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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Greatest Hits of 2020 and Recommended Reads

December 27, 2020

Today I’m sharing a list of my most popular articles and podcasts from 2020.

On top of that, you’ll find out the best books I read this year and why I enjoyed them.

The idea is to provide you with nicely curated list of content for the holidays.  For those who missed it the first time, and for those who want to enjoy it again 🙂

So have a browse and pick out a few that interest you.  Also, let me know which is your favourite piece of content in the comments section!

I’ve even got a special podcast blooper video for you.  But first, let’s kick things off with the most popular blog posts of 2020.


Most Popular Strong Money Articles in 2020


Paying Off Your Mortgage vs Investing

An in-depth look at the trade-offs between paying down debt and investing.  One of the classic personal finance questions.

Includes a brief look at renting vs buying with ultra low interest rates.  I also share 6 mortgage strategies for optimising your cashflow in retirement.


How to Implement Peter Thornhill’s Strategy in 2020 and Beyond

The most thorough and accurate step-by-step guide to using Peter Thornhill’s income focused investing strategy you’ll find on the internet.

There’s a lot of incorrect assumptions about the strategy, but it’s really very simple.  I break it down into 10 easy steps and also explain what NOT to do!


Best Paying Jobs in Australia Without A Degree

An epic list of 60 jobs that pay more than $60,000 per year.  One of the best Aussie job idea lists you’ll find.

Most other articles are 10 jobs or less (or have ridiculous jobs nobody has ever heard of).  Check this out if you’re considering a career change, or you just want to see what other jobs can earn.


My Thoughts on the Current Sharemarket Crash

I wrote this article right at the worst point in the market – around March 20.  Since then, markets have had a strong recovery.

It’s interesting to see my own thoughts at the time.  I shared my thoughts on common questions at the time, actionable tips on dealing with crashes, and why we should keep investing.


Do You Need to Own A House to Retire Early?

A controversial topic, which shouldn’t be controversial at all!

Home ownership is optional, and you can live a perfectly happy and prosperous life – even be financially independent – without ever owning a property.

This post discusses both sides the argument and how it relates to becoming financially independent.


Epic Blogger Roundup – The Best Advice for 2020 From the Aussie FIRE Community

A fantastic compilation from a wide range of Aussies bloggers.  A lot of thoughtful advice from each contributor.

Topics covered – goal setting, mindset, insurance, politics, action vs talent, super, and much more!


Why We Might Sell Our Entire Share Portfolio

The article where Mrs SMA and I considered selling shares to buy a house to live in.  In the end we decided not to, but man this idea ruffled some feathers!

You can read my thinking at the time as I lay out why we were considering it and how it would work in practice.


Can You Achieve Financial Independence On A Low Income?

In this post, I look at multiple examples of whether FI is possible for singles and low income earners.  The answer is yes, it is.  Sometimes it just takes longer.

Other times it means becoming a bit more creative with your living situation or ruthless with your finances.


My Latest Thoughts on Dividends and Diversification

Updating my thinking on diversification, and how I think of our investments going forward.

I also cover a “what if dividends didn’t exist” scenario, and some mental gymnastics which helped me become more comfortable with the idea of selling shares to create income in retirement.


Most Popular FIRE & Chill Podcasts in 2020

We only started the podcast in May, but we’ve had a number of popular episodes.  That being said, we’re still beginners and the podcast does NOT always go to plan.

Enjoy a laugh at our expense with this 2 minute clip of bloopers from the show 😉

And now, in an effort to redeem myself, here are the most downloaded episodes for 2020…


Our Biggest Lessons on Personal Finance and Building Wealth

We discuss the most important things we’ve learned about money over the years, and the timeless principles of becoming wealthy.  This was our most popular episode of the year!


Property vs Shares – A Closer Look at the Major Asset Classes

In this episode, we break down property and shares, taking an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each.  Pat and I share our thoughts on how we choose to invest and why.


Spending, Happiness and FIRE

In this show we talk about how inter-connected these three things are.  We dive into what makes humans happy to bust the assumption that lower spending means less happiness.

As you can imagine, this has a huge effect on what a satisfying lifestyle looks like, our savings rate and therefore, our ability to retire early!


The #1 Factor for Financial Independence – Your Savings Rate

We devote a whole episode to explain the importance of your savings rate!  You’ll also hear our thoughts on earning more, emergency funds, and how long it will take to retire based on different savings rates.


Superannuation and Early Retirement

Pat and I take a deep dive into super and share our thoughts on how it fits into our FIRE plans.  We cover the pros and cons of super, choosing a super fund, member direct options, tax issues, and when it makes sense to focus on super.


How to Deal with the Cost of Housing in Australia

The elephant in the room!  We tackle everything related to housing and how to live in a nice place without it destroying your dreams of early retirement.

