Before we get into this month’s update I want to announce that I’ve created a Facebook group
I wanted a forum type group for those who are interested to talk about FIRE with me and bounce ideas.
I will be happy to answer questions in there too so please join and ask away. I’m currently running a poll as to what topic the next podcast will be about.
No photos for October.
We didn’t go anywhere special and didn’t do anything spectacular but in a weird way, I fell into something quite remarkable in the month of October that wasn’t fully intentional but has had amazing consequences.
For the first time in around 10 years, I completely unplugged from all the pressures of life and spent 5 weeks focussing on recharging my batteries and the payoffs have been off the charts!
Heres some food for thought. Think back to the last time you didn’t have to worry about the following:
- Getting enough sleep
- Running out of time
- Eating healthy
- Looking after others
- Not looking at your phone every 2 minutes
For me, the answer was when I was at uni (except for the social media part 😁).
Such an amazing time in my life where everything was much simpler. I worked at Coles and while it wasn’t the most prestigious job in the world, it paid me more than enough to have fun and wasn’t stressful at all. I trained footy twice a week and had most of my healthy homemade meals made for me at home (thanks mum). I frequently slept in past 11 AM after an epic session of COD (World at War) on the Xbox the night before and all of my mates lived in the same town and would always meet up at the pub most weekends.
Life was simple and I was very happy… and then my adult life started.
Now I don’t want to suggest that my adult life has been crap. Far from it! But from my experience, things dramatically change when you start working full time (which is a major reason why I’m on the path to FIRE).
Over the last 10 years, I’ve been quite ambitious with my career and have always aimed high! It’s hard for me not to try my best at something even when it makes no difference. I knew I was getting a job once but stayed up all night preparing the application to the best of my abilities even though it was a forgone conclusion and decision had already been made.
This ambition along with just the stresses of life, in general, came at a price. I was constantly worrying about something
- Am I doing enough at work? Could I be doing more?
- Should I get another job? A better job?
- My fitness is ok but it’s not as good as I know I can be
- I need more sleep
- I should read more
- I wish I could spend more time on AFB
- I feel bad playing online chess for an hour. That’s a waste of time and doesn’t improve me
When we’re at uni or school, everyone is at the same level and there are no real expectations of anyone other than to get good grades. But once you start work, you start comparing yourself to everyone your age and where they’re at in life. Social media is absolute cancer in this regards. One of the worst things about technology and I feel terrible for youths growing up in today’s landscape of Facebook and Instagram.
Everyone knows you shouldn’t be competing with anyone except yourself but it’s easier said than done.
So what does this have to do with the October update?
Well, for the first time since Uni, I was in a situation that alleviated most of those pressures that I’ve had for a good part of the last decade.
We got back from our Euro-trip at the end of September and I knew I wanted to take a break. I know that sounds strange because we have travelled for over 4 months all up in 2019 so far. But travelling and taking a break are two different things in my book. I’m one of those weird people that lose weight if I’m not eating healthy and lifting consistently. Spending two months travelling made it hard to keep muscle on so I came back in September down nearly 4kg, feeling crappy, tired, and I hated it. I could have jumped straight back on the job boards but knew that consulting can be a demanding gig and I really wanted to get my body right before starting up again.
We have enough £’s in savings from this year to last ~5 months without working not to mention all the other sources of income we have back in Australia plus the snowball. We’re not financially independent yet, but our financial strength allowed us options and to relax for a bit.
I originally planned to take a little break (2 weeks max) but it turned into a full-blown mini-retirement during late September/October.
I really couldn’t remember what an almost zero obligation life felt like.
- No job
- No commitments
- No deadlines
- No exams to study for
- No financial pressures
I just wanted to get back into a nice routine during the first two weeks, and Mrs FB wasn’t working either so we hit the gym together and cooked a whole bunch of meals. We made it a priority to get in as much sunshine as possible during the day because England’s Winter is coming up and we’ve heard it’s brutal. That meant walks every day, going to the park to throw the frisbee and shooting basketball in the afternoon. We watched movies and TV and basically just chilled out without the anxiety or guilt of knowing you should be doing something else. It was absolute bliss 😊. We had a mental recharge.
After the first week, I felt like I was back into the swing of things but wasn’t quite ready yet to jump back into work. I started to read and smashed through 5 books in October.
*The above books have affiliate links
‘Sapiens, a brief history of humankind’ has become one of my favourite books of all time! I loved the start with all the historic facts about where we came from and there’s even a chapter in there about money and the share market. ‘Can’t hurt me’ and ‘Shoe Dog’ are incredible stories and ‘Atomic Habits’ has some very practical guides for forming better routines and how they all add up over time which can be very powerful. Sort of like investing actually.
