Goal #1: Launchpad

Hey all,

I want to expand a bit on goal #1 and make it a bit of a series to keep a history of my progress. Going to be a little hard without going into specific numbers but lets see how we go, I might change my mind later.

To give a bit of an understanding of my starting point for this journey I currently have the following conditions:

  • Low four-figure income per fortnight, like, just into the four-figure range
  • Salary sacrifice super contribution because I'm behind where I should be at my age
  • Zero interest car loan (bank of mum and dad) should be paid off by 2021 at current rate, though I may move some money around
  • Spaceship Voyager account chipping in a bit of income each fortnight (currently 36% up! Crazy!)
  • Lastly, and kind of controversial to some, I've got just under 1,000 invested in cryptocurrency. No bitcoin, it's all in other coins like Etherium, Litecoin and Ripple (more like R.I.Pple at the moment)

The crypto has given me a bit of a taste for following movements in a speculative market (despite what some would have people believe, they are still a speculative investment) which is where I'm now at the stage of looking at the actual stock market for long term (talking 5-10 years) investment. Given these crypto investments have been in the market for a year I can cash them in at any time and move it to the stock market without incurring 100% Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on any profits as it reduces to 50% after 12 months. Though I have also toyed with the idea of writing a day trading bot as an experiment to see if a Raspberry Pi running a small python script can take a few hundred dollars and day trade it to a profit by tracking price movements and selling high and buying in the dips. Doing the tax return on that one could be fun...

Anyway Spaceship Voyager was my first "toe-in-the-water" exposure to the stock market. Spaceship is, essentially, a Listed Investment Company (LIC). An LIC is a company that other people invest in who take the invested money and make really smart investment decisions using a lot of complicated algorithms and market history. As it stands the 50 or so companies they've invested the dosh into have had all but 6 or 7 run in positive territory this year. With no fees under 5k is makes it a good foundation for putting some savings aside and getting some market growth to generate the interest for you without needing to research the companies yourself. Could be a decent set-and-forget arrangement too as their fees after 5k are currently only 0.10% or something (at the time of writing).

After this gets to 5k I'll probably aim to transfer that into an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). An ETF is similar to an LIC in that it's an investment into a group of companies rather than a single company. The main difference I can see with the bit of research I've done is that ETF investment groupings are more focused than an LIC's. They might be broken into sectors (tech, medical, minerals, and so on) or into status groupings such as the top 200 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) which is a relatively safe investment, or the companies most likely to return high growth which is a high risk investment as they may tank as fast as they grow. The running theory is that it's best to invest at minimum chunks of 5,000 at a time. So it makes it perfect for Spaceship to not have any fees (at the time of writing) up to that value. Take it out of there, put it in an ETF and start the Spaceship balance over again.

The last option is investing in individual companies. This is really a strategy for people who want to target specific companies, perhaps for their dividend payouts (a form of income) or long term holding a company that is more likely to continue growing its stock price and selling those stocks later for mad gains. The thing I've found here is that for dividend paying companies you may get consistent payouts or they'll fluctuate based on the performance of the company and their method of paying out. It seems ETF's that invest across multiple companies tend to have a more stable dividend payout amount. As the saying goes though, mileage may vary so do your research. I'm probably not going to be doing any individual investments for a while as I'm not looking for anything like dividend income at this time. I'd be after stock growth.

The car is easy, paying out a specific amount each fortnight back to mum and dad for helping me secure a slightly newer car than I was looking at to last me (ideally) a bit longer. I've just hit 100k on the odometer so it's probably still got plenty of legs in it considering it's mostly to get to and from work (like, 15 kilometers each way). Repayments fluctuate a bit based on my income as I'm trying to pay it down consistently but also quickly so that money can then get funneled elsewhere.

Salary sacrificing into super was a decision I debated with myself over a couple of months. I was, on the one hand, considering using the amount for other investment options (Spaceship or the ETFs) to have limited availability (a bit of work compared to parking it in a high interest savings account but not locked away like it would be in super). On the other hand though, as mentioned above, I'm quite a way behind on where I apparently should be on super for a male approaching 30 years of age. According to the general advice of my super liaison I should have close to 30k and be starting to see compound interest having a growth effect. I'm not anywhere near that. So I've put the extra in and switched the account to a high growth option to try and catch up a bit. High growth is okay in the super account for now because I've got at least 30 years of working life to bounce back from any major downturns in the next 10-15 years and use the high growth to bounce back better (provided, you know, I still have a job with a major downturn).

