of crossover for us FIRE folk. 8/10 times someone on the road to FIRE will usually be interested in minimalism, delayed gratification, frugalism (is that a word?), environmental impact and/or more often than not… stoicism.

Stoicism gets confused in mainstream media but it can be a fantastic philosophy of life. I’ve been trying to practice negative visualisation every day since reading that book and I can truly say I feel more grateful for it.

I was on the tube the other day when my connecting train was delayed 😑. Everyone was pissed (myself included) but then I tried to imagine what it would have been like living in London 500 years ago when trains hadn’t even been invented. I thought about how hard it would have been, walking to places in the mud, trying to cover yourself when the wind and rain belted down, the limited options you would have had etc…

And before you knew it, my train had arrived to whisk me away in incredible comfort, speed and convenience. If you think about all the 21st centuries luxuries we have, it’s actually incredible to be alive in 2019!

And lastly, I was told about the Christmas festivities in London but my god do the Brits get around it!

Seriously, the lead up to Christmas is nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The city is buzzing with Christmas cheer lol. Ugly Christmas jumpers everywhere, pubs are packed, Christmas parties are popping, festive markets, hot mulled wine, outdoor ice skating rink at Hyde Park, Christmas trees in almost every major lobby and to top it all off… it’s cold AF.

It’s not snowing (which would be epic) but it’s the first time in my life where the lead up to Christmas has been feezing (by Aussie standards). And there’s something magical about rugging up and sipping on a hot chocolate while walking around the city enjoying all it has to offer.

It’s a novelty for us this year but not something I’d like to do every Christmas. Beach cricket and barbies will always reign supreme!

And if you haven’t joined the Facebook group yet you’re missing out! We just cracked 2K members!!!

 

Net Worth Update

It’s been absolutely fascinating to watch the markets continue to roar on upwards this year.

Everyone (including myself) was expecting some sort of crash leading up to 2018 and then 2019 but it still hasn’t happened. I’m not saying it won’t, quite the opposite actually because it’s a matter of when, not if, but the point I’m trying to make is that there are still people sitting on the sidelines waiting for the house of cards to come falling down.

But even when the next crash does happen, who’s to say you weren’t better off investing through it rather than trying to pick the bottom and going all-in?

Once you’re in the market it’s a lot easier to keep adding to the snowball as opposed to sitting on the sidelines with a wad of cash.

We didn’t save too much cold hard cash in November because I only just got another job and haven’t received my first paycheck yet. The share market contributed a whopping $17K to our net worth last month.

We also booked a 3 week holiday for Christmas and New Years which meant our cash reserve took a hit. But now I’m back in a job for a decent amount of time (6 months) we’re going to tap into our big cash reserve a bit more aggressively and start to transfer our £££ to $$$.

I’m hoping we have a good month in December and can crack $750K to end the year!

 

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Absolutely unbelievable!

The bull that just won’t quit. We saw gains across the board with the states leading the way followed closely by Milton and the other Aussie investments too.

I’m expecting an enormous crash any day now because this year has just been off the charts. Sharesight is telling me that the portfolio has grown by over 17% within the last 12 months. We know that historically we should be aiming for 8-9% so that is well above the norm.

I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again. These numbers look great on paper and they do make me feel good but in reality, all investors shouldn’t hope for increasing equities when in the accumulation phase. Once you retire, you hope everything goes to the moon! But each month everything becomes more and more expensive, meaning we’re able to buy less and less units that will ultimately enable us to retire early.

It’s bittersweet when I see the markets have had such big gains.

Following Strategy 2.5 we bought another $5K worth of VEU in November.

 

Networth

 

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

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 Β£’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 πŸ™.

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.

 

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

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 Β£ 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.

Networth

 

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

SEP19 Net Worth $733,346 (+$10,970)

Our Euro adventure has finally come to an end in September πŸ˜”.

We ended up travelling around for just a tad over 2 months and I’ve come to the realisation that our sweet spot is around 6 weeks. Anything over that and I start to get a bit ‘over’ it because I’m a creature of habit who follows an unvarying routine most of the time.

We also spent the entire two months travelling with other people which was a total blast but you end up ‘going with the flow’ a lot more which can mean doing certain thing you’d otherwise have been happy to skip. Eating out every single day comes to mind πŸ’Έ

Here are some of the spots we hit in September.

 

Split, Sail Croatia

Colosseum

Gondola AKA worlds most overpriced 7-minute boat ride through a smelly river

Isle of Capri

Portofino

Leaning Tower of Pisa- Tourist trap but ya have to see it!

Positano

Pork Knuckle at Oktoberfest

Champions League match, Bayern Munich vs Crvena Zvezda

Riding in Amsterdam

A lot of people have asked me what my favourite place was when I got back.

And this is a really hard question because I liked some places for holidaying like Spain and Croatia, and others where I would be happy to live like Munich, Germany. The Middle East was the biggest culture shock with incredible history so it’s very hard to pick!

My top 3 overall countries for the trip would be:

  1. Germany
  2. Croatia
  3. Netherlands

I would recommend a Sail Croatia to anyone, but you need to book for the type of trip you’re after. Since we’re a bit older, the four of us went on the more expensive cruise and while we had some great nights partying, it was comforting to come back to your own cabin with ensuite and A/C.

