CaptainFIs financial and personal update for the end of Quarter 3, 2023
Captain FI’s personal update
The past 3 months I have really continued to focus inwards on my health and fitness.
I also finally (re) launched the YouTube channel – CaptainFI YouTube – I am @Captain_FI on YouTube, and it has been really awesome to see it already grow to 240 subscribers with only 9 videos released this month, and to hit just over 100 watch hours so far. If you are interested in the podcast and blog and socials, please jump on board and help me grow the channel as I have a lot of really cool plans for content going forward. For now I am just working to get the 60+ podcast episodes all live and then will be working on some other videos.
Rask Roadshow event Traralgon
My partner and I did a couple of road trips, and one was to the Traralgon Rask Roadshow event, where my partner road-tripped across from Adelaide (and through Melbourne), catching up with a bunch of friends and old flying buddies along the way, as well as ticking off my partners restaurant ‘to visit’ list along the way (shout out to DoDee Paidang in Glen Waverly, Melbourne for the BEST Pad Thai I have ever eaten).
Once we got to Traralgon we stayed with The Aussie Firebug and was treated to an awesome tour of Traralgon and all the new additions, developments and cafes that have taken place in the 10 years since I was there last. It was great to hear some of AFB and miss AFB’s travel stories since we had caught up last in Adelaide, and hear about all the goals they were kicking. Seriously inspirational couple. We even managed to record a bit of an impromptu podcast episode, too, which should come out in due time.
At the event we got to meet a few other personal finance bloggers and podcasters such as
- Owen “Rask” Raszkiewicz from Rask media – the man behind Rask and the Roadshow event we were going to
- Emma Edwards from The Broke Generation – who gave a lot of really insightful comments and discussion in the panel
- Melissa Vincent from Rask (and previously Global X ETFs) – who did a lot of the hard work organising the event
- Kate Campbell, a financial educator from Rask media who just released her book ‘Buying Happiness – learn to invest your time and money better’
- Campbell, Kate (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 240 Pages - 12/29/2023 (Publication Date) - Major Street Publishing (Publisher)
As well as meeting over 100 attendees and chatting with some fans of the blog and podcast, which was really cool to see that there are actually real people out there that listen and enjoy what I produce, haha!
We enjoyed using the budget camping / road trip set up and instead of spending money on accommodation, we used that on spending at some lovely restaurants and on activities. I could sleep in that tent for weeks on end, but my partner prefers having a few more amenities! Thankfully for her we also stayed with some mates along the way which I haven’t seen for a while – and we are already planning some ‘Carpentourism‘ (as Mr Money Mustache calls it) where I plan to head back to country victoria to help a mate finish some rennovations for a week or so.
Health wise, I touched base with my GP and we came up with a plan to hopefully return me to private flying next year (2024) starting with getting a grade two aviation medical ticked off. One of his biggest concerns was that I had been taking certain medications, had gained a lot of weight, and lost fitness since retiring – this was definitely beginning to show (pot belly!).
I had always just assumed that I was a super fit guy with a great metabolism and that having ADHD was my fitness superpower and that nothing would really change that – however a number of pretty full-on ‘life events’ had really stressed me and I had started to succumb to a number of bad habits and other things that caused me to stack on the weight over the past few years – such as;
- Alcohol consumption became excessive as a coping mechanism
- Excessive food consumption (in particular sugary sweets and snacks) and stress eating
- Poor sleep patterns
- Becoming less active and skipping workouts leading to a loss of strength
- Feeling depressed and having a general lack of motivation
- Taking certain medications such as painkillers for my neck, anti-depressants and sleeping tablets.
I feel like I have made massive improvements in my mental health in the past year, but I had let the ball down a bit on the physical health side of things – annoyingly, some of the process of working on my mental health (such as taking anti-depressants and opioid pain killers as prescribed by my doctor) which did help improve my mood and reduce pain, are actually renowned for having the side effect of weight gain – something I didn’t really think would ever happen to me.
In total, I actually put on 12kg over the past 18 months, and ALMOST hit 100kg bodyweight – which pushed me well over a BMI of 30 and into the ‘Obese’ range of the chart, with an estimate from the physio of nearly 30kg of body fat. Scary shit.
Having recently lost my mum to cancer, as well as a number of other family members to cancers, cardiovascular disease, and organ failure, I had the realization that actually quite a lot of my family members struggle with obesity, diabetes, CVD, cancers, and other “western diseases”. I also lost a close friend recently to brain cancer (causing an aneurism). Maybe I don’t have as good a set of genetics as I thought…
The picture really started becoming clear in my head that I couldn’t just keep relying on a favorable metabolism and the structure of my employment to stay healthy like I did in my teens and twenties, and I needed to take this shit seriously and be proactive about what I put into my body and my activity level.
Getting health back on track
After what can only be described as having life-changing experiences with Psilocybin, ongoing sessions with the rehab physio and a number of rounds of targeted Cortisone injections, I felt I was able to cope much better with pain and sleeping and stopped taking medications. As time went by a lot of the stressful events in my life just tended to ‘settle down’, I felt much more relaxed, calm and in control and felt like I had less tension and back pain.
But, the weight still stayed there – so my Doc and I had a chat, he referred me to a new sports med physio and we came up with a plan. Roughly speaking the plan was;
- Exercise three times a day – walking the dog and HIIT in the morning, rehab strength exercises for my neck/back at lunch, and evening gym classes (alternating between weight resistance training, yoga and cardio)
- Intermittent fasting – Daily 20/4 eating window (Either One Meal A Day (OMAD), or Lunch at ~1pm and dinner ~5pm), and then a Weekly 40hr fast, and Monthly 72 hour fast.