So that's where I'm at as of the start of 2020. I've got figures stored in a draft post that I may in future come back and add them to this post if I decide to start sharing numbers. For now though, that's pre-launch testing done, we're on the pad ready for takeoff!

See you soon,

  • Scott

2020

Hello Everyone,

Not sure which of these I'm going to publish first, 2019 reflection or looking forward at 2020. Let's see what happens. Not so much resolutions because I don't particularly like the thought of New Year Resolutions but just things I'd like to get done or aim for this year. They're goals, not resolutions! Read the bold text for the cliff notes or read the whole thing if you're really that interested ;)

Goal #1: Save more money

To get pessimistic for a moment... Record low interest rates and exorbitantly high housing prices (a long term goal of mine) with unsustainable immigration and the general public reluctant to spend money (hence lowering interest rates) is powder-keg for an economic reset to my mind. So being in a position to prepare for what may come as a result of that might be a good idea. Without providing specific numbers at this time (public blog yo!) the goal is an average 5 figure amount just in case work dries up or an opportunity to invest that money arises (see #7 for more on this). This will probably mean shifting my previous habits which leads to goal 2.

Goal #2: Cook more

I know my way around a kitchen. I'm not clueless when it comes to cooking I just don't do it often enough (partly because I hate the dishes that come as a result but I just need to get over that, partly because I haven't previously dedicated a lot of time to spending in the kitchen). So goal 2 for 2020 is to cook more, especially more batch meals that can be used for lunches during the week. Not to say I'm going to stop having lunch or dinner out with people altogether, just not all the time. Saves money and is probably better for me. Which leads to...

Goal #3: Better physical shape

Going pretty well with the segues. I'm a lot better now than I was out of Uni back in 2011, I was close on 120kg and generally felt like crap. I couldn't run 100 metres without just about passing out from exhaustion and the thought of doing anything physically exerting was daunting. Just walking to the station to catch a train (a walk of around 1 kilometre) had me hyperventilating at the idea. I was in a bad spot, no motivation and no confidence; I hated going to places where I would be meeting new people. So I made changes. I started slow, eating one less piece of potato in the roast, not eating the entire bowl of pasta (and definitely not going back for seconds), not smashing all the chips in the Fish and Chips wrap. That was a process that took around four years to come to fruition.

I got down to 86kg at the lowest level around 2015/16. I'm back up to a nudge over 90kg but part of that will be muscle buildup from this yard work I'm doing (lifting blocks and hand mixing water into pre-mix mortar is hard work!). I'd like to try and get back down to that 85-86 mark though, hopefully that cooking will help with that. I've had a couple of offers to be a gym buddy, need to weigh up (no pun intended) whether that works with Goal #1 in mind.

Goal #4: More productivity/less games

This one probably sounds a little strange without some context but I waste a lot of time. I've been an expert procrastinator for things outside of work and study the last few years. I'd rather watch YouTube, Netflix or lately Disney+ than do any actual productive work. It's either that or games. You'd just have to take a look at my overall hours in Steam to know this. Even if half of them are idle hours, or leaving sim games (Cities Skylines was like a drug!) running overnight to gather more resources/money, or accidentally leaving launchers open that track active playing time, the remaining time spent playing is still A LOT. And I no longer have the excuse of gaming to make YouTube videos like I once did. So the next few goals are going to relate to things I can be productive about without major capital investment (as mentioned above and in my 2019 post). Starting with playing less games unless I get back into making videos of it.

Goal #5: STATS

Oh STATS. How I have treated you poorly. Countless hours spent ripping code apart and rebuilding it. Deciding part way through to transition to Object Oriented instead of the spaghetti procedural code I had. This is a case of being over productive through perfectionism. I've found myself spending too much time correcting things I'm not happy with instead of leaving it in place until everything is done then improving it. I would love to get a production version of STATS live at some stage this year though. Like a proper working build not the development piece of garbage that's live at the moment.

