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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Looking Back on 2021: Our Year in Review

December 21, 2021

In this final post for the year, I’ll recap how 2021 was for the Strong Money household.

We’re now into our fifth year of freedom which seems crazy to think about!  Life has been good, with no major catastrophes, losses, or health events, so already that’s a fortunate outcome.

I’m always a little conflicted about writing these updates as I prefer this blog to be focused on helpful content rather than spewing the life details of a 30-something unemployed bloke.

But anyway, here we are!  So let’s look at what we’ve been up to this year, starting with our recent trip.


Country trip.

A couple of weeks ago, we spent some time in south-west WA, in the Margaret River region.  As usual, we packed up the car, took the dog, and rented a pet-friendly property in a nice location.

It was beautiful staying in the forest, waking up to beautiful bird sounds (sure as hell beats an alarm!), and seeing plenty of Kangaroos on our morning walks.

Does the following image scare you?

I actually thought it was cool.   Having no TV and limited internet was great.  At night we chatted about our plans for the next day, while listening and watching out for the local Western ringtail possums.  One came to visit and even ate a little fruit we left out – so awesome!

Sadly, our stay there was cut short due to some awful bushfires that ripped through a large chunk of the nearby National Park.  We had to be relocated to different accommodation, before finally heading home.

It was a little worrying, but I just felt bad for the wildlife and the people affected.  It’s horrible to think of such a beautiful area being ravaged by fire.  Especially when you consider it was an arson event.

I think arson attacks like this are really a form of terrorism.  After all, they’re huge catastrophic events with untold damage and loss, causing fear for so many people, animals and communities.

It’s truly a disgusting act and it should be punished with the severity it deserves, due to the destruction and pain caused and resources consumed.


I also noticed something.  Some of the nice places we visited felt really busy at first.  But then we noticed it’s mostly just busy at the eateries!

So you can actually be in the same area as everyone else, but enjoying the beach or chilling under a big tree with very few others.  Meanwhile, 50 metres away thick crowds are packed inside the cafes/restaurants.

When did enjoying a place become equated with simply eating/drinking in that general vicinity?


Blog and Podcast… and book.

I continued producing an article or podcast every week this year.  I actually enjoy the consistency of doing one piece of (hopefully good) on a weekly basis.

It feels like a nice rhythm, and I usually do a couple of hours on it each day, continuing my reign as the slowest content producer ever.

There’s a surprisingly big list of article ideas in the works too, so the hardest part is often deciding which one to do!

The website also got a makeover earlier this year, which I think has made it a better experience.  The content is more organised and it’s easier to find stuff.

In addition to that, I starting writing a book.  It’s such a monster project, but it feels like a worthwhile use of time.  The first rough draft is finished and I’ve now started editing.

I’ll be self-publishing this book (but getting a self-publishing company to help) and it’ll probably be completed in late 2022.  The idea is to distill all the important principles, lessons and information I want to pass on regarding personal finance, FIRE and mindset into one helpful, easily digestible thing.

The FIRE & Chill podcast that I host with fellow blogger and FIRE buddy Pat the Shuffler is more popular than we expected.  Which is easy since we didn’t expect much 🙂

While it’s fair to say that neither of us are naturally great speakers, we always have a good time as we dive into different topics and try to provide value to listeners.

In case you’re curious, or simply want some content for the holidays, here was the most popular articles and podcasts from 2021…

—  Articles

—  Podcasts



Our wealth and investment portfolio grew quite a bit this year as we invested more cash, while shares and property performed well, continuing on with the post-covid recovery.

Hopefully our remaining properties perform well over the next 3-7 years so we can get a bit more cash when we sell.

Each year I seem to spend less time on our investments and more time on other stuff.  Which actually feels like the most natural course of events.

Once the money stuff is sorted, and you’re confident your investments are going to do their job, you can focus more on other stuff.  I still like reading and listening to investing related content, but it’s mostly for fun/entertainment than anything else.


The expanding pot empire (no, not that pot).

At our place, there are now plant pots EVERYWHERE!  Mrs SMA keeps adding to her collection, taking cuttings, planting seeds, and she’s now starting to try her hand at grafting after doing a workshop.

There’s probably about 100 pots at this point, and I don’t see that number going down anytime soon lol!  But it’s about as healthy a hobby as you could have, and we’re being rewarded with watching nice plants grow, as well as some with some nice fresh produce!

Every so often, I’ll give her a hand with some stuff that needs doing and ask for an update on the latest happenings in the garden.  I (not so secretly) like when birds come and eat some fruit that hasn’t been covered.  Mrs SMA is far from happy, but I can imagine the birds quite enjoy it which makes me laugh.


Health and exercise.

This year I did a lot of bodyweight exercises and have been exercising most days.  Things like pullups, pushups and bodyweight squats.  I really quite enjoy the repetition and rarely get bored with it – strange I know.

We always do our daily walks, but have been a bit slack with the bike riding this year.  I plan to do more of this in 2022.

On a less healthy note, I’ve picked up a drinking habit.  Each day, if I do some ‘work’ in the afternoon, I reward myself with one tasty alcoholic beverage.  It’s like a way to bribe myself to be more productive and it genuinely works 😉

There’s an obvious opportunity to replace this with a healthier ‘reward’, but it’s probably the only vice I have right now, so that ain’t too bad.

We experienced another year of good health, which we’re grateful for.  Rather than being grateful only when good stuff happens, it’s good to appreciate when nothing bad happens too!

Countless others have it worse than us, so there’s absolutely nothing to complain about.


