Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

Things are finally starting to feel semi-normal again here in London πŸ™Œ.

We’re still wearing masks in indoor places but most of the things we care about (restaurants, gyms, markets etc.) have opened back up and really the only major hassle for us at the moment is the risk of having to quartine when travelling outside of the UK.

I finally was able to take a holiday in August after working at an unsustainable pace for the last 8 months πŸ€ͺ (which is the reason for the lack of podcasts this year). I managed to snag two weeks off and Mrs. FB and I ummed and ahhed about whether we wanted to risk quarantine and head overseas. We decided it was better to explore a bit of the UK instead and to aim for a Euro trip in September depending on what happens, which I felt was the right move.

So we decided to load up the playlist with bulk Taylor Swift bangers and head north.

After doing a nearly two-hour roundtrip commute for 5 years at my first job, I’d never thought I’d say that I was really looking forward to jumping back into a car to set off on a 1,500 miles road trip. There’s something different about blasting your favourite tracks on a road trip that I’d sorely missed.

We headed up north to explore some of the other cities in England and pop over to the top of Scottland visiting the following:

  • Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of William Shakespeare)
  • Liverpool
  • Lake District
  • Edinburgh
  • Inverness (home of the Loch Ness monster 🐍)
  • Isle of Skye
  • Newcastle (we got mortal)
  • York

First off, I feel like the department of tourism for the UK has done a terrible job promoting the Lake District or I just haven’t been paying attention. I had no idea that places like this existed here.

Like… what the hell England? Since when do you have stunning lakes with rolling countryside 😍

We went back to Edinburgh for a day even though we’d already been there because Mrs. FB wanted to catch up with a friend and I wanted to catch up properly with Brandon aka The Mad Fientist. I’d met Brandon briefly at the London Premier of Playing with Fire and even had him on the podcast back in 2016 but I always wanted to sit down and have a chat with the man that really inspired me to create Aussie Firebug. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and if you look closely, you can clearly see that this website and podcast is heavily inspired by Brandon’s work at the Mad Fientist.

Aussie HIFIRE wrote a great article last year called Folks Need Heroes (and the equally fantastic follow-up article Folks need heroes – but you shouldn’t follow them) which really summed up the Australian FIRE scene and listed a whole bunch of Aussie content creators from different stages of life with different creative styles.

Everybody who’s into FIRE knows who Mr Money Moustache is and a lot of people would probably say he’s their favourite FIRE blogger. But that wasn’t the case for me!

I clicked with what Brandon was writing/podcasting about a lot more because he was more related to me than Pete and the others. MMM had already retired and had kids. Brandon was still on the road towards FI and I have (and still do) an unhealthy obsession with podcasts so naturally, I gravitated towards his content the most.

This guy really played a pivotal role in the direction my life has taken and I’ve always felt like I’d like to tell him that in person. As a blogger, you might get a few extremely heartfelt emails from people explaining just how much you’ve helped them, but it’s different when you meet these people in real life.

We braved Scotland’s scorching summer heat of 19 degrees to have some street food at The NeighbourGood Market and the funny thing is we didn’t really chat about FIRE at all. It was a great experience getting to know someone you look up to and I hope he makes it down under one day.

I was so glad we made it back to Scotland to explore the highlands. The 500-mile road trip called the North Coast 500 was truly epic. I couldn’t get a good shot of the road (the below is from Google images) during the drive but it has to be one of the most beautiful and scenic trips I’ve ever done in my life.

Source: mckinlaykidd.com

All throughout Scotland, we kept seeing this bright purple like growth throughout the giant hills and valleys. I originally thought it was a little patch of flowers or something but the stuff was everywhere! Turns out that it’s actually a gorgeous flower that’s commonly referred to as heather which enhances the already stunning views throughout the countryside.

We saw and did a lot within the two weeks but my favourite place we visited had to be the Isle of Skye!

I mean… check out some of these photos!

Old Man of Storr

I felt like I was in The Land Before Time or maybe Lord of The Rings.

We were absolutely blessed to have good weather for the majority of the trip too. A lot of people I’ve spoken to that have done the same trip had to fight the elements the whole time. So it’s very weather dependant unfortunately but worth seeing it either way.