We went past some of the ‘younger’ pirate cruises and it looked pretty intense with the drinking and whatnot, which to be fair, is what most people are probably chasing at 18-21 right haha.

Munich was a super clean and impressive city, that I could easily live in. The public transport was efficient and inexpensive. We were able to get a group ticket for 4 adults for 4 days of unlimited travel for only €29. The food was a major highlight for me, especially the pork knuckle, bratwurst and potato pancakes with sauerkraut, yum! They also had nice drinking water from the tap which is something I took for granted in Australia. Clean drinkable water that taste nice is not common throughout the world apparently (as I’ve discovered this year). I understand that taste is subjective, but a lot of places have shitty pipes and it can be disguising. London, for example, has horrible water. Drinkable, but gross H2O. Oh, and most importantly, the Germans have god-tier beer 🍻 🀀🀀

Amsterdam has the best bike infrastructure I’ve ever seen and it’s not even close! It’s hard to explain why it’s so good but the whole city is basically designed for bikes and you can get around so much easier on a bike vs a car. They have their own little highways and the way the roundabouts and roads are weaved into the bike tracks is incredible and so cool! I really wish Australia and other counties for that matter would invest heavily into a biking network like Amsterdam. It would make commutes so much easier and safer.

One country that was a bit disappointing for me was Italy πŸ™

I had very high hopes as I have family ties to the country and actually have an Italian passport!

The thing that annoyed me most about Italy was everywhere we went was overpriced and mostly average quality/quantity. This was especially true for food but even the sightseeing was a bit underwhelming.

Like yeah, the Amalfi coast is stunning and beautiful… but it doesn’t justify charging €20 for literally a piece of cooked chicken on a plate with nothing else. No sauce, no sides, no nothing 😀.

Tourist traps everywhere was another annoyance.

We were in Venice and this dude told us on the street about this 3-course meals for €15.

Great! That’s so cheap we thought (fools!)

We get to the desserts and the waiter just casually says something along the lines of

‘So we have four options for dessert…blah blah blah…’

We ordered, thinking this was included in the price only to have a big surprise when we looked at the bill that the dessert was not included and almost cost as much as the three-course meal… which by the way was an entree, main and the side dish of chips and salad FFS 😀😀.

Little sneaky shit like this pissed me right off for the majority of the time we were there. They just straight-up trick you which makes me not want to go back.

I did have the best ravioli of my life in the Isle of Capri though so there were some positives.

The other thing that made Italy a bit rough was completely my own fault lol.

So I had this grand plan of renting a camper van and travelling around Italy with Mrs FB and another couple we were with. I researched it and followed the Indie Campers Instagram page. They made it look like so much fun! I mean, just look at this:

That’s some great marketing because let me warn you right now… do not.. and I repeat… do not… rent a camper in Italy during summer with four people!

I can’t believe people didn’t talk me out of this beforehand.

The first issue was the roads! The roads are so small that driving a camper through the likes of the Amalfi coast was the equivalent of trying to maneuver a semi through Chapel St in peak hour. It didn’t help that I was driving on the wrong side of the road and it was a manual πŸ™ƒπŸ”«.

The other big problem that I did not anticipate was the heat that 4 people can generate within a confined space. It’s really hard to sleep with minimal airflow.

I was glad to see the end of that camper in Austria that’s for sure! It makes for funny stories now but there were some sleepless night πŸ˜…

 

 

Net Worth Update

The share market did the heavy lifting for this months increase (as you can see on the Sharesight graph below).

For the second straight month, we only really spent money on day to day spendings as we’d pre-booked most of our accommodation and activities.

The last consulting invoice was paid in September which means no income for a while now. Even if I get back on with my old mob, they take a month to process invoices which means work done in October will not be paid until the end of November 😭 so the old net worth updates could be looking grim in the next few instalments.

Mrs. FB is heading back to work and gets paid weekly which helps. We’ve also got our other income sources like dividends, rent and money made on this blog which all adds up.

This year has exceeded every expectation of how much I thought we’d be able to save so I’m not in the slightest bit mad at all. I expected us to delay our FIRE goal by going on this trip and had made peace with the notion that our NW may decline and end up smaller by years end then it was at the start!

What I did not expect was how lucrative the day rates were in London for data developers and how quick I managed to nab one! The consulting checks really made it an even playing field when I factor in the more than double rent we’re paying here compared to country Victoria.

The power of compound interest is really starting to kick in now too.

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Epic month all around!

Following the recently updated Strategy 2.5, we purchased our first international ETF (VEU – world ex-US) in over 18 months!

VEU had the lowest weighting in terms of our desired portfolio split allocations so bought around $15K worth 😁

I recently read The Barefoot Investor’s Idiot Grandson Portfolio which, reassuringly, had a combo of 75% VAS, 10% VTS and 15% VEU. Which were the same three funds I originally started out with back in 2016 for Strategy 2. But what struck me more from reading that detailed report was the idea that Scott was considering going 100% VAS (100% Aussie equities).

