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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


My Journey to Financial Freedom

April 14, 2017

I grew up in Country Victoria.  A nice quiet place, not too far from the coast.

Growing up I always thought I would get some sort of trade and stay at home as long as possible.  Because, well, it’s damn near free, so I can spend my money on whatever I want!

I’d stay in the town and eventually save up and buy a house at some point.  Or so I thought…


School & Work

I worked a part time job for a few years while I was at school.  It was incredible, raking in $10 an hour!  It felt as though money was falling from the sky!

I was saving nearly all this money to buy my dream car.  I stopped going out to parties and just worked and saved, dreaming of having that car in the future.  This paid off, managing to pay for the car when I was 17.

Looking back, these were signs I would become obsessed in meeting certain goals if they meant a lot to me.

Around this time I was starting to lose interest in school.  Working was more enjoyable and rewarding, so I dropped out after Year 11.

Soon after my 18th birthday, I decided to head to Perth for better job prospects.



Within two weeks of arriving, I secured a decent paying factory job.  And luckily, it wasn’t too far from where I was staying.

After a few months I moved into a rental house with my mate who was living in Perth already and a couple of buddies he’d made since living here.  See my thoughts on renting vs buying here.

Life was good, and my bank account started to grow with no real effort and even plenty of nights out and wasteful spending.

After a couple of years, I was bored and unsatisfied with that lifestyle, my job, and everything really. Looking around at how everyone lived and worked their whole lives for nothing but a house and some possessions.

They didn’t seem happy or satisfied either.

That’s when I knew – wasting my whole life working some crappy job, just to exist and pay bills was not an option.

This is when I decided I wanted to be rich and free.  I had to be.  Of course, I later learned, you need much less than you think to retire early and be happy.

At this point, Financial Independence became my obsession.

Not long after, I met my partner and moved in with her.  We both worked full time.  Me as a storeman/forklift driver, and my partner in admin.



We were both interested in property investing, so we started saving and learning more about it.

I bought an investment property with some of the savings I had built at the time.  A year later I bought another one, using 5% deposit each time.

My partner also bought a property with some of the equity she had in her house.  Being quite a bit older than me, she had been a long-time homeowner.

Over the next few years, we figured out how to save more and how to buy more properties using those savings and equity from our properties that had grown in value.


Change of direction

Having maxed out our borrowing capacity, we looked for other places to stash our cash.

The sharemarket always seemed scary, but investing for dividends seemed like a good idea.

Certainly more safe and reliable rather than watching the prices zig zagging all over the place!

In the next 18 months or so we built our share portfolio and used the dividends plus our savings to buy more shares.

It started to become obvious that shares pay excellent income with no bills or the headaches associated with property.

We also learned a lot more about what really makes us happy, we thought about what’s most important to us and how we want to live our lives. 

When we realised how much money we needed to make this happen, a light bulb went off in our heads! It was much less than expected.

The properties we had in Melbourne and Sydney had increased in value quite a bit, but they still generated negative cashflow.  We were equity rich, cashflow poor.

So we ran some numbers to see how much dividend income we could generate if our property equity was put into shares and it turned out to be more than we needed for our lifestyle.

Our mindset changed from investing for rising asset prices (capital growth) to focusing on investing for a growing income stream (dividends).

We didn’t need to work for another 10-20 years to generate millions in equity to live on, or wait for our properties to become positive cashflow.

Learning that was like winning the lottery!


Financial Freedom

Having realised that our investments would be more than enough for us to retire on, if the equity was put into good dividend paying shares like diversified LICs or an index fund, we decided to start selling down our property portfolio.

This process is underway with 1 3 sold so far, using some of the money to live on, while we pour the rest into shares.  Because we buy shares regularly, our income is growing relentlessly.

During the journey, although we focused hard on saving, we still had fun along the way.  There were multiple overseas holidays, nice dinners out, and an addition to our family with a far-too-expensive dog.

We just prioritised what was most important to us so there was never a feeling of missing out.  Our mentality was “we can do anything, but we can’t do everything.”

We left work in the first part of 2017, around my 28th birthday.  Hello freedom!


Learn more about my story on this page.  Or by checking out my in-depth interview with Aussie Firebug below.


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19 Replies to “My Journey to Financial Freedom”

  1. Are you going to post monthly income/expense reports? will be very interesting to see how the day-to-day money works for you seeing as you’re so new to the retired status, very curious to see how the nitty gritty works in the reality of early retirement!

