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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Goals and Focus for 2019

February 16, 2019

Given we’re now in February, this post is a little late in getting out.  But better late than never, as they say!

Same as last year, I thought I’d share some things I want to focus on this year.  This is to make sure we continue living a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, while also being productive.

Some people think they’ll be happy doing nothing after reaching Financial Independence.  I was one of those people.  In fact, I remember dreaming how good it would be just to do nothing all day (even all week), rather than drag myself to work for another 10 hour shift.

But it doesn’t work that way.  Eventually I learned this…

Once you can actually sit around and do nothing all day, is pretty much when you stop feeling the desire to sit around and do nothing all day.

Anyway, here’s my plans for 2019…



This blog has already exceeded my wildest expectations.  That’s probably because I didn’t really expect anything!

But it’s turned out to be incredibly enjoyable and a satisfying use of my time.

It still feels like I’m very much a beginner, but Strong Money Australia now has over 1,000 subscribers and had over 50,000 page views in January alone.  To me, that’s amazing!

So I just want to say, I really appreciate you spending your valuable time reading this.  Especially given the amount of content out there these days.

My goal here is to continue working hard to bring you more quality blog posts, every week, during 2019!

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you subscribe below (lots of good stuff in the works!)

There’s no world domination plans for this blog.  I just want to be as helpful as possible to the people who come here to read it.

Having said that, reaching more people is great too.  Because it means even more Aussies will get their money sorted and build themselves a solid plan for Financial Independence.

So if you’ve found this blog helpful and you’d like to pay me back in some way, you can.  Simply share this site with someone you know.  And together, we can all become financially strong and live free and satisfying lives.  Thanks in advance!



As you probably know by now, our plan is to slowly sell down our property portfolio.

The cash from the sales then sits in an offset account, for us to buy shares each month, use some to live on and fund any shortfall on the remaining properties.

Eventually this money runs out and we sell the next one, and so on.  On average, we’ll be selling a property every few years until there are none left.  At that stage, we’ll have no property and all shares/cash.

We’ve started the process of selling our next property – one in Melbourne that we should’ve sold a year ago.  Ah, hindsight!

We won’t receive a huge lump of cash from the sale, a bit less than six-figures.  But this reduces our negative cashflow by a fair bit and sticks with the ongoing plan – converting all our savings/equity into a solid income stream.

Anyway, that will leave us with one property in Brisbane, and four here in Perth.  So hopefully over the next 5-10 years those markets are kind to us! 🙂

Our goal here is to continue investing every single month, regardless of what the market does.  By doing this, our investment income will keep steadily climbing upwards .  I’ll also do a portfolio update soon to shine more light on where we’re putting our money and why.



Living a healthy life is among our top priorities and a big factor in wanting to retire early.

Our plan is to continue our good habits of daily bike rides and/or walks, along with weight training 3 times per week.

Recently we also started shooting hoops at our local basketball court, which is fun for something different.

It’s not all about exercise though.  While we already have good food habits, we’ve started being a bit more disciplined with our eating and aim to sneak in a bit more nutrition (and less carbs) for the same quantity of food (for example, more salad/veg, less rice).

We’re fortunate enough to have enough time these days to prepare healthy food, which also means we don’t have that excuse anymore!



This is one area of our lives where a little effort has large payoffs, in terms of happiness.

In 2019, my plan is to try and spend more time with friends.  I say ‘try’, because they often have busy work and family lives, so it’s not as easy as you might expect.  So I’ll be checking in more and keeping a flexible schedule 😉

Also, Mrs SMA and I have started making sure we go somewhere nice together at least once each month.  Just out to a cafe/restaurant, or a new place we haven’t been, for some extra quality time away from home.  So we’ll keep that going in 2019.

If I’m feeling extra romantic, I can always take her to Bunnings – that never fails to put a smile on her face!

I’ve also got a trip booked to go and visit family over in Victoria in May, which I’m looking forward to.  Other than that, I’ll make sure to keep in touch with my parents every month or so.



