This guy must be crazy to cut his finger like that?!?


If you wonder what this picture is about, that’s what happens when a 38 YO male learns how to cook! But hang on, why on earth would we put a picture of a “bloody” finger on a blog?

Ho wait, maybe because that is actually MY finger and I want to prove that we can have some financial lessons thought to us to this picture. Yes!

Putting aside for a moment my rather “bloody” commitment to this blog and my financial journey, I believe this joke also will prove a point: As you learn, you will make mistake along the way, some painful ones (sic!), and have sometimes things and people diverting from your goal. But, if you stay focused, you will succeed over temporary failures.

On the cooking front, I have written in the past on the benefits this habits represents to your finances, your family organization and your health.

Let me share with you few other examples:

  • I saved $500 by learning how to change my broken electric window motor from my car, but, in the process, I also damaged my toe (and learned that you should NEVER do mechanics while barefoot!),

  • I saved $500 by learning how to install a reverse sensor mechanisms on both of my cars, but I also managed to break a light from one of the car in the process


You see, when you learna and grow, fall will happen but what’s important is the goal not what others might think. How many times have you fell on you’re a** before being able to walk for the first time as a baby?

After a while, I came to realize thanks to the power of patience, and against the advice of my dear conservative parents, I was getting better and better at it, breaking less things and getting more in shape and prepared over time. It doesn’t matter what other people say, stay motivated and believe in your instinct and your goals.

Recently, I had another example when I wanted to hang an internal door in the laundry (it never had a door for some reason). Looking quickly over the internet and avid to learn, I though first that I could easily do it but realized that I might be underequipped to cut the door since we’re living in an apartment and not sure that investment in specific tools would make sense.

So I decided to use Airtasker for the first time. If you don’t know airtasker, you can ask almost anything (from someone to help you move a couch or taking your coffee to preparing a website or marketing strategy), and skill people will bid on your job. I posted the following task with the below requirements:

My airtasker advertisement

I was ready to pay $100 for that job as a starting price. Some offers came around $200, some at $110, I decided to settle at $130, reading the positive reviews of the “tradie”.

On the phone, the guy was rather quick with what I needed to buy but I could sense we were not aligned when he asked me to buy a $130 door plain and get charged $50 to deliver when I bought in the end a $29 door at Bunnings and I picked up myself (thank you surf roof racks!).

The day of the job came and at first the contact was pleasant, I asked for a few extras (such as changing other door handles) and the tradie did it and said he wouldn’t charge for it. Later in the day, he also decided to cut other doors that were not at size just to be nice ! I was stocked!

Fast tracking, the rest of the project didn’t end up so well: He broke a ceiling light, damaged another door… and left without saying anything:

I just couldn’t believe it and decided not to pay for that job.
And then I decided I couldn’t do worse and started to work on the process of getting a new door and hang it myself:

–        I first bought the door, at the custom desired size from Bunnings directly – which ended up costing a little over $100.

–        I then looked online on how to hang a door and bought a few tools – It did cost me around $40 in total

–        I then sanded it, but space for the hinges, used the previous door to find where and how to cut the handle

Yet, the result is not 100% but still happy.

Financially speaking, I have spent $140 (with tools that I might re-use for other jobs) and I would have spent a lot more if I wanted to have it hung by someone else: For the story, I tried to post another job on Airtasker and could not find anyone below $200, labour only!

I think life is all about learning. And we should challenge ourselves.

And in case you need a proof that I can cook, have a look at some of the below pictures!


What are your DIY that save you money?

Little guide to retire overseas

Dear reader,

Today, I wanted to share some of my homework done for those of us who might not want to FIRE in Australia. The number one priority is still to determine how much you need (and some calc are here to help you). As they are some many advantages to retire overseas, or you might just want to be closer to family (as for me in Europe), here is a little guide on what to take into consideration to retire overseas:

The challenges (and they are many!) and the risks:

  1. Taxes:
    If you live, work and retire in Australia, your tax rate will most likely be low. Superannuation benefits will free of charge, your house is not taken into account for the asset part for the calculation of your pension.
    If you decide to live overseas permanently, you could become non-resident for tax purposes potentially  and therefore get taxed on a higher rate.
    My advice is to check on the worst case scenario (non-resident tax rate), even if they are some other possibilities that I will name later on. It is important to check if there is a tax treaty agreement between Australia and the country you would like to migrate to avoid paying taxes twice.

Other taxes such as inheritance taxes need to take into consideration for your long term plan. No tax on real estate in Australia but 60% of the value of the property in France, you need to take these aspects in balance and align them to your long term projects, in that case, your legacy for your children.

  1. Pension:
    To be get access to pension in Australia, you need to have worked and have been a citizen for 25 years. So no pension for me here since I have arrived only in 2009 and will most likely leave Australia before we hit the 25 year mark. But the issue is that there is no pension for us either in France as we have worked for less than 10 years there…
    So you can check the details on the country you would to retire in.
    My advice is not to count on pension at all and focus to create this passive income to retire early.