 

I also received a super cool email in August from an extremely talented fella called Beau. Beau actually reached out to me years ago and he shot me through an update which mentioned something along the lines of an Aussie Firebug brand re-design/App he made for a project. Well, I don’t know what I was expecting but the work he did for the fan piece blew me away.

Check this out!


It is so impressive and professional-looking, I just had to give it a shout out in the monthly update!

Beau is probably going to kill me because I had to reduce the quality of the pics but if you want to check out the whole re-brand piece, head over to his Behance Page. There’s even a little video demo showing how the app would function πŸ€―πŸ‘.

And if anyone is reading this thinking “HOLY CRAP THAT’S GOOD DESIGN! I need a digital designer for my business” I would more than recommend you hit up Beau on LinkedIn.

Net Worth Update

$781K 🀯 that’s a record baby!

Talk about that V-shaped recovery

We have officially climbed our way back from the COVID bear market to reach our all-time high πŸ™Œ. I’ve probably jinxed it now (but secretly all non-retired people should hope for another crashπŸ˜‰) but it’s pretty crazy how quick that crash was. I’m sure all this government stimulus has lead us into a false sense of security but you have to celebrate the wins when you get em right.

It’s funny because at the start of the year I was hoping that we’d be closing in on $900K, not $800 lol. But that’s the markets for ya.

If you read our last update you would know that Mrs. FB withdrew $10K from her Super last FY. She withdrew another $10K for this FY which we need to get into the markets as our cash reserves are way too high for our liking. We still might buy a house next year so part of me likes having a big fat deposit ready to go but the other half feels like all that money is just losing value in our offset (I know it isn’t but still).

Properties

So, after seeing the unexplainable real estate boom that my local town back home has witnessed throughout lockdowns I thought, “What the hell, let’s take another look at the market on the Goldie and see if the prices have picked up at all”.

I’ve had pamphlet after pamphlet delivered to my parent’s house back in Oz to ask if I’d be interested in selling. I emailed one of them saying I was looking for offers and to get a free appraisal done.

The appraisals didn’t exactly blow me away so I’m back in the camp of waiting until things improve. That could be many years away but we’re in no rush to sell. I’ll definitely be updating you all in these articles if things change here.

 

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

The markets continue to march ⬆ and we continue to DCA into it each month as per the plan. Pretty boring πŸ™‚

One big change that was made in our portfolio during August was the sell-off of our holdings in AFI. We only had around $15K in there and the plan was to always sell it eventually to simplify our portfolio because it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to our weightings. A200 and VAS make up the bulk of our Aussie holdings and we will at some point probably sell MLT too. I was happy with the 8.1% return AFI gave us over the last ~18 months but I can’t say the same for Milton, which unfortunately is currently sitting at 1.61% πŸ™ƒ. I know it’s a long term game so I think we’ll wait until MLT bounces back before we eventually sell it and get down to only 4 holdings. I think we’ll keep VAS + A200 for the foreseeable future in case VAS does lower their management fees in the future which is almost a certainty.

 

Networth

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

JUL20 Net Worth $768,693 (+$4,266)

Forget the savings rates, forget which ETFs/LICs performed the best, forget the whole bloody net worth for a minute…

Whilst all very important in their own right, they PALE in comparison to what else happened in July…

πŸ₯πŸ₯πŸ₯

THE PUBS ARE OPEN!

I cannot even begin to try and describe the difference in my mental health now that things have started to open up. Human beings are social creatures! Even if you’re an introvert, we all have our little tribes and as much as Zoom calls try their best, they just ain’t the same as knocking back a few with your mates at a nice rooftop in Peckham.

The other massive plus this month has been the fact that my work has opened up the office again. I’m only a 20-minute bike ride in and with luxuries like dual 27-inch monitors, coffee machines and even free snack foods, it was an easy decision to start doing a few days in the city and a few from home.

A lot of my colleagues are coming in only once a week because it takes them an hour to commute in. I’d probably be doing the same thing too if I were them but since I’m so close, the change of scenery has been spectacular not to mention the water cooler convo’s in the office. There are only around 10-15 people in at once in the office which must be a tough pill to swallow for the company as they fork out over Β£200K a month to rent the office space (holds around 200 people).

