Personal Finance Budget Spreadsheet and Dashboard

I’ve been working on this baby for years. Initially it was as my own budget and dashboard and it developed into something I would like to share with others.

Update 25th January 2021 – Please note that since this article was posted I have created additional Personal Finance products to suit individual requirements. I recommend you taking a look at the following post (‘The Frank Basics’ Etsy Store) before purchasing to ensure you find the right product to meet your needs

The Personal Finance Budget Spreadsheet and Automated Dashboard has been a few months in the making since I first decided to share it more widely than my computer hard drive. I have always enjoyed using spreadsheets and it remains the one part of my job that I quite enjoy. As a result I decided to modify my tried and tested one into something that others might find helpful (not everyone likes spreadsheets and this one aims to do the work for you).

The Personal Finance Budget and Automated Dashboard (which includes inbuilt debt snowball / avalanche calculator for Microsoft Excel) contains 9 sheets (tabs) including:

  • Dashboard (Automated sheet)
  • Debts (Data entry sheet) – this sheet includes a debt snowball or avalanche calculator
  • Mortgage (Data entry sheet)
  • Emergency Fund (Data entry sheet)
  • Savings (Data entry sheet)
  • Sinking Funds (Data entry sheet)
  • Budget (Data entry sheet)
  • Review Sheet (Automated sheet)
  • Expense Review (Data entry sheet)

My goal with this workbook is to try to make using excel easy while letting you use all the best features it has to offer.

It also is formatted so you can print the sheets off for your fridge (or other area of your home) – eg the debt and savings trackers.

What does this Personal Finance and Budgeting Spreadsheet do?

For a full list of specifications I would recommend checking out the Etsy listing here.

  • Calculate the % paid off of your debts, and mortgages.
  • Calculates how close you are to reaching your savings goals (Emergency Fund, Sinking Funds, or other Savings Goals)
  • Calculate your income from multiple jobs
  • Calculate expenses you pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or yearly
  • The Dashboard shows you how much you have spent on each category (You decide the categories you want – completely customizable)
  • The Review sheet shows you how much money you have left
  • The Expense Review sheet is an optional sheet with a little quiz guiding you on where you could make changes to your budget to save money.

What you will receive:

  • One Microsoft Excel file template
  • One Quick Start Guide PDF

Notes:

  • Created on Microsoft Excel 2016  (only works with Microsoft Excel not Google Sheets)
  • Please note that this spreadsheet uses Macros so please ensure when you open this file you ‘enable macros’.
  • Please note that every sheet on this spreadsheet has built-in instruction buttons to assist you with completing each sheet.

I’ve put a lot of work into it and have priced it accordingly, but for those that follow me on the blog/Instagram I’ve decided to provide you the following coupon code to save you 10% off (as a big thank you for following along).

Coupon Code – FRANK10

Feel free to get in touch before hand if you have any questions or additional information you would like before making your purchase. I’m also happy to field questions to assist you to get the most out of it post sale.

If you do end up purchasing it please let me know your thoughts and feedback. I’m keen to create some more spreadsheet style items so let me know what other trackers or dashboards etc that you would like to see.

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$100,000 invested in 17 months

This is the story of how we invested 100k in 17 months

In late 2019 we set ourselves a huge goal of investing 60k in 2020, and worked steadily towards this until March when COVID-19 put our 2020 travel and entertainment plans in limbo. With our plans in limbo we decided there was an opportunity to reduce our expenses significantly, side hustle , and invest even more so we upped the goal to 100k invested by the end of 2020.

When did we start investing?

We made our first share purchase (of an Exchange Traded Fund or ETF) on the 17th of July 2019 where we purchased 17 ETF units for $957.46.

We made our last trade on the 17th of December 2020 when we bought 126 ETF units.

Why did it take you 6 months to invest 10k as opposed to 12 months to invest 90k?

They say the first 100k is the hardest, but for us the first 10k was really hard. It was made harder by the fact we were a one income family until January 2020 (but didn’t get our first two income paycheque until February).

We also found our first 10k hard because we weren’t on the same page as a couple. My husband is very conservative by nature financially speaking, and was concerned about losing our hard earned dollars in the share market (which is a real risk by the way). So the first 6 months were really us finding our feet as a couple investing and becoming financially literate together. Initially to get my husband on board I convinced him to follow the path for 6 months without question as a trial, and after this time if he was still not convinced with the plan we would opt out.

