Whatever your reason for choosing FIFO, set realistic goals and stick to them

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Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.

What ties us to this lifestyle?

I can never really answer this. But recently there has been talk of 'golden handcuffs', with a TV news report showing FIFO miners with their jet skis and fast cars. I can tell you that neither of these is sitting in my front drive.

I will admit I do own a later model car which we were lucky enough to buy new. At the time of purchase, my father passed a comment: "You're buying a new car and you still have a mortgage?!" Well yes, our priorities are different. With two girls at home and a man working in a different country, you can’t afford to have a bomb that breaks down and leaves you stranded in the middle of the countryside. And actually Dad, we have paid off the mortgage!

One of our main reasons for continuing with the FIFO lifestyle is to help out our girls. We didn't want them to start life out of university with a debt. The study fees alone would have set them back around the $30,000. And then there's living expenses in a flat - around $52,000 per year. So that would have meant starting their working life with a debt of $82,000. 

You might think we're being overly generous (especially after paying for good boarding schools too) but to us it is an investment. Hopefully they will have a great life and pick us a nice retirement home!

Every family has a different reason for doing FIFO. Sure, the money is good - and some families run the risk of getting trapped into the lifestyle by building up too much debt.

But I have found most are in this lifestyle to carefully and strategically get ahead, to give themselves and their families a better start in life.

My life is not full of overseas holidays (or jet skis and fast cars) but I am happy in my piece of suburbia and find solace in the garden.

Whatever your reasons for choosing FIFO, make sure you set realistic goals and that you're working towards them together as a team.

More from Auntie Sandy:

If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!