It’s a bit surreal atm in London. We have been heading out to pubs and restaurants and the crowds and lines are nearly all but vanished! I’d love to see some data on how many tourists and ex-pats there usually are in London and what that number is currently. It’s actually the perfect time to knock out some of the touristy stuff because there’s hardly anyone doing it!

Net Worth Update

We had an expensive month and the share market/Super went down so we still haven’t hit our all-time high of $770,141 just yet.

We have officially booked our wedding for next year and a 2-week road trip around England/Scotland for August. I’d like to do an entire post about the wedding costs so that one will have to wait (not everything has been paid for just yet) and we thought it was too risky to try and travel internationally so decided we should explore the UK instead.

I’m actually writing this update on our August road trip which has been great so far (it will feature heavily in the August NW update).

Our discretionary spending shot up heaps in July because a lot of businesses started to open back up again. We spent sweet FA during lockdown but it wasn’t a strategic choice. As I’ve mentioned many times, the trip we’re on atm was never intended to make us money. We wanted to see and do as many things as possible.

And I know there’s some of you out there that go through these updates with laser-like precision who may have picked up on our cash reserves getting a big bump while out Super has gone down. You might have guessed what happened but Mrs. FB was eligible to withdraw $10K from her Super after losing her job during the last financial year. I spoke a bit about it in the early access to Super podcast but essentially, we’re building our financial independence snowball outside of Super for a bunch of reasons and withdrawing made sense for our situation. She is also going to take out another $10K for this financial year too so expect to see a further drop in that part of the pie in the next update.

Properties

Ok so this is an interesting topic that I’ve personally been seeing and I’d love to hear from you guys to see if it’s the same or if it’s different.

We would like to buy a house when kids come on the scene and I’ve been watching the local property market of our home town like a hawk since the start of the year. When COVID hit, I set up a bunch of alerts to take advantage of a situation that might have presented itself. I mean, one of the worst economic crisis to hit our economy ever, businesses going bankrupt, people losing jobs. You’d think that house prices would take a hit right…?

Wrong!

I can only speak for my home town because that’s what I’ve been paying attention to but house prices seem to actually be going up along with the demand for them.

I have never pretended to know wtf is going on with any market because as you all should know by now, it’s almost impossible to predict the future, but taking a stab at it, surely this is a result of government stimulus right?

Job-keeper, Job-seeker, $20K FHOG, $25K Home Builder grant, $20K early access to your Super…

These things can’t go on forever… can they?

I’m sure someone is going to point out the hypocrisy of me continuing to invest in the stock market when the same could be said about its recent recovery and trying to time the housing market is the same as trying to time the share market… and to that I say… yeah I agree lol.

But it’s still fun to talk about why we think these things are happening and just what would it take for housing in Australia to take a tumble. Because if COVID can’t shake it… will anything?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section.

 

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

So I actually took this screenshot but didn’t record our net worth until later which has thrown off the numbers here a bit. The long story short is that we did make some money in the share market in July but because I didn’t get around to making this post straight after, the market went down and we ended up lower in this July update then we were in June.

Also, we didn’t make any trades this month because in one of the worst kept secret ever, I have switched to a new broker… more details on this to come.

 

Networth

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

JUN20 Net Worth $764,427 (+$27,457)

I can’t believe we’re halfway through 2020 already.

The last 3.5 months have flown by and our Euro adventure will be over before we know.

It’s crazy to think back to last year and how much more we did between March and June in 2019.

We:

  • Flew from Dubai into our new home for the next two years, London city
  • Downloaded City Mapper, opened a bank account with Monzo and set up our Oyster card. All essentials for London newbies
  • Found our new flat and met our new flatmates
  • I got my first tastes of contract work and was blown away by job opportunities and just how much the city of London has to offer
  • Visited Belgium, Scottland and Germany

Whereas so far in lockdown I’ve…

  • Not ventured past a 5km radius of Clapham North
  • Re-watched season 4-10 of The Simpsons
  • Grown a beard and now look homeless
  • Came to the realisation that Carole Baskin killed her husband

To say this year is not panning out as I’d hoped is putting it lightly.

On the flip side, whilst we never, ever intended to go on this trip to save money, lockdown has actually forced nearly everyone on the planet to spend less purely by taking away options. We aren’t spending money on restaurants, entertainment, concerts, live sports… you know, all the good stuff we moved here to do and see πŸ˜….