A very important topic, since housing is #1 in the big book of excuses “why financial independence is only possible for freaky outsiders.”


Why Invest in Index Funds?

You’ll hear the reasons behind why index funds are recommended so often in the FIRE community, as well as some lesser known but very important reasons.

We explain some of the misconceptions about index funds and why they’re a great option for long term investors like us.


My Favourite Books of 2020


Atomic Habits by James Clear

This was an incredible read.  I actually read it about three times.

Learn how to attack habits from lots of different angles for the highest chance of success, and avoiding some of the common traps when it comes to making changes.  If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read this book.


Superpower: Australia’s Low-Carbon Opportunity by Ross Garnaut

A fascinating book explaining the unique position of Australia to become a global leader when it comes to renewable energy.

Ross lays out the ‘how’ ‘what’ and ‘why’ of making this happen.  In turn, this would not only help local business due to low-cost abundant energy, but there’s also an opportunity for storage, export and advanced manufacturing.


Deep Work by Cal Newport

A solid read.  Great advice on how to carve out time for undistracted work, which is becoming increasingly hard in the modern world.

When you have no structure or set working hours, it’s hard to commit to being productive and create a time for concentration.

This book (and the next one) really helped me think about structure and work.


Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

As a minimalist at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it multiple times.  Some overlapping themes to Deep Work but more about our lifestyles as a whole.

Cal how to get the most out of technology and social media without losing your mind or your soul.  The FIRE movement and Mr Money Mustache even gets a mention!

Cal also explores the importance of something that has almost disappeared – quality non-tech leisure time.


Happiness Is a Choice You Make by John Leland

The author spent a year taking repeated visits among a diverse group of average folks in their 80s and 90s.  He got to know them, their families, the pain they endured and their various health issues.

But he found that every single one of them, despite the challenges of their age, had managed to create meaning in their lives.  John shares the elders’ stories and wisdom on what makes a happy life, and shares how writing this book changed his own life in the process.


Final thoughts

That’s enough from me.  I hope you enjoy this list of content and have a safe and happy holiday break!

Thanks again for reading in 2020.  Wishing you all the best for the New Year, and I’ll see you in 2021!


9 Replies to “Greatest Hits of 2020 and Recommended Reads”

  1. ‘Atomic Habits’ is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a couple of years. I keep hearing good things about it.
    One of my retirement gifts from the people in ‘The Danger Zone’ ( the nickname for our little section of the staffroom) was a Dymocks voucher. Might be time to get that bad boy and give it a read.
    Day 11 into retirement.
    Still feels like it’s a normal summer school holidays…

    1. Haha yes, you’ll probably find that it just feels like a holiday. But then after a month or two or three, it eventually starts feeling almost naughty not going back to work – like you’re getting away with something you shouldn’t lol. Dymocks vouches are a pretty great present to get!

  2. Thanks Dave, that’s a fantastic list to set us up for some good re-reading. Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put in to creating interesting and thought provoking articles. I really love your clear way of explaining things whether they be simple or complex. Everyone from novices to old timers can understand what you are trying to get across. I don’t think anyone else out there does it quite as well as you! And that goes for the podcasts with Pat. You never let anything slip by that might need further clarification. I love the way you two are coming towards FIRE from completely different life experiences and often different points of view and so demonstrate that there is no one path to FIRE and once FIRE is achieved it’s not going to look exactly the same for everyone. So have happy holidays with your family and friends and I really look forward to hearing from you again in 2021.

    1. Thanks very much for the amazing feedback Deborah, I really appreciate your kind words! Take care and talk to you next year 🙂

      1. Not sure if this has been mentioned yet but there is a youtube video about how to read more books. Not so much for you, but any of your readers who may struggle to read all the books. 🙂
        I’ve watched it numerous times now:
        I found it really interesting and helpful. Just in case I am not allowed to use the link (or you don’t trust it) you can search for it: BOOKSTORES: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content. by Max Joseph ~36min video.

  3. He he. I now mostly confine my reading to novels and publications by universities. As for podcasts I’ve never watched one.

    Having said that, one book I found useful was “Understanding the Stock Exchange” by Nick Renton. Although it was published around 2005 and so any tax laws have move on since then, there are still elements in it which are likely to be still relevant today such as distortions which can occur with straight arithmetical application of some of the more commonly used ratios (P/E being one.)

    I wish you all success in the endeavours which you are working hard to achieve. Keep doing that and keep on investing. Doing those two things will cause you to be financially better off. At the same time, don’t forget about you. Want to invest $10k and it results in an odd number of shares? Round down the last two digits to end in zero and give yourself a treat. That is part of the investing process. You may not realise it but it is.

    My best wishes to you and your readers for 2021.

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