Monday, 31 August 2015

Academic Competitions for School kids

There are quite a few academic competitions (national or state) available each year. Some of the ones DS1 and DS2 have entered (and I can recommend) are:

ICAS:

DS2 has now finished the round of ICAS tests for this year, an annual routine we commenced many years ago when DS1 was in Year 3. The ICAS (International Competitions and Assessments for Schools) tests are run by Educational Assessment Australia (EAA), an educational non-profit group of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) that specialises in large-scale assessment programs in Australia and more than twenty countries internationally. ICAS tests cost a small fee and are available for Digital Technologies, Science, Writing, Spelling, English, and Mathematics.

Most schools (I think) offer some ICAS tests - in our local Primary school they used to offer the whole suite of ICAS tests to interested pupils, but recently have reduced it to only English and Mathematics. I suspect this is due to low participation rates (only around 8/40 pupils in DS1s class did the ICAS tests this year) due to lack of interest (especially amongst those that don't expect to do well in such tests), having to attend the test before school, and the cost.

Fortunately the coaching school DS1 attends on Saturday morning is also able to offer ICAS tests in those subjects where it is not available at the pupil's normal school - so DS1 was able to do the remaining ICAS tests not available from his local public school.

Naplan:

Not really a competition, and not available to a student each year, the National Assessment Progam - Literacy and Numeracy, aka 'Naplan', is a compulsory test administered by the Department of Education every year, but only sat by pupils every second year (when they are in years 3,5,7,9). It is designed to allow the government to see how effective public education is in teaching 'the basics' of literacy and numeracy (English and mathematics) to the 'minimum standard' expected per the curriculum. The results are reported in 'bands' (1-6) for each year, in a similar way that 'bands' are used for assessing student performance in the HSC. Detailed results (showing student responses to individual questions, the correct response, and what % of the student cohort got the correct answer) are also provided, which can be a helpful guide if your child is having greater difficulty with one particular subject or one area within a subject. However, it is a fairly blunt tool at the top end, with DS1 and DS2 getting mostly band 6+ (the little triangular pointer which says 'somewhere above band 6...').

Young Scientist Competition:

This is an annual competition run by the Science Teacher's Association of NSW (STANSW) for students from years K-12 (there are separate categories for K-2, 3-6, 7-9. and 10-12). Entries can be in the category of 'Scientific Investigations', 'Models and Inventions', or in both categories. There is plenty of online help for parents and teachers at http://www.youngscientist.com.au/ and as entry is free it is nice way to introduce kids to the 'scientific method' and writing a 'lab report' without having to worry if the entry is 'competitive'. Every entry gets a certificate ('participation', 'commendation',' high achievement' or 'excellence' depending on the score) so all student efforts get rewarded. There are small cash prizes for the top entries in primary school categories, and some more substantial cash prizes (and trophy for the winner) in the senior school entries. Some winning entries also go on to the National Science and Engineering Awards and might be selected to proceed on to the International Science and Engineering Fair...

Logical Thinking Challenge (LTC):

This is a free online adaptive multiple choice test (24 questions in 30 minutes) run during one 24-hour period each year (12/13 September this year) for students in Years 3-8. It is developed by the University of Melbourne and achieving an excellent result 'wins' free entry into the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) written competition run by North Shore Coaching the following month. North Shore Coaching also donates $100 to every school that has more than 30 students participate in the LTC. See http://122.201.109.225/web_student/LTC2015.aspx for details and online registration.

Creative Problem Solving (CPS) National Competition:

Run by North Shore Coaching College, this competition costs $20 (refunded/exempt for those that do well in the LTC), this written test is set and marked by the University of Melbourne. Entries close on 6 October and the test is on 17 October. Trophies, Certificates and Prizes are awarded in each Age Group (A-F).

AMT Competitions:

The Australian Mathematics Trust (AMT - see http://www.amt.edu.au/) runs both 'open' and 'invitational' competitions in the areas of mathematics and informatics. These competitions have to be entered via school registration. The annual 'open' competitions are:

Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) - for students in years 5-12. Held in March.

Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC) - for students in years 3-12. Held in May.

Australian Informatics Olympiad (IAO) - for students in years 7-12 with programming ability. Held in September.

Australian Statistics Competition (ASC) - for students in years 7-12. Project based, due in September.

