Aussie Firebug

Financial Independence Retire Early

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

Late update this one.

Even though I’m only working part-time, it was a pretty busy April/start of May.

Two major updates:

  1. We sold IP3 πŸŽ‰
  2. We have gone unconditional on another PPOR (the first house we got accepted on fell through due to a bad B&P report)

I’ll make another post that dives into the numbers from the sale of IP3 similar to the one I did for IP1 which you can read about here.

The market conditions were just too good to pass up and we received two offers that were in the range we were happy with so after a bit of back and forth, we accepted an offer and had a smooth sale process.

It turned out to be an investor too which was surprising. The agent we used to sell the house had told me that 90% of the sales were going to first home buyers and not investors. This worked out perfectly for our long time tenant who was very worried about finding a new place because apparently, new leases are hard to come by.

It’s just crazy what Covid has done to the real estate market.

This is why we were even more stoked to finally go unconditional on a PPOR after a successful B&P. Yeah, we paid more than we would have liked to but that’s just the way the game is being played at the moment.

We ended up paying $515K for a 4 bedroom house that’s 10 years old in the area we wanted. We realistically could be in this house for 15+ years. I reckon this place would have sold for around $420K fourteen months ago but oh well.

I know there’s a lot of people sitting on the sidelines waiting for a crash to happen and you know what, they have very good reason to believe that one might be just around the corner. I mean, investing fundamentals are cactus right now and nothing seems to make sense.

All I’ll say is that you need to make the right decision for yourself and nobody else. Sometimes it’s not about money either. Paying so much for a PPOR was definitely not the best financial move for us. Renting a smaller place would have been a lot better money-wise. But we’re getting married in a few weeks and hopefully having kids in the coming years. I love the fact that we’re in such a strong financial position to be able to get the house we wanted without any financial pressure whatsoever.

To me, that’s why we invest and care for our wealth in the first place. Not to make the most money but to live a happy life.

I honestly can’t wait to move in and finally, finally set up a home just the way I want without any restrictions. We’ve always rented/lived at home so this will be the first time in both our lives where we can bring Mrs. FB cats into our house, decorate and design our living space, hang some pictures of our travels on the wall etc. It’s very liberating and I’m definitely going to show off the home office/battle station once I’ve fully set it all up 😁

Net Worth Update

The share market did all the heavy lifting in April and we managed to crack the $900K mark, woohoo!

One loose end we finally managed to clear up was sorting out the rest of our money in the UK and closing all of our accounts. Our bank accounts have been a mess since we’ve moved back to Australia and a huge priority this year for me was to streamline our investments/bank accounts.

Selling IP3 was a big improvement and now we only have IP2 left to offload which I plan to do at the end of the year.

We’ve also changed our personal banking to UP which unfortunately isn’t a supported bank with Pocketbook (the software we use to track our expenses). Add the new accounts I’ve had to set up for my new business and things have been getting unwieldy very quickly. We basically haven’t been tracking our expenses very well for the last couple of months and it’s crazy how many things slip through the cracks when you’re not on top of it.

On a positive note, my new consulting cheques should start coming in next month so I’m really keen to get back on track with investing and not just building our house deposit.

 

Properties

Most of the property updates have been covered above. I’ll be adding the in-depth article from the sale of IP3 in future updates.

Property 1 was sold in August 2018

Property 3 was sold in April 2021

*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 buy or sell any shares in April as we were continuing to build our house deposit. However, now that we are unconditional, I’m really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with our share portfolio. I’ve got some big plans with how we’re going to debt recycle the PPOR and I really can’t wait to settle on the property and get cracking.

 

 

Networth

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

MAR21 Net Worth $887,153 (-$7,833)

My (f)unemployed dream came crashing down in March…Β  that’s right, I messed around and got myself another… job 😲

But this time it’s different. And I’m really excited to share some of the details with you guys (I might even make a pod about it).

This shouldn’t be all too surprising considering Mrs. FB and I are not financially independent yet but I had been thoroughly enjoying the abundance of free time during February. It was nice to just have a little break and stop to think about what we want to do next.

If you’re an experienced FIRE devotee, you’d know that meaningful work is a staple for all humans and whenever anyone in the FIRE community talks about the retire early part, they’re not referring to never working again. But if you’re new around here, I can totally understand that you might think that stopping all forms of work is the goal because of the word retire in the FIRE acronym. But it’s really about freedom, choice and having control of our most precious resource of all… our time.

So given that fulfilling/meaningful work is awesome, and is something I plan to do until the day I die, I had been thinking long and hard in February as to what my next move was work-wise. It’s an interesting thought experiment that I’d encourage all of you guys out there reading to try.

What would you do if money wasn’t a concern?Β 

Money is still a concern for Mrs. FB and I (not FI just yet) but we’re so far along the journey that it almost feels like I could try my hand at anything and still be ok long term as long as it made some sort of income.

In the past, I had given serious thought about really ramping up AFB content and increasing the monetisation of the site and podcast. Hell, the increase in general podcast popularity in the last two years, especially in terms of advertising maturity would have probably been enough income each year from the site/podcast to be able to coast to the end goal. This thought popped back into my head but I kept thinking… do I want to do AFB as a proper job? And if I was being truthful to myself, the answer would always come back as no. AFB is first and foremost, a passion project. And I intend to keep it like this all the way until we have reached FIRE. Plus I couldn’t see myself enjoying the idea of spending my days behind a microphone/keyboard all the time.

At my core, I’m an extrovert nerd who loves sports, keeping fit and solving puzzles. My career in technology has always been a good fit, it’s just that the full-time nature of the job always felt like I was giving up way too much of my time each year.

