Net worth allocation 2019

I wrote this at the start of January 2020 but then SO MUCH STUFF happened (actually this whole financial picture just changed this week so doing this again in December will be interesting)!

Just to preface, I consider my financial health tied to T’s and our finances have been tied since 2018 and I don’t see the point separating them out. For transparency, I earn less and had/have less assets, both of us have had varying levels of privilege and financial help bestowed by our parents, and since living together we have both made decisions and sacrifices together to be on the same financial path.

Our approximate allocation by end of 2019 (household of 2):
Equity in PPOR real estate (value minus remaining mortgage): 26.9%
Cash offsetting PPOR mortgage: 23.8%
Equities in stock market: 29.5%
Cash gains (expected) from sale of IP: 5%
Cash: 0.4%
Superannuation: 14.4%
MINUS DEBT (HELP): 1.6%

PPOR: Principal place of residence
IP: Investment property
HELP: Higher Education Loan Program

Real estate: We sold one apartment (“mine”) because we didn’t see any benefits keeping it. It helped realise a good chunk of cash, which we need more than holding the asset and it sits in the mortgage offset. (The price did not go up, by the way, but it wasn’t unexpected.) We kept our eyes on landed real estate (we want a house in the suburbs to put down roots) all year but officially are in the market as of late November 2019… right around the time the market went to sleep for Christmas and New Years, haha. We are hoping to purchase in 2020, and honestly if it doesn’t happen in 2020 we may be in a predicament in 2021, financially (see next section).

Cash in offset: [The offset account, one of the safest tax-free “investment/saving” vehicles accompanying a mortgage. I believe this is fairly unique to Australian banking.] Our reasonable amount of cash in offset means our mortgage repayments are smashing through the loan’s principle amount. As we need cash for purchasing a house in 2020 (fingers crossed), funnelling money into the offset is the best and safest return on investment we can hope to achieve. Mortgage repayments are almost entirely paying principle now as the there is only a tiny bit of interest charged thanks to our cash offset almost equalling the outstanding loan. The tricky thing is our cash will likely equal the balance of the mortgage by mid/late 2020, so beyond that level, our cash will no longer be helping us and we will need to do something else with it instead of sitting around losing to inflation. This is why purchasing in 2020 will be the best timing.

Equities in stock market: T’s portfolio is over ten times mine and entirely Australia-weighted so it makes me very nervous. His portfolio’s reinvested dividends accounts for around one quarter of his taxable income so we are paying a lot of income tax on those reinvested dividends. We have actually switched dividend reinvestment off starting December 2019 to realise a bit more cash to help our borrowing capacity and increase cashflow for the next year or so (with the expectation of purchasing a house and using up a lot of cash). My much smaller portfolio contains some overseas exposure but I will need to lean a lot more heavily towards overseas markets as I try and rebalance with both portfolios in mind. I don’t see us adding to shares much, if at all, in 2020 as we need to keep as much cash as humanly possible for purchasing a house.

Cash gains from sale of investment real estate: I’m not sure how to classify this. In December we sold an investment apartment that we have partial stakes in. So this is the expected gains that we will see in cash at settlement in January factoring in some fees deducted (and then we will pay capital gains tax at the end of the financial year). My calculations could also be way off though…

Cash: I keep a tiny sliver of cash in my own account (I make sure to keep this low if it gets beyond a certain number, as this cash is not making any money unlike cash in offset) and there’s some cash in the Citibank account that provides us fee-free and near-global rate currency conversion for overseas travel. I did not empty the account after the last overseas trip and the number is not so high that I feel the need to move the money out. The cash in my own account is to pay for all our household expenditure and also there in case I ever encounter an urgent situation that required cash. Every time I receive my pay, I transfer a portion to T (savings to offset mortgage) and then the remainder I use to pay for all our living expenses. The portion I give to T actually covers the mortgage and more so essentially T’s entire wage becomes our “savings”.

Superannuation: (Australian retirement fund – employers must contribute a minimum 9.5% of employee’s salary on top of salary. In Australia, we commonly don’t label our wage to include superannuation and benefits.) I’ve been in a high growth portfolio for a few years and only managed to get T around to switching his strategy over at the end of the year (crying at all the lost gains – despite working more years than me and having been in a field that pays almost double the minimum superannuation, his balance is not significantly higher than mine). I feel there’s no worth staying in a balanced or conservative strategy at this age as the money is locked away until preservation age. At this time in our lives (need cash!!!) I am not considering concessional contributions a smart option.