- Maintaining a small calorific deficit – targeting about a 15% deficit with 2400 calories per day over either one or two meals, PLUS whatever ‘overall average deficit’ occurs due to the weekly and monthly fasts (probably works out to be a daily deficit of around 30%)
- Pseud-keto Low carb diet (targeting a zero carb diet, but f me, sugar and carbs are in everything) – practical target below 20g carbs per day
- Upping intake of water to 4L per day – alongside taking electrolytes, sea salt and a multi vitamin
- Increasing my intake of fermented and pickled foods such as Kimchi, saurkraut and yoghurt, as well as dietary fiber for probiotics and prebiotics.
I have also made some other smaller changes to my lifestyle which I had been meaning to do and I guess just got lazy over time, such as using the sit/stand desk in the stand mode as much as possible, taking the stairs where possible, walking or riding my bike where possible, randomly smashing out a dozen pushups, sit ups and squats throughout the day, and getting back into bushwalking/hiking for fun.
Unfortunately, following a fairly rigid no carb diet is kinda hard and meant deviating a bit from my mostly Whole Food, Plant Based Diet and introducing more meat, eggs and dairy to get more calories, protein and fats in a more convenient way without carbohydrates. At first this was expensive, but then I learned the evenings my local supermarkets restock their meat/dairy sections and massively mark down the old stock – my partner and I then check it out after our evening gym class and we usually scoop up a few kilos or so of meat and dairy at 50-90% markdown and head home to separate to portion size and freeze it.
After literally just standing in line and listening to the person in front of us do it, we also learned you can ask at the checkout for a “final markdown” of perishable foods on the best before date – for example we picked up a brisket which was marked down two times (20% and then 50%) and had its expiration date that night, and when we asked the lady at the counter if she could do a “final markdown” she put a further 50% reduction on it, meaning we got it for 80% off (0.8*0.5*0.5 = 0.2) – so a 2 Kg brisket which would make 10 meal protein portions was less than $5!
I was actually bit concerned about the elevated risks of certain types of cancers and cardiovascular disease that are associated with eating a lot of animal products such as Meat and Dairy because of what I learned from reading the China Study and a lot of Michael Pollans books on food and health. I started doing a bit more reading on health and fitness in particular Keto and low carb diets, and discovered a number of great content creating doctors and researchers on YouTube that produce some pretty awesome content.
My ongoing Health education
There is a lot of ‘woo science’ on YouTube about diet and weight loss and health, but from what I’ve found Dr Paul Mason (medical doctor) makes some of the best medical / scientific arguments for a low carb diet and explains how it works, backed up by numerous studies and clinical trials.
There has also been some great episodes on the topic of Keto and Low carb published on the ABCs program Catalyst (which you can find on ABC iView or republished on various youtube channels), as well as a few good documentaries from New Zealand on the YouTube channel ENDEVR
This has also really opened my eyes to just how toxic sugar (especially fructose) is for our body, and how it’s poisoning us all as it is snuck into processed foods to drive profits. Dr Mason explains just how bad it is, and how by cutting out sugar, fructose and artificial sweeteners we can all live longer, healthier lives with less pain and avoid chronic health conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
- Dr Paul Mason: An Australian medical doctor and researcher who works in Sports medicine – See Paul on X (twitter?) @DrPaulMason. He has got some really great presentations and speaking gigs uploaded to YouTube which are worth a watch. He is a practicing clinician and has a large number of patients he has helped through significant weight loss, and his presentation at the University of Sydney is probably one of the best videos I’ve seen on the topic. He covers topics such as obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular disease, and explores their links to sugars, seed oils and commonly accepted food/medical myths.
- Dr David Sinclair: Australian laboratory scientist who researches biology, anti-aging and age reversal as a tenured professor of Genetics at Harvard medical school. He has made a lot of very interesting findings and his physical appearance is just crazy – he is in his 50s but looks like a 20 year old (gentics??). I think there is a lot of value and wisdom to be learned from him – but just beware, there is a potential conflict of interest when it comes to marketing of supplements and pharmaceuticals he recommends and sells through his company TallyHealth and other partnerships. I’m not saying he is dodgy or selling out or whatever but you know, the whole “show me the incentive, I will show you the outcome” thing. IMO being healthy is great, but I am not too sure about this obsession everyone has (mostly rich people?) with reversing aging and staying young forever.
- Dr Sten Ekberg: a former Swedish decathlon olympian, and US chiropractor (doctor of chiropractor). I usually dislike chiropractors and treat anything they say with a lot of caution as they aren’t actually medical doctors, and my neurosurgeon told me to beware as they can cause permanent spinal damage and advised me not to use one for my back and neck pain. However, Dr Ekberg has a lot of positive lived experience and as far as I know, hasn’t said anything too outrageous or wrong. I enjoy most of his YouTube videos about diet and biology, and he appears to approach things objectively with a good scientific method and backs up his claims with data, studies and clinical trials. I also like his mannerisms and sense of humor. However I acknowledge he isn’t a medical doctor.
- Dr Annette Bosworth (US medical doctor): Dr. Bosworth has a huge social media following under her name Dr Boz, and is a current practicing internal medicine doctor that promotes ketogenic (low/no carb) diet to help treat and prevent cancers and other chronic diseases.