6 months went past and although we still had a lot to learn (still do) we were more confident in the path ahead, and decided to push even harder in 2020.

What was your investment rate?

The investment rate of our regular incomes was 60% (we lived 100% off my husbands and invested 100% of mine). In addition to this we side hustled like crazy (read about it here) and invested almost 100% of these funds.

Full Disclosure – In addition to our regular and side hustle income over the last 17 months we had 6.5k in tax refunds, and 2.6k in dividend income which we reinvested into more shares (via DRP – if you want to know more about DRP check out this article I wrote called ‘What is a Dividend Reinvestment Plan’). The 100k doesn’t include any capital growth in our shares so our portfolio is over 100k – at the time of reporting it is 107k.

What side hustles did you do?

Casual Teaching – My husband took on an additional casual teaching class which resulted in an additional 6k.

Gardening My husband has a side hustle doing gardening in our local area and made between $100-400 a week in additional funds (this is pre tax). He has run this business for 4 years, and has regular and adhoc customers. If you would like to read about in in our Side Hustle Series here.

Reselling – I’m an eBay reseller and although its not a huge money maker I currently average $1800 a quarter (before postage and fees).

Market ResearchI started an account with Askable in 2019 and have on average made about $50 in vouchers a month. These go towards our food shopping which allows us to then transfer the money saved to our investment account. If you would like to start doing Market Research I have written all about it in our Side Hustle Series article (including all my top research companies to sign up with).

Flipping Trash – People throw out things all the time in our area and so hubby and I have flipped a tonne of things. Our latest item was a rabbit cage which we got for free and flipped for $120. It looked amazing when we finished with cleaning it up and painting it.

Plants – I’m an avid gardener and propagate my plants. I also raise from seeds to seedlings to sell. To find buyers I joined a few Facebook gardening buy / sell groups. I sell my plants for $5-$10. Its not a huge money maker but I do love it, and if I can make money doing what I love then I’ll take it.

What do you do for jobs?

My husband is a first year teacher who works 4 days a week, and I work for the government full-time in an IT role. Both of us have roles that are under an award, and therefore we no ability to negotiate our pay. Our award rates are also freely available to view online.

Does the 100k invested include retirement or superannuation?

No. The 100k invested excludes our retirement contributions. 9.5% of our income is invested into our superannuation (retirement) accounts every pay by our employer.

Have you wanted to quit whilst on this journey?

Yes. 100% it has not been easy. There have been many times I’ve questioned myself, the plan and have wanted to quit. Every time I wanted to quit I developed a bit of a routine to manage my feelings. The routine involved a walk, listening to a podcast, and reminding myself what we have achieved via our Goal Tracker on the fridge (Free Link to the Printable Here).

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing along the way, we’ve had some bad luck along the way. We were fortunate to have a fully funded emergency fund and without it we wouldn’t have met our goal. This bad luck included many unexpected events in the form of vet bills (5k), boat repairs (1k), home repairs (3k), and laptop repairs ($150).

How are you going to celebrate?

We plan on going out for a nice dinner as a family, and I’ll likely splash out on a bottle of wine over $20. We are also looking at a weekend getaway in early 2021 dependant on COVID-19 restrictions of course.

So what’s the goal for 2021?

With the first 100k invested we expect the next 100k to be a little bit easier. That said although we will be working towards our next goal of having a 200k portfolio we are not sure yet of the timeline. If you would like to read more about our current investment strategy and plan click here.

What we do know for certain is that we will continue to live off one income, invest our second income, maintain our investment rate of 60%, side hustle and live our best lives within our means.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about our journey to 100k either here or via Instagram @frankonfire_

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An easy guide to Exchange Traded Funds or ETF’s

What the hell is an ETF anyway? and what are the potential benefits and cons of ETF’s.

ETF’s or Exchange Traded Funds are managed funds that you can buy in or sell just like an individual share on the ASX or Australian Securities Exchange (or if you are in another country your own country/regions share exchange).

There are many different types of ETF’s so its important that you do your research into a potential ETF before taking the plunge and investing any of your hard earned funds.

If you’ve heard of ETF’s on the #debtfree or #fire community then you would likely have heard of people (like me) in these communities investing in ETF’s.

What is the difference between ETF’s and Individual Shares?

ETF’s differ from individual shares in that you don’t own the underlying assets/or shares held within the ETF. You own the units within the ETF and the ETF provider (eg Vanguard a well known ETF provider owns the investment itself).

