End-of-year-2016Our winner has been chosen from all of the entries received for the Simply Wall St 12-month subscription draw. But before I announce who that is, as 2016 draws to a close I thought I’d have a little meander through some of the milestones I’ve achieved in the past 12 months.

Financial Freedom

Firstly, 2016 is the year I worked out that I had unknowingly become ‘Financially Independent’, arguably the single, most important goal to achieve before early retirement becomes possible. I say, unknowingly, because up until this point I was pretty well just chugging along on the typical, earn/spend path, although I did have a pretty good savings rate. It’s just that until this point, I’d never really tracked my financial position so as long as I had money in the bank and earned more than I spent, all good.

I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to work out my net worth but I’m sure glad I did. Once I’d worked that out, I went searching for an online calculator that would allow me to determine how much I’d need to save for retirement, which led to learning about this thing known to so few as, the 4% Safe Withdrawal Rate.

No matter how many times I played around with the numbers, they all said the same thing….

“Martin, if you maintain your current spending rate and invest wisely, you have more than enough to call yourself, Financially Free!!”

If you have already reached that point in your life, you’ll know the feeling I experienced. And if you’re on your own FIRE journey, trust me, it’s well worth it when you get there.

Early Retirement

Back in March, I decided that I had had enough of the sort of work I was doing and most definitely I’d had enough of the sort of people I was working with. And so I decided I was going to retire at age 50. Apparently, unheard of in modern, western society according to the responses I got when I announced this milestone.

In the lead up to the point when I finally threw aside the shackles of full-time employment, I developed the ‘rules’, or Terms of Engagement that I was prepared to work under. These are;

  • I don’t travel more than 30 mins each way. I’ve got better things to do with my time than sit in traffic for more than an hour each day.

  • I don’t work Saturdays or public holidays. I have a life and working 6 days a week doesn’t fit in my lifestyle. I am, however, prepared to work late or at weekends occasionally to help out or to meet a deadline, but don’t make a habit of it. And if you’re not prepared to adequately compensate me for this, then sorry, I’m not interested.

  • If you behave like an arrogant, shouty, disrespectful, bully-boy/girl, then I don’t actually want your job.

(Please feel free to adopt these to your own situation. I can assure you that it’s quite enlightening when you do.)

After applying these rules several times on the jobs I was doing I came to the conclusion that, if I didn’t have to work in a less-than-ideal environment (and I don’t mean, not getting my hands dirty), then why should I.

So in March, I announced to the world that I was turning my back on full-time employment for a life of self-imposed leisure, but more importantly, choice.

Living A Mustachian Lifestyle

mustacheIt was about this time that I discovered the blog of Mr Money Mustache. By the time I subscribed, he’d been sharing his Financial Independence/Early Retirement pearls of wisdom with the world for nearly 5 years. I liked his writing style, his philosophy on wasteful spending, mass consumerism, and shunning the, more or less, conventional work, spend, borrow, retire at 65 lifestyle. In fact, I binge-read his blog from beginning to end and came to the conclusion that I wanted a piece of this Mustachian action in my life.

So what changes have I made to claim my place as a Mustachian?

Amongst other things…

Use my mountain bike for most travel around the city that is less than 10km (although that’s not set in stone either). If it’s further, and serviced by a train route, I ride to the station, take the train, and ride to my destination from there. This not only provides some physical exercise, but significantly lowers the cost of running my car which now spends prolonged periods in its stable.

Purchased a second-hand bike trailer which attaches to the back of my bike. You know the ones, the trailers that parents haul their little kids around in until they can ride their own bike. So for grocery shopping, exchanging the BBQ gas cylinder, or in fact, shifting anything that will fit in the trailer, it gets moved with human-power rather than petrol-power, nowadays.

Making my own, delicious, low-cost cider. Yep, simple to make, inexpensive at $1.20 per 1250ml bottle, and really quite palatable, this has saved me plenty over the past few months.

The Birth Of Get FIRE’d asap

Once I had read Mr Money Mustache, I had to know more about this FIRE lifestyle, which led me to a number of other bloggers, many of whom I still read today.

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, when people, myself included, start living this new-found, less spendy, financially-smarter lifestyle, we feel the need to also start a blog to tell the world about how clever we’ve become. What is it with that?