Whilst I’m not an expert on medical stuff, and watching a few YouTube videos and reading some medical journal articles doesn’t come close to replacing professional advice from a qualified and practicing doctor, I’ve come to the conclusion for now that for the next 3-6 months whilst I’m essentially ‘cutting’ my body fat figure down, it will be relatively safe to increase my fat and protein uptake with animal products on a temporary basis.
However, once I reach my target fitness and weight goals, I will be slowly transitioning back towards a more plant based diet and will likely introduce a small amount of complex carbohydrates back into the diet in the form of low GI veggies like Squash, carrots, potato etc. But I will probably continue to eat a small amount of animal products such as lard for cooking, fish, chicken and eggs.
I think one of the biggest takeaways I have learned is the real danger of processed foods, especially how toxic sugar and vegetable oils are, and how they are snuck into bloody everything. Which wasn’t really a surprise as I had read a lot about this in the past – including two spectacular books Toxic Oil and Sweet Poison by Australian author (and obese lawyer turned health writer) David Gillespie. I don’t know where I went wrong – I think I just got distracted by everything going on and resorted to junk food and alcohol as a coping mechanism and ‘fell off the wagon’ so to speak.
Whilst I do still believe that the evidence does show that sustained (excessive?) consumption of animal products leads to disease, the real travesty is when you start processing it (such as bacon and hams with added nitrates and sugars and excessive salts), as well as combining it with seed/vegetable oils and sugars.
So for now I have been minimising my risks by avoiding any processed meats and just sticking to mostly ‘natural’ types of animal produts like;
- Fatty fish and chicken (like salmon and chicken thigh)
- A small amount of fatty red meats
- Cooking with saturated fats like lard and tallow,
- Minimally processed fermented dairy such as Yoghurt and cheese (with no added sugars, flavours or preservatives – the fermenting consumes the lactose making it healthier)
Whilst still eating a TON of veggies such as brocolli, leafy greens, mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, peppers and herbs (and trying to limit or avoid starchy veggies like sweet potato, corn, pumpkin or potatoes). It is super helpful having a big veggie patch I can just pick a salad from.
Limiting fruit intake has been SO difficult for me, as I am a bit of a natural ‘fruit bat’ and may have been known for polishing off kilos of fruit in a day – I have been having 100g of frozen mixed berries with yoghurt and mixed nuts/seeds and that has been satisfying my sweet tooth.
Captain FI’s health results
Anyway the results to date have been awesome for me – in four months;
- I have lost over 12Kg (going from 98.9kg back down to 86kg the morning I wrote this) and that makes me the lightest I have been in several years.
- My Body fat has gone from an estimated 27-30% down to 17-20% using the US Navy body fat % measurement method by my Physio with a tape measure. Doc says this is only an approximate method, and some of the weight loss is likely due to water weight loss from the keto diet / glycogen depletion, which could account for up to 7.5kg of the weight loss. Although I can start to see a two-pack forming if I squint in the just right lighting! 🤣 So bodyfat is definitely moving in the right direction.
- My Lean body mass has increased slightly to 71kg – adding 1.4kg of muscle (and bone?). I feel stronger, and am gradually using heavier weights to workout. Its only a small gain but in the gym with a pump on and in good lighting I reckon I can just start to notice some improvements in definition. At the moment the main priority is fat loss not building lean muscle, so I am just stoaked to see this number increasing and not going down.
- My BMI has gone from 31.2 to 27 – Whilst my BMI is 27 I am still technically ‘Overwight’ (BMI>25), but when I get to my target goal weight of under 80kg and under 10% body fat, I will basically be BMI 25 and back to “healthy range”. The BMI scale isn’t the most accurate/best health metric anyway, but its good to see it moving in the right direction.
- I have reduced my waistline by 4cm which is two notches tighter on my belt! I feel I have less of a belly and feel less bloated, which is good because I’ve been learning how dangerous visceral (internal) bellyfat is for your organs.
- My Blood pressure has reduced heaps – going from an average 150/90 mmHg down to 115/65 mmHg. Actually I even had some issues with dizziness in the morning a few times having my diastyolic go down to around 55mmHg – my partner tells me this is likely due to orthostatic hypotension, dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance – after following the doctors orders and doing her ankle pump regime and smashing some sugar-free electrolyte drinks the dizziness went away and my blood pressure goes back up to the mid 60’s – after taking a big electrolyte drink before bed it doesnt happen anymore.
- Intermittent fasting has been beneficial. It is horrendously brutal after having any amount of carbs due to the hunger/cravings they cause, but much easier with a strict keto diet a few days beforehand as the body is already ‘fat adapted’ and doesnt seem to crave the carbs. My longest fast ever has been 7 days, and I am doing a monthly 3 day fast, and a weekly 40 hour fast (skipping 4 traditional meal periods so basically one day plus one night). Whilst fasting I have quite easily done 5+ hour challenging hikes and had plenty of energy reserves, so this stuff clearly does work for my body. I think that I have definitely entered Ketosis and Autophagy, but haven’t been testing for ketones or doing regular blood work so have no proof. I have continued to donate whole blood and plasma and the red cross haven’t said anything negative about my blood tests they do before the donation and have been happy to take it. I was tempted to buy a blood monitor from amazon.
- I have felt a significant reduction in inflammation, chronic pain and back/neck ache. Obviously I’ve had the cortisone shots which helped the joints massively, and have been doing targetted physio workouts, but I think that cutting out sugar/carbs and almost all alcohol has significantly reduced inflammation and pain.
- I have been sleeping heaps more. 10+ hours a night (before 9pm to around 7am) plus 1-2 hours napping in the sun on the couch after OMAD meal (or between a late lunch and early dinner). I think the sleep has been having a very positive effect and I’m soaking up as much as I can get before parenthood starts.
