My progress to Financial Independence/Early Retirement

I’m well on my way to financial independence.

$1,000,000 in 10 years.

Except wait…

I’m missing my target for this month, and I missed it last month. At this rate I’ll be working until I’m 50!

That is considered “early retirement” for some. But I have a much more ambitious goal.

The actual journey is never as smooth and easy as the plan. I intend to track that journey right here. I want to keep myself accountable.

So when the stock market tanks and takes my portfolio with it, we can all see if I walk the walk as well as I talk the talk.

If you want to see how I came up with these numbers check out my investment strategy.

  • I get paid on the 15th of every month  or the closest business day before that date, so for practicality purposes, my end of month will be the day before work income payment. I now get paid fortnightly, but I will continue tracking on this page for the mid of each month.
  • My contribution to my portfolio also occurs on this last day of my payment month.
  • All numbers in nominal terms (not real terms) this is why my goal appears to be larger in this table than my original goal set out in my first blog post.
  • Contributions will be held in cash until a purchase of ETF’s or shares is made.

Pat the Shuffler

44 Replies to “My progress to Financial Independence/Early Retirement”

    1. Hey Voyager

      That’s not a bad idea if people are interested. Though it would have to be a short one, I have no idea how to make a full post out of it! I’ll have to give it a bit of thought, go through all the bank records etc, because sometimes I can’t even believe I saved that much in such a short time frame.

    2. are you living with your parents or renting?
      what is your base income?
      how much did you earn while working lots of overtime?
      How many people make that amount or more?
      AS with Voyager, where did the first 200k come from?
      In the ABC article you stated retirement after 10 year career. Were you studying up to age 25?

  1. Hi Patt! I’m interested how you math the Planned Total Net Worth out. Is it in googlesheet? Can you share it with us?

    1. Hey Jono,

      How I calculated my planned net worth can be found out from my post

      I used excel to create those graphs. I could share the sheet with you byt to be hones it is quite large, unwieldly and hard to follow. I think I am the only one who would be able to follow it because I created it, but I never thought about making it user friendly. It will need a bit of work before I share it.


  2. Hi Patt, just found your blog. Really interesting and inspiring as I am also in Australia, the same age as you and trying to RE. I was wondering what platforms/services you use to trade on stocks (you mentioned in your table that you made some good trades). I’ve found the choices to be rather limited in Australia.

    1. Hi Nomad

      Thanks for the feedback! 🙂

      I use Commsec. I know it is a tad more expensive than other platforms, but I trade infrequently enough that brokerage isn’t really a problem. I have never felt limited in any real way. Commsec has an international trading account for those who are keen in picking certain overseas stocks but I haven’t ventured into that foray yet.

      I just made one really good purchase and it has buoyed my portfolio for the last month.

  3. Hi Pat,

    My partner and I stumbled across your blog via MMM. We’re not new to the saving game however are new to the lets-be-smarter-with-our-savings game. I see in your comment above you use Commsec but arent overly active in trading, am I right? Would like to hear your thoughts on why you’ve chosen that route as opposed to low cost index funds etc?


    1. Hi Savvy dreamer

      You would be correct in saying that!

      I think we may need to clear some things up, to buy a low cost passive index fund you need to use a broker (such as Commsec)!. Commsec charges $20 per trade so they are definitely on the expensive side. So it costs me maybe an extra $60 a year compared with the cheapest broker available, I however get the convenience of keeping all my banking in the same place (assuming 6 trades a year at $120 total for my trades)

      The alternative to using a broker such as this is investing in Vanguards retail or wholesale funds, but the ongoing management expense on these is higher. It can be up 0.1% higher on the whosesale funds, but even on the lower end of about 0.05% higher, that amounts to an extra $125 per year on my current portfolio value and onto $500 per year when I reach $1mil. So it is actually cheaper in the long run to go with a broker (even the more expensive broker that is Commsec)

      This ofcourse all changes with the number of trades per year and your total portfolio value, but I believe due to Capital Gains Tax somewhat locking you into whatever you choose to begin with, for me over a lifetime it is better to go with a broker and purchase ETFs. There is also definitely value in it all being online for using an online broker vs having to mail into vanguard to make a withdrawat etc.

  4. Are you investing in indexing ETFs or are you purchasing individual shares? Using a core and satellite style portfolio or other? I ask as your “one really good purchase” in the last month seems to imply the purchase of individual shares. I haven’t seen a lot of information on your blog past investing in the share market, although I haven’t read everything tbh

    1. Hodor

      I aim to do mostly ETF investing, though sometimes I get a little silly and think I can beat the market, I am actively trying to beat this stupid thought out of my mind, it may take a few years yet to reach that point. I have one portfolio.


