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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Retirement Update – Notes from the Other Side #2

October 27, 2023

Welcome to the second edition of this new series.

This is where I do a quick zoom around our life and share some more details from behind the scenes of early retirement.

After numerous requests for more info on what life is like ‘on the other side’, I decided to start this little series.

By the way, you can check out the first one back in April here.

And if you want to see my reflections on a year-by-year basis since reaching FI and leaving work, check out the following posts:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5

If you type in the blog’s search bar “year in review” you’ll find even more lifestyle updates (there’s actually more than I thought).

By the way, I’ll be making a central hub for all my ‘Post FI’ related content soon.  Given it’s some of my most-requested topics, it’ll be good to have an organised page with all the related posts and resources there.

There’s plenty more in the works, but let me know if there’s a certain aspect of post-FI life you’d like me to talk about, and I’ll get onto it 🙂


Reminder of our situation

For those that have joined the Strong Money community recently, here’s a little context:

— We’re a semi-retired couple, with one dog, who left our full-time jobs after becoming financially independent back in 2017.

— In 2022, we purchased an old house in Perth to live in and have since renovated it (with some more works still to do).

— We enjoy our free time, and live a very comfortable yet relatively simple life.  Travel is generally local WA trips for now, so we can take our dog with us!

Mrs SMA works 2 days per week in government admin.  I do writing stuff from home, like this blog and some investing articles over at Pearler.

— We’re not really into fancy stuff.  We buy whatever we need and anything else that seems worthwhile, without following any kind of budget.


Turtles and volunteering

This has become kind of a running theme of what I’m known for.  Maybe more than my writing haha 😅

So, at the new house we had a bunch of turtles lay in our yard last year, though it was certainly less than our previous rental house.

All up we had about 9 nests or so I think.  And from this, we had 43 hatchlings that we were able to safely release at the lake.  While this is less than previous years (the best year was an insane 155!), it’s still awesome.



This puts the total tally of hatchlings released to 345 since 2018.  The best part is, almost nobody in the community would even know it’s happening.  I actually find that really amusing, almost like a big secret noone knows.

I’m not sure how many of those little ones are still alive, but it’s surely helping to stop the decline in total numbers.  Who knew you could make such an impact without a ten year study, a government initiative, or a corporate sponsored program? 😏

The overly bureaucratic way we try to solve every problem drives me absolutely insane.  Often we make things more complicated than they need to be.  In many cases, like this one, it just takes a few people giving a shit to start making a difference.

Anyway, I love it – such a magical retirement hobby!



I’m still loving writing too, and have absolutely no plans to stop what I’m doing.

Any day that I’ve made progress on an article or at least fleshed out thoughts on a topic is a day I enjoy most.

For example, the Notes app on my phone is chockers with ideas and I keep adding to it all the time.   The hard part is sifting through the list and figuring out what to cover next, which actually gets a bit overwhelming sometimes.

But I’m not complaining – it’s still super fun!  I love being lost in ideas and thoughts and fleshing out different ways to look at things which are hopefully helpful or interesting to other people (that’s you!).

Related to this, something amazing happened recently…



That’s just incredible, I genuinely find it hard to believe.

Guess what?  I actually thought to myself: “Imagine if I sold 10,000 copies in like 10 years, that would be amazing!”

But it didn’t take 10 years… it happened in 10 months 🤯

I think that actually puts it among the more successful books, considering most titles don’t sell more than 1,000 copies (there’s conflicting info on that, but the number isn’t very high).

Regardless, I’m blown away – thank you all for your support and spreading the word.  The best part is the feedback of people getting value from the book.  That’s the most rewarding part for me.



Since the last update earlier this year, we’ve both been to visit family.

I went to Victoria, and Mrs SMA went to Darwin and Singapore.

It was really great to hang out with my family in Vic.  Coming home I’ll be off the booze for a while as we seemed to drink most days, either at home or at the pub 😂

Fun fact: my Dad is a retired taxi driver, with a Scottish accent.  Anyway, we hung out chatting, watched a few movies, went out to eat, and I even managed to get him to go for a nice walk through the local wetlands (he’s a non-exerciser so that’s quite an achievement haha).

We also went poking around the nearby towns like Inverloch, Cape Paterson, San Reno and Cowes.  All lovely places that many Melbourne folks will be aware of (my home town is the less nice Wonthaggi).

All I noticed are two changes:

1- Housing continues to modernise and become fancier (even in non-wealthy towns like mine).

2- There are more cafes and eateries than ever before.