Other: HELP “debt” is indexed to inflation and paid back based on salary, so I don’t consider this debt, since it is the cheapest money one can get (interest rate effectively 0%). I might have three or four more years to go. T paid his off a couple of years ago – he started working before me, earned more and took on less HELP debt overall.

Spending: Too high. Travelled overseas twice and I shopped a lot. We are travelling overseas twice again in 2020, but I expect that both will be cheaper and shopping will be kept lower this year.

Looking ahead to 2020: I mean, everything hinges on whether we can find and purchase the house that we want. We have some strict criteria and a “tight” budget so either we buy something we can barely afford or the real estate market will continue to price us out. If we can’t find anything within budget, we’re more likely to just continue living in the city rather than sacrificing more of our housing criteria, though an unpredictable timeline for purchasing a house makes it very difficult to make a plan for our cash as our apartment will effectively “paid off” by the end of 2020 (but we won’t technically pay it off as cash in offset is wonderfully liquid). Our plans with the current apartment are to sell it after buying a house as we won’t have enough cash if we reach our maximum house budget. If we find something below the maximum budget, we would consider keeping the apartment. I personally appreciate that the apartment is in a sort after building in a very prime location, making it one of the few decent apartments to actually hold.

What I bought/gave: Presents this holiday season

There are heaps of gift guides, but I’ve always wondered what people actually give to people around them, so if you’re nosy like me, here are the things I gave people for Christmas and around Christmas. My family (every single one of them) and best friends all have their birthday around the November to January period, so I often combine the occasions in the gift-giving. I don’t pressure myself to find a present though, so if I can’t think of something useful/practical or that they would actually use/like, I don’t stress about not giving them something. I don’t think any of my family or friends will mind (though I make a special effort to give something to our grandmothers). I didn’t buy my Dad a birthday gift, for example. T and I also didn’t get each other anything. Neither of us wanted anything for Christmas.

T’s parents: T’s parents have moved frequently in the years I have known them and were in the midst of another move in December, so we are very mindful not to give them things that might become clutter. We try to not give them junk food/snacks unless it’s something quite unique, as they always have too many snack items (plus health reasons!). This year we gave them a gift voucher to a restaurant, Cheek, that we have recommended to them. It’s hidden away so most people don’t notice it or know about it.

T’s grandmother: We got a beautiful rabbit fur and cashmere scarf from N. Peal at the Bicester Village store a couple of months back. It feels so soft and luxurious and I’ve seen her wear similar scarves so hoping she liked it.

My Grandma: I left this to my Mum. She’s very difficult to buy for and due to some health issues in 2019, buying snack items is a no-no. Mum picked out a linen shirt for her that ticks all of Gran’s many boxes (she is very set in her ways about items of clothing) and we split the gift.

My Dad: He’s also tricky but often Mum will tell me that he needs something. Over the years we’ve been getting him snow gear because he really enjoys skiing, but he seems to have everything he wants now for skiing. This year Mum said his swimming shorts were getting old so we got him two pairs of Speedo swimming shorts that we split with my Mum (I had to get the sizes changed twice because the labelling on the website and compared to his old pair was so inconsistent!).

My Mum: On some recommendations from the Internet, I got her the Elemis Pro-Collagen Super Stars Christmas 2019 set. I thought the set was good value for the size and the products which I know she will use. We’ve also been on a hunt for a dress for her to wear to a wedding in late 2020 (I made fun of her for starting the search over 12 months ahead of the wedding – probably before the bride!). The first dress we ordered from The Outnet was too big and the smaller size sold out (such a shame as she really adored it and it was reduced from almost $2000 to $400) but then they had another 20% off promotion and my front-runner dress, a gorgeous silk ALC dress, was included so I ordered it for her to try. As it turns out she agreed with my taste and decided it was the one. I ended up buying it for her birthday (also in December).

My cousin: I knew early on that I wanted to get her the Friends 21319 Central Perk Lego set. We’re both nuts about Friends and she has been into Lego this year. I missed the first round of stock while overseas but fortunately did not miss the restock in November. I picked one up for myself too (and it will be the centrepiece of future-house for sure!!!).

My best friends: For one friend, I had gotten her a Jo Malone cracker (one with a cologne, body cream and body wash) that didn’t arrive last Christmas due to a postal mistake. I gave it to her this year as well as Pandemic Legacy Season 1. I HIGHLY recommend this as some of the best fun money can buy. For friend 2, friend 1 and I joined resources and got her things she requested – indoor rock-climbing gear (don’t even ask me as I have no idea what all the stuff was!) and the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder, which I originally introduced to her and she has been using it since! She lives overseas so we purchased from local-to-her sites that shipped items to her.

