Well, what a massive month! I know I keep saying this but Gee, some huge life changes for me this month. I left my flying job, moved interstate (and probably picked the worlds best timing to move to Adelaide with the border closures!), got a new place to live and spent time looking after my family after some serious operations. I got to spend some beautiful quality time with my nieces / nephews as well as socialise and catch up with some old friends. The investments and websites went boonta, and I linked in with a therapist who is helping me navigate the path of ‘semi-retirement’. Read on for more!
CaptainFI is reader supported, which means we may be paid when you visit links to partner or featured sites
Monthly Question from the Captain;
Do you include an emerging market index fund ETF in your investment portfolio? Why or Why not?
CaptainFI Total Net Worth
After some feedback about just how much was invested where, I’ve included this screen shot from WeMoney from their Net Worth tracker function. This is just the first screen and covers the top investments (above $10,000) and of course the difference between the Net Worth and the total Assets is the money I owe to the bank against the investment property.
CaptainFI Financial progression
CaptainFI personal update
June was a very stressful month for me. I got out of Sydney and NSW just in time to escape border closures and lockdowns, My Mum had major surgery of which I was very grateful went well and I was able to care for her afterwards, however she was subsequently re-hospitalised for a nasty infection which was fucking terrifying. Dad somehow has pulled through the worst of his brain infection, and is now slowly getting used to life as a double amputee and going through physiotherapy and adjusting to being in a wheelchair (he is hopeful for a set of peg legs though!).
My previous landlord played silly buggers for over a month before releasing the bond (I left it SPOTLESS because I am fairly compulsive about cleaning!) because of a tiny hole in the wall from a picture hook – thankfully a good mate stepped in to save the day and went totally above and beyond and painted the entire bloody wall!
After a few weeks and countless rejections (I seriously inspected and applied for dozens of properties), I finally found an awesome apartment in Adelaide, right in the heart of the city. I got approved (and even was able to haggle the price down by paying more upfront and signing a longer lease!). It took me two weeks to properly unpack everything, and I tell you what – the removalists were worth every cent! They did damage a fair amount of stuff which was annoying, but I will slowly work through the insurance process to get it compensated for.
Of course like any move, its rather annoying because I left my last place spotless and the new place needed a deep clean before I was fully comfortable here – dry cleaning the carpets, professional bathroom clean that kind of thing. I made damn sure to document it all fully in the pre-move in inspection report, and have asked for reimbursement. This is the benefit of FU money though, because it doesn’t really bother me if I don’t get reimbursed. The next challenge is to get a puppy approved!
I connected with a new GP and therapist here in Adelaide, and have been working through some of the anxiety I have had around family, money, relationships, and a couple of incidents at work (I’ve actually been in three plane accidents, a few OH&S incidents and dealt with workplace bullying / unacceptable behaviour), and you know, the whole early retirement thing. Which IS scary. Massive change. I’d totally encourage you to do the same if you ever felt a bit uneasy about any of this stuff. A lot of us are naturally drawn into the FI/RE community with the lure of passive income and freedom and choices because we are feeling overwhelmed or maybe not 100% happy where we are, so FI is kind of an escapist day-dream or coping mechanism. Talking through it with a therapist has been great for me. One of the ways this stress has manifested with me lately is with aggressive driving and a short temper, so, I have been making even more of an effort to ditch the car and get around town on my bicycle as well as getting back into boxing.
One of the big things we are working on is SPENDING. Sounds weird huh? I am training myself that it is OK to spend again – in moderation, of course. With the reduced income and additional expenses of moving, hosting and going out more the savings rate settled at 41%. I did get a large apartment in the city and have furnished it accordingly (second hand and clearance furniture of course!) but this has meant my physical possessions value has nearly DOUBLED and is sitting at just over $22,000 worth of ‘Stuff’. Annoyingly, this takes it well above 1% of my net worth which was a weird metric / goal I had set for myself in the past. I still don’t have home contents or renters insurance because I figure whatever, I’ll just buy new stuff if the apartment complex burns down.
