Today we chat with Dave from Strong Money Australia on his journey as a Frugal Millionaire on FIRE. From surprising frugal wins as a result of changing his diet to having his dog as his most valuable ‘purchase’, there’s some great tips and stories for those still on the FIRE journey.
Frugal Millionaires on FIRE – Chapter 2 with Strong Money Australia
I first came across Dave and his blog on a live Q&A panel for the Playing with FIRE documentary. Since then I’ve loved reading his posts and listening to his podcast episodes with Pat (Life Long Shuffle). I thought it would be great to get some Aussie stories up of Frugal Millionaires, and why not kick things off with Strong Money Australia!
If you missed Chapter 1 with Court from Modern FImily, you can read all about that here.
The Journey to FIRE
How long has your journey been to reach your goal?
From start to finish, my journey to FI was about 8 years or so.
What age were you when you achieved it?
How did you feel when you hit “your number”?
I actually didn’t have a number because I didn’t know what I was doing. The moment came when I realised if our wealth was in shares instead of property, we could retire straight away and live off the dividend income. That was a pretty strange realisation, like “holy sh*t”.
What (if anything) changed for you when you reached millionaire status?
Nothing changes, it’s just a number. It might look good on a spreadsheet, but nobody throws a party for you lol.
Did a significant other, friend or family help you reach your goals?
My partner was instrumental in reaching our goals. She started with more savings than me (being a long time homeowner) as well as being a great sounding board for my investing ideas. Not to mention putting up with my seemingly relentless optimising of our expenses!
Do you worry more, less or the same about money or your finances?
I focus less on money now than when we were still working. But it’s still an important area to keep tabs on. But it’s not something I worry about.
Are your investments weighed heavier in shares or property or something else entirely? Why?
At the moment, slightly more in shares than property. Over time, we’re turning that into 100% shares (it was originally 100% property). Shares are far simpler to own and generating income is far easier.
Do you still work? If not, what do you do to fill your days?
Well, not traditional work. I spend time writing on the blog and now making podcasts as well. I also do some volunteer stuff in our area, doing things like tree planting, helping local wildlife and picking up rubbish. Other than that, I enjoy exercising, reading, and also spending time with my partner and our dog.
What book do you recommend someone should read if they’re just starting on their journey?
I actually think blogs are probably better for a newbie as they can pick and choose tips from each blogger and find people who’s message resonates with them.
Tell us about one of your biggest frugal wins:
This will sound strange, but it was actually changing my diet. A few years ago, we decided to adopt a mostly vegan diet for ethical reasons since we love animals. It ended up cutting our grocery bill almost in half! That was totally shocking to me – I expected no change at all. We feel better in many ways, and we’re also saving about $3,000 per year.
What are your top 3 purchased items that bring or hold the most value in your life?
- Does our dog count? He’s not an ‘item’ but we did buy him and he brings so much joy into our lives.
- Our home gym setup (barbell, plates, squat rack, bench), purchased about 8 years ago. Super convenient, no waiting around, and saved us a fortune too.
- Our french press. Great brewed coffee twice a day made just the way we like it 🙂
What’s your favourite frugal tip?
More of a lifestyle tip, but learning to cook your own food. It’s not very hard and the benefits are numerous – better nutrition, lower cost, and more self-reliance as you can take better care of yourself as an adult. Granted, this probably applies more to younger generations than others.
What’s your favourite frugal activity?
This’ll sound very Mustache-like, but I love riding to the shop to get a few groceries. It just feels so good to be able to do this activity without needing a car. You feel energised, refreshed, and more independent at the same time.
How does living a frugal lifestyle align with your values?
I hate waste out of principle, so frugality is the only thing that makes sense to me – whether it saves money or not. I also care about the environment, so consuming less and living a more locally focused lifestyle lines up with frugality perfectly. Because of this, consuming more is actually less enjoyable for me.
While you’ve been living frugally, have you felt like you have ‘enough’?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve felt like we actually have more than we need, and that we could live just as happily with less stuff and less spending. But life is good, so I’m not too fussed about it!
Strong Money Australia Blog
Dave reached financial independence at the age of 28. Originally from country Victoria, Dave moved to Perth at 18 for job opportunities. But after a year or two at work, Dave became dismayed at the thought of full-time work for another 40+ years, with very little freedom. To escape the rat race, Dave began saving and investing aggressively into property and later shares. After another 8 years of work, he and his partner had reached financial independence.
Where can people find you?
- Blog: Strong Money Australia – Building Financial Strength & A Life of Freedom
- Twitter: @strongmoneyaus
What’s the first blog people should read on your site and why?
If they’re new to FIRE, then my Start Here page is probably the most useful. If they’re a veteran, then having a scroll through the List of All Posts is probably the way to go to find what they’re most interested in 😉
Otherwise, here’s a hand-picked post: If the FIRE Journey Makes You Miserable, You’re Doing it Wrong
Thanks so much to Dave for sharing his journey with us on the blog today!