Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

God damn did I need a month like February!

It’s been pretty hectic since we got back into Victoria in late Jan. Just from a life admin and reunion point of view. So many people to see and catch up with, trying to figure out our living situation, Mrs. FB preparing to head back to her teaching position, unpacking our boxes from the storage shed… πŸ€ͺ

It’s such a privilege to not have to stress about jumping into another job straight away. Mrs. FB miraculously kept her teaching gig for the two years we were away, but she only had a week and a half to sort out everything before jumping back into full-time work. I, on the other hand, have been enjoying a time rich, low stress, slower pace unemployed lifestyle since we got back πŸ™Š.

It’s not like I haven’t been keeping busy, far from it actually. But you forget some of the little pleasures in life when you’re too caught up in your job sometimes (aka me last year whilst contracting). The autonomy of planning my day around my needs and wants (rather than my bosses) is a freedom that I plan to have from here onwards. I still wake up early, but I usually go for a leisurely stroll and throw a podcast or audiobook on these days. When the suns beaming, there’s no better way to start my day! I find myself jumping onto the computer around 9-10 to start some work, whether that be wedding stuff, new business venture work (update soon), house hunting, AFB content or just life admin. I can head to the gym after lunch when there’s no one there and can get stuck into anything else that’s important later on in the day when it suits me. Working from home and being able to do everything on a computer that’s connected to the internet has really changed the game.

I’m back into a great routine with eating healthy Monday-Friday, consistent gym sessions and have started to roll again at my local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym.

My sleep quality since being back home is 10 times better compared to those last few months in London during the lockdown πŸ‘Ž. The stress of that job plus not being able to exercise or go outside for two weeks destroyed my physical and mental health last year in November. Man, I shudder just thinking about that situation 😣 and what a privilege it is to be in the position we’re now in.

So yeah, February was rad πŸ€™

And there’s plenty of stuff in the pipeline that I can’t wait to share with you guys.

Oh, and there were two achievements to celebrate last month.

Firstly, we have exceeded our goal of 1,056 submissions for the 2021 Aussie FIRE Survey! This now means that there are enough submissions for the dataset to have a 95% (industry standard) confidence level with a 3% margin of error of the community πŸ‘.

I’m working with another reader on something really special for displaying the results. Can’t wait to share it.

And lastly, the Aussie FIRE discussion group clicked over 10,000 members sometime during the last month.

Not bad considering the group is only 15 months old!

I’m always telling people to ask FIRE related questions in that group because there are just so many smart people from all stages of life that can provide a different perspective on a bunch of stuff. It’s a bit of a treasure cove in there actually. The only issue is that a lot of the really good stuff gets lost. I’ve been thinking about creating something else that deals with that specific problem but there’s just so many other projects I have on this year that I might have to chuck her on the back burner.

 

Net Worth Update

It’s a miracle that we finished February in the black considering I haven’t been working and I’ve spent a fair amount on setting up my home office. Mrs. FB is really holding down the fort these days in an otherwise pretty boring month net worth wise.

Haven’t cracked the $900K mark just yet. Maybe in March? We’ll see.

 

Properties

So a lot of data has come out since my January update that confirmed my suspicion of an insanely heated property market (countrywide apparently).

We’ve been looking and looking and when we finally do find a house that’s within our budget and in the right location, it’s legitimately sold within 24-48 hours. And usually for more than what the seller wanted for it. I’m not even kidding. There was one house that an agent rang us about (hadn’t hit realestate.com.au yet) on the Friday for $450K that we liked, so we offered $445K that night. The agent rang us the next day to say there was a cash offer for $460K… FFS.

But we really liked it, and what’s an extra $20K over a 25-year loan anyway? So we considered throwing in $465K later that day only to hear from the agent that there was a bidding war going on and it was now over $470K… I mean… wow… they only wanted $450K but ok. Can’t really compete with that, especially since it was a cash offer.

I’ve already come to terms that we will be overpaying. And 2020 prices are long gone now. We have the money and are willing to pay these prices, we literally just can’t secure a place atm lol.

Having said all that, we may have found something very recently that’s looking the goods… I don’t want to jinx anything so I’ll just leave it at that. But if it all works out, I’ll of course let you guys know all about it πŸ™‚

Also, I’m really close to listing one of our investment properties. Just working out a deal with the tenant atm to see if they would be willing to break their lease early for a cash incentive. The markets just too good atm to not try and offload at least one property.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

*DISCLAIMER*
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

A bit of a nothing month for Feb.

We haven’t bought any shares since November as we wanted to concentrate on building the house deposit so not too much to add here.

 

 

Networth

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

JAN21 Net Worth $890,905 (+$31,423)

Before we get into the month of Jan, the annual anonymous FIRE Survey is back and open for submissions.

There was so much to improve on from last years survey (yes I did manage to add Super this time around πŸ˜…), better-structured questions and logic design flow were the main ones and I’m really excited to see what sort of analytics we can get out of this year’s dataset.