But out of all the books, ‘Why We Sleep’ probably had the greatest impact on me. I’ve always struggled to sleep and never prioritised it in my life at all. I’m lucky to get 7 hours a night but always powered through. Getting a good nights sleep was high on my priority list during our little break and this book opened my eyes to just how incredibly important a good nights rest truly is. Resetting my circadian rhythm (internal sleep clock) has been an eye-opener, to say the least. The immediate benefits in energy, alertness, strength, attention… basically everything lol after a proper nights rest is incredible.
After three weeks I felt a million bucks. But I wasn’t ready to stop just yet.
I started to study different technologies that I’d always been interested in just for the hell of it. I learnt the basics of the programming language Python and have been doing a few tutorials over at Code Wars (you can search for Aussie Firebug to find me). I spent a few days spinning up environments in Azure and AWS and had a play with their data warehouses and ETL tools. This is part of what I do for work and I really love learning new things and using the latest tools.
I finished a whole bunch of life admin work and caught up on my emails from AFB from readers.
But most importantly, for the first time in nearly 10 years. I had the time to sit back, relax and reflect on everything we (Mrs FB and I) have done and put serious thought into where we’re heading and ultimately want to be. Some of the best ideas in the world have been born through free time/boredom.
As I learnt when reading the Sapiens book, the agriculture revolution not only enabled our ancestors the ability to harvest crops and raise livestock. For the first time in our history we didn’t have to spend every waking hour looking for food or avoiding danger. And what happens when humans have free time?
Which more often than not leads to improvements. We can build on top of those improvements in a continuous feedback loop with each generation thinking of new ideas.
The point I’m trying to make is that if you don’t take a break (a proper one!) every now and then you might be missing out on some serious thought-provoking questions, and answers, that will only ever arise in your consciousness if given the opportunity to do so without constant distractions. I’ve heard great things about mediation but can’t say I’ve had a serious crack at it.
Tim Ferris who is the author of the very popular book ‘The 4-hour Work Week‘ talks about mini-retirements. It can be really healthy to take mini-retirements throughout your working life to give yourself a break and not be discouraged by the large numbers of years you might have until your FIRE date.
I have not felt this energised, stressfree and rejuvenated for a very, very long time (maybe ever).
It was just a little taste of what retirement might look for us and I even thought about some big projects I want to start when I get back to Australia (but that’s for another article).
For now though, I’m ready to dive back into work. I’m honestly missing the camaraderie of a team and tackling complex problems. I’m one of those lucky ones that enjoy their work, but I’m even luckier to be able to take time off without the anxiety and stress that can arise from financial pressure 🙏.
If there’s one thing you take away from this month’s update, it’s that you start to reap what you sow long before you reach the finish line. The seeds you plant bear fruit along the way that only makes it easier and easier as you go, both financially (compound interest), and mentally (mini-retirements)!
Net Worth Update
I cannot believe we finished October up anything let alone $2.6K.
Mrs. FB worked the last 1.5 weeks of October which definitely helped along with Super and Shares chipping in around $4K plus another ~$3K from the blog.
I’ve had a few interviews for consulting gigs so fingers crossed I’m back in a job within the next week or two. I’m not looking forward to the cold mornings but can’t wait to get back into a problem-solving environment again. There’s something really cool about project-based contracts. You’re hired to get a piece of work done and don’t get bogged down with the day to day mundane tasks that can happen with a standard PAYG job.
No changes in the properties this month.
Property 1 was sold in August 2018
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.
The above graph is created by Sharesight
Big month for dividends clocking in at around $3.5K!
It’s interesting to notice the capital gains losses are almost identical to that of the dividend. And that’s exactly what should happen in an efficient market. After the ex-dividend date, the fund should theoretically decline by the same amount of the dividends it’s passing on to shareholders.
We didn’t purchase any new shares in October even though we have quite a large amount of cash laying around. And the primary reason is that I’m tying up tax obligations for back in Oz and I’m currently unemployed. As soon as I land a new contract I’ll be transferring £ into $ and continuing investing.
Also worth noting that the current splits on the shares portfolio are almost a perfect 70% Oz, 15% US and 15% World ex US.
That’s an epic and productive month mate, even if it wasn’t meant to be! Hehe. I used to do contract work and the time in between was glorious, when I had the cash buffer of course. I also used to get this feeling on a micro level from airplanes pre-in-fight internet, not much else to do but watch movies, guilt free!