Work colleagues: I have two office mates (more senior) for who I bought a small box of Koko Black pralines. For my close colleagues (friends), I got some Buttermilk Irish Cream Crumbly fudge and Koko Black Magic Pudding White Chocolate Bites (for the one who doesn’t like milk/dark chocolate).

What I bought & Wardrobe diaries: November & December 2019

It has been difficult finishing this post due to ongoing family health issues since the end of 2019 and the devastation of the Australian bushfires. Stay safe, healthy and happy in 2020. 🙂

New in

I thought December was going to be a purchase-free month (in terms of fashion items) but I did get caught up in some post-Christmas shopping while shopping for pre-planned hiking-related clothes, footwear and accessories (I ended up spending over $700 at various adventure stores – eek! – in anticipation for an upcoming holiday and future holidays in the pipeline). I would consider this a separate category to my wardrobe though (same as active wear and underwear).

November:

Autumn Cashmere color-block cashmere sweater (neutral, size S, via The Outnet) – I actually purchased this jumper in October but my order arrived in November. This item was never on my wishlist and I added it last minute to try on, but I felt the cashmere was so much nicer than the other jumpers (see below) that I had sitting in my wishlist for many months. These didn’t have the extra 50% discount (which was what prompted me to make an order for some wishlist items in the first place). I think they are such an interesting piece, with the large cuffed sleeves and contrasting colours. It was difficult deciding between this colour combination and the darker colour combination. This is oversized on me but very cropped, and work nicely with high-waisted bottoms or with a white shirt layered underneath. They came out kid-sized in the first wash but I easily pulled it back into an adult size. $217 (also received $23 cashback and the maths doesn’t make sense but I’m not complaining…)

Ziera Scarlet boots (black, size 37.5) – These look very similar to the Stanford boots which I owned and reviewed a few years ago. That pair eventually came apart at the sole and was letting in water so I had to throw them but they were really comfortable. In person, the Scarlet boots are almost identical but I feel like the leather was better quality on the old Stanford boots. Nonetheless these will be handy to have around as I have only been picking up backup flats and sandals from Ziera since they closed down. The price was slashed drastically (below $100) a few weeks after my purchase, but my size was gone so I don’t feel too bad (my size is one of the popular sizes so typically first to sell). $279.95 reduced to $195.97 minus 20% off promotion plus $7 shipping = $163.78

AG Jeans Super Skinny Legging jeans x 2 (navy and black, size 25; preowned via eBay) – I happened to come across someone selling two pairs in my size. These have been my favourite and only jeans for a couple of years now. It is harder to find the Farrah jeans, which is actually what I am after (on the preowned market), but these two pairs were at a really low buy-it-now price so I pounced. $30 + $14.55 shipping = $44.55

Saba silk floral dress (size 6; pre-owned via eBay) – I was looking for silk pieces for my Mum and found this for myself, oops. I don’t need it in my wardrobe so I feel a bit guilty, but it’s a decent piece and I don’t regret it. Saba is very expensive for the quality (which is fairly average) but the low resale value means some great-value silk, work and occasion pieces can be picked up. The sleeves and hem are interesting and thankfully flattering – it could have easily gone the way. I’ve worn this twice, and it’s very comfortable and machine washes without issue. $30 + $8.55 shipping = $38.55

December (post-Christmas sales):

Skin & Threads cotton tee-shirt dress (black and white, size 1) – I really like the thick cotton and the length of this. A solid/stripey tee-shirt dress is something I’ve been casually looking for and I really liked this the moment I put it on. Skin & Threads uses decent fabrics, even if the finishing is not impeccable (I spotted a minor sewing error on closer inspection and have noticed after the first wear that the front and back fabric was not sewn together symmetrically, so the dress actually veers to one side, which wouldn’t be noticeable without the pockets… it is too late to exchange now but that did bum me out a bit). The stores had 10% off for the first three days after Christmas and I thought this was marked down to $90 (so $81), which I was happy to pay. It turns out it hadn’t been marked down properly and was actually $50 (from $148) minus 10% = $45

