I publish these net worth updates to keep us accountable, have others critique our strategy and show that reaching financial independence in Australia is very doable without winning the lotto, having a high paying job or inheriting a wad of cash. The formula to be able to retire early is simple, the hard part is being consistent and sticking to a plan for many years. The table at the bottom details our entire journey from being $36K in debt all the way until we reach 🔥
The wife and I surprised my parents with a trip to Daylesford in February for the old man’s birthday. It was a bit of a combo trip to also see my sister who has recently moved to Bendigo.
Mrs FB has dropped to a 4-day working week this year and the extra day off has really been a game-changer for her. One of the best parts about having a long weekend every week is being able to plan little 3-day get-aways (I’m ironically finishing up this post on one said getaway). We left Latrobe Valley early on Friday morning and came back on Sunday night. I even managed to fit in a coffee with a Firebug reader in Ballarat which was really nice.
That’s the beauty of slowly scaling it back. Even just one extra day in the week gifts you back 52 days a year (not exactly 52 days with all her teacher holidays but you get the idea). Even if it’s just to book appointments and get some stuff done. Half the time Mrs FB sets aside the Friday to organise and prep for the following week and we wake up Saturday morning with all the chores done. It’s a really nice way to enjoy the weekend instead of trying to cram in everything on Sunday just to wake up Monday morning and start the process all over again.
I also had my first BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) tournament in Feb which was such a crazy experience.
For those who haven’t heard of BJJ before, Wikipedia describes it as:
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting and submission holds. BJJ focuses on the skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling one’s opponent, gaining a dominant position, and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds.
Or as I like to explain it to my wife… “You’re basically trying to kill the other bloke without striking” 😂
I first started training BJJ in late 2018 after me and my mate finally decided to pull the trigger and actually go down to a local MMA gym and give it a go. We were huge fans of the UFC and MMA in general but had never trained a martial art (I’ve done a bit of boxing but nothing serious).
I only trained for a few months in late 2018 before Mrs FB and I left to live overseas for two years. I originally wanted to continue my training in London but life and travelling just got in the way. I was lucky to get in a few gym sessions and a run during the week let alone BJJ training.
What attracted me to BJJ was the ‘problem solving’ nature of it. I’ve gravitated towards puzzles my whole life. I love chess, my favourite video game of all time is StarCraft which is extremely strategic and my professional work in data is literally solving technical problems for money.
A lot of people think martial arts can be too violent and just for meatheads but there’s also a softer more spiritual side that’s deeply connected with meditation and yoga (think Shaolin Monks for example). I like to think of meditation as a form of martial arts and struggle against your own mind, yoga is a martial art against your body and BJJ is the physical manifestation against another person. They’re all related and I’ve been told that a lot of top BJJ practitioners are right into mediation and yoga too.
We came back home in 2021 and BJJ training was high on my list to get back into. It took me a few rolls to bounce back to my previous level and other than the lockdowns we had last year, I pretty much have had a solid 12 months of training plus the 3 months before our Euro trip. The next step was to put our training into practice because my mate and I always had aspirations to compete.
It’s one thing to train, but it’s another to actually go out there and wrestle someone giving 100%. To say it was nerve-wracking leading up to the comp is putting it lightly haha.
The day of the tournament was a relief because I had trained pretty hard 6 weeks leading up to it and I had been having a bit of trouble sleeping (probably overthinking everything that could go wrong lol).
We had 4 people from our club in the comp and the way it works is there are different divisions depending on your skill level, weight and BJJ style.
I was competing in both Gi (the pyjama looking outfit 🥋, also called a Kimono in Judo) and no-Gi (tights and rash vest, pictures below) in the 77kg white belt (beginner) division.
It was a round-robin competition which I would highly recommend to anyone looking to compete. I really like the round-robin format because you’re guaranteed 4 matches even if you lose each one. Our coach has told us stories when he was competing that he would drive all the way up to Melbourne, lose the first match in a knockout tournament and have to drive all the way home 🤪.
I got to the comp, weighed in and started stretching and warming up. Our best guy from the gym (a blue belt) was up first and I was in the coach’s chair which is basically a spot for someone to yell out helpful things and let them know if they’ve scored points or not.
There are three ways you can win.