I’m still working towards achieving my goal to continue to lose another 7kg or so, and to keep cutting down body fat and improving my strength, and its great that my partner is on board – she has lost 4kg herself and we can keep accountable to each other. Whilst we arent perfect and do occasionally have a ‘cheat meal’ or a beer, we are still gradually moving in the right direction, at a sustainable and healthy pace without feeling like we are depriving/starving ourselves or unduly obsessing over weight.
I didn’t track this the whole time, but did track my daily weight every morning for a month (in Kg) which is kinda cool to get an idea about how its been going. I wish I had tracked it from the start as there was an initial spectacular weight loss associated with the keto / carb cutting, and now the weight loss has slowed down a bit. But its still trending positively, and its cool to see the impact of the fasting days. I also tracked my food intake with MyFitnessPal each day, including weighing food on kitchen scales, to make sure I wasn’t over-eating.
- 92.0 (fasting day)
- 91.2 (fasting day)
- 89.8 (fasting day)
- 90.2 (fasting day)
- 89.3 (fasting day)
- 88.4 (fasting day)
- 88.4 (fasting day)
Going forward I am not going to closely track calories / macros or weigh food as I think this is unhealthy to obsess over (which is actually a resolution I had made before back in my GymBro days), and I will only record my weight once per week (after the Sunday fast!)
CaptainFI interviews I have done
In the past few months, I have done 2 media phone interviews and one written interview, but I don’t think they have been released yet. It’s kind of scary, but I am enjoying sharing my story and getting the message of financial independence out there! When they come out I will post links to them and share them on social media.
Captain FI podcasts I have published
As I mentioned above I have been podcasting and writing a lot more lately and have some really awesome episodes coming up for you soon, and have recently published some awesome interviews with a couple of my FIRE idols such as JL Collins! Other recent pod interviews:
- Canna Campbell from Sugar Mamma TV
- Jeremy Schneider – Personal Finance Club
- Deacon Hayes – Well Kept Wallet
- JMoney From Budgets Are Sexy
- Barney, The Escape Artist
- Karsten – Early Retirement Now
- Q And A Session With Matt Raad – Part THREE
- Jonathan Clements – The Humble Dollar
- Dom – Gen Y Finance Guy
- Nomad Numbers And Slow Travel
- Corwin from Engineering Your FI
- Nicole Martin – Martin & Fortuin
- Queenie Tan from Invest with Queenie
- Doc G – Jordan Grumet – Earn And Invest Podcast
- The Fioneers – Jess & Corey
- Making Sense Of Cents – Michelle
- Louise Howard – The Executive
Captain FI blog articles I have published
I have also published a heap of new blogs and review articles, including:
- Making sense of Affiliate marketing
- Roboadvice – Getting Financial Advice From A Roboadvisor
- St George Home Insurance Review; Is It Worth It?
- ASIC’s Money Smart Review
- InvestSmart Review; Is It Really Simple Investing?
- Fun Things To Do In Adelaide!
- ANZ Smart Choice Super Review
- 80+ Ways How To Make Money Online For Beginners In 2023 Explained
- BrickX Review; A Smart Way To Invest In Property?
- Navexa Portfolio Tracking Review – A Better Alternative To Sharesight?
- CHESS Sponsorship For Australian Share Trading Platforms
- Blog Income Reports – Ultimate List Of Blog Income Reports
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less By Greg McKeown Book Review
Captain FI directory pages I fixed
and Just a reminder that I finally sorted out my resources tabs for books, blogs and podcasts and made separate dedicated directory articles listing my favourite blogs, podcasts and books which should make this a lot easier to read through
If you want to see what I am doing on the more day to day stuff, you can follow me on social media where I regularly post what I am up to.
Captain FI’s Spending
I previously trialed documenting my spending, but it was a bit of a mess and I didn’t stick to it. Instead, I used to calculate my savings rate which was the portion of my take home (after tax) wages that I saved and invested (you could kind of think of this as like, 100% minus my spending rate). This led to a bit of an obsession, and so I stopped tracking this closely in the second half of 2021.
Recently, I have been trialing loosely tracking my quarterly spending to come up with an annual spending figure. This has been insightful, especially given I have recently read a few book such as ‘Die with Zero’ and ‘the life you can save’ which as you might expect, encourage us to spend and give more.
Our combined fixed costs average around $770/wk ($40K PA total – $27K my share)
- Rent: $450/wk
- Groceries: $120/wk* (we are pretty relaxed with food shopping now and some weeks if we are feeling boujee it doubles!)
- Utilities: $40/wk
- Date Night fund: $100/wk (if we don’t use this it ‘jackpots’
- Her Fuel costs (since we drive her car everywhere together): <$60/wk
My personal fixed costs average around $80/wk ($4160 PA total)
- Vehicle: Fuel, Registration, Maintenance, Insurance, Licensing – $50/wk
- Subscription services (Spotify, Disney+, YouTube premium) – $10/wk
- Gym membership (ARGH yes I am paying for classes) – $18/wk
I think its also worth noting I now live with my girlfriend and we benefit from the economy of scale (i.e. cost sharing), but to aim to be more equitable I pay a 2/3 share of the bills and she pays 1/3, which is letting her pump her savings into her retirement account (superannuation), brokerage account and build a cash buffer for her investment property purchase.
All up, my 2023 spending so far is just shy of $23,000 with 3 months left to go, so is on track for a total ‘At home’ spend of $32,000 on basic living costs (such as rent, groceries, utilities, insurance, fuel and a weekly allowance for date nights / spending money). This is consistent with my average calculated baseline living cost of around AUD $30,000 – $32,000.