ProgComp:

UNSW Computing Department runs an annual programming competition (ProgComp) for High School teams around Australia. The main round is held in schools (19 June this year), and the best dozen or so teams get invited to compete at the Grand Final held at UNSW on 5 Sep this year. Teams comprise of up to three students. The competition involves solving as many as possible of around five set problems in two hours, using any programming language that will take input from keyboard or text file and produce output as a text file. The program code and text file submissions are manually reviewed to check that output has not been 'typed' rather than generated by a running program. The manual marking allows some marks to be awarded for partial solutions.  Textbooks and manuals can be consulted, but no outside help is allowed.

DS1 has entered this for the past couple of years (using Python) and enjoys getting a better score each year, but as a 'team' of only one student, his entries aren't competitive. He might have more luck organising a real 'team' next year when some of the other students are studying Software Design and Development in Year 11...  unless you make it to the 'Grand Final' there are no prizes, but you do get a certificate, and your name on the past results page: https://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~progcomp/2014/home/pastcomps.php

Chess Competitions:

There are school-team based 'round robin' competitions run by the NSWJCL (NSW Junior Chess League) during terms 2 and 3. There is also a one-day interschool chess competition held at the end of term 3. Aside from that, the NSWJCL also runs one-day, and two-day chess competitions during each school holiday. The entry fees are modest ($15 for a one-day competition involving 7x30 min games), but you also have to pay the small annual fee to join the NSWJCL (for which you will get the magazine each term that includes some Chess puzzles, articles about winners of NSWJCL competitions, and the printed chess ratings listing). DS1 and DS2 play school chess, but don't take it very seriously, so they only attend one (or two) of the one-day chess competitions during school holidays if they have nothing else organised.

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

HSC Subject selection

DS1 has just gone through the process of selecting which subjects he will do in years 11-12 for his Higher School Certificate (HSC).

He was already enrolled in Preliminary SDD (Software Design & Development) this year (via distance education through HSCOnline) as an 'accelerate' student, so will be doing his HSC exams for that subject while he in in Year 11. Although computer programming is one of his favourite subjects (he started the Year 9 ITC course while he was in Year 8, but couldn't do it last year as it was no longer offered by HSCOnline), it doesn't 'scale' very well (so, unless he gets in the top 1% in that subject it is unlikely to be included in the 'best 10 units' used to calculate his ATAR for university entry). So it is probably a good idea to get in done while he is in Year 11 next year so he can concentrate on the more demanding (and better scaling) HSC subjects like Ext 2 Math while he is in Year 12. He is also doing a lot of other extracurricular computing activities this year (he completed the UNSW Computing 1 course( 'HS1917') earlier this year, and will be doing his week of 'work experience' at NICTA in term 4), so once his SDD final exam is completed early in term 4 next year he can have a 'gap year' from computing studies while he concentrates on his other HSC subjects.

For his 'real' HSC subjects he is doing English Advanced (no choice about that as 2 units of English has to be included in the HSC and in the 10 units used for ATAR calculation, and everyone at his selective High School does English Advanced rather than Standard) and English Ext 1 (although it's not his best subject, so he may drop English Ext 1 in Year 12 -- although it 'scales' well there isn't any point if he isn't at least in the 'top half' of the class). He might also have to drop Ext 1 English to make room for his other subjects and Ext 2 Maths in his school timetable.

He is also doing Maths and Math Ext 1 in Year 11, and intends adding Math Ext 2 in Year 12 (if his results are good enough). Math Ext 2 'scales' extremely well, so if he has the ability it can be quite time-effective compared to some other subjects that can take an inordinate amount of time (especially those that involve a 'major work' project).

His other subjects are Chemistry, Physics, Economics and Business Studies. He is quite interested in both science and finance/economics so those subject choices should suit him quite well. These subjects also happen to 'scale' quite well (if you achieve a decent result) as they are popular with the more able students. Given that most of the students attending selective high schools have been drawn from the 'top 2%' of students in the state (based on the entry tests done at the end of primary school), he should do fairly well in his HSC mark and ATAR ranking as long as he is in the 'top half' in each subject at his school. Ideally he should be aiming for the top quarter in each class, and possible try for 'first place' in some of his better subjects (he came first in Commerce last year, so he might do quite well in Economics and Business Studies).