Looking forward to hearing more about the ideas that sprung up during your break too 😀 Cheers!
Thanks Lauren 🙂
It’s really hard to break out of life long habit sometimes. I’ve felt the need to be doing something useful in my spare time for most of my adult life. I avoided things I liked doing to an extent because I thought they were wasting my potential like playing the Xbox. But now that I look back at it, those gaming nights were some of the funniest times of my life! I feel we would all benefit from reconnecting with our kid selfs every once in a while!
Never stop having fun is the goal 😁
What a great post AFB… Inspirational stuff. You really got to the nub of financial Independence with the ability to do a mini-retirement at a time of your choosing. Having time to think, reflect, sleep, exercise. What a treat. Funny how the best things in life are free… Keep it up AFB.
Thanks Jeff 👍
Your long haul flight mini break is so spot on!!
I’m going part-time next year, so I’m really looking forward to some of that ‘thinking time’ you were talking about!
Thanks for the update. You mentioned you are trying PocketSmith, have you looked at Money Brilliant ? It sounds like a good alternative to PocketSmith, and top tier is $9.90 per month https://skilledsmart.com.au/best-australian-money-tracking-budgeting-apps/
I have no affiliation with Money Brilliant (owned by AMP) , but currently use PocketBook which I find good, especially as there is no cost. But,it doesn’t have a lot of reporting, and no netwealth tracking. I scratch my head when these money management tools start to charge close to online accounting software (eg QuickBooks currently $10 per month). We utilised Quicken for a number of years to track our finances when we started investing, but moved to PocketBook as our accountant does it for $300 per FY. We just wanted a basic financial monitoring tool, but would like something that allows you to categorise transactions further (e.g $100 cash withdrawal into school lunches, shopping at market etc)
I manually upload transactions to PocketBook (my bank won’t cover my money if account accessed by putting password into a tool this), and manual categorising now takes about 10 minutes per month.
I haven’t looked at Money Brillant. PocketSmith seems a lot more polished than Pocketbook. It does cost money though so there’s a few things to consider.
Tbh… the UK’s versions of money trackers are a lot better than what’s offered in Australia. They have really good fintech apps! It will eventually come down under no doubt.
I have been using PocketSmith for almost three years both in England, and Australia. I wouldn’t ever consider going with anything else now. The flexibility of linking all my bank accounts from Aus and UK, more credit cards than I can poke a stick at (chasing sign-up point bonuses), custom tags for sorting transactions, categories for doing the same, I consider it to be the single best tool for getting spending in check allowing me to maximise savings for buying assets on my own path to FIRE.
When I saw PocketSmith mentioned, I had to give them a shout out. Their customer service is next level – to the point that I’ve emailed them asking about adding a button to automate something which was driving me crazy having to do manually, and they did. I am not paid at all by PocketSmith! I just like software that actually does it’s job well (like Sharesight which I also rate highly). For PS, for the $90 USD it costs me a year, having the ability to run reports and see spending trends, assess that I am still on budget here, but over spending or under spending there, it’s such a stress reliever when on an aggressive savings path. Highly recommend.
I am a new face around this blog. Can you believe that I have been on basically the FIRE path since I joined the work force at 21 (now 29), but didn’t know that FIRE was a thing until very recently? After working full time for about 12 months I thought “this is bullshit I am not doing this for 40 years”. I decided then and there that there had to be a better way. I’ve basically been doing all the things FIRE people do, without knowing it was a whole movement, but it certainly was refreshing to find others out there on the same path.
I’m currently checking it out Paul.
One question, can you split transactions?
Yeh mate. Super simple. Literally hit split, enter the amount of the new transaction, and it auto-updates the original (so the total original balance remains the same). I split my pay check each FN into four components since there is a bunch of stuff in there I’d prefer to categorise differently (like voluntary super contributions).
OMG this was literally my biggest gripe with pocketbook lol! Ok, I’m ganna be stuck in right now! Didn’t think about the cross country tracking either.
I was wondering how you and Mrs FB were managing your super while in the UK? The Mrs and I spent 2 years living and working in the UK, like a lot of aussies. We contributed to a UK pension while we were there as it was default for the company I was working with. When we returned home last year we tried transfering our pension to our Aussie super however were told we couldnt due to recent changes in UK legislation. Have heard of any work arounds on this?