In 2018 I wanted to get out in the garden more and help Mrs SMA, which I did!  And I find it really worthwhile (when it’s not too hot), so you can bet I’ll be doing more of this in 2019.

It’s always nice to get some extra outdoors time and spend some time in the garden.  Especially since we’re growing a few edible crops, which makes it much more fun and exciting.



After seeing meditation recommended countless times in the past, I was pretty hesitant to try it.

We all have some weird ideas about what it’s like.  But after coming across a very approachable App, which is perfect for beginners, I decided to give it a try.  Essentially, it’s just a form of relaxation (and I do like relaxing!).

The main reason for giving this a go was to try and gain a calmer resting mind.  I’m a pretty relaxed guy, but my mind is always thinking, even when I don’t want it to!

So far I haven’t managed to make this a daily habit, but when I do it, I have a much clearer mind.  I’ll be working harder on this in 2019.

Using this free and easy to use app, you can start with 3 minutes, but I soon found that wasn’t long enough and now go for the 5-10 minute sessions.



Actually this connects to the above.  When I slow down, I always find more things to be grateful for.  And that always makes me happier, instantly.

Given our lifestyle is 100% our own creation these days, we have no excuse for not spending time being grateful.  But human nature is such that we tend to forget this stuff quite a lot, so my guess is, I’ll have to keep reminding myself this every year!

In fact, when I notice people complaining about something that’s quite petty in the grand scheme of things – First World problems – it quickly snaps me into the position of being grateful.

Most of the time, our common problems and complaints in modern-day Australia would be envied by a large percentage of the human race.  So I’m grateful that people complain (well, sometimes), because it reminds me to be grateful!



After a dismal failure of my book-reading goal in 2018, I’m starting to get back on track this year.

I’ve read a few eBooks on my phone and sat down with a paper book the other day for the first time in 2019.  Habits aren’t easy to build, but I find having a to-do list helps, because I’ll often just plain forget!

I’m also devoting time to learning how to be a better blogger so I can be more useful to you.

So far it feels like I’m making progress and now have a ton of ideas for this blog going forward.  My focus is to keep improving my writing and this blog as a whole.



Many of you will know by now nature is something I’m passionate about.  I’ve noticed that spending time outside every day is a must, or I tend to get a bit grumpy.

Whether it’s going across to the reserve to see the Swans, riding our bikes through the nearby bushland to see the Kangaroos, or just listening to the birds from our porch – nature always reinvigorates me.

On top of that, it’s a quick way to feel grounded and grateful for the world around us.



So there it is.  That’s what I’m focusing on this year.

Many things are the same as last year, but that’s okay.  These things are important to us and, in my mind, make for a well rounded and enjoyable life.

Notice how many of the ‘goals’ are actually just habits?

I’ve come around to the view that habits are often a better target than goals.

If you have the right habits, the goal is essentially automatic.  And by focusing on the habits, you learn to enjoy the process and every day you complete that habit is a win, rather than constantly focusing on the end point.

They’re connected of course – we need good habits to achieve our goals, and we often need goals to help us design our ideal life and keep ourselves motivated to build those habits!

Anyway, hopefully I can manage to make good progress with these plans in 2019!  Either way, I’ll be sure to report back with how it goes.

So, what’s your focus for 2019?  Let me know your goals and plans for the year ahead…


26 Replies to “Goals and Focus for 2019”

  1. That sounds like a very wise and well-rounded set of habits. Headspace is absolutely brilliant, isn’t it? Something about the voice in the introductory set of exercises is just calming to even listen to. I need to get back to it.

    I’m curious, and apologies if I have missed this – what’s the rough % split between your property and LIC holdings?