Goal #6: Personal Website

I'd started learning Grav with the idea of using it to make a new personal website last year. With everything that went on I dropped it and haven't been back to it yet and I'm starting to think for my next one I'll just make it hard code style and then port it over to Grav later once I've got the hang of it. Pretty keen to learn the system as I think I'd eventually be able to apply Twig in other places.

Goal #7: Productive Viewing

If I'm going to be watching so much stuff, I might as well mix in some productive viewing. In fact I've already started this by following some general financial advice channels on YouTube (the kind that have disclaimers saying they're not real financial advisors they're just documenting their own findings, which is still interesting) and using my access to LinkedIn Learning through work to pick up additional skills. It's been interesting learning about passive income ideas and general stock market advice. Not as daunting as it initially sounded and potentially something I'll look into as part of Goal #1. Courses on LinkedIn Learning are quite good, allowing you to piecemeal learning or info dump an entire course in a day and go back later to revisit bits you need a refresher on. I've already started with PHP and Python courses to further improve my skills.

Goal #8: Reconnect (and better connect) with people

A bit of a left field one but as far as productive things go there's nothing more productive than healthy friendships. I mentioned in the 2019 post that I've been getting better at picking up when someone is just as interested with what's going on with me as I am with them, and lowering my interest in those who aren't. I classify this as productive because I'm not spending as much time focusing on what other people are up to when they are really not as concerned with what I'm up to or what's going on with me.

Is eight enough? I feel like ten would be a well rounded number so let's rattle off a couple more and then wrap things up.

Goal #9: Get better organised

I am a messy person. Just ask my mum. Thing is I hate that I'm a messy person so this seems like a good time to start doing something about that. I have a lot of stuff. I've kept a fair bit of it around in anticipation of one day using it in my own space but right now that just seems too far away to warrant keeping some of these things around. I've also got a lot of crap I just don't use any more, and am unlikely to use even if I had my own space. It's a bit late for a Spring clean but better late than never, right?

Goal #10: Keep this thing updated

I had a tough time coming up with a 10th goal until I realised it was staring me in the face. I've said it and not really done it a couple of times now, but I want to keep this blog thing going this year. So that's goal 10. Write more here.

So that's the outline for 2020. Let's see at the end of this year where I'm standing on these. Goal 10 should be easy for you to keep track of and hassle me about it if I start falling behind on posting ;)

That is all for now,

  • Scott

2019

Hello Everyone,

I want to talk about my plans for this year, both professional and personal, but first I should touch on last year so check out the next post for my plans for 2020. Because 2019 was quite a turbulent year I think it is worth talking about. I remember saying in the 2017 appreciation post that:

A bit of a revealing year surrounding who you are as a person and how you approach (or will approach) things differently now compared to a year ago.

I'm starting to feel like this is becoming just an ongoing trend. Partly because I keep coming across new situations that mean a new part of me is revealed I hadn't had to deal with before and partly because old situations keep popping back up to deal with differently to the first time. Back in 2017 I said I was still thinking about the idea of getting into teaching after it was suggested to me by the Program Leader at the time. I ended up doing that and 2019 was my first year of teaching. I keep saying it was great and I really enjoy it but at this stage I haven't had a group that has been difficult to deal with. I'll come back to you with my feedback on that when I cross that bridge (I say when because I know it will happen).

However, it's worthwhile pointing out it was a highly stressful year. Especially in the later months leading into summer.

We had two major projects, I thought there was a chance one would be winding down as the other ramped up (for me at least, my higher ups were quite busy with both projects early on at around the same time). That... didn't happen. Both ended up aligning and hitting the critical point at nearly the same time. There were some late nights and stressful days as we frantically worked to meet deadlines. It was reaching a point where I was missing basic tasks in my role because I just had zero mental capacity left to think about it. Oh and at the time there was uncertainty around the entire institute due to the dreaded "corporate restructure". Anyone who's been through those knows enough about how stressful those are. So yeah, three things all kind of aligned into a perfect storm for me. And that's just the work stuff.

