FIRE

Did we reach SideFIRE? – Our 2021 Journey Update

May 21, 2021

It’s time for another update on our FIRE journey for 2021! In a year of huge changes, we’ve made some big ones ourselves. In 2020 our goal was to reach SideFIRE, so did we make it?

Field of grass with flowers.

To give new readers a quick recap: 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.

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: Our priority is our food blog. To grow this to cover our minimum expenses of $57k a year.

So how did we go?

Our FIRE Journey Update for May 2021

Mortgage:

Our mortgage was at 226k as at July 2020 and our rate was 2.74%.

We did end up getting a better rate, and are now at 2.65%. As our mortgage is under the average of 250k, we don’t have as much bargaining power as we had, so while we’ve tried to knock our rate down twice, this has been unsuccessful so far.

Did we leave the mortgage alone though? After some more thought and calculations (I can’t help myself!) – we wanted to leave our options open to be able to buy our forever home down the track and keep hold of our current home as an investment. As a result, we’d need enough for a house deposit without triggering LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance). This would mean another 60k onto the mortgage to meet those minimums.

We ended up putting a total of 30k into the mortgage as a result! For a shiny new amount of $196k.

While this was much more on the mortgage than originally intended, we like that we are opening these options for our future selves to choose from.

Shares:

By focusing on our food blog and moving away from our design business, we knew we’d take a hit with income, but we still wanted to make sure we were meeting those minimums of consistent investing. 12 months ago we were at 38k, with shares just starting to climb out of the March crash.

We’re happy to report we kept up our monthly investing too, and grew our portfolio to $65k. Dividends are currently bringing in $2400 a year, or 20% of our goal to have $12k in dividends by 2024.

In the next year, our aim is to hit a total of $125k invested. It’s a lofty goal, but we’re determined!

Food Blog:

From 2019 to 2020, we doubled our income from 12k to $24k. The next big hurdle was to double it again this year and have the blog meet our minimums of $57k. This amount would cover everything: mortgage, personal expenses, business expenses and tax.

After cutting our design business back to 3 days and the amount of projects we accepted, we had more time to focus on revamping our content and creating new recipes.

One of our biggest changes was switching ad companies on the site in December. This change, paired with an increase in traffic, saw our ad earnings grow 300-500% on the previous year. As a result, the blog’s ad revenue has already out-earned last year in just 5 months!

As you can guess – this means…

Sarah making a YouTube video.
Sarah making a recipe video for YouTube.

We officially achieved our goal of 57k!

Once our minimums were met, we took the leap to go full time with the blog and pull back to accepting only a select few design projects. This opened up even more time for lifestyle changes, working on new recipes and two new projects – YouTube and ebooks.

Through February and March, we worked on the creation and launch of our first ecookbook, opening up a new stream of income through digital product sales. Then after shooting 120 videos for our recipes over the last 12 months, we finally ticked over the requirements to monetise our YouTube channel, opening up another passive income stream.

Putting all of those together, we’re now on track to make our first six figures on the blog!

So with this goal complete, it’s time to tighten up our focus on our investments and eliminating our mortgage.

Our 2022 Goals:

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

Our Lifestyle Changes for 2021

Since going full time with our food blog, this certainly hasn’t meant full time hours – just full time income.

Our design business was a lot more hands on – it was time in exchange for money as a serviced based business. Now having cut this right back, we’ve been utilising our time very differently this year.

Giving Back

The first area we’ve been zoning in on is helping give back to our parents. This means taking the time to understand what areas are currently frustrating them or what pebbles they currently have in their life that we can help with or eliminate.

This has been SO rewarding, not to mention enabling us to spend more time with our family and utilise or learn new skills along the way. Together we’ve been building furniture, going to appointments or check ups, helping with business advice, or just sitting down and having a coffee to listen.

I’d also recently read Give and Take by Adam Grant, in which he mentions about a Five Minute Favour – helping someone (anyone!) – out at least once a day with something that takes less than 5 minutes. This is such a great habit to get into for helping the greater community, and allowing you to get to know them at the same time.

Mindfulness

With less full and stressful days, we’ve made room to incorporate less screen time by changing up our evening routine. Sometimes, while we still don’t have a TV, we would find ourselves on a screen just before bed and notice we’d have a restless sleep on those particular nights.

To combat this, we now try to be off screens by around 9 or 9:30 to do a 15 Minute Evening Yoga (Kassandra’s free series on YouTube is GREAT for this) and, yes it’s technically on a screen… but it’s better than Netflix right! Then with the rest of the time we’ll read a physical book or chat before bed. This has been a gamechanger for our sleep habits, and we’ve both noticed our minds are no where near as overactive as they can be after a movie or watching a few TV shows.

Fun

Aiming for more no-tech activities, we’ve also found ourselves reaching for a lot more board games recently. The strategy and thinking required can be so good for the brain, not to mention spending time with your partner, family or friends depending on who’s playing.

Outdoors

Hiking alongside a lake.

The amount of outdoor activities has definitely increased this past year, spilling out of the weekend only and through to weekdays, which has been a nice change.

We’ll go for at least one or two walks a day – whether to the shops, or just around the neighbourhood. As something completely different this year, I even took my Dad hiking for the first time for his birthday. It was great to see how much he enjoyed being surrounded by nature.

All these changes have integrated so easily into our daily lives, that we feel more and more like we’re living our ideal lifestyle. Looking forward to seeing what this next year has to bring!

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?

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Court @ Modern FImily
    May 22, 2021 at 1:41 am

    This post sums up why were FIRE besties. Soooo proud of you girls for all these incredible changes! And I’m happy to report that after our last chat I’ve been leaving my phone outside the bedroom at night and I’m already seeing improvements to my sleep! And love the idea of a 5 minute favour, going to try to add that into the daily routine!

    • Reply
      Sarah & Laura
      May 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Thanks Court! 😀 Amazing work getting the phone out the bedroom too, that’s such a great change to make, and glad you’re already seeing the improvements.

      Yes! The 5 min favour is so fun, I have it on my to do list each day so I don’t forget haha.

  • Reply
    Chrissy @ Eat Sleep Breathe FI
    May 23, 2021 at 6:16 am

    Hi Sarah and Laura! After Court mentioned SideFIRE in her email to us, I was intrigued and thought I needed to check it out. What a cool lifestyle option it is! I love, love, love that you’re both able to spend time doing what you love AND make a very good living from it.

    I’m in AWE of your food blog ad earnings. WOW. That is impressive. Congrats on your success with that. It seems like the sky’s the limit for you! I look forward to following along with your journey to full FIRE.

    • Reply
      Sarah & Laura
      May 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you, thank you! 😀 It’s definitely been a long time in the making – the blog turns 7 at the end of this year, which is just crazy. So thankful to have grown it to where we have now. 😀

  • Reply
    Frogdancer Jones
    June 3, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    Congratulations!
    You deserve the success though; you’ve worked really hard for it.

    • Reply
      Sarah & Laura
      June 4, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Aww thank you lady! 😀 Hope you’ve been well too.

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