Tethers

Has it really been four months since my last post? I guess it makes sense I was never good at keeping these things up to date anyway.

Anyway, we're entering stage 4 lockdown and I'm just about done with this whole situation. I've just reached a point this week where I'm just over it. I hate talking about it, I hate hearing about it, it's everywhere and it's fucking draining now. Not just the virus itself but all the shit circling around the eye of the storm. However...

Like I said in my previous post, this too shall pass. Sure it's gone on a lot longer than any of us thought (and now probably hoped) it would. We've missed events both locally and interstate and the longer this drags the fear grows that we are going to miss more and more of them. The unfortunate thing is we are now likely living in a time of two pandemics, both of which you cannot see.

The pandemic of the body and the pandemic of the mind.

Here we are facing another round of harsher lockdowns, potentially a lot of time to overthink little things and spiral into a funnel of thoughts. Everyone is facing this circumstance of thinking about their personal lives in a way they may not have had to think about it before and it's daunting. People finding themselves thinking about society as a whole in relation to how we have communally handled this global situation has them down. And I don't blame them looking at some of the comments and headlines (such as that doctor who had publicly comment that "wires in masks are not 5G antennas", seriously?!) there's a lot to be drawn down about which is the part of the reason I now kind of avoid it all.

We keep hearing about how "we're all this together" and how "we all have a role to play" yada yada. Realistically all these sound bites are just the easy way of trying to achieve something that you can't achieve with simple sound bites. Imagine the scene in The Return of the King when the Rohirrim cavalry show up with Theodin and instead of giving the rousing speech he just says "We're all in this together" nonchalantly and charges the Orcs. I wouldn't be that convinced to ride to my potential death. Given the speech he made though fucking count me in like that sword wielding madman charging the Orcs with unmatched ferocity.

In the end some of us a more in it together than others, and the fact they're all deciding to be Saruman and look after themselves before everyone else is disappointing but not all surprising. I just hope that we have learned something for next time there is a global pandemic threatening the stability of the country. Because it will happen again and like improvements to infrastructure and transport we should improve practices and responses when it comes to future outbreaks based on the outcomes of this one. Time will tell. But fuck everyone who's put us in this situation if I can't get over to England next year for one my longest standing friend's wedding.

As in my previous post, if you're needing an ear to vent to I'm here to listen.

Outing some Inner Discourse

This has been, and will continue to be, one of the toughest periods we as a generation have been through. "Social distancing", "physical isolation" or whatever the hell you want to call it is going to rain hell on everyone. We're two weeks in to a potential six month (or even longer) stint of this shit and I've already had it. I continue to grit my teeth and bear it because it's the right thing to do. It gets to a point though where even someone who prefers nights in or quiet nights with a few friends over clubbing or gigs gets antsy at the amount of time spent in one's own company.

The only thing I cling to is the thought that "this too shall pass", and all the things that have been put on the backburner as a result of this crisis will come to the forefront again. All I can say is that I'm here if you need to talk, I said a couple of years ago The door is always open, the kettle only takes a few minutes to boil and in the event I’m not here I’m just a phone call or a message away to at least get the ball rolling on talking. Because sometimes you just need someone to vent to, talk to, or get feedback from. I may not be the best at any or all of those things for your situation, but if you want to at least try, I’m here for you. While the door isn't really open at the moment, the rest still applies.

I read somewhere that this whole situation will be a prime opportunity for some people to stop and actually see what's right in front of them. Realisations that should have been made long ago but there was neither the time nor the solitude for one's mind to stop and think about these things. Or worse still the realisations that had been made but not acted on, and now can't be acted on due to restrictions. The ability to cast the mind back to events that could have played out differently had these realisations been made or acted on then rather than thought about now. That was actually one of my takeaways from Man's Search for Meaning that has kind of helped here. You can't change the past so it's not worth spending too much time thinking about it, really reinforced the line Chris said to me once "don't give too much gravity to your history".

This definitely came at a bad time for me personally, though I freely and wholeheartedly admit I'm not anywhere close to as bad as some have coped it. I still have a job and it is, at this stage, secure through all of this but it was bad from the perspective that I'd just started a new job. Two days in and the order comes down to start working from home makes the whole thing of learning a new role and the responsibilities very difficult. The entire team is adjusting to working from home so I'm not alone overall, but being new to the role makes it an extra level of work and is without doubt going to be the hardest part of the job. I know for a fact that, at least right now, I am not a work from home person.

On other levels the timing has sucked as well. There were places to go and people to see, dad's birthday was today and mum's is next week; we were due to travel to Queensland to see my sister and her family as celebration for mum but that is called off now with no idea when we'll be able to reschedule that trip. I had plans with a couple of friends to go and see MSO's Fantasia Live Concert, that's postponed. Plans to visit friends in Woodend the weekend just gone were called off a few weeks ago, lunches and dinners with friends that can't legally happen, celebrations, and even a call out to help friends move into their new house.

This too shall pass.

Goal #9: A bit of a setback

I'm going to be honest. I've not dedicated any time to getting myself more organised.

I know exactly what I want to do, I just haven't committed the time to do it. And I've actually added even more stuff to my collection that needs a home somewhere. My birthday present (contribution of birthday money as well as my own) has ended up being a range of woodworking power tools for getting back into furniture making and woodworking. So I've had a bit of a setback there.

But I have a plan. It starts with beginning to sort through the containers of stuff I've already boxed up and starting to get rid of some things I no longer need or want. Then using those boxes to crate up the things I do want to keep long-term and storing them away. It ends with using aforementioned power tools to build a boat load of new storage options for all of my stuff (shelves, cabinets, drawers, boxes). It's all planned, I just need to do it now.

Time to draw up some furniture plans!

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