Overall, his HSC preliminary subjects (year 11) at school for next year are:
English Advanced + Ext 1 (ie. 3 units)
Mathematics + Ext 1 (ie. 3 units)
Business Studies (2 units)
Chemistry (2 units)
Economics (2 units)
Physics (2 units)
and HSC Software Design and Development  (2 units) taken via distance education.

This is a total of 16 units, which is quite a heavy workload! Fortunately aside from Judo he doesn't have any time consuming extracurricular activities, as he is no longer studying piano.

In his HSC (year 12) at school he will probably be taking some combination of:
English Advanced (+ Ext 1 ?)
Mathematics + Ext 1 (+ Ext 2 ?)
Business Studies
Chemistry
Economics
Physics

However, as the school rules (and timetabling restrictions) only allow enrollment in 14 units or less for Year 12, he may have to drop a subject if he continues with English Ext 1 and also wants to do Maths Ext 2. He'll be making that decision around this time next year.

Although DS1 will be very busy, I don't think he'll be under too much pressure, as he has no interest in studying either medicine or law at university, and so he should easily get a sufficient ATAR to enrol in whatever science, engineering, computing or economics course he finally decides upon (he is still thinking about what he wants to 'do' at university). It will be interesting to see if he ends up doing well enough to qualify for a university scholarship though...

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Buying straw hats in Winter

The stock market was down nicely on Monday and early Tuesday, so I decided to take the opportunity to 'top up' my holdings in IHD (iShares S&P ASX High Dividend ETF) and RDV (Russell High Dividend Australian Shares ETF), buying about $6,000 worth of each using my Comsec margin loan account.

I didn't get around to placing my order until mid-afternoon, by which time prices were already recovering. As I intend to hold onto my geared share portfolios for at least 10-15 years until I retire (and probably longer, although I'll probably pay off any remaining margin loan amounts when I retire as the tax benefits of negative gearing will be negligble if the current 'tax free' status of superannuation pension income remains in place) it makes sense to add to my stock portfolio when 'the market' panics and shares are 'on sale'.



Of course the downside of such market volatility is that my superannuation balance has gone down by about $35,000 over the past couple of months. But as I'll still be in 'accumulation phase' for the next 10-15 years it pays to remain sanguine about such market volatility. I was tempted to move the $40,000 cash we have sitting in our SMSF into our Vanguard High Growth Index Fund investment, but decided to stick with out current $5,000 per month transfers to 'dollar cost average' the ongoing investments.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Net Worth: July 2015

My estimated net worth at the end of July had recovered some of the decrease experienced the previous month, reaching $1.815m (including the 'cost base' value for the lakeside property I 'inherited' from my parents in 2014). The gains were due to a rebound in global stock prices (although not to 2015 highs, and the Australia stock market is still well below its previous highs experienced in 2007), which is reflected in the valuations of both my geared stock portfolio and my superannuation balance, and a continued rise in the estimated valuation of our Sydney home.

There are no investment changed planned for this month. I will continue to save mostly via 'salary sacrifice' contributions into my SMSF.

I'm currently re-assessing my previous plans to add an extension to the existing 'holiday home' on my lakeside property - the plan was to have a $50,000 two-storey 'kit shed' added to the rear of the building. By getting my owner-builder permit and employing contractors directly I expected to finish the building to 'lock-up' stage for around $150,000 and then install a kit kitchen and bathroom, gyprock, painting, flooring etc. myself during holiday stays at the property. However, that would require my 83-year-old father to do the day-to-day supervision of the contractors, and me try to manage things 'long distance' with many 7-hour round trips to the farm a couple of times a month. However, my father isn't too keen on being responsible for supervising the on-site activities, and as I am supposed to be working on my part-time PhD (and also doing a couple of Diplomas via distance eduction over the next 12-24 months) I doubt I'd be able to 'project manage' the work to the extent required. Just finding willing and able local contractors to do the site survey, bush fire assessment, and architectural drawings via phone calls and emails has been problematic. The alternative would be to find a local builder to contract to complete the project to 'lock-up stage', but that would make the project much more expensive. As we are only planning on using the property as a 'weekender' and holiday home until I retire, and our eldest son will soon be too busy during his final years of high school to spend all his vacation time 'up at the farm', it is probably sensible to put the plans for adding an extension on hold until I retire and decide how much time I will actually spend living on the lakeside 'hobby farm'.




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Friday, 10 July 2015

Stop! Identitfy thief!

