Welcome back to The Australian Blogger Interview Series.
We noticed the Australian personal finance community growing, mostly through our interactions on Twitter and we wanted to continue to foster this great camaraderie. We’ve reached out to as many Australian personal finance bloggers as we could and asked them to participate in our interview series. If you have any favourite Australian personal finance bloggers, tell us about them in the comments below and we’ll invite them to participate.
Next up: Dividends Down Under.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself- approximate age, job description, background, location etc.
We are in our mid 20s expecting our first baby. Mr DDU works full-time with an hour each way commute (great time for writing blog posts and researching stocks!) and Mrs DDU works from home as a part-time personal assistant. We live in the outskirts of one of Australia’s largest capital cities close to the beach. We have a cat- we’re cat people. We recently went through IVF procedures to make our baby possible and we are happy to report that we were successful!
- How did you get into blogging about personal finance? Was there someone (another blogger perhaps) or something that inspired you to start blogging?
We were struggling with our fertility and we were at a low point, heartbroken with how long it might take. Mrs DDU was looking for a job to help pay for the IVF and we were in an emotionally bad place, we needed to turn to something positive.
We had been reading finance blogs like The Simple Dollar and we enjoyed bonding over personal finance. Mr DDU approached Mrs DDU one day to start our own blog. We wanted to show ourselves and other people that even on a modest income and with the very high expenses of IVF it’s possible to save hard, invest and become financially independent.
- What are your financial goals? Are you aiming for FIRE or something else?
Our big short to medium term financial goal was to do IVF debt free, which we achieved for baby #1! We want to go for IVF baby #2 in a few years also debt free.
We want to buy a 3-bedroom house in the area we currently live in with a 20% deposit before the age of 35.
Ultimately we want to become financially independent and retire early by receiving enough dividends each year to pay for our desired expenses in retirement. A part of this goal is Mr DDU being able to give up his full-time job before the age of 45.
- What has been your financial journey? Did you start with a pile of debt? How have your finances progressed throughout the years?
We didn’t start with any debt, but we did start with a fertility disadvantage. We always were the type of people who had some savings and we were slowly saving small amounts (before fertility issues) towards buying a house, but we really enjoyed going out to dinner, going to the movies and travelling. We were saving but we were also carefree with some of our money.
The infertility really drove us to want to do better with our money and save as much as we could by being frugal and buying value where we could. We really honed our budget and got serious about how we saw our money working for us in our future.
- Do you advocate shares or property to build financial independence? Or both? Why?
For us, we think shares are the way to go, particularly dividend stocks. We can get great diversification into the property market through shares called real estate investment trusts and they’re one of our favourite types of investments.
Both shares and property have been great over the decades, so we’d advocate for what people feel comfortable with as long as it’s done sustainably without taking on too much risk.
- What is your personal investing strategy? Have you ever changed or reconsidered your strategy? Why?
We started out investing small amounts of cash infrequently, dabbling in the share market with typical ‘blue chip’ stocks. It was very exciting to receive dividends and that it was supplementing our budget.
This concept of dividends grew and we learned more about investing & compounding. We could see how much we could grow our wealth and wanted to take advantage of the magic of compounding.
IVF was our financial priority until we were successful so we didn’t have an allocated investment budget but now we have our baby on the way we have a set investing budget each month of $1,000 to pick our favourites when they’re trading at good prices.
In the future we hope to steadily increase this investing budget and compound our way towards FIRE.
- What do you think the biggest challenge is for Australians seeking financial independence?
We think there are number of challenges that affect Australians. Of course, debt and poor financial choices can affect anyone in the world and everyone should work on only spending money on what’s actually important to them.
However, specifically affecting Australians is the excessively high property prices which causes Australians to take on a LOT of debt which will take longer to pay off. Another problem is that Australians can’t access superannuation until a much older age so either must put off retirement until then or keep a lot more of their wealth outside of the Super system which will cost more in tax over the years.
- Who has inspired you the most in your journey toward financial independence?
All the other bloggers who are on a similar journey as we are, it’s great to read things that reaffirm your stance and goal. It really keeps the motivation alive and we can all spur each other on.
- Which do you think is more powerful: frugality or higher earnings? Why?
For us it’s been a combination of both. We were on one (lowish) income until recently and there was a limit to how far frugality could get us. Now that we have second part-time income we have kept our frugal ways and that second income is purely for putting towards our financial goals.
- Has there been anything about becoming a blogger that you didn’t expect (good or bad)?
The amount of time we spend on blog-related behind the scenes stuff. That’s not necessarily bad, but we just didn’t expect it.
We didn’t expect the amount of support and love we receive, it’s very uplifting to know so many people read our words and want us to do well.
- What do you plan to do in retirement (whether early or on time)?
We’re looking forward to being able to spend time with each other and not have to spend 10+ hours apart each day. Particularly on great-weather days we always mention to each other that these are the days we’re looking forward to in FIRE.
- What’s your biggest splurge?
Our IVF baby. Though our budgeted splurge is going out to dinner together once a month.
- How do you think the Australian financial blogger community can grow? Do you think something like Fincon is viable over here?
It’s great how many Australian bloggers have popped up over the last year and we hope it keeps growing! We love it when it an Aussie blogger comes and comments on our blog that we’ve never heard of before.
Australian Fincon could definitely happen, all it would take is someone determined enough to organise it.
- Do people in your real life know about your blog? If so, what do they think? If not, why not?
People in real life do not know about our blog (well they haven’t told us if they’ve stumbled across it). We decided to keep it to ourselves so that we can be more candid and open in our articles without any judgement or negative comments about it when we see people. We’re kind of waiting for the day that someone does tell us they found the blog because it means that person was looking for financial inspiration.
- What’s your number one piece of advice for those interested in financial independence?
Make an honest annual budget – be generous towards your expenses and underestimate your income, that way you’ll always come out on top. You can’t budget to do good things with your money if you don’t know how much you have to work with. This process really makes you decide what’s truly important in your life and what’s not. Plus, you get the added bonus of budgeting in a few luxury expenses and you don’t have to feel any money guilt about it.
Thanks so much for being an interviewee Dividends Down Under! We look forward to sharing more interviews with you soon!
Do you like the idea of an interview series? Who are your favourite Australian personal finance bloggers?