Looking Back On 2017

Since other bloggers are doing mostly Christmas related posts, I decided to do something different.

(But if you did want to read a good ‘frugal Christmas’ article, check this one out from Miss Balance.  Admittedly, I’m a bit late in sharing it, but I like the article anyway!)

Instead, I’m reflecting on the year that was, even though it’s not yet over!

To be honest, it’s one of my favourite times of the year – thinking about what we did and looking forward to the next 12 months.  It helps me to be grateful, recognise any achievements and get excited about the future.

Naturally, the first place to start is…

 

1.  We Retired!

Actually, I was half way through the notes for this post and I hadn’t written this one down yet.  It’s funny how you get used to life changes relatively quickly.

This achievement came earlier than we expected.  Primarily because of our growing knowledge of dividend investing, using shares for their cashflow, instead of capital gains.  This was a real game-changer for us, and I’m still thankful we found educational material (like this) on the topic.

So all of a sudden, we had much more spare time than before.  What did we do with it?

Firstly, we got to spend lots more time together – compared to before, with Mrs SMA working full-time and me doing shift-work.

Also, we’ve been doing (a bit) more exercise like weights and bike-riding.  Our dog is over the moon (I think) that we’re home all the time – we’ve been doing plenty of walks and playing with him.

Clearly, he’s ecstatic!!

My partner also gets to spend unlimited time in the (now bigger) garden – which she loves.  And after much procrastinating, I decided to start writing down notes about things I’ve learned during my early retirement journey.

One thing I will say is – time disappears much faster than you expect.  I don’t know where the hell it goes. But even without working, you’ll still occasionally get pissed off about not having time to get stuff done!

 

2.  Strong Money Australia Is Born

After being encouraged by a friend (thanks Lee) to write down what I was telling him about saving, investing and early retirement – I decided to start filling a notebook with (mainly) scribbles, and some words.

Once the first couple of months of relaxation time was completed, I felt refreshed.  Then I had plenty of energy, and found myself actually wanting to work on something.

After all, while we were enjoying our new-found freedom, I still found some extra time in my day.  And thought why not use this time to do something productive – like starting a blog for my notes.

So far, the writing process is an enjoyable one.  But admittedly, it’s not easy.  Many bloggers will attest to the following…

While anyone can tap away on the keypad, it’s actually really tough to get that shit to make any sense, be smooth-flowing and easy to read!

I do enjoy it though.  So while my writing could be improved in many ways, I’ll keep at it.  And who knows, it might get better.  Hopefully, you’ll stick around!  🙂

There’s plenty of topic ideas for 2018, so watch this space.

 

3.  We Moved House

Yes, after (even more) procrastinating, we decided to finally move – read about it here.

We’ve been renting now for close to 2 months – geez that was quick – and so far it’s great.  We’ve already had our first rental inspection, and it was fine.

Living across from a huge regional park with wetlands, is just what we hoped it would be.  It’s quiet and picturesque, with lots of birdlife.  Luckily, it’s still only a short walk to a shopping centre, amongst other things.

And now our expenses are lower than they’ve ever been – at around $40k, including rent.

Importantly, this means we now need even less retirement income.  And we could cover our bills with a lower net worth than ever before.

Recently, we also planted lots more veggies in the garden beds, which are all growing nicely.  Mrs SMA  now spends much of her day in the garden, or researching plant stuff – she’s thrilled with the extra garden space.

Although, since it’s a rental, we won’t be planting any fruit trees in the ground for obvious reasons!

 

4.  Selling Property, Buying Shares

We continued with our plan, of selling down our property portfolio.

This year, we sold our investment property in Sydney.

Since the market has had a strong run and we expected it to slow down soon – we decided to take our money off the table.  Also, this property had a decent chunk of equity in it, freeing up the funds for investing in LICs, while also keeping cash on hand to fund our expenses and the shortfall on the remaining properties.

Each month, we’ve been buying more shares in our chosen LICs (like AFIC), which pay a solid and increasing stream of dividends.

Since we’ve been purchasing regularly, our dividend income is continuing to increase.  So far, our dividends cover almost half of our expenses, with more progress being made as the months roll on.

Basically, our ‘property to shares – equity conversion strategy’ is working, according to plan.  Slowly but surely, we’re improving our classic position of Equity Rich, Cashflow Poor.

The Aussie Sharemarket has been pretty strong this year.  While technically it makes shareholders richer, I’d much prefer buying quality companies at lower prices, instead of higher.

 

Overall…

I don’t want to be self-congratulatory here, but 2017 was just awesome!

Feels like we learnt so much during the year.  Any time you finish the year with a little more knowledge than when it began, that’s a good year!

Whether we did or not, who knows  But it sure feels like it!

And we spent our time exactly as we desired.  Ultimately, that’s the attraction of early retirement to me.  However you choose to spend your time, it doesn’t matter.  The main thing is you get to choose.

We’re really thankful that things have panned out the way it did.

