2 - Choose to Live Well

New Year’s Eve approaches and I’m feeling reflective—on the year that was and the year to come. Specifically, I’m thinking a great deal about what it means to be happy, free, and self-sustaining. I look to my family for these things as they make me happy and help me (us) to be free and, eventually, self-sustaining.

As a stay-at-home dad, I made a conscious decision to put aside, if not discard, my career in IT and take on a role unfamiliar to many men. I handed financial control—at least the income generating aspects—to my wife. Rather than being the member of our family with the highest income, my raw financial contribution in dollars and cents become zero and I spend my days wiping bums and playing house. In short, as Robert Kiyosaki might say, I stopped doing what I can do best: making money as an employee.

Has this hurt us, financially? Not really. Not yet. Not in the short term. Fortunately my wife makes a decent income on her own and this year has been financially productive with her working rurally for six months. I’m not contributing to my superannuation, of course. Had I been working, most of my income would have been put towards paying down the mortgage on our family home. These are important things to think about, particularly in regards to our future financial position and our ability to retire comfortably. My time as a productive employee is limited, after all.

Do we live any less well than than we did when we both worked? No. We’ve always lived frugally. Realistically we’ve been a single family income for a while now as my wife had twelve months off when our first child was born (only a fourth months of which, roughly, was paid). We’ve become accustomed to tightly managing our available funds and resources and while we don’t scrimp and pinch pennies as much as we once did, we by no means lead a lavish lifestyle today.

We’ve essentially chosen to live well.

Our daughter would have had to go to day care, full-time, from the age of one, if I had opted to continue working. Or my wife would have had to put on hold many, many years of education and training in the medical field to stay at home (part-time work is not a real option for her today). Sure, we could have bought some more furniture and some overhead cabinets for the kitchen and maybe another big machine for my woodworking shop but all of those things can wait. In general our long-term lifestyle goals are not much different than our reality today: no flashy cars, no big house, no designer clothes; we appreciate the simple things in life.

A second income would also make us more appealing to the banks in terms of investment loans but I know what we can and cannot afford in terms of debt service so I’ll take my business to the lender who best understands that. Notably, securing funding for this first investment property has not been a problem, primarily because of the equity in our PPOR.

I’m also somewhat fatalistic and I know I won’t live forever. I’m not living it up today, in my thirties, to counterbalance that eventuality, but I despise the idea of working myself to the bone, slumped over a desk day in and day out while life and reality pass me by. My wife would like to work part-time one day in the future (when it will be easier for her to do so) and I genuinely hope she can. She does have a significant contribution to offer society as a doctor but there’s no denying the past ten years of training has been gruesome and taken a toll on our family life.

This is the reason why I’ve opted to invest in residential property. It’s the hope of achieving financial freedom, at relatively low risk, and the promise—however distant—of making a passive income legitimately. An empire of appreciating land, buttressed by the houses on that land generating income so I don’t have to, is, for me, the pinnacle of financial success and personal financial security. There are complexities. There will be hard times ahead. There are also simplicities and there will be good times ahead too.

I spent a significant amount of time this year preparing mentally, through knowledge-building, to start executing a multi-year (multi-decade) investment strategy focused exclusively on residential property. I have minimal experience in this area. There is no doubt I will make mistakes but in pushing forward I gain experience and ultimately reduce and remove risk. As a stay-at-home dad I had a bit of spare time (not much though!) to fast-track my property investment education and I’m reliant on a number of companies to help me stay on track. I like to think I’m not idle at home (beyond the twelve-hour days running the house, that is) and that I’m contributing—financially—to my family’s long-term success and our future ability to live well.

I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.

Happy new year,


1 - The A-Team

When it comes to property investing, one snippet of advice I hear repeated is to assemble your own, personal A-Team. Your team may look slightly different to ours but most A-Teams will typically include a tax account (ideally with significant experience in property investment), a mortgage broker, a solicitor or conveyancer, one or more lenders, a property manager, and one or more real estate agents, buyer’s agents, etc. You may optionally pull in or need to liaise with a financial adviser, an insurance broker, and potentially land developers, builders, and councils if you’re building new.

This is the team we ended up with as we purchased our first investment property. I’ve listed team members in rough order of importance (to my mind).

A very quick note: I do not receive any incentive to mention these companies and individuals, i.e. this is not an advertisement.


I consider myself a numbers guy so you can imagine the accountant is going to be important to me. A good accountant will help you understand why you need to do things in a certain way to maximise your tax benefits and stay clear of any trouble with the ATO.