This is a trend that has played out across Australia (and developed countries) as a whole.  And this trip reminded me that it’s trickled down everywhere.  If we’re not at work, it seems we’re out eating or drinking coffee somewhere!



Some less enjoyable outcomes now.

In late September, our lovely boy lost his battle with cancer.  Thanks for the love from everyone so far too, I do appreciate it.

Here’s the backstory: our boy first got a cancerous lump almost two years ago now (mast cell tumour for those curious).  We’ve treated it with various options including surgery, chemo, and tablets.

The cancer ended up coming back slowly and spread further into his system.  We were actually about to start a ‘management’ plan, since he was living with it (and the meds) relatively well overall.  But that changed quickly.

Within two days of seeing the vet about an ear issue, where he was bright and happy, his energy dropped and so did his appetite.  He’d also had some diarrhea issues on and off due to the meds.

But this time was worse, and after he refused to eat one night – something he’d never done in his life – we knew it wasn’t good.  Very soon after, it became clear that the best thing to do was put him to sleep.

So yeah, not good.  Really fucking hard.  Even writing those words is difficult.

I guess there are a couple of silver linings though and things to be thankful for:

— There was no drawn out pain and suffering.
— He lived to a good age (10 and a half), beating the average age for a bulldog of 8-10.
— He had a fantastic life full of love and fun.
— He got to spend the vast majority of it with us at home with him thanks to FI.


Our wonderful boy, “Boss” the Bulldog


So we’ve actually been fortunate in the grand scheme of things.  It’s heartbreaking to hear about dogs (or kids) getting diseases at a super young age, which they never recover from.

As I’ve said before, I think the absence of bad luck can (and should) be considered good luck.  Those who get to live a typical lifespan are fortunate nothing bad happened to cut that short.

Choices matter, but even I as a strong believer in personal responsibility acknowledge that not everything is within our control.  Sometimes things just happen, and sometimes the odds don’t play out in our favour.

As you might imagine, there’s kind of a hole in our lives at the moment.  Not just emotionally, but I mean practically too.  At least a couple of hours every day was devoted to spending time and energy with our boy.  I’m not really sure what I want to do with that time yet (not much at the moment).


House stuff

Far as I can remember, we haven’t done anything to the house since last time.

We’re getting a new front fence soon though!  To replace the current massively cracked brickwork which is partly falling over!

After that, we’ll probably get the parkside fence done.  That one is super old wire mesh, like an old school fence – it’s ugly as shit.  I’ve also cut the bottom section of it out so turtles can come underneath… so I did kind of make it worse 😁

Some other ideas are for future improvements are in the works, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

You might be thinking, “Jeez Dave, you’re spending a lot on this house.”

That’s true.  Partly because the house we bought was in a dump-like condition.  And partly because we’ve already hit FI and are earning additional money, so I don’t mind spending more.

To be crystal clear, if I wasn’t FI yet there’s absolutely zero chance we would’ve went with this option!  Freedom comes before any fancy shit, at least that’s my view.



Our financial plan continues as normal.

Well, it’s not really a financial plan as there’s no document.  But my made-up transition strategy from property to shares 🙂

It goes roughly like this: sell a property every couple years, and put the money into shares.  Surplus monthly cash also goes into shares (if any).  That’s it.

It’s all pretty flexible too.  If it doesn’t seem like a good time to sell, or may be more profitable to wait a year, we’ll do that.  I won’t always get it right obviously.  But I’m just trying to improve the outcome a little if possible.

That flexibility didn’t exist in the first part of FI.  We needed to sell because we needed the money to live on and pay other property expenses since our share portfolio wasn’t spitting out that much income yet.

I also refused to incorporate any part time income into our plans.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to rely on it and have that start to drive our decisions.  That’s just a less free mind-state to operate from.

Nowadays I’m bit more pragmatic, as we’re now both comfortably settled in part-time work we enjoy.  We also now have some beefy dividends rolling in which are a constant reminder of the optionality of such work 😁

By the way, if it sounds like I’m just making this shit up as I go, it’s because I kind of am.  I do have rough long term plans, but what I’ve learned is the details always change so much that it’s a waste of time and effort to try and script everything out perfectly.

Here’s what I mean…

Imagine you’re captaining a ship.  This ship is built for treacherous conditions.  You’re headed for an island 10,000 miles away.  There’ll be plenty of waves along the way.  The course you take will change.  Some parts will be rough, others smooth.  You’ll have to adapt to changing conditions.  But if you just focus on the island – your general long term direction – you’ll figure the rest out along the way.


Other stuff

In August, I was invited to be part of the Australia-wide Rask Roadshow for their stop in Perth.

