Monday 25 March 2024

End of Week 6 of '90 day transformation challenge'

Managed to get back into the diet routine and get in more daily walking, but I only felt well enough to go to the gym for a moderately light full body weight training session only Sunday.

My progress so far:

         Body Recomposition       Averages (per day)

Week#    Wt (kg)    Body Fat %    cals    g prot    % carbs    % fat    steps/day

1        -3.4       -1.1%         1,348     85      35%        39%      11,118

2        -1.0       -0.4%         1,378     92      39%        31%      12.126

3        -2.3       -0.8%         1,528    121      27%        26%      12,358

4        -0.1       -0.5%         2,223    122      41%        30%       6,459

5        +1.1       +0.4%         2,457    117      51%        29%       1,107

6        -3.1       -1.5%         1,856    114      50%        22%      10,550

At least I am back on track. I still need to tweak my meal plan a bit to include more protein and less carbs -- probably have to switch my 'brunch' from cereal to some lean meat and vegetables (same as I have for dinner). The average daily step count for the past week was dragged down by still not walking much at the start of the week, but in the last two days I managed to get in >14K steps/day, which I want to maintain from now to the end of the '90-day transformation challenge'. After the challenge ends I'll try to keep up this level of walking until the end of the year, by which time I should have reduced my weight close to my 'ideal' BMI. I am managing to not have my first meal until close to noon each day, and have a fairly early dinner (finish eating by about 7pm), so on average I have been 'intermittent fasting' on roughly a 7:17 daily ratio of eating vs 'fasting' hours. I'm not all that hungry when I wake up, so having a late 'brunch' in place of breakfast isn't a problem, and having an early dinner makes it easy to stick to two main meals a day. By the time I start to feel a bit like having another evening meal it is already close to bed time, so it isn't hard to not eat outside my planned hours.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

End of Week 5 of '90 day transformation challenge'

My 'progress' so far:

         Body Recomposition       Averages (per day)

Week#    Wt (kg)    Body Fat %    cals    g prot    % carbs    % fat    steps/day

1        -3.4       -1.1%         1,348     85      35%        39%      11,118

2        -1.0       -0.4%         1,378     92      39%        31%      12.126

3        -2.3       -0.8%         1,528    121      27%        26%      12,358

4        -0.1       -0.5%         2,223    122      41%        30%       6,459

3        +1.1       +2.2%         2,457    117      51%        29%       1,107

Last week didn't go as planned. My BPV (benign positional vertigo) got worse, to the extent that I would get dizzy just walking around the house. So I decided against going to the gym every time I was 'scheduled' to go last week. It did seem quite a bit better yesterday and today, so I *might* go to the gym tonight for some light weight training (before all my progress from the first few weeks is undone). I still probably won't do any treadmill work at the gym, but am trying to ramp up my daily step count again this week, after almost doing noth9g last week.

I had an ultrasound of my liver due to the elevated liver enzymes in my blood test results. Turns out I have one gall bladder stone (not causing any problems) but also have a slightly enlarged liver and 'moderate' fatty liver disease. As I don't drink alcohol it will be due to 40 years of being overweight and too sedentary. No medical drug treatment, but the recommended response is to 'lose weight and exercise more'.

Fatty liver disease decreases life expectancy in males by about 4.4 years, so I really need to get serious about reducing my BMI and getting regular exercise every week, and daily walking.

Enough said. Back to the diet plan and lots of walking right now!

ps. I checked with 'doctor google' and "a reduction in body mass index (BMI) of 5% is associated with a 25% relative reduction in liver fat as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)" So getting my BMI down from 38 to 34 (about a 10% decrease) during the 'transformation challenge' (if I reach my goal of 105 kg by mid-May) might help cut my liver fat by up to 50%. Of course getting down to my ideal BMI of about 24 by the end of this year will have even greater health benefits (hopefully),

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Monday 11 March 2024

End of Week 4 of '90 day transformation challenge'

My progress so far:

         Body Recomposition       Averages (per day)

Week#    Wt (kg)    Body Fat %    cals    g prot    % carbs    % fat    steps/day