On recommendation from Open Wealth (see below), we’ve ended up with WSC Group and I can’t speak highly enough of them. Their customer service is above and beyond and Rainer Lamb, in particular, has been instrumental in my own learning, helping us to ensure our ownership and financial structures were correct. The introductory materials provided a detailed overview of how they recommend buying investment property and they specialise in investment property. It’s remarkably clear to me they know what they’re doing.

Interestingly, WSC are based in the Eastern states and we of course live in Perth. I was a little reluctant to leave behind our local accountant but they were not meeting my needs despite being available face-to-face. The WSC accountants do travel interstate and, as mentioned, Rainer in particular has been expedient and accurate in responding to my many, many questions via email. David Shaw, CEO has also been running some webinars of late and came over to Perth for a talk about retirement planning so they’re very engaged with their clients from the top down.

We’ll rely on WSC in the near future to prepare PAYG variations, do our tax returns, of course, and apply depreciation schedules for building and fittings. Basically, their job is to squeeze out every last dollar in tax savings as this first property will be negatively geared initially.

Mortgage Broker

You can shop around to find a good lender but why bother when using a mortgage broker doesn’t cost anything? We used Mortgage Choice when buying our family home before the GFC and although I initiated a conversation directly with our current lender (which proved immensely valuable) I knew we’d likely get a better outcome through a broker. There are a few reasons for saying this: a) I didn’t want to cross-collateralise the investment property loan against our family home b) an impartial broker will almost certainly get you a good product with a good rate from a reputable lender.

We set up a line of credit and a separate main loan for this property so there were a lot of moving parts and paperwork. I knew how I wanted to structure the loans from the get go so had to be fairly direct with Mortgage Choice on that front to get what I wanted but we got there in the end.

It was a mortgage broker who also put me on to the idea that certain low-risk professionals with high-income and/or stable careers (such as my wife—a doctor) may have access to special offerings from the banks when it comes home loans. For example, we could borrow up to 90% of the property value before lender’s mortgage insurance kicked would be required (this doesn’t really matter as we used a split loan structure—a line of credit and the main loan—so LMI shouldn’t be payable even if you don’t have a fancy job title… I’ll go into this more in a subsequent post).

Note mortgage brokers get paid a commission from the lender and don’t charge you a fee. I’m told the commissions Mortgage Choice is paid are consistent across lenders so it should be guaranteed you’ll get the right product for you rather than the product that will achieve the highest commission for the broker. Mortgage Choice told me this so how true it is I can’t say.

For many people getting finance approved is hard and awkward. We originally tried to finance our family home through Wizard Home Loans who eventually came back to us, late into the finance period while the block of land was under offer, to say they couldn’t help us (for whatever reasons—I can’t remember why). We then turned to Mortgage Choice who got us sorted with a bank before the finance deadline. As very naive first home buyers we didn’t have a clue this processes is officially painful but it all worked out in the end. This time around, once finance approvals were all in place, the various members of our team called to congratulate us and my response (not uttered) was pretty much “duh”. In other words, I knew we could achieve the financing we needed, I was confident our mortgage broker would get us there, and guess what? It all worked as it should have.

Buyer’s Agent/Project Manager

This one is optional but may help you find a better buy. You can do the legwork yourself if you’re comfortable doing so to decide which suburb you’ll buy in and which property you’ll buy but if you’re a first-timer (as we are) you might get it wrong—or not do as well as you could have. It depends on your risk appetite and individual circumstances. Some of these companies will charge a fee (percentage-based) while others won’t charge you but get paid commissions (which may or may not be fully disclosed to you) from the land developer and builder.

We elected to go with a company called Open Wealth Creation for many reasons, one of which is the quality of the educational materials they provide at no charge (Cameron McLelland’s book My Four-Year-Old The Property Investor, his booklet The Ultimate Mini Property Investors Guide, and the Wealth WODs (Workout of the Day) he and colleague Al Lewison publish most days in video format). I like that Open Wealth aren’t pushing a get rich scheme but give you a reasonable, sound process (which is fully explained in the materials and backed up by common sense). Open Wealth do charge a significant fee (2% plus GST) but for that you get two things: a) an unbiased recommendation where to buy and b) a project management wrapper around the entire process of buying a block of land, constructing a new house on that land, and renting it out. If you’re time-poor they can pretty much do it all for you, if you want, but I’m choosing to be as involved as I can and have bought in predominantly for the research and experience on offer.

