Man that was fast!
2018 is almost over, which is a little scary. But I also enjoy this time of year, because we can sit back and take stock of how things went, and get re-focused for the following year.
Looking back also helps us recognise any progress we’ve made and the fact that we’re lucky enough to still be here!
I’m thinking about what I want to focus on in 2019 and I’ll get to that in another post. Today, let’s just recap how 2018 went!
That ‘W’ Word
Overall it was a pretty good year for us.
As mentioned a while back, we’re each doing some part-time paid work, which clearly means our retirement is a fraud.
The funny part is, this made us feel like normal people again. When the topic of “what do you do?” comes up, we didn’t have to freak people out by saying we weren’t working.
It also made us busier of course, but mostly in a positive way. Luckily we can stop this work at anytime if it’s no longer enjoyable or just want to spend our time doing other things, which is a wonderful feeling.
At the start of the year, I made some non-specific goals for 2018. More like things I wanted to focus on.
My main focus was being more productive – a.k.a get some shit done. And it feels like I did that. But there were also a few other things I wanted to do. Some of which I got pretty slack with!
Anyway, I want to keep myself accountable. So let’s take a look at how we did…
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging this year. Probably because of all of you!
You, my readers, have provided valuable feedback and encouragement, which gives me energy to keep going. So thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!
Blogging continues regularly and there’s no shortage of stuff to write about. In fact, I have the opposite problem – deciding what to write next!
After building a cosy little readership base by the end of last year, this has continued to grow in 2018.
The Strong Money Australia blog had its first Birthday in April! And shortly after that, I shared what I’ve learned so far.
It was also great to be on the podcast with Aussie Firebug and share my journey to financial independence in detail.
Some of you will have noticed the blog now has a proper logo. It only took 20 months! What do you guys think of it? Do you like it? Or is it crap? Come on, you can tell me!
Anyway, I’m very happy with how 2018 went with the blog, and look forward to bringing you heaps of new and hopefully useful content next year!
Health & Physical Activity
We did a decent job in this area. After moving to a rental house last year, we’ve been bike riding a lot more – through the vast parklands close-by and to the local shops.
This has a double benefit of reducing car costs too.
Our walks and weight lifting has suffered of late, with a small injury here and there/a seemingly random increase in business/insert-excuse-here. Definitely something to improve on going forward.
Lately we also shoot hoops at a small court just down the road, which is good fun for something different.
Our eating habits haven’t been perfect, but who’s is? Much of our food intake is on auto-pilot with the habit of planning the week ahead and a good grocery strategy.
Finally, as planned, I actually have been helping out in the garden more this year. We managed to harvest spinach, carrots, kale, beetroot, garlic, zucchini, spring onion, coriander, among others.
In addition, the already-established mandarin tree showered us with a few hundred citrus delights earlier in the year. Delicious!
Ahh! This was a huge strike-out!
I barely read any books this year. Maybe 4 or 5 in total. A terrible effort!
But the books I did read were pretty damn good. Here’s the best two…
I’m a bit late to the party in reading this. And I’ve heard Bogle’s writings can be quite dry, but I found it enjoyable and very easy going.
A great outline of how to approach the market as an investor, not a speculator, how costs kill you over the long run, and as strong an argument as you could make against trying to beat the market.
Probably the most helpful, entertaining and unexpected life advice I’ve ever read. So good, I plan to read it again.
Part of the reason I’ve been slack reading other books is I started devouring this guy’s blog. So instead of picking up a book each morning, I might read one of his old blog posts – some of which are pretty long!
You can find the blog here – markmanson.net
Recently my book reading has improved, but not enough to make up for the rest of the year. Something to work on in 2019.
Long-time readers will know we’re slowly converting our equity into income by selling off properties.
Nothing was sold this year. We’ll be selling a property in Melbourne very soon, although in hindsight, we probably should have done it already!