I went in and touched base with everyone at the new work place for the engineering role I applied for, but due to my family health and my own mental health I have decided its best not to jump straight back into anything until the end of the year, which I have been negotiating with my employer about and they agree. Luckily the website portfolio is producing some decent income so I am less stressed about income. So my current plan is to take it slow for the rest of the year and focus on healing and spending quality time with family. I have got my eyes open for a nice block of land somewhere in the Adelaide hills to start my permaculture farm and am ready for the next chapter of my life.
I wrote a cool article for the Pearler website about online trading if you want to check it out at https://simplifi.pearler.com/how-online-trading-can-grow-long-term-wealth as well as did a number of interviews about my transition and leaving Sydney such as with Andrew Fenton from the CoinTelegraph and with Cameron Carpenter from Aussie Saves. There will be a few more coming out soon and I’m equal parts excited to share the news but also mildly terrified of being in the spotlight since being back in Adelaide I am now having more and more people recognise me in the streets and even friends of friends and friends of family getting in touch.
I have been thinking long and hard about whether I will continue these Net Worth updates, seeings as the whole point of them was to keep me accountable and document my journey to Financial Independence – and now I have achieved that, I am not sure what the motivation to continue doing them is. I hope that the backlog does form some kind of documentation of my journey which might help inspire others. It does take a lot of work to put them together. I suppose I will continue some form of Quarterly or yearly update in the future, just to keep everyone in the loop about what I’m doing post-FI.
Captain FI Monthly Spending
Last month I opened up my bank account for a weekly Money diary interview on Savings.com.au which was a bit confronting but I’m totally glad I did so! After having some great interest and lots of feedback on email and socials I decided to make this a regular part of these Net Worth reviews. I’ve partnered with WeMoney for this segment to show you how I have been tracking my spending lately using the WeMoney app – I’ll also be posting some unique insights about FI over in the WeMoney Community feature, which is kind of like Instagram but for personal finance!
Again, I’m not too sure how it categorises spending and which segment it throws transactions into, but the real value for me is the next tab which is the individual transactions list. For obvious reasons I am not including that as it would give away a lot of deeply personal information and I wish to maintain some sense of anonymity and personal boundary on here for my and my families own privacy. But the Tracker category page gives a good insight into where I have been spending in general. I like that it disguised all of the celebratory specialty Adelaide Hills gins as ‘groceries’ mwuahahaha.
I have done an in depth review of WeMoney and how it works so be sure to check that out if you want to learn more about how you can improve your finances for free by using WeMoney.
Captain FI Investments
My investments are now split between seven main investment ‘areas’. I decided to start reporting on the progression and performance of each of my investments separately so we can find the best way to Financial Independence once and for all.
- FI/RE ETF Portfolio (Global, US and AUS Index fund ETFs)
- Hands-free Automated Investing (Roboadvisors)
- Real Estate
- Peer to Peer lending
- Website Portfolio (Online businesses)
For the record, my inner bias is that I think the first and the last will perform the best – but we will see over time how this unfolds. I don’t like over-thinking the investment stuff too much – so I plan to just provide a brief update each month on each investment class and what it is doing.
Note I am also considering getting some Gold and Silver ETFs
Financial Independence ETF Portfolio
My Financial Independence ETF Portfolio is a simple, low-fee passive portfolio which is split between three index tracking Exchanged Traded Index Funds (ETFs):
- I now have this portfolio fully automated through Pearler which has been a huge gamechanger for me and a massive weight off my mind
- I track my share portfolio using Sharesight, which means my accounting is also completely hands free using the Pearler API plugin.
- This means I pretty much only need to log in to confirm all the trades and dividends over the year when needed for my tax return, however I also choose to log in each month to produce these monthly updates for you guys.
- I have had questions about the tax efficiency of VTS and VEU due to the double tax or withholding tax drag because they are US domiciled funds. This is something I will be looking into. My limited understanding at the moment is that this tax drag creates an ‘effective MER’ of closer to 0.5% which might mean there may be a lower cost alternative that is better than these ETFs – something I will be investigating.
Portfolio vs Target – Pearler chart
I am still heavy on Australian shares through the A200 fund because I was chasing the franked dividend yields for a baseline level of income stability for Financial Independence. I am now working to balance this home bias concentration risk by an automated purchasing of VTS and VEU through Pearler.
