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The Frugal Samurai Interview Series – Aussie Firebug

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Howdy boys and girls, we’ve got another special guest today on the interview series.

It’s the Aussie Firebug!

You might have heard of him already, but he runs a very popular podcast and blog over at aussiefirebug.com

AFB from Aussie Firebug

Without ado…

How AFB! How old are you and Mrs FB?

30 and Mrs FB is 28.

Do you have kids?

Not yet 😉

What area of the country do you live in?

London atm but I’m from country Victoria.

What is your current net worth?

Around $680K.

What are the main assets that make up your net worth and is there any debt that offsets part of these?

You can see a detailed view here.

INCOME

Did you pursue tertiary education and what are they?

Yes. I completed a bachelor of information technology and systems at Monash University.

What about your current job?

BI (Business Intelligence) developer.

What is your annual income?

Around $100K because I’m travelling so much during the year.

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

I started on a really good salary for a grad at $72K straight out of Uni. Since then It’s crept up to around $100K with banding increases and promotions. When I moved to London my hourly rate more than doubled but I didn’t work as much so my annual income was still around $100K.

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

Depends on so much. I think the opportunities within the IT industry are increasing and there’s plenty of money to be made… but there’s more to a job than money. I got extremely lucky because I love being a developer PLUS it also pays well. If I were to be anything else, I think a physio for an NBA team would have been a dream job… mostly so I could be around the NBA more haha.

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

Honestly, the best way to grow your income is to switch jobs every 1.5 – 2 years. It sucks that that’s the answer but it’s the truth. If your number goal to make more money in your job, travelling around for the best opportunity is your best bet. And that might mean to move to a different country where your skills are in high demand.

What’s your work-life balance look like?

ATM it’s pretty good. I work my 8.5 hours a day and have most nights and weekends free.

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 have 6 forms of income. I’ve listed all of them in this post.

EXPENSES

What is your household annual spending?

Back in Australia, it’s around $50K. Right now it’s really high because we’re travelling around Europe. Probably around $70-$80K.

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

Also listed in this article.

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

Nope. We just try to only spend around $4K each month.

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

Around 60%. I’d say that over the years I’ve become more relaxed in our spending and this number has dropped slightly.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Travelling the world. Also, eating out in trendy restaurants in London like a rooftop bar or a street food market. Something we can’t do back home in country Victoria.

INVEST

What has been your investment strategy/philosophy? 

Buy and hold! Passive ETFs/LICs.

What has been your best investment?

Funny enough, if we’re speaking about total returns. It’s been property so far.

What has been your worst investment?

We won’t know until it’s sold… but there’s a good chance that one of our other Queensland properties will have the worst return when it’s all said and done.

What’s been your overall return?

Hard question. Shares were actually negative during the last couple of months because of the Rona! Property is hard to calculate… At a guess, overall return would probably be close to like 3-5% right now… pretty bad haha.

How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?

Every month.

NET WORTH

How did you accumulate your net worth?

Savings and investing.

What has been the biggest contributor to your net wealth? 

Both mine and Mrs FB income.

What has been the biggest detractor to your net wealth?

Deciding to travel the world in 2019. Was one of the best decisions we have ever made but terrible for our net wealth.

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

Continuing with the plan. Spend less than we earn and invest the surplus!

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

Spending too much on a car at 24. In hindsight, I probably should have just bought an old Camry for $7K.

How has Mrs FB contributed to your net worth? 

A lot! It’s funny because when we joined finances. She had a HECs debt so my net worth actually went down lol. But over time we have been so much stronger as a team and there’s no way I would be where I’m at now without her.

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

$1M ball park figure. Part of me feels like I’m already working on my own terms. I quit the corporate drone life back in 2019 and have been working for myself since (contracting in the UK). I’ll never stop working but want to do it on my own terms when I get back to Australia. $1M should enable me to do this.

What are your retirement plans?

I don’t love the word retirement actually. My FIRE dream has always been to spend more time at home with my family, especially when kids come along. I’ve had a dream of starting a business most of my life and financially independent will enable me to have a go without worrying about finances.

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

Nope!

MISCELLANEOUS

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

My childhood was great. Pretty normal really. Middle-class family from country Victoria. I went to a Catholic school, played footy on the weekends and loved Call of Duty.

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

My parents were the biggest influences I’ve had. But when I started to read financial books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and a lot of Steven Mcknight’s property books. The light bulb went off in my head.

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

I draw a lot of inspiration from my sporting heroes like Muhammad Ali and Lebron James. The Mad Fientist and MMM were my first financial inspirations. They were living a life I wanted to live. I also respect people who have done well in business and have built something up from nothing. Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs come to mind.

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

I could write an entire book on that question haha. I’d probably say that I’m more aware of what you’re giving up than the average person whenever you spend a lot of money. Someone might be happy to drop $1K on a new phone… but all I’d ever think about is all the potential income that $1K could generate for me in the next 5 decades and is that worth more than having a new phone.

Do you have any favourite money tools and resources you recommend?

Yes, check them out here.

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

Yes I do. A few hundred dollars a year. I’d love to volunteer more in the future too.

Do you plan to leave an inheritance for your kids? And/or how do you plan to distribute your wealth?

No, I do not! Controversial maybe but I don’t believe in inheritance. Kids should well and truly have a snowball of their own before I kick the bucket. If they don’t… something has gone wrong.

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

It’s a tool I can leverage to create freedom and enable me to live the best life possible. Everyone should at least be aware of how to manage their money accordingly. It’s a huge life skill. Something that should be taught in school.

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

Number 1 tip has always been to track your expenses. What’s measured is managed!

~~~

Thanks for completing the questionnaire Firebug! If you want to check out his blog, you can do so at aussiefirebug.com

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