Check out Matt’s journey from Aussie Firebug for our next Frugal Millionaire on FIRE interview! Learn his best frugal wins over the years and what a frugal lifestyle means to him.
Frugal Millionaires on FIRE – Chapter 4 with Aussie Firebug
I’ve been reading Matt’s blog over at Aussie Firebug for many years. It’s always refreshing to read his perspective of things, and be such a pioneer for the FIRE community in Australia. It was with the help of his posts that we started to properly track our FIRE progress back in 2017/2018.
The Journey to FIRE
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and what your blog is all about:
My name’s Matt, I’m a country boy for regional Victoria who is on track to reach Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) by my mid-thirties.
I’ve been blogging about my wife and I’s journey to FIRE since 2015. I currently run a freelance data business but only work around 20 hours a week.
How long has your journey been to reach FIRE so far?
We haven’t reached our FIRE goal yet but I’ve been chipping away at it for over 10 years now.
What age do you think you’ll achieve it?
I predict I’ll be around 34-36 when I reach it. A lot can happen though so who knows
What (if anything) changed for you when you reached millionaire status?
Not much haha. It’s just a number on a spreadsheet really.
My wife and I had a little celebration but it was a bit underwhelming. Real-life stuff like changing careers, quitting your job, and traveling or winding back work to only 3 days a week has been a lot more impactful.
Did a significant other, friend or family help you reach your goals?
Yes! My better half, Mrs. FB has been instrumental. We’re a team and I’ve been very blessed to have found someone who shares the same values as me.
Do you worry more, less or the same about money or your finances?
Less. Monumentally less in fact.
The closer we get to full fledge FIRE, the less I care about meticulously reviewing every dollar we spend. I’m a lot more focused on lifestyle design these days.
I try to add activities that make me happy and remove ones that don’t. This can be surprisingly tricky because some things give you short-term happiness but long-term misery. Balance is key.
Are your investments weighed heavier in shares or property or something else entirely? Why?
- Shares. I value the passive nature of shares a lot more now than I did when I was younger. I wanted to hustle and sink time and energy into my investments when I was young. Shares are not a good asset class for this in my opinion.
- Property can be very powerful because you can physically add value to it. But property isn’t passive. It’s almost like a small business.
Do you still work? If not, what do you do to fill your days?
I run a small freelance data business where I equip decision-makers with data to help drive better decisions. Working with data professionally brings me great joy. I love the problem-solving nature of it. I started my own business because I wanted to help people solve fun problems without dealing with all the office politics BS. I also get to pick my own hours these days which has been extremely libertaing.
My wife is also a school teacher. She only works 4 days a week though.
What book do you recommend someone should read if they’re just starting on their journey?
Rich Dad Poor Dad was the book that started it all for me. I had never heard about the concept of financial independence and it blew my mind.
Tell us about some of your biggest frugal wins:
Buying a Camry Hybrid in 2012 turned out to be a great move in hindsight for a few reasons. I’ve never had any problems with it, Hybrid’s have retained their value more so than non-hybrid vehicles, Camry’s are really cheap to service and it’s a super-efficient car which helps at the bowser. I copped a bit of shit at footy training for rocking up in a Hybrid but I’m glad I stuck to my guns and went for the cheaper option.
Other wins include:
- Rentvesting for most of our 20’s. It allowed us to pay dirt cheap rent ($180 a week) and pour the majority of our savings into investments.
- Not upgrading our cars when most of our friends were.
- Being sensible with food/drinks in our 20’s by making our lunches etc.
What are your top 3 purchased items that bring or hold the most value in your life?
- Our home. I spend a LOT of time in it mainly because I work from home. I’ve become obsessed with smart home appliances and I just loved being in my own castle and setting it up just the way I want.
- My electric bike. I pretty much only use my car if I’m leaving our country town (or if the weather is terrible). I LOVE zooming around town and I only ever use the electric power up hills. It’s a triple whammy. I get all my cardio in on the bike, it’s fun as hell to zoom around and sometimes I’ll find any excuse to ride down the street if the sun is shining, and it saves me a bit of money riding as opposed to driving.
- My laptop. I’m a huge nerd and I spend a lot of time on my computer both professionally and privately. I’ve always had a boujee laptop because I need the power for work but I also like to travel which means I prefer lighter laptops. This combo of power/lightness means big $$$. It’s tax-deductible I guess, but my last two laptops would definitely not be considered ‘FIRE’ laptops lol.
What’s your favourite frugal tip?
Ride your bike when possible. And buy a decent bike so you’ll want to ride it! You’ll be healthier, wealthier and have fun doing it!
What’s your favourite frugal activity?
Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Very fun, doesn’t cost a cent unless you’re paying for lessons. It’s a great workout and you’ll learn some self-defense. It’s the most ‘problem-solving’ martial arts out there in my opinion. You have to solve a puzzle with force and technique.
How does living a frugal lifestyle align with your values?
It’s all about optimising and not being wasteful I think. There’s a disproportional amount of people in the FIRE community that work in the Tech industry. I don’t think this is a coincidence. The FI part of FIRE is basically a math problem and most people in Tech love maths. When you write code, you’re taught to be as efficient as possible whilst also being easy to understand in case another engineer needs to review your work.
Hyper optimisation is a trait that most people in the FIRE community have even if they don’t even know it. We’re always trying to get the best deals, reviewing current contracts yearly to ensure we’re not overpaying, buying food in bulk and freezing meals to get the best value, using debt recycling to pay less tax, and the list goes on and on.
It’s all a form of optimisation at the end of the day.
While you’ve been living frugally, have you felt like you have ‘enough’?
Our lifestyle is amazing right now! The only variable that’s going to shake things up is a baby in the future. We aren’t parents at the moment and I’ve read so many conflicting opinions on how much a baby costs to raise. It’s one of those things that we won’t know about until it happens to us. We have enough right now, but that may change in the future.
The Aussie Firebug Blog
My name’s Matt, I’m a country boy for regional Victoria who is on track to reach Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE) by my mid-thirties. I’ve been blogging about my wife and I’s journey to FIRE since 2015. I currently run a freelance data business but only work around 20 hours a week.
Where can people find you?
- Blog: aussiefirebug.com
What’s the first blog people should read on your site and why?
Head to Aussie Firebug’s Start Here page.
It’s my intro for those who haven’t come across me and the concept of FIRE before. I link to heaps of other articles in that one.
Thanks so much to Matt for sharing his journey with us on the blog today!