Nobody Cult Skinny Jeans (navy/nuevo, size 26; via David Jones) – I saw this on sale before and after Christmas for $99 but was in the market to buy a Cult or Siren pair (high or super-high waisted, respectively) preowned first in order to suss out how Nobody Denim jeans holds up. I was shopping on the 27th at a different David Jones and came across these marked down further to $79, plus I was emailed an extra 10% off sale items offer that morning, so the price became palatable for me to try the brand with a brand new pair first. $199 reduced to $79 minus 10% promotion and used a 10% extra value gift card = ~$64.78

November and December 2019 total: $573.66

Considered or tried

My The Outnet order contained the Autumn Cashmere bow-detail cashmere sweater in grey with navy and dark grey with burgundy because they were an extra 50% off the sale price (bringing them down to $114 each) and had been high on my wishlist for months. The cashmere was mediocre though, and the sleeves absolutely humongous on me (also fussy). I tried one in XS and one in S (based on availability) and if I had to pick, I would have chosen the XS. But my main issue was the quality of the cashmere fibres.

I tried on Paige and Nobody Denim jeans in my continued hunt for high-waisted skinny jeans and to shift my loyalty away from AG Jeans after the new pair I picked up in October was noticeably poorer in quality. I liked the fit and fabric of Nobody Denim a lot better than Paige. I am a 25 for AG, 25 for Paige and 26 for Nobody Denim. I really liked the Nobody Denim Siren jeans which are super high-waisted and would love to pick one up preowned if possible.

I won an auction for a pre-owned pink Jac+Jack 100% cashmere jumper via eBay ($73 + $8.55 shipping). I have wanted to try out this Australian brand’s cashmere which typically retails for $300-700. As soon as I received and felt the item I knew it was not cashmere. I think the tag said it was a wool and cashmere combination (cashmere around 10/20%). Unbelievably, the seller actually had no idea that it wasn’t 100% cashmere and tried to convince me it was still a very good price compared to the hundreds of dollars she had paid. I thought that was a pretty crap excuse – you should probably know what you’re buying (especially if you think you’re paying a lot for something) and you should definitely know what you’re selling! The return was eventually accepted. I think it was relisted and sold for less than half the price when accurately listed shortly after. I’m still eager to find some pre-owned Jac+Jack cashmere to try out so the hunt continues.

During the Boxing Day sales, I did also pop into Jac+Jack and tried on the Iku cotton skirt in dark plum. I fell in love with the stock image a few months ago because of the lovely tiered design and beautiful dark plum colour. I tried on a 6 and it was a pretty overwhelming on me. It is a tie-around skirt and from experience, I find them overly fussy (and a bit lazy from a brand). I could happily try on everything else they stock in the dark plum colour but I don’t see myself needing any of them and I do think the silhouettes of the brand tend towards oversized and boxy, which can be hard to pull off with my frame. I’m not sure I have the patience to figure out what works for me from Jac+Jack.

Other updates

I did not keep those AG jeans purchased in October and I was so unhappy with the drop in quality that I will probably not be purchasing new AG going forward.

I sold the Ziera Uja sandals purchased in July after three wears as it was too narrow and cutting my feet. It went very quickly and after fees, it pocketed me +$27.51.

I also cleared out an H&M black blazer (this had a really nice floral lining so I originally wanted to sell it but discovered two missing buttons), a pink H&M shirt with stud details and a pair of Uniqlo Ultra Stretch jeans (my previous go-to skinny jeans).

What I bought: Black Friday & Cyber Weekend 2019

Does anyone else find the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period overwhelming (and a bit overrated)?

The first store I took notice of was Clearly. I recently made my first order there and found the prices to be one of the cheapest around when I used the first-time customer 15% off discount. Due to a back order on one of my prescriptions, I also was in touch with the customer service staff (to check for alternatives) and found them to be excellent. Surprisingly they credited $30 to my account, so when they announced 15% off for Black Friday, I thought it would be a great time to buy more of my contact lenses (I buy 90x daily packs that cost anywhere around $90-$120 at full price, depending on the store, though I never pay full price as I find ways to stack deals and coupons). I was about to make the order on Friday but decided to wait until Sunday as I was sure the sale would still be on over the weekend. I’m so glad I did because on Sunday they announced 20% off for Cyber Monday, so in the end, with the $30 credit and 20% off, I paid $137.98 for two boxes, which is by far the cheapest I’ve ever paid for my contact lenses (although $30 of it was a “fluke”).

