Tuesday 26 November 2019

Financial Planning 'business' and study update

Still no luck getting my first 'client'. I actually had a couple book a free introductory meeting a few weeks ago, but it turned out that only one of them was keen on the idea of getting financial advice, and their financial position didn't really justify the cost of getting personal financial advice at this time (they had no spare cash flow, living from pay cheque to pay cheque and using an overdraft facility to cover any 'unexpected' expenses, and no significant investments to manage). I ended up just providing them some factual information about budgeting and I'll follow up with them in a few months to see if there are in a position to benefit (and it makes financial sense to pay for) personal financial advice.

I sat the exam for my latest subject (Superannuation) for my Masters degree yesterday - I had got a reasonable 80% on the assignments (worth 50% of the subject total mark), so was hoping to end up with another Distinction overall. Getting an HD would have required an exam mark of at least 90%, and anything over 70% in the exam would be sufficient to get me a D overall. As it turned out the exam was a lot more 'technical' than I'd expected (not much about general principles, strategies or legislation, and lots of very specific case studies about contribution and benefit rule application to specific examples of employee ages and income levels). In practice I'll look up specific rates, caps, thresholds etc. and do my calculations using a spreadsheet, rather than try to rely on 'knowing' the (constantly changing) caps etc. and calculating things on a calculator or 'back of the envelop', so it seemed a bit weird for this subject to have a 'closed book' exam with lots of technical questions, whereas other subjects have been 'open book' exams, even when the exam questions were a lot more general in nature. Go figure.

On the other hand, I doubt the other students will do particularly well on this exam, so if I do OK (scrape through with a Distinction) I'll still get on the "Dean's List" for this year, and remain in the running for a university medal (and a degree 'with Distinction') when I graduate.

Now that my uni studies are over for the year, I need to buckle down and make some serious progress with the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning that I'm also enrolled in for this year. I'd like to get the four courses for that qualification all completed before the next uni semester starts next February.

Once I have completed the ADFP qualification and I've done the taxation course for my Masters degree next semester I'll be able to do the required TASA course (on the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA), and the Code of Professional Conduct) to get my registration as a Tax (Financial) Adviser.

Once I get the ADFP course out of the way I'll be able to decide whether I should try to do two courses each semester in 2020 (to finish off the Masters degree next year), or continue just doing one course each semester. I've recently registered with the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Institute, so I might be studying to sit the Level I CFA exam next June, in which case it would probably be better to continue just doing one uni course each semester...

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CFD trading update - play money

As most of my investments are long term 'set and forget' style (as I have a long term investment time frame and want to minimize fees, trading costs and 'churn'), I have a CFD trading account with Cityindex that I can use to 'play' at trading whenever I get bored with just tracking my NW each month. Even with that 'trading' account I've slowly gone from taking short term positions (having had very mixed results with my results at 'day trading' - aka "I don't know what the hell I'm doing") to having a couple of long positions that I'll leave open until the current up trend seems to have broken.

I've had a few Berkshire Class B CFDs for quite a while, and recently did some short term trades in Tesla (which I managed to eventually close out without losing money) and Google (which actually made a small profit when my stop loss closed out my long position at a small profit). I waited too long to reopen my position in Google after the price dip, so I've now just bought a few long CFDs in the iShares US Technology ETF.

I probably won't close out these positions (unless there is a market correction or the US looks like heading into a recession) as the margins are small enough to allow for some significant price dips without forcing me to sell, but I'll monitor the daily price movements just to give me something to do. The amounts involved in my CFD account are quite trivial - a balance of around $1,000 and daily movements of a few dollars up or down.

The movements in the Vanguard high growth fund (where we have about $1m invested in our SMSF) are material to my NW, but as I intend to hold that position (and add about $2K each month via super contributions) until retirement and beyond, the monthly tracking of the daily price movements are more of an academic exercise.

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Diet 2019 Wk 47 - week ending 24.11

Last week I didn't do any fasting days, but instead had fairly low cal days Tue-Fri. But I then overate again on the weekend (which tends to be the time I have the most difficulty sticking to my meal plan, and instead 'browse' and snack throughout the weekend). So my weight had started to plateau by the end of the weekend.

I went to the gym twice last week, on Mon and Fri (I was working late on Wed and skipped my planned mid-week session on the way home), but I overdid it a bit on gym treadmill on Friday and had a sore foot on the way home and on the weekend (I have a permanently swollen left foot as a result of some bouts of cellulitis in my legs several years ago, and also have some bone spurs in my left foot which sometimes give me stabbing pains when I walk). So I didn't do as much walking on the weekend as I'd like, but things had settled down again by Monday so I'll get get back to walking at least 10K steps a day this week.

This week didn't get off to a great start as I had a uni exam on Monday morning and stayed up until 5:30am Sunday (to get in some last minute studying) and had a few too many late night snacks and not enough sleep as a result. I'm planning on getting back to my normal  diet and exercise plan for the rest of this week.