    Mrs DDU

    1. Thanks for the comment Mrs DDU. I will definitely be writing about our spending and investing in more detail soon! But I don’t think I’ll be posting specific monthly income/expense reports because I’m not sure they’d be very interesting lol. Currently we just have increasing dividend payments and p2p lending payments coming in (we also put a lump into p2p lending). After bills are paid we combine with cash in bank and allocate monthly to lic’s/shares. Might be a bit messy and confusing to share with folks 🙂

      Edited: On second thoughts, maybe that’s a good article idea. Living off and investing from a lump sum of cash at the same time. Will work on that one, thanks again!

  2. Sorry I am a bit late to the party with this comment. I just discovered your blog today. I can really relate to this. We are in the changing directions stage.

    We have built a decent net wealth with 4 properties and we are about to start selling some of them down.

    We want to own a place mortgage free so the money we have left over won’t be enough to retire yet, but by 2025 is the plan.

    1. All good, thanks for stopping by! Just checked out your blog, you’re in a great position so far, but it’s definitely not much fun being equity rich and income poor.

      In Australia this type of situation is super widespread and it’s a bit sad.
      Our net worth is actually similar to yours, with more debt though.

      I wouldn’t go the leveraged property route if I started again. It can work out well for some but it’s not necessary for financial independence.

      All the best in creating income from your equity 🙂

  3. Great Blog SM
    Have read a number of artciles within
    Are there many Financial Freedom Fighters in the FIRE space with kids also?

    1. Thanks Bazza!
      In Australia, I know that the couple at DividendsDownUnder just had a little one. Of course over in the US, the man himself Mr Money Mustache has a son. I’m not too sure of many others though. Sorry mate, I tend to lose track of which bloggers have kids and which don’t.

  4. Hi, great blog! Question for you. You mentioned in one of the above comments that if you could start over, that you would not go down the property investing route and just start off with investing in shares. From your above article, you mentioned that your properties have grown and provided you with the equity to allow you to move those funds into shares now to provide you with the dividends giving you the financial independence. I’m curious as to if we did rewind the clock, and you had started off investing your savings straight into shares instead of buying your investment properties, would you still be in the same financial position you are as of right or do you think the growth in your properties provided you with the boost to get you to where you are today?

    Reason I’m asking is that I’m at a crossroads. I’ve got 3 investment properties valued at $1.6mil and currently have $600k debt. I am in a position where I can go and buy another investment property but after stumbling upon your blog as well as Peter Thornhill’s Motivated Money book, I’ve started shifting my interest towards shares now. However, I’m not sure of the best way to proceed. I still not feel 100% confident that I could sell down my property portfolio and divert all the funds into shares. I still feel like I’d like invest in both property and shares at the same time. Do you think this is possible? Or do you think this would be counter productive? I am interested to see whether investing in shares could provide the same level equity growth compared to property (especially since I can leverage the banks money for property so I assumed that the growth/my dollar would be higher in property when compared the growth/my dollar in shares). If my assumption is correct, wouldn’t it make sense for me to continue investing in property to keep accelerating my equity growth so that when the time comes for me to consider retiring, I can sell down then and divert all the funds into shares for the dividends? Trouble with continuing to buy investment properties though, is that it would limit the amount I’d be able to DCA into my share portfolio each month.. Sorry for such a long post. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

    1. Unfortunately, I didn’t make squillions in a recent property boom. Half our properties are in Perth, which haven’t done much in terms of growth.
      After the cash we saved, the negative cashflow we paid for, and the deposits/stamp duty etc. we put cash towards, our savings done most of the heavy lifting in getting us to where we are. I covered this in the article about our savings rate/journey here…

      Re your situation – It depends a lot on what your goals are. If all your equity was in shares, would you have enough income to retire? Or was your plan for a much larger amount of income?

      Rather than having a massive discussion in the comments section, I’ll shoot an email out to you 🙂

      Correction – I tried to email you, it says email doesn’t exist? Perhaps connect through my contact page so I can send the full email reply through to you. Cheers

  5. I’m in a very similar situation to SMA in terms of converting our property into shares and I can definitely say if you want to retire early, share is the best option for stable income.
    The reason why people invest in property is the perception of risk in that they believe property is a tangible asset and a block of land/building cannot disappear or bankrupt, however, property also comes in a lot of expected and unexpected expenses and definitely not a stable income investment(just look at Perth and how many vacancies)
    If I have the knowledge that I have now 10 years ago, I will be fully retired and live a very comfortable lifestyle, however, having believed that property will double every 7-10 years got me into a lot of S$#$t.
    I have done a lot of research into Lics and am very comfortable in holding the majority of our asset in Lics, true, they can crash 50% in a market crash, but I believe the income will remain stable or drop a fraction of the price drop. This is because while price can crash, the earnings will be less affected and also most importantly, unlike REIT, most Lics pay out less than 100% of their earnings and have sufficient money in their reserves to cover the “turbulent” periods, this give me great confidence in riding out the crash.