  1. Exchange rates:
    As your project matures and you check on the best places to put your investments, one need to consider the is the exchange rate. If you have invested into real estate and LICs only in Australia, you might become highly dependent on the exchange rate of your investments.
    Once again, as it can be a risk, I believe you can turn this as an advantage if you find a type of investment that can move with your location: more details on this below…

The opportunities:

  1. Interactive brokers:

I have discovered this wonder where you can basically adapt your account and move it with to where you live. If you were to continue investing in USD as I do nowadays, and decide to live in Portugal during your early retirement as an example, you would have taxes withdrawn directly from your account in USD and pay no taxes on top of this.


I’m a strong advocate for diversification and this would be the same if you were to invest in EUR, AUD or JPY, to get more exposure to different markets and still get tax benefits.


USD remains still the largest, and strongest economy in the world and is most likely to remain during our life time.


  1. A new culture, and a cheaper everything:

Possibility might become endless if you get into Europe or Asia where revenue needed to live per month is much lower. Countries such as Portugal will give you a tax free environment for 10 years.

While university and studies are quite expensive in Australia, studying in other countries is an astute option. In OZ, you might end up paying $30k per annum.

Food could end up be a lot cheaper than our dear country and many others such as transport and real estate.

This article has no intention of summarizing this potentially complex decision but rather start opening our mind to other retirement opportunities… As you usual, the above is my own experience and my own research and you should seek financial advice according to your own personal circumstances.

What are your thoughts on retiring overseas?

How a simple triangle concept is going to make you rich

time qualDear reader,

I wanted to share a little secret that is helping me on my route to financial freedom… and still enjoying the little splurge that everyone needs. After all, as would say Paul from “Afford anything”, this is about affording anything, but not everything.

You see, the principle quite simple and let me summarize it here:
For EVERYTHING you buy, if you have TIME on your side, the chances of a BARGAIN increases exponentially. This is due to the triangle principle of Quality, price or Time.
In other words, this means that, except on very rare occasions, you will have to make a trade-off between the quality of products you buy, the price you pay for them or the time it will take you to find what you wish for.

The more patient you are, the better it is for your finances and it applies to everything. Let’s take an example that would talk to everyone: You’re on the market for a new mobile phone.

Quality: It is essentially the “what” you buy. I don’t know anyone who likes to buy something that will break down straight away. I could count on one hand the number of my friends who have not got an IPhone, Samsung or a known brand. Usually, when you chose to buy something, you’re usually looking for a long lasting experience, a warranty that goes with it, and also customer service if something breaks down. Choosing a well-known brand will guarantee that for you… with a price tag associated to it. Just have a look at the price of the latest I-Phone.

Price: This corresponds what you’re ready to pay for of your hard earned dollars to acquire the desired phone, car, watch, etc… And as much as everyone likes a bargain, you either can pay full price for it, finance it (yerk!) or wait for a second hand item. But you would agree that finding the bargain might take you a lot of…

Time! And this is the most important point. There is a lapse of time in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years before you buy this specific item you have been dreaming off. Back in early 2000’s and when I was living in Paris, everyone was “investing” into GPS technology, for around $200 to $300. It took me time, but I finally got this piece of technology for free thanks to Google and smart phone. Sure, it took some time (years!) but I have survived… and saved a few hundred dollars in the process!

Now, how to use this triangle?

1/ You need it now and you don’t have a great budget? Your trade-off will be the quality
That’s probably the most typical problem. You need this new phone, you need it now because yours was thrown into the toilets by your 2 years old and unfortunately your Vodafone contract end only in 12 months. But you have only $100 budget…
You might end up buying on ebay one of the really bad ones. I can hear the sceptics of the issues that appeared with Samsung S7 batteries: At least, you had warranty coverage and a proper backup to Samsung cloud to get all your data back!

2/ You need it now and you like to buy quality products => Your trade off will be the price you pay for it
If we take the same example as above, you acknowledge that you have to pay for a brand when you buy your new mobile phone, this will then come to a cost as you most probably will have to pay full retail or a high price for a second hand… Quality usually handles quite well value over time. But if you need to buy NOW, then you’ll have to pay the price tag.

3/ You want to buy good quality but you want to grab a bargain => You will have to trade-off your time
That’s where you will find most of the financially independent people.
Delay: You can delay to buy that stuff and find that you will either pay less, or not pay for it at all.
Sure you want that awesome IPhone. Right now, this will cost you a fortune. Wait a few months and you might pay twice or three times less for the same technology. Have a look how much IPhone 5 trades for these days.
Time to research: You can rock in the Tesla dealership and buy on finance your brand new car or you could take the time to do research, subscribe to forums, put alerts on ebay and until that bargain comes. It will come, this is just a matter of time.
Hope you found this useful!