So began the Get FIRE’d asap blog site in an attempt to change to world. Has it happened? Naaaa, but one of the best things about writing this blog, is the community of like-minded people I’ve met online, and communicated with as a result. That, for me, has been the greatest benefit of all the hours of writing that have gone into this. Thank you to all of you out there who have contributed with your comments and feedback as well as sharing your own stories online.

Side-Hustles and Income

Another benefit of early retirement (and quite honestly, one of the pitfalls too) is that you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time.

A few months ago, I found myself getting a bit down as a result of having too much unproductive time on my hands. I even, heaven forbid, considered going back to work just to use up the hours in the day. This is quite normal as there are, apparently, Six Phases To Retirement that nearly everyone will experience regardless of what age they pull the plug.

At this stage, I’d reached Phase four, disenchantment, which follows what’s known as ‘The Honeymoon’ phase. You know, where life seems like one big holiday. Until one day, it doesn’t any more.

Disenchantment. Is this it? – Like a marriage, the early honeymoon phase usually only lasts so long and then the reality of day-to-day life kicks in. For most retirees, the bucket list of post-retirement must-dos will get ticked off and there is often the realisation that many of those items cost a lot of money that isn’t being topped up every week with a regular pay cheque.

This is when the reality that retirement isn’t a permanent vacation after all; it also can bring loneliness, boredom, feelings of uselessness and disillusionment.

I reckon I’m too young to engage in tradition retirement-type activities such as lawn bowls or mid-week golf, so what should I do?

So I started looking around for ways to spend all of this new-found ‘spare’ time and discovered one of the key benefits of financial independence. If you don’t have to work full-time to earn a living to pay the bills etc, you can pretty well do anything you want, including setting up any number of side-hustles that will a) keep you occupied, and b) give you some extra, top-up, totally discretionary income to do with as you please.

As a result, I started up my online, e-commerce store selling products that are used for testing for illicit drug residue, including methamphetamine, which is a growing issue here in Australia as it is with most other countries.

Although it’s early days, I am beginning to see an increase in sales as people become more aware of the effects of meth residue contamination in homes, cars, and anywhere else the drug can be used or manufactured. Another benefit is that I’ve learnt to build and manage a working e-commerce site which is another skill I can add to my portfolio.

So there’s a snapshot of my eventful and (mostly) productive year. Next year already offers a whole bunch of new experiences including our trip to Bali on a fact finding/holiday mission to suss out whether we may like to move there on a more permanent basis in the next few years. Can’t wait for that.

I’m also looking forward to another year of delivering articles from myself and guest writers that are hopefully useful or inspirational to you especially if you’re on your own journey to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

Until then, have a happy, safe Christmas and New Year and let’s look forward to a prosperous 2017.

And finally, thank you to all of you who read and commented on my Simply Wall St review. The guys at SWS offered a prize of a 12-month Premium Investor subscription to a lucky reader, and Al Bentley, SWS CEO, has drawn a winner from the entries. And the winner is…..Dave at Financial Slacker.

Congratulations Dave. I have passed on your email details to SWS and they will be in touch with you, directly, to organise setting up of your account.

16 thoughts on “2016: My Year Of Change – and the winner of our SWS draw”

  1. It sounds like 2016 has been a banner year for you! I became a Mustachian myself about a year and a half ago, and it’s been awesome and life-changing ever since. I’d never go back. 🙂

    If all works out well for us, I can retire by age 35. I’m sure that might be pushed back a bit because life happens, but that’s still a nice retirement age! 🙂

    1. Hi Mrs Picky, it certainly has been an eventful year with plenty of changes, all of them positive so far. Wow, planned retirement at 35!! That’s superb going. I guess when you get to that point, if you still want to continue working, you can. That’s the beauty of FI,it gives you so much more choice. Merry Christmas to you and Mr Picky.

  2. I really enjoyed this roundup – what a positive year of change! Looking forward to following along with your 2017. Great to hear the business is gaining traction, very exciting.

    When the time comes, I’ll be adding “no extended shutdown at Christmas that forces me to use more than 50% of my leave allowance each year.” Wow, that was grumpy. I mean, Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks Mrs ETT, when I looked back on what I have done this year, it does feel really positive and I can thoroughly recommend financial independence to anyone. As I mentioned in the article, 2017 already has some fun times locked in and who knows what else will come our way.

      I’m with you on the ‘no extended shutdown’. You want to keep as much of that annual leave to do your own thing when you want to, not when forced to. Roll on FI.

