Quarterly Update – Q1/2021

Welcome to our first quarterly update since we hit Flamingo FI! Going forward, we will post a life and financial update once a quarter instead of the monthly progress updates we published during our accumulation phase. I have recently written an article about our plan to coast from Flamingo FI to FIRE in around 10-15 years. In a way, our story is a live Coast FIRE case study you can follow in real-time. These quarterly updates will chronicle our progress towards full financial independence and beyond.

Life Update

So much has changed since we reached our goal six months ago, and we can now theoretically call ourselves semi-retired. I use the word theoretically because we had our second baby and reached Flamingo FI all within the space of a few weeks, so we didn’t have much time to celebrate this massive financial milestone before the sleepless nights started. Looking after a newborn while trying to keep a 20-month-old toddler happy is pretty intense. And, of course, it is nothing like the casual semi-retirement lifestyle (think a 3-day workweek, plenty of time for hobbies and exercise, etc.) we had in mind when we embarked on our FIRE journey back in 2016.

The crazy newborn phase is now behind us and things have started to calm down a bit around here. We have started making plans and discussing options for the next few years. I have always said that Sydney is probably not a long-term option for us, especially now that we have two young children and want to start transitioning out of the rat race.

It won’t be easy for us to leave this place. We live in one of the nicest (if not the nicest) suburbs of Sydney – there are several beaches on our doorstep, everything is within walking distance and getting into the city is quick and easy. We often feel like we live in a holiday resort and not a suburb of a major city. Unfortunately, many other people feel the same way, so rents and property prices are absolutely insane. Case in point: One of the 3-bedroom apartments in our block (exactly the same layout as the one we currently rent) recently sold for $2m. No, thank you. We could technically afford to stay here, even if we both only worked 3 days a week, but that would mean that we would rent forever and would have to commit to apartment living long-term. We would also be less flexible when it comes to shifting to more rewarding but lower-paying work in semi-retirement.

So, my guess is that a move is on the cards for us in the next year or so. We are unsure if we want to stay in Australia (and if so, where in Australia). One option we are seriously considering is to move back to Europe for a period of time while our kids are still young. However, with all the travel restrictions and Covid still wreaking havoc over there at the moment, now is obviously not the right time to seriously consider this option. That is why we have decided to stay put a little longer and basically wait out the pandemic here in Sydney before we make a decision.

I am currently on maternity leave, and Mr. Flamingo is back at work full-time after taking a few months off after the birth of Baby Flamingo #2. At this stage, I am planning to stay on maternity leave for another six months or so. Depending on how things are by then pandemic-wise, I might either go back part-time for a while, or we might pack our things and move. The good thing about my job is that I actually really don’t mind it; my salary is decent, and the company is also open to flexible work arrangements. So going back part-time for a period of time would not be the worst option.

As you can see, we have many decisions to make. We are really grateful that we have so many different options to choose from now that the burden of holding two full-time jobs has been lifted off our shoulders.

Financial Update

Since hitting our goal six months ago, we have not actively added any funds to our nest egg. If you are not familiar with our plan, you can find all the details here and here.

I am glad to report that the results during these first six months have been excellent (see graph below). We went from 12.5x annual living expenses to 13.97x during this time. Not bad, right?

The graph above also shows our projected FIRE date (we assume 7% inflation-adjusted returns for this). Of course, things won’t go as smoothly as they look here, but it’s nice to have a visual representation of the path ahead. And remember, we are planning to complete this journey without contributing any more cash to our retirement nest egg.

Thanks for reading! See you back here for the next quarterly update!

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8 thoughts on “Quarterly Update – Q1/2021”

  1. That’s honestly so awesome to see your nest egg continue to rise even though you have acquired so much more flexibility in your lifestyle! Thanks for the update guys!

    • Thanks Mr FDU! Yes, we were very happy to see the gains we made so far, but I’m fully aware we are like a little boat now that just goes up and down with the waves, so things won’t always be this rose. Still great to see that we don’t have to worry too much now and can enjoy the extra free time and flexibility!

  2. Thanks for the update, makes sense to wait for everything to calm down a bit globally. Good luck with it all! The finance chart is impressive. It looks like ypu never stopped saving haha… Your journey is very inspiring!

  3. Nice with an update!

    Looking forward to hear how Mr. Flamingo negotiating will turn out.

    I have a plan of negotiating myself down to a 4 day work week without a pay cut. Super ambitious but I think I can pull it off.

  4. I’m glad I found this post.
    I’ve been playing around with your FIRE calculator and was struggling to understand the assumptions about net assets, and the role of cash. It appears the calculator assumes no cash? (Annual investment is whatever I don’t spend, even though my nest egg / net worth includes cash?)
    For some years now I have had quite a large cash balance as I had hoped to buy a home in Melbourne to live in (but prices have gone crazy & rent is comparatively cheap).
    So my cash allocation is currently around 17-20% of my net worth. Most of it is sitting in an offset account (I am rentvesting – the capital growth is non-existent (alas) but the rental return has been solid, if unspectacular).
    Because of this am I further away from FIRE than what the calculator suggests?
    I’ve been pondering periodically investing some of this cash surplus into ETFs (I can sell down holdings in other managed funds to bridge a future deposit/stamp duty gap).
    But I keep hesitating about biting the bullet for some reason…
    …even though my lack of personal housing security sometimes keeps me awake at night!?!

    • Hi Penny,

      The calculator works with any interest rate you enter. We use 7% for an all-share portfolio, but you can change this number based on your own assumption. If you have 20% in cash and 80% in shares, you could just calculate the growth rate based on this (around 5.6% if your cash earns no interest) – just as an example.

      If your lack of housing security keeps you up at night, that sounds like it might be time to fix that? It’s all about the “sleep-at-night” factor, not just investment returns!



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