Not being able to travel absolutely sucks. We will be back home early next year and then it’s on to the next chapter of our lives. Who knows when we’ll be back in Europe, and even when we do come back, I doubt we’ll ever be as carefree as we’re now.

Ah well, ya win some you lose some. At least we got to do so much last year and looking at the bigger picture outside of our bubble, we’re very fortunate to be in a job and healthy.

But speaking of travelling, we are planning on doing a small trip around the UK in August. We want to visit Wales, the midlands and venture into the Scottish highlands.

Given the current circumstances, especially after hearing about Victoria and parts of Spain going back into stricter lockdown, it was too risky to book anything international in the event that we might need to quarantine once we get there.

I’ve been wondering if we’ll be allowed back into Australia at the end of the year now.

It’s been unbelievable watching Daniel Andrews speak about reinstating stage 3 restrictions after the recent outbreak. It’s such a hard decision with no right answer. They need to lock shit down in case it gets out of control, but that surely can’t be a long term strategy… right? Is the world relying on a cure/vaccine? I mean, if Victoria (or any other state) has to shut down every time there’s a flare-up… when will this end? I haven’t been following it closely enough to really have an educated opinion but part of me feels like Australia has shifted from flattening the curve to stop the hospitals being overrun to completely eradicating the virus from the country. And with NZ/Greenland being shining examples that it’s definitely possible I understand the want to be part of that group. My only question with all of this is what happens after that’s achieved? Quarantine for everyone coming into the country until there’s a cure/vaccine?

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been following it more closely than I have in the comment section.

Net Worth Update

Strong gains from the sharemarket/Super plus another stellar month saving most of our πŸ’°.

Only $6K off our all-time high too. Talk about that V shape recovery!

Properties

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

Good returns, not bhed.

Before the Rona, I was expecting our dividends to be a fair bit higher than what they were this month. But given what has unfolded globally, it’s still a bit surreal to receive dividends at all. Not what I was hoping/expecting but we’ll take it anyway.

We purchased around $15K worth of A200 in June after we transferred back some £££ home.

 

Networth

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

MAY20 Net Worth $736,970 (+$35,253)

Another month in lockdown another update with not much going on πŸ™ƒ

It’s feeling a little bit like groundhog day here in London. The same old song and dance where the days are melting into weeks and then slowing into months.

For those of you reading who are working from home, does anyone else feel like they’re actually working harder during lockdown? I swear I’ve put in way more hours over the last few months than usual. Maybe it’s something to do with not “knocking off” and heading home. For some reason, I tend to get on a roll at the end of the day and I’ve found myself in a groove with work at like 7ish most nights. I’m getting a lot done but no overtime, unfortunately πŸ‘Ž.

I’ve also got a tonne of Podcasts and articles coming up. I recorded a bunch last month and they’ve just been in the editing room. I’ve just finished a monster post for a project that will be revealed soon so I finally have spare time in the evenings to hop back on the podcast and blog train.

Speaking of podcasts, I was delighted to be a guest on the Passive Income Project podcast the other week.

I spoke with Terry about a bunch of stuff and it was really nice to hear that the Aussie Firebug podcast was actually one of the inspirations for Terry and Ryan to create their own show. I think the show was recorded at some ungodly hour of 4 AM AEST to accommodate my time difference which was much appreciated. Although it meant that Ryan was unable to join us but Terry and I had a really great conversation.

I’d love to meet up with the boys when I’m back too. I got good “I’d have a beer with this bloke” vibes from Tez 🍻

Net Worth Update

Big gains again this month mainly from our share portfolio and savings.

It’s crazy how much you manage to save when you are forced to eliminate the travel and pleasure parts of the budget. We’re definitely tight for London standards but quite lavish compared to how much we usually spend back home.

We had a nice bump from Super too.

We’re slowly crawling our way back to our January all-time high of $770K. The markets are so volatile atm that I just can’t help but feel there’s going to be another drop before the end of the year. It’s funny how stuff like this always seems to happen during or leading up to an election year πŸ€”…

Properties

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

Green across the board!

Still a fair way off the all-time highs of January this year but making up some ground at least.