  5. Interesting to say you’re trying to beat that thought out of your head because I’ve been dealing with similar urges haha!
    What I’m shooting for now is to do the bulk of my investing with ETFs and then allow myself a small ‘mad money’ fund to scratch that competitive itch with some experiments. Splitting it up that way should greatly reduce my risk of ruin.
    Have you considered a similar approach? The way I see it is that being so young, now is the best time to take calculated risks. What are your thoughts?

    1. I agree with you to some extent. But I am also very analytical and data driven. The data is clear and there is no reason as far as I can tell for me to be so arrogant to think I am special or different to be an exception to that data. So I am definitely moving to a total ETF portfolio, however the individual shares I have already bought so far will remain as relics in my portfolio.

  6. Hi Pat, Just wondering if you plan on sharing your split of investments. i.e. do your figures above include property, cash or super?

    I try and split super out of it but still take it into account for the long term.



    1. The figures above are my whole net worth assuming I place a $0 value on my personal belongings. I rent and do not own a car. Nor do I own any property. The amount of cash I keep on hand is trivial but is included. Most of my net worth is held in ETF’s mostly Australian market ETF (VAS) but also including a small portion of American market ETF (VTS) and other smaller individual Australian holdings.

      I do not include super in my net worth calculations. For me super is a nice bonus, but not to be relied upon.

      1. Thanks for the reply Pat. It seems VAS is a popular choice. And for good reason. Are you combining your figures with your partner like Aussie firebug? Sorry for all the questions. Just interesting to see how people work it out.

        1. Hey Phil

          All good. Right now our finances are separate and the table on this page reflects only my net worth. I have tossed up combining them on this page to give a m ore accurate reflection of when we will reach FI but as of right now have not decided to do so.

          1. Thanks for clarifying all this. Too often people include their super and their partner’s wealth which seems to me to miss the point of the whole exercise…

  7. Hi Pat – just wondering do you still live at home with mum and dad? And whose garden are you planning on playing in whilst everyone goes off to work? And what happens if you decide to have children. $40K a year won’t go very far with a partner and kids to look after.

    Whilst I agree Sydney RE is ridiculously expensive, purchasing a home (and paying it off) has been the best decision we ever made.

    I get that as a 30 year old that you might think that working is a boring imposition (it can be – but it can also be amazingly fun too). But it teaches you grit, tenacity and a whole host of other mostly amazing things and skills along the way – but you only get that after you’ve had your butt in the chair for more than a decade. Mainly though, work’s the tool that provides for having families and maintaining/providing for others aside from yourself.

    1. I don’t know a wealthy person who thinks owning property is stupid. Even Buffets first major investment was property. I would counsel against buying in Sydney right at this point in time, but opportunities might at some stage present. It is usually the first and most important investment you can make. It allows leverage against your earnings at a cheap rate, it can also be used to fund equities purchases.

  8. A great aspiration,and I would like to do the same but at my next birthday,55.I do think your portfolio looks very unrealistic,as you seem to be getting substantial monthly income growth with ETF’s and other unknown sources.I have personally managed half of my Super Fund(SMSF) myself,$500000 over the last 4 years,and with careful and prudent investing in shares and fixed interest,gold,ETF’s,I achieve about 6-7% PA.That’s about all you’ll get for those of you who think the sharemarket is a quick way to make money.I already have 1.1m inSuper and that can’t be touched until 59 under present rules.
    Once that 1.1m is invested and drawn down,40k may seem OK but that assumes fixed interest and other low risk returns..I can assure you that you will still be worrying about money while living off 1m!Just ask a few retirees out there.

    1. Hey Paul

      The tracker above doesnt just track my investment returns but also my contributions while I’m still working to make those contributions. It is a tad out of date as I have had a payrise since posting it and am beating my projections for savings. which would account for the difference in timeline. It will be updated soon though!

  9. I am concerned about the $1million goal and the draw down of $40000
    What steps have you taken if their is a bear market ,just like we had in 1987 or during the GFC .markets fell by 40%

  10. Sensible plans involve risk management. i’ve invested however in a high risk high return ltihium sector stock, with the view of Chinese policy on electric vehicle manufacturing. i invested 180K february last year and now its 1800K in just under a year. Less riskier lithium stocks may bag slower, but worth a look. I plan to retire this year at 45/46.

  11. Truly refreshing seeing someone of your age having a solid strategy taking them through to retirement. But I guess you’re finding a few unexpected glitches as you follow through on the dream. And I definitely don’t want to rain on your parade but I do have a few questions. How much time and effort do you put into record keeping to deal with your CGT liabilities? And added to tax on your day job, does this push you into a higher tax bracket? When you reach your goal, and you retire and you have to keep paying tax for another 25 years. At a nominal 6% on your retirement target you’ll be up for tax on $74,600 (approx) until you hit 60 (as the rules stand today). Have you factored this into your strategy? You’ll earn an after tax income of $48,000(approx) in today’s money, will this be enough to cover all of your living expenses in retirement? I retired @ 55, have my house paid off (in Sydney) and I need that much to live today, and while I’m extremely comfortable, I’m not leading an extravagant lifestyle by any means. And the only other issue will be (and I found this out) that you have no mates to ‘ play with ‘ because they are all still at work for another 30 years.

