Another top-notch month with the net worth climbing 3.3% to $391,109. I have actually added over $50k to the net worth in four months. Miraculous numbers, but do not want to get overexcited. Yes, it is motivating, but the emotions will be in stark contrast if (when) I have to test my nerves during a bear market. Below are the numbers for November.

As you can see from the spreadsheet, adding $5k/month to savings definitely results in more positive months (green) than negative (red)!

TOTAL NET WORTH = $391,109

  • Taxable (Stocks + Cash) = $274,597
  • Superannuation = $116,512

 

Since I first found out about FIRE in early to mid-2015, my rather ambitious intention was to have done most of the legwork sometime between 2020 and 2022. The tentative goal is now July 2021 (40th birthday, and receive my bonus in March and vested shares in May each year…. So this seemed reasonable). This means I am really only 6 month away from the mid-point of my journey. If I can have my net worth figure close to $500k by that stage then I will be more than happy.

Monthly Income (Net)

  • Salary ($7,574)
  • Superannuation ($1,610)

Stocks = $256,913 (+$13,697)        

A lot of messing about this month. I have taken a change of direction and altered my strategy, quite extensively in fact. There are a number of significant benefits (and drawbacks) to investing in Australia, and they can significantly shorten ones time to reach FIRE. One of these benefits is dividends and the associated franking credits attached. If a company pays a dividend of 4% and has already payed the corporate tax of 30%, the investor is not double-taxed and receives a “tax credit” of 30%. This effectively (in the 4% dividend example) results in a gross up dividend of 5.7%. Wow, 5.7%? Of course, in your accumulation years you are still being taxed at your income tax rate, which can be high for those on high incomes (such as myself). However once you reach FIRE you may be paying very little, or even no, tax.

Drawbacks? Australia has a very concentrated index, and makes up a small fraction of global equities. Is it therefore important to have a portion of one’s portfolio dedicated to international equities? Probably. How much? That would be up to you. But having researched this quite extensively in recent times, I have come to the conclusion that a larger portion of my portfolio should be dedicated to Australia, and not through ETFs. Through Listed Investment Companies (or “LICs”). These LICs have a number of benefits over ETFs (such as VAS, which I subsequently have a large portion of). Some of these include full franking (100%) and smoother dividends.

Suffice to say it would require a much longer article to cover the full benefits of LICs, as well as the rationale for LIC selection and building a portfolio of LICs. So for the time being let’s just say I’ve settled on an approximate allocation of 20% dedicated to international (through ETFs), 20% “small-cap” Australian LICs (MIR, and perhaps try to add QVE when it’s share price is closer to NAV), and 60% to “large-cap” LICs (AFI, ARG, BKI, MLT).

After selling off a portion of my international ETFs (CGT anyone?), I have started building up my Australian LICs.

Cash = $17,684 (-$5,285)

Used a bit of my cash allocation for more stocks this month.

Superannuation = $112,312 (+$5,851)

Expenses = $2,566

Managed to keep expenses on the lower side this month, with no nasty surprises. My “monthly income” based on 4% of taxable net worth is $915. Average monthly expenses for the year are sitting at $3,355. This is larger than last year but reasonable. I am set for spending of just over $40k, which I can live with. The main reason for this was an expensive three weeks on the (expensive for US) west coast (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle).

Savings Rate = 66.1%

I am now averaging 59.9% for the year. Despite Christmas, I am optimistic of reaching my goal of 60% for 2017.

There we have it. Finishing 2017 on a high. My goals for 2018 are around solidifying my new strategy of building a portfolio of stable income investments, and adding to this periodically ($5k/month plus any additional funds through company bonuses).