Sunday, 20 May 2018

EOFY Looming

Hi folks

Well, end of financial year is looming very close which means an insanely busy time for me at work right through till October.

To this end, I have decided to take a blogging break for a while. During this break I will be gathering my thoughts about blogging and asking myself some questions .... do I continue this blog, revert to vlogging instead, or perhaps start a new blog that is more intentionally focused, or stop blogging all together.  We'll see.

Having said that, if I get super-excited about a topic going around in my head I may share it and do the odd post, but for all intents and purposes I will still be on a break.

Take care folks and stay nice.

Mr HM (Phil)

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunday Evening Gossip

Hi Folks

We recently went shopping at one of my favourite wholesalers Bibina.  I love going to Bibina as we can pick up very different types of bulk foods and groceries compared what's available at Aldi, Woolworths of Coles. Like any store, it is still important to be be savvy with the prices we pay, but the variety and stock is fascinatingly different.  The main post picture is of some nuts and lentils and the next couple of pictures also gives you the feel of the warehouse.

Drums and huge glass jars of pickles, oils, fruits and preserves.

So many different types of flours.....

Far more interesting than a shopping centre.

Huge tin cans of olives, fruit, fish, pickles and consumables.

There are so many good quality European, middle eastern and Asian foods here that we simply cannot get at a normal supermarket.  I also love the huge glass jars that so many of the preserves come in - you would pay a fortune just for the jar normally.

Me: "Oh, can we get that?"
Mrs HM:  "10kg of rollmopps!!??"
Me (whispers meekly): "I like the big jar..."
Mrs HM: (the look) ..... (moves to next aisle without wasting breath answering)

In other news, we have been painting.  I love the transformation from old to fresh, stained to sparkling, daggy to serene as the next few photos show ....

Cutting in ....

Patching holes and covering stubborn stains ....

Paint central.
We are  using Dulux Antique White USA.

Old versus new.  The walls in the kitchen are very oily and
need many more washes before I can paint - I'm leaving
that till last.

Just like new - Bedroom 3
The 40 year old Berber wool carpet eventually came up
looking respectable after a zillion go-overs with the rented
Britex machine.

Just like new - Bedroom 4
(actually, it probably is the original sun room)
I love the pattern the 1970's light fitting casts on the top of the walls

We have a few challenges too - what would you do with both these following scenarios that does not cost lots of money?

This mid 1970's kitchen made of laminated chip board is
pretty ugly and worn and the once-apple-green bench top is also
looking as appealing as a dropped pie (very scratched and faded).
What would you do without spending too much?

This mid 1970's air conditioner was built into the brick feature
wall from new. It is now beyond repair.
What would you do with the gaping hole it will leave?
(No, I do not have any of the original bricks)

Your ideas on both these challenges would be of great interest to me folks!

We are having a lovely Sunday evening here listening to the rain.  Mrs HM and I are resting in our recliners with a cuppa and English muffins with butter and honey.  Mrs HM is working on a knitted baby blanket for her new great niece and I am typing (obviously!). There are a few gentle conversations happening here and there as we think of things, Toshi-the-cat and Toby-the-dog are successfully re-triggering the cold war and the girls are organising themselves in their rooms for Monday morning.

We hope you are having a contented Sunday evening too.

Mr HM (Phil)

Sunday, 29 April 2018

143 Pay Days Left

Hi folks

Back in this post HERE I speculated that Mrs HM and I had over 500 weeks left till we retire ..... that realisation actually made me pretty cranky as this date had blown out considerably from our original plans. So we sat down and agreed to go back to our original plan.

Reverting back to our original plan means that we now will be able to be able to retire in 143 paydays, all things remaining the same.  We have not changed the end game about how we would like to retire - it is pretty much exactly the same as when I wrote about it HERE.

We got ourselves 'a bit' off track with some rather grander plans for retirement and other daft stuff we mused about doing before retiring .... this got us off track and doubled the years till our retirement. It is amazing how a couple of extra lifestyle decisions can blow out a great plan.

So we are back on track, back to being content with our simple plan. Yes, I know things can go wrong and life bowls curved balls, but you have to have a plan right?!

What I have learned from all this is that it is OK to say "I was wrong, let's backtrack". Sometimes we need to walk down a certain road to realise it is not the right road (or someone else's road), do a U turn and go back to where we were.

One of my downfalls is that I am a tinkerer. Being a tinkerer is great for so may things, but not when I tinker with a really good retirement plan and certainly not tinkering with investment strategies. Sometimes I just have to stop opening the proverbial oven door or I'll end up with an uncooked flop.

Anyway, it is May soon. May is Autumn in Australia and it is my absolute favourite month of the year. Nights are cool and great for sleeping, days are just gorgeous, trees are turning colour, evenings are nice and long and thus good for reading, chatting and writing. I note Mrs HM has her kitting needles out now and flannelette sheets have appeared. I'm sat in my recliner next to Mrs HM in hers with Toby the dog hogging my footrest - life is good.

