David Loses Money Tracking my adventures in making money without earning it

Getting Started


The first thing I ever bought was Virgin Blue in 2008. I used to get paid every fortnight, and had to pay rent every month – which meant that one or two times a year there’d be a pay cycle that didn’t involve rent or other monthly expenses. Normally I ended up living pay to pay, but somehow I’d ended up with some cash left over for a change.

Part of my job was to manually update share prices of companies we tracked, and I think noticing the differences day to day for certain companies got me interested in investigating the share market more.

Share investing was not something anyone in my family or friend circles did. I had no knowledge of it whatsoever, and always assumed it was something that only people born rich did. Any “beginner’s guide to investing” stuff I read would always be like “first, you need at least $50,000 and a reputable broker. Discuss the tax implications with your financial advisor and accountant, then call your broker then ask them for advice on what to buy. After that drive your Maserati to the bank and make a withdrawal, then get some caviar at the country club and hunt a few homeless people for sport to congratulate yourself on a job well done,” and so on. Like it just seemed like another world that was not intended for plebs like me. I was supposed to just put my money into a savings account, not touch it for 5 years, and then be grateful for the 83 cents of interest that I’d get.

I investigated further and ended up finding out that the minimum purchase on the ASX is $500 – way less than the $50,000 I was led to believe. Maybe you’d want a huge amount if you were doing something ultraconservative in order to get any sort of visible return, but where’s the fun in that? I then looked into “how to actually buy shares” – in 2009 this was still not very online, but stumbled upon Bell Direct who were charging $15 brokerage.

I signed up, eager to see how this would all work, transferred money over, and ended up buying 1793 shares in Virgin Blue at 29c (totalling $519.97 + $15). I work in aviation, so I was getting blasted with news about Virgin Blue whether I wanted to or not, so I felt familiar enough with the company that it seemed like a good idea.

Obsessing over the price of it became a routine for the next year or so, but then at the end of 2009 I really wanted a new phone so I sold them at 53c each ($950.29 – $15). The system worked and I had a new phone!

From then on I dabbled now and again – not really as a serious thing, but just to see how things worked more. Unfortunately I repeatedly made the stupid mistake of buying things I didn’t understand (aka speccy miners). I had some decent luck with iiNet and Pipe Networks but bombed hard on some potash mine and a fracking company (this was before anyone knew what fracking really was… honestly I thought it was good for the environment – shows how abysmal my research was back then). How to eat shit and cut your losses is unfortunately one of those things everyone investing needs to learn, and it’s something you can only learn by doing.

I continued at it over the years, but only with small amounts as I was still figuring things out. At the start of 2016 I sent this email to my dad detailing my plans:

So what I am looking at doing is maybe getting financial advice from a company called Movo.

Then using Stockspot for general investing.

I need to research that a bit more though. I think they buy into ETFs but manage the ratios themselves. I had ETF shares before but only the VAS ASX 300 one (an ETF is like a price tracker of the entire stock exchange but they’re bought and sold like normal shares are, so you can buy them and it matches what “the market” as a whole did during the day as opposed to individual stocks). So I think I will use ING for my savings interest (ie. money I am not prepared to lose), then Stockspot for more “safe” investing then I will just buy shares in individual companies when I am feeling adventurous. I do all my shares buying/selling with Bell Direct as their website is easy to use and they’re cheap for trades ($15 per transaction).

All this was possible with my budgeting app called YNAB. I have been using that for 2 years now and it has made such a gigantic difference to how I control my finances, I wouldn’t be in this position without it. Excellent program.

I’ll take you and mum out to dinner somewhere fancy when the dust has settled!

Did I ever take mum and dad out to dinner? I have no idea. I never actually implemented any of these plans until late 2017 though. Then when 2018 came around I really started to get serious about things. It’s funny – I have no recollection of sending that email to dad and didn’t realise I’d actually put thought into my investing strategy, yet here I am in 2021 more or less sticking to that plan. Well, the idea is sound, just all the methods have changed:

  • I don’t use Stockspot anymore as I like the extra control that buying ETFs directly gives me (not to mention the fees).
  • I never ended up getting financial advice. At this point I don’t know what new information they’d have for me after I’ve researched and DIY trialled-and-errored almost every stupid idea under the sun.
  • I moved to SelfWealth for trading – $9.50 flat rate vs $15 + percentages on larger trades. Sorry Bell.
  • I moved from ING to uBank to 86400 for my savings. ING were great once upon a time, but their introduction of more and more hoops to jump through to get the full interest rate drove me to uBank, and their atrocious UI and lack of PayID/Osko drove me to 86400.

I still use YNAB religiously every single day though, and am every bit as fanatical about it as I was 5 years ago. Learning how to budget is the second-best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

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David Loses Money Tracking my adventures in making money without earning it