Monthly Update March 2019

What impact does a long sought-after baby have on our business and family plans…?

(Read last month’s update here; and (eventually) next month’s here.)

New baby means time to read Carrie Payne’s excellent Guide to Collaborative Estate Planning

Family

Yes indeed, the day we thought may never arrive actually has, and yours truly is a father. Unlike driving a car, or driving a golf ball, or working 9-5 for a paycheque, this is a skill I was born to do and I am already super confident that I’m being (and will continue to be) a great father.

And with apologies to those who suggested my take as a dad-blogger would be sensational, neither this site nor these monthly updates will be switching focus to a parenting manifesto. We have actually made the decision to, as much as possible, keep baby Flash (her in utero nickname) away from Social Media and the world wide web. Her dada might be a media tart, but even then I still carefully curate my image online – I think it only fair to wait for her consent to be able to do that same.

So no photos of her face, and no name here just yet. No doubt these will slip over the years, especially if we end up being a family of amazing travel guides, but it’s the decision for now.

I can happily share that my beautiful wife is doing well; and that Flash by name also proved Flash by nature as she arrived 36 minutes after we reached the hospital, and with the birth plan, meditation music, and cetera all still in the car in the 2 minute loading zone upstairs! An amazing entrance.

Travel

What, you mean apart from the frantic drive to the hospital?!

Actually, there were some nice travel experiences in March.

Jacob goes to the Beach in Newcastle
Jacob goes to the Beach in Newcastle

In Early March I was invited to speak to a group of 60+ Regional Accountants at the annual ‘A Country Practice’ conference, by the beach in beautiful Newcastle. This was actually the deepest I’ve gone into Newcastle and I was both surprised and impressed.

This was the view I had to compete with as the Opening Keynote Speaker!

I was similarly impressed with the attendees – some audiences are an unresponsive bunch, and I was rolling out my new Keynote Presentation on being a Deep Generalist so was particularly mindful of their engagement. Thankfully the questions and discussions that followed were on the money.

My beautiful wife and I also enjoyed a ‘BabyMoon’ weekend away at the new Westin Hotel in Brisbane. We stayed at the W Hotel last year for our 10 Year Anniversary, and I would recommend the W over the Westin though both were lovely.

I hear the Westin buffet breakfast can rival the W Hotel’s (which is probably in the Top 5 Breakfasts we’ve had globally); but with an 8+ month pregnant partner, we knew there wasn’t much that could be eaten there so we instead paid a premium for an Executive Room that included access to the Executive lounge for light meals at breakfast and dinner.

Westin Hotel Brisbane Executive Lounge Breakfast

That was definitely an excellent decision. We’re big fans of the Staycation (Babymoon? Staycation? What has fatherhood done to my love of the English language?!?!) – rather than whizzing down to Melbourne and feeling obliged to tick off some of the sites, you can save yourself the airfare and just have a leisurely weekend in a luxurious hotel suite.

We did partake of the swim up bar – mocktails only – and also organised Jacob Aldridge’s 18th Annual Autumn Movie Day, which is one of the highlights of my year. For what it’s worth, The Favourite was my favourite film on the day, Roma is a masterpiece, and Green Book is a gentle story that is in no way ‘Best Picture’ worthy.

March ended with a 4 night stay in the Wesley Hospital Maternity Ward. Slightly smaller than the Westin … and for some reason, we got a lot less sleep!

Income & Equity

March 2019 ($20,250 gross; $16,488 take home) was another stable month, and well above this year’s target of $14,500/month. Of course, my intention was always to front-end some billings to make it easier when Flash arrived – and April will certainly be below that target!

Our Net Worth dropped back in March (just, to 43.51% of our FIRE target). This was partly catching up on cash flow now that I’m back fully running my own business, but it still would have been positive growth if we hadn’t made the decision to invest on Flash’s behalf.

Wiser people than I have written on how best to invest on a child’s behalf. In Australia, there are two main taxation issues to consider: the first is that any income (including Dividends) over $416 are taxed at punitive rates to prevent rich people like us using their kids to avoid tax; the second is that holding shares in my name and then transferring them when she ‘comes of age’ would trigger a Capital Gains event (and the tax that goes with that).

Investment Bonds are a product that exists in Australia to help with this; not perfect, but they definitely seem underutilised. The other alternative is to invest via a Family or Discretionary Trust – in this way Dividends can be distributed where most tax efficient, and while the child won’t have clear ownership and access to the Shares as an adult they do exist as a Beneficiary of the Trust (and indeed, gives the Trustee some power to stop the child blowing through their money on reaching maturity).

Trusts aren’t cheap to set up and cost money to maintain, however; they’re the sort of thing that you’ll be glad you have when you have hundreds of thousands invested but not when you start out. Thankfully, we’re already investing via a spare Trust that we had for business equity … so we can ignore those costs … which made investing for Flash through the Family Trust the best option.

My plan is to record her ‘Wealth’ separately from ours, even though they sit in the same Trust Structure. This will make it easier 18/21/25 years’ time to carve it out for her, however she may want that done.

On some quick calculations, we started by investing $5,200 for her ($100/week) and plan to increase that by $10/week each year (so next year will be $5,720 and so on). This roughly gets her to $250,000 by the time she’s 21 – as Warren Buffet said, “I want my kids to have enough money to do anything, but no so much that they’ll do nothing”.

A quarter of a mill, even adjusted for inflation, will hopefully make a real difference for her early adult life and being able to take risks or make choices around education, travel, entrepreneurship and so on.

Activity: Clients / Marketing / Businesses

This section is an opportunity for me to share any significant wins in either my businesses, or my clients’.

The day Flash arrived I ran an awesome Communication and Leadership training program for a new corporate law client, which was excellent and a lot of fun.

Behind the scenes, there are two great tools I’m building for separate clients – I had hoped to send them a draft by the End of March, but they will now be receiving them in mid-April. I can’t wait to share those (to the extent that I can).

Lessons

Saying ‘No’ to client work proved challenging in March, but I had a very good reason to do so. Now I have to hold my nerve through a few months of low billings, since I’d rather be home with the baby and my beautiful wife anyway!

I’m also learning a lot about breastfeeding. I used to think that Time Management was the epitome of “This trick worked for me once, so now I teach it to everyone as a universal principle”; but Breastfeeding advice is like that on steroids, with so much conflicting advice not helping at all.

What’s your favourite note from March 2019? Leave a comment below, and I’ll see you next month!

Rainbows for a Final Flight before Fatherhood
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