ETF’s differ as well in regards to individual shares in that they typically give you exposure to more than one company, sector, asset, or market. Dependant on what ETF you select this spreads your risk exposure to more than one company, and offers diversification to reduce your risk in the event of a company failing or a market event.

What kind of ETF’s are out there?

As of March 2020 there were 200 ASX listed ETF’s and this list is always growing. Additionally ETF’s are becoming more diverse in terms of what they invest in as demand for ETF’s grows. The list I’ve complied below lists some of the different markets, sectors and other assets that ETF’s invest in:

  • Australian Shares
  • International Shares
  • Sustainable/Ethical Shares
  • Sector based share holdings (eg banking, technology, healthcare or mining)
  • Bonds (eg fixed income investments)
  • Gold or other metals
  • Currency
  • Property
  • Cryptocurrency
  • and there are many others.

I hope you can see from the list above its important to know exactly what your ETF invests in before you invest in it yourself. Its important to align your values and risk profile with a ETF that meets your needs.

Benefits of ETF Investment

  • Diversification – This is the big one for me. You can purchase a number of shares in a single trade within single or multiple markets (eg Australia and International Shares). You can also select ETF’s that are diversified across multiple markets/asset classes to spread your risk even further. You can also select ETF’s that aim to provide fixed income or monthly distributions. Don’t skimp on your research.
  • Access to Markets – Investing in individual shares in overseas markets can be difficult for Australian’s so an ETF may be an easier option if let say you wanted to invest in the Indian Share Market.
  • Low Cost – ETF’s are usually cheaper than an actively managed fund. If you do want to know more about actively managed funds use this link here. You can find out the cost of the ETF by checking the management expense ratio or MER (%). You can find this information when you are researching your ETF (if you can’t find the MER referred to directly your ETF may also call it their yearly fees).
  • Trade like a Share – ETF’s can be traded just like a share, and just like buying an individual share you buy during the trading hours of the exchange.
  • Income (known as Distributions) – ETF’s just like shares may also offer regular distributions monthly, quarterly, semi yearly, or yearly. Many ETF’s also offer Distribution Reinvestment Plans (see article here to learn more) , which may be something on your list of wants for your future investment.
  • Higher Liquidity over Property – Just like a typical Share Holding when you sell an ETF you should expect to receive your funds within 2 business days of the close of market. This means that ETF’s offer better liquidity than an investment property for example.

Cons or Risks

  • Investment Risk – The biggest con of all of ETF’s is market risk (same as buying shares). Buying a diversified ETF doesn’t shield you from market risk. The investments your ETF invest in could still fall in value, and anyone who owned ETF’s during Covid-19 (or any other crash) would agree. However if you view any ETF investment as long term you will also know that the market has since rebounded, and no money was lost unless you sold out your holdings. Buy and hold forever is my strategy for investing so I don’t worry about what is happening to the market day to day.
  • Choice – As previously mentioned you need to do your research before buying ETF’s. There is a lot of choice out there, and you need to do your due diligence (just like investing in anything). Two ETF’s may both invest in the Technology Sector, but there may be important differences between the two. Make a shortlist of ETF’s, research the ETF provider to ensure they are reputable, and know what your ETF holdings are made up of.
  • Tax – If you are used to investing in individual shares you will likely know how your tax is calculated. Dependant on your ETF holding you may find that doing your tax for an ETF is quite different to owning individual shares. Your end of year ETF statement provided by Computershare (link to article) includes distributions rather than typical dividend income, foreign income, and capital gains even though you didn’t physically sell any ETF’s. Make sure you know your tax responsibilities in regards to any ETF’s you purchase, and consider seeking professional taxation advice.

Why I invest in ETF’s

I’m 100% a passive investor therefore ETF’s suit me well. I don’t like to actively manage my shareholdings or sell shares to rebalance my portfolio. Instead I take a set and forget approach and aim to buy and never sell. I’m 100% a passive investor therefore ETF’s suit me well.

Please note: This is not advice this is what I have researched and what I feel comfortable investing in. I evaluate my investments regularly and my investments and risk profile may change over time.

