Friday, October 14, 2011

Average Australian Households

Thanks to high house prices and compulsory superannuation the average Australian household is much wealthier than the average American household.

We are below average with a net worth of about $A510k vs. $A720k for the average household. The average house was worth $A541k for those who owned their home outright and $A521k for those with mortgages. The average superannuation (retirement) balance was $A154k. Here we are above average at $A261k. That includes a couple of US retirement accounts though.

Our income (not discussed in this article) puts us in the top 10% or so probably of households and in the long-run I expect we will end up wealthwise in the top 20% of households who average $A2.2 million.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Yoyo in Hollywood

Seems like it was hard to get both Yoyo and the Hollywood sign in focus.


We went to the (relatively) new Costco store at Canberra airport today. You have to buy a membership ($A60 p.a.) before you can look inside the store, though the membership is refundable. Some things are very cheap and others are near prices at other discount stores. For example, wine sells for the same price as 1st Choice Liquor. Levis 501 jeans were on sale for a price lower than in a Levis outlet in Los Angeles we were recently at (i.e. just $A45). Post-it notes etc. were about half the price that they are at OfficeWorks. We mainly bought food. Things do come in large sizes but there are some smaller ones too. You can buy a regular 3 litre bottle of milk, 250 gram Camembert cheese etc. and individual cakes etc. as well as the larger sizes. The price for TVs was the same as Harvey Norman.

If you are already shopping at 1st Choice, Aldi, and fresh food markets you probably won't save a huge amount in Costco and the range is limited.

We ended up spending $A155.93 somehow or other...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Moominvalley Report September 2011

Another month of negative returns. Seven straight months of losses. Returns in USD terms were heavily affected by the rise in the US Dollar which reduced the value of all our non-USD investments. As a result net worth fell by $US56k:

In Australian Dollar terms the loss was "only" $A11k. The USD rate of return was -13.26% compared with the MSCI World Index's loss of 9.4%. In AUD terms we lost 4.38% and in currency neutral terms 6.07%. Expenditure was high. We went to the US and bought a lot of stuff there - clothes, kitchen stuff, a new camera etc. Our first trip back since we left in 2007. I don't really feel like writing a lot more about this.

In response to the comment from Financial Independence, I've introduced a new format for these monthly income/expenditure statements. Hopefully, they give more intuition about how the numbers are calculated.

Get Done What You Want to Do Now

I just heard that Steve Jobs died at age 56. I felt sad but my immediate thoughts were that he got on with doing the big things he wanted to do and it's good he did because he died relatively young. I've often commented (in contrast to some but not all personal finance bloggers) on not worrying too much about saving for retirement over more immediate life goals and not putting off dreams until you "retire". This just reinforces it. Also in the news is the Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to ANU astronomer Brian Schmidt (and two Americans). He is just over two years younger than me and the key paper that won the prize was published in 1998 when he was just 31. Of course, this is the advice that Steve Jobs himself gave in his graduation address at Stanford.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Moominmama Portfolio Performance September 2011

The portfolio got slammed this month by a double whammy - stock markets fell with the MSCI World Index falling 9.4% and the US Dollar rose sharply with the Euro falling more than 9% and other currencies by smaller amounts. The loss was 6.55%. The least badly performing areas were hedge funds and commodities. The Man/AHL managed futures fund actually gained just under 1%.