  3. Great news, Martin. Thanks.

    I’m excited to win the drawing and can’t wait to get started using the service.

    And thanks for sharing a little background about you and your site. I’m not quite at that Mustachian level yet, but I did make some massive spending cuts over the past year. And once you start, it gets easier and easier to keep going. There is so much satisfaction in living a frugal life, I can’t imagine ever going back.

    Thanks again and have a great holiday.

    1. Yeah, congratulations Dave. I hope you get plenty of use out of it and it helps you select some successful trades. Feel free to give us your feedback in the comments once you’ve tried it for a while.

      I wouldn’t consider myself a complete Mustachian but when you do embrace a less spendy, less wasteful, frugal lifestyle, it does become easier as time goes on. I’m with you, I can’t imagine going back and wouldn’t want to either. Have a great Christmas matey.

  4. What a great year it has been. I have started my investment career and am also looking to retire young. Who wants to be working when they are 65? Not me!
    I want to invest wisely and watch my life and wealth grow hand in hand.
    All the best for 2017

    1. I’m with you all the way on retirement before 65, my friend. Great start with the investment. It’s a long haul, no doubt about it, but one that’s well worth it. Here’s to a prosperous 2017 for all of us.

  5. Congratulations on a great year! The e-commerce store is very exciting. It sounds like there’s an opportunity for that to eventually grow exponentially.

    I’m happy Mr. Groovy and I got to know you a little better in 2016. Can’t wait to see what you do in 2017.

    1. Happy New Year to you too Mrs Groovy. There’s a few new things planned for 2017. Some travel (can’t wait), a new side hustle (which I’ll announce shortly), and no doubt a few things that I don’t even know about yet. The e-commerce store sales are growing (not hugely, but I’m happy with progress so far) and definitely has quite some potential with the current growth in illegal drug use here. Here’s to an exciting year ahead for all of us.

  6. It was fun to read this 2016 wrap-up and see just how far your journey has taken you, Martin. And I loved this quote: “I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, when people, myself included, start living this new-found, less spendy, financially-smarter lifestyle, we feel the need to also start a blog to tell the world about how clever we’ve become. What is it with that?” Thanks for the chuckle.

    I’m glad that your side hustling is keeping you busy and engaged. Working solely at your own choosing must be the life!

    1. Thanks for the thumbs-up FSH. It has been a journey and one that’s far from over. I must say I’ve come to really enjoy the side hustling as it does keep me busy and helps keep the mind sharp. As long as it doesn’t turn into a ‘job’ I’ll be happy. If it does I’ll need to retire again.

  7. Hi! I just found your blog through twitter, and it’s so great to find another Australian FIRE blogger. I have just started recording my progress, and it’s really good to know there is an active community here.

    I really like your ‘conditions’ for work, they are inspiring food for thought for the future (although with audiobooks, I don’t mind commuting so much!).

    1. Hi there FI Explorer and great to have another Aussie FI explorer on board. Actually, I’m a kiwi but currently living in Brisbane so I try to cater to both sides of the ‘dutch’. There is an active FI community although it is fairly small at the moment.

      I wrote my “Rules for Work’ at a time when I first realised I had reached financial freedom and was seriously contemplating why I would want to carry on working for employees who didn’t show any respect for their employees. Please feel free to introduce them to your own work environment if you wish.

      I’m heading over to have a read of your blog and hope that you become a regular here on Get FIRE’d asap.

  8. Nice job Martin. I liked reading your summary and each of your points, it reminded me of quite a few of the posts you’d written.

    I love that we’re all on the same path, but some are much further along than others – it’s great to read what you’re doing now, no slowing down for you it seems. Good hearing your e-commerce is taking off, looking forward to reading more about that in the future.

    Congrats Financials Slacker 🙂

    Good luck for 2017!


    1. It’s getting close to the 1st anniversary of this blog so I like to revisit previous posts as a way of measuring progress. It’s hard to believe that at this time last year I was still working full-time and planning on doing so for many years to come. What a difference to now.

      You’re right, I moved past the ‘honeymoon’ phase of retirement pretty quickly and had to take on some work-like activities to stay busy. But now I really enjoy what I’m doing and with no money pressures I don’t have to worry about meeting any lofty financial goals. No doubt there will be more on this in the future. Thanks for the comments, Tristan.

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