If there’s one thing I absolutely adore about living life in the modern age, it’s getting my commute entertainment and education for free. I have around 10 hours of what could be ‘dead’ time every working week, where I’m either sitting on the train or walking to the station/school/home. Now, if I was a deep, spiritual person who’s sprinting down the Dharmic Path to enlightenment, perhaps I’d be happy to spend those hours with my thoughts squirrelling around inside my head.

Sadly, I need more stimulation. Knitting on the train worked pretty well for a while, but it was when Ryan23 gave me his old headphones that my love for podcasts really took off. I have an old iPad that, up until a few of years ago, was only used as my eBook reader. Tom26, my oldest son, installed the free kindle app on it and away I went.  Then I discovered podcasts through listening to ‘Serial’, like so many others. After that, I circled podcasts cautiously, poking them with a stick, but it wasn’t until I geoarbitraged and moved an hour away from work that podcasts became important.

Again… how lucky are we? All you have to spend money on is your device, whether it be a phone, iPad or computer. Once you’ve set that up, you log onto iTunes, create an account and the world opens up. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems as if the number of podcasts has exploded in the last year or so. It seems like every man and his dog is making one. And the crazy thing is that they’re all FREE.

My podcast list changes as I find new things to listen to, but here are some of my tried-and-tested ones that I’ve been listening to for ages. I’d love it if anyone could recommend some that I haven’t come across yet. My FIRE date isn’t for another few years so I have lots of commuting hours in front of me. Here goes:

Finance podcasts:

The Dave Ramsey Show – the quintessential ‘Get out of Debt’ show. I found it really motivating while I was paying off my house, but now I cherry-pick my episodes, all the while hoping for a ‘Millionaire Theme Hour’ to be played.

Mad Fientist – not a huge amount of new material but a wealth of interviews from the past. It’s good to have a FIRE podcast from someone who’s already achieved it.

Choose FI – I was lucky enough to get onto this one pretty soon after it started. The hosts are based in the US, but the vast majority of the material is applicable to Australia as well. This podcast has gone viral in its first year and is a good place to start with FIRE ideas.

The Dough Roller Money podcast – This one’s been going for years. The host gently chats away – sometimes I feel like yelling at him to stop rambling and get a move on! – but it’s a good place to come to if you feel you need information on the basics. He certainly gives you the details you need to know. Just do what I did and scan the episode titles to download the ones that are applicable to you. There’s a LOT to choose from!

So Money with Farnoosh Torabi – I’ve just started listening to this one. She posts a few times a week so I’ve been only downloading those topics and guests that sound interesting to me.

Aussie Firebug – It’s good to see an Australian throwing his hat in the ring. It’s a little bit ‘blokey’ and not entirely relevant to me, but his enthusiasm for the subject of FI is infectious.

The FIRE Drill – I’ve only been listening to this over the last couple of weeks. Initially I had to get used to the banter between the two hosts, but now that I’m familiar with them I’ve warmed up to this podcast. They have some interesting guests.

The Fairer Cents – 2 female US bloggers host this show. I heard Tonya from the blog ‘Our Next Life’ being interviewed on a podcast somewhere and I really liked the way she expressed her philosophy of life. I started reading her blog and now I’ve listened to most episodes of this podcast. It doesn’t get to the point as quickly as most other blogs… lots of chat and catch-ups… but I guess that would make some people feel like they were part of a catch-up session with friends. They talk about some interesting topics and it’s good to have a female perspective.

Humorous podcasts:

Cumberbin’s Treasure- easily the funniest podcast I’ve ever heard. It’s a British BBC production, originally called ‘Cabin Pressure’, about a struggling charter airline company. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Martin. It’s a 3 season show that is SO worth downloading. I’ve laughed out loud on the train.

My Dad Wrote a Porno – Another British podcast that comes a very close second to the one above. Definitely NSFW, this one is roll-in-the-aisles funny. Definitely start from the beginning, back in season 1 episode 1, as you have to follow the adventures of Belinda Blumenthal, an ambitious woman making her way in the fiercely competitive pots and pans industry.


Welcome to Nightvale – How I love Nightvale! Spo, a reader of my personal blog, put me onto Nightvale last year. I binge-listened 3 year’s worth of podcasts, which immersed me into the world of Cecil Baldwin, the man behind the microphone of the Nightvale Community Radio Station. Nightvale is a town that is just a little bit different to the places you and I inhabit…

Alice Isn’t Dead – also made by the people who put ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ together.  So it’s set in a world almost but not quite like our own.

Homecoming – David Schwimmer is on this one. There have been 2 seasons so far and I’m hoping a 3rd comes out. Apparently, there’s going to be a TV series based on this.


Serial – I keep hoping a season 3 will come out so I’ve left it on my iPad. This was the first podcast I listened to. Investigative journalism at its best.

This American Life – Serial comes from the same people. I resisted listening to this one for ages, because of the title. ‘What does being American have to do with me?’ I thought. Once I caved and started listening, I realised I was an idiot. This is a top-quality podcast. Every week they bring out a show on an entirely stand-alone topic, so you never know what’s going to be looked at. It’s hands-down one of my favourite podcasts.

The Infinite Monkey Cage – Science with a huge dollop of comedy. Prof Brian Cox is a regular on the panel, with a mix of scientists, comedians and academics who discuss the topic of the week. Very funny and gets you thinking. Another BBC production.