We bought some VTS ($5K) for the first time since February 18th 2018 🀯. A few of you might find that strange considering I published strategy 2.5 not too long ago that basically said we were going to make the shift to IVV instead. The reason why we are sticking to VTS, for now, is because there have been more whisperings of Vanguard Australia being in the process of making changes to their US-domiciled funds. I’m πŸ™ing that VTS is one of these funds.

If I were starting from scratch I’d probably just go IVV though.

We haven’t needed to buy VTS for over two years because firstly, we made a switch to focus on Aussie shares for a while and secondly, it’s been an absolute beast and is currently our best performer by a mile.

An annualised return of just a touch over 17%!!!

Insane.

And because it’s been such a strong performer, it has rarely needed an injection from us to maintain it’s targeted weighting of 15% in our portfolio.

Networth

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

APR20 Net Worth $701,716 (+$38,249)

Pretty boring month tbh.

Was nice to slow down and smell the roses as they say. And I did enjoy most of April but I felt the last week or so has been a bit of a drag.

Mrs. FB and I have been doing some pretty epic rides on weekends as our daily activity. We’ve been riding through London CBD on the old pushys and I think it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Riding over London Bridge and throughout the CBD when there’s not one car to be seen or heard is surreal. The more I think about it, it’s like the perfect time for cyclist actually. If you wake up semi-early on the weekends and ride through London you can literally have the whole street to yourself and maybe a few other cyclists, but that’s it!

I’ve got heaps of videos and pics to show the kids one day.

Trafalgar Square

Buckingham Palace

In other news, the cogs are still turning in the insurance industry thankfully and the startup I’m working for has actually been hiring people during all of this which is really reassuring. We’ve had a few people join the team during lockdown which is just bizarre. I wonder how they’re feeling not having met anyone in person.

Mrs. FB hasn’t gone back to work but is receiving furlough from her agency which roughly translates to 80% of her income. This has been a nice surprise but part of me does wonder how the hell all of these countries are going to pay for these stimulus packages in the future. Maybe there will be some sort of COVID tax for the next 30 years πŸ€”.

And lastly, I think we’ve exhausted just about every Netflix series out there so if anyone has any killer documentaries/series to watch I’d love to hear about it.

Net Worth Update

We’re back in the 700’s baby!… for now anyway.

Most of the gains we saw came from the stock market and cold hard savings. We basically aren’t spending money on anything other than food and rent so the savings rate is off the charts.

Man, 2020 has been a rollercoaster!

Defying most logic, the markets roared upwards in April returning an incredible 4.4% (for our portfolio) after the monstrous drop in March. We still have a long way to go before we’re back to where we were. And there’s the possibility that we haven’t even seen the bottom yet.

I’m a true believer in index investing so I don’t let my very limited world economic understanding creep into my investment decisions but it’s hard to not look at what’s going on out there and be a bit puzzled by the gains we saw last month. Although the same could be said about the drop I guess.

Did anyone catch Warren Buffett and the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting the other day?

To paraphrase Buffett, he basically asked if anyone truly believed that the value of all companies fell by 30-50% because of this crash? You could conclude that some companies definitely would be worth less, airlines come to mind, but some might actually be benefitting from the current crisis… Amazon anyone?

What has become abundantly clear during April is the stock market is not the economy!

They are linked but are distinctly different as we’re currently seeing right now.

So what does this all mean for us…?

Not much really, continuing to buy and hold 😁

Properties

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

Huge gains for April, most of which came from our US holdings VTS (in percentage terms) but the Aussie companies held their own.

We also received some dividends from A200 and VAS which is what most of the FIRE crowd are more interested in as opposed to the stock price.

A cool feature of Sharesight is the ability to quickly determine what the dividend amount per share was historically. You can do this by hovering over the little chat box icon under the “Recent Income” section in the “Holdings” tab.

Now the interesting part.

VAS paid 91.6 cents per share for the 2019 April dividend and 67.3 cents for the 2020 April dividend

That’s a 27% drop in dividends.

And it’s even worse for A200.

A200 paid 91.5 cents for the 2019 April dividend and 42.4 cents in 2020.

That’s a 54% drop 😲.

Lower dividends were to be expected and tbh are going to continue for a while with the worse yet to come. We can’t shut down the world’s engine without any repercussion and dividends have always been tied more to business performance than share prices.

