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The Frugal Samurai Interview Series – Miss Balance from All About Balance

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Hey everyone!

I wanted to take a short break from all the craziness about the Coronavirus and continue with the interview series, whereby I’m showcasing a number of high profile Aussie FIRE and personal finance bloggers.

The thing with blogging is that it can get a bit lonely sometimes, what better way to cure this than to connect with other bloggers and showcase their talents too!

Miss B from All About Balance

Next up we have Miss Balance who runs All About Balance.

Go check it out!

Without further ado…

Hey Miss Balance where can people find you on the internet?

Most of my content is on my blog  https://www.allaboutbalance.com.au/ I’m also somewhat active on Twitter @aab_aus and instagram all_about_balance_aus

How old are you?

I’m 30

Do you have kids?

No

What area of the country do you live in?

Sydney, Australia

What is your current net worth?

While my net worth has grown month on month previously, with the recent decline in the share market it has gone down down down for now. It currently sits at lowish 6 figures.

What are the main assets that make up your net worth (stocks, ETFs, real estate, business, home, superannuation, etc.) and any debt that offsets part of these?

My net worth is currently made up of 44% shares, 36% Super, 19% cash and 1% in peer to peer lending. I still have a small HECS debt which will be paid off in May 2020, 9.5 years after my graduation. Otherwise I have no debt.

INCOME

Did you pursue tertiary education (Uni, TAFE, post-grad etc) and if yes, what are they?

I have a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) from Macquarie University. I chose something that would get me the piece of paper with the shortest amount of time and hassle as I needed it for my chosen career path. I love learning, but am more interested in on the job experiences than formal learning environments.

What is your current job?

My main job is in Human Resources and also I support people with disability as a secondary role.

What is your annual income?

My main salary is a bit above the ‘average’ Australian income. My other work earns approx $30- $35 per hour and is more about the ability to give back than the money.

How has your income performed over time. What was the starting salary of your first job, how did you grow your income (and what you did to make it grow), and where are you now?

In the first 5 years of my career I focussed on increasing my income – I wrote a blog about how I increased my income by 75% in that time here.

Would you recommend people to pursue the same career path? Would you choose a different job if you could go back? 

I feel that people should find a balance between something they enjoy and something that earns decent money. That’s why I chose HR over being a chef, even though I love cooking. I wouldn’t change my career path if I could choose again as I quite enjoy the work I do and am told I’m good at it so that’s a win.

What tips do you have for others who want to grow their career-related income?

My best tips are in the blog post 2 answers up 😉 (editor’s note: cheeky! I see what you did there haha).

What’s your work-life balance look like?

Currently I work a lot of hours, though as I said above, some of the ‘work’ I do is just as much about passion as it is about work so I don’t feel it really counts. I work in a very supportive and flexible workplace day to day, I am close to home and I have no issues getting time off, or attending to personal things if needed.

Do you have any sources of income besides your career? If so, can you list them, how much you earn with each, and how you developed them?

I earn some dividends through my investments,  just under $4,000 last year. I hope to continue to grow that income stream. I also get a very small amount of money from bank interest, recycling bottles, credit card rewards and market research.

EXPENSES

What is your annual spending?

Around $26,000 per annum

Can you break-down the main categories this spending relates to?

Here is a breakdown of my 2019 expenses:

Do you have a budget? If so, how do you implement it?

I don’t budget in the sense that I set myself a predetermined amount to spend in each area. I start with a base of zero and then work at only spending on things I value.

What percentage of your gross income do you save and how has that changed over time?

My average savings rate for 2018 was 58% and 2019 was 62%. So far in 2020 I’m sitting at 70% expected savings rate. As you can see this slowly increases over time as my income increases and my expenses decrease.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Fancy groceries or eating out. I love good food!

INVEST

What has been your investment strategy/philosophy? 

I first started investing in 2016 not really knowing a lot, but wanting my money to work for me. Over time my strategy has changed from individual shares to ETFs/LICs as I have learnt more about the market. I’ve only ever sold 1 of my holdings and now I plan to buy and hold for the long term.

What has been your best investment?

My education and building strong networks. I know I will never have to worry about money and can pursue my passions with confidence as I have a good foundation.

What has been your worst investment?

TLS money wise. Though to be fair, it has taught me a good lesson so I’ve come away with something at least.

What’s been your overall return?

