This post is based on an interview we conducted with Richard in April 2019.
Real Money Talk is our series where we interview Australians from all walks of life about their personal finances. The views expressed are those of the interviewees, based on their experiences with money, and as such are not necessarily representative of Spaceship's views.
We have changed the name of the interviewee for their privacy.
Where do you live: Adelaide
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I live with my girlfriend and beautiful dog.
I compete in weightlifting, I’m a Marvel movie junkie and I’m doing my best to get ahead.
I feel like I’ve cruised through most of my life without much direction until the last 2-3 years where I’ve decided what I want and much of it has to do with gaining freedom through building wealth.
What is your current net worth?
How does it break down? (shares, real estate, businesses, home, superannuation, etc)
Property: $1.9M ($490,000 equity). I have a house and 4 investment properties, all with mortgages.
Business: 25% share in a gym. Unsure of the value.
Any debts? (including HELP from Uni)
$1.41M in mortgages across the 5 properties
$20,000 to my mum which is a loan for deposit for the 5th property. I’ll pay her back this year.
How did you accumulate your net worth?
Lifelong saving and then recent investing (last 3 years).
Tell us a bit about your career:
I work full time as a government consultant. I’m really lucky at the moment to work for an amazing company but the last job is the one that made me try to replace my income through investing (i.e. It sucked!).
Do you have income sources outside of your job? If so, how much do you earn from each and how did you develop them?
The properties make me around $24,000 a year cash flow, plus a bit more in tax back when I do my return.
I earn around $16,000 with my second job at the gym, but not passively.
I also do some cash work throughout the year but that’s normally only $2,000-3,000 year. I rent my apartment on Airbnb whenever I’m away which usually returns another $2,000-3,000 a year.
I have a goal to add one income stream every year.
What advice do you have for people who want to earn more money?
Treat money with respect.
It sounds superficial talking about money this way but it has an important place in our society to allow us to live good lives and I see too many people who are frivolous now and they will regret it down the track.
Start investing early and understand that compound interest can make you more than your career so learn to control your money early and it won’t stress you out.
What is your savings rate? And how has it changed over time?
I save around $5,000 a month. My savings rate goes up and down but is trending upwards as my income improves.
Do you have a budget?
I don’t set a budget but my method is to keep all of my savings in my offset account and pay interest only on my home mortgage for now to reduce my living expenses.
Everything goes into my offset account and my big bills (mortgage/credit card) are paid automatically from there. More goes in than comes out each month.
How much do you spend per year?
Probably $50,000-$60,000. I’m not too sure. My mortgage with rates and body corporate costs me $20,000 per year.
Do you make purchase decisions carefully, or are you loose with your money?
I’ve always been fairly careful and look for the best deals. I don’t like to overpay on anything.
How is your work-life balance?
It’s pretty good I think. I work around 50 hours a week but I don’t have any kids yet and I take several holidays a year so it’s not too bad.
What is your favourite thing to spend money on?
Anything that I pick up for a good deal haha. I just bought a Dyson vacuum 30% off and I love it!
How do you invest?
Mainly into property – buying properties that rent for more than they cost to hold. I also salary sacrifice into my super.
What has been your best investment?
The properties have all done well so far. They reduce my overall tax rate and provide a steady income stream. My property portfolio has gained around $180,000 of equity in just over 2 years.
What has been your worst investment?
Crypto. I invested a lot of money in November 2017 just as everything in Crypto was doing amazingly well.
My money tripled overnight and I couldn’t resist putting in more. It then proceeded to get absolutely slammed for the next 12 months and is now worth a fraction of what I put in. Maybe it will go up again *shrugs*
What's been your overall return?
Not sure exactly. It’s definitely been positive but I have been burned a few times by bad investments. It’s just part of the game and things I need to get better with.
How are you building wealth?
Spend less than I earn and invest the difference.
What are your main roadblocks? And how are you addressing them?
The banks have tightened their lending criteria. In the past someone with my salary could have bought 20 properties but now I’m stuck for the moment with 5.
I’m addressing it by paying down some debt, trying to increase my income and am trying to save as much as I can to prepare for the next recession where I plan to buy a lot of shares.
Do you have a target net worth you want?
My first goal is to get to $1 million which is probably still 2-3 years away. Long term I’m thinking $10 million but with inflation who knows what dollars will be worth by then.
When did you make your first significant behavioural shift towards wealth building?
It happened when I had several life setbacks at the same time.
I lost my job and rescinded the contract for my first home – a townhouse which I was buying off the plan. The developer built the house far too small and after a battle I ended up walking away.
I had no home and got stuck in an entry level job. It was a real low point but that was when I decided I had to do better.
If you could start again, what would you do differently? (Advice for younger self)
Start investing early! I’ve always been a good saver but if I had my current mindset 10 years earlier who knows where I could be now. Property and blue chip stocks.
What mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?
Buying risky investments and not knowing when to sell.
I’ve invested in risky shares and crypto and both times I’ve watched them do amazingly well and then shockingly bad without selling while they were up.
Do you have any worries about retirement? If so, how are you planning to address them?
Not really. I know that I’ll be ok in retirement.
How are you learning about building wealth? Is it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?
I paid a mentor for a year who helped me with my first few property purchases.
I also read a lot of books and listen to YouTube videos and podcasts while driving. I’ve been to quite a few seminars as well. I can’t really switch my brain off from thinking about my finances these days.
Do you give to charity? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?
I don’t currently give to charity because I’m not confident about where my money is going, especially with larger organisations.
For example, I don’t want to be donating money to charities with highly paid CEOs. I used to donate to Save the Children. I do donate money to people in need where I know the money will help.
Last year I gave $400 to a woman fighting cancer to fund her treatment. I have also signed up to be a mentor for Camp Magic – a charity that helps children deal with loss of family members.