Update on the Investment Property disaster

Dear Reader,

Today, I wanted to give an update on my investment property. Indeed, I believe there are some valuable lessons to be shared.

Tenancy issues:

I would not say that this has been a great success overall. I have heard some instances where investors had had their tenants for few years. We’ve had our property for two years and a half and we’ve had 3 couples as tenants already.

But, in the last one tenancy, it took me 11 months to figure out that the tenants had paid monthly instalments instead of weekly to the agency – the agency has always paid us monthly. This has resulted in the loss of 4 weeks of rent potentially that we’re trying to claim through the bond and that the tenants have contested… obviously…

We’ve had troubles with the tenants below my property who have dealt with drugs and police issues… resulting in my renters to ask for a decrease in rent… 7%! They have finally chosen to leave…

We bought in a recent building to help us with the depreciation… what we discovered is the recent apartment blocks have been built in a hurry, resulting to us with around $5 000 this year alone in repairs… Yes, still tax deductible…

And, to finish with tenancy issues, New Farm being flooded by apartment buildings, the rent has come down from $465 last year to $450 this year per week.

Agency issues:

Now, on top of the above, we have experienced some huge issues with our agency. Back 2 years ago, when we bought our apartment, I carefully chosen this specific agency among others because it was a boutique of previous property investors who had “enough” not finding the right property manager.

Fast forward, May 2017, I received an email from an insolvency company mentioning that my agency trust was ceased. In the process, I discovered that they forgot to deliver me a week of rent as all payments and expenses were audited. They also had a faulty registration and were not aligned with the current legislation. But I didn’t want them to lose my business, I knew they had fought hard to make this one happen.

So I decided to stay. At present, I’m still missing my rent from May and 4 weeks of rent that the tenants have not paid…

Lastly, a faulty water cylinder and leakage to the shower box is going to cost me close to $4 000 in total… so…

Shall I stay or should I go?

You see, I’m a long term investor but I’m also a value investor. I don’t believe that the bull stock market nor the aussie property bubble will stand forever. And moreover, we’re engaged onto a property, negatively geared – which means we’re losing money every month, even if  paying less taxes in the process! – And it might not align anymore with our mid-term investment focus, which is to come back to Europe.

I’m really in search for cash flow, and return ON investment, not OF investment. Why would I keep a property that is making me lose money every year where I could invest in quality shares that will deliver dividends every year…

Here is the question that I’m asking my self…

An honest review of meal kits and how it saves us $50 per week

Dear non-materialistic reader,

Today, we’re not going to discuss about investments, but more food… all related as food gives us health…

Here is my review of meal kits and our particular choice of Marley Spoon:

On the road to independence is also the quest for us to simplify our life, do as much as we can by ourselves without the compromise to quality. Because of that and the fact that we have two busy professional lives, the choice of meal kits tended to make sense.

We’ve chosen Marley spoon over hello fresh. And this just because we’ve done our own research and for $5 or so more per week compared to Hello Fresh you end up with more variety and quality of products. Marley spoon offers the possibility to modify your order when hello fresh does not. A big plus for us as we have fussy – who doesn’t!

My friends asked questions about the price paid weekly compared to our normal groceries/life style. It was definitely dearer if you compared it with groceries however the fact that you could organize the lunch boxes for the next day with the leftovers for two working professionals saves us around $80 additional per week… so it works out to be approximately the same on that front:

– Our groceries before for a family of 4: $175 per week approx..
– Our groceries after the use of Marley spoon are approx.. $85
– We save 4 lunch meals per week at $10 each for two people that we don’t need to pay for them anymore: $80 of savings
– Marley Spoon’s cost is approx.. $145 per week
– So that represents savings of approx.. $50 per week

On top of that we’ve witnessed and are witnessing a bunch of very good side effects:
– It’s really food at a restaurant: and mix of savoury is awesome
– Looking long term, your kids see you cook on your own and drives good behaviour from a young age
– Kids get to test more different foods, from different countries
– No need to plan meals anymore!
– We’re not throwing out food anymore and I realize how much waste we had in the past now
– Because dinner lunch is sorted I can concentrate more on healthy breakie and week end food for the kids
– Definitely more variety and more greens in your plate
– You get to try dishes from plenty of different country
– We never are missing out anymore on ingredients and have to do a last minute run at 9pm to Coles or Aldi
– You can still cancel and/or change the order with other types of food before delivery according to your preferences
– You will feel like a chef and really proud of giving healthy yummy options to my kids every night!

We’ve also identified some draw points, even if minimal in my opinion:
– We found that it takes longer to prepare than your “usual” meal
– We think there is too much packaging and it could be done better
– There are often spicy options and we’re not found of them – personal taste!

We’ll see in the long run how things evolve but let me finish with a tip. When you register on the website for Marley Spoon, give your email address as you were to order… but DON’T complete your order.
You will received a bunch of emails in your inbox in the next days, including a $49 discount against your first order… and guess what, you’ll be ready to order by then!