I did some homework on how many submissions we would need to achieve statistical significance. If we assume that there are 100,000 people pursuing FIRE in Australia (probably a lot less tbh), we need to have 1,056 submissions for this dataset to provide a 95% (industry standard) confidence level with a 3% margin of error of the community.

1,056 is the target gang 🎯!

It only takes 10 minutes to fill out and there have already been over 350 submissions so far πŸ‘. A big thank-you in advance to everyone who participates πŸ™‚


 

We’re back baby!

I can’t even tell you guys how good it felt getting off the plane in Adelaide and hearing that Aussie accent. For the first time in 2 years, I didn’t have to concentrate on my pronunciation of certain words and it was nice to get acknowledgment after an enthusiastic “Cheers Cobba” when the police officer helped us with our bags. You really don’t appreciate something until it’s gone but nothing beats the laid back, easy-going, always up for a laugh Australian attitude β™₯!

First time I’ve ever been to Adelaide actually, and I would really like to go back because the city looked really nice! It killed us a few days/nights when the weather was a perfect 28 without a cloud in the sky and we were stuck in hotel quarantine. We stayed at The Playford Hotel in the CBD and we could see this killer little rooftop bar from our room and I did contemplate knotting together a few towels and trying to swing down for a beer or two…

I’ve gotta say, we didn’t have high expectations for what hotel quarantine would be like. You always hear the worst stories, and as I mentioned in the previous months’ update, we were part of the ‘Aussies in Quarantine Facebook’ group (lol) which constantly had nightmare stories about families getting stuck in a tiny 1-bed apartment, horrendous food and rooms where you couldn’t open the window (brutal). Well, you could imagine the surprise we got after reading all this negativity when we finally got to our loft apartment at The Playford. That’s right, our room had an upstairs loft, spa, Juliet balcony, king bed and 60 inch TV with every streaming service known to man available for us to use 😁. But that wasn’t even the best part… the in-house chef-prepared meals was the show stopper 🀀.

I’ve had room service before, but we were getting 3 chef-prepared meals a day delivered to our doorstep. We had to throw on the mask after 30 seconds and collect the little bundle of joy. It was honestly the best part, we were guaranteed a little hit of dopamine each time that little knock came. There was a menu on the TV so you knew what each meal was, but the surprise was half the fun. And the meals only started to repeat after around the 12th day. I’m talking 11 different types of breakfasts before it starting to repeat. Just epic!

Here are a few pics of the room and some of the meals so you can get an idea.

Our home for 2 weeks

View from the top

Bastard of a puzzle that took us 5 days

 

Our street was sectioned off like this. Pretty intense

Pesto pasta, pumpkin dip & cracker with an apple cinnamon muffin

Salmon with beetroot quinoa and choc fudge cake

Lasanga & Portuguese custard tarts

Hats off to The Playford and SA government for making a shitty situation as comfortable as humanly possible. Just like with most things, it’s only the bad stuff that makes the news, unfortunately. For every one that complained about conditions in quarantine, there were probably a thousand others who had more than ideal situations. It’s half the reason I don’t really watch the news anymore. It’s just story after story of the worst shit out there or giving a tiny minority of complainers a platform to spew garbage.

The first week of quarantine was actually enjoyable you know. Plenty of free time to relax and just wind down after all the flying and travelling we had been doing in the previous months. And you don’t feel guilty about not going out and enjoying the day. The staircase was a lifesaver for exercising because it opened up the walking path and made it easier to rack up the kilometres instead of cutting circles in one room. It also doubled as a little pull up bar from underneath which was very handy. After the first week though, things started to get a bit flat and we were more than ready to leave on the 14th day.

We tasted freedom on the 19th of January and left the Playford at the crack of dawn to board our flight back to our home state, Victoria!

We’re from Gippsland in Victoria which is south-east of Melbourne and even though I’ve done the trip from Tullamarine to Latrobe Valley a hundred times, I don’t think I’ve ever felt better seeing the ‘Next Exit’ sign on the M1 with our home town’s name.

The first week back was full on! We had friends and family that we hadn’t seen in over 2 years, nieces and nephews we were meeting for the first time plus trying to sort out our living situations all made for a hectic return in the best possible way. Mrs. FB had to return to work at the end of January which added even more pressure to get everything done as quickly as possible.

We’ve decided to buy a home this year. Not an investment property, but a home that we can raise a family in for potentially the next 10-15 years. I’ve crunched the numbers and compared rental prices for similar houses and believe it or not, it’s very similar (cost-wise) to have a mortgage instead of renting atm because of how low-interest rates are.

These were my rough calcs for a ~$500K house in my town.

Renting
Rent (yearly) $27,040
Bills (yearly) $2,400
TOTAL (yearly)Β  $29,400

 

PPOR (Primary Place of Residency Β  Notes
Principal (yearly) $16,008 Assuming a 2% interest rate over 25 years with a 20% downpayment ($400K loan)
Interest (yearly) $7,968 This number will change slightly each year but it’s roughly this much
Bills (yearly) $2,400
Rates (yearly) $2,500
Water (yearly) $900
Repair & Maintenance (yearly) $4,000 Guesstimating this one
TOTAL (yearly) $34,576

I haven’t factored in stamp duty (such a bad tax) and a few other bits and bobs but the numbers are so much better for home ownership vs renting compared to a few years ago. I’ve spoken about opportunity costs before and sinking a lot of your capital into a non-income producing asset (a PPOR) can delay your journey towards financial independence but we’re at the stage of our lives now where stability and other intangible factors are taking priority vs what’s going to make the most financial sense.