  12. I whole heartedly understand the desire to get out of the system and hope you achieve your goal of being able to live off the stock market.

    I do worry that it might make people give up on the idea of collective, widespread worker activism to change the economy into something that works for us instead us working for it. Few people seem to want to pick that fight these days.

    1. The economy clearly works for people, if people want it to. It just takes time, a strategy, and discipline. People forget Australia currently enjoys the fourth highest standard of living in the world, and the standard of living currently is better than at any point in history… Remarkable, I never hear this as a good news story!

  13. I am also a 30yo engineer (metallurgy). You are assuming gains of 9% per annum. If you are confident in this why not take advantage of gearing and borrow to invest?

    1. Most of the loans given to buy stocks have usurious interest rate and margin call attached. it is much easier to leverage to buy property than index fund, despite technically the later has much lower risk due to diversification than buying a single property. If you know a place to get cheap leverage for long term index investment in Australia, I am all ears.

    2. And btw, his spreadsheet assumes 15% p.a. compounded manually. Which is either ambitious or an error since stock market historical return is 10% before inflation and 7% after inflation, not including taxes on dividends.

      1. How did you get 15%!? Genuinely interested?

        That spreadsheet isn’t just a spreadhsheet of my investment returns, it also includes my contributions while Im still working. I use 9% before inflation and 6% after inflation to calculate (these include dividends)

        1. My bad. I didn’t take into account your monthly contribution from wages. I took one of the numbers near the end.

          e.g. $1,003,499 minus $991,066 = $12,433 gain = 0.012 x 12 = 15.05% pa.

  14. Go for it! It took me until I was 54 to achieve independence,and I had to do some part time work [and share expenses with a working wife] in the first few years. But since I turned 65 I’ve not done any more paid work which has allowed me to travel and write. I was a financial planner for nab and meticulously calculated targets every year. You’ll find it more difficult because I’m a babyboomer and I could buy a house for $85k that’s now worth 5 times that. Best of luck and congratulations on thinking outside the box.

  15. Congratulations on your progress so far. I am on a similar path at 31 not to retire early but to have far more time up for my children and family. I really desire that work life balance.

    I’m not as far on the journey in a net worth sense but I do look forward to watching your progress.

  16. Hi Pat, I am 44 with family including 2 primary school aged children. I pursued the same strategy since graduating except with leverage into a PPOR. From experience I think your projections will be easily achieved with disciplined saving and investment in growth assets. Best wishes.

    1. Thanks Mark, It is great to see so many that have come to tell me that they have achieved what I am trying. Very inspirational Cheers

  17. If what I am reading is correct, you’re trading your way to $1M, not ‘buying and holding’. There’s an issue with this, in that you have to be right on the way in (when you buy), and right on the way out (when you sell).

    It’s akin to standing on a lift car going up, and jumping on and off onto different ones that are going up (or down) and rapidly changing direction. It’s much easier to just stay put and remember, If you are out of the market for even a couple of the best trading days, your returns get shot to pieces.

    Plus, what do you buy now ? Everything is looking very expensive. The way that you make money is to wait for the big, fat pitch and swing at it (look at the Babe Ruth analogy of Buffett). You don’t need to be trading all the time, that just racks up CGT and the Government are the ones who win that game as the ticket clippers.

  18. Two questions:
    (1) This raises the issue about financial planners (‘FP’) selling their wares on commercial radio. Why do they only concentrate on superannuation and retiring at 65. There appears to be certainly no cap limits with your system. Why aren’t there any FPs advising how to do a capital preservation retirement plan and something that can be passed on to the next generation.
    (2) This leads on to the next question about taxation as you build up your fund. During your accumulation of your fund, at the end of every financial period (Jul 1 to June 30) how do you take account of taxation of interest and dividends such that you can plough the interest and/or dividends into your fund. Are there any tax-effective methods such that you don’t legally have to pay too much tax.

    How does the effect of taxation apply to your fund compared to super.

  19. Well done – you are young and you have a detailed plan in front of you – you are actioning your plan and are taking full responsibility for yourself! As you have started young – you are setting up a system of wealth creation that will compound over a long period of time – but what’s even more important is that you are investing in YOU – learning and growing which will also compound over time – don’t be surprised if that focus and attention creates more for you in a shorter period of time – wishing you continued success – Danka Simic