See Y’All!

New energy plan, tax time tips, and a handyman to help

Energy plan?


Hi Everyone,

A long silence… as I have been on leave and for those who travel, let me share some tips along the way!

1/ Quantas points and others are rubbish:

I tried to book my flight with my family using these famous points. I have almost 300 000 of them and here is the conclusion: Quantas would offer me to fly to France and back with a discount of $2 000 almost – not bad, from $8 500 for a family of 4, to $6 500..
The issue is that I could find better tickets and fly time through the excellent app flyscanner and get the 4 tickets at $6 100. We even have add the flexibility to stay in Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines and spend a whole day there for less than a $100 to help recover from jetleg.

Keep you points to fly domestic, even better, to upgrade to business (When they permit it…). An excellent article that will convince you here.

Saying the above, don’t hesitate to take them out when they’re free! At the moment, sign with ANZ, you will get $75 000 of them ! As long as you cancel the card in the following 12 months, you will have them for $0! Not bad. Details:

2/ New energy plan?

Well, I decided not to, but would very much emphasize for you guys to see if the switch with a different company is worth it:|_native_|_energy_-_july&utm_term=blank&utm_content=version_7

3/ How to save $$$ before repairing the car:

I went to service my car and my auto repairer told me I had:
– A broken power steering pump (and noisy)
– A light from the dashboard mentioning I needed to change my O2 sensor
– Needed a new battery

Well, I own a Subaru Impreza and I went to Subbie to check on pricing: OUTCH! New power steering pump, $700, new O2 sensor $400.
I went to AutoOne: Battery under promotion with 20% off – Done
Went on youtube, turns out I don’t have to replace the power steering and just change the O-ring.

Took me 5 mins – Cost = $4 – Done
Went also on youtube and bought the O2 sensor on ebay OEM for $225. Took me 15 mins. Done.

Savings = $875 !!!

4/ The trade off between time and money

We have made a bizarre decision. We have decided that they are things we will have someone to help us with. In that instance, we have plenty of “small jobs” to be doing at home. I usually do them during the holidays once a year but we realized it would take me YEARS when, with the help of someone, it would be WEEKS:
– A new door
– Revamp of the laundry with new storage
– Paint balcony – Brick and wooden cracked
– Building storage around the house
– Etc etc..

The trade off here is that we have decided that this week usually spent doing work around the home will be spent as a family quality time with kids.

Sorry we’re spending money on something we could have done ourselves, to trade off with something invaluable: Memories.

We’ve also decided to buy a new couch… Why? Because we want a sofa bed to be able to have friends and family staying – cosy – around the house. We figured out it would be better to get a new couch then getting a house which would cost a us a lot more in rent.
Cost = $0! Why? Because my dear wife is an exceptional negotiator. See, we bought our couches from Fantastic Furniture (I know I know, but we got them for half price…) and the leather is peeling. She went online and figured out that if you were putting a bad review on them, FF would come back to you and try to resolve. In that instance, she did… and they did! A few calls and emails with pictures later, we got to exchange the couches against the same value new in store, in that instance, a nice couch convertible in sofa bed! Voila!

5/ Tax time tips!

If you nicely ask for it, I am being sent by a tax agent an excel file that explains the new legislation, especially for real estate and claims, I can share it with you. Send me an email.

Some nice other tips I have found

A car crash, poor investment decision and important others to protect our loved ones

I heard a big BOOM and my car went flying onto the car in front of me… 5.30 pm on a Friday evening. What a week that started and now finishes badly! But wait, there is more, the guy who hit my car at the rear tried to escape the scene!
A lesson learned that I should have let him go and take his plate down instead of chasing him down the roads of my suburb… at the police station i was told that there was nothing they could do to help…

We’re now the end of week 2 since the accident occurred and need to find myself a new car.

lesson number 1:
When choosing for you insurance, take car market value insurance instead of set value if you believe your car is worth more than the market. tip – it should be for cars depreciating faster than others.
This mistake is about to cost me $2 000: i m about to get $2 500 from the insurance when i could have sold easily this nice beauty for $4 500 privately.

lesson number 2:
You can negotiate a LOT of things with your insurance. Especially when you re not at fault:
– No excess paid upfront
– The other party to pay for your car rental until you purchase a new one
– Psychologist if you need help can be taken free of charge
– Etc etc

lesson number 3:
I confirmed that i prefer to pay $900 in excess to lower my yearly insurance bills, and for a few reasons:
– It forces you to be a good driver
– It saved me around $500 across 5 years by paying $100 of premium every year

If you have any idea of what would be a good replacement car, leave a comment…


Switch super-annuation update

I’ve switched as the readers know from amp to Hostplus but not without troubles:
– they ve mixed up my application, couldn’t open on line and ended up with two accounts
– My wife still hasn’t had her roll-over transferred after one month from amp when mine was done in a few days

I also took the chance to review our insurances and took the excellent advice from Scott Pape (the barefoot investor) to increase the standards. I have chosen to work with my insurance broker who has given some great prices and good advice along the years, such as:
– taking death and TPD Inside AND outside of super to maximize your chances of a quick payout should something wrong occur
– having a look at the payout vs claims of the insurance. in my case, i have chosen onepath for that specific reason
– ending with a cheaper bill than standard insurance super is a big plus!
One funny comment i would make: while it s good to take advice from experts it s always good to make comparison. In my case, the broker didn’t believe when i mentioned that Hostplus was having a mixed index investment option at 0,02% MER per annum.