A200 is still maturing and I’m not sure when we will see comparable dividend yields to VAS but it’s important to note that the total return between the two funds will be similar regardless of A200 size and consequently, it’s lower dividend yield.

We topped up VEU to the tune of ~$5K to bump it back up to 15% of our portfolio.

Networth

AUG20 Net Worth $781,142 (+$12,449)

MAR20 Net Worth $663,469 (-$74,017)

Wooooooweeeee what a month!

Hard to know where to even begin. A lot to get through.

Let’s start with what most of you guys out there will probably be interested in, and that’s the insane crash that happened in March.

Or more appropriately summed up in this pic.

Here’s where we were at in the last net worth update.

ALL-WORLD INDEX

And this is what it looks like now

ALL-WORLD INDEX

Mumma mia!

The COVID-19 crash has officially become one of the worst in history.

Data as of the 13/03/2020

This line chart gives a better historic point of view

Data as of the 17/03/2020

So make no mistake, we’re well and truly in bear country now.

But the thing is, from our investment strategy point of view, nothing has changed from the last update. We bought more stocks in March just like we do every single month and will continue to do throughout our lifetime. The reason I even bring up the above graphs and data is because it’s sort of hard to talk about our biggest net worth drop ever since I’ve been tracking it in 2015 without providing the context of what’s going on in the markets.

I’ve only been investing in the stock market since 2016 and in the grand scheme of things, I’m relatively new to all this stuff, which is why during the panic that swept the FIRE community in March, I reached out to someone who’s been investing throughout many crashes in history (some listed in the above graphs) to draw some wisdom and perspective. That was none other than the Aussie FIRE cult hero himself, Peter Thornhill.

You can have a listen to that podcast here but basically, Peter and I (and most others in FIRE community for that matter) share the same point of view that it’s not wise to try and predict market movements, we should stand to the side of the stampede of panic sellers trying to exit and stick to the plan.

I still think Peter’s unwavering hatred of property is a little bit extreme πŸ˜‚ plus I like both ETFs and LICs but other than that, the man speaks with conviction that’s backed up by decades of experience and proven results. Hard to argue against that!

If you’re worried about this crash from an investing point of view, go listen to that pod.

It was fun to hear that Peter was also a resident of Clapham during his time in London. And yes, in typical Australian fashion, Mrs FB and I both live in Melbourne 2.0 aka Clapham in the South of London.

A big reason that I reached out to Peter to put together that podcast (in record time too I might add) was because I felt like so many people in the Australian FIRE community have never invested through a crash (myself included). So after that podcast was published I decided to start a mini-project that has been on the shelf for ~2 years now. And that’s to conduct an annual Australia FIRE survey each year just like how Stack Overflow does for developers because I suspect that the bulk of people who read this blog haven’t invested through a crash. I really enjoy reading the developer survey each year because it helps me find new technologies, what developers earn in which countries, the most popular IDE tools used by most professionals and so on. I’d love to know the most popular ETFs, LICs, side hustle strategies etc. and create a nice visual for analysis.

It’s completely anonymous and I reached out to the Facebook group for what they wanted to know beforehand. I think it will be super interesting to know where people are at and from which demographic. Like, if I’m between 29-35 from Victoria in a relationship. What are people around that same age investing in and what’s their savings rate etc. etc.

The survey has already been up (just within the FB group) for a week and there’s already been over 200 submissions 🀯

From the limited sample size, it would appear that my original suspicions were correct.

I really think the analytics that will come from this dataset will be extremely interesting!

The analysis will only be as good as the underlying data so if you’re keen to help out, please complete the anonymous survey here.

Anonymous FIRE survey for Aussies. The survey will stay open for the month of April

The results will have its own dedicated post and I’m really excited to share it with you all. Already I’m seeing super interesting submissions and trends between the dimensions.


We started off the month in Bansko, Bulgaria for a weekend of snowboarding.

This was before everything went crazy.