I didn’t expect to have many people reading this blog at all.  When I first started looking up ‘blogging’, it was suggested that for the first year you’ll be talking to yourself!

Well, I’m glad it hasn’t turned out like that.  In fact, it’s turned out a whole lot better than expected. Thankfully, people are sticking around (so far) to read my ramblings.

We’re looking forward to 2018 and there’s many things I want to learn and improve on.  But we’ll leave that for another day.

Anyway, hope you all have a wonderful Christmas break and I’ll see you again in 2018!

 

So what about you? 

How was your 2017?  Did you meet the goals/targets you set for yourself?

More importantly, what did you learn?  Let me know in the comments…

 

10 comments

  1. 2017 has been a challenging year to say the least. My four year old daughter’s condition continued to worsen. She has a serious and life changing auto immune disease. A different job role at work has been challenging in the extreme. Chronic pain syndrome flared up in my neck causing several months of extreme discomfort.
    To answer the question…. `what did you learn in 2017’. ‘I’ve learnt that life is great! I’ve learnt to smile and laugh more. To have more FUN! To enjoy the simple life pleasures, that I was too busy to notice before. I’ve learnt that my mobile phone prefers to stay in my pocket all day and NEVER come out. To listen to people first, before talking.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear that unwillingwillis. But thank you for sharing!

      A great lesson in there. It’s great that you’ve learned to be more positive and focus on the more simple, but important things. And you make a good point – when everything is going well, we forget how lucky we truly are.

      With your new outlook, it’s likely you’ll have a much better 2018. I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  2. It’s been a challenging but rewarding 2017 for me.
    My soul draining business now taken over and also selling up some IP’s for some cash flow.
    Working in the final preparations before FIRE but I think I’m just about there!
    Enjoy reading your blog and think I’m in a similar situation but do have a couple of young kids added to the mix.
    I have experienced my level of risk tolerance towards investments drop somewhat as I get older and with the family to support.
    I do find myself reluctant to invest more into equities / lics given the strong run up in markets here in Oz and particularly US.
    How did you invest your equity into markets -lump sums or DCA? and are you still adding now to lics or waiting for better value to emerge ?

    1. Thanks for sharing Wal!
      Well done on being so close to financial independence!

      It’s an interesting dilemma. No-one knows whether the market will go higher from here or drop. That’s why I find it more helpful to focus on the dividends – even if markets drop, we’re still receiving our income. By waiting for a correction, we’re thinking we can time it successfully – which is very very unlikely.

      For us – we’ve been investing every single month for the last few years, with some extra lumps along the way. We will continue to add every month, since we know it’s likely to give the best long term results and it’s the simplest approach to follow. Waiting for shares to become better value may not work, valuations may stay elevated for many more years, and we’re guaranteed to miss out on the income/gains by waiting.

      With a lump sum, I prefer to average in, to minimise possible regret – although studies show that lump sum usually provides higher returns. It’s really a personal choice.

  3. Sounds like a fabulous 2017! Well done on all you achieved. I’m particularly glad you have found something to do with your time – wouldn’t want to be retired and bored 😉

    I’ll have to look into dividend investing more – I think that will be more of the strategy I lean towards this year. 2017 was about saving more than half my income and diversifying internationally. I think 2018 will be about focussing on the dividend flow. Thanks for the links – I’ll look into them more.

    And lastly – thank you for sharing my frugal Christmas post, much appreciated 🙂

    I look forward to seeing what you have in store for 2018.

    1. Haha yeah, it’s nice to have stuff to work on that we actually want to do, which we can work on at our own pace.

      Good job on your progress in 2017, great stuff. On your research – sounds good, hope you find the dividend approach as helpful as I did!

      Thanks Miss B, and see you in 2018 🙂

  4. I’m not sure why, but it feels to me like you’ve been retired a lot longer than you actually have – it’s been a huge year for you! Also, Mr. ETT loves bulldogs, but after meeting a few and listening to their snuffling, I said no way. They are cute, but that breathing! That face cracks me up – he’s not real impressed, is he?

    It’s interesting to hear it took you a couple of months to relax. I did bugger all over the recent 2 week Christmas break, and I’d expected to get more antsy than I did.

    We met our 2017 target of reducing spending by 10%, but we’ve got to drop another $50,000 or so to match yours! Not going to happen, but I do need to set new goals for this year.

    I glad you’ve got the time and topics to keep writing, because I really enjoy reading. Happy 2018!

    1. Haha nope still early days. Hopefully you’re not sick of me yet!
      Oh come on, how can you resist that face? They’ve got the best personalities too, such characters! They do tend to snore and snort a lot though 🙂

      Nice job relaxing, it’s helps keep your sanity while still working. Yeah, the first couple months was just slowing down and doing very little. Then you end up re-energised and wanting to be productive.

      Good effort meeting your target! If you just keep chipping away with a little discipline and practice, you might be surprised how much progress you make. But discipline is key, doing stuff because we know we should, whether we feel like it or not. Looking forward to seeing your goals. Thanks for reading, and all the best for 2018 🙂

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