Nature and volunteering.

This year,  we continued helping out with tree planting and weeding in our regional park with Friends of Yellagonga.  As regular readers will remember, we also enjoy turtles coming out from the lake to lay eggs in our garden certain times of year.

Well, we now go a step further and cover the nests so we can safely release the turtle hatchlings when they finally come out of the ground a few months later (otherwise crows find and eat them).

I have to check these nests every day from late March onwards to see if they’ve hatched.  If they have, I let them warm up and walk around and then release them near the lake and watch them run to the water and swim away 🙂

This year we managed to safely release around 150 hatchlings!  That was from about 20 nests in total.  Not bad considering hatchling numbers in the lake are thought to be very low.

I also find myself watching the local birds that live here too.  There are about 15 different types we see regularly.  Side note: I’ve always found animals more interesting than people (no offence!).

I just love watching them go about their day and try to imagine what life is like from their perspective.  Us humans are all kind of the same – a bit boring when you think about it – but animals are all so different.



I don’t read 8 books a week like others manage to.  But I did read a few good ones this year.  These were my favourites:

The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

A fascinating look at life in Australia about 50 years ago and just how incredibly different it was in every conceivable way.  If you doubt for a second how incredibly fancy life has become, this will set you straight.

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Probably the best personal finance book I’ve ever read.  Honestly, I love Morgan’s writing.  He’s able to distill so many powerful and lasting lessons into enjoyable stories, and in this book he explains how and why we act the way we do in the area of money and investing.

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles

An interesting look at some of the key lessons on how certain Japanese folks find meaning and true enjoyment from life long after leaving the workforce.  A nice reminder to help you focus on the things that give you purpose.

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

I’ve never read a book by a comedian before and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thoroughly enjoyed it so I actually read it twice.  An entertaining blend of Jerry’s personal journey, mixed with a bunch of solid comedy material from each decade along the way.  It’s an interesting read and I like how he looks at the world differently than most.


Other random stuff.

Our renting experience over the last 4 years has been perfectly fine.  But as I mentioned earlier this year, we’re now looking to buy a house on this particular street, given we plan to stay here for a long time.

We love the peacefulness and the green open space.  It’s a good combo of being close enough to shops/convenience, while still having plenty of nature nearby.

Besides, I’m pretty sure this spot gets more turtles than elsewhere around the lake.  It may take a while to find something suitable, but that’s okay.

In 2021, our dog also had another incident.  Almost unbelievably, he swallowed part of a new toy.  I say almost unbelievably because it’s happened before, but it was an extremely tough toy which usually lasts for months… but a chunk disappeared within just a few minutes.

Luckily, he’s fine now, but we did cop a few thousand dollar hit in the process, which you’ll see on our annual spending report early next year!


Final thoughts.

We didn’t get up to a whole lot else this year, other than regular stuff like socialising, watching a few movies and so on.

Life was good this year and I’m excited to see how things go in 2022.  I hope you’ve had a healthy and prosperous 2021.

We work pretty hard on our finances during the year around here, so take some time to enjoy yourself!

Thanks for reading, have a great Christmas break, and I’ll see you in 2022 🙂


23 Replies to “Looking Back on 2021: Our Year in Review”

  1. Very nice overview Dave. I’m really looking forward to seeing your FIRE book in print in 2022. That will be something to celebrate for sure!!

  2. We just moved across the road from a lake and bird sanctuary. Watching the wildlife (especially the birds) has been so fun! The pelicans are my favourite 🙂
    I finally took the leap and started investing, and your blog has been so helpful in that journey, so thank you!!

    1. That’s awesome (all of it!). I’m glad to have helped in any way! And pelicans are extremely cool – they’re officially Mrs SMA’s favourite too 🙂

  3. Nice one Dave. I love hearing you FIRE journey and how relaxed and non-materialistic you are. A real incentive to keep on own relaxed mini fire journey. Keep to Podcasts up. They are great and enjoy listening Pat and yourself.

  4. Thanks Dave, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the overview. I can’t wait to read your book next year, it will be on my must read list. Have a great Christmas Break.

  5. Sounds like a pretty good year Dave, I don’t know how you used to find time to work! Great to hear you’re in good health and keeping up the exercise, it kinda takes away from retiring early if you can’t enjoy it because you’re not in shape.

    All the best for the new year, and good luck with the househunting!

    1. Haha thanks very much mate! Oh, me either… can’t imagine working a full-time job ever again, it just doesn’t leave enough time for other stuff. Though to be honest, I’m probably lazier than it sounds.

      Hope you have a great 2022 🙂

  6. Thanks Dave, I really enjoyed reading this. And I got a lot out of it too, you may not realise just how helpful and informative this is for your followers. Here’s to a great 2022!

  7. Hey, I may be able to shed some light on why Margaret River seemed busy.
    A lot of people lost their work shifts from the 1st of December. They’ve had to sell houses, move into caravans and camper vans and many of them headed straight down to that area.

    1. Hmm that’s interesting if true. The ppl did seem reasonably happy and cashed up tho, with a lot of retirees as always. Didn’t really seem like unemployed people in possible financial stress.

  8. I’m glad your boy is ok.
    A couple of years ago my mini doxxy swallowed a pip when out on a walk and suffered an intestinal blockage. A $3K emergency surgery saved her life – WORTH EVERY PENNY!

  9. Congratulations on another year of shared knowledge. Your new book will make a perfect Xmas present for 2022. Keep up the great work you do. ✅????????‍♀️

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