Private health insurance cover: my daughter needs speech therapy – Do I take a new private insurance to cover that risk?

I used research online and then look at the PDS of the insurances that suited my needs for speech therapy. Turns out that even if my insurance does not cover speech therapy, my excess is quite competitive with $200 vs excess of the others $500 or day share cap.

At the moment, I pay $239 per month when the rest was largely above $300 minimum.


Update on my Japan property investment:

It settled! – I even got a bit back from the agency i m using as i ended using their service for an apartment costing $37k when we budgeted $45k.

I’m now waiting for the contract originals to be sent over, the first month of rent to be on my trust account with them in Japan, and see from there where this adventure takes me.

Next question is tax – do I need an new accountant if I buy more properties? Will I buy more properties? It is highly recommended that you take one to manage your tax affairs if the income grows about the minimum threshold for tax in Japan..


Refinancing with

We bloody had to redo the whole thing and have it witnessed again as it turns out that police officers can witness NSW properties but not QLD ones.. what a great lesson to read all line items when you receive documents.

Anyhow, it’s now finally signed and i’m now waiting for the settlement date to be confirmed.

I received a call from CBA who tried to win back my business.. fun to hear that they decreased my rate by 0,4% when my broker mentionned there was nothing he could do.

Still surprised that they could beat loans on the PPOR but not the investment property. Since we don’t have a mortgage left on the PPOR…

Now hard times ahead and we will need to update our whole direct debits!


Early retirement plans:

I had to close my account in France definitely as they started to charge me 5 euros per month, which seems to become the norm in France.

Since we re most likely going to end up with any pension whether in France or Australia, I have checked to see if I could pay the France centrelink equivalent to get pension… 10 years gone from France would cost us $180k and it sounds a bit risky to me not knowing where we will lend, nor if full pension will still exist as we turn 70 (i doubt the age pension will stay as it is now – 65). Not even discussing about the issue to sustain a job after 50 IMO!

So our plan is still to invest with interactive brokers and get dividend paid in euros in France….

We have now to analyse the international tax burden..

How do you plan for your retirement?

Refinance, new super annuation and update on my investments in Japan

Hi everyone,

What a busy April already! A rather long article since I haven’t written for a while. But I have good excuses! I have refinanced both my PPOR and IP, changed my super (and my wife’s) and almost bought my first IP in Japan, not to mention adding more shares through Interactive Brokers and, for the first time, CMC market. Why so much as the same time? And how? And what? Let’s find out.

1/ Refinancing with

I’m a strong believer that we should review our finances regularly. I never renew my insurance automatically as an example. As for our loans, I have put a reminder every 6 months to check what’s out there, which has never pleased my mortgage broker.
I have refinanced already once since the purchase of our PPOR. We were with Citibank (way too inflexible banking!) and then CBA (more flexible, more expensive, the easy solution if you need a packaged bank IMO), and I was on the market for the following: 100% offset for both properties, non cross-lateral of properties, interest only, split loan capabilities. were the only one to tick all the boxes (UBank was close, but could not offer 100% offset – just redraw).
The only draw point for is that they’re not protected by the government (more details here). I’m always a bit of a skeptic when it comes to government “protecting” your assets. Why not spread your risk and invest defensively, way more effective instead of relying on others to protect you.

My rates (before the recent increase) with CBA were 4.07% for the PPOR and 4.47% for the IP. provides a package which gives the same rate for both at 3.87%!
Including exit fees and refinancing cost, I will break even in 9 months.
Funnily enough, both and CBA have increased their rates now…

I have been discussing with my broker who has been pointing out all the negatives of an internet banker… Still, after my own research, I was able to check that some of his arguments were wrong. The only reason I stayed so long with CBA is the fact that the banker was a mate who was helping me a lot and was proactive. He was made redundant so I had no reasons to stay..
Mortgage brokers are sneaky and I still haven’t found one who is REALLY playing for your best interest. Their trail commissions is what is driving them. Unless you find one who has fixed fee, I keep to be reluctant to play their game.
And online is always cheaper!