1        -3.4       -1.1%         1,348     85      35%        39%      11,118

2        -1.0       -0.4%         1,378     92      39%        31%      12.126

3        -2.3       -0.8%         1,528    121      27%        26%      12,358

4        -0.1       -0.5%         2,223    122      41%        30%       6,459

Last week was a bit of a set back. After doing an intense workout session at the gym on the Sunday night, getting quite fatigued and sweating profusely during the 2.5 hr session, I had trouble sleeping and woke up around 5am. I felt quite unsteady walking to the bathroom and had a 'syncope' episode and collapsed. Fortunately I didn't hit my head on the bathtube or any sharp corners, but did bang my head a bit on the tiled floor. I had a bit of a headache the next day, and a sore neck for a couple of days. DW made an online booking to see a local GP the next day, and he did a quite check-up as I had been experiencing some vertigo at random times for the past couple of years.

He thinks the fainting was unrelated to the ongoing vertigo, and was probably just caused by dehydration and fatigue. He did order a full panel of blood tests, which all came back normal (including cholesterol and blood sugars), but my liver panel results were slightly above the normal range. So I'll have to get an ultrasound scan of my liver next week to check there is no issue with my liver. The vertigo is most likely just due to BPPV due to particles in the inner ear - most likely to RH ear as I had some damage due to an ear infection while on a scuba diving trip in my 30s, and have some hearing loss in that ear. If that is the cause simply doing the Epley maneuver might help address the issue.

Anyhow, as I wasn't feeling 100% last week I had a couple of 'refeed' days, got some extra sleep, and only had one light session at the gym during the week. I plan on getting back to my normal diet and walking routine this week, but will probably take things a bit easier during my gym sessions from now on.

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Sunday 10 March 2024

Accumulated Annual and Long Service Leave valuation - should I start 'cashing out' some unused leave?

As I have mentioned once or twice previously in monthly NW estimates, another 'asset' I have that I don't bother to include in my monthly NW estimates is my accumulated unused annual and long service leave entitlements. Any accrued amounts when I eventually resign/retire will be paid out using the current salary rate. I currently have balances of 1,076 hrs Annual Leave and 518 hrs of Long Service Leave. At my current hourly rate this is equivalent to roughly $91,572. One factor I was recently reminded about is that while annual leave and long service leave used during the normal course of employment are subject to the SGL (superannuation guarantee levy) which is currently 11.00% of salary, and will rise to 11.50% of salary from July 1 2024, and then the 'final' rate of 12.0% from 1 July 2025, any accumulated unused leave that is "paid out" upon resignation/retirement is NOT subject to SGL.

So, while I was initially planning to continue to just use public holidays and some portion (usually about two weeks) of my annual leave entitlement each year until retirement, and then retire at the start of a new FY (to minimize income tax on the final lump sum payment) and have all my unused leave "paid out", it might be better to instead take 3 months of long service leave at some point while still working, so I receive the additional 11-12% SGL. I will probably have to wait until I have a change of roles at work, as I currently do tasks that are required every week, and for whom no-one else has been trained to do in my absence. Apparently some of these tasks will be eliminated via automated processes during the next twelve months, at which time I may be assigned more of a project role involving Lean Six Sigma process improvement tasks. Which will probably allow more flexibility to take periods of annual of long service leave between 'projects'?

My company also has a policy to allow up to two weeks of accrued annual leave to be 'cashed out' each year, subject to approval by manager and HR. Due to my taxable income being significantly reduced due to negative gearing with my investment rental property, any 'cashed out leave' from 1 Jul 2024 (under the revamped 'stage 3' tax cuts) will be taxed at 30%, which would likely be the applicable tax rate if I instead accumulated more unused annual leave. While my pay rate is likely to increase roughly in line with CPI from now on, using the extra after tax payment to add to my mortgage offset account will effectively earn significantly more than the inflation rate. I also think that 'cashed out' annual leave will also be treated as normal salary and therefore benefit from receiving SGL contributions, adding another 11.5% or 12.0% in net financial benefit by 'cashing out' rather than being paid out upon retirement.