Even this quick and dirty example above makes for a very compelling (numbers-wise) case for homeownership in the current environment. If we wanted to rent a property valued at around $500K, it would roughly be $30K a year. We would never see this money again. Homeownership would still take more money out of our pockets each year (~$35K), plus the stamp duty and buying fees, but a lot of that money would be retained through equity. Whatever we pay in interest will be gone, never to be seen again. But the principal payments act as a sort of savings mechanism which makes it a lot more palatable.

I’ve got a few projects in the pipelines as to what I’m going to be doing work-wise this year. Nothing has materialised yet but I should be able to provide some updates in next month’s article. I might even do a dedicated post about it.

Net Worth Update

Getting dangerously close to the $900K mark now 😁

The big bump this month came from a mistake I made when I signed up for a fixed contract with the last company I worked for in London. Like a rookie, I didn’t opt-out of the UK pension for that job πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ. So I was receiving pension payments (equivalent to Super payments for us Aussies) each paycheck for the last 6 months. And now that money is stuck in the UK until I turn 60 πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈπŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈπŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

If anyone knows how to either

  1. Get the money transferred to my Australian Super account
  2. Get the money transferred to my Australian bank account (the better option)

I would be very grateful if you could share the details.

I rang up the mob where my UK pension was being locked away and they have told me that I can transfer it to my Aussie Superfund once I turn 60 or if I have health issues.

So basically, I discovered this little locked treasure too late and it turns out I have ~$12K AUD stuck there. What I should have done was opted out of the pension scheme which would have resulted in more money outside my pension account… I would have paid more in tax of course but we are planning to reach financial independence long before our preservation age so I’m happy to pay a bit extra.

Anyway, this $12K bump was added to the old net worth along with ~$20K from the share market and a little bit of cash and Super to round off an excellent jump to start the year.

Properties

Boy oh boy how things can change in a year.

So as I mentioned above, we’re currently in the market for a home in our little country town of about 20,000 people that’s 2 hours away from Melbourne with one of the main economic drivers of the area being coal-powered power stations that are shutting down over the next 20 or so years… you know, not the most sought after real estate in the world I would have thought.

Well, well, well… let me tell ya. My town (and surrounding towns for that matter) are experiencing the hottest market that people can remember… ever.

Most houses between $400K-$600K are not even going to market. They are selling before they hit the internet and one agent told me he has a waiting list of 20 cashed-up buyers ready to pull the trigger. I understand agents can add a little mayo sometimes but in this market, I don’t think they are exaggerating πŸ˜‘.

I have been looking at homes since the start of last year and I know what similar types of houses were selling for then and what they are being sold for now. I reckon real estate has jumped at least 20% within the last 12 months in my home town.

And it’s not just here either. I have been receiving a few pamphlets from real estate agents up in Queensland (where we have our remaining two investment properties) asking me if I’m looking to sell. If you’re a regular reader of these updates you may have remembered me talking about selling one of the Queensland properties in August last year. I had a few appraisals done and wasn’t exactly blown away so I thought we’d sit of them for a bit longer. Well, the new appraisals have come in and the market up there must be really picking up as well because the ballpark estimates that I’ve been receiving have been very good IMO and I’m probably going to offload one property this financial year if everything works out.

It’s pretty insane that this has happened, right? Who could have predicted that house prices around the country it seems, would have gone through the roof during a global pandemic 🀯???

I’m no fortunate teller, but I really don’t see house prices going down anytime soon. The market can definitely slump, and stagnate over many years. But the major factor for a big crash comes down to interest rates IMO. Because if people aren’t forced to sell, they won’t!

Even if house prices do slump, there’s almost an unbreakable psychological law in Australian real estate to never, ever, ever sell for less then you bought it for. Even if it takes you 20 years, ignoring inflation, ignoring buying and selling costs, ignoring opportunity costs… it’s simply unthinkable to sell your house for less than what you paid for it.

And the only thing that will ever force people to sell for a loss is if they can’t meet serviceability which brings us back to interest rates.

So whilst it does suck to try and find a house in this market, as long as we find the right house, I’m not too worried about paying a bit extra because I really can’t see house prices coming down that much (if at all). The biggest issue we’re facing atm is stock on the market. I’m hoping that when job keeper ends at the end of March and when the COVID tenant protection laws finish, there will be a lot of people listing their homes to capitalise on this hot market. I don’t expect a price drop (it would be nice), I’m just hoping for more options to choose from because at the moment we can’t even go to an inspection without the house already being under offer 😩.