More Information

If you would like to know more about what ETF’s are available I have listed some ETF providers below (Australian Links):

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The cost of owning chickens

We have owned our chickens for well over 18 months and I’m keen to share our experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly

In April 2019 we purchased chickens in the initial desire to reduce our free range egg bill, which in a household that loves eggs is about $10 a week. Since our ‘girls’ entered our lives we have learnt a lot about owning and keeping chickens, and I’m keen to share our experiences.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Costs

Initial Set Up Costs

  • Chickens $25 each x 2 (found via Gumtree)
  • Chicken Food $35 (found at our local farmer supply shop)
  • Chicken feed container $15 (found at our local farmer supply shop)
  • Water container $15 (found at our local farmer supply shop)
  • Pea Straw $20 (found at our local farmer supply shop)
  • Hutch $20 (We haggled and found ours second-hand. We then cleaned it up and painted it using cheap sample pots. It scrubbed up pretty well – see photo below)
Our Chicken Hutch where our girls stay safe at night, and when they don’t want to be out.

Ongoing Costs

  • Pea Straw every 6 months $40 / year
  • Chicken Food $70 / year

Cost Benefit Analysis

The total set up costs for two chickens was $155. It took another month before our girls started laying eggs, and luckily for us they reward us with a steady 2 eggs per day (throughout the year).

To date we’ve spent $230 on our chickens and with the cost of 12 eggs being $6 for the quality of egg we’ve become accustomed to this investment took 38 weeks of laying to pay back. Therefore we’ve had almost a year of eggs at no cost to us which equates to almost $300 worth of eggs.

ROI (Return On Investment) = ( $600 expected investment value – $300 investment cost) / $300 investment cost

ROI = 100% approx. investment return

(Not including any of your own time spent caring for them)

Other Considerations

The Good

We have absolutely loved owning chickens. Our chickens are very friendly and have become much loved pets. Our kids have named them ‘Snowball’ and ‘Kentucky’ and they love a cuddle (both the kids and the chickens do). We spoil our chickens rotten and they happily enjoy our veggie scraps daily. We also free range our chickens throughout the day, and they love eating snails and our weeds.

The Bad

Chickens are pretty low maintenance in terms of a pet or animal, but its still additional work. You will need to have time to check their food daily, feed them scraps regularly, check their pen daily for any hazards/pests, restock hay, check them frequently for any diseases (we’ve been very lucky not to have any issues), collect the eggs daily, and wash the eggs before use. If you take into consideration this additional time your return on investment goes into negative territory real quick.

The Ugly

Mucking out the hutch is my least favourite chore in the house. It takes a morning to clean it out, scrub it, spray it down, and restock everything every month or so. It’s a dirty and smelly job, but the silver lining is that the chicken poo is awesome for the garden.

Would I do it again?

The short answer to this is ‘yes’ but I would not do it for the sole reason of saving money on eggs. This is because when your own time is accounted for owning chickens has a negative ROI.

We will own chickens again because:

  • The eggs taste amazing,
  • Its nice knowing that the chickens are well treated,
  • We enjoy using the chicken poo in our garden,
  • The pest control in the veggie patch is much appreciated,
  • and they are extremely beloved pets to our children.

Should you do it?

Chickens are a great pet with benefits. They still require time and money to look after, but if you don’t mind that you will be rewarded with tasty eggs and hopefully a good friend.

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Photo by Alison Burrell on Pexels.com

Free Printable – 52 week Investing Challenge Printable

I’m posting this one just in time for the new year. This my investing tracker which I’m using to track our progress towards our investing goals in 2021.

If you liked my other Free Printable called the 52 Week Savings Challenge Printable you are going to like this one.

You will like this one because its the same as the old one with just a few tweaks for an investment focus. I created this tracker for myself as part of my investment strategy. For those who follow me via Instagram you may notice it’s the same one I post online each payday.

If you’ve read my article on goal setting and how to maximise your chances of reaching your goal/s then you will know that tracking your goal will greatly improve your chances of success.

I like to have a physical tracker like this one so I can visualise my progress every time I go to the kitchen (which is a lot). For me it reinforces my path, how I’m going and if I need to make some corrective changes to ensure I reach it.

To use this printable:

  1. Print it out using the download button below (no sign up required).
  2. Write down your investment goal in the space provided.
  3. Divide your investment goal amount by 52 to determine how much each coin will be worth (and how much you need to put away for investing each week). Example : $10000 / 52 = $192.31.
  4. Document the coin value in the space provided.
  5. Place your tracker in a place that you will frequently see (I place mine on the fridge so even the kids know what we our goals are).
  6. Then get colouring and hitting those goals

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5 simple ways to save money on your electricity bills

Do you want to save money on those nasty electricity bills. Here are 5 simple ways I save money on my electricity bills.