I've only myself to blame. After doing internet purchases for many years without any real problem (and using a secondary credit card with a low credit limit for internet purchases 'just in case') I became too careless about Internet security, and recently made several online payments recently using my main credit card. While I've used that card before for domestic telephone payments and some internet payments where I'm confident about the processor (eg. university fee payments), I'd usually been cautious about payments overseas (such as AliExpress, Banggood etc.).

However, in the past couple of months I must have used it somewhere that has had their payment database hacked, or else I've managed to get some spyware or something onto my home laptop (despite Mcaffee scans showing nothing untoward) as my main credit card suddenly showed eight foreign internet transactions totalling over $1,000 that I hadn't made. Fortunately I happened to be checking my online credit card transaction listing the day that the fraudulent transactions were processed, so I immediately called my bank to report the issue and they 'blocked' my old credit card and issued a new number (I'll have to wait for it to arrive in 5-10 days before I can activate it and advise several direct debit billers of the change in payment details). I then had to lodge on online form 'disputing' these transactions, and they will sit on my account (although I've arranged to not have to pay them in the next billing cycle) until the dispute is resolved - which can take anywhere from one to six months! Hopefully I won't end up being 'out of pocket' for these fraudulent transactions...

As the transaction descriptions made it easy to track down the online company at which five payments for the same amount had been processed, I decided to also lodge a report with the Australian Cyber Crime website ('ACORN') with the details of the transaction, date, amount, merchant etc. I'm not sure if they will actually pass on the information to the Australian or International Police (the amount involved is 'only' $1,000, but it could lead to a 'gang' systematically using stolen credit card details to make online payments), but at least I've done my bit to fight Cyber Crime. Unfortunately I still don't know for sure exactly which prior (legitimate) online purchase was the one the resulted in my credit card details being stolen/hacked.

Theoretically it should be fairly easy for ACORN/Police/Interpol to request details of the IP address used to make the five purchases (as they were for identical amounts and made on the same date using my credit card details) from the online merchant that processed the fraudulent transactions. Whether or not this leads to a suspect (if they were careless), or just leads to an anonymous redirect is unknown. As the five purchases were from an online MOOG company the authorities may also be able to track the IP/identity of who is now using the purchased game service (I suspect the person/gang that made the five online purchases probably bought new game logins and resold them at a steep discount for cash down at the local pub...). If they can find the end-user they might be able to find out who was selling the 'stolen' goods. Hopefully if the online merchant can cancel the services bought with these fraudulent transactions there will be less difficulty getting the disputed transactions cancelled, compared to if the transactions had been for physical goods that had already been shipped out...

Ah well, I've learned my (potentially expensive) lesson and won't be using my new credit card number for any more online purchases in future. I'll stick to using PayPal (wherever possible) or else using my designated 'low credit limit' credit card if a card is required for making an online payments.
 
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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Net Worth: June 2015

My estimated net worth at the end of June had decreased considerably (-$39,299) compared to the previous month, despite three months' worth of superannuation contributions being deposited into my retirement account during June. The decrease was due to global and Australian stock markets showing weakness during the first half of June, and then having a couple of really bad days at the end of the month due to the 'Grexit' uncertainty.The only positive contribution during June was the continued rise in the estimated valuation of our home, which increased by another $9,328 (+1.54%).

Our three year fixed-rate home loan matured at the end of June, so I transferred $50,000 from my available 'portfolio loan' credit limit to pay that amount off our remaining home loan balance. This was to match the $50,000 payment DW made using funds from the sale of our investment property last year that she had invested in a term deposit until our home loan fixed rate period ended.

During the month I bought a few additional shares in NAB and IFL to add to my existing holdings - the NAB shares were via the rights issue, and the IFL shares were bought after recent bad publicity caused the stock to drop more than 10%. Hopefully in the longer term these will both be sound investments.

Overall, any major future rise in my net worth will depend on whether or not our home gains substantially in value if the area gets 'rezoned' by the local council later this year (for medium density housing around the new hospital site), and when (if) the Australian stock market eventually recovers to pre-GFC levels (unlike the US stock market, the ASX-200 is still considerably below the peak of about 6800 reached during 2007). While I continue to save a large fraction of my salary via superannuation 'salary sacrifice' the amount often seems insignificant compared with the monthly changes in net worth caused by market fluctuations. The 'plan' is that enduring these fluctuations ('risk') will eventually pay off via better returns in the long term compared with less volatile asset allocations.