Some readers may scoff at the idea of paying for this service but to me, as a first-time investor, it’s worthwhile. The materials have explained the approach, with which I am comfortable, and, unlike other firms, I’m aligned to the process and believe we’ll do better in the short-term and long-term than had we attempted to do this ourselves.

Notably this is one place to be wary of unscrupulous sharks. Open Wealth will have proven themselves to me only when the build is complete and we have a tenant but they seem—so far—like one of the few legitimate companies I’ve come across. There are all sorts of sales people out there trying to unload their stock (rather than the best property) and make a commission. Be very careful to understand the financial motivations of those you deal with and push them hard to ensure what you’re being told actually makes sense. I initiated conversations with several other companies during the selection process which eventually led us to Open Wealth and as soon as I pushed these companies on really basic matters they backed away and went quiet. It was really weird but I guess they want a pushover who’s just going to open their wallet and make it easy.

Brokers or buyers advocates I’m not familiar with but they may help you find something suitable. I have heard brokers tend to push existing real estate that’s closer to the CBD, rather than new builds in the outer ring suburbs. It’s worth understanding the benefits of building new and buying more low-cost properties over fewer expensive properties.

The Bank

Interesting things, banks. They’re big (even the small ones), operate in isolation from each other (apart from overarching legislation), and are an integral part in property investment. Although we went through a mortgage broker, I started my enquiries with our current bank and the holder of the mortgage over our PPOR. I wanted to give them the opportunity to come up with a good offering even though I didn’t want to cross-securitise an investment property and our PPOR and I therefore new it was unlikely we’d give them our business for the main IP loan.

After assessing our circumstances, a free valuation on our family home was ordered. Knowing the bank value of our home was helpful in understanding how much equity we had in the property and therefore our LVR and what we can do over the next year or two in terms of investments.

The mobile lending specialist was a great help to me in understanding what options were available to us through our current bank and was able to answer many of the questions I had as we progressed with the purchase.

If nothing else, it felt like I had insider access to the bank!


In WA I’d refer to a conveyancer for settlement but because we bought in Queensland we’re dealing with a solicitor. Again, on recommendation from Open Wealth, we went with Blaak & Associates. A solicitor will ensure contracts are in order and ultimately work with the vendor and your lender to ensure settlement goes according to plan. Being from WA I’m not familiar with the settlement process in Queensland. For that matter I’m not particularly familiar with the process in WA! Nor do I wish to be! Conveyancing and settlement is, quite frankly, a chore I’m more than happy to pay someone to do. And the costs are really minimal—a few thousand dollars at most—and are, I believe, tax deductible (or contribute to the cost base of the property at the very least).

A solicitor can also prepare your will, which is something we’re sorting out for the first time as we move ahead. Notably, I’m using the DIY couples will kit from Australia Post… for now, anyway.

Property Manager

I’ll leave this as a placeholder to revisit once our IP is built and we’ve got a property manager on board.

Financial Advisor

For some readers, a financial advisor will be very important. For us, I know we’re forging ahead with property—pretty much exclusively—and I’ve defined our own financial goals and strategy for the short-term, medium-term, and long-term. I could pay a financial advisor to help here but for now I feel it would be wasted money (they do charge a fee). WSC Group do provide financial advice if you’re looking. WSC offer a financial planning service through a company they own called Jigsaw Financial Planning.

Insurance Broker

This listing is at the bottom as it isn’t directly related to property investment. It should probably be higher up in our case. By insurance I’m referring to life insurance, total and permanent disability (TPD), and salary continuance insurance (SCI) or income protection insurance. Although they overlap to some extent they’re all different and can be bought differently. If you’re employed and receive superannuation, you’ll likely find your super company offers basic life and SCI insurance. If you still hold super but aren’t working (like me) then double-check; in my case, I’m not insured.

Admittedly, insurance bores me to tears. More importantly, we’ve considered it too expensive to worry about to date. But with mounting debts and children—and being a single-income family—it’s something we need to consider. Once again, WSC is helping us here and we’re in the early stages of getting a solution in place that will keep us financially safe if something bad happens. I have found the premiums can be adjusted in relation to the amount of cover and, more interestingly, we can pay for some of those premiums using a partial rollover from our existing super funds. I’m not clear how this works but apparently it was introduced with recent (June 2014) legislative changes.