I’d love to know how the local markets are where you guys live in the comment section below πŸ™‚

 

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

*DISCLAIMER*
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

A solid month with some great dividends in January πŸ’°

As I’ve mentioned in previous months, we have put a halt to buying shares for the time being with all our savings going into the house deposit when we find the right one. So the portfolio will continue to tick along at the current splits for the time being. Once we have our house, it will be back at it again!

 

Networth

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

DEC20 Net Worth $859,482 (+$30,096)

And so we have reached the final NW update of 2020.

WHAT. A. YEAR.

I finished my contract in early December before Mrs. FB and I jetted off to Sweden for Christmas and some sightseeing.

I’ll be honest…Β  the last couple of months in London were a real struggle for me. The second lockdown plus our housemate testing positive for Covid in November (which resulted in us being locked inside for two weeks) really got me down. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I finished up work and secured my bonus. We’re going to miss this amazing city and all the friends we have made here a lot, but because of Covid/lockdown, the goodbye was a lot easier and we were keen to get out of the UK if I’m being truthful.

With that being said, I made it into the office during our last week to see that killer view one last time… and I actually managed to get Mrs. FB a guest pass too. She got to see this beautiful sunset with me on my last day which was very special.

Going to miss this view 😒

After saying our goodbyes and packing up our London life it was off to Stockholm to squeeze in one last trip before returning to the motherland.

We originally wanted to do a Scandinavian tour that also included Iceland and Norway to end the year but given the current environment, I’m just thankful we at least got to see Sweden. I was super interested to see how the Swedes were handling Covid because they were one of only a few countries that didn’t implement strict lockdown measures. It was a bit weird to be walking in and out of shops without putting on a mask in Stockholm and tbh, you wouldn’t really know that there was a global pandemic if it wasn’t for the signs.

The Swedes have a bit of social distancing already built into their culture (they rarely stand close to each other in general) which was a common explanation I received from asking the locals what they thought about their country’s response to the situation. That and their government seems to trust the citizens to do the right thing and for vulnerable people to isolate.

We then made our way up north to a town called Abisko to see the northern lights. And when I say up north, I really mean up north.

Abisko, Sweden

I was staring at the map when we got to Abisko and I’m pretty sure it’s the furthest away from home I’ve ever been (in terms of distance). We went there with the sole purpose of seeing the aurora borealis dance across the sky which has been a bucket list item for many years.

If you’ve ever been this far up north, you’ll know that it starts to get dark around 2:30 PM πŸ‘Ž which feels so unnatural. I honestly don’t know how people live up there. I can handle 6 hours of light for a few days but I could never do a full season.

Anyway, the first night was -4Β°C and full of clouds. We couldn’t see any stars which is a bad sign. We lasted around 2.5 hours on the lake (you have to head down to the lake to reduce the light pollution from the town) before we called it quits at around 10:30 PM freezing our asses off!

We booked a photo tour on the second night because we had read that they will drive you to the best spots and you need a good camera to capture the lights properly. The tour wasn’t cheap at around $170 AUD a head πŸ’Έ but we thought “What the hell, when are we ever going to be here again”. Off we went into a chilli -7Β°C night chasing the aurora in the minivan. We pulled up to a few different spots but the issue remained… more… god… damn… clouds. Try as we might, the heavens just wouldn’t play ball and we ended up finishing the tour seeing diddly-squat. The tour guide did give us some good pointers and basically said that to see the lights, you just need to be patient. Abisko is one of the best places to see the aurora because it’s situated between a mountain and a lake which means the clouds have a tendency to clear up to reveal the magic of the lights that sit behind them. I headed back out to the lake after we got back from the tour just in case the clouds cleared up but I could only last until about 1 AM before calling it quits.

Google weather was predicting that our third and final night was going to be clear up around 11 PM and I was absolutely HELL BENT on seeing this goddam spectacle. And just my luck, this night was also the coldest of the three with weather dropping down to -10Β°C plus wind πŸ₯Ά. I bought some firewood from the shop and put on 100 layers of clothes and headed out to the lake at around 8 PM to start a fire in the pit.

The annoying thing is the town has a ‘webcam’ live feed pointed at the sky which you can look at from your phone/laptop in the cabins. It’s theoretically meant to show you when the lights are visible so you don’t have to sit down by the lake in the cold all night. But the issue with that feed is that the camera picks up lights that you can’t see with the human eye. I was down on the lake for a few hours before a lot of people from the town came down because the live feed was showing green streaks in the sky. But if you looked up, you couldn’t see anything πŸ˜•… it was at this point that I started to wonder if the aurora was just made up by the tourism industry πŸ˜….

Mrs. FB tapped out around 11 PM and I pushed on into the night waiting, hoping, praying that I would see a glimmer of green. I kept updating Google weather waiting for the sky to clear up but frustratingly, every time I did, the predictions were continually pushed back 30 minutes and before you knew it, 4 AM was upon us and I had to wave the white flag.

We left Abikso sad and exhausted after not being able to see what we went there for. But in a weird way, I guess that’s what makes the northern light so special. You aren’t guaranteed to see them and you’re very lucky if you do. I’ll try again one day but after failing this time around I definitely have some pointers for anyone out that wants to see them.

