Role Reversal – We Get Profiled For a FIRE Interview!

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Hey all!

Pretty excited today, because today’s post is an extract of a recent “Aussie Millionaires” interview from fellow FIRE blogger “L” from Sustainable Living.

The interview is about… us!

(By “us”, I mean “me”).

Oh and personal finance doesn’t have to mean you give up your social responsibilities, and “L” adheres to this philosophy perfectly with her blend of eco-friendliness and frugality on the path to financial freedom.

So make sure you head on over to her site if you haven’t already!

Without further ado, here’s the extract:

Personal Snapshot

Name: The Frugal Samurai

Current age: Early 30s.

Marital status: Married, no children yet …

Net worth: I try to not include MrsFrugalSamurai’s net worth out of privacy – mine is around $1.4m at the moment. You can see my net wealth updates here.

Your spouse and finances: Separate for play money but mostly combined.

Current estimated value of the family home: We are currently rentvestors, but looking to buy an owner-occupied (we are in the market for one right now).

Town or suburb: Old Sydney Town.

Car: Bought 2nd (or was it 3rd) hand – a 2015 Toyota Camry, value unknown but would be less than $10K for sure.

Debt: Yes, plenty of debt – about $1.1M-ish at the moment, all against investment properties

Average monthly spending:

Housing: Just over $2k per month (that’s Sydney rentals for ya)

Food: about $400 between 2 people

Transport: used to be $70 per week for petrol, but due to COVID-19 and working from home, maybe $70 every fortnight these days.

Clothing: Ha! Sometimes I still wear the same clothes that I was wearing in high school … not school uniforms mind you, that would be plain creepy.

Dietary requirements: I am lactose intolerant, and have a suspicion that I’ve become allergic to alcohol somewhere along the way.

Other Details

I reckon I’m a frugal person as I don’t know anyone else who is wearing the same clothes since high school!

Previously, I used to regularly donate money but cut back to maximise savings for the future owner-occupied house. Currently, I donate less than $1K p/a to various cancer charities, not as much as I should all things considered.

I used to volunteer in my younger days for the local soup kitchens. I tried to get back into it but was rejected because there was too many volunteers! Definitely on the list of things to do when FIRE’d.

Growing Up

I am a first-generation immigrant. My parents came here with nothing but the clothes on their back for a better life for me. They emigrated in the early 90s and I followed (I was born overseas and came when I was 5).

My parents have a scarcity mentality and definitely are savers and scrimpers, especially my Dad – even to this day. Fair enough I think, when you come to a foreign country with nothing, you learn to maximise what meagre resources you acquire. It really instilled in me the drive to be financially free from an early age, as I saw how hard they worked growing up (I am fairly lazy by nature and don’t want to work as hard when I’m their age).

“It’s too expensive we can’t afford it” was a common refrain growing up. Probably the most important lesson though was the value of money – that is a lesson for life and best learned young.

As for pocket money…no … no pocket money – but in saying so, my parents made sure that I never went without, especially Mum.

She wouldn’t deny her son many things growing up, finances permitting.

But like I said, I learnt the value of money early on so never really asked for anything outrageous.

However I did learn the importance of helping out the family from a very young age. Suffice to say, I definitely got the wrong end of the bargain through my youth in terms of working for the family.

I got my first job when I was 13 and looked after a family friend’s laundromat after school and on weekends. It was pretty cruisy to be honest, and I mainly read comic books.

A the time I don’t think I was saving up for anything … too shy for girls, too young to drive. Maybe an ice block or Chico roll from the school canteen. I did like looking at numbers increasing in the bank account though.

My schooling was public primary and a selective high school. Since then I’ve attained a bachelors in Commerce from uni and various post-graduate qualifications, mainly for work purposes.

I have started self-learning with various other informal courses mainly to do with IT and tech – it’s the future y’know.

Hm, have I inherited any money? My goodness, almost choked on my coco-pops reading this question … No is the answer, but yes to the dream.

I have always been interested in building wealth from a young age – because I did not want my kids to feel the same way I did growing up. I never really worked out a strategy to do it (through real estate) until my early 20s.

I do have to credit an ex-girlfriend though! I remember in high school I would always buy the weekend papers and pretend to be knowledgeable by reading it. She was only interested in the business section – which kinda sparked my focus on business and finance.

As an Adult

To be honest, I don’t really feel the need to budget – because I have historically always known roughly how much I spend every month.

My discretionary spending is minimal and I don’t have many (if any) hobbies that are expensive, apart from the occasional $20 computer game (on sale) or if I need new footy boots.

My credit card is how I track my expenses – as I only have the one card. I put all my expenses on that card then I just keep track in a spreadsheet, plus the occasional cash-only purchase.

MrsFrugalSamurai and I have combined yearly and long-term goals. I’m not really into short-termism, but we do review our spending each week to make sure nothing crazy was spent and all’s on track.

My biggest personal goal was $1M in net assets at age 30 (which I hit).

Current financial goals:

  • $2M in net assets by 35 (stretch goal)
  • Option to go part-time work at 40
  • Option to FIRE by 50 with $6M in assets

Spreadsheet is what I use to track my net worth, the old “assets – liabilities = equity”.

I am a firm believer that net worth should just be a tick and flick exercise. I see too many people on socials with ridiculous programs and apps that track net worth to the nth degree … I don’t think that’s what the game is about.

If you’re interested, you can view my net worth here.

But if you’re scared that I sent you a phishing link, then the breakdown is roughly (as of July 2020):

  • $1M equity in property
  • $240K cash
  •  $120K super

There are bits and pieces as well, like some crypto and other interests.

My strategy for accruing wealth is mainly earning money and saving it; superannuation; and property investment.

My property focus is a deliberate strategy of targeting higher rental yielding (8%+ gross yields) in metro locations.

Passive income is gained from various sources:

  • The Frugal Samurai blog currently generates a minimal income. I’ve also recently created a YouTube channel The Frugal Samurai (baby steps!)
  • We buy and sell stuff online, that generates a small amount.
  • Also we have rent and dividends, but they are used to pay down loans.
  • The other main one would be my job, which is completely opposite to passive.

I’m employed in financial services and get paid well for what I do – it is in the six figures plus bonuses (which is a fairytale these days with the way banking is going).

At the moment I’m not contributing extra into my superannuation BUT I will do (just did a YouTube video on this).

Chiefly because the loophole employers exploited to include concessional contributions as part of their standard 9.5% obligations was closed this year.

The extra contributions within the $25K limit is money for jam methinks.

I think financial independence is there for anyone to achieve it.

The beauty about it is that it is so different for everyone. Some people need $100M in the bank before they feel comfortable, others need $10M, some are just happy with $100K to buy a caravan and nomadFIRE. Others are never happy no matter how much they have.

Whatever your number is I think the most important thing most people don’t realise is that it’s actually not that hard to just “spend less than you earn and invest the rest”. Time and compounding will take care of the rest.

Oh, and another thing – a lot of people over-complicate personal finance to try to squeeze out the last dollar from a return, but who cares – if we all FIRE, life is good.

Similarly, a lot of people trash personal finance/FIRE because they don’t believe it can be done – but they haven’t done any research or work to see what’s possible. Again, that’s just how things are – run your own race, have some fun along the way and you’ll get there one day.


Whoa thanks L for allowing me to participate in this interview, and I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I had when I responded to the answers!

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