Odds and Ends

Other roles you may need to call on include:

  • A justice of the peace to witness mortgage documents (thank you Queensland!)
  • Your employer
  • Your superannuation fund
  • Your credit card companies
  • Your car and personal loan financier
  • Etc, etc…

I don’t want to suggest you need to have all of these team members in place from day one. We built this team gradually when the need arose and I hope we can reuse team members again in the future without making any changes to the line up. You may need fewer people or have the option to rely on one or two key players to facilitate multiple functions. The communication lines can get a bit complicated (and that’s one area where I’ve already seen tremendous value in Open Wealth as the central hub around which the other functions operate).

I’ll update this list when and as needed.

I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.



Setting the Scene

I’ve previously mentioned property investment and that’s what I’m here writing about (or will be soon once the formalities are out of the way). So before we get started in earnest allow me to explain why we felt the need to invest. As always, I’ll go into specifics in future posts—I promise.

Our pathway through life has been, to date, very much what most people would expect: grow up, go to school (university), get a good job (refer to Robert Kiyoasaki’s excellent Rich Dad Poor Dad book for more on this mantra). You might follow that with work hard, retire, die.

In my case, I opted to start my tertiary education in the arts to lay the groundwork for future specialisation so I studied English Literature and Art History. I followed that with a Masters in Information Technology.

My wife followed a similar path, starting out in veterinary studies before shiftingd over to medicine.

I did alright, academically, in my undergraduate degree and did very well in my Masters degree. The wife did very well throughout. I landed in a pretty good job out of university and my wife entered the public health system to complete her training.

Our incomes grew rapidly as we progressed from junior positions in the first few years of our respective careers and we soon focused on buying a block of land and building a house. We saved enough for a deposit on the land and took on a mortgage worth a lot of money (not quite three quarters of a million dollars at the time—2006—but close enough to make me uncomfortable) for the purchase costs and the build. Interest rates were higher then and bounced around a lot but we were protected by naivety, our double income, and a thrifty nature.

We went to work. We paid our mortgage (which cost over $4,000 a month in the early days). We saved a bit where could, using high-interest savings accounts—and paying tax on the interest of course. We were scared to spend and saved hard to establish a buffer or rainy day account.

At one point, the CIO I was working under suggested to me the best thing we could do with our saving was reduce the interest costs on our mortgage by pushing our spare cash into the included redraw facility. If you’re not familiar with redraw, it works very much like an offset account: any money you put in reduces the principal on which you pay interest. Whereas an offset account is a separate transaction account, a redraw account is basically your mortgage account. The cash you push in can just as easily be pulled back out again. It’s not quite as flexible as an offset account but redraw didn’t attract any fees in our case.

Important note: there are significant downsides to redraw if you ever want to turn the property into an investment property—against which  you would likely want to claim tax deductions. The ATO considers payments into redraw as payments which reduce how much interest you can claim. So watch out for redraw and prefer an offset account instead which doesn’t have the same problem.

From this simple idea was born our financial strategy: manually move cash into the redraw account when it was available, thereby reducing interest costs. This approach would save us hundreds of thousands of dollars and result in the mortgage being paid off early. Oh and there would be no tax to pay (if our cash was instead held in a high-interest savings account or other investment vehicle we would pay tax on the earnings).

Meanwhile, the equity in our home was increasing. It’s now 2014, we’ve owned the block of land since mid-2006 and been in the house since mid-2008. As we worked at our jobs, the property market—and the property cycle—kept working in our favour too, ensuring the value of our house was aligned to the median house price and comparable recent sales in our area.

In round numbers, let’s say we’ve been living in the house for five years; in that time, the equity in the house has increased by over $400k. Of course there’s inflation to contend with and we spent close to $100k on very necessary post-construction activities like pouring a very long driveway (we’re on a rear block), building a deck and pergola, fencing, tiling, painting, carpets, blinds, built in vac, etc, etc.

Equity, locked up in a family home is like almost-free money. That’s simplistic, of course, because to access that “money” really and truly you’d need to sell the house and crystalise the gain which most people probably won’t want to do if they’re living in that house. But—and very importantly—the banks will loan money against that equity using a line of credit or an equity loan. You’ll pay interest just like any other bank loan but you can effectively do whatever you want to with that money such as use it to pay for a deposit on an investment property (or buy stocks or go on a holiday or whatever—but ask an accountant about the idea of mixing the purpose of the loan before you do anything other than attempt to generate money). A line of credit can be established for smaller amounts but can go quite high too—the bank site I’m looking at as I write suggests $750k and up.