  • Don’t plan your trip with the sole purpose of seeing the lights
  • I’d personally go to the Norway city of TromsΓΈ next time. Abikso is meant to be one of the best places to see the lights in the world but there’s literally nothing else there. At least you have a lot of other activities to do in a city
  • The odds of seeing the lights as epic as they are advertised on tourism ads are extremely unlikely. Our guide said they only really come out like that and dance across the sky a few times a season. You can get some good photos with a proper camera but the naked eye experience can be a letdown
  • Try to stay for at least a week to ensure you have multiple chances of seeing them
  • Don’t trust any website/app. The accuracy of forecasting the lights is incredibly low.

We then caught the overnight train to a snow mountain called Γ…re. It had to be one of, if not the most scenic mountains I’ve ever been to because of the unique sunrise/set that lasts for hours whilst you’re snowboarding. It also has an incredibly pretty little snow village that looks like something out of a movie.

Γ…re, Sweden

The cutest little Christmas snow village

Frozen Lake with Mrs. FB

One of the most impressive things about this mountain was the fact that it had a train station in the middle of town.

The Polar Express

I’ve never seen that before. It must have a really gradual incline up the mountain for a train to work right? Whatever black magic the Swedes were casting, I was very grateful it was there because it made travel super easy for both up and off the mountain. We caught a sleeper train off the mountain to our friends home town of Γ„ngelholm to spend Christmas with her and her family.

We almost had a meltdown in Γ…re when we read on the news that Singapore had stopped transit flights from the UK after a new strain of Covid was discovered 😩. Our ticket home departed from London on the 2nd of January and included a stopover in Singapore before flying to Adelaide… It was so hard to figure out what our options were and if we were actually allowed to fly home. Because things were moving so fast, Singapore Airlines couldn’t really give a definitive answer on anything. What a nightmare. After a really intense 4 hours of phone calls and panic Googling, we decided to switch our first leg to leave from Copenhagen instead of London. Thank God Singapore Airlines had an available flight from Copenhagen that they let us switch to free of charge.

Christmas was very fun and NYE was a bit boring which was fine, our focus was well and truly on getting home at that stage.

On the 2nd of January, after two years of being away, we finally boarded the plane that began our journey home.

Arriving in Singapore was an experience I’ll never forget. We got out of the plane to 6 people in full on hazmat suits lol. I’d heard about how serious Singapore was taking Covid but it was still pretty surreal to go through it.

You know those movies where the army sets up a makeshift camp with quarantined off areas and there will be a bunch of people trying to get through all different stages of security… yeah it was like that. The only thing that was missing was a dude with a huge hose blasting naked people down before they’re allowed to enter πŸ˜‚. I’ve got some videos of the whole ordeal that I’ll be showing my kids one day I’m sure. Crazy times!

We finally got to Adelaide and were ushered away to The Playford hotel in Adelaide where I sit typing up this post in quarantine. We have been really lucky with our hotel which includes an upstairs loft, big 50 inch TV and spa 🀩. We’re apart of the ‘Aussies in Quarantine’ Facebook group and some of the stories we have been reading have been horrific

And with that, our overseas adventure has come to an end. We’re now onto the next chapter in our lives and even though we’re stuck in this hotel for another 10 days, damn it feels good to be back home 🐨🦘β™₯.

Net Worth Update

The NW had solid contributions from our share portfolio and Super this month. But the big bump came from my bonus I received which was Β£20K.

We started the year at $770K and finish at ~$860K. A $90K increase in net worth is the lowest yearly jump for us since 2014-2015 but considering we had one of the worst stock market crashes in history, I’m very happy with those results.

I thought we might be on track to crack a mil in 2021 but this is looking less likely now unless there are some big gains coming up. I used to dream about becoming a millionaire before 30 when I was a kid and you know what, I came pretty damn close. Mrs. FB is keeping that dream alive though as she won’t hit the big 3. 0. until late December this year.

There are two big factors that will have major impacts on the net worth for us in 2021.

  1. I’m officially unemployed 😁. This means no fat London contracting checks anymore. Mrs. FB is back into fulltime teaching in two weeks which means we’ll be on a single salary until I figure out what I want to do (I’ll have more on this in the next update)
  2. We’re going to buy a home this year πŸ‘πŸŽ‰. This will have a pretty big impact on our net worth because I don’t classify a PPOR as an asset. It doesn’t really make a difference to us in terms of reaching our FIRE goals but the deposit we use as a down payment for a house will essentially be removed from these updates. I’m looking at debt recycling atm because the plan is to put as much money into the home loan as possible and either withdraw or use a line of credit to get that money back out so we can invest it but have that portion of the loan be tax-deductible (AKA debt recycling). I haven’t been able to sink my teeth into the finer details just yet but please rest assured I will be making an article detailing my experience.

 

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

*DISCLAIMER*
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Not much going on here.

We didn’t buy any shares in December and won’t be buying any for a while now. The priority has shifted to buying a home and increasing our deposit for when the right property comes up. We were looking at spending around $400K-$450K but house prices have jumped significantly in 2020 and I think we won’t be able to get what we want for under $500K.