    1. Yep that voiceover guy does a great job of easing you into it! Without that I would be lost lol.

      At the moment, our portfolio is something like 40% property, 30-35% shares, 15-20% cash, 10% ratesetter. Hardly ideal, but that’s where we are today 🙂

  2. Wow, those blog stats are impressive! Congratulations.
    I’m looking at the over-arching goal of being consistent, so I’m charting my progress with 6 activities that I want to do every day. It’s amazing how motivating filling in a chart can be!
    And having said that, I’m now going to go and clean something, then read a book.

    1. Thanks Frogdancer – it surprises me too! Consistency and narrowing down a set of priorities is hard but very powerful I think. We can do a few things really well, but trying to do 20 things leads to failing all of them!

      Awesome self-reminder 🙂

  3. Hi,
    1- pay off our mortgage
    2- get a grip on our spending and expenses (critical to know how long it will take us to get to lean FIRE)
    3- sell assets overseas, get our “F*** U” money (i.e. 12 months of living expenses) and invest in Australia (even though my husband just advised me to wait for investing due to the imminent crash…). So i would be interested to see what you think of that…
    And focusing on three goals are ok for us for the next 12 months.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Isabelle.

      I really like your 1 and 2 goals. Not sure I agree with your husband. His crystal ball must be better than mine. I think investing on a regular basis is the only logical thing to do. Anything else is guessing, speculating, pretending we know more than we do etc. Nobody knows what will happen. But I do know that the sooner we get investing is the sooner we start building our investment income and the closer we get to our goals.

      Maybe you can read this together as it might help focus on the long term. The end of the world and a crash is predicted every year. Eventually it will happen. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t invest. It means we should just keep investing anyway. You’re going to be investing for the next 10, 20, 30 years, so it doesn’t really matter what happens in the next 1-3 years.

  4. Love this list. The reading and gardening are hobbies I am working on too. I’ve read 4 books in the last six months and intend on reading 6 more this year. It does get easier. The gardening *was* a habit, however I live in Perth (too) and some of this summer has just been too hot. Previously I had succeeded with zucchini and watermelon but this time they have failed. Our plan for 2019 is to both get employment again. I have just been made redundant, and we are not at our goal yet. If we both secure PT jobs we can keep working on the plan but enjoy some time out for private projects. On the upside, the lack of work commitments has enabled us to enjoy a few wonderful weekdays at the beach without the crowds!

    1. Thanks Lin!

      Nice job on the books. And I hear you on the Perth heat, sometimes it’s terrible to be outside! Ohh, our zucchini failed too, thought it was because we put it in a different spot this year. At the moment, cherry tomatoes and capsicum are going along well for us.

      Good luck with the job hunt, sounds like you’ve been enjoying the time off 🙂

  5. Look forward to your progress Dave. Completely agree with your way of thinking. We are creatures of habit, so it’s just a matter of eliminating bad habits and creating good habits as you mention. Mark Manson wrote a great blog post about goal setting and habits. Worth a read.

    1. Cheers Fergy, thanks for your support mate!

      Yep, think I’ve read it. Could be this one – – that’s what started changing my thinking on it. Last year I just decided I wanted to build habits and a lifestyle instead of goals but I wasn’t sure why, just a feeling I had. After reading that, it made perfect sense!

  6. Some great work last year and plenty of resolutions for this year!
    Funnily enough I downloaded Headspace a few months ago, admittedly more in the hope that it would help me sleep better than to actually meditate. I’ve found it pretty useful for the sleep side of things at least, the guy has such a calming voice.
    Loving the exercise/health/nature goals, I’m into trail running and living on the Surf Coast you get to combine those into one outing which is fantastic.
    Last but not least congratulations on the blog numbers, very impressive there and a just reward for your consistentlu interesting and relatable content!

    1. Thanks very much mate, I appreciate that!

      Great to hear you’re also finding the Headspace app helpful – and totally agree, the guy really helps you relax.

      Also sounds like you’ve got the nature/exercise thing sorted out nicely 🙂

  7. You deserve all the success you attract Dave.

    I’m for ever sending links to you posts to friends or on FB or on forums and paid forums that I am a part of – they are always well received.