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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Net Worth: May 2015

Overall my estimated net worth at the end of May had increased slightly (+$5,284) from the previous month to reach a record high of $1,790,460 AUD. Positive contributions came from the increased valuation of our home (but that estimate is based on 12-months average sales figures for our suburb, with the latest figures being for the period ending March 2015. The more current RP Data index for all-Sydney suggests there was a slight drop in average house price during May, which might indicate the current boom/bubble in Sydney real estate is coming to an end), and from a rise in the value of my superannuation account balance (due to a drop in the Australian dollar increasing the unit value of our Vanguard LifeStategy HighGrowth Index Fund investment). These gains were largely offset by a drop in the net value of my geared stock portfolio, which was affected by both a decrease in the stock market during May, and also by a slight draw down on my portfolio loan to repay a $20,000 'balance transfer' I'd taken advantage of (to access some funds at 0% interest rate for six months).

Our 3-year fixed rate home loan reverts to standard variable rate next week, at which time I will pay off $55,000 of the home loan balance (which is not tax deductible in Australia) using some realized gains on one of my hedge fund (OMIP220) investments that is maturing in June and being paid out. That will reduce the market value of my stock investment portfolio by the same amount, so there will be no net effect on my overall net worth (but theoretically reduces my gearing slightly).

During the remainder of 2015 I should be able to start working on the development application for building an extension to the lake house (on my hobby farm), but I will be capitalising those costs (as the cost of the extension should add an equivalent amount to the value of the hobby farm) they will also have no net effect on my overall net worth. But it will mean that a larger percentage of my net worth is tied up in illiquid investments (especially so in the case of my hobby farm, as I expect to pass it on to my sons as part of my 'estate' -- fortunately Australia does not have gift, death or inheritance taxes, so they will only pay capital gains tax if they eventually sell the property for more than the 'cost base' value. Due to the fact that the 'cost base' is no longer adjusted for inflation, long term capital gains are taxed at half the marginal tax rate, which approximates to only paying tax on 'real' gains -- at least up to the point where an asset has more than doubled in value during the holding period).

Once we have paid off a large chunk of our remaining home loan I should have some spare cash flow each month, which I'll use to pay off some of my margin loan balances. With the margin loan interest rate currently around 6.29% and my marginal tax rate for 2015/16 being 32.5c or 33c (depending on whether or not the “Clean Energy” (carbon tax) package of compensation measures gets rescinded as planned), this will give me an effective return of around 4.2% for paying down that tax-deductible debt rather than saving the extra cashflow. Conventional wisdom would indicate the optimum use of the extra cashflow would be to pay off any non-deductible debt (eg. credit card balances or my home loan), but I don't have any credit card balance (I pay off the amount due in full each month) and paying off our home loan would require DW to pay the same amount (as our home and loan are in joint names and we make equal loan repayments), and she has just bought an investment home unit 'off-the-plan' and wishes to save up some funds to be ready to pay settlement costs and stamp duty when the construction is completed towards the end of 2016.

It will be interesting to see when (if) my net worth eventually hits the "two million dollars" mark. Although I am saving about $30,000 of my salary into superannuation each year, the biggest factors affecting my net worth will continue to be changes in the value of our home (especially if our property is rezoned to 'medium density' in August), and how the Australian economy and the stock market perform (affecting my superannuation savings).


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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Me vs. BRW "Rich List" 2015

Years ago I picked the cut-off net worth for getting onto BRW magazine's "Rich-200" list (the wealthiest 200 individuals in Australia) as a suitable "benchmark" for evaluating how well my net worth was tracking. As the cut-off more than 100 times my net worth, I divide the annual report's threshold by 100 and compare it to my current net worth as shown below (the graph is on a log-linear scale, as compounding tends to make wealth grow exponentially).

The chart clearly shows how I have been generally tracking quite well against this benchmark, with the exception of 2008 when the GFC caused me to have to liquidate a large part of my geared share portfolio at the bottom of the market. Over the past four years I have been slowly making up ground against the benchmark, probably due to my portfolio being overweight in Sydney real estate and the stock market, whereas many of those on the "rich-200" list have a large part of their wealth tied up in resource companies.