We have ~$70K in cash right now and I hate holding this much without doing anything. I’m obviously a big fan of having an emergency fund of around $25K (that’s what we’re comfortable with), but anything past that feels like wasted gains. We do have an offset that makes holding a lot of cash much more attractive (vs storing it in a HISA) but the amount of money being created all around the world worries me a lot. I don’t want to be holding the bag if inflation gets out of control.

 

Networth

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

NOV20 Net Worth $829,386 (+$31,586)

Ahhh 2020… the gift that just keeps on giving…

London went back into lockdown at the start of November, which to be fair, a lot of people were predicting. So it didn’t come as much of shock to most people but it still sucked. But what really felt like a Tyson uppercut was when one of our flatmates came home saying she had tested positive for Covid … 😱

She’s a Covid nurse who has to get tested multiple times a week but the funny thing is that she’s already had Covid before (she’s had the antibody test) and was certain she didn’t actually have it this time. Apparently false positives are not uncommon and it’s what most likely happened. Regardless, as a result, the whole household had to stay inside for two weeks straight without leaving the flat πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

The obvious question I had straight away was couldn’t she get tested again to make sure she actually has it? But the protocol states that even if she gets tested 100 more times and they all show up as negative, that one positive overrules everything and we all need to self isolate for two weeks inside without leaving… πŸ™ƒ…goooooooood

I was already mentally preparing for the two weeks quarantine we are still going to have to do next month when we return home but this really took us by surprise and I was not ready for it at all! I’ve got a skipping rope and was still able to do bodyweight exercises but the lack of sunshine and fresh air really got me down towards the end there.

Because we were locked inside for two weeks, I started to look at gaming systems on Gumtree and thought maybe we can pick one up pretty cheap to help get us through the lockdown. After a bit of research, I decided to get a subscription to a cloud gaming service by Google called Stadia. Hopefully, there are some gamers who read this blog because let me tell you, as a former relatively hardcore gamer, I couldn’t believe that this tech even exists and works so well.

I’ve been eyeing off the new PS5 for a while and there was a pretty good chance I was going to buy one next year but after trying this cloud gaming stuff out… I’m almost certain these latest consoles will be the last ever made. Maybe this is a bold statement but I can’t see how all gaming doesn’t move to the cloud over the next few years.

When you sign up to Stadia, you get given a controller and chrome cast. That’s it. No console!

The controller connects directly to your WiFi and the chrome cast enables your TV to stream the game video. But because the computing and graphic rendering are done in the cloud, the screen that you actually game on can change. It’s so cool and works so well! I can play Red Dead Redemption 2 in the living room (small flex for London that we have a living room ps 😜) but move upstairs to my computer’s 27 inch if the girls want to watch a movie. It even works on your phone/iPad. Because the controller is connected to the net and not a console, you just have to pair the controller with your screen and boom, off you go!

I was also really attracted to fact that you don’t need a subscription to play Stadia games online (unlike Xbox and Playstation) and no big outlay to buy a physical console, the only cost is buying the controller and games.

I promise you I’m not an undercover Google employee because it probably sounds like I’m trying to sell the system. I’m just a tech nerd at heart who works with a lot of cloud technologies and was really impressed at an engineering level that something like this can even exist. Absolute madness!

Stadia just needs to get COD on their system as the lack of zombies was my only gripe πŸ§Ÿβ€β™‚οΈπŸ”«

Net Worth Update

Ho ho ho, did Christmas come early this year πŸŽ…?

Over $50K in gainz from shares and Super which hid an otherwise extremely expensive month since we booked our last holiday and flights back home for next year. I know there was some really positive news on the Covid vaccine front but it’s pretty insane how much the share market went up in November. It’s funny to look at some of the comments that were flying around in March/April. Covid is just another nail in the coffin for trying to time the market.

How many of you guys out there are still on the sidelines waiting for the next drop? What happens if the markets never drop below what they are at right now huh? We all know that eventually, they’re going to reach new heights, but new bottoms are never guaranteed.

All this printing of money does make me wonder about the long term outlook for fiat currencies around the world. I sleep so much better at night knowing the majority of our wealth is stored in businesses and real estate. Don’t get me wrong, having cash on hand is handy. But I can’t help but feel the purchasing power of my emergency account is copping a flogging every time the government drops some sort of stimulus.

Properties

Since it is related to property (just not in the investment sense) I’ll add it in this part…

I’ve been looking at home loans recently and have been blown away at how low an interest rate you can get on a fixed mortgage. We have been looking at houses since the start of the year because we want kids one day and I’ve been crunching the numbers on renting vs buying for our area and the results are leaning towards buying which shocked me a bit. Much of this has been driven by low-interest rates though. I’d love to know who you guys are with and what rate your paying (also if it’s fixed or variable) in the comment section, please πŸ™‚

 

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

*DISCLAIMER*
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Wowzers!

The ASX goes bang in November.