In previous years I have budgeted to spend around an extra $10,000 or so for holidays and travel, but actually after reading Die with Zero I am planning to bump this figure up to $20,000 and accordingly, we have already booked two overseas holidays as well as a few smaller domestic trips.
The irony here is that with this years taxable income at around $70K, even with a $13K tax bill (before franking credits are factored in), maxing out the travel budget ($20K) and giving $5K to charity there is still thousands of dollars left over – What this shows is that my spending is fairly stable, and that my cost of living is completely covered by investment returns.
Because I have multiple streams of income (such as blogging), since FIRE’ing I have actually earned considerably more than I spend, and I have been able to add this income to any dividends and rental income andcontinue to add to my investment portfolio, as well as build up a small cash cushion. I plan to eventually use this wealth for buying a hobby farm either in the Adelaide Hills or Sunshine Coast Hinterland region.
If you are interested in seeing more about my spending let me know and I will put more effort into tracking and posting it, breaking it down into categories. I recently posted about my trip around SE Asia with a breakdown of my spending and costs so if you want to see more of this let me know and I will focus more on that.
We have a small giving fund and I have been allocating $100/wk to put towards the medical missions and disability school that my partners family run.
I know it is not much when I consider I have upped my vacation budget to four times that, but it is still more than Peter Singer’s book ‘The Life You Can Save’ suggested you pledge (5% of annual income for those earning below $143K) and 7 times higher than the suggested pledge amount on Peter Singers website The Life You Can Save.
Over time I want to grow how much I give to at least 10% of my income, and get more personally involved with charities and community groups volunteering one full day per week. I feel that part time work on my growing websites is going to be a good source of income I can use to make this happen.
We recently sent a $1,000 donation to a medical mission in the Phillipines and I felt that was a very worthy cause. The money went towards some medical supplies and the cost of travel and accommodation for the medical team.
Captain FI’s Investments
As I mentioned in my last update, I don’t really calculate a Net Wealth or Savings Rate Figure much anymore. I had a realization that this was one manifestation of a somewhat chronic money anxiety borne out of my upbringing, and a desire for certainty and stability.
Nevertheless, they were great metrics for tracking my journey to FI, helped my accountability, made interesting blogs and the figures showed I made exceptional progress on the path to FI (the historical summaries can be found at the end of this update). I haven’t calculated it for this update, but it remains over AUD $2M.
My most recent investments was two rather large (and unfortunately timed?) lump sum investments of $500K and $60K which were funded from my mortgage refinance, raiding the mortgage offset accounts and distributions from my company. This was mostly invested into VTS as I tailored the portfolio weightings to more growth vs income. As is my luck, the markets went down soon thereafter 🤣
My current investments (outside super) are split between 4 main areas;
- The FIRE Portfolio: Global, USA and Aussie Index fund ETFs
- Real estate – Residential duplex
- My company – which runs a portfolio of content marketing websites
- Cash (Australian Dollar, held in mortgage offset account)
I also maintain smaller investments in the following two areas
NB – Approximately a year ago I ended up divesting in various things such as RoboAdvisors, Micro investing funds, Managed funds, Metals/resources, and a few other speculative investments or experiments I had in order to simplify my finances. I had racked up a complex mix of investments as I wanted to try out and review various investing services but this became unmanageable in the end and I needed to simplify
The ‘FIRE’ Portfolio (Exchange Traded Index Funds)
My ‘Financial Independence Retire Early’ ETF Portfolio is a simple, passive share portfolio split between three parcels of low-fee, index-tracking Exchanged Traded Index Funds (ETFs) to achieve global diversification. I began switching to this passive index approach to investing in 2018, firstly by adding new contributions, and then over time by divesting in other assets (individual shares, managed funds, LICs etc) and rolling the investments over to it.
- I track my share portfolio using Sharesight, which means my portfolio accounting and tax reports are completely automated.
The rolling 12 monthly performance is doing pretty much exactly what its supposed to do.
Love seeing the ‘since inception’ graph from Sharesight back to when I started adopting a purely index ETF approach to investing at the start of 2018. Now in my sixth year of passive index fund investing and having built a seven figure portfolio, I can confidently say that this is the right approach for me personally, and I feel secure knowing I have a solid base of future dividend income and the flexibility to sell parcels of shares to fund my lifestyle as required.
I recently wrote a full separate article on the IP build – CaptainFI’s residential property development investment. The current automated online valuation estimate is $670K, which has gone down by $23,000, however in my latest refinance (which netted me a $4,000 refinance bonus last week) the bank accepted a value of $700K to loan me $560K without me having to use LMI so I am not really too bothered. I think with interest rates going up for so long there has been some cooling of the housing market, but this is a long term asset and I am using it indirectly to leverage shares.
Because I withdrew such a big amount of equity to make a $500K shares purchase (which in hindsight seems like it was probably bad timing lol), the loan is essentially ‘fully drawn’ now and its costing me around $3,300 a month in mortgage repayments (P+I) and $600 a month in various other costs (rates, management fe, insurance etc).
If I add a little buffer for maintenance required, the cash flow is now about $4,000 a month in costs, and $2,600 in income, making it negatively geared by $1400 a month or $17K a year. Maybe a little more (less?) if there is a tenant turnover due to advertising and letting fees.
It probably seems dumb to be paying over $17K a year to hold an investment property in early retirement because it seriously eats into my cashflow (even if I do hope it goes up in value over time).