On the Friday itself, I headed to two shops after work because we were going to be busy all weekend and wouldn’t have time to visit them. T is starting to run low on his Nespresso capsules and they were 15% off. He got six sleeves and we paid $41.31. The other shop I visited was Muji, which was having 20% off. I use their cotton pads and cotton buds so I stocked up on those items. I also got a tall soap dispenser for the kitchen because I like the little one we got for dish detergent. I will admit this was an unnecessary $4 purchase. I also picked up my favourite black ballpoint pen as a back up (unfortunately I did discover I had three back-ups at home already, whoops!). I’ve never seen such a long line at Muji and the queue was around 20 minutes! In total I spent $15.00.

ShopBack announced $5 cashback for eBay on purchases over $5. I went on and bought some screen protectors because T did a poor job for my recent screen protector change and he wants to change his as well. My Mum has also been complaining that she wants a new one. I got five for each phone size (10 total) and paid $7.26 (expecting $5 cash back).

Yesterday I also impulse purchased Japanese face masks at YesStyle. I have been into face masks lately and I really like the big packs of ~30 masks in one case, which are more economical and less wasteful. YesStyle is such a throwback to my teenage years/early 20’s but the prices are genuinely pretty good. The masks were 15% off and I stacked a 20% off Cyber week coupon. With GST, it came to $57.75 (expecting ~$1 cash back).

I’ve also kept my eye on Ziera shoes in a number of retailers but there were no further discounts over the recent sales period. My Mum suddenly informed me her brow pencil was almost finished but Sephora, which was having 15% off, was sold out so I ordered it for her at full price from another retailer. One other stores I was going to buy from was Chemist Warehouse, which had 10% off storewide over the Black Friday weekend. This is typically exciting as I have a list of things I always buy there, such as antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops. Their year-round prices on these items are always below the retail price, but for the sale weekend, these prices were marked “up” to retail and then marked “down” with 10% off, rendering them more expensive than every other day of the year. I’m finding that a lot of retailers are re-using deals they frequently use throughout the year, or have subpar deals (compared to others throughout the year) for the Black Friday sales period. On the other hand, one of the more amazing deals I saw was after Cyber Monday when Sephora had 20% off Dyson for one day only, and from my memory that is the cheapest the Air Wrap has ever been.

Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 (13 – Himeji, Kobe)

See: Travel: Japan Trip #4 2016 itinerary and intro

Day 13: January 30

In the morning, we took the shinkansen from Kyoto station to Himeji station. I had wanted to visit Himeji on my previous trip to Japan, but Himeji castle was under renovation (it has been quite common during every trip that something I want to visit is under renovation so it gets postponed for future trips!). Thankfully Himeji-jou (Himeji Castle) full re-opened in 2015. It is one of the country’s few original castles and considered one of, if not the most, beautiful. From the station, it is a 15-20 minute walk through the main city centre to the castle grounds.

The crowds at Himeji-jo are substantial and moves as a line into the castle. As with most castles, it is not so pleasant to shuffle up and down the narrow stairs inside in single file.

After visiting the castle, we walked back through the city centre to get lunch before returning to the train station. For lunch, we had simple oden lunch sets at Shusentei Nadakiku Kappatei, since local oden is a Himeji specialty.

We then took the shinkansen from Himeji station to Shin-Kobe station. It was also my first time in Kobe, where I only wanted to spend half a day to wander around and eat Kobe beef! We made our way down to the port area, stopping at a number of shrines along the way. It’s a really nice city and I can see why it’s considered one of the most “attractive” cities. That small taste of Kobe makes me want to visit again, especially to go up to Mt Rokko.

As mentioned, the prime reason for the stopping by Kobe was to have some Kobe beef! I decided against making specific reservations because it was difficult to pick somewhere early enough to get a reservation and the prices were mostly astronomical, especially after having the other expensive Michelin meal (and since I don’t like meat in the form of steak). We decided to just wing it. I think it ended up being a good decision because we didn’t want to go all out and decide it wasn’t worth it. We looked around a bit and settled on a moderately priced restaurant, Kobe Beef Kurosawa, with a range of cuts to choose from. It was empty the whole time, but it was an amazing meal and we were very happy with what we paid. We both had A5, and at a guess mine was sirloin and T’s was flank/bottom sirloin. They came in sets and ranged from Â¥9,000-Â¥11,000 for 120-180g. I couldn’t imagine paying double or more. The meat was divine but it was too much meat for me, and even T thought it was hard to handle so much fatty meat by the end. A few bites would have been enough for me, hehe.

After dinner we went out to the other side of the harbour to see views of the city, then trekked all the way back to Shin-Kobe station to take the shinkansen back to Kyoto.