I was thinking about this the other day. An investor’s reaction to sharemarket movements can be a reflection of their personality in many ways. You see, it doesn’t matter what the sharemarket does, I always find a reason to be happy about the result.

If it drops, that’s awesome! I can now pick up great companies at a reduced price. If it rockets upwards, that’s also great, look at how much wealthier we just became. Even if it goes sideways I usually can pick out some positive in the markets low volatility and how good it is πŸ˜…

I’m an optimist at heart and investing/life is a lot easier if you have a positive mindset. I truly believe that!

 

Networth

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

OCT20 Net Worth $797,800 (+$18,573)

October was mainly a forgetful month for many reasons this year πŸ‘Ž with a few highlights sprinkled in.

Firstly, as you may have remembered from last months update, we went for a little holiday to Greece/Italy for 2 weeks in September. Now, you’d think that when someone is on holidays, work would either be covered by the rest of the team or the project would be put on hold, right?… LOL, not in London and especially not in the financial services industry.

I got back to 100+ Slack messages and Sprints/Epics coming out the wazoo. So the first two weeks of October were loooooooooong as I was chasing my tail a bit. The contractor lifestyle works really well when you start and stop contracts, but jetting off in the middle of one is a recipe for stress let me tell you that! Don’t get me wrong, the company gave me the time off and all that, it’s just that you basically have to deliver the same stuff just minus the time you took off lol. I did wonder if it was technically a holiday or I just used up all my free time in advance and then had to pull a few 14 hour days πŸ˜…

I had wrapped up my other contract last year when we did our big Euro summer trip which is the way to do it for any aspiring contractors reading this. When you have a gig, the day rates are so high because they expect you to deliver a lot of output. The beauty of this is that you can earn a tonne over a few months and then take a big break and explore/travel before jumping into the next contract. This lifestyle works perfectly for a young couple looking to see Europe but I couldn’t imagine doing it forever or even with a young family. It’s pretty demanding.

To make matter worse during this stressful time, Mrs FB ditched me to go on an all-girls trip to Cyprus for two weeks 😭

Haha, I actually encouraged her to go but basically, one of our flatmates recently quit her job and booked a little YOLO trip to grab some last-minute summer sun. She said she was going and our other flatmate said she might be able to get work off and before you know it, the entire flat except for me booked a spontaneous trip to sunny Cyprus within the week.

I probably could have gone if I really pushed it but I like to get back into a routine after time off plus I have a bonus tied to this contract which would have potentially been in jeopardy if I missed any more work.

I have to admit though, when you’re slugging away at 7 PM finishing something for work and you get photos like these from Cyprus, you do die a little inside.

Limassol, Cyprus

 

And to make matters even worse, the UK announced lockdown 2.0 for the month of November πŸ€ͺ. So no more travelling until December and even that’s not guaranteed at all. We had originally planned to end this trip by going to Norway, Sweden and then a snow trip in Austria. But things have changed a lot and Sweden is the only country that doesn’t have a quarantine rule atm for people arriving from the UK. So if we can get to Sweden in December that’s a big win but there’s a chance that we won’t be able to visit any other countries and will just fly home at the start of January πŸ‘Ž.

But enough doom and gloom.

There were some great moments in October, with one of them being the magical colour all the leaves turn when Autumn hits the city 😍

Battersea Park

I may be biased… but I think London has the best parks of any major city in the world!

And the thing I do appreciate about living somewhere with seasons is how different the city feels every 3 months. Most people like the long warm nights of summer and the magical Christmas spirit of sipping on some mulled wine during winter, but the colours during Autumn can be just as mesmerising!

We did Richmond park last year around the same time and it is really a sight to behold when all the leaves are turning yellow/red and falling. Love it!

I also caught up with another AFB reader Ryan in October to kick around an Aussie rules Sherrin which is something I haven’t done in over two years πŸ‰

A bit of Aussie rules with Ryan

And lastly, the Aussie FIRE discussion Facebook group recently had it’s 1 year birthday. Unbelievably we’re closing in on nearly 8K members which is just insane.

And as strange as it is to be talking about the Facebook group, I have actually decided to delete my personal Facebook after watching The Social Dilemma documentary. So if you are friends with me on Facebook, please don’t think I’m ignoring your messages πŸ˜…. Mrs. FB’s Facebook account has taken over the admin rights for the page and group.

Net Worth Update

A little bit of movement from the sharemarket/Super but the bulk of the gains once again came from the paycheck. Mrs. FB worked a few days here and there but was mainly living it up in the Mediterranean πŸ™„πŸ˜œ. One thing that did help a lot this month was the fact that we paid two months worth of rent in September due to some bills coming in for the flat. So the lack of monthly rent definitely inflated the savings for October.

So close to the $800K mark too. It’s funny to think about where I wanted to finish 2020 in terms of the net worth (closer to $900K lol) but who could have known about Covid πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

Properties

No changes in the properties this month.