Have a lovely Sunday night folks.

Take care and stay nice.


Saturday, 28 April 2018

Never Say Don't

Hi folks

One of the most powerful psychological approaches to reducing expenses, increasing income and investing wisely (the triangle of success HERE) is to never say "don't". 

The sheer power of the word "don't" can turn a perfectly even-keeled person into a disobedient juvenile in a nanosecond. Tell me "don't" and I immediately want to. I read "don't" and I think "why not?!". Many of of childhoods were full of "don't" moments ..... so let's not go there.

Whilst it may be utterly true  that the following statements will reduce our reckless spending, the use of the word "don't" or even the word "stop" can easily trigger the ego and have exactly the opposite desired effect - or at least it does for me. (Maybe I still am just a naughty disobedient boy!)

  •  Don't buy a morning coffee. It's a waste of money.
  •  Don't get a car loan. That's just foolish
  •  Don't buy your lunch. What a silly waste of money
  •  Don't have a credit card. You'll get yourself into trouble again.
....makes you feel just great - not.

Try this instead:

The Power Of Action Statements

Action statements never tell you to stop doing anything. Action statements do not reference the past nor cast dispersions on our character. Action statements have clear direction and have strong outcomes. Action statements do not point fingers. Most importantly, action statements give us a new thing to immerse ourselves into thus automatically replacing the love of a previously toxic fiscal habit.

The love and excitement of a brand new action replaces the affection of an unbreakable habit.

Here are some easy action statements as examples:
  •  I take my favourite Moccona Latte sachet to work every day.
  •  I carry my debit card and $20 emergency cash in my slimline wallet
  •  I pack a quality lunch of lean proteins and gourmet salad daily
  •  $365 per month goes to my car replacement account. I'm buying a new car with cash this coming December. 

See how different they sound. Feel how different the internal reaction is?

We can apply the principle of action statements to pretty much anything that can be changed and needs to be changed in our lives. The best use of this principle is on ourselves.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Despite How Bad It Seems

Hi folks

Most of the folk here who comment and whose blogs and sites I've linked have very much got things sorted, are kicking their own goals and have left their early mistakes behind ..... but that is not really why I blog.

Occasionally I get contacted by genuine folk who are in debt, hopeless with their money and generally sick and tired of it all - often they have all but given up.  They often lurk here and on other better blogs and sites but feel disempowered or embarrassed to comment or reach out. This is why I blog - to pay it forward so to speak.

So, if you are in debt, rotten with money management, confused about how to get ahead, then this post is totally for you.  Am I qualified to comment? Yep, I've been in that tough place too.

Three Things Before We Begin

Firstly, know that you will certainly succeed despite what you may be feeling or believing.

Next, know that change and success will occur via the accumulation of many micro changes.

Finally, know that the decision and responsibility for change and success  must sit with you.

Understanding The Three Foundational Basics

The three foundation basics are:

1. Spending less - yet living better.
2. Earning more - even if it is just a little more.
3. Putting aside - either money or goods

So, don't overthink things if these three basics look unachievable - just know that these three foundational basics is all that you will ever need. I'm not just saying that to oversimplify things or to be kind ..... it is absolutely true, so I'll state it again:

The three foundational basics is all that you will ever need

Let's Get Started

Very simply, take action, micro-action preferably.

Have a think about a small action that you can do against each of the three basic foundation principles. It needs to be a small (micro) action only, but one that you can keep doing forever. By personally and quietly (even secretly) introducing three new micro-actions you have effectively laid the first three bricks in the wall of your success.

Here are some suggestions to get you to lean in and take micro-action:

Spending less - yet living better.
Secretly make your own kitchen spray. Use your old brand-labelled spray bottles so no one knows the difference. HERE is the super easy method.

Earning more - even if it is just a little more.

While you are watching TV or having a coffee break, jump in and do some online surveys.
The ones I use daily are MyView, Octopus Group, Toluna, Pureprofile and Swagbucks. You'll be amazed how quickly the points add up across all five of these excellent Australian sites and you can convert them to cash or cards. NB: I only ever do these during sitting/rest/break/lunch times. Please do not be tempted use other times slots for this.
Also, this article  HERE is also worth reading regarding these survey sites. There are a million scam survey sites out there, so this will save you the heartache and get you right onto the ones that are genuine.

Putting aside - either money or goods.
Here, we are only looking for small amounts secretly squirreled away. It does not have to always be money. Try this meaningful small action first as follows:
Study your junk mail and look for a product that you always normally use that is on special for 1/2 price. When you go shopping buy as many as you can afford without spending any more than you planned to whilst shopping - so buy at least 2, more if you can. When you get home put the extra ones away in a special place - this is the beginning of your own secret stockpile. HERE is a timeless article about stockpiling by Rhonda Hetzel to help explain the benefits thereof.