But its worth noting that I have essentially used this property as security to leverage into shares – the property only has around $110K of ‘Locked up / non-productive equity’ and the remaining/outstanding loan balance of $560K is invested in shares which produce around $16.5K per annum in dividend cash flow (approx 3% dividend yield) PLUS capital growth. The dividends alone pretty much cover the shortfall in cash-flow for the investment property – so I get to hold it ‘for free’.
There is another perk which is I am also allowed to deduct the interest charges of the loan due to negative gearing rules (debt for investment purposes), which is approx $33K of interest charges which is income I can wipe off my taxable income.
This means from the debt arrangement in total I make approx $47.7K per annum ($31.2K in rent, and $16.5K in dividends), but I can wipe off 33.2K of that and I am only having to pay tax on $15.5K. Due to my taxable income being approx $70K at the moment (investment returns and my company distributions) that puts me into the 32.5% bracket
Online Business (website portfolio)
I have a small business that runs a website portfolio of different content sites that make money semi-passively from display Advertising through managed ad networks such as Adsense and Mediavine, and affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates and other direct affiliate deals. I’ve written a pretty detailed article here about how to make money online, and I recently published a few more articles about how to start making money online for beginners, as well as an ultimate list of blog income reports
I haven’t been pushing myself too hard on the business side of things, although I have published a heap of articles and podcasts on here. I continued to scale back my website portfolio with the sale of a few more of the content websites, and have just been focusing mostly on CaptainFI and my aviation site. Its been good to see the other sites continue to tick along and bring in automated adsense and amazon income though, too!.
We welcomed a new addition to the website team which is awesome (an Aussie based overseas) and they are doing really well so far – its awesome to know I have a great team behind me so that I am able to take a breather when required and know that things will still get done (i.e. podcast and article editing, posting and social media management) which lets the sites continue to grow, whilst providing some awesome remote employment and training opportunities to the team.
I also finally (re) launched the YouTube channel – CaptainFI YouTube – I am @Captain_FI on YouTube, and its been really awesome to see it already grow to 240 subscribers with only 9 videos released this month, and to hit just over 100 watch hours so far. I have also launched a YouTube for my other large blog, so it will be cool to see which one grows faster!
If you are interested in the podcast and blog and socials, please jump on board and help me grow the channel as I have a lot of really cool plans for content going forward.
I have been doing a lot of writing and publishing on my passion sites, including podcasting here on CaptainFI.com, and I decided I enjoy this much more so will just focus my energies onto my main couple of sites rather than trying to spread myself too thinly across all of them.
As a result, I have a few sites I am open to selling to anyone who wants to get started with this side hustle with their first starter site or older, more established content site. They range from 2 to 4 years old, with various backlink profiles, number of published articles, and traffic. You can check out this article on website operation if you are keen as I’ve listed all the details in there. Feel free to send me an email through the contact form or get in touch on social media if you are interested.
I learned these skills through the eBusiness institute over the past 4 years – I have done a pretty comprehensive review of the eBusiness institute as well as interviewed Matt and Liz Raad about this on the podcast again recently where we go over a huge list of frequently asked questions about online business if you want to learn more about this
I have also been going through the Authority Hackers TASS (The Authority Site System) Course as well as the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course which has been a cool way to consolidate the skills I have learnt from the eBusiness Institute.
Check out these podcast episodes for more information
- Podcast | Q and A Session with Matt Raad – Part THREE
- Podcast | Q and A Session with Matt Raad – Part TWO
- Podcast | Q and A Session with Matt Raad – Part ONE
- Captain Fi Podcast | Online Business with Matt Raad
- Podcast | Digital Marketing with Richard
- Podcast | Entrepreneurship with Liz Raad
- Podcast | Digital entrepreneurs Matt and Liz Raad
They also provide some free introductory training for CaptainFI readers.
I have a small ‘Angel Investment’ in the Financial Independence brokerage platform Pearler. This was the maximum allowable private investment of $10,000 (AUD) which was made in July 2021 with the total number of ‘private equity’ shares based on their June company valuation.
I am not tracking the exact company valuations for Pearler, but I know the company has had its valuation more than triple and has raised over $10m through VC funding rounds, with more to be raised in later rounds, so I assume the shares are worth a bit more. How much exactly, though? I am not sure, but its irrelevant as I am in it for the long haul.
I recently set up my Crypto to be included in Sharesight which is great because its included with the rest of my ETF share investments, and its one less thing to log into. Currently sitting at a negative 15% annualised loss since inception, with the following breakdown below courtesy of Coinspot reporting. Not going to the moon just yet!
Cash – Mojo and emergency fund
Cash reserves are currently sitting at around 6 months of living costs with about $20,000 in the mortgage offset account. For day to day spending, I am still just keeping a few thousand in my personal transaction account, and my partner and I have a joint bank account we each contribute to for household bills. Nothing too ground breaking.
I do think I want to boost the cash buffer to around one years worth of living costs, so I will probably hold onto the next round of dividends or pay myself another distribution from my company.
I guess one aspect is that my company holds its own cash reserves and has its own set of cash-flows based on income vs expenses (mostly on staff), so if things ever get too desperate I can always pay myself from the company. Its reassuring to know that’s an ‘extra’ bit of security so I don’t feel so bad running my personal emergency fund so low… but its probably not good practice!
Captain FI’s Net Wealth progression
During my journey to FI I roughly documented my net wealth progression via monthly updates and a graph which was rather crudely constructed in Excel. It demonstrates the ‘somewhat exponential’ journey over my 14 year ‘working’ career. You can access the archives for my Net Worth updates here to see how it’s gone over time. Check out the graph and all the updates below to see how it has gone since the beginning.