 

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

*DISCLAIMER*
The current value of our properties is a rough guesstimation based on similar surrounding properties. I only really update these when we get an official bank valuation

ETFs/LICs

The above graph is created by Sharesight

We didn’t actually manage to buy any shares in October because I forgot to send money back home to invest. We use Transferwise* to send GBP back home to AUD so we can continue to invest whilst being overseas. I know there are few of you guys out there that want to invest whilst travelling and living overseas and don’t worry, I have a big article coming that’s going to break down how we do this and what to consider plus a whole bunch of other stuff about living overseas.

* This link is an affiliate link and I may earn some commission from it. Please see my affiliate page for more info.

 

Networth

FEB21 Net Worth $894,842 (+$4,080)

SEP20 Net Worth $779,227 (-$1,915)

How tf is it the end of September already!?

Man, I remember thinking about this once in a lifetime Euro trip (that we’re currently on) for years and now we only have a few more months here before we head back home… and that’s if we are even allowed back home πŸ˜…. The Aussies in London Facebook group is littered with stories of flights being cancelled at the last minute and there’s already a big backlog of ex-pats trying to return. I’m πŸ™ that things open up a bit next year and we can make it back without too much hassle.

On a positive note, we managed to sneak in a late Summer trip to the Greek Islands/Italy in September.

We booked a one-way ticket to Kefalonia with a group of 6 mates for some sunshine, beers and bulk Gyros πŸ˜€


The Island was stunning with some of the clearest water I’ve ever swum in. And it was relatively cheap too which was a bonus. I’ve heard that If you go to the more touristy/popular islands like Santorini or Mykonos it’s a lot more expensive. But to be honest, anything that isn’t London is pretty cheap lol. The 6 of us would all go out for dinner ordering a small feast with drinks in a stunning beachfront restaurant and the bill would be ~ €80 πŸ‘Œ.

We stayed in Kefalonia for 5 nights and then caught a 30-minute flight to another Greek Island called Corfu to explore that bad boy.

We loved Greece! Very friendly people, the weather was amazing (a lot hotter than I thought it would be for Septemeber) and the food/beer was phenom.

The other couples we were travelling with had to fly back to London but Mrs FB wasn’t ready to leave the sunshine just yet so we jumped on Sky Scanner to look at flights. I’m lucky that I can work from my Laptop in my current role which means we can do a bit of travelling whilst I work which is a big bonus.

We decided to head to Sicily for a few reasons.

  1. It was hot
  2. Pizza/pasta
  3. My Nonno/Nonna are from a small town in Sicily and it’s been on my bucket list for a while to see where my dad’s side of the family come from

It’s pretty insane to think about how many families uprooted their entire lives to migrate to Australia all those years ago. It’s something I find hard to relate to growing up in a country like Australia where opportunities are everywhere. But of course, this isn’t the case for most other counties as I’ve witnessed first hand over the last 2 years.

Can you imagine what they would have gone through? Leaving everything they’ve ever known to move to a foreign country that speaks another language, all the animals are trying to kill you and it’s upside down 😜

So when we landed in Trapani, I hired a Vespa and Mrs FB and I took off around the Sicilian countryside to my Italian grandparent’s home town of Calatafimi.

Burning around the Sicilian countryside on our Vespa πŸ›΅

Temple of Segesta, Sicily

Island of Favignana, Sicily

It was a bit anti-climatic when we did arrive at our destination because there’s really not much going on in the town… which is why I guess they decided to migrate in the first place right. But it was very cool to walk the same streets that my Nonno and Nonna did 70 odd years ago.

We spend the rest of the week in Trapani where I worked during the day and Mrs. FB hit the beach. We went out for dinner in the old town that had otherworldly Italian delicacies πŸ˜‹.

Freshly piped cannoli 🀀 lord have mercy!

Net Worth Update

Not much action going on here.

The markets had a little slump and we’re back to one income now that Mrs. FB furlough payments have stopped. She might try to find some work before we leave but has actually booked another girls trip with her mates to Cyprus for next week πŸ™„ so I think it will basically just be my contract up until the start of December and then we’ll both be unemployed πŸŽ‰. So I can’t see us saving too much over the next few months. Any gains will most likely have to come from the portfolio.

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

We bought ~$34K of VAS last month which might surprise some of you since we have been investing in A200 so heavily for our Australian weighted part of the portfolio. The reason we decided to go with VAS this time around and not A200 is to spread out our risk a little bit. The MER between both A200 and VAS is largely irrelevant for a modest portfolio. And it’s really a race to the bottom with fees anyway so the chances of them going even lower in the future are high. I also like the idea of investing in multiple companies. The A200 piece of the pie was starting to become very large so I just went with VAS this time around.

To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind this decision. I think both A200 and VAS are suitable financial products for any Firebug to build their snowball with. I logged onto the computer the other week to do our monthly purchase of shares, seen that the Australian part of the portfolio was the most underweight, looked at the A200 piece of the pie and just thought “hmmm… I’m feeling VAS this time” πŸ˜‚. I’m definitely not an investing genius (as you can probably tell) and our investment strategy is incredibly vanilla and boring.

Other than that, the markets took a bit of a tumble but nothing out of the ordinary (especially this year).

 

Networth

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