This benchmark is quite challenging due to a couple of reasons:
1. Being limited to the wealthiest 200 Australians, the population growth means that this is slowly becoming a more exclusive cohort
2. As under-performers get dropped from the list, the cut-off is biased towards those with the best investment performance

On the other hand, starting from a relatively low level of net worth means that initially my income was a large percentage of my net worth, and that savings were making a large contribution to my increasing net worth. This effect is slowly diminishing as my net worth grows to a larger multiple of my salary package (currently around 13.7x) and hence the ROI of my existing investments starts to outweigh the increase due to my savings. Of course, once I retire and start to draw down on my savings, rather than adding to them, it will be almost impossible for my net worth to keep pace with this bench mark...

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My Stock and Fund Investment Portfolio going into FY 2015/16

I am no longer an active investor, as I eventually realized that I don't have any exceptional talent for timing the market, nor for picking individual 'winners' - either stocks or fund managers/funds. Hence, my ongoing regular investment/saving plan is:
1. an automatic contribution into superannuation via the compulsory SGL (superannuation guarantee levy, currently 9.5% of pre-tax salary) and an additional $800 of 'salary sacrifice' from each fortnightly pay. Within the SMSF $5000 is automatically moved from our ANZ V2 High Interest SMSF bank account into our investment in Vanguard LifeStages HighGrowth Index Fund.
2. $100 per month investment into the Colonial First State Geared Share Fund via a direct debit by my StGeorge Margin Lending account (with a matching $100 loan amount being invested)
3. $100 per month invested into the Vanguard LifeStrategy HighGrowth Index Fund held

So, overall I am currently saving around 30% of my total pre-tax salary package, mostly via tax-effective superannuation savings.

I had sold off some of my smaller individual stock holdings and some of my Resource Company Investments (when the 'mining boom' was coming to a close) in recent years, so the remaining investments in my geared portfolio are likely to remain unchanged during financial year 2015/16. I recently took up my entitlement to 88 additional shares in National Australia Bank, and IPE Private Equity is likely to continue to decline in market value as they slowly sell off various private company holdings and pay out the proceeds to the shareholders.

Overall the level of gearing is fairly modest (loan:value ratio around 50%), with the total dividend income distributed last year slightly exceeding the interest on the margin loans (hence the portfolio was slightly 'positively geared'). Some of the dividend income is reinvested, so I actually have a slightly negative cashflow and have to use some of my 'take home' pay to cover any monthly margin loan interest payments that aren't covered by the dividends I receive. The dividend paid out by Woodside Petroleum is also likely to be a lot less than was paid out during the past 12 months.


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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Slow progress with the 'Lake house' renovations and extension

The prefab house on the 25-acre hobby farm at Lake Wallis my parents transferred to me early last year had become very run-down during the ten years one of my sisters was living there (rent free) and supposedly looking after my parent's herd of alpacas... in reality she appears to have spent most of her time collecting and hoarding junk, which my parents are now in the process of slowly clearing out and either taking to the local tip (at a cost of about $85 per trailer load) or packing up to transport to their larger farm at Inverell (where my sister and the alpacas herd had moved to at the start of last year). Once all the junk has finally been cleared out the old carpet will be removed and the house fumigated before being renovated (new lino floors and patched and repainted walls). My plan is to then submit a DA (development application) to the local council to have a two-storey extension added to the rear of the existing house, so that there will be enough room for us to stay at the farm with my parents during school holidays.

My parents plan on eventually buying my sister a small farm for he to live on, using some of the proceeds from selling off their Inverell farm, and to down-size by moving back to the Lake Wallis farm to live. The balance of the proceeds of the sale of their Inverell farm should help self-fund their retirement for the next few years (they get a small UK pension due to the years my father was in the RAF before moving to Australia in the early 60s, and recently also a small amount of Australian aged-pension, having now spent most of the superannuation my father received when he retired as an airline pilot in the early 1990s). In another few more years time the value of the Lake Wallis farm they gifted to me will no longer be counted in the pension 'assets test', so my parents should then be eligible for a slightly larger Australia pension income to live off. As I am now paying the rates, insurance and maintenance costs for the Lake Wallis house their living costs should be fairly modest by then (provided they are no longer paying for any of my sister's living expenses!). I also plan on moving to Lake Wallis myself when I retire in ten or fifteen years time (unless I get retrenched beforehand), but I doubt my parents will still be living there as my father would be pushing 100 by then (although it is possible, as his Aunt will be celebrating her 100th birthday in a few months' time).

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