- The match finishes (5-minute matches) and you score more points (points are awarded for dominant positions)
- Your opponents submit from a choke or joint lock (they’ll usually tap or verbally submit)
- You choke your opponent unconscious and the ref steps in
So the match starts and it’s pretty competitive but the guy from our gym eventually loses on points after 5 minutes. I was surprised to see him limping really bad once the match finished and even more surprised to see his foot had turned black and blue… he broke his foot somehow during the match 😱
So this was just about the worst thing to have happened before my first match because you could imagine what that did to my confidence. Here I was, brand new to tournaments and already crapping my dacks. And then our best guy goes out there and breaks his foot… 😐
I helped him to the side where he was ushered off in an ambo, and then my name was called to mat 7.
My opponent and I stepped on the mat and the ref yells:
“Are you ready? Are you ready?… FIGHT!”
I don’t think I’ve ever had an adrenaline dump quite like it before. I know there’s a ref and rules but in the heat of battle without any prior experience, you just forget everything.
There are actually some similarities between holding your nerve in sports and keeping it together during a market downturn. How often do we hear from seasoned investors that buying during a downturn is one of the best things you can do. Buy when there’s blood in the streets etc. But it’s a different story when you’re actually in the thick of it.
I had trained and refined my strategy for 6 weeks leading up to the comp. But when my match started, my opponent gave me a different puzzle to solve than what I had been practising. This threw me off my game completely and I needed to make an adjustment but I didn’t have the experience/confidence to do so. That’s why you always see the best UFC fighters and boxers making adjustments mid-fight. They recognise when something isn’t working and under extreme pressure are able to try something different to solve the puzzle.
I fumbled around for most of the match and then somehow managed to land a double leg takedown to secure 2 points and win my first match. After that first one, I felt a lot more comfortable and I got into my groove during the next few matches.
I finished the comp coming 3rd in Gi (🥋) and 1st in no Gi (🚫🥋). My two mates both took home 2nd in their respective divisions which made it a very successful day for our school (other than our blue belt friend).
Here are some pics from the tournament.
I’ve also been hitting up the local MTB trails with my nephew lately. It’s such a luxury to be able to go riding during the week when no one is there.
And lastly, we finally got around to putting in the new front garden. I can’t believe how expensive plants are 💸 but must say that it’s looking 100 times better already. Really excited for the trees and bushes to grow a little.
Net Worth Update
A pretty boring update for February.
Our shares portfolio went up ever so slightly and Super dropped a few grand. I also had a smidge over three weeks off in January which meant my income for February was pretty low. All of that combined meant that we went slightly backwards in Feb from a financial point of view BUT I feel from a happiness point of view, things have never been better and that’s the important metric 😁
No changes to the FIRE portfolio.
*Expenses include everything we spend money on to maintain our lifestyle. We do not include paying down our PPoR loan as an expense, only the interest
*Investment income is simply 4% of our FIRE portfolio divided by 12
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that inflation has well and truly hit our tightass household. I’ll probably keep it eye on it for a few more months before anything official but I dare say that we’ll be increasing our FIRE number of $1.25M soon. I’ll write an article about it after a few more months I reckon. Inflation was always included in our numbers but not at the level it seems to be right now. I’m aware that CPI is officially 3.5% (as of writing this article) but our basket of goods has definitely gone up more than that.
I have been religiously tracking our expenses for over 7 years now and have a pretty decent dataset I could use. It would be interesting to see how much certain areas of our spending have changed throughout the years. I swear we only use to spend around $350 bucks a month on groceries. Now it’s closer to $600.
The above graph is created by Sharesight
No purchases in February. Building up a bit of a cash buffer for a new car atm
I’ve enjoyed following the evolultion of your relationship with money. I can’t fathom AFB of 5+ years ago saying that he is “Building up a bit of a cash buffer for a new car atm”.
Matt so cool to see your MMA journey with BJJ. I started back in 2018 when my boy was getting picked on in grade 4. I told him to give it back or offer resistance to the bully but my boy was too scared. My mate ran the local boxing club and we did this before moving into BJJ. I hadn’t wrestled since the Hulk Hogan days as a teenager and it was so much fun. It taught my boy great self defence without landing a punch. Once locking up the school bully who went ‘psycho’ on him into side control, he was never touched again. I hear you on the problem solving aspect too! Great update too as always. Cheers Cam
BJJ is a great self-defence martial art. I’ll be enrolling our future kids in it for sure!