It was my second time on stage, in front of a 100+ audience, so it was a bit scary.  But I think it went pretty well!

It was great to hang out and chat finance and FIRE with a bunch of locals, and judging by the sellout crowd, I dare say Rask will be back next year!  They did a great job putting on the event, so big shout out to them.

Some pics below.  You can see I’m having a grand old time.  Judging by my face, I’m guessing the question was, “tell us how much you miss your old warehouse job.” 😂



In other news, we got some chickens which needed re-homing.  They’re actually pretty funny to watch and have their own personalities.  Here they are trying to tuck into our dog’s brekky, with him being extremely tolerant!



In terms of lifestyle, we’ve been splashing more cash this year on time out having coffees and food at various places.

One of my favourite things to do is get a coffee and go for a relaxing walk along the coastline.  Perth really does have some amazing spots.  This is at Quinns looking out towards Mindarie.



We’re also still going for regular bike rides through the nearby bushland.  On one occasion, I was lucky enough to stumble upon some endangered black cockatoos having a munch on some seed cones.



If you’ve seen some of my previous updates, you’ll know that most of this is the things we always do!

But there is one new activity I can tell you about: learning Spanish.

We downloaded a free app called Duolingo and we’ve been doing a lesson each day.  They’re super quick, it only takes a few minutes, and it’s actually pretty fun.

I chose Spanish because I just think it’s a cool language which has interesting-sounding words.  Also, some of the words are a little similar to English which makes it easier and more approachable.  Maybe I’ve just watched too many drug cartel movies and become enamoured with the language 😅


Final thoughts

In wrapping up, I want to share an inconvenient truth.

Once you reach financial independence (or semi retirement) and build your new life, it will eventually feel… normal.

By normal I mean the novelty wears off and your life isn’t drastically different from everyone else’s.  You do some work, you play, you relax, you go places, you have a routine, you try new things, and so on.

Despite the complete independence and optionality of it all, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty similar.  The differences lay in the flexibility of being able to change anything that’s not working for you.  And therein lies the subtle magic of having financial freedom.

Once your life is designed the way you want it (even when you’re still tweaking things), you can begin to feel ‘normal’ again.  So don’t forget to slap yourself awake sometimes and realise how good you’ve got it!

Sadly, the novelty of early retirement does wear off to some degree once you’ve crafted a lifestyle you enjoy.  I think sometimes we hope that novelty will last forever.  But it doesn’t, and there’s actually nothing wrong with that.

Instead, what you’re left with is a warm and mild level of background contentment, knowing your lifestyle is all by design.  So if you decide you need more (or less) excitement, outdoors, productivity, learning, socialising, adventure, mindfulness, and so on, you can begin weaving that into your current life starting immediately.

And eventually, you get to a point where you feel as though you could continue your current lifestyle indefinitely.


40 Replies to “Retirement Update – Notes from the Other Side #2”

    1. My part time work is the writing stuff, Mrs SMA is doing part-time govt admin work.

      I could do a lot more stuff probably… but I just like this cruisy lifestyle 🙂

  1. Hey Dave,

    Another amazing read at work! It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying life to the fullest and I guess things have been pretty relaxing. It’s also great that what you’re doing in your free time is providing so much value to the FIRE community (and the turtles).

    I’m really sorry to hear that your dog passed away from cancer. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be for you and Mrs SMA.

    Anyways, another great article mate! Keep up the great work!

  2. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the great read. Sounds like a pretty good balance to me! I really enjoy your laid back writing style and demeanour in general. Very relatable and down to earth.

    Sorry to hear about Boss. It’s something I have experienced before and know how horrible it is. Lucky your lifestyle meant that you could both spend so much time with him throughout his life. There is something special about a dogs love that can’t be replaced. They help to keep us present, enjoy the little things and not take life too seriously!

    1. Thanks Dan, glad you enjoy the writing! And absolutely right, it was amazing to have been able to spend that much time with him, which was actually a motivator for me to leave work sooner rather than later. Dogs are incredible 💗

  3. Great article Dave as always 😀. I’m a long time reader from the Sunshine Coast originally from South America, so if you ever want to practice your Spanish let me know, seriously. All the best.

    1. Haha thanks Cristian… it’s still very, very beginner… I’m slowly remembering a few basic words but that’s about it so far!

  4. Hi David , once again a great read of how your life is progressing with FIRE. Could you point me in the right direction to how I can pass my share portfolio onto my 2 adult children once I die and if there is tax implications? Cheers.