  1. Do a yearly electricity company review

Time to complete – Approximately 30 minutes

What do you need – Your last electricity bill. If you receive them online as a PDF you won’t need to print it out.

How does this save me money? – Grab your last electricity and / or gas bill and head on over to Energy Made Easy . This is an Australian Government power comparison website where there is no email sign up required to get a price comparison. I saved over $1000 in one year by making the switch to another provider (and I didn’t even go with the cheapest).

Make sure you use this government website (‘Don’t google electricity comparison website’) and avoid other energy comparison sites which may be paid a fee from energy providers to find you, and will also likely result in spam emails. Also your taxes pay for the free Energy Made Easy service so why not use it (I mean you’ve paid for it).   

Once you’ve input your details the site will provide you a comparison pricing of all the electricity providers in your area based on your last bill. Then you compare the companies available, and the terms of each one, and let the company make the switch for you.

It really is very simple and easy. I saved over $1000 in one year by making the switch to another provider (and I didn’t even go with the cheapest). If you do select a new provider and it happens to be ReAmped Energy feel free to use my link here for $50 off your first bill (in addition to the any savings you get from switching).

  1. Use Smart Plugs

Time to Complete – 30 minutes (including ordering the plugs, and setting them up)

What do you need? – Smart Plug/s (These can be any smartplug device you would like to use. I personally use TP-Link ones as they are available at my Hardware Store, the price point is reasonable $20 per plug, and the application to control them is free)

How does this save me money? – Have you heard of Vampire electronics? Well Vampire electronics use up electricity whether or not they are actually turned on and in use (eg your Computers, Microwave, Gaming Consoles, and TV’s). It’s estimated that Vampire electronics cost the average home an extra $200 per year (US Dollars) when not in actual use. To reduce the impact of vampire electronics smart plugs can assist you by turning off your electronic items for you. Smart plugs like the ones I use allow you to turn your electronic items off from your phone, and / or put them on timers via an application. This then reduces the vampire consumption of energy, and stops me needing to remember to turn off my electronics at the wall (which can be difficult for some electronics like microwaves).

An added bonus of using smart plugs is that I now have an auto shut down of devices for bedtime so my boys can’t sneakily access devices when they shouldn’t.

  1. Get a thermometer for your fridge

What do you need? – Fridge Magnet Thermometer (Cost between $10-20)

How does this save me money? – Heating and cooling costs likely make up the majority of your energy costs so having our Thermometer on the fridge means that we only turn on

  • Heating if the temperature goes under 18 degrees Celsius.
  • Cooling if the temperature goes over 25 degrees Celsius.

Why a fridge thermometer? Well its simply because its a high traffic zone in our house and its the best place for us to be aware of the temperature of the house.

We also have a few other heating and cooling hints such as we wear extra layers in the cooler months, and in summer we will try the fan first before popping on the air-conditioning.

  1. Be smart with your dryer

How does this save me money? – We all know this, but some of us like me who live in a colder climate may not always be able to avoid having a dryer all together so I have a few dryer tips.

  • Buy a Heat pump condenser dryer – yes the initial outlay may be more but your energy consumption will be less than half the cost of a traditional vented dryer.
  • Throw a dry towel into your dryer load. This will reduce the drying time which will reduce your electricity cost per load.
  • If you have the heater on for your own warmth then use an indoor clothes horse to dry your clothes as well.
  1. Get a Smart Meter from your energy retailer or consider purchasing of your own

Time to Complete – 30 – 60 minutes (including ordering the smart meter if required / or talking to your energy provider, and setting it up)

What do you need? – Smart Meter (Cost between $0 and $124)

How does this save me money? – You know the quote ‘What gets measured gets managed…..” well its one of my favourites and definitely true in regards to monitoring your energy usage via a smart meter (as long as you use it correctly and intentionally of course). The savings from the smart meter come from the idea that by having a smart meter you are more aware of what the energy usage for your electronic items is in your house, and therefore choose to be more intentional with using them. You may even choose to replace high energy usage items, and replace with a more energy efficient model.

Many will already have a smart meter, and therefore you should have access to clear and detailed insights into your electricity consumption. If you have a smart meter and don’t have access to any insights get in touch with your energy provider to see how you can access your smart meters data.

If you don’t have a smart meter and would like one contact your energy provider first as you may be entitled to a free one. Alternatively if like me you are not entitled to a free one then you can get yourself a Smart Meter and install it yourself. My personal favourite is this one called the Powerpal Smart Meter . Installation of this meter is simple and no electrician is required.