Today it is –7%, though if you asked me 2 months ago it would have been + 15% not including dividends. It is only a loss on paper at this stage and I have confidence the market will recover with time. I’m in it for the long haul.

How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?

I update my net worth monthly

NET WORTH

How did you accumulate your net worth?

I have always focused on spending only what I need to, saving/investing the rest and not taking on unnecessary debt.

What has been the biggest contributor to your net wealth?

Consistency in saving and not letting lifestyle inflation creep into my life as my income grows.

What has been the biggest detractor to your net wealth?

Not getting started earlier! I used to think the point of saving was to get something you wanted short/medium term, I hadn’t thought much about the long term until I started earning a regular income and didn’t know what to do with it. I then realised I probably could have saved far more money and invested it through my school/uni days.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your net worth?

I will continue to invest on schedule, even during downturns in the market. I hope buying some while the market is low will lead to some higher returns on the way back up.

What money mistakes did you make that we can learn from?

I took out a personal loan for my first car as I thought I really needed it and didn’t have any cash after travelling around Europe. Rookie error but I’ve grown a lot since then.

Do you have a target net worth you are trying to attain for FIRE, will you quit working when you reach this?

My current goal is to save as much as possible before starting a family and then continue working part time thereafter. It isn’t about the money really, that is just a tool to buy some time back to spend with family. $500,000 would be more than enough to supplement my lifestyle until I can access superannuation, though I will make it work on much less if needed.

What are your retirement plans?

I quite enjoy the work I do, so will continue doing so for many years, though 1-2 days per week instead of 5-6. The spare hours will be spent with family, friends, reading, gardening and volunteering, especially in the space of educating others.

Are there any issues in retirement that concern you? If so, how are you planning to address them?

As people age there tend to be more health concerns and these can impact on work, relationships and overall lifestyle. I work towards looking after my health as much as I can to help avoid this.

MISCELLANEOUS

How was your childhood? Was your family wealthy, middle class or low-income? 

I grew up in a fairly middle class/average suburb in Western Sydney. My parents put 4 kids into Catholic school and focused on education over excesses in daily life. We always had shelter, clothing and food and I never felt like we went without. I got my first job at 14 and learnt my strong work ethic from my mother which has served me well since.

How did you learn about finances and at what age did you “get it”?

My parents never spoke to us much about money. I read the Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape when I was in high school and was intrigued but thought it was only for people with a ‘real job.’ It would take me a few more years yet before I really ‘got it’ and then I started investing and haven’t looked back.

Who inspired you to excel in life? Who are your heroes?

I have met so many amazing people in life. I think those who have inspired me the most aren’t those who do well when times are good, but those who make it work when times are tough and keep going each day even when it is really hard.

How do you think differently than the average person when it comes to money? 

I don’t think I am special in any particular way; anyone can do what I do with money.  I’d love to see the ‘average’ person learn more about money and investing earlier so everyone can benefit.

Do you have any favourite money tools and resources you recommend (books, podcasts, apps etc)?

There are so many great resources and more always being created. I personally enjoy reading and have read most of the books at my local library in the finance section. I also enjoy reading blogs from fellow Aussies and some international too.  Some of my faves (though there are sooo many more) are:

https://www.strongmoneyaustralia.com/

https://www.aussiefirebug.com/

https://www.joyfulfrugalista.com/

https://www.getmoneywise.com.au/

https://www.moneyflamingo.com/

https://www.thefiexplorer.com/

(Editor’s note: Surely thefrugalsamurai.com should be at the top of this list!) 

Do you give to charity? Why or why not? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?

I do like to give to charity and will contribute to a couple of my favourites each year as well as any causes my friends and family are supporting. I have put more of a focus on time over money for the past year or so and enjoy the connections with people more than just handing over money (though both are important). I volunteer on average 4 hours per month, sometimes more depending on what comes my way.

What does money mean to you? Should everyone pursue it? 

Money is a tool to make life comfortable, once you reach a certain comfort level you can use it to help others get there too.

Finally, is there any advice you have for The Frugal Samurai readers regarding wealth accumulation?

Start off with thinking about why you want to accumulate wealth. Before I knew what I wanted to achieve it was easy to let money slip through my fingers. Now that I am clearer on what I want to do with my wealth and my life, it is much easier to work towards it. The money simply grows itself from there with consistency.

~~~

Thanks for completing the questionnaire Miss Balance! If you want to check out her blog, you can do so at All About Balance.

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