The weight and calorie intake chart shows that I'm on track to loose about 1 kg/wk on average, and that the few days of fasting each week are helping to keep my average daily calories (over a 7-day period) down around 1,600 cals/day, despite the occasional day of eating more than my maintenance calorie requirement.

I should be able to reach my target wt/BMI by the middle of next year. One of my goals is to eliminate any days of over-eating (more than 2,400 cals) by cutting out snacks and junk food). Once I get my weight under 76 kg I'll transition to only doing one day of fasting each week to maintain the health effects without losing too much weight once I reach a healthy BMI.

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Monday 18 November 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 46 - week ending 17.11

Last week was going very well up until Thursday - I'd had low-carb meal plan days on Mon and Wed, and stuck to my fast on Tue/Thu, and had good gym sessions on Mon/Wed and walked about 12,000 steps/day.

Then, on Friday, I had a day off work to stay home and do a uni assignment and didn't get to the gym or walk very much, but did at least stick to my standard meal plan. And over the weekend I went on a bit of an eating binge, having way too many snacks and 'extras'. My weight had got down to 97.1kg on Saturday morning, but was back up to 99.0kg by Monday morning!

So this week I have to be strict about sticking to my meal plans, getting in three gym sessions and doing my daily walking and 5BX without fail! Fortunately with intermittent fasting on Tue/Thu even eating 'ad lib' on a couple of days during the week my overall average daily cals last week wasn't too bad.

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Monday 11 November 2019

Diet 2019 Wk 45 - week ending 10.11

Had quite a good week last week. Stuck to my meal plans (except on Sunday, where I ate a little bit more than planned) and had a (sort-of) fast day on Tues and a proper fast on Thurs, with a low-carb 'ketogenic' day on Wed. Also went to the gym on Mon, Wed and Fri as planned and increased my warm-up treadmill time slightly (12 min rather than 10 min, although I'm taking it easy with only a 5% incline and 5kmh speed) and the total sets done in each gym session. I also managed to achieve my target of a minimum of 10K steps walked on the weekdays (but not on the weekend).

This week I'll try to do a proper fast on Tue and Thu, increase the reps a bit during my gym sessions (maybe a add another exercise), and make sure I do my 5BX session every day. I'll also do a bit more walking next weekend.

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Monday 4 November 2019

Net Worth: October 2019

My NW increased by $15.6K during October (0.66%) due to the continued improvement in global and local stock markets adding value to my geared share portfolio and also our SMSF investment. Our house valuation also improved slightly (0.75%) as the recent improvement in the Sydney real estate market flowed through into our suburb. I think that is technically an 'all time high' for my NW, but it has been fairly flat during the past couple of years due to the correction in Australia real estate and a subdued local stock market.

I've decided to report the amount borrowed to fund the 10% deposit for my 'off-the-plan' investment apartment in the 'other mortgages' total. I will continue to report the cost base for the 'other real estate' holdings until the apartment development is completed (in 2023) and I get the unit valued to obtain a mortgage to fund the balance due at settlement. There will be some stamp duty (about $42K) payable in a couple of months - I'll add the amount to the 'other mortgage' figure, and also increase the cost base by the same amount, so it won't have any impact on my NW figure until settlement.

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Diet 2019 Wk 44 - week ending 03.11

Last week went OK except for Wednesday when I at more than planned, and the fact that I only managed to go to the gym once (due to working late on two of my 'gym days' and having to get home in time to cook meals for the kids). I probably could have squeezed in the gym sessions, but I just didn't feel like it. At least I still did my daily 5BX on the days I didn't get to the gym. I also didn't do much walking on Sunday as it was raining, so my average daily step count for the week was down slightly again. I'll try to meet my 10K target each day this week, and also go to my planned gym sessions on Mon, Wed and Fri. I also need to try to get to bed a bit earlier and get a full 7 hrs sleep each night.

I watched a few youtube videos on the weekend about the benefits of fasting by Dr Fung - apparently fasting is better for retaining muscle mass while losing visceral fat than simple CR (caloric restriction) dieting. And intermittent fasting (with normal caloric intake on the non-fasting days) tends to result in more sustainable weight loss as it doesn't lower ones metabolic rate as much as continuous CR dieting -- so you tend to not suffer from the 'yo-yo' dieting effect (where you tend to put weight back on due to having lowered your metabolic rate). Fasting also helps lower insulin levels, which can produce a number of health benefits.

While I like the idea of the health benefits of fasting and using IF to get down to a healthy BMI asap, I also suspect that CRAN might be beneficial for longevity by lowering metabolic rate (so ongoing CRAN then doesn't result in a lower than ideal BMI). So on the days that I don't fast I will still restrict my caloric intake slightly (at least until I reach my 'ideal' BMI). But I might add a bit more lean protein (chicken breast or smoked salmon) on the non-fasting days, as it will make my weight training on those days more productive in terms of retaining/adding muscle mass.

Making my evening meal before each fasting day a no-carb meal (eg. chicken breast and green beans) may also help my one-day (36 hour) fasting more effective. I might also change my Wednesday meal plan to a ketogenic/low-carb one, so I end up with a three day ketogenic period each week.

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