There are so many other tips to save money on your electricity out there. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

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Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

How do I opt into a Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plan?

If you are new to investing and want to participate in your holdings Dividend or Distribution Reinvestment Plan (DRP) then this post is for you.

When I first dipped my feet into investing I had absolutely no idea how to do anything. Taking the step to buy my first ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) in the first place took me long enough. Once I bought my first ETF units I wanted to participate in the holdings DRP, and have my income automatically invested in buying more ETF units.

If you don’t know what a DRP is that is 110% okay. I’ve got a really quick write up on what a DRP is, and why I’m a big fan right here ‘What is a Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plan’.

Do you have a Computershare Account?

When you purchased your first shares you may have been sent information from your broker recommending you to register your shares via an online Share Registry Company. This may be via a company named Computershare or via another online Share Registry Company (there are quite a few out there including Link Market Services).

Your broker may have even set up an account already for you – so double check your emails.

You will need to have a Computershare Account or other Share Registry Company Account to set up your DRP.

What is Share Registry Companies like Computershare?

Share Registry Companies like Computershare and Link Market Services provide share registration services including transfer of shares, tax reports, dividend/ distribution income reports, and the ability to update how and where you would like your income to be paid.

How to opt into the DRP?

Opting into a DRP is quite straight forward once you’ve set up your Share Registry Account.

Below I’ve detailed how to opt in to DRP via your Computershare Account

(Please Note: The process will be slightly different for other Share Registry Accounts).

  1. Simply log onto your Computershare Account
  2. Select My Profile from the top right menu (see screenshot below)
  1. Then select the share holding you want to update the dividend/distribution reinvestment plan for (see screenshot below)
  1. A sub menu will then pop up. Select Amend and then follow the prompts to make your desired selection.
  1. Once you’ve made your selection make sure it’s saved correctly, and then pop your feet up and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

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What is a Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plan?

And why would I want to opt in or out of it?

The Low Down on Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plans

Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plans otherwise known as DRP’s are a type income distribution option that some share holdings provide to their shareholders.

If you own shares then the DRP will be referred to as a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (as shares are paid dividend income).

If you own ETF units then the DRP will be referred to as a Distribution Reinvestment Plan (as ETF units are paid distribution income).

If you have selected to be paid dividends or distributions via a DRP then your income will be automatically reinvested in purchasing more shares or ETF units (to the value of the dividend or distribution).

Example – If your dividend payment was $50 and the share price was $25 you would have an additional 2 shares added to your portfolio instead of a cheque / or bank deposit of $50.

What options do I have in terms of being paid my dividends or distributions?

You can opt to have your dividends or distributions paid to you in the following ways:

  • Bank Deposit
  • Cheque
  • Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plan (if offered)

Do all share holdings offer a DRP?

No. Not all holdings offer the option of a DRP, and if this is the case you will need to opt for one of the other options to receive your dividends/distributions.

That said as DRP’s become more popular I’ve recently noticed a trend where some holdings automatically opt you into the DRP, and you have to opt out of it if you don’t want to participate (example – DHHF ASX | High Growth ETF Australia | BetaShares).

What are the benefits of opting into the DRP?

  • No temptations – This was an important consideration for me. For me being enrolled in DRP means my portfolio is constantly growing, and I’m not tempted to spend my income elsewhere.
  • No brokerage fees – There are no brokerage fees passed onto you within a DRP, which is a significant money saver over time as trades can cost upwards of $20 per trade.
  • Supports a Dollar Cost Averaging approach – If you subscribe to DRP you are by default opting for a Dollar Cost Averaging approach. This approach suits those who are in it for the long haul, and aren’t trying to time the market. You have no control of the price of the shares you are purchasing within a DRP, and therefore sometimes the shares you receive through DRP will be overvalued and sometimes they will be undervalued at the time you receive them. Regardless the principle around dollar cost averaging is that over time this will even out and won’t be an issue.
  • KISS Approach – DRP keeps things pretty simple in terms of managing your income payments, and will suit those who enjoy a hands off approach to investing.
  • Compound Effect – DRP is a great way to quickly build and grow your portfolio as each time you are paid a dividend you will receive a larger number of shares than the last pay-out (This is based on the assumption that the dividends are unchanged).

What are the considerations of opting into a DRP?