Trace – this is an Australian podcast, where a journalist looks at an unsolved murder from 1970’s Melbourne and goes back through the evidence. Every now and then there’s an update if anything new comes up. Really intriguing and sometimes horrific stuff.

10 Questions with Adam Zwar – He interviews various celebrities from all different areas and – you guessed it – asks them all the same 10 questions. It’s sometimes fascinating what you find out about how these people value things and how they see the world.

On my list right now that I haven’t yet heard:

The Financial Mentor podcast – I heard this guy being interviewed on ‘Choose FI’ ( I think) and he sounded knowledgeable. Thought I might give this one a go…

Millionaires Unveiled – interviews with millionaires. Could be interesting…?








My second-biggest financial mistake – and what I did to try and educate my kids about it.

(This is one of my Christmas presents. My youngest son Evan21 took the photo and then blew it up – we now have a picture of the whole family. )

When I was married, waaay back in the day, I was working as a teacher in a suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne in the west. It wasn’t where I grew up, (I’m a Bayside girl from the other side of town), but it was where my husband had his business and love makes you do crazy things like move across the other side of the city to live. We delayed starting a family, so in the meantime I discovered dog breeding and showing. Poppy and Jeff, in the photo above, are descendants of the dogs I bred at that time.

For 6 years dog breeding was my passion. I wanted to have a place where I could build proper kennels and give them space to run. My husband was a country boy and he wanted space around him, so we started looking for a block of land. We found one on the outskirts of Bacchus Marsh. 6 acres, already fenced. I can’t remember what the asking price was, but I know that we didn’t have the money up front for a deposit. My husband used to spend everything he made…. but that’s a topic for another blog post. The only way we could come up with the money was if I cashed in my superannuation.

At that time I was about 27, I think. I had 30K in super that was ticking along quite nicely. In those days if you wanted to withdraw your super it was really easy, so that’s what we did.

Argh!!! I can’t believe I was that stupid! I had no idea of how compound interest worked, or of the importance of letting funds deposited while you’re young in an account like super being left to slowly compound and grow while time is on your side. Nup! We wanted that block so we took the money out. A classic case of short-term thinking.

While I was sitting here I just plugged the figures into a compound interest calculator. $30,000 for 30 years at 7% interest, with no further contributions being made. That $30,000 would have been worth $243,495 to me in another 4 years. Do you think that would make a difference to the when and how of my retirement plans if that tidy sum was added to my super? Do you think I’d still be working full-time, or would I have eased back to working 3 or 4 days a week if my super had an extra quarter of a million dollars?

That block in Bacchus Marsh cost me around a quarter of a million dollars.

Do you want to know the kicker? When I got pregnant with Tom25, we decided to sell the block and an investment property we had. My husband was suddenly nervous about servicing those debts on just one wage. Property values had fallen… we ended up selling the block at Bacchus Marsh for 30K LESS than we paid for it.


At the time I was blissfully unaware of how costly those two decisions were. But now I know that if I’d understood the power of compounding, I would never have released the funds from my super. So I look now to my boys – those giants in the photo at the top of the page. I left the marriage when Tom25 was 5, Evan 21 was 11 months old and the other two were somewhere in between. I’ve raised them on my own and it’s up to me to teach them what I can about life, including their financial lives. If they can get their heads around compounding, they may be intelligent enough to not only avoid making the same mistake I did, but to actually turn it on its head and start actively harnessing that power.

Earlier this year I sold our property and made a profit. I’ll discuss this at some stage later on on the blog. With Christmas coming up, and with the knowledge that I’d have not only my boys but also my nieces here, I decided to be a little theatrical and give them a gift with a string attached.

I handed out these ‘certificates’ at the end of when we were handing out the presents, when I had everyone’s attention. The accompanying documents were two tables I’d printed out from a compound interest calculator site. I wanted to make it crystal-clear what I was actually giving them.

The first table shows what they’d end up with if they deposited the 1K and then never added another penny to it. I chose 40 years @7% interest (which is a conservative estimate for the interest rate. The Australian stock market averages just under 10% per annum.) 

Now of course this table is totally unrealistic unless they choose to live off Centrelink benefits and never work a day in their lives. They’ll be adding to this amount every time they work and get paid. So I added another table – this time what would happen if they only seeded this account with another $1,000 each year.

Apart from Tom25, who’s an accountant and already has his head around this stuff, their minds were BLOWN. My nieces come from a family where money isn’t a topic of conversation and so they’re not exposed to these ideas at home. I was especially pleased that Jay18, my youngest niece, quietly came up to talk with me afterward, saying that she’d be interested in finding out more.

I also gave them all a copy of ‘The Richest Man in Babylon“. It’s a slim volume and I remember reading it when I was around their age and the lessons stuck. It’s up to them if they read it or not; I won’t be following up and nagging. I figure I’ll just present the information to them and they’ll access it when it becomes relevant to them.

The funny thing is, Tom25 said to me the next morning, “One of the books Dad’s been hassling me to read is ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’!” I laughed and said, “I’m not surprised. It’s a good book.”

I guess what this story proves is that even in the holidays, you can’t stop a teacher from teaching. I’ve put the information in front of all 6 of them and now it’s up to them how it percolates in their brains. It’ll be interesting to see how many of them, in a couple of decades or so, have taken the information and run with it. It’ll be my own little social experiment.  🙂