At this point, we have a problem. We’ve got a plan to pay off our mortgage in ten years or less (by paying less interest, basically) and we’ve got increasing equity in our home. That’s good problem to have, I suppose! It also sounds like lazy money to me: money—or rather other people’s money (the bank’s)—that could be working for me to make more money (so I don’t have to) but that hasn’t been put to good use.

Following an initial conversation directly with our bank I realised we could be approved for an investment property mortgage and could effect the transaction with no money from our own pocket. Really. Nothing. We couldn’t get a 105% or 110% loan because they aren’t offered by the mainstream lenders post GFC but by combining a line of credit with an investment home loan we could cover all of the purchase costs and we’d avoid paying mortgage lender’s insurance.

Rental income would cover a significant majority of the ongoing costs and tax deductions would take us up near 95%, leaving only a small difference for us to pay. By my (pessimistic) calculations that works out to $4,000 or less a year.

The property will therefore be “negatively geared” but the plan is for it to become neutrally or positively geared in the years to come meaning it makes money (“net cashflow positive”) and costs me nothing in the long-term. All the while the equity in this first property is growing and can be used for other investments.

So we’ve redefined our financial strategy—I plan to dedicate a future post that topic. In short we’ve now outgrown what was a simplistic and great plan (put it all in redraw!) and are now thinking long-term and bigger picture (through retirement and on to death). I’ve done a lot of reading over the last six months and spoken to brokers, accountants, other investors, lenders, and solicitors to understand the moving parts when it comes to property investment. I have a lot more learning to do however!

I’ll write more about risk in the future as well but the way I see it property is in a sweet spot between shares and savings accounts. Understand the risks and they seem rather manageable for the long-term returns you hear about. [Update: see my post Risky Business? for my views in this area.]

A side note: I earned ten thousand dollars one summer as a young man planning bus routes for the school board in my area. Another long story but that money was invested in a handful of tech stocks around 1998/99—just before the tech bubble burst, if you’ll recall! I watched some of the five or six stocks I held soar magnificently in value but was mentored to hold for the long term and I neglected my instinct to sell and cash in the gains. The bubble burst soon enough and my $10k became almost worthless in a short matter of time. In retrospect, I probably bought when prices were already high so the correction left me hanging in the wind. In the next decade that money would have come in terribly handy for immigration to Australia, getting married, studying as an international student, and buying our first home. Of course by that time it was long gone. It’s easy to call stocks a gamble but there are reasons why I have no interest in stocks (to list some of those reasons quickly: market mentality, lack of control or direction over the investment, lack of time and interest to understand company fundamentals, and so on).

Super would be fine and dandy—apart from the fact any contributions are locked away until you reach your preservation age (55 in my case) and the canned investment options are built around securities (and property and cash). Self-managed super would be great, especially when it comes to property investment, but then the ATO won’t allow you to buy a block of land and improve it (build) and building new is what maximises your depreciation benefits.

Other options we considered were to simply save our income. This is simple and surely it’s safe, right? The bank guarantees your savings but it won’t protect your savings from inflation (which is roughly 3% a year on average). Most importantly, your money isn’t working hard enough, even if it is keeping pace with inflation. With interest rates so low, high-interest savings accounts are still quite boring in terms of their returns and term deposits, etc aren’t much better as far as I know.

So we’re starting with property. It costs very little to build an asset base that will grow in value over time and allow us to save tax. Our strategy, if you can’t tell, is very much buy and hold—forever.

Hopefully that gives you some context for the stories and tales that follow. Our situation is unique in that it is our own but in dollars and cents I think you’ll find we’re not all that different from you or your friends and neighbours. There are no secrets and no magic tricks. Yes, there are tricksters and sharks who will attempt to lead you astray and while they may not steal from you, you may not get what you expect in return for payment. There are alternative strategies and approaches you’ll come across, of course. And there is plenty to learn: the financial aspects are fascinating and then of course there’s the tax office and different state laws and functions to consider. As a simple person, however, I don’t believe this stuff is beyond my grasp… but I’ll keep you posted either way!

I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.


The Players

Continuing from my introductory post, there's us. Who are we? I've already mentioned I'm not an accountant or a financial planner.

Me. I'm a stay at home dad, full-time. I earn nothing. I receive no Centrelink or other government benefits. I do not work part-time. I'm a stay at home dad 24 x 7 x 365, with no sick days, no real holidays--not even public holiday off, and I can't even steal stationary. I built a career in IT, working in and out of the private and public sectors for many years although I consider myself predominantly a contractor—i.e. a body for hire. The stay at home dad seed was planted very early in my career and I worked professionally for about ten years from the age of 24 before "retiring". I was earning a very healthy bit of cash before giving away my career and we've sustained a hit without that money coming in. With my wife working more than full-time this arrangement was better for us than having a young child in day care and that child has thrived. I originate from Canada but immigrated to Australia as a young man to live with my new wife and we've been married for ages now.