  • Lack of Control – If you like having a hands on approach to your portfolio and investments then DRP might not suit you. You will not have any control over the price and timing of the purchase of shares under a DRP, which may result in you buying shares at the higher price than you would if you purchased them yourself. That said if you are planning on holding your shares for the long term then the nature of DRP means that the price paid for your shares should even out over time.
  • Unbalanced portfolio and/or reduced diversification – DRP involves the automatic purchase of shares in the same holding, which means your portfolio may become unbalanced over time. This can be an issue for those with a portfolio where they manage the balance of asset classes and diversification of holdings.
  • Not for short term investors – DRP isn’t recommended for those who are not looking at holding shares for a long period of time. Short term investors would likely be better off opting for a direct payment (bank deposit or cheque) and purchasing additional shares separately.
  • Not for those who are dependant on dividends/ distributions as an income stream – If you are looking at drawing an income from your dividend/ distribution stream (eg retired) then DRP isn’t for you as any income is turned into shares.
  • Record Keeping – DRP requires additional record keeping (sad face). You will need to keep records of the purchase price and dividend/distribution payment amount every time a dividend payment is made. Sharesight provide a really great guide here for more information.

So how do I update my Income Distribution Options?

Head on over here to an article I wrote on How to opt into a Dividend (or Distribution) Reinvestment Plan and it will give you all the details.

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Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Should I start a Sharesight Account?

So you’ve started investing and want to know what the deal with Sharesight is. Well here is my personal experience, and my plans for use in the future.

So what is Sharesight?

Sharesight sells itself as the Best Share Portfolio tracker for Australian Investors. In a nutshell it’s a web application accessed through your web browser (i.e Google Chrome, Safari, Edge etc) that allows you to track your shares, your portfolio performance over time and gives you access to investment reporting.

How much is Sharesight?

Sharesight is FREE for those with 10 or less shareholdings, which makes it a popular choice for new investors looking for a simple to track their portfolio. For those with over 10 holdings or those who are wanting some of the more advanced features of the platform then prices start at $19 a month (and max out at $48 a month). Pricing information available here.

What does the Sharesight platform look like?

Sharesight is quite easy to use and easy to understand. The user interface is quite simple with clear menu tabs at the top providing the following options;

  • Overview Tab (as per screenshot) – This gives you an overall view of your portfolio as per your own personal settings (including timeframe, graph type eg line, stacked, or growth, and lastly you can also view by group). I personally like to keep it simple and like to see my calendar year, stacked graph type and default grouping.
  • Holdings Tab – This provides you with a sub menu to view your holdings individually and then drilldown into their individual performance. It provides you with a summary performance graph, a breakdown of trade cost and date, current holding details (eg share price) and any income associated with the holding (share).
  • Reports Tab – This tab provides you with a list of 10 reports. 6 of these reports are included in the FREE version of Sharesight and the other 4 are available in the paid options. Sharesight offers a sample of the paid reports so you can try before you invest in a paid membership.
  • Settings Tab – This tab allows you to customise your portfolio to your current setup. It has a range of different settings you can customise from basic settings like the name of your portfolio to more complex settings. You can adjust tax settings for use as an individual, , trust, company or SMSF in this section. You can also customise the frequency of Sharesight alerts to your inbox (I enjoy getting my weekly portfolio summary). Lastly you can share your portfolio with others which is great if you have a partner who doesn’t want to set up an account but wants to stay informed (eg like mine).
  • Integrations Tab – Full disclosure I haven’t used any integrations during my time with Sharesight, however I feel its important to note the features available including Xero integration (please note this integration is only available to those on investor or expert plans). There are also integrations available within in the free plan that may be appealing including auto recognition of trades via the emails that your broker sends you each time you make a trade (buy or sell). I personally prefer to add mine in manually, but each to their own.
  • Help Tab – Lastly the Help tab links you to Sharesight Community, the Sharesight Blog, and contact details to send a specific issue you may have to the Sharesight team.

How do I get started with Sharesight?

It’s fairly straight forward setting up your Sharesight account itself, and you just need to provide your email account and basic personal details.

How do I add my previous trades (buy/sell)

When I started with Sharesight I had already been trading shares for a couple of months, and had to add my trades in. Adding your trade history is a lot easier than it sounds and Sharesight gives you three options:

  • Import from a Broker (if your broker is listed here )
  • Manually add a trade
  • Import from CSV (Excel file)

What are my favourite features of Sharesight?