I’ll be covering this in my upcoming Australia to UK guide 🙂
Yes it splits transactions. I agree it’s a great product – If a) your bank supports import which for a lot of banks using mobile tokens in Asia isn’t the case and mobile tokens will eventually hit other countries like Australia b) if you are ok being liable fo any fraud loss. A lot of banks here in Singapore can detect third party logging in and their fraud department calls you to basically say if you are using third party and their is any fraud on your accounts, we are not liable.
Well done mate! Reaping the rewards already. That fulfillment feeling you must have right now, good on you.
Retire often is the best way to do FIRE I would say. When I reach FIRE I think I’d work anyway, I would say this is true for most people, working in a hobby or in a job close to your heart and principles.
By the way, you are great inspiration for those of us just starting, keep the good work. I am still struggling mentally to put most of my hard earned money in the market. Anyway one day I’ll conquer my mind.
It’s honestly been one of the best things I’ve done so far. Highly recommend!
With nearly $750k have you all considered coast fire…? Just leave all that $$$ stashed away and leave it to snow ball while you go spend 10 years working at Coles or doing whatever just to cover your expenses then voila in 10 years the $750 would have doubled to $1.5 and that’s when you really call it quits…? I’d love to hear your thoughts and if this is something you all have chewed on. My partner and I wanna FIRE but coasting there seems like it will give us more flexability sooner even if we have to work to cover our expenses… Please share your two cents!!!! Thanks heaps!
There is an Aussie blog about this exact concept!! http://www.moneyflamingo.com/what-the-flock-is-flamingo-fi-part-2/ It’s basically a version of coast fi. The wife and I are working towards this as well. This concept does not seem to be widely discussed, would be great to hear AFB’s thoughts
I actually left a comment on that article Todd.
It’s a GREAT concept. Love it
I love this concept. ESPECIALLY for someone who is hating their job. Much better to have a career change and let the power of compound interest do the hard lifting for you.
For us though… we don’t mind the work right now. And to an extent, this year has been a little about coastFI. We delayed our FIRE date to travel and haven’t regretted it for one second!
The only thing about full coastFI would be to ensure that you have at least a sizable snowball before you start to fully coast. Maybe something like 50% complete or around that. I’d have to crunch the numbers but there’s also the appeal of slugging it out for 3-4 years to get most of it done. Can work for some, not for others.
Another great post FB.
I’ve only recently reading your posts so apologies if you’ve covered it before – but how do you go about getting your IPs revalued so often and it seems like sometimes only small increments. I didn’t think the bank would adjust their valuations by small amounts, esp if one was done not long ago?
Furthermore the prop val chart you posted, how was this data obtained from commbank with all the little increments ?
Cheers and good work!
So CBA use to auto-update the values using a program and I basically just went off that. It’s not super accurate though but it’s better than nothing. There are online tools I could use I guess but tbh, I won’t know how much it’s worth until I sell it really.
Thanks FB. But has the bank been giving you frequently updated vals where you have been able to pull out as little as $5k ??
They use to, yes. But not anymore since I’ve moved banks. The last price movement was from my new bank (Macquarie) performing a valuation. So that should theoretically have been accurate from JAN this year.
Hey AFB, I really loved this post. A great read, and shows it is not just about earning as much money as possible so you can get to FIRE and call it quits. As we know, life is more complex than that. You need to take care of your mental, spiritual and physical well being and doing what you have done right now is a great way to step back and realise why you are trying to achieve FIRE. Also some great self discovery of understanding what makes you happy.
Personally, I am in my lates 40’s, work only 3 days, have 3 school aged kids, and getting close to fire (maybe I am coasting fire? ) . I love having those days off by myself to do ‘whatever’. That mental freedom is gold. The worst thing is when you get asked ‘what did you do today'(not by the mrs), but by other people who are used to always being busy. It can be hard for them to get it.
I am going to read a couple of those books you have suggested. Can also recommend Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. I been getting much better sleep and feel heaps better from what I have read in his book.
Love this comment TimBob.
Working three days a week on stuff I enjoy seems like a fantastic work-life balance.
I’ll check out the book recommendation mate 👍
To keep you on your toes, shouldn’t you add the term presumed, before net worth? Only when you cash out your investments will you know your true net worth. It may be more than what you’ve assumed it may be less. People who bought into mascot towers presumed their investment was increasing in value till literally the cracks started to appear. Just a thought.
Yeah I guess I could Pete. Everything is an assumption to a certain extent but I’m not going to live or die by our net worth number. It’s just a rough estimate to give people an idea of our position and where we’re at in our journey.