The missus. She is to be henceforth referred to as “dear wife” or the equivalent. She's a paediatric registrar so basically a trainee doctor (a senior trainee, mind you). So also basically a grunt—or at least she has been. The residents and registrars do all of the night shifts and the weekends and the public holidays and Christmas. If you or your kids have ever considered studying medicine, I'd say don't waste your time. The wife studied at university for six years or so and now, in her mid-thirties, she's nearly finished her formal training. Did I mention the pay is uninspiring? It is. This is a government position, essentially—and it's contract-based so essentially she's a top-tier professional who's had to put up with poor working conditions (public hospital), horrendous hours, low pay, and little real job security for about ten years. My wife is also a very good doctor, not only smart and efficient but a good communicator too.

I should say here don’t let the doctoring thing put you off. Doctor-schmocktor. Our single income is likely less than that of your typical dual-income Perth family and if you flip through a publication like Australian Property Investor you’ll see many single men and women on modest incomes achieving extraordinary things in property. Yes, my wife is a doctor but read on and you’ll see how we actually live—the workload I mention above should offer an idea. If you have a bit of money to your name or, better yet, equity in your current home, there’s so much you can do. My wife could be a plumber and me a bum and it wouldn’t make a great difference.

The Kid. She's two and half. Popped out a while ago and is starting to become expensive. It's not any single one thing but, for example, I recently tallied up the cost of our swimming lessons over a one year period and it was $700 or $800. Then there's nappies, clothes, food, toys, books, furniture, baby gym, petrol to and from activities, medication, and other medical costs. For a little person who suckled her mother until the age of two it's amazing how much money she soaks up. Good thing she's loveable and cute. We’ve got another one on the way.

Lifestyle. I'll write more about this in future posts but I include it here as a summary of who we are as a family. Essentially we started our lives together having to scrimp and save with very little financial support from our parents and we continue to live and breathe that ethos today. We spend rarely and when we do it's with hesitance and consideration. We do not live lavishly. We do not drive fancy cars (we were a single car family until this year). We don't holiday abroad apart for the very occasional trip home to Canada. We dine out occasionally. We don't drink much. Don't smoke. Don't eat meat—we're vegetarians, actually. I bought our first big flat panel TV on Gumtree used for $150 and it was only a 42 incher. Some of the furniture in our house was handed down from my wife’s parents and until this year we still had the old purple microfibre couch her brother gave us when we moved back to Perth… his dogs had slept on it prior to that and Charlotte spewed all over it while breastfeeding so it was finally due for replacement. In other words, we save—again, I'll explain how later.

In a nutshell, that's us. I’ll no doubt expand on the above in future posts.

I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.



When my wife and I bought a block of land in Western Australia way back in 2006 I wanted very much to share my experience in writing with others but I never quite found the time. We built our first home--our family home--on that block in the suburb of Wembley Downs and I opted to do much of the post-construction work myself so time was always at a premium and I never had much of it to spare.
We're building again but this time for investment purposes.
We're planning this second build as the first property in a portfolio so I'm documenting the journey for my own benefit because I find writing helps to internalise what I’ve learnt. I've also found there is a ton of information online and elsewhere all about the what, why, when, where, how, and who so I'm hoping to present a neutral, unbiased recounting of my own experiences for those who are interested.
I blogged about IT when I was working in the IT field, sharing my experiences with specific products and technologies, and was astounded at the positive feedback I received from the technology community in response to those posts. Frequent tags on those posts were "Things to Remember" and "How to" and I had as much fun writing them as I did working through the relevant problems. As was always the case with that blog, and will remain the case with this blog, I hope you find what I post to be interesting and useful--and if you believe something I've written is incorrect I'd very much like to hear your viewpoint and optionally start a conversation.
My aim is to keep my posts short and sweet and cover off bite-sized topics that are easy and quick to digest. This is hard for me. After receiving my first term essay, the Poetics professor in my first year English Lit undergraduate program labelled me "wordy and verbose" and I've been fighting against that judgement ever since! [Update: sorry]
I expect the content of this blog, despite being investment focused, will also intermingle with the story of my life, anecdotally, so I'll try and be kind to your weary eyes.
I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.