  1. The overview performance page of Sharesight is great, and I challenge you to try not to log into it everyday once you sign up (it’s pretty addictive tracking your progress and seeing your portfolio grow).
  2. The FREE End of Year Taxable Income Report is a real game changer for helping you manage your end of financial year tax obligations. I manage my tax myself and this report makes it easy to continue to do so.
  3. Lastly I’m a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to investing (I choose to invest in only one holding currently), however I love the Share Checker function. Its located next to the Add Holdings button on the Overview Screen (see screenshot below). It allows you to enter a holding and check the performance of $10000 invested in it over a set period of time (eg the calendar year). It then provides you with some really powerful insights into where you would be.

So should you set up a Sharesight account?

100% yes. I highly recommend starting a free Sharesight account to any investor, and trialling the platform. It offers performance and tracking ability that your broker likely doesn’t offer. Additionally if you do have over 10 holdings you can try before you buy to ensure you will get the most from it.

Refer A Friend

Please note that Sharesight is 100% free for those who have 10 or less holders and don’t wish to use the advanced integrations and reports.

That said if you do wish to sign up please feel free to use my refer a friend link here which gives you 10% off your annual payment if you decide to upgrade your account to a paid account. It also gives me $10.00 credit that I can use towards my Sharesight account.

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The ‘Anti-Meal Plan’ for people who don’t like to Meal Plan

Like meal planning? Yep me neither, but I do like the benefits that come with meal planning such as keeping within a budget.

We keep a fairly tight food budget of under $150 a week for a family of 4 (two adults and two pre-teen boys at the time of writing this). In order to keep our costs low week after week I’ve developed a system which keeps us under budget without too much effort, and today I’m sharing it.

I call it the anti-meal plan because its a plan you only do once (you can do it more if you want to but I don’t), which really appeals to us.

So what is our Anti-Meal Plan? Well its really a bit of a throwback to simpler times with a modern twist. We simply have allocated a certain meal type to each day of the week. The idea around the Anti Meal Plan is that its a 7 Day Meal Plan for the year that is flexible enough to allow you to not be too bored, but allows you to still keep within your budget.

In order to stick to our budget I allocate 60% of our grocery budget to dinners, which works out to be $90 (your budget might be higher or lower than ours so adjust to your needs). Then I split this amount 7 ways. You can do this equally if you wish or you can do what we do which is have a mixture of low cost meals mixed in with higher cost meals. This way you still can enjoy what you love on occasion.

The Anti-Meal Plan

Step One – Allocate an amount for each day of the week dependant on your budget (I use a 60% total food budget rule for dinners).

  • Monday – $10 meal day
  • Tuesday – $15 meal day
  • Wednesday – $10 meal day
  • Thursday – $15 meal day
  • Friday – $5 meal day
  • Saturday – $15 meal day
  • Sunday – $20 meal day

Total Budget for Dinners – $90

Step Two – Come up with a flexible meal for each day of the week

I’m sure this will be the hardest step for most people, but my advice to you is to keep it as flexible as possible. This will allow you to still take advantage of reduced to clear items, weekly specials and seasonal produce. Below is a copy of my plan – it might sound boring, but it honestly isn’t as there are so many choices and flavour combos that we can have within each one. For example Saturday is sausage night, but that can mean any meal with sausages in it. There are a million and one different recipes with sausages in it. Our favourites are sausage pizza, hot dogs, sausage casserole, bangers and mash, curried sausages, homemade sausage rolls, and I even make meatloaf from good quality sausage filling on occasion.

Our Anti-Meal Plan for our dinners is as follows;

  • Monday – Pasta Night
  • Tuesday – Asian Night
  • Wednesday – Pasta Night
  • Thursday – Fake-away Night
  • Friday – Breakfast Dinner or Leftovers Night
  • Saturday – Sausage Night
  • Sunday – Roast Night

Step Three – Write your meal plan down and place a copy on the fridge / and in your wallet / phone

The more places you write this plan down and see it the more likely you are to stick to it. It’s vital to take your plan with you when you go shopping as this will help you stay within your budget (I carry around a screenshot of it on my phone and the amounts I’ve allocated with me).

The Most Important Step – Please remember that the great thing about the Anti-Meal Plan is that if you are feeling imaginative you can change it. If you are suddenly inspired then throw your anti-meal plan out for the week and change things up a bit.

The Anti-Meal plan is designed to be there as the ultimate back up system to ensure that even when you can’t be bothered meal planning in the traditional sense that you can still keep within your budget.

A copy of my Anti-Meal Plan is located below as well as a blank version that can be printed.

I would love to see and share any versions of your Anti-meal plan on Instagram so please tag me @FrankOnFire_

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