FIRE

Our FIRE Journey Update 2022

March 11, 2022

Check in on our FIRE journey for 2022! There’s been a few changes and we can’t wait to update you on everything blog, shares and mortgage. So while we usually update around mid-year, we’ve had a few changes we thought would be great to share with you a little earlier.

Laura standing in the shallows at the beach.

A Quick Recap for New Readers

We’re two self-employed Australians who run two businesses: A food blog and a graphic design studio. This means our income is inconsistent and we budget based off of the average monthly income we earn.

We hit FI in 2021 and are not currently planning to RE while we are enjoying our work and life balance from our blog.

Make sure you’ve read our 2019, 2020 and 2021 posts to get up to date on our FIRE Journey so far!

What is SideFIRE?

For us, SideFIRE is growing a side business or hobby to the point where it is covering all expenses plus extra to keep building our investments towards full FIRE.

Ideally, it’s from a side business that has more flexibility than a corporate job, usually derived from passive or semi-passive income, which in our case is from blogging.

Think of it as a mix between Barista FIRE – where you’re still working a small part time job, and SlowFI, where it’s not necessarily the quickest route, but has a nice balance of work and life.

Our 2019 Goals:

Our original goals were to achieve the following in 5 years time (2024):

  • Shares: Grow our share portfolio to provide $12k a year in dividends.
  • Mortgage: Pay off our house mortgage.
  • Food Blog: Build our food blog up to provide $24k a year in ad revenue and affiliate income.

Our 2020 Goals:

In 2020 we changed our focus to our food blog and goal of reaching SideFIRE. So our new FIRE goals were:

  • Shares: Invest as and when we can, depending on monthly income from businesses.
  • Mortgage: Leave the mortgage as is. Try and get a better rate in 6 months time.
  • Food Blog: To grow this to cover our minimum expenses of $57k a year.

Our 2021 Goals:

  • Shares: Hit $125k in our investments
  • Mortgage: Get our mortgage under $180k

So how did we go?

Our FIRE Journey Update for March 2022

Mortgage

Recap

  • July 2020 – $220k @ 2.79%
  • May 2021 – $196k @ 2.69%

Our 2022 goal was to get it down to $180k.

Our actual?

We’ve just smashed it down to…wait for it:

$146k!

After a particularly good few months with the blog in the lead up to Christmas, that’s $50k we ended up getting onto the mortgage over 9 months.

Our updated goal now is to have this paid off in the next 18-22 months, ie by the end of December 2023, but preferably earlier!

In 2019, we set the goal to pay off our mortgage by 2024. So we will have shaved off an entire year if we can make this happen.

We’re also currently refinancing to 1.89% with a $3k cashback, which we’ll be putting straight back into the loan. This will save us around $4-5k all up by the time we pay off the loan with the interest cut of 0.8%!

One *possible* spanner in the works is we are technically house hunting. We aren’t in a rush, but we do have our eyes on the market and we are thinking about the possibility of a new home and extended mortgage. Based on what we’re looking at and our current income, this would push out our FIRE date by another 2ish years.

Shares

Recap

  • July 2020 – 38k
  • May 2021 – 65k

Our current shares are at…

$78k.

This is actually down over $10k from its peak a couple of months back, but we’re still putting in a parcel each month on autopilot. This is quite a lot less than our goal last year of $125k, but now we’ve decided to concentrate on the mortgage instead, we’re okay with this.

Our new goal, once the mortgage is paid off, is to have all excess funds + the $15k yearly mortgage repayments we’ll no longer have, to start pouring into our investments.

Our main reasoning for prioritising our mortgage is to reduce our risk. We are both self-employed and rely on our blog for our income. We want to eliminate the debt to bring down our total personal expenses, so in a worst case scenario, we have plenty of time up our sleeve with minimal outgoings to pivot. We’ll be sharing more detail on our expenses soon!

Food Blog

Recap

  • 2019: 12k
  • 2020: 24k
  • 2021: 65k

So this year, we were happily surprised to have doubled the blog revenue again with our forecast to hit over $150k this financial year which you may have read about on the news when we shared our FIRE journey.

We have officially made Wandercooks a 6 figure blog!

At this rate of growth, we’re saving at a much faster rate than we could’ve anticipated and it’s great to see those 7 years of hard work really starting to *literally* pay off.

