Financial Independence Retire Early or commonly known as FIRE has been gaining more popularity in Australia, with more people interested in the prospect of retiring a lot earlier! As with our other interviews, we love to find out from people in the FIRE community just how to get there!
Tell us a little about yourself, kids/family? What made you first become interested in financial Independence?
Family On Fire – Trish and Cam now in their early forties (some would say closer to mid) married at 25 and had 3 kids by 32. We also paid off our home by age 32 while Trish was a stay at home Mum running small businesses. We steadily invested along the way in investment properties and LICs.
Trish grew up with a brilliant single Mum working part time to take care of her 3 kids with no other financial support. Things were about as tight as you get financially and Trish always wanted to be more financially secure.
Cam’s working class family and relatives supported his investing ambitions and at 15 he bought his first shares.
We only discovered FIRE in 2019 and accidentally found we were already on a great FAT FIRE path! We did the hard work of saving early – paying off personal debt (mortgage) and delaying renovating of our 1972 home until we could pay cash.
How do you think differently than the average person when it comes to FI?
How you spend money is a just a choice of priorities and what brings value to your life. We don’t feel we are missing out if we don’t have the latest Mountain Bike, wetsuit or outfit. We’ve always spent less than we earn and paid off personal debt ASAP, then put savings into places that grow with income-producing assets (IPs and LICs). We have balanced our FIRE plan with current lifestyle and holidays along the way.
How has understanding money better helped you reach your financial goals? What values are most important to you financially?
Cam’s early value lesson was his first share buy at 15 years of age with all of his paper round money. It dropped a whooping 30% shortly thereafter! His understanding of the importance of diversification was realised years later and we now share invest in selected LICs due to solid long term tax effective returns with no worries. We have a Family On Fire 1/3 rule (familyonfire.com.au) on this strategy. The basic premise is to have 1/3 in super, 1/3 in shares (LICs for Australia and VGS which is an ETF for global) and another 1/3 in property.
Being more knowledgeable in regards to fi, has this improved your lifestyle?
By always spending less than we earn and putting into solid investments we are now seeing massing monthly increases that outstrip any two professionals could earn. Once we have hit FIRE our lifestyle will dramatically change with travel (after COVID!). However we enjoy the simple life pleasures like surfing, walking and time with friends all of which don’t have to cost a lot of money.
What’s your best Frugal Living tip?
Track your expenses and treat it as a priority list rather than a strict budget. We buy second hand where possible on shopping spree’s to op shop’s (great family fun) and a search of Facebook Marketplace.
Review your spending and tweak every few years on mortgage rates, utility bills, etc. This alone can save you thousands every year with a single phone call.
What is a recent purchase or decision you made that saved you money and how did you do it?
We love to make sure we are getting a good value deal. A quick search on loan interest rates and a phone call saves us several thousands a year. We are also planning to sell our house shortly. We try to do most improvements ourselves but larger skilled jobs such as a new driveway we make sure we get at least 3-4 quotes and check out their work in person. Quotes varied from $9k – $15k for the exact same specified job. It’s worth the extra few hours (maybe 2) to save $6k and get a good job.
What are some resources and/or strategies you use to help you better yourself financially? Do you have any favorite tools or resources you recommend (books, podcasts, apps etc)?
The strategies are talking to people who are where you want to be. These people usually exclude working accountants, financial advisers and work colleagues as they have not reached FIRE.
Accountants may be great to implement your strategy but generally we have found they won’t put together the best overall strategy for you. Fortunately Cam has managed to pick the brains of a few FAT FIRE people which we share on our website.
Cam has read dozens of books on investing from an early age (at 12 read The Richest Man of Babylon), lots of more ever since. We now subscribe to Facebook FIRE groups, Aussie FIRE Discussion Group, Podcasts (Fire Play, Money Cafe, Fire & Chill, Aussie Firebug, Captain FI, etc.). We use https://getpocketbook.com to track our expenses.
Our strategy is a combination of all of they above which we call “FIRE MAGIC” – Trish’s idea. It uses a combination of investment strategies at different stages of your earnings lifecycle to optimise cashflow and total returns.
Do you have any advice for someone just beginning their FIRE journey?
Start now! Come up with your budget and monthly savings goal. Pay off personal debt and invest in LICS for Australia and ETF (VGS) for global exposure. Use our FIRE Magic strategy if you want to live somewhere else when you hit FIRE. Maximize your super contributions depending on your FIRE date.
What content do you like to share on Instagram most and why?
We share family life on the fun journey of FIRE. We try to share unique content that we have discovered and realized is not common. Sharing with our kids how to make your money work for you and get them to understand the value of the dollar by encouraging them to work side hustles from a young age.
Share with us a story from your FIRE journey so far
Along our FIRE journey, we have managed to squeeze in some fun by purchasing an awesome ocean front beach holiday house! It has become a solid Airbnb rental and we enjoy our balance of family time at the beach too. We worked out it was nearly as cheap as a caravan park yearly permanent rental but choosing the correct property. We hope to inspire other families to invest in fun along the way as well.