Yeah buddy! Nice win. Now get some fruit and nut trees in (expensive, but they provide you natures dividends and are tax free lol)
Really interesting about the BJJ mate. I’ve read a little about the history of the Gracie family and how the art has taken off all over the world. I trained Shotokan karate for a couple of years when I was in high school and took it up again about 18 months ago after a gap of 37 years – definitely a bit harder on the body now than when I was 14! I hope you continue to enjoy training and competing.
I started investing (VGS/VAS) 2-3 years ago and have added about 8K per month on average. With distributions reinvested I’m on my way to 300K. It doesn’t yet ‘feel’ like I’m earning a great deal from my investments. In your experience, was there a point or value (e.g. 500K) where you felt like, ‘right this is really starting to kick on now’?
I remember reading a FB comment suggesting that the 400-500k mark is when the portfolio starts pulling you forward, and compound interest does it’s thing.
$8k per month is a great investing rate
Great, thanks Christopher and Baz!
$400K in shares
Best part: “It’s becoming clearer and clearer that inflation has well and truly hit our tightass household.”
Also feeling the inflation hit in Sydney. Maybe a good idea at some point to analyse the inflation effect/impact in our portfolios, safe withdrawal rate and expenses.
Nice work on the BJJ – as a 50 year old lifelong non-sporty spice, and a bit of lockdown sloth, and I’ve discovered the joy of actually using my body a bit more with running, which appeals (relatively little gear investment, you can compete with yourself).
I’m old enough to remember making 10% interest on my St. George passbook account (not that my 7 year old lolly-obsessed self ever saved anything). This too shall pass, although it’s unlikely to reverse
Congrats on the win mate, very cool! I remember when I did my first Olympic Weightlifting comp and I was terrified once I got out onto the platform, even though I had done the lifts thousands of times in the gym.
Also, the description of the first photo gave me a chuckle.
Definitely noticing the inflation here too, the grocery bill is getting bigger.
Congrats on the tournament win! BJJ is a tough sport, I used to train maybe 13 years ago now but always got creamed. Good to see you using your free time to pursue new things.
Mate, you are doing a great job all-round. A number of us look forward to your posts every month. It’s great you talk about your life and while mine is very similar (eg: MTB, BJJ, etc (except I’ve got 3 kids under 5yo)) it’s always great to hear other people are living their best life. You’ve been a source of knowledge from when I started my journey and you continue to an inspiration in many ways (both FIRE and non-fire). Keep up your posts, your stories, your life, it’s making a difference. (PS: Looking forward to your stories with kids, you’ll love it)
Thanks a lot, Damiem
I’m really looking forward to kids 🙂
Hi Firebugg, love your work, want to get more of your thoughts on increasing your fire number to $1.25m due to inflation/rising living costs. Won’t inflation always be around so are you confident you can reach a fire goal or won’t goalposts keep shifting?
Would you want the portfolio growth to make up the 25% increase in fire number. Or do you think it’s a work longer scenario?
The 4% rule does factor in inflation but the price increases are a lot atm.
It might be worth going over in a blog post tbh.
Hi AFB. Thanks for sharing your inspirational story thus far and I hope you continue this amazing run, not just financially but also socially as well. I am not sure if I have ever seen your goal of 1.25M stated somewhere before. Could you direct me to the post where you mentioned it and how you arrived at that figure? I have made up my mind about retiring before 40 since I was young and I can say that I have taken some more serious steps to help me achieve that goal in the last few years. Following your journey helps me motivated and I thank you for sharing your story.
I might do a dedicated post on our FIRE number because a few people have asked about the $1.25M number. Watch this space 🙂
Hi mate! So cool to find out that you’re into Bjj too! I’ve been training for a few years now (blue belt) and love it. Congrats on entering your first tournament. The lead-up and training for it was the best part for me.
If you’re ever up in the Whitsundays, let me know. We can have a roll and play a game of chess!
Lock that in Len!
We visit Airlie Beach quite frequently so I’ll have to hit you up next time 🙂