2/ Changing superannuation

I recently bought an excellent book from the Barefoot where Scott Pape points out an easy way to check your fees.
I was with AMP through my employer and could never find out exactly the fees they charges us (my wife and I) until I started researching… OMG! What a surprise when I discovered they were taking 1.4% ANNUALLY (!) to “manage” our investments!!
I also liked AMP because my employer paid for my good cover of insurances. What do I mean by good cover?
My mortgages would be entirely reimbursed if I was to disappear and be permanently disabled and a VERY comfortable salary continuance package.
A quick calculation confirmed that I should rather pay for these insurances with a new and cheaper super fund.

So I did my research and have switched to Hostplus, 100% indexed balances option.

I also would like to mention that we do salary sacrifice. To me, the one and only best tax heaven in Australia. Currently to $30k per financial annum (and $25k from next financial year).

I know some take an accountant to help them do their calculations for salary sacrifice arrangements. My salary changes every month due to the commissions I receive from work, and I still manage to cap at the maximum. So save yourself a couple of hundred bucks and DIY!

Lastly, and I know it has been a debate in Australia, yes, I’m chasing financial independence, an early one, and yes, I’m taking into account my super. Some will argue that you can’t get a penny be until you reach 60 and get your super. I take in my calculations into account that my Super will start paying money at age 70… An entire post to follow on my calculations later in the year.

3/ Investing in Japan:

I hear every day from my broker and bank (before I refinanced) that I have a huge equity in both PPOR and IP, and that I should use it buy more property. Australia, and not only IMO, is a very risky place to invest in real estate.
I would add that even if I have taken my precautions with building every month a nice safe in the offset accounts, a large portion of my wealth is in here, in property too.

As discussed many times, the two only ways to save yourself from catastrophe is to invest defensively and diversify (assets, and geography).
I explained here why I have chosen to invest in Japan.
I’m not a speculator so I have preferred harden yields against potential capital growth and I’m about to sign for my first purchase in Japan. In the city center of Fukuoka, for around $37k AUD all costs considered, returning pre-tax more than 8% yields! Not bad!

Before jumping on this unit, I have said “no” to many – I receive new units fitting my criteria every week- , put my own calculators to double check and this has given me:
– An idea of where to buy with Fukuoka (what Japanese like is very different to what Aussie do)
– The size of the units
– Potential issues (tenants, earthquake construction measures, …)

For the particular one that I have signed for, the vendor accepted to reduce the price due to some reparations which are going to affect the yields potentially – So win win.

So far so good even if I consider it a very risky investment too, as there is virtually no control on your asset (you’re far away, cannot open a bank account locally and have to put all your trust with a local agent speaking your language). I would recommend only a small portion of your portfolio. Saying this, the Japanese culture is a trustworthy one which balances with what I have just written.

4/ Investing in shares:

6 months ago, I knew nothing about shares, even worse, how to trade them. Today, I have a sizable portion of my assets invested in them, using Interactive Brokers for the US shares I buy (again, diversification…), cheapest broker around and where I can buy direct shares.
As I learn along, I realized I couldn’t sign for Dividend Reinvestment Plans for my Aussie shares so I signed up for CMC market and bough some shares in my home land. This is also a great idea to diversify with your brokers too if one goes bankrupt.
In Australia, I’m buying only AFI and ARG as they are based on value, great with distribution and offer distribution reinvestment plans.

5/ FIRE calculator and where am I going with all this:

I have set up my own retirement calculator because I’m not 100% sure I will be in Australia in a 4 years’ time. I could not find a calculator that would take me through the exercise of different tax rates (resident vs non-resident).
All going well, I should have a possibility to stop working full time by the time we depart. I have based my FIRE calculator on different excellent websites: madfientistfinancial mentor and of course my guru MrMoneyMoustache.
I have not made any choice to stop working but I would like to work part time. I also factor that my wife will continue working.
In parallel, I have started a list of things I want to do when I’m “semi-retired”. Ideally, I still would like to be in sales and office for companionship and entrepreneurial spirit but also would like to help others to have a better life: Physically and financially, and mentally. Plenty of nice projects. As it turns out, I’m not the only one and I want to have no regrets in my life!

6/ Issues with our IP:

My agency has recently run into trouble. The OKT has seized their trust account. As a consequence, we have not received our March rentals until yesterday!
During the process I have also realized that they have forgotten $400 of rents last financial year!
A sign or not, I received a call this week from a rental agency which would charge 5.99% instead of the standard 7.7% I’m actually paying…

However, I still plan to stay with them… why? For a few reasons:
– I still trust them and believe that human error can happen. They have since invested into a software to avoid this issue again. They have been really awesome with driving and protecting my investment, being investors in RE themselves. They are great communicators and have reassured me all the way before the issue occurred.
– We have no real financial pressure since we have built the offset account. This is the good that happens when you invest defensively
– I believe that they’re going to be even better not to lose clients from now on
– That’s a boutique shop and I’m sure they would go bankrupt if people started to leave them
– Shit happens, you have to ready for it…

7/ Blog projects:

Lastly, I hope to find more time to enhance my blog. I don’t want really to write more as every article takes a lot of time to build but I would like to work on a new theme and make it more accessible. I would still like not to charge for nothing on it, to avoid losing the audience.