So folks, no heroics or huge showy acts of frugality please - instead do micro-actions only and always ones that you can keep doing forever.

I'm very happy to share more suggested micro-actions for the three foundational basics on a regular basis if you like - there are literally thousands of them. Over time, by taking three new micro-actions on board each week or fortnight you will most certainly experience your own version of rags-to-riches.

Lean in and give it a shot.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Private Health Insurance Help

Hi Folks

Private health insurance can be a right royal pain in the butt to figure out. Am I paying too much? What is claimable? Am I being charged Medicare Levy Surcharge at tax time? What about gap payments? What am I covered for? What are the hidden costs? What gap if any am I paying? Aaarrgh.

Anyway, I found this very helpful site for Australians wanting to compare private health insurance cover. Seeing as our health cover system is quickly heading towards a similar system as USA I thought it was time to bite the bullet and put the research time in.

I quickly realised that many comparison sites for private health insurance are NOT truly independent and have agreements with a defined list of providers, so whilst looking like they are comparing providers fairly, they are not. Sneaky.

So here is the link HERE from 

Even if you already have private health cover I encourage you to still use this link, you just might save some dollars.

Also here is the ATO site that explains the Medicare Levy Surcharge HERE

I hope this helps

Take care and stay nice.


Monday, 23 April 2018

Some Forgotten Investments

Hi Folks

I have written quite a bit about investing, saving and frugality. So here's the thing, there are some investments that have fabulous returns and are largely forgotten about by investors - and I'm talking significant returns on investment too. Try these for size.

1. A seed.  Most seeds will give a 100 and even a 1000 fold return. One tiny zucchini seed will produce an abundance of food that you'll be giving away to all and sundry. One tiny wheat seed will produce 50 more seeds - that's 500% return on investment. One small tomato seed will produce about 25 tomatoes - that's 250% return on investment. This is pretty normal for many food bearing seeds.

2. A sheep (or cow, or goat). A sheep will produce enough wool to knit about two jumpers every year for about 10 years. A sheep will bear a lamb every year and sometimes twins. A sheep will also produce meat, lanolin and milk if required. Even if we only count the lamb it bears yearly that is a 100% return on investment every year, plus wool and meat if the offspring are butchered (not sure how to do that math, but it sounds like a diversified asset to me!)

3. A hen.  A hen will lay an egg pretty much daily, hatch anything up to 6-10 chicks yearly, produce very potent fertiliser daily and can be butchered too - a very diversified asset indeed. Eggs are one of the purest and cheapest sources of protein too. Well, the math for the chickens could be 600% return per year, plus the return on fertiliser, eggs and meat - again not sure how to fully calculate this profit.

4 Our employment - Often overlooked as an investment, but it is our most productive and lucrative one. At an average wage of $50K per year, that equates to $2 million in earnings over a lifetime.  That is a significant investment! (Yes, I know right. Where  did it all go?!)

Anyway, I just thought I would even up the balances and bring to mind that some of the most amazing fiscal investments that return insanely high returns are directly from mother nature and our own hard work. These two genres of investment can easily blow real estate and share investing returns right out of the water if intelligently applied.

Something to ponder.

Take care folks and stay nice.

Mr HM (Phil)

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Ten Things

Hi folks

Here are some different things to look at - hopefully it will spark some new ideas for you. It will also provide a welcome relief from my ramblings too  - ha ha!

When I surf the net (is that still a saying?), I'll usually spend some time on one of these sites.

  1. Totally loving what they are doing to old furniture at Antiquechic HERE
  2. Financial Independence FIAustralia at reddit HERE is always educational
  3. Becky's Homestead Vlog is a little corny but always a good cheery listen HERE
  4. A good compound interest calculator that I use is found HERE
  5. A bunch of great ideas on MIgardener Vlog HERE
  6. I love the old-school advice on gentlemen's clothing at Gentlemen's Gazette HERE
  7. A favourite men's blog of mine The Art Of Manliness HERE
  8. Australia's most under-utilised finance site is ASIC's MoneySmart site HERE
  9. This man and his woodwork calms my soul HERE
  10. USA readers - an astoundingly astute investing education can be found HERE by J.L. Collins

I've been super busy and will be for a while yet. It is the busy season at work as well as lots of 'matters' that need attending to on the home front too. But we're all good.

Take care folks and stay nice.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Beware Of Paper Profits

Hi folks

I hope you all had a pretty good Easter break.  On the last day of the long weekend Mrs HM and I went for a drive through the beautiful farmlands of Clarence Town, Dungog, Chichester Dam and state forest, then back home via Vacy, Paterson and Tocal - an utterly beautiful drive through lush green rolling pastures and cheery old hamlets. I love drives like this as they reset my over-wound brain.

