Alternatives,  FIRE

The Frugal Samurai Interview Series – Tina From Money Flamingo

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Sorry, sorry – I know I’ve said that I’ll get back on the blogging horse buuuuut things have been a bit crazy at the moment.

Not only is Old Sydney Town in the midst of an intense lockdown, we’ve also had to juggle multiple professional and personal thingymajiggys.

But that’s no excuse right!

Funnily enough, the blog has seen a substantial increase of new readers whilst I’ve been away… so um… maybe I should not post more?

To all the new members and readers – WELCOME!

So today, I wanted to do something which I haven’t done for a while, and that’s to introduce another special guest and prominent member of the Aussie FIRE community…

Please welcome Tina from Money Flamingo!

If you want to read more about other FIRE bloggers I’ve profiled, you can do so here.

Tina from Money Flamingo

Let’s begin!

Hey Tina! How old are you and Mr Flamingo?

I’m 36, Mr. Flamingo just turned 40. We have been married for 7 years.

Do you have kids?

We have two kids (2 and 6 months).

What area of the country do you live in?

We live in Sydney (beachside suburb).

What is your current net worth?

About 14x our annual expenses.

What are the main assets that make up your net worth?

ETFs, some individual shares, superannuation (index funds), an investment property, cash.


Did you pursue tertiary education, if so what are they?

I went to uni and have a Master’s degree. Mr. Flamingo learned a trade.

What is your current job?

We are currently in the transition to semi-retirement. I’m on maternity leave from my corporate job at the moment. Mr. Flamingo works in the IT industry, but he will either change jobs or reduce his hours soon.

What is your annual income?

I’m on unpaid leave, so this is a bit difficult to answer. When we were both working full-time we both earned decent but not crazy high salaries (low to mid six figures, so a little above average for Sydney).

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?

We only started working in Australia in 2016. Our incomes were very modest to start off with, but fortunately we got regular raises over time.

What’s your work-life balance look like?

Work-life balance has always been a big focus for us and we have prioritized making time for things other than work. Overall it has been good, but with two kids it never seems like there is enough time!

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?

No. We are not the side-hustle kind of people. I obviously have the blog, but it’s not monetized.


What is your household annual spending?

I actually share our annual spending and a detailed breakdown once a year:

In 2020 we spent $83,506.56.

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

We use YNAB to budget and track our spending. I’ve used it for a long time and love it.

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

When we were DINKs we probably saved around 50-60%, and probably closer to 30-40% after we had kids. We are semi-retired now and only need to cover our annual expenses, so our savings rate is close to 0% now.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

We enjoy getting breakfast and coffees on the weekends. We also rent a pretty expensive apartment directly by the beach, so I would count that as a splurge as well.


What has been your investment strategy/philosophy? 

Set and forget! We want to focus on spending time with our kids, try new things and enjoy life, so we don’t want to have to monitor our investment portfolio all the time.

What has been your best investment?

Some of the individual stocks we own have done really well. However, I wouldn’t call them a good investment, we just got lucky.

What has been your worst investment?

Mr. Flamingo tried his luck as a startup investor. It didn’t go so well…

What’s been your overall return?

Probably around 10% p.a. so far.

How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?

About once a month.


How did you accumulate your net worth?

We worked hard and saved a lot. That’s it.

What has been the biggest contributor to your net wealth?

Hands down discipline. In the accumulation phase it was all about saving for us, not so much the investment returns.

What has been the biggest detractor to your net wealth?

A stupid investment decision Mr. Flamingo made in his early 20s. He basically lost all of the money he had saved up to that point.

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

Our nest egg is locked away, compounding in the background. We won’t touch it for the next 10-15 years. We are not actively adding to it, so leaving it alone is our key strategy.

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

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t invest in things you don’t understand!

How has Mr Money Flamingo contributed to your net worth?

This has been a 50/50 project, we both contributed equally.

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

We have a target FIRE number, but I doubt we will quit working altogether for a long time. Our main goal was semi-retirement.

What are your retirement plans?

We will stay semi-retired for at least the next 10-15 years, after that we’ll assess if we want to work even less. For now, 3 days per week seems like the perfect balance.


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

We both grew up in typical middle class families (I grew up in Europe, Mr. Flamingo in Australia).

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

We both didn’t get it until well into our 20s, our parents didn’t teach us a lot about sensible money management and investing. My parents are very conservative with money, but they are savers, not investors.

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

FIRE-wise definitely Mr. Money Mustache!

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

I think that once you get the whole FIRE thing and know that you can save your way to freedom, everything falls into place eventually. It’s just something you can’t unsee. So I guess we see money, investing and spending through a slightly different lens.

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

My favourite money tool is YNAB. For books, podcasts, etc. I would say it’s all about diversity. I have listed some favourites on the blog, but I think it’s all bout reading as much as possible. There is no single best book or podcast, there are small nuggets of wealth in almost everything I read.

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

We do, but we don’t disclose percentages or anything like this, it’s a personal matter for us.

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

We have not made any plans around this. But the way it looks now there will be quite a big nest egg to pass down at some point (if our FIRE plan works out).

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

Money means nothing if you are not healthy and don’t have good relationships and things you enjoy in life. But if you don’t have money you will likely be miserable and stressed. So yes, everyone should pursue it, but always with the “how much is enough” question in mind.

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

Just get started.


Thank you Tina! Loved the read and interesting to note that once you have kids in the picture (like MrsFrugalSamurai and I – FIRE gets a bit more tricky!)

Great to see teamwork in action as well, an absolute KEY if you want to succeed in personal finance.

If you want to find out more about Tina, make sure you head on over to her blog, and also check out her FB group for anyone keen on alternative FI strategies like Coast FI and semi-retirement.

Annnnd that’s it for me for this week, I’ll make a promise to you all that I’ll get back on here more often!

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