I plan to:
– Get more on Mrmoneymoustache forums and others to get myself known
– Re-do the website with new sections (earn more, spend less and invest wisely)
– Intro social media at a stage
– Translation in French for my oldies
– Start networking with FI French community

A lot going on!
See y’all!

So which Superannuation to retire early

When it comes to Superannuation, and we want to achieve early financial independence, we need one which combines the two golden rules: low fees, and index funds asset selection. So why on earth have I chosen AMP Super? And what are the other aspects to consider in Superannuation?

Fees. First. Always. In this area, industry superannuation seems to be the best. A nice collection of which to select can be found here.
Second: asset allocation: I have personally chosen index funds with a mix of index bonds (70%/30% – Why this split will be discussed in another blog post). Some great articles around asset allocation and its importance can be found here and  there.
AMP isn’t best at either of them BUT, my company pays for some important other fees/protection that we haven’t discussed so far: Death, Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) and Temporary Salary Continuance (TSC). These are essential protection you need to offer your loved ones in case you were permanently ill or even die. And my corporate plans offers me a cracker of a deal: Death, TPD and TSC all free of charge and paid for – Around $700 per annum.
Why is it such a great deal? Death and TPD would cover all debts that we have and even more. My wife could stop working and still be covered for at least 2 years and a half of living expenses.
My TSC would cover 150% of our living expenses, should I become permanently ill. These are non-negotiable priorities and the best choice for my family. I probably would pay more if I were to switch to another super fund and chose the same levels.

We want to make the most obvious choice when we select our superannuation but also taking our own situation into account is very important. In my specific case and the corporate deal I got, I can confirm that industry fund would not offer the same level of protection.
So what do we need to take into account?
1/ Fees – all – such as annual fees for your investments but ALSO your Death, TPD and TSC
2/ Asset allocation.
3/ Consider ALL your options (corporate, government plans, etc etc…)

Anything I missed? Helpful? What super do you have and why have you chosen it? Leave your comments below

How i multiplied my income by 8 in 8 years (since arrived in Australia)

Hi Everyone,

I though it would be useful to share a bit about my experience since I arrived in Australia (2009), and, also, for the first time, sharing some real figures… I have to say, it wasn’t easy decision to make!

First and foremost, this applied to my situation particularly, having worked in corporate all my career.

2009: Passion and work don’t mix well

I lend in Australia and start hunting for a job, in April/May. Took me one month, as I really wanted to give it a try and work in something I was passionate about: Motorcycles. I used my skills at the time: 5 years of European sales experience and finally secured my first job: Salesman or “sales consultant” as they were calling it, in a small dealership in Hornsby. I had my eye on a different one, based in Parramatta, but didn’t get it.
Got hired the same day as another guy, hardcore salesman coming from the car industry. I sold one bike, he sold none and we both got fired a month onto the job.

In the meantime, I was putting a lot of pressure to get the same job at the other dealership. I was calling the owner twice a week, letting him know with my approximate English what I was doing and the (relative) success I was having. I learned soon enough that a reference was necessary down under to get better jobs, so I asked my sales manager to refer me. He accepted but slammed behind my back on the job I was applying for!

Because I was putting a lot of pressure, I finally secured to get a second interview, this time with the owner’s brother. And, I got the job! Well, I convince them to trial me for 2 weeks and see how I go…

First job: $30k AUD gross per year + commissions (Got $300 for the one bike I sold)
Second job: $42k AUD gross per year + commissions ($75 per bike sold)

What happened in the second job was massive. I had to “win” my spot: They were 4 salesmen and 3 desks, so I had no desk. Some were helping, and cooperating, some were stealing my clients, bashing me behind my back. But, all in all, with a lot of perseverance and influence, I made it to be the top sales guy for 3 months in a row! Man, I was proud!
I won my desk, I won some “rewards”, made money, but… also left the wife behind, worked 6 days a week, sometimes 14 days in a row, long hours, a lot of pressure… and, most importantly, I was starting to lose my passion for motorcycles, disgusted by customers’ behavior against salesmen in general and consumerism: Buying for showing and not for the love of mechanics or the motorcycles themselves.

After a few months, that was the time for a change. But I learned good lessons along the way:
– Not being afraid to raise some tough questions with customers
– Work and passion together might not be for me
– Finally, my “corporate” working hours were not that bad vs “retail” hours
– Importance of having a good reference
– A LOT of people are materialists and not passionate
– Being persistent was essential to secure my second job
– Presentation was key: I arrived in suit and tie to the interview (yes!), and the owner confirmed it made me a serious candidate

2010: Back to the roots and shake it up!

At the beginning of 2010, I was ready for a change. The wife was pregnant, I would sleep all day on my day off, I would start to hate everyone, I had to do something else…
My wife talked with one of her suppliers who was searching for a sales guy, selling IT equipment. I didn’t have IT knowledge but a strong background in large account management and my CV presented well. My English also improved drastically in the last 6 months, so my confidence did. I mastered the interview and got the job.