So the longer I thought about it, the more I was leaning towards starting my own business as a freelancer in the data services and analytics space (my specialty).

And that’s what I ended up doing!

I landed a contract for 3 days a week in the project space which was so much more exciting to me. A lot of my old job was admin/operations which were never my thing. I like to solve business process problems utilising technology. That’s my jam and I tinker around in that space during my free time anyway. It’s the sort of work I’d been doing during the last 2 years in London but the pace of those contracts were a little too intense. I’ve been working 3 days a week since mid-March and my work-life balance atm is honestly on another level. 3 days of work and 4 days free every week is a serious game changer holy shit.

I feel like I get so much done during those three days too. How many people do sweet f’all from Friday lunchtime to knock off? Isn’t it a bit crazy, I’m sure there have even been studies done on how much work actually gets done past 12 PM each Friday yet most people piss fart around the office chatting or trying to look busy just to clock up their hours (I’ve been guilty of this too). I have so much more drive and purpose with my work these days. I don’t feel like I’m trading my time for money anymore because I’m scratching that extrovert collaboration itch of my personality with this type of work.

And that’s the big update from March. I’m going to work this freelancer gig for the foreseeable future to satisfy my love of solving problems with technology that allows for plenty of free time to work on other creative projects like AFB and anything else that pops up πŸ™‚

Net Worth Update

Have you noticed a trend when it comes to FIRE related forums such as Reddit/Facebook/Whirlpool that 90%+ of the questions asked by newcomers are about investing? I’m almost certain that people discover FIRE and think that we all must be the second coming of Warren Buffett or something. That’s the only explanation as to why we can retire early right? In reality, it’s a high savings rate and usually a decent income that builds the foundation of the portfolio all the way up until around 70%-80% of the end goal, and then compounding does its thang.

A huge reason why we’re able to have a high savings rate is that we don’t conform to societies pressures and expectations to always buy the latest and greatest and consume as much as possible… most of the time πŸ˜…

It’s okay to splurge every once in a while on something you value highly… Which just so happens to be an engagement ring for Mrs. FB πŸ˜‚

I’ve never really understood the whole diamond ring thing but ya know what? I know Mrs. FB better than anyone else in the world and she would never spend that much money just because the marketing machine told her she needs it. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy and god knows how much I’ve spent on weird obsessions over the years that she never understood but that’s just what a relationship is all about… understanding and compromise.

I actually read an incredible blog post in March that did make me step back and reassess what’s actually important in life and how money is simply a tool that we can use to become free but is not as high in the pecking order as you might think.

It’s a long read but trust me, it’s one of the rawest and most sobering articles I’ve ever come across in 7+ years of consuming FIRE content in all formats.

Living a FI was one of the earliest FIRE bloggers on the internet and he has rarely provided an update since retiring early in 2015. This isn’t an article that you can skim through, dedicate half an hour of reading time and check out his latest post here. I won’t ruin it for you but my biggest take away from reading it was there needs to be more consideration to how your partner is feeling during and after the journey towards financial independence. Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be broke in a happy relationship vs FIRE’d without my life partner.

I remember feeling a bit down when Mr Money Mustache revealed that he had split up with his wife a few years ago. I mean, I respected this guy so much (and still do) and thought that his philosophy on life was one that I could look to for inspiration and mould my own around. He’s written about the breakup a few times and reiterates that their way of life did not contribute to the relationship breakdown but man… it’s hard not to wonder… Especially after reading the Living a FI update and all the issues he faced once he reached financial independence and quit his job. There’s a whole other mental side to this movement post-retirement that doesn’t really get talked about much. Food for thought.

But yeah, the engagement ring plus my outfit for the wedding and a huge tax bill for AFB really smacked the old NW around for this update. Shares/Super really pulled through though so the damage wasn’t too bad

 

Properties

Property… Ugh…

I feel like Mrs. FB and I have done pretty well since we’ve been back home. She’s back teaching, I’ve started a business and have found work, the wedding in June is all systems go, we’ve sorted out a whole bunch of life admin work and tied up many loose ends in the UK. The last major piece of the puzzle is finding a PPOR to call our home.

And we were so close to ticking this off in March 😩

Long story short, we found a place that was right where we wanted to be, had all the features we needed, was within budget and our offer had been accepted. But the building report was not satisfactory and the most annoying thing about this heated market is the inability of buyers to negotiate. I won’t get into the finer details, but the vendor was making it really hard for us to get the deal done. Wouldn’t share engineering reports, kept changing the reasons as to why the defect was occurring, and completely ignoring other issues that were raised. Our gut told us to walk away from this deal which is what we ultimately ended up doing but I won’t lie, we were pretty shattered. I’d even started to imagine our future children running around the backyard lol. Emotions come into play so much more with a PPOR as opposed to buying real estate for investment purposes solely.

And it’s not like the vendor has to address our concerns right? Buyers are lining up around the corner for these type of properties and because we were asking too many questions, it was probably just easier for them to accept a slightly lower offer πŸ™ƒ. I’ll probably meet the couple who ends up buying that house at the pub in 20 years time and they’ll tell me that they haven’t had any issues with it… 😀. Ah well, everything happens for a reason and it helps me sleep at night imaging that we dodged a bullet but who really knows.

So we’re back at square one now and I’m starting to realise why so many couples just get sick of the whole process and end up either buying something that they don’t love or overpay. We’re not at that stage yet but it’s easier now for me to relate.

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 continue to build up our PPOR deposit and didn’t purchase any more shares in March.

 

 

Networth

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

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

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

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

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

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

APR21 Net Worth $900,125 (+$12,972)

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

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