So, what's this business about paper profits? Well, I have been seeing lots of articles and hearing lots of conversations about profits on investments - you know the type of thing .... "Yes, we bought a house last year and had it revalued after we painted and it is now worth X amount"  or  "Well, my shares have doubled in value in the last 5 years" or  "We are knocking down the old place and putting up three flats and we will triple our investment" or the most common one " the rent will cover the mortgage" (eeeek!).  These type of things are paper profits. Theory not reality. On paper only, not in the bank.

Paper profits need to be treated with a grain (or bag) of salt. Often the person pontificating or humble-bragging about the said profits is not factoring in taxes or costs nor are they factoring in labour costs or selling costs or the market or liquidity or, or, or. Often these claims of profitability are just big talk. Profit is never profit until everything is paid and settled and the money is in the bank clear and free.

Houses can be a great investment, but always factor in capital gains tax, renovation costs, advertising costs, stamp duty and fees, non-paying tenants, tenant damage, market fluctuations, buyer availability, seasonal impacts, total asset liquidity issues etc.  Shares can be great investments too, but always factor in capital gains tax, market volatility, fees and charges, trading costs, buyer and seller availability, liquidity, company leadership, market factors, political risk, legislative risk etc.

Being wise and canny about word-of-mouth advice/claims of the profitability of any given venture is a must.  Every investment has costs and risks. Those investments that claim to have no costs or risks are to be viewed skeptically.  Always do your own homework and research. Stay away from the big talkers.

Too many paper profits get talked about, printed in prospectuses, used as sales pitches, used in popular culture, chatted about and unquestionably believed.  You know you are onto a winner when you are getting a balanced list of pros and cons, profits and costs .... and preferably from someone who has already done it and is qualified to comment.

Take care folks and stay nice.

Mr HM.

P.S. The above photo is from the dashboard computer of my Suzuki Swift. Is the fabulous fuel economy on that screen to be believed?

Friday, 30 March 2018

Three Phases Of Retirement

Hi Folks,

There are three distinct phases of retirement.

1. Self-Funded
2. Access to Superannuation
3. Aged Pension

Essentially, many folk have to wait till they are eligible to receive an aged pension (in my case 67 years old) to be able to retire. This is the worst case scenario for someone with zero investments and zero or little super.  It used to be the norm, but with pension ages increasing and the worth of the pension amount so low, it is a bad choice if you can avoid it.

I'll use my own case scenario to explain the three phases.

1. Self-Funded -  I wish to retire from paid work at about 55 years old. I'll be 5 years too young to access superannuation and 12 years too young to get the aged pension.  This means I absolutely need to have investments outside of superannuation that I can draw on to provide me with an income to tide me across.

In my opinion, the wisest investments to have for this stage of retirement are investments that attract little CGT (Captial Gains Tax - simply, the tax you pay on the increased value of your investment when you cash it in) and that pay regular earnings and also are easy to liquidate. Dividend bearing shares with 100% franking credits fit this bill perfectly.

I need enough of these investments to cover my intended expenses for 5 years till I can access my superannuation in phase 2.

2. Access to Superannuation - 5 years on from phase 1, I will be 60 years old and can now access my superannuation. I would transfer my superannuation accumulation account across to a pension account and reap the benefits of zero tax on earnings and zero CGT too (if indeed this is still available in 5 years time). Back when I was working, I would have actively bought a combination of growth and dividend bearing shares inside superannuation which I can now access tax free. Also, during the 5 years that I was living off my self-funded investments in phase 1,  my superannuation would have been quietly reinvesting its earnings and increasing in value even though I was not adding to it.

I would need enough in my superannuation to see me through for another 7 years till I was eligible for the aged pension in phase three.

3. Aged Pension - By this time I will be 67 and would receive the aged pension in full if my remaining investments in superannuation and self funded investments were below legislated thresholds. I would also be eligible to earn a prescribed amount tax free from all my sources of investment outside of super too.

Camp drafting at the royal Easter showing this year.
I love watching these horse men and women camp drafting.

For some of us, retiring early is a necessity due to ill health and/or being too physically/mentally worn out to remain in paid work. For others it will be a luxury decision. For me, at 55, it will be a bit of both to be honest.

Using the above phases and concepts, you should be able to reverse engineer your own retirement date and identify the three phases and how they will work.  Yes, I know this is based on an Australian scenario, but the similarities certainly still exist across most developed countries.

Have some fun with these figures and concepts, you might just surprise yourself with what is possible!

I have not even mentioned the option of working part time or casually/seasonally during the first two phases which would potentially augment your income in both of these stages.

It's possible folks - do your homework.

Take care and stay nice.

Mr HM.
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