So it is probably a better financial decision to not accumulate any additional unused annual leave, but instead 'cash out' two weeks of annual leave each year, to maintain the current level of accumulated leave entitlement, and receive the extra SGL contributions into my superannuation savings.

I'll lodge an initial request to 'cash out' two weeks of annual leave, and if it is approved, confirm that there is a commensurate amount of extra SGL contributed into my company superannuation account that month.

** update: the annual leave 'cashout' was processed last week and the payslip confirmed that SGL was paid on the cashed out leave payment. So I'll continue to 'cash out' as much leave as possible each year from now on.

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Friday 8 March 2024

Investment Bond Performance Update - FEB 2024

My latest quarterly contribution into my investment bond has been processed per the recently changed asset allocation. The overall allocation is still different from my new settings, as I only instructed the new fund allocations to apply to new contributions and to the annual 'rebalance' (that should happen at the end of May. The performance since I started the investment bond in Jan 2021 had not been looking too impressive, but that was due to the overall market being fairly flat from Jan '22 to mid '23. But the recent market strength has improved the average ROI considerably -- it is now sitting at 7.41%pa, apparently after fees and taxes. The investments within the IB are taxed at a nominal rate of 30%, but due to franking credits and some 'tax effective' accounting magic (apparently IB can deduct capital losses against income, which probably relates to the fact that IB do not get the 50% CG discount that normally applies to 'long term' CG). The reporting from the IB isn't too impressive (just an 'additional investment statement' when a new deposit is processed, and an 'annual statement' at the end of each financial year. You can check the current balance and asset allocation online, but it doesn't show charts or performance data. So I've entered all the individual fund transactions into a free 'sharesight' account, and that lets me see the overall progress, portfolio value chart (monthly data points), and more detailed daily price charts for each individual fund that the IB portfolio holds.

It shouldn't be too much trouble keeping sharesight updated - there will only be four purchase transactions to enter when each quarterly deposit is processed, plus some transactions when each annual rebalance is performed.

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Thursday 7 March 2024

Trading Accounts update

I haven't done an update on how my 'trading' accounts have performed since the end of December, so here is a quick status update.

Superhero App account:

A$284.05 This is 19 units of BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF RBTZ.AU. Currently total return is +18.93%.

US$4,144.94. This is split across 7 investments:

6.51767 units of GOOGL.US Avg cost $139.0917. Last price $131.40

5.9521 units of AMZN.US Avg cost $152.3059. Last price $173.51

2.54349 units of BRK.B.US Avg cost $356.4197. Last price $403.96

1.46934 units of QQQ.US Avg cost $408.3466. Last price $438.79

5.0124 units of CORN.US Avg cost $24.2299. Last price $19.48

14.75716 units of WEAT.US Avg cost $8.2299. Last price $5.06

US$0.27 sitting in cash.

3.17395 units of ITA.US Avg cost $106.2101. Last price $129.53

Currently total return is 6.29%

Moomoo trading account:

Basically this is just 'day trading' the VAS ETF.

Currently the open position is 57 units of VAS bought at a notional $96.44 (I had previously bought at $94.55 but the price hit my 'take-gain' price target and still appeared to be in an up trend, so I notionally 'closed' that position and recalculated new stop-loss ($95.48) and take-gain ($98.37) price targets for the current trade. Latest closing price was $97.04.

Overall my current account value is $5,679.94 having made an overall profit of $632.31 (+8.96%) since I started trading on 26 Jul 2023. I have had 11 trades that made a gain, and 11 trades that made a loss, which is the 50:50 win:loss ratio I was hoping for. My stop-loss and take-grain price targets are set at 2% profit or -1% loss. So, with a trading position of around $5K, this mean I *should* make $100 on a profitable trade and lose -$50 on  losing trade. With a 50:50 win:loss ratio that should result in an average overall profit of around $25 per completed trade.