    Most people will consider shares risky and properties safe, I say “well done to them” because they can keep on working til they’re 80 and help the banks boost their earnings and benefit shareholders like us.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story here Jack!

      I agree with many of your sentiments. Leveraged property can work well but I no longer believe it’s the best option, or the most reliable. The majority of investors turn to shares later on for the income they provide. Usually the message is to use leveraged property to build net worth and then sell down into better income assets. I don’t agree with this anymore – I believe the best way to approach it is to save and invest in shares from the start.

      If folks want to build their net worth faster, they need to save more money. That’s not what people want to hear, and it doesn’t sell anything so nobody is out there saying it. The pure simplicity and reliability of saving and dividend investing means your journey to FI is much more predictable, and for those with a reasonably short time-frame such as 10 years or less, the benefit of any leveraged property is diluted by the massive costs such as stamp duty, agents fees and ongoing negative cashflow.

      Think we could summarise by saying, we aren’t ‘sharemarket guys’, just some investors who’ve seen both sides of the coin and have adjusted their view accordingly.

      1. Agreed

        The problem is when you invest in property, you are “investing” for capital growth which may or may not happen and uncertainty over when it will happen, over the very long term, property will up in value due to inflation but can you afford to hold on to a losing investment for so long ? it can be 20 -30 years before you see any benefit.

        also, when discussing property, most people tend to only talk about capital gains but not expenses incurred, which can be very significant. One greatest downside to property is the unexpected cash flow and it seems everyone wants a piece of your asset, tradies wants to rip you off, government running out of money will raise landtax and other taxes, property managers charging you fees and yet does not do a proper job…the list is endless…… plus, relying on rent to live on is super unreliable as unexpected things can and do happen which can drain your cash flow instantly.

        Investing in shares is so much easier once you can ignore the volatility, cash flow much more predictable and you can see where you are now and where you will be in 10 years time.

        If you love to repair things, do renovations and spend your weekends cleaning up gutters, then yes, maybe property is for you….but I rather sit on my couch watching youtube…

        1. Haha, I’d rather sit back and collect the cash too, than rely on future capital gains.

          The big thing I think is looking at just the big numbers – “my investment property went from 500k to 600k over the last few years”. No mention of the fact it’s cost tens of thousands in negative cashflow and tens of thousands to buy it. And it’s still probably generating negative or no income. Does nothing for early retirement unless you cash out, which means more agents fees and CGT.

          In the end, building paper wealth only gets you so far, but at first glance the figures look impressive and it sounds good.

          I’ll definitely do an article (or two) on this at some point. I’m not anti-property at all, I just think there’s not much balance in the conversation, and not many examples where the all the figures are reported, instead of just price movement. There’s generally too much emotion involved in comparisons between property and shares.

          1. Dave, if you are a financial advisor and give people advise such as “This share will go up”, “this company is a good business and will provide you with capital gain” “This share will give you yield of 6% +”, without disclosing the risks, you will be subject to fines and penalties.

            Yet, Real estate agents do this all the time “This property will go up in value because its high demand, close to beach etc” “This property yields 6%” without telling you all the expenses/net yield and risks behind it, “this property bought 5 years ago for $500K is now worth $700K” without telling you the stamp duty, agent cost, rates and taxes……you see them getting away with all these things….

          2. That’s a fair point – it’s a much less regulated industry. There should probably be much stricter protections in place for investors and home-owners, especially since the agents have such substantial commissions at stake – making them unlikely to give an appropriately balanced view with enough details for the buyer to make an educated decision.

            That said, how many people really want to know all this stuff? It would seem like information overload. I think perhaps many are happy believing what they want to believe…

  6. I’ve always been obsessed with goals too, and always been an entrepreneur so I can relate to your story. Lovely to read about your realisation that you were both already FI equity wise, what a nice way to discover it! For us we are waiting for properties to do the heavy lifting. It’s taking a while. Completely understand you when you say you would do things differently if you could do over 😉

    1. Thanks Lin 🙂

      It was a bit of a surprise! Haha yeah I know what you mean, turns out it’s much easier to have the saving to the heavy lifting, much more controllable!

    1. It’s just me here, just one simple blogger 🙂

      And yes, you can ask a specific question through my contact page or anywhere on the blog if it is more general.

      Cheers, Dave.

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