    1. Hi Angela. I don’t know a lot about this area, but my understanding is as long as it is well stipulated in a will, assets can pass to children cleanly, and I don’t believe there tax complications unless they eventually decide to sell those assets. But I could be wrong, so you might want to speak to a lawyer or two about it.

      1. I hope Angela has very, very good records of each share transaction e.g. Buys, SPP or DRP, etc as each has its own cost-base when inherited. Also depends on what each beneficiary wants as in the shares or cash. Then factor in whether there is a Will and if it establishes a Testamentary Trust or not and the terms and conditions. What if superannuation is involved? It does not form part of the deceased’s estate.

        Most definitely the best idea is to consult with a lawyer on these issues.

  5. Hi Dave

    Read your book recently – altough I’m 57 now and Semi-Fi (We have actually hit our FI number based on the 4% rule but that’s almost irrelevant these days)

    Must say your book it was superb (and that surprised me as I wasn’t sure what to expect in all honesty). I didn’t really learn anything from it personally BUT it should be a go-to read for anyone starting out or is on the journey as it covers everything you need to know, not just finances, but mindset etc from someone who has been there and done that. I honestly would put it as worthwhile as Barefoot as a resource for anyone starting out.

    I hear you though – once you get to where you want to go, life does just become normal and all of a sudden I’m bored with numbers, spreadsheets and tracking as it just works away in the background and the excitement of the journey just transitions into MEH….

    All the best

    Mark (Sometimes known as Ice Cream FI)

    1. Cheers Mark, thanks for the great feedback on the book – I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Haha, yeah the spreadsheets and tracking finances gets pretty boring. I’d probably stop tracking our spending if it wasn’t for blog updates since I really can’t be bothered these days. Better to put that time and energy into other things! 🙂

  6. Thanks for another great article Dave. I’m so sorry to hear about the sad loss of your dog. It sounds like you both gave him a wonderful life. But it is so so hard to lose our pets.

    1. Thanks Marie. Definitely not an easy or fun thing to experience, but I try to remember all the good times to balance it out.

  7. My grandparents lived in Inverloch after they retired, so I’m very familiar with “Thonwaggi” (as they used to call it!
    I hear you with dogs being a great motivator to make sure you get to stay home. My cavaliers are 10 and my dachshund is 7. I have maybe 4 or 5 years left with this little pack and I want to enjoy all the time I have with them. (Boss would’ve been so happy to spend so much time with you both.)

    1. Inverloch is a lovely place… much nicer than old Wonni 😂

      Yeah absolutely – doggy time is very special. And it’s so great coming home to them too, such a happy welcome without fail!

      1. my wife volunteers for the local Cat Shelter and we always have foster kittens belting around LOL. Have you considered fostering dogs for a local shelter in the interim? you may fall in love with one, and even if you don’t you feel good helping them on their journey… Upside if you are going away you can hand them back. Our old girl is over 14 and not long left. We won’t own again BUT we will foster

        1. Oh that’s really nice. Yeah I’ve thought about stuff like that… I think I’d find that too difficult to be honest as I’d get so attached and would also just want to take them all. Definitely not ready for another dog though in any case.

  8. Hey Dave
    The hardest thing I have done is saying goodbye to my dog, Only time that will ease the pain.
    It gets better.

  9. I’m really sorry to hear Boss passed away and the difficult circumstances that you all faced together. It feels very weird for a long time and I am sending love to you all for your loss.
    We said a dignified goodbye to our dog mid 2020 and it was the hardest thing I ever did. I still talk about her when ever I get the chance and it helps to keep her spirit present in our lives. We also had chooks before she passed away – they were best friends and even staged escape together – the dog digging this side of the fence and the chickens digging the other! Many happy memories of them all. I am thrilled to read you have rescued chickens, they are absolutely amazing. Looking forward to hearing more stories about them as time goes on.

    1. Thank you Lin I appreciate that. Haha amazing to hear of their escape plan teamwork 😁 I think continuing to talk about them definitely helps to keep their memories and those happy times alive.

  10. Hey Dave,

    That sucks about Boss. We had to say bye to our little fella too last year in the same way, it’s still very tough!
    I passed your book on to a few people who are loving it, since it was too valuable to keep on a shelf somewhere

  11. Hey Dave.
    Been following you for over 5yrs I reckon.
    Just want to acknowledge my appreciation for all the information I have benefited from.
    It has payed off in spades in so many ways mate! Thanks a bunch Dave. Brad

  12. Sorry to hear about Boss! As you said though, you spent most of his life together which is a charmed thing that many dogs stuck home alone all day can only dream of. He was lucky to have you both as owners.