In reality I initially had trouble keeping positions open that were profitable (selling before the price target) when I got nervous, and once kept a position open when it dropped through the stop-loss price target (as it *seemed* to be bouncing off the bottom at a price that seemed like a technical support level). I have finally got a bit better at keeping trades open until they either hit the stop-loss or take-gain price target, and then close out the losing trades and either closing out the winning trade (if the trend seems to be weakening) or keeping it open after booking a 'notional' sale and calculating new price targets. I also had a couple of losing trades exceed my stop-loss due to gapping at the open, when I wasn't able to close out the position at my price target.

Overall, so far the trading results have been:

The positive results in both accounts are likely due mostly to the overall 'bull market' trend, so it will be interesting to see how I fare during a bear market period. The superhero account is intended to just be a long term investment to see how these 'picks' perform over 5-10 years, but the moomoo trading account should see my positions close out when the market starts to drop, and I generally should not be opening new positions in a general down trend (but the might be a few 'dead cat bounce' periods that fool me into placing a losing trade). We'll see how well my 'trading rules' perform in reality.

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Monday 4 March 2024

Do me a favour?

For my PhD research I will be gathering some survey results. One of the channels I might use for some aspects of my research is a 'survey sharing' platform called 'SurveySwap'. You earn credits (to use to 'pay' for having your own survey done by suitable members) by completing the survey of other platform users.

Anyhow, if you have a survey you would like done by a random sample of respondents (or just want to help me get some credits that I can use to 'buy' survey responses for my PhD project), you can join up using the link below. If you join and fill in one survey, you will get 15 'credits' and so will I -- win-win ;)

You help other users by answering their surveys, and they will answer yours in return!

We both get 15 credits if you sign up with this link:

ps. My survey will probably 'cost' about 15 credits per response, which would cost about A$10 if I bought 'credits'. So any assistance in getting some free 'credits' will be of great help. Poor student and all that ;)

Image from

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End of Week 3 of '90 day transformation challenge'

My progress so far:

         Body Recomposition       Averages (per day)

Week#    Wt (kg)    Body Fat %    cals    g prot    % carbs    % fat    steps/day

1        -3.4       -1.1%         1,348     85      35%        39%      11,118

2        -1.0       -0.4%         1,378     92      39%        31%      12.126

3        -2.3       -0.8%         1,528    121      27%        26%      12,358

So after the usual rapid weight loss in the first week due to water loss with lower food bulk, the progress in week 2 was rather modest (and disappointing) given the extra exercise activity and caloric deficit. But in the third week my progress was more rapid with considerable weight reduction and commensurate reduction in body fat. I managed to increase my average daily protein intake to about what I think is required to support the amount of weight training being undertaken, without increasing total caloric intake too much. This shifted the macros balance so that a considerably lower percentage of the total calories is coming from carbs and fat.

I didn't quite hit 15K steps on any day last week, but managed to get in over 12,500 steps on three days. The overall average daily step count increased slightly, but I still need to focus on this a bit more. I did my three gym sessions and total weekly exercise volume increased from 39,175kg to 48,790kg.

I did a rough estimate in change in lean body mass using 5-day averages of weight and % body fat to calculate an estimate of 5-day average lean body mass. Plotted against the change in body weight it looks like I am doing a reasonable job so far at body recomposition (fat loss without lean mass loss). Hopefully I can get my weight down to around 100 kg by the end of the 13 week 'transformation challenge' while keeping my lean body mass around 74kg. This would mean a final body fat % of around 26%. Still a lot more than I ultimately would like to achieve (12%-15% body fat), but would be great progress over a 3-month period. I think the drop in estimated lean mass in the first week (from 75kg to about 74kg was likely due to reduction in retained water (which counts as 'lean mass'). Lean mass seems to have stabilized in weeks 2 and 3.

Body weight is on the LH scale and estimated lean mass is on the RH scale.

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Sunday 3 March 2024

Insurance cover

Moomin has been reflecting on his mortality and considering the need for some liquid cash to cover immediate financial needs 'if anything happens'. He has most of his financial assets invested productively, so not a huge amount sitting around in a cash 'emergency fund' or his mortgage offset account. So I suggested that is what life insurance (and possibly Trauma or Critical Illness, and/or Income Protection insurance is for).