We even bought an Aussie index fund (VAS) in recent months – post coming soon.
So we stuck to our strategy regardless of what the market did, and focused on our continually growing ‘annual dividend income’.
Importantly, we ignored the Bitcoin hype, while many were sucked in 12 months ago and got badly burned!
We’ve now been in our rental house for over a year. Some of you asked that I report back on how we find the experience.
Well, it’s pretty good. A few things in the house needed fixing, but we didn’t have to foot the bill 🙂
No council rates, no water rates, no strata fees, no insurance and no maintenance costs. Oh, but we have to make sure it’s extra clean every few months for the inspection, which is fine.
We love the location. So convenient to walk/ride to the shops, but so tranquil living across from the reserve. Another lease was signed and we plan to stay here for quite a while. Let’s see what happens!
Much further down the track, if we still like this area, we’ll likely buy a house here as the prices are affordable. Our house (or similar) would cost around $450k to buy.
Anyway, the rental experience so far has been a positive one.
Because the stress of early retirement can get a bit much, we also went on a few road-trips to South West WA.
So we loaded up the car, put the dog in the back, and set off on a LONG drive. Twice.
First up, earlier in the year, was Albany, a 5 hour drive. Essentially, Albany is a really small city (or big town?) nestled in a harbour. It’s the oldest settlement in WA – older than Perth!
Albany is full of beautiful old buildings and breathtaking beaches. The city runs at a slow pace, which I really enjoy, with rich history and an interesting landscape.
One complaint would be that it rained a fair bit! Personally, I don’t mind that, but Mrs StrongMoney gets a bit sick of it after a while, lol.
Although, we did splash out and rent a house with harbour views which made it better.
Here’s a few snaps…
Later in the year, we went to Esperance, where my Mum currently lives. And it was just as lovely there. But the drive was a painful 8 hours, plus breaks!
By far my favourite place was Lucky Bay, part of Cape Le Grand National Park. It was unimaginably gorgeous. Like when you go somewhere and think “I could just stay in this spot forever”.
Wild Kangaroos nibble at grasses on the edge of the beach, where turquoise water gently washes over the white sand. These wild animals are unusually accepting of a few humans hanging around, despite the beach seeming like their own private retreat.
Being a skeptic, I had to see it to believe it. They even ate grass from of our hand as we sat next to them for a short time, until they slowly moved away to continue grazing.
As always, photos don’t do it justice, but here’s some anyway…
Because we take our dog on trips with us, we use pet-friendly short-term rentals on Airbnb, instead of regular accommodation. (Get $55 off your first Airbnb stay by using this link to sign up)
As always, this is easier said than done. But on a regular basis I did find myself being more grateful than before, and putting things into perspective more often.
Less things bothered me in 2018 and I felt more at ease in general. A habit that I’ll do my best to continue.
That’s not to say I’ve transformed into a Monk. Far from it. I still get down about random things from time to time. And then I get pissed off at myself for feeling down – thinking how lucky we are for so many reasons, what possible excuse do we have for not being 100% happy all the time?! But it doesn’t work like that. Mark Manson calls this ‘the feedback loop from hell’.
Boy, is it ever! If you catch yourself in this feedback loop, stop for a minute and realise how silly it is. Just accept the bad feeling and realise it’ll pass pretty soon. Feeling bad about feeling bad just makes it feed on itself and multiply.
Overall, we have a lot to be thankful about in 2018, and broadly speaking, in life.
This blog is no longer an experiment to see if I like it, and to see if you like it (I think a few of you do!). It’s firmly passed the enjoyment/satisfaction test, and I look forward to bringing you more bloggy-goodness in 2019.
Finally, tell me, how was your year? I hope you learnt heaps and made progress towards your goals.
What were the best things about 2018 for you? And what are you grateful for this year? Please let me know in the comments…
Have an awesome Christmas and holiday period and I’ll see you again in the new year! Thanks for reading 🙂
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