It seems I forgot to blog for a while

To be exact, it’s been 684 days since I posted anything.

I could offer a variety of excuses about how busy life has been with work but I won’t. When your mission is to retire early, save money and generate additional income streams, excuses won’t get you very far.

In the past my focus has been on saving money, which is a great early retirement tool, but one that I feel I’ve gone about as far as I can without affecting my quality of life in a way I’m not happy with. This year, my focus will be on generating new income streams other than my full time job. Before the year is out, I’d like to be earning $1,000 per month on passive or nearly passive income streams.

I’d also like to set myself the task of blogging more regularly even if my posts aren’t as detailed as they have been in the past. I have some ideas for more in-depth articles which I will get to before too long.

A belated happy new year for 2016 (and 2015)!

Hypermiling and the art of increasing gas mileage

Hypermiling and how to increase your gas mileage


Hypermiling is quite simply the process of driving as efficiently as possible. It is about getting the maximum miles out of a tank of gas.

Before I get into the detail about how to save money by modifying the way you drive, I should note two important matters at the outset. The first is that the best way of using less gas is to drive your car less. Living close to work, riding your bike or using public transport are the best ways of lowering your gas bill.

The second is that the type of car you drive will largely determine how far you can go on a tank of gas. This does not mean that it is frugal to go out and buy an expensive new car because it’s more economical than your current car. Rarely will that be a good move.

It also means that the tips below are more important if you drive a gas-guzzler, not less. If you drive a gas inefficient car, then you stand to gain more by driving sensibly, but at some point you’ll be limited by your car, not the way you drive.

Some people suggest pretty crazy ideas in the search for miles per gallon, like tailgating and other dangerous ideas. It should be pretty obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Staying safe is the most frugal way to drive, even if it costs a bit more in the short term. Avoiding hospitalization or long term injury is frugal. Getting home safely is more important than miles per gallon, so if you’re looking for ‘extreme hypermiling’ look somewhere else.

The best hypermiling techniques

I’ve done a fair bit of research into this, and hopefully I’ll save you scouting around a number of other sources – here are the best tips to increase your miles per gallon:

Invest in a fuel economy gauge

Normally I wouldn’t advocate buying a gadget to save money, but a fuel usage monitor is a good exception. They help you work out what is the most efficient highway cruising speed for your car, and it also provides feedback in real-time so you can drive as efficiently as possible.

Personally, I like ScanGauge monitors because they are relatively cheap and really well reviewed. If you follow the above link, you’ll see that this particular model has over 500 reviews at an average of 4.5 stars.

This one will work on almost all cars made after 1996, and will give you a ton of stats and averages that will help you tailor your driving to make sure it’s as efficient as possible. If you only follow this tip, you’ll probably accidentally discover the rest, just by trial and error.

Coast rather than using your brakes

If you have your foot on the accelerator right up until you have to brake to go around a corner, you are wasting precious momentum that you built up whilst accelerating. It is much more efficient to get off the gas far enough before a corner so you don’t have to brake. The more time you spend with your foot off the accelerator the better. This is one of the best hypermiling tips that you can employ.

The ultimate example is people who speed up very quickly between lights, even if they know it’s a red light coming up. Let the car coast as much as possible. It’s also good for saving your brake pads from unnecessary wear. Don’t take it to the extreme obviously, brake if you need to stay safe!

Remove unnecessary weight

The more weight you carry, the more gas you’re having to burn to travel the same distance. Remove any unnecessary weight in your car – if you’re storing something in your boot because you’re too lazy to take it out, do it now!

Remove roof racks

They ruin the aerodynamic performance of your car and cause a lot of drag.

Use kinetic energy to your advantage

This is similar to the hypermiling tip about coasting – where possible, try to maintain your momentum while driving. If you are driving over rolling hills, speed up slightly on the way down the hill to make use of the natural ‘free’ speed, and slow down as you near the peak of the hill.

Make sure tires are inflated

This can make a considerable difference to your rolling resistance. Make sure they are inflated to the factory recommendations at all times. It will also improve the life-span of your tires as well.

Use cruise control

Generally your car will be better then you are at regulating your speed. This will stop you creeping up in speed without realising it. Once you work out the optimum speed for cruising, set your car to that speed to make sure you sit at the best speed for as long as possible without deviation.

Roll up your windows

This reduces your drag and will help with your aerodynamic and hypermiling performance.

Optimize your route

Planning ahead can help you avoid unnecessary city driving, and to make sure you take the shortest route possible. Avoid idling at all costs, it’s a killer when it comes to fuel economy.

Turn off car if stationary for more than 30 seconds

Provided you have a very reliable car, it’s normally more efficient to turn your car off if you are going to be idling for more than 30 seconds.

Turn off AC

Some cars lose up to 10% efficiency by using air conditioning. If it’s not too hot, make sure it’s off, and just use your cars fans. Some people who live for hypermiling take things to an extreme use just the fans and carry a spray bottle of water to spray their face to keep cool. Personally, I just reduce my use of AC as much as possible.

Accelerate slowly

There is no need to speed up quickly, all it does it burn fuel unnecessarily. A decent guide is to try to only use the first inch of your accelerator where possible.

Think I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments below. What are some of your hypermiling tips?