Moomin posted that he has 180K death cover via his employer superannuation, so I decided to check what my current level of 'default' cover is (there is a set premium which provides 'units' of cover, that decrease in dollar terms as you get older). Currently my death cover is only $46,450 (with the $12.59 premium paid by my employer) and the TPD cover is for the same dollar amount, but the monthly premium paid by my employer is $29.88. Not a huge amount of cover, but enough to cover our basic household expenses for about one year.

I currently have 99 days of accumulated sick leave, 69 days of accumulated long service leave, and 143 days of unused annual leave) and I have some Income Protection Insurance via my Employer's superannuation fund (my employer subsidizers the admin fee and refunds the insurance premiums - currently $56.87 per month). The IP policy has a 90-day waiting period and two year benefit period - so it would currently provide income replacement to age 64.25 if I had a health crisis tomorrow. Between sick leave and LOI insurance my salary is pretty much guaranteed to continue to 'normal retirement age' in the event of 'critical illness' or total and permanent disability.

The unused annual and long service leave will get 'paid out' if I get retrenched or reach retirement, so I am happy to accumulate most of that leave (I usually only take a week off at Christmas time). As the pay out would be calculated using the current salary rate, the value is pretty much inflation adjusted. My NW estimate should probably include the current value of the unused vested leave - which is current worth about $88K.

Aside from life insurance, my super would get 'paid out' to my dependent beneficiary (DW) in the event of my death. Since DW and DS1 are the other trustees in our SMSF, getting my super paid out in the event of my death should be quite rapid -- they should just have to fill in a form and provide a copy of a death certificate to be able to sell off some of the SMSF investments and then transfer out cash from the SMSF bank account to DWs personal account (although for tax purposes DW might be better off getting a reversionary pension - I'll have to check into this when I turn 65 and move my SMSF account into pension phase. (ps. I'm not sure how DWs SMSF pension phase account is setup - whether or not there is a reversionary pension option).

Overall  feel my insurance cover is adequate, as in general I 'self insure' by having a reasonably high NW. Having several investments that can be sold and 'cashed out' within a few days also makes the need for insurance cover less important. The biggest financial inconvenience if I died unexpectedly would be that DW would have to sell off the investment rental apartment to clear the mortgage, or else use some of my superannuation death benefit to pay off the investment property mortgage. There won't be any urgency to make any decision, as there is enough money sitting in the offset account to cover about two years of mortgage payments. She might do that, move into the apartment and then sell our home and make a 'downsizer' contribution into her super? I won't be around to know or care, and she is quite capable of making her own financial decisions (even if they probably aren't the same as I would make).

ps. In terms of contemplating one's own mortality, it is probably more productive/useful to take action regarding diet and exercise than reviewing insurance coverage and how 'liquid' one's financial assets are ;) Insurance is just another 'risk mitigation' tool, and poor BMI and fitness is another 'risk' that should be addressed. Easier said than done though -- transferring money from one account to another is a lot quicker and easier than shifting 10kg of fat into lean mass!

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Friday 1 March 2024

Net Worth - FEB 2024

Chart updated to end of February in sidebar.

Stocks/cash increased $3,243 (+1.35%) to $243,959. (This isn't as much as you would expect, because I lump my various cash accounts into the 'stocks' category -- my 'liquid' cash in various accounts is about $184,452.31. Most of it is sitting in my mortgage offset account, so effectively 'earns' 6.54% by reducing the monthly interest charged on my investment property mortgage).

Retirement savings (SMSF etc) increased by $49,646 (2.96%) to $1,728,146 in line with the market trend and our asset allocation.

Est. valuation of our home (my half) increased by $776 (0.07%) to $1,139,053. The 'Other real estate' (my 'lake house' and the investment apartment) increased by $13,270 (0.63%) to $2,108,010.

The outstanding balance of the investment property mortgage remains at $999,993 during the 'interest only' period of the mortgage. Another 4 years remain of the 'interest only' period.

Other assets (my online depository bullion account at  Perth Mint, and the bullion value of my gold and silver proof coin collection) increased by $376 (1.00%) to $38,032.

Overall, NW increased by $67,313 (1.60%) to $4,265,207 during February.

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