Also, sweet little side note – Pearler simplified their brokerage structure this month! It is now a flat $9.50 for all brokerage regardless of size, apart of course from a number of ETFs which are completely brokerage free if held for over a year (the ETF provider pays Pearler for the cost of the brokerage essentially in exchange for advertising or being mentioned). I’ll update the review article on Pearler shortly with the good news.
Hands-free Automated Investing Portfolio
The Hands-free Automated Investing Portfolio is a combination of the two largest Online investment advisors in Australia – Stockspot and SixPark. I think they are both pretty damn good, and to stay accountable I wanted to hedge my bets with an investment in both. This way I can analyse the performance of each against one another – comparing the results of asset allocation, and Chris Brycki’s choice to diversify with gold, against Pat Garratts’ choice to diversify with property and infrastructure.
This month, Stockspot is in the lead by a whisker, producing a yield of $341 versus Six parks $318. Although that $23 difference could be very easily spent at my nearby favourite pub!
I’m pretty excited to say I was able to record a pod episode with Chris from Stockspot recently and I am working to get it edited and released for you all ASAP!
After a successful trial with the Stockspot roboadvisor platform where they allocated me the Topaz portfolio (which is their most aggressive portfolio), I have increased the balance to $10K and am letting it compound away.
If you want to learn more about Stockspot, check out the dedicated review I did on Stockspot – which I will be keeping updated with all the lessons from my personal use trial.
This was a new investment for the month, mirroring the investment I made into Stockspot. This way I can compare the performance of the two.
Crypto seemed to fluctuate around a bit, but didn’t recover from its major drop in May. I bought more Ethereum this month after having a really good chat in an an interview with Andrew Fenton from the CoinTelegraph where we talked a lot about crypto. I will definitely be exploring the De-Fi movement a bit more and some of the options for crypto staking in order to receive a yield, as well as some alt coins. But for now, without having done a lot of that research, I’ll be sticking with what I feel are the two ‘blue chip’ cryptocurrencies which is Bitcoin and Ethereum.
I did a podcast episode on Bitcoin with Stephan Livera if you are interested to learn more about it.
I have been playing with microinvesting platforms mainly just as research for the blog, because I want to see how they all stack up against each other, and against the other portfolio’s in terms of % gains. Its not strictly speaking a true comparison though because they don’t hold the same investments at all. Really it is just a bit of fun stuffing around with them, and gives me some more background knowledge for when people ask me about how to get started investing using microinvesting platforms. It is also not a huge amount of money and has just ticked over the $1000 mark.
In June we saw Tesla share price bounce back from its significant drop, and actually all of these did quite well. I was tempted to cash them out and simplify by holdings and use the money to buy some camping gear, but actually its kind of fun to see how they all grow
I just decided to go all in on Tesla through Stake, and after the drops in May it has recovered back to a reasonable level where I am about 4% up since the beginning. I got some affiliate commissions from people signing up through my review article which resulted in me getting some shares of GoPro stock. Rather than keep the GoPro stock, I just sold it and rolled it into Tesla.
Raiz aggressive portfolio – good split of ETFs, and a cheap option for small-ish balances at only $3.50 per month. To be honest the fee’s are more than my investment return, but any round up and the occasional affiliate click sign up bonus usually more than covers any fees.
I didn’t do any trading on Superhero this month, just left my HACK shares to do their thing. I might have a look at some ethical ETFs on superhero over the next few months, but the HACK ETF has gone up by 11% in only a few months which was cool to see, presumably still riding on the covid tech work from home wave.
Spaceship Origin portfolio: Top 100 Global Blue chip ETF. This seems to be going alright but If I am honest, for a speculative punt I should have probably gone for the Universe portfolio which seems to be having insanely high gains – I am hoping the origin portfolio might be more stable.
Plenti P2P lending
Plenti Peer to Peer lending account. I have it all set to auto reinvest and over time it should slowly grow, but it is good to know that I can either switch the auto invest off and have that drop into my account within a month, or I can just forfeit monthly interest and do an early withdrawal of whatever is on loan in case I ever need to quickly access the cash.
Thankfully I didn’t have to raid this for my new apartment in Adelaide, and have just left it to tick away in the background.
