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.
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.
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…