10 passive income ideas

Last year we focused our energy on becoming as frugal as possible. We will be continuing that trend, but our area of focus this years is passive income.

The idea is to earn more money without spending much of your precious time. Ideally, it’s about creating assets and income streams that continue to work for you even while you’re sleeping.

Here are some of the passive income ideas I’m either already doing, or considering doing this year:

1. Index fund investing for passive income

This takes the cake as the king of passive income in my opinion. You should carefully consider your own financial situation before investing – there are many potential risks involved that I can’t explain fully here. This article shouldn’t be considered financial advice in any way – get your own professional advice before investing.

Investing requires initial capital to start up, but after it is set up it is normally just a matter of setting up an automatic contribution when you get paid, and allowing compound interest to do its thing over a long period of time.

What you end up with is a stream of income that is constantly working for you while you’re at work or doing your own thing.

We have been investing with Vanguard for about a year, and it has been a very simple way to get exposure to Australia’s 300 largest companies. We invest in the “Australian Shares Fund” and are looking forward to expanding our investments into international shares, and bonds to make sure our investments are properly diversified.

Further reading:

  1. Boglehead wiki and forums
  2. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  3. MMM article on the topic Continue reading

Pay yourself first to get your budget on track

The simplest and most effective budgeting technique you can use is to pay yourself first. Prioritizing your savings the same way you would prioritize a credit card payment almost ensures financial success over a long period of time.

Setting your savings rate

The first step is to choose a savings rate that you can easily manage even if it is 1% of your pay. Ideally this figure increases over time until you are saving a large percentage of your wage. For those wanting to retire early, you might need a percentage over 50%.

Then when you get paid, before doing anything else at all, transfer your savings into a separate account where it can be visually and physically separated from the rest of your pay packet which is to be spent.

After saving, pay your bills

Next comes paying your bills, paying off any credit card balance (in full if possible!), pay rent and other regular expenses. If you find yourself not being able to pay your credit card off in full then you simply need to spend less money. It is that simple. If you can’t make the full payment, pay the largest amount you can whilst still leaving enough to scrape by until you are paid again.

Ideally, you are left with a small amount of money left over after saving, and all other expenses are paid – this is what you live off until you are paid again. This amount is for food, fuel, entertainment and other miscellaneous spending.

Keeping this as a small amount is ideal because it forces you to limit spending naturally, and it forces you to think about what you are spending your money on. Remember that even small purchases are worth thinking about!

If you have money left over

If when you get paid after paying yourself first for a while, then it probably means you’re not being ambitious enough with your savings rate. Take the left over amount an work out what it is as a percentage of your wage and then add it to your savings rate. If you have 5% of your pay left over, add it to your savings rate.

Pay yourself first hurdles

If you are someone that struggles to make your minimum credit card payment, then it will take time to shift to this sort of strategy.

It will require a shift in your thinking – and you simply have to start by spending less money, bit by bit, until you are saving more (hopefully much more) than you earn. The best way you can get started is to symbolically start paying yourself first, even if that is just a single percentage of your wage.

Gradually increasing your saving rate will require you to re-think the sort of spending that got you into credit card trouble in the first place. Focus on what you want to achieve financially – put pictures of a bucket-list travel destination, a holiday home or whatever big picture goal you are worried you might not be able to achieve if you don’t start saving soon.

The first step is to pay yourself first – take the money out of reach by saving it, and then dealing with the left over money the best way you can to get you through to the next pay.


Soon enough, you will be worrying about whether you can make your ‘savings payment’ because it’s really ambitious, rather than worrying if you can make your credit card payment.

While there are many obvious benefits of having savings, an emergency fund or buffer, but some of the best features of paying yourself first are:

  1. Saving first, spending the rest forces you to budget properly by physically limiting access to money – just make sure you don’t compensate by using your credit card more
  2. It makes you recognize that saving money should be your first financial priority by making you deal with it first
  3. Forces you to evaluate your spending by giving you less of it to live off after saving
  4. You just get used to living off less money – it makes you realize that saving really isn’t that hard
  5. It just works – there isn’t any better savings strategy that I know about – it is habit forming and quite addictive after you get into the swing of it

Why bother saving small amounts of money?

Save small amounts of money

Thanks to 401(K) 2012 on

If you are starting out trying to be more frugal then starting small is a good idea. Some of us like to jump in head first and attack being frugal by making large changes in every aspect of life – but making too many changes too quickly can be a disaster. You’re more likely to stay the course if you make a series of small changes over a long period.

Think about trying to make one small saving per month. Soon enough, you will see the benefits of those small changes without ever feeling like you have had to adjust your lifestyle in the slightest. If you want some money saving ideas – look no further than my best 82 tips on the subject.

Focusing on small cost cutting measures won’t radically change your financial picture quickly – it won’t happen over night, but it will happen! – but the key is to make one good decision after another until as a collective the big picture starts to improve. As much as anything focusing on the small stuff is good training for your mind when it comes time for the big ticket items.

Small savings ideas for immediate action include:

  • Cancelling cable
  • Switching to a cheaper phone plan
  • Walk or ride a bike to work
  • Make your lunch for work
  • Turn off the lights when not in use
  • Use the library instead of buying books
  • When renewing accounts (insurance, phone, internet, or anything recurring) make sure you are getting the best deal you can

Continue reading