Works continue on the Investment property build but things have been eye-ball stabbingly slow. The builders continue to blame covid and ‘labour and supply issues’ and the local council for the lack of progress, and I feel they are hoping we back out because the price of materials has risen compared to what we have in the contract, so I wonder if this is all just a stall tactic.
All I really want to see is the slab poured and then I can relax. Alas there are six hundred and forty nine thousand things that need to be ‘checked’ ‘ticked’ and ‘signed off on’ by local council before we get to this stage. Again, none of this was really discussed or disclosed by the lender or the builder when we started the project so this is ultimately my fault because of my naivety in the topic and a complete failure to do appropriate due diligence on my part. I was under the impression when we started this years ago that it would be completed and tenanted in 6-12 months.
It is pure luck that the property market has gone ridiculous and more people are moving to regional areas hence why the valuation keeps going up, but it is becoming quite clear to me that I am not really suited for property investing (or at least developing / building!) and that the ETF and website portfolio was really the way to go for me. I will take on the advice of my financial advisor, mortgage broker and accountant to plan the next move if we sell on completion or tenant it for a few years first.
Online Business (websites)
The website portfolio has continued to grow as I release more content, build more affiliate relationships and continue to increase my organic rankings for thousands of keywords. It is just blowing my mind. Based on content and income across the five sites, the total portfolio is valued at just under $200K now, which was built from nothing two years ago.
I paid myself another dividend from the company this month, and celebrated my first 5 figure monthly income! What a feeling, I have almost fully replaced my flying income with online business income.
I couldn’t be more thankful to Matt and Liz for their ongoing patience and mentoring in this field and I’m pretty excited to take part in their three day conference and sign up for the champions program when the intake opens later this year.
I have done a pretty comprehensive review of the eBusiness institute as well as interviewed Matt and Liz Raad about this on the podcast about online business and websites if you want to learn more about this lucrative side hustle. They provide a free introductory course for CaptainFI readers.
I have also recently spoken to Liz Raad again on the pod, and will be releasing this as soon as the editing is finished which will hopefully be later this week depending on workload.
Cash / emergency fund
Upped it to $6000, managed to get this down to my last $200 at one point this week when I was paying the bond and buying new furniture, did a $500 shop at aldi etc. Probably cutting it WAY too fine, so have decided to hold a little more. Especially now that I am transitioning to more ‘self employment / contracting / business ownership / part time work’ I think it is sensible for me to slowly build this up to a nicer figure – $10,000 will be my goal.
Whilst I know this goes against a lot of what I did during my accumulation phase, I have always encouraged people to have a healthy emergency fund of somewhere between 3-6 months. I just never personally took this advice and instead took the gamble because I wanted to be fully invested, and because I had a stable, reliable paycheck, good insurance (through my super), a very low cost of living and no dependents.
The juicy bit huh. Well yes, I have now left Sydney and my sweet, well-paid flying job with great benefits. I am now living in Adelaide, in my new apartment, close to family, and trying to enjoy the benefits of ‘Semi-retirement’? It really hurt not getting all those juicy allowances, but the website and investment income is making up for it.
This month I went into my new employers office and met everyone, did orientation and tried to get up to speed on all the current projects and deliverables. If I am honest, I was completely overwhelmed. It turns out it is an incredibly demanding role and there is no way I am ready for that kind of responsibility or work load yet. I have just left an incredibly demanding role where I got completely burnt out, and with everything going on in my life at the moment, my GP, therapist and employer all agreed its better for me to take it slow for the rest of the year and focus on my family, and my health.
In 2022 I will be looking to start a part time role 1-2 days a week, which may or may not be this same role, and potentially get back into grass-roots general aviation flying instructing. That was one of my favourite jobs!
Ironically, I have been consulting more and more in terms of website and organic SEO marketing, which is actually great money. I decided to set boundaries and rather than doing it for free, I have begun charging for it and well, the results on my portfolio speak for themselves, so quite a few companies are jumping on board. It is reassuring to know that these skills I have acquired are valuable and can be used to pay the bills if needed.
For more information on how I am planning for Early Retirement you can read my dedicated transition to retirement financial planning process article.
Captain FI net worth progression
The net worth progression graph is rather crudely constructed in Excel, but still demonstrates the ‘somewhat exponential’ journey over the past 13 years.
|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.|