3rd job in Australia: $50K AUD Gross + commissions

But all didn’t come rosy. My wife lost her job (and the visa), she had to negotiate a year off as she was pregnant and could not find another position being 5 months pregnant. And… 1 month after I started my new sales work, my manager resigned. He was replaced by a pure sales guy who sent me two letters in one month: The first one was to congratulate me for my hard work, and the second one was an official warning as he was not happy with my services anymore!

It started to smell bad, I started to sleep bad at night, baby numero uno was born and I wasn’t bringing enough money home to cover expenses for the three of us.

That’s when I started to learn about the wonders of networking and the fact that when “one door closes, one window opens”. I started to apply for other IT vendors, and got told about a specific one few times. I applied and got the job.

Again, the references, that I had now, were key for me to secure it.

4th job in Australia: $70k AUD Gross + $30k potential commissions

2011-2013: Patience and stupidity

In 2011, we started to settle a bit… And we had to! The new baby turned our priorities upside down. But, at work, I was not making the commissions I expected and, even worse, my salary went on freeze due to some restructure (“You should be lucky to have job”). While I learned a lot and every day, I started to get bored, and really wanted to move up the chain.

But I got use to it and got a new skill along: Patience. It was really important not to escape, which could have been the easiest short term solution, but not probably the best choice long term. I had the feeling I could do something there.

However, I did one very basic mistake, which I will do again two times later on: I took no for an answer. Whenever I was applying for a new internal position (5 times!), or asking for a pay rise, when no was given to me, I was going back to “patience” mode, instead of fighting.

The power of networking was again very important. You have to spend time away from your desk and set your priorities right, not become the priorities of others. And this mistake cost me 2 years of patience. Seems that the lesson wasn’t heard as I did it again in 2014…

So still the same 4th job… and still the same pay!

2014: Finally, promotion!

Beginning of 2014, I finally got a promotion. Had to fight for it and write a long email to the director of sales, pledging for my case. I was the first one around 120 sales guy to ask for this particular grade, and this grade meant at least 10-12% pay rise. And got it! Even 14% to be exact.

I had a lot of conflict around my team, I was more senior and felt I had to be treated that way but still, was treated as a junior. It was again time for a move – And a promotion.

My lesson from the past was integrated and I was sniffing around for opportunities, until I heard that one colleague was about to be promoted and would be keen to introduce me to his boss. We worked on a plan, he trained me, I attended unsolicited events for this team to notice me. I championed their solution in my business. I was first on the line.

It would have been too easy if a restructure didn’t come to shake up all my good plans and my boss-to-be was made redundant. Replaced by someone who I interviewed with… who was made redundant… But signed my contract before he left! So I started my new job with a third guy.

And I did again a big money mistake. I accepted a decrease of my base salary with a promise of a better commission plan… which never arrived. Still I made good money, I guess…

5th job in Australia: Still the same pay!

2015: Another promotion!

I was still on the hunt, back in Jan 2015. Baby number 2 was born in mid – 2014 and I had now plenty of confidence, even to know that I was really undervalued. I almost quit my job due to the “commission promise” that was made to me in 2014 but not respected.

Same scenario as the previous job: Sniffing around, I heard before everyone that someone would leave soon the company and she was keen to reference me. My current boss (yes, I changed 2 times in between!), aware of my salary conditions, was ready to support me. I interviewed actually very bad, but my references were so strong that I got the job.

This time, I came to have a big salary increase: 30% +!

6th job in Australia: $95k AUD Gross + car allowance + commissions

2016: Lucky on top of that

The unit I integrated grew very fast, even faster that everyone anticipated. I had still some issues as I had to convince the business that it was worth recruiting more people. But I was happy, feeling recognized and  having plenty of responsibilities.

An internal survey conducted by my boss made them realize that I was underpaid vs my skills and responsibilities, so got a 14% increase.
Before he left (Yes! Another new boss!), he made me a very nice present: Stupidly low target to achieve…. which resulted of the following:

6th job in Australia: $108k AUD Gross + car allowance + commissions

Commissions: $120k…
So far, it means I have made $220k AUD Gross this financial year. Not bad. And here we are: 8 times my starting salary back in 2009?
The skeptical would say: “But you’re counting your commissions now, whereas you didn’t in the past: That was one off.”Yes, this is correct. And I do that as I know that, in my specific technical niche expertise, I’m still way below what I can expect if I were to leave for a competitor tomorrow: $250k approx..

So, one question:

How many bosses did I have in my career so far?
Well, back in 2009-2010: one boss per job, the usual, right?
2010: 3 bosses
2013: 3 bosses
2014: 4 bosses
2015: 3 bosses

13 bosses in 5 years! Not bad!

Next article: which super I have and why have i chosen this one