    I’m gonna try that meditation app as I am pretty tightly wound by nature – fingers crossed.

    1. That’s far too kind Phil, but thank you so much!

      I really hope you get some benefit out of the app, seems a few of us have. Let me know how you go 🙂

  8. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your blog post, I think this is an important exercise that we all can do.
    Do you track the progress of what you want to achieve in these areas? I’ve found this to be incredibly important, that helped me to increase the number of books I read last year.
    One book I recommend, if you haven’t read it yet, is ‘High Performance Habits’ by Brendon Burchard, brilliant and easy to read.

    All the best in 2019!

    1. Thanks Plutarch. I do track it but not strictly. I’ve got a bit of a to-do list I run through and it reminds me to keep doing these things, so that helps heaps. Then as the year progresses I’ll look at these ‘goals/habits’ list again and see how I’m going. Then at the end of the year I’ll look back and see how I did.

      Hope you have a great 2019 too! And cheers for the book rec, I’ll put it on the list 😉

  9. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for another interesting article.
    Have you looked at Vanguard property (VAP)? Are the returns ok?
    I’m thinking of selling my one IP and putting a bit more into shares with the remainder in VAP. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Kind regards

    John G

    1. Thanks for reading John!

      I have looked at it before. I don’t like it though for a few reasons.
      1. Low yield of 4.6% currently. That’s awful for property trusts to be honest. I’d rather stick with VAS or LICs for a similar yield and better growth prospects in my view.
      2. It’s extremely concentrated. 10 holdings are about 85% of the fund. And retail REITs are a large part of that (not sure they have a great outlook as a group).
      3. It contains property developers as well, not just rent-collecting landlord REITs. These earnings/dividends are more volatile than a simple landlord REIT.

      It’s not a bad choice and the returns will probably be fine over the long term. But it’s just not appealing to me. I prefer to buy individual REITs (which is a higher risk approach/less diversification) so I can be more selective about the income stream I’m buying and get more attractive yields.

      REITs already make up about 8% of the Aussie market, so if you buy VAS (Vanguard Australian Shares) there’s no real need to buy VAP separately. I just buy a few individual ones out of interest and because we’re in a zero tax environment so the higher income is attractive. Hope that helps John 🙂

  10. This was a nice read.

    I have used headspace – its great. Once you get into it, I am sure it makes a huge difference. I fell off the bandwagon a bit.

    I think they key to all the goals is factoring in all the facets of life and trying to achieve the right balance. . But it is just so easy to focus on one and compromise on the others.

    I came across the following pillars of happiness:
    1. financial security,
    2. relationships,
    3. health and well being.
    4. staying relevant (maintaining interests and purpose).

    However after reading your post I am scrapping all that and just going for more dates at Bunnings 🙂

    1. Cheers SJ.

      Haha if your partner likes gardening, you can’t go wrong with the Bunnings approach! But seriously though, those 4 pillars are a great summary of the core areas to focus on – thanks for that.

  11. Nice one Dave.
    In regards to your posts about Gratitude and Meditation, you might want to look into Stoicism.
    It helped me overcome a few issues last year and just changed the way i see things …

    Best of luck with your goals 🙂

  12. Awesome work Dave.

    Really appreciate the amount of work you put into your articles. The information here has helped me in making my own investment decisions and also perspective on approaching financial matters and balancing it with life goals.

    I guess since I just started investing this year, my goal will be to stay the course and to continue learning as much as I can.

    Looking forward to the portfolio update!

    All the best!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Scott. I’m really glad it’s helped you in some way.

      Great job getting started too – all the best for 2019!

  13. Love the blog mate! Really turned my thinking around regarding share investing.

    ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear is an unreal resource for building habits. I can highly recommend it.

    Thanks for your work : )

    1. Great stuff James, glad it’s been useful for you!

      Thanks for the tip – that book is on my reading list 😉

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