Our trip went something like this:

  • We kept hearing about this Coronavirus thing. Heard it was getting pretty bad and people had cancelled their holidays to Italy
  • There was talk of a shutdown but a lot of people thought it would never come to that. Italy hadn’t handled the situation properly but the UK would surely be ok…
  • We were 50-50 on actually going to Bulgaria but thought surely things can’t get too bad in a space of 3 days…
  • Left on Friday (13th of March) afternoon and whilst we were in the air, Bulgaria declared a national shutdown 🀯
  • We land and discover that everything had been ordered to shutdown immediately and the only place we can get food is in the Super markets 😱
  • At this point, we weren’t sure if the mountain would stay open but the UK hadn’t declared a lock down yet so we were confident that we could get back home on Monday. Worst case we thought we’d just be stuck in Bansko for a few days and then fly back home
  • Thankfully the chairlifts stayed open and we basically had the mountain to ourselves for the weekend
  • We flew home on Monday and read on the Bansko Facebook group later that night that they shutdown the mountain the day we left
  • Borris gets on the telly the following Monday night and declares the UK is in shutdown

We felt like Indiana Jones running away from impending doom and just getting out in the nick of time.

AFB escaping Bulgaria before lockdown

Bulgaria will be our last travelling pics for a while I think. We had plans to hit up Norway and Sweden in June but the way things are looking, that seems unlikely.

Even if things do go back to be semi-normal, the international travel restrictions will probably get us.

We can’t complain though. Both myself and Mrs. FB are healthy and doing fine which is the main thing. Mrs. FB has lost her job as a teacher but might be getting government assistance at the end of April (we shall wait and see). I’m still in a job… for now. But as a contractor, I’ll be the first to get the ass.

We had a really interesting Zoom call with the CEO the other week where basically it was an open forum where staff could submit questions and the CEO would answer them live. In a nutshell, because the insurance company where I’m working is really new, all their systems are in the cloud and they’re strategically positioned to be able to leapfrog the competition in the coming months as a lot of the archaic insurance companies in London are still running legacy systems where it’s hard to get people working from home.

It’s a really morbid thing to even talk about when there’re people dying but in a similar fashion, if you’ve got a solid job and have been sensible with money. You might be in a position to take advantage of this crash and pick up assets at a discounted price.

I’ve been looking at houses back home since the start of the year and I have no idea how much all this will have on country Victoria real estate prices but the point is that we’re in a position to capitalise on an opportunity if one presents itself. I’ve always believed that you can create your own luck to a certain degree. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!

And other than that, it’s been a pretty boring month just working at home.

Oh, one last thing I want to mention. Since all the bike shops are shut, I’ve sorta been the local bike repairman on the block changing multiple tyres over the last week or so. And I’m using this as my excuse for the lateness of this update 😜

 

Net Worth Update

Big(er) OOOOOOOOOF!

Holy moly, another month in the red, this time we’re down a whopping $74K 🀯.

Back to back biggest NW drop in the history of Aussie Firebug.

What can I say really?

The ups and downs are just part of the game. Although this is one mighty down at the moment. There are two silver linings in all this chaos. I’ve already spoken about the first one plenty of times before, and that’s the opportunity to buy discounted shares. But the other one is how we’re handling this historic drop mentally. And I can report that everything’s holding up strong at the minute. Me keeping my job has probably played a huge role in feeling as relaxed as we currently do even though we’ve just lost over $100K on paper during the last two months.

2020 has started the decade off with a bang that’s for sure. Interesting times ahead.

 

Properties

Maaaaaaaan!

So the original plan before COVID-19 was to sell one of the IPs we still have in Queensland and use that money as a downpayment for our family home we want to purchase next year. And I just seriously started the process of getting one IP onto the market to sell. But now it looks like that plans out the window. I mean, so many people have lost their jobs and I just can’t see many people even being able to get out and see homes at the moment let alone be approved for loans to purchase in these conditions.

So it looks like the selling of our IPs has once again been put on the back burner 😞 and we’ll just have to save up the deposit between now and the end of the year.

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 continue Strategy 2.5 and purchased $5K worth of A200 during March at a ridiculously discounted price of just $84 per unit. This is the cheapest that A200 has ever traded for since it’s inception in May 2018! The dividends from A200 (or VAS for that matter) will 100% be lower than usual over the next 6-12 months (maybe longer). But I’m not buying these shares for the next year or two. I’m buying these shares with the intention of purchasing the income stream they will generate over the next 40-50 years!

Networth

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