So this year we would love to double our income again. (Here comes more of those lofty goals!) We’re trying especially hard to keep our lifestyle creep at a minimum. The biggest expense increases we are seeing are blog related. So this includes expenses for things like our hosting, mailing list, search plugins etc.

What helped grow our revenue was our big increase in traffic. The food blog now averages 600k monthly views, and a lot of this is thanks to our focus on keyword research. We launched an ebook on this as well for food bloggers, which has also been a great addition to our income streams.

Sarah brewing three bottles of strawberry kombucha.
Sarah making strawberry kombucha.

Our 2023 Goals:

  • Blog: Hit $300k income.
  • Mortgage: Get it down to $80k by end of 2022, and pay it off by end of 2023.
  • Shares: Continue investing at least $1k a month, with any increases from the blog going straight into this to top up as well.

Our Lifestyle Changes for 2022

Permaculture

Late last year we signed up to a permaculture living course to celebrate our 2nd year wedding anniversary! It was a 12 week online course which taught us much more than we anticipated. We’ve mentioned before how our FIRE and frugal lifestyle has helped us become more sustainable, minimalist and environmentally minded, and this just added a whole other layer to that.

On top of the online course, we then signed up to an in-person workshop for growing your own veggies. Combining both, we learnt so much about our garden and food, with many new projects now on the go.

Some of our biggest changes are:

  • Brewing our own Kombucha to replace soft drinks. This is SO fun. Hit up the comments if you want us to do a post or two with the recipe. Our current favourite flavour combo is ginger and lemon.
  • Established veggie garden providing everything from herbs, spinach, kale, carrots, bok choy, tomatoes and radishes at the moment. We even have two pineapple plants started.
  • Fermenting! This has become our new love. We love experimenting in the kitchen and had dabbled a little before making kimchi etc but now we make our own pickled onions, daikon, garlic and sauerkraut. We’re obsessed! Special mention to the miso workshop we just did and now have 2L of miso fermenting in our laundry cupboard 😂..
  • Slow, from scratch cooking. We already do a lot of this at home – we haven’t bought sweet biscuits from the supermarket since 2019 for example. However, we’ve started to look into what else we can make and eat fresh rather than with preservatives. This has included making our own Kewpie mayonnaise (which saves us a bunch of money too!) and a lot of our own sauces etc.

Travel

While international travel isn’t on the cards for us at the moment, we’ve been taking quarterly road trips to different parts of the state and taking our dog Bonnie along for the ride with us.

For our most recent trip we booked an Airbnb on the river for 5 days and invited both parents to come up and stay a night as a treat for them. My parents work 7 days a week, so to get them away from work for that long was a huge deal. Seeing how relaxed they were and just being in the moment amongst nature was really special.

Family

We’ve continued taking extra time off to help family or just spend time with them. This has included anything from spending a day cleaning and clearing out their shop (they’re renovating sections and managed to fill an entire skip bin! – a nice big pebble removed for them!), to clearing out gutters, gardening, buying online items or going out to brunch together by the water.

We love helping and doing these things, not only to help them but it also gets us out the house. Blogging from home we spend a lot of time at the computer, so getting outside or doing physical things to help makes us happy and provides a better balance to work and life.

Keep the Conversation Going

Here’s some questions to get you thinking and keep the conversation going with others in the community!

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

What are some of your goals for your FIRE journey this year?

If you’re working towards SideFIRE or a similar type of FIRE path, tell us about your journey so far!

If or when you have more time and flexibility in your life, what would you like to spend your time on?

Read More of our Fire Journey

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Frogdancer Jones
    March 12, 2022 at 8:23 am

    Smashing that mortgage!
    Well done. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sarah & Laura
      March 31, 2022 at 5:39 pm

      Aww thanks lady!

  • Reply
    Astrid Chapman
    March 30, 2022 at 9:01 am

    I FIRE’D last week! My goals for 2022 focus on decompression and health. Congrats on the food blog, amazing income you’re generating with your hard work.

    • Reply
      Sarah & Laura
      March 31, 2022 at 5:39 pm

      Oh yay! Amazing work Astrid, that must feel amazing. 😀 Love your focus for the year ahead, we wish you all the best with your new found time.

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