It wasn't all bad though. As with previous years I've met, or better got to know, people and am further picking up my own cues on the kinds of people that are as interested in what's going on with me as I am with what's going on with them and reallocating time where that doesn't line up. There's been a small number of people who have really helped me swim against the tide of a torrential river, and I apologise if I've been a bit distant lately but hopefully they know who they are and how helpful they've been. Also I guess as an extension to this how I prefer to hang out with these people. I'm starting to realise I don't need to have big lavish nights out (or in) with huge crowds of people, in fact I'm starting to prefer smaller groups and ordering in (or even cooking!) and relaxing in a private space.

Some things I was hoping to get done this year (not resolutions, just goals as you'll see in my 2020 post) but didn't really get to. A big one was probably getting into diorama and model making. Followed closely by getting back into woodworking more seriously. Both require more space than I have available right now, and a bit of cash I now see I can't afford to spend at this time. At least I've got the 3D printer and access to 3D modelling software to start messing with things I want to create in the diorama space so that when I do have the space and money I can start working on it again. I've got some tools and spare wood lying around so I can at least work up some little day projects when the weather is nice.

I guess I can sum it all up by saying that 2019, especially the second half of the year, was a regretfully stressful time that just didn't line up with where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. So I guess something for 2020 is to head into the new year with a goal to do some things I've been putting off. More on that in my 2020 post though.

Have a happy new year everyone. I have spoken,

  • Scott

(did you get that reference?)

STATS Update

Hey,

So I've taken a bit of a break from Grav and Twig, in part because I need to reconsider a couple of things based on my designs and in part because I need to do a bit more reading on Twig before my ambition exceeds my ability and I rage quit because I can't do something I want it to do (I had that a lot with Wordpress early on, even phpBB when I used to make themes for that, so I know to take the time to read up on things now).

So I've jumped back into taking a look at STATS. Oh boy. Where to even start with this thing. I was so crudely putting it together in a rush to have it done I hadn't considered just how poorly I was putting it together. It's a database driven application that should really have at least a few classes and functions that lighten the load on the server but I haven't done ANY of that. I've got database queries left-right-and-center occasionally doing the same thing multiple times when I could just be smarter with one database call. Talk about sloppy.

The front-end design is not 100% finalised, I don't mind the colour scheme but I want to make it so users can select different colour schemes and save it as a preference. Which, to be honest, is going to require a bit of a rebuild of the whole front end so I'm going to save that for later the code is already messy enough without overhauling the layouts. I want to move to templates so I get rid of the mess of PHP files lying around. That's a problem for another time though.

The Admin Control Panel (ACP) so far

The ACP is mostly functional, managing a couple of things still needs some work but this is another area I think requires a bit of a tweak to the design. Not as major here as the front-end though as there's no desire to put a bunch of different colour schemes in the ACP. You can see in the screenshot above the ACP homepage is still littered with my workings on different things. Setting user levels; generating activation codes for registering accounts; working out EPOCH times; date and time conversions; text encryption for password storage; working out special character insertion. You know, development stuff.

One of the more completed page layouts

This is one of the more complete page layouts for locations. I've been using data from an online racing community I'm part of but don't have track maps at the moment so I made a placeholder image.

I'll have a bit more to say about this once I've had a chance to dig through and find all my sloppy mistakes. I'd start again but this would the third time of asking starting from scratch so I'm not sure I'm keen on that idea.

That's all for now, Scott.

Grav Development: Part 2 - Porting a header

Hey,

So after a bit of reading on how twig works I've started diving in and making some modifications for the theme I created in Part 1 of this series of posts. You're basically going to be seeing my build process for a new website, which I have no problem sharing because I'd love if something I do helps someone struggling with something similar.

So the first point to check off was to get a header working. I had a static page I had been working up for my new personal website that I've decided to use as my test bed for this process. This is going to be an interesting challenge because I'd planned to have a landing page which is separate from the normal homepage. Let's see how that works out but I've got a plan in case it doesn't go the way I think.

So here's the static version I was aiming to port over. The header block I was aiming to transfer

And here's the same code section incorporated into Grav. The header block after being transferred

I'm not showing any screenshots of the end result just yet, not ready to show anything off at this stage. So far so good though. Time to start working on the actual content section and see what kind of magic can happen there with different templates!

Bye for now. Scott.