I haven’t continued to update a Net Wealth figure post-FI because it isn’t that helpful and starts to cause me money anxiety. Instead, I will continue to put out semi-regular updates about my investments and life post-FI.
|Date||Net worth||Difference||Saving Rate||Notes|
|Jan 09||$5,000.00||?||Estimate NW based on historical Super, Bank statements and assets at the time||LINK|
|Jan 10||$24,000||+$19,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 11||$40,000||+$16,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 12||$92,000||+$50,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 13||$130,000.00||+$38,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 14||$161,000.00||+$31,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 15||$200,000.00||+$39,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 16||$281,000.00||+$81,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 17||$340,000.00||+$59,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 18||$482,000.00||+$142,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jan 19||$542,000.00||+$60,000||?||Estimate NW||LINK|
|Jul 19||$578,900.00||+$36,900||84%||Finally began tracking NW this like a proper adult.|||
|Aug 19||$560,100.00||-$18,800.00 (-3.2%)||78%||Share market slight correction, Ok savings.|||
|Sep 19||$584,744.88||$24,644.88||72%||Share market rebound, savings rate not so good.||LINK|
|Oct 19||$600,386.00||$15,641.12||84%||Good saving this month. Normal salary, plus allowances, dividends from index funds, tax refund, eBay selling and was working abroad in asia where things are cheap.||LINK|
|Nov 19||$612,917.21||$12,531.21||76%||Falling short of my savings goal of 80%. Mostly domestic legs this month with higher costs. Also invested in hydroponics.||LINK|
|Dec 19||$625,350.00||$12,432.79||76%||Good savings of cash (for development) and investment, however higher spending due to Christmas period (Travel and Gifting).||LINK|
|Jan 20||$865,212.00||$239,862.00||55%||Super settlement was a HUGE boost to NW. $9K growth from stock market. Expensive month lots with lots of unexpected bills – weddings, travel, Booking flights, fines etc.||LINK|
|Feb 20||$851,802.0||-$16,592 (-1.9%)||52%||Large increase in spending on myself this month, still managed to tuck away $5K to put into shares and property. Corona Virus market scare resulted in a correction and gave NW a small negative trend. Time in the market not Timing the market! Became Single again.||LINK|
|Mar 20||$819, 354.6||-$31,806.95 (-3.7%)||80%||Another small step backwards in the NW due to the ‘corona crash’ in full swing. FIRE Portfolio of ETF/LICs down about 15% this month, however due to high savings rate and structure of my superannuation annuity the NW is only down 3.7%. Savings rate good at 80%, higher than usual income (with some slightly higher spending, too). Picking up shares on discount – this is the best outcome for someone in the accumulation phase with good income!||LINK|
|Apr 20||$847,023||+$27,668||85%||$11,000 in rebound of stock market capital prices alone (up 6%), plus first quarter dividends paid (heavily reduced due to banks withholding dividends). Great savings rate due to COVID-19 lock-down = no spend. Increased entrepreneurial efforts and selling down of physical possessions provided side hustle income. Two standard paychecks from flying activity; domestic day trips only so no allowances. All cash unfortunately had to go into the property development due to contract timing, I am chomping at the bit to buy some more index funds before they go back up in price too much – hence why I am selling most of my toys!||LINK|
|May 20||$857,859||+$10,836||92%||Some Great sales as I let go of my Super Sport Motorcycle, Some gym gear, expensive flying equipment and a few other various bits and bobs and invested this money. Flying still reduced, but increasing from April. The share market grew as I continued to make my fortnightly investments. I also wrote down the ‘value’ of some of my possessions (liabilities) such as my car, tools and furniture by around $10K to align them to market price (“tell him hes dreaming…!”).||LINK|
|June 20||$858,650||+$791||90%||Small Net Worth gain as I continue to declutter and simplify my life, despite being off work due to a family emergency. Share market not doing much.||LINK|
|July 20||$888,218||+$29,568||68%||Majority gain due to share market going back up, low spending due to being on the family farm and at home because of lock down.||LINK|
|Aug 20||$1,029,293||+$141,075||74%||Became a millionaire. Achieved this massive milestone I set out for myself in Dec 2019. Included unrealised gains in my property development as well as website business. Good savings rate due to not much spending, invested in Aus and total world shares. Investing in my web business. Starting to shift focus away from $$$ and more into looking after my mental health.||LINK|
|Sep 20||S1,045,486||+$16,193||60%||Officially took time off work for the rest of the year to be close and look after family during major operations. Continued to sell down physical possessions and work on digital business while at home. NW gain mainly due to valuation of websites.||LINK|
|Oct 20||$1,064,399||+$18,913||80%||Base income (retainer) and leave loading, dividend and websites provided income, as well as raiding my P2P lending capital. Significant bill for property due to design not meeting standards which effectively lowers my equity position, as well as fence being stolen.||LINK|
|Nov 20||$1,143,433||+$80,394||82%||Big gains came from share market growth (influencing both the Financial Independence share portfolio and Invested superannuation), Business gains (due to increased earnings) and a $30K boost to my annuity thanks to me logging in and checking the fine-print on the accumulation stats. I only invested around $7K. Insane that in one month, I accumulated nearly more net worth than I did in four years from 2009-2012||LINK|
|Dec 20||$1,152,920||+ $9,487.32||84%|
Share market slight drop, Earnings from Business, Contract work, Selling possessions. No share market investments this month (oops! I forgot and money was tight). Invested a lot into the website business this month (way more than planned) and it is still running at a decent loss (plans to turn it cash flow positive in 3 months).