After finishing the report I’m almost inclined to bump up our Aussie allocation to 70%. It’s not a hard or set rule so you could see the portfolio’s Aussie exposure drift anywhere from 60%-70%.

Oh and one last thing… ETFs/LICs officially make up more than 50% of our portfolio now!

Networth

 

JAN20 Net Worth $770,141 (+$26,571)

AUG19 Net Worth $722,375 (+$17,484)

We’ve been on the road now for over 6 weeks and honestly, it feels like this year has just been one enormous adventure.

They say a change is as good as a holiday and ain’t that the truth!

I did enjoy my job back home but just like your favourite game or movie, you eventually get sick of them and loading in a new disk every once in a while can be therapeutic.

Even though I managed to find work in London this year, the novelty of a career change made it exciting. Yeah, there were a few late nights here and there and I had to figure how this game worked at the start. But it’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m looking forward to booting it back up when we get back to London at the start of October.

We continue our European summer trip finishing up in Spain and heading over The Middle East.

Here are some of the spots we hit up in August.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The Great Pyramids of Giza

Diving in the Red Sea

Petra

Travelling through the Middle East was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Going in the middle of summer was a big mistake in hindsight. It pretty much worked out that we had to do it in summer but wowee she was steaming!

I’m talking 46Β°C in the middle of the desert with humidity πŸ˜…πŸŒ‘πŸ”₯β˜€

Seeing the Pyramids and Petra was truly mind-blowing and the culture shock was one I’ll never forget.

Being a finance and economic junkie, it was extremely interesting hearing first hand from the people of Egypt and Jordan about jobs, future prospects, education, health care and all the other topics I managed to chew their ears off about.

Both countries rely heavily on tourism. And if you can remember the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, it may shock you to know that the country has still not recovered from it all these years later. Some industries that relied on tourist were completely destroyed overnight apparently and the Nile cruises, for example, are only back to about 60% capacity. I would highly recommend them too if you’re down that way. The people didn’t lack education either. Maybe not all, but a hell of a lot of taxi drivers, tourist group leaders and even the dudes that looked after the camels had university educations! I can’t tell you how legit they were but it seemed that the issues were not education, but rather job opportunities that paid a decent wage.

Jordan also was hit hard when they took in refugees from Syria in the last couple of years too. I couldn’t get to the bottom of it but apparently inflation had eroded the local currency with prices for goods and services going up but wages staying stagnant. This is what I was told anyway and I’m definitely not an expert in this area but I found it interesting to listen to.

I continue to have a newfound appreciation of what Australia has and offers as we continue our journey around the globe. I can see quite clearly now why so many people want to migrate to our neck of the woods and sometimes cringe whenever I come across a story about a 20-something millennial who can’t afford a 3 bedroom house in Sydney’s CBD.

Like, yeah, housing and living costs in Melbourne and Sydney are bloody expensive, probably overpriced. But fm dead, if you’d have seen some of the living conditions, opportunities and wages of some of these countries, I feel as though a lot of the first world struggles would seem minuscule. I also believe that it’s a major reason why Sydney and Melbourne will never ever be cheap to buy. Australia would have to go way downhill for bargains to start appearing in the biggest two cities.

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. The Middle East was kick-ass and I’d highly recommend. If you do Petra, try to go to the night show before you see it in the day. It’s completely different at night and was an unforgettable experience.

Net Worth Update

As impressive as August’s update seems to be (especially considering the how far the markets fell), there is a looming tax burden that’s about to hit.

I’ve been raising invoices for my contracting work and each invoice has an additional 20% tax added to them called the VAT tax (similar to our GST I believe).

I get to keep around 5% of that 20% tax apparently as sort of a ‘collection payment’ from HMRC which is the UK’s version of the ATO.

I’ll go through this for the first time very soon so I’ll have a much better understanding of how it all works by next month.

I only have one invoice left too which means no flowing income until I start working again. And even if I do get work asap when we’re back in October. It won’t be paid until the last Friday of the next month! So it’s almost a certainty that the update for October will be negative unless the markets have an upswing.

We also haven’t spent a lot of money this month believe it or not. This is mostly due to pre-booking nearly everything and subletting our London flat. So we only really have spent money on food and activities which have been pretty cheap for August thankfully.

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

 

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

ETFs/LICs

A few divvies but mostly red across the board with Aussie shares taking the biggest hit.

I’ve been expecting this for some time now considering just how much the ASX has gained over the last couple of months. What’s also interesting to see is how much the LICs drop in value as they pay out their dividends. A popular strategy I’ve seen out there is to wait until ETFs or LICs go past their ex-div date and buy on the drop. This theoretically means you can buy more units of the same fund and slightly delay being taxed on the dividends until the next payout.

I don’t do this but I can see how it makes sense.

Also…

We ended up buying another lot of A200 again this month and for everyone out there that keeps asking about our strategy, I promise to have published the newly tweaked strategy before the end of this month!

I have some things I want to cover that requires it’s own article. Nothing too drastic but my thoughts and opinions nonetheless that a few have been asking for. Sorry it’s taking forever. It’s really hard to find time atm but I’ll finish it off in the next couple of weeks.

Networth

 

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