Didnt VEU pay out dividends on 23rd October? I have VTS as paying dividends on the 15th October also?
Yes, but the exDiv date was in September not October. Sharesight goes by exDiv date and not when it hits your account
Great article I read recently in the same vein as your post – https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/simplicity-anxiety/
Also try Steven Pinker the better Angels of our nature or enlightenment now if you liked Sapiens – both are great!
Add to the list 🙂
A great update and a really important reminder to those of us on a similar journey. Having just arrived back home in Melbourne after completing a number of tough hikes with my family in Tasmania, I can vouch for the positive effects of a mini-break. While hiking can be humbling in a number of ways, the opportunity to discuss anything career, financial and goal orientated with my Dad and brothers is something I cherish most. To share thoughts, opinions, ideas and encouragement with those closest to you can help find focus again and a boost on the way. On this trip I started reading The Millionaire Next Door and it has reminded me exactly why it’s important to continue on the journey I am personally to achieve financial independence. Chasing financial independence at 23 has meant missing out on a lot of experiences with friends in the last couple of years but this time to refresh has been fantastic and I can’t wait to finish 2019 strongly, starting with the ASX investors day next Saturday.
Thanks Lachlan and nice to hear about your break. Taking time off is so underrated!
Great to see you making the most of having some money in the bank and taking some time out to improve your life mate, that’s a fantastic example of the benefits of FIRE!
I can confirm that UK winters are terrible, I found that it wasn’t actually the cold so much as the dark. I used to get to work at 7am and leave about 5:30, the sun would often not get up until about 9 and go down at 3 so you would only really see it on weekends if you couldn’t leave your desk. Some of my fellow Aussie mates suffered from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but found that getting a lamp to deal with this helped a lot. Hopefully it’s not something that you or the missus have to deal with, but I figured I’d throw it out there just in case.
On the plus side, the period running up to Christmas in London is awesome.
Any must-do activities Paul?
In no particular order :
Nice list. One question though…
What’s a pub fire?
Roger that. We are starting to look into vitamin D tables too.
Hi mate. Fantastic effort to trial the early retirement. I am keeping all my annual leave and long service leave up my sleeve to trial exactly that!
Good stuff. Highly recommend.
Awesome post mate! Love the books you got through and they are also on my reading list (have already read ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ and it was awesome). Just need to dedicate a couple of weeks to downtime like you did.
I really like the idea of doing a recharge and props to you for taking the opportunity in between contracts to do it. I’ve been doing similar things since leaving my full-time job and working for myself but it’s not as easy as I get tempted by clients asking for quotes for new work. Every time I think I will get a week or two of downtime, something new comes up. Not complaining but I guess that’s one of the differences between a regular PAYG job. Hard to pass up opportunities for work.
By the way, I also used to work at Coles too. It was great!
I’m still waiting for that chess game on Chess.com! I promise not to keep you up for an hour, it should be a relatively quick game…
I just checked my messages on chess.com!
Ok let’s do this. When will you be on?
Probably easier to play a daily game so we have a couple of days to make a move. I’ve started a game on there so you should get a notification about it.
Awesome post, thanks for sharing. I have just finished a job today that I have had for 12 years and after doing 50+ hour weeks for several years I have been able to dramatically slow down over the last couple of months which has given me a real taste for FIRE or coastFI. I have another 2 weeks of holidays before jumping back into full time work and although we are years away from FIRE I am strongly considering coastFI as a good option. The house is paid off (and worth a bit but gives us no income) and we have reasonable super balances, especially if we don’t retire for some time, so now we just need to focus on the sharemarket investments. Loving the details you provide and hearing about your experiences.
PS, I started meditating about 9 months ago and am diligent at it but the benefits are subtle and a bit hard to notice. I have noticed practicing gratitude daily and really minimising everything where possible has made a huge difference to my mental health.
Love this Cindy.
12 years of 50+ hours a week… 🤯
You deserve a good break!
I’ve also found that listening to audiobooks is so much better than randomly scrolling on my phone before bed. Blocking everything out is very underrated. Smartphones have created this false narrative that we need to be entertained 24/7. We don’t allow our brains to turn off and just ponder things anymore.
Thanks for the comment 🙂
Whats up AFB
Waiting for the November update :o(
I got there eventually Baz. Life has really gotten in the way of the blog over the last two months. I’ve hardly had time to scratch myself!
Python, mi amore. I’ve tried a LOT of programming languages but Python wins out by a long shot. So elegant. So simple. Truly a piece of art. Enjoy.
Whoops forgot to hit subscribe.