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.
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.
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.