|Jan 21||$1,165,678||+$12,757||79%||Great returns from the share market. Earnings from Business, Dividends, Flying wage, flipping items on consignment. Regular share contribution, investing in micro investing platforms, P2P lending, Investment property and big reinvestment into the business (still running at a loss)||LINK|
|Feb 21||$1,135,272||-$30,406||76%||Significant write down on property development due to council DA rejection and redesign requiring more money and creating less equity. Offset by small increase to Business value and investments. Simplified my investments and switched over to Pearler.||LINK|
|Mar 21||$1,155,594||+$20,322||71%||Continued investment into the portfolio as well as growth of investments and business. Gave my notice at work and looking for part time job at home for ‘Barista FI’||LINK|
|Apr 21||$1,242,220||+$86,727||74%||Property development back on track||LINK|
|May 21||$1,379,469||+$137,248||72%||Massive gains in the website portfolio due to revaluation based on recent business income, big growth of superannuation due to annuity increasing (salary increment) and shares generally went up. Crypto went down by about 40% or so.||LINK|
|June 21||$1,469,989||+$89,757||41%||Quit flying role and moved to Adelaide. Great month for investments, websites producing serious income so accordingly they are valued higher. Spent a lot on furnishing the new apartment and on enjoying some more luxuries. Seeing a therapist to help deal with anxiety from leaving work.||LINK|
|July 21||$1,543,959||+$74,732||N.A.||Set myself up in Adelaide. Did basically nothing for the whole month except spent time with family, relax, sleep and go to doctors appointments. Massive boost to website portfolio AdSense and affiliate incomes, as well as general share market performance.||LINK|
|Aug 21||$1,624,116||+$70,156||N.A.||Relaxed again, focused on mental and physical health, and spending time with family and my partner. Big increases to spending (too afraid to calculate a ‘savings rate’) but also big increases to NW through website portfolio income growth. Finally got the slab poured on the investment property (foundation).||LINK|
|Sep 21||1,640,663.85||+$16,547||N.A.||Stocks, super etc went down, but business income from websites increased, plus business valuation increased. Property build. got to frame stage, and I also got a dog! Expenses for vet surgery well worth it. Moved into a nicer apartment||LINK|
|Oct 21||$1,705,907||+$65,243||30%||Big boost from website valuation due to securing new affiliate contracts for recurring income, shares went up nicely. No massive changes to this month. Calculated a savings rate and found myself pretty low due to spending a lot on my garden and going out quite a lot – I don’t think I will calculate this savings rate figure any more.||LINK|
|Nov 21||$1,739,144.23||+$33,236||–||Great month. Relaxing (somewhat). Spent a lot of money doing ‘fun’ things like winery tours, a fine dining experience and self education. Shares moved sideways (well slightly down) but everything else went up. Building got to enclosed stage (roof, walls, windows and doors) but have had some issues with build quality and weather / covid delays. Put a $1000 deposit on the puppy. Stopped tracking Savings Rate.||LINK|
|Dec 21||$1,764,516||+25,372||–||Spent nearly the whole month with family, did some work on the website portfolio. Traffic recovered from google algorithm changes. Invested $10K into Stockspot and Sixpark, $1K into ACDC, $100 into Comsec pocket and $100 into Bamboo, $260 into BTC, $4K into ETFs through pearler. Paid the $3000 balance for the puppy.||LINK|
|Jan 22||$1,826,633||+$62,117||–||Stock market slightly down, Massive boost to website traffic (overall its more than doubled). Invested $10K VTS, 2K VEU through pearler, Paid for Angels cancer surgery, bought more BTC and ETH, bought a parcel of ETHI on commsec pocket.||LINK|
|Feb 22||$1,757,210.57||-$69,422.93||–||Stock market down, Website business revenues down and additional spending on content and staff for business, Additional property development bills, some unexpected expenses, Wrote down the value of some of my personal property (and gave stuff away).||LINK|
|Mar 22||$1,701,410||– $55,799||–||My last ‘regular’ monthly Net wealth update as I give notice at work and finish up my non-flying job.||LINK|
|Q3, 2022||Over $2M||N.A||–||Six months of Early Retirement in Rest mode! I stopped tracking my net wealth post-FI, my dog passed away, I gave away most of my physical stuff and moved to become my mums live-in carer, met a lovely girl, bought a puppy. Had some incredible months with semi-passive website income but overall neglected the business and regular (stable) revenues decreased.||LINK|
|Q1, 2023||Over $2M||N.A||–||One year of Early Retirement! A lot of (sad) changes, the passing of my mother and family feuding resulting in temporary homelessness, selling my ‘nursery’ of plants, and traveling overseas for a few months. Finding a new home to settle, couple of domestic trips flying to Tasmania and Queensland a couple of times, and plenty of camping and road trips within SA. Did not work much on the business at all and lost a few more contracts and had to cut staff.||LINK|
|Q2, 2023||Over $2M||N.A||–||Getting back on top of things with podcasting and blogging more regularly. Focusing on building our ‘rich life’ and deliberately increasing spending in areas such as food, travel and convenience. Did a few interviews and went on a few podcasts.||LINK: CaptainFI Q2, 2023 Net Wealth Update|
|Q3, 2023||Over $2M||N.A||–||Big focus on health and fitness, fixing diet and losing excess weight. Continue to sell a few websites from portfolio and focus on largest ones. Attended some FIRE events and lots of road trips|