    Very interesting about FI life becoming mundane too in a way. 4ish months ago I got back from almost a year spent in Spain. I studied for 4 months of that but I didn’t work at all and lived off of savings. Surprised me how I adapted to that pretty quickly too and had to give myself nudges to make the most of the experience while I could. The human condition really, unless we continually remind ourselves, we tend take for granted what we have and only appreciate what we lack.


    1. Thanks Dean. Yeah it’s a funny thing, as you say it’s really just our innate ability to get used to things. I definitely wouldn’t call it mundane – but I think you just become accustomed to a new lifestyle and it just feels normal to you (like anything I suppose). I do remind myself regularly how fortunate this all is, but I’m not really sure we can ever be grateful enough.

  13. Hi Dave,
    Random question here, I lived in QLD and did the move to WA 4 years ago – My family had fresh water turtles as pets in QLD and I’ve been looking to have a turtle here in WA but finding them hard to come by. It seems they are not hard for you to find though!! 🙂

    Do you have the details of someone who could assist me? Happy for you to provide my contact details forward.

  14. We have been following along for a while and also retired early at 50, moved to Phillip Island, are renovating a house etc. The key thing for us has been community involvement: helping the environment, meeting new friends and having a lot of fun.

  15. Hi Dave, I’ve been following you from almost the beginning now. Your journey is super relatable to us normal folk that don’t start our working careers earning $100K+! Very sorry to hear bout Boss. I’ve heard some say that saying goodbye to our pets is the price we pay for unconditional love. Time does heal, but it never disappears completely. You are right about living to a good old, ripe age should be considered luck. My Dad died when he was 54 which while gone too soon, he still got more time than many others get.

    Your comments about living a FI lifestyle really resonated with me and while I’m still working full-time right now, a little over 10 years ago I had a whole year off work due to being scammed and quitting my job. I’d be lying if I said that I missed work at all during that year. I was very fortunate that my wife was able to support us both during this period. The point I wanted to make was the feeling of “getting used to current conditions” is actually our superpower as humans. We are supremely adaptable and it’s one of the reasons we are as successful as we are as a species. We really don’t need as much money or stuff as we think we do. I am constantly reminded of this when I see your experience and look at others living outside of Sydney which really is just an outrageously expensive hole filled with money hungry individuals wanting more, more, more. Lovely place to visit (like almost everywhere), but you wouldn’t want to live here. I hope to escape soonish…

    An old customer of mine once told me that he has observed that the happiest people with money are neither the one’s who don’t work at all or continue to work full-time to simply accumulate a bigger pile of cash for “just in case”. He observed that the happiest are the one’s doing easy part-time work that doesn’t take up too much of their time or freedom and the people doing it have the option to always walk away at any time. Your life is the perfect example of his observations…

    1. I really appreciate your comment Christopher, such great nuggets in there that resonate with me also, and thank you for sharing! 🔥

  16. “Freedom comes before any fancy shit.”
    100$ agree Dave.
    Sorry to hear about “Boss” the Bulldog – great that you both could spend so much time with him.
    We have 2 labs and enjoy time with them – especially up here in the country in the Avon valley.
    Thanks for sharing your journey – it’s informative and inspiring.

    1. Thanks Sean, I appreciate that mate. That’s all you can do really is just appreciate the time you have since they bring so much joy to our lives 🙂

  17. Hi Mate

    I lost my dog 6 years ago now. It still seems so recent. It’s tough when you get a dog when you are young and then they pass, as the dog moves through all your different life stages, by your side no matter what. I got mine just before I turned 21 and he passed 11 years later but through that time I went through university, had girlfriend’s, moved houses and finally found my partner, bought a house, and had a child, he was there all the way. It is tough to lose them but it also serves a reminder that life is short and that we as humans tend to get caught up, or at least think so, in a lot of things that don’t really matter whilst forgetting what is in front of us. The now.

    I’ll never forget seeing my dog struggle to breathe and having to make that decision to put him to sleep, the vet giving him the injection whilst I held him in my arms and him looking into my eyes for the last time, wondering what was happening. Yeah, its still pretty sore when I think about it but with time it gets better, so I am sorry for your loss. It is definitely the worst thing about pet ownership but it was the right decision. A true mate is there to the end.

    1. Thanks very much Paul, and well said mate, it’s a beautiful experience overall (having had them) and is a good reminder to remember what matters

  18. Love your work Dave, great to hear the insights from someone already on FIRE, it is really helpful for us who are still trying to reach that number. I live in Perth and my native language is Spanish, so drop me a line if you want to practice your Spanish and talk about personal finance at the same time.

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