Financial Freedom Sloth

achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

Monthly expense report: August

In august I took two weeks of holiday, relaxed and went to a festival in Amsterdam. Let’s see the impact of all of this on my finances,

Income: 2 421,43 euro

expenses: 1 894,60 euro

Savings : 526,83 euro or 21,76%

Income

Income was a somewhat average 2 421,43 euro. This was my normal wage + a birthday gift from the parents. I gave to say that the Belgian system isn’t all that badly organized for your holidays once you are in a fixed contract with a company. You use your official holidays and you don’t even notice it in your paycheck! And on top of that they even pay you some extra holiday money in June!

Expenses

Festivals are expensive! Dekmantel festival cost me 150 euro. And that was only food, drinks and uber to and from the venue. Not included are the actual tickets and our stay in a AIRb&b in Amsterdam. Those two items were another 330 euro. So all in total this festival cost me close to 500 euro. Now I could see it as a remplacement holiday since I didn’t have a real holiday this year. And from that viewpoint it is not that expensive. But if you look at it as just ‘going to a festival’ it is definitely expensive. The main reason for this was the fact that festival was near Amsterdam. Staying in Amsterdam is expensive. And then using an Uber to and from the festival (too far to just walk and no convenient public transport) also added to the cost (damn those surge pricing!).

The festival was fun and it’s a good thing to know one can still properly rave hard at age 45 but Amsterdam is just a too expensive city to visit frequently. Especially because that same weekend there is a cheap techno event in our own town (less than 1km from our door actually).

In august we went to see Once upon a time in Hollywood in the cinema. The tickets were free but a cinema visit always triggers me into buying way too much junkfood at way to high prices. Sigh, not good for the wallet and not good for the wasteline.

And since I was on holiday we also squeezed in a restaurant visit. A Belgian classic: fries and mossels.

Yuo have not lived until you have eaten Belgian Fries with mossels and a good beer

All of the above actually barely broke my budget for the month. It was the purchase of a smartphone that pushed me way over budget this month. For 353 euro I bought a Xiaomi Mi 9t but I’ll give that it’s own post.

To sum it up: Dekmantel festival, a cinema and restaurant visit and a new smarthpone and I still saved 526 euro in August! I really can’t understand how other people succeed in spending all of their money every single month.

The cost of owning a car

I promise this is the last post about cars for many, many years to come I hope. But I did find the post of JL collins about the cost of a car really interesting. JL Collins is much better at keeping track of his expenses than I am (I am lazy after all). And he has been doing it for a lot longer than most of us have.

I already knew cars are expensive. There is a reason I didn’t own one till I was 35 and a big part of me being able to build up a stash can be attributed to me not owning a car. But I still found it quite a shock to see his number at 5,000+ USD per year. Gulp!

I then ran my own number for the last 2 years we had our old car and I arrive at an annual cost of around 3,000 euro. And these are the numbers for a second hand car bought for 8,000 euro when it was 4 years old. JL Collins numbers also show the last years are the cheapest and I also know I had a big maintenance bill before I started tracking our numbers. So realisticaly speaking we should be more around 3,500 euro to 4,000 euro cost per year with the 1,000 euro difference with JL Collins being explained by our lower amortizing costs because our car was cheaper than his.

Damn, cars are expensive!

For me and my girlfriend this is almost one full month each year we need to work just to pay for the car we mainly use to get to work! I know it’s crazy but we all do it!

I am curious if other people have other numbers? If so, please post them!

Now, taxes do play a big part in these expenses: 20 biljoen euro of our money flows to the government via our cars each and every year. But even taking those into account we do pay a lot of money for being comfortable while moving.

A small reminder of a simple fact

Mr Money mustache already knew it back in 2011: you can get rich by using your bike more often.

But sometimes we need to remind ourself of these simple facts. The rise in electric bicycles means that you now can cover greater distances faster. And car sharing services are popping up in more places, even our countryside!

Or perhaps we should all just switch to a velomobile?

Monthly expense report: July

After two incredible months with a 73% and 54% savings rate I spend decided to spend a lot of money in July which had my savings rate drop to 8,8%. Here are the numbers.

Income: 2 382 euro

Expenses: 2 171,80 euro

Savings: 210,20 euro or a measely 8,8%

Income

Not much to tell about the income in July. Only the normal monthly salary this month. Bonusses, unfortunately do not come every month 🙁

Expenses

Personal spending was pretty normal. I did spend 50 euro visiting the festivities at Ghent. Since we used to live in Ghent their annual festivities is always a good excuse to meet up with old friends. The girlfriend usually stays with some of those friends as there are many, many parties to attend during these 10 days.

So where did I do spend all the extra money on? Simple, on a gift for the girlfriend.

Our gift policy as a couple is pretty basic: we don’t exchange gifts. Both of us prefer to have less stuff than more stuff. And if we want something it is usually something pretty specific. Which means you better ask us exactly what we want instead of just buying it. Also, if we want a specific something we, after carefull considering if we really want it, most of the time we buy it. Which means that when a birthday or holiday comes around there is nothing we want. So we stopped exchanging gifts a long time ago. We do try, and do not save, on trying to spend quality time with each other. But that is usually a joint expense.

Why the gift now?

Because the girfriend on occasion often doubts herself too much. She has been a big music/techno fan since her youth. But this was always passive: listening to music, going to parties. Which had me often wondering why she never did anything with it as it cleary did bring her much joy. Now I know, it is not because you like something you need to actively do something with it but we are speaking about a pretty obsessive passion here. It also became clear that she didn’t do something with it, not because she didn’t want to but because of to much self-doubt. The ‘what if I suck at it’ fear. I don’t think our talking resolved the self doubt, but she did come to the conclusion that the only real downside of trying was some wasted time (not that big a deal since we would otherwise spend it watch TV shows, nothing wrong with netflix by the way 😉 and a couple of hundred euro’s on DJ gear. Most of it we probably could recuperate by selling the gear. Or we could just keep it and really improve the sound quality of our little home parties.

So once convinced she would try her hand at Dj’ing another difference between our personalities showed itself. The girlfriend is, in my mind, slow to act. Now I am a big fan of taking once time to gather all the relevant inforation and such but for me, once the decision is taken you go for it. No more waiting, no more delays, no more what ifs but go, go, go. And the girlfriend was taking her goddamn sweet time! Talking about december where she and a few friends might take some DJ lessons and then only buying the equipment after…. Given the avalanche of youtube clips that can show you everything you ever wanted to know about DJ’ing and the fact we actually have two DJ’ing friends I found all her justifications for not diving in complete nonsens. So I did a deep dive into the world of DJ gear and emerged a week later with a big order at the bax music shop and 826 euro less in my account.

What 826 euro gets you is this:

1 Denon DJ MC4000 DJ-controller, 2 KRK RP5 G3 active studiomonitors, 1 Audio Technica ATH-M40x headphone

She did wait to buy a laptop and first hooked the set-up to our desktop computer. Something which made for a very full desk. Once she discovered she actually liked dJ’ing she did buy a laptop and I spend a Saturday afternoon constructing a somewhat rude but perfectly usable DJ table. Which now makes for a pretty full living room …

Financing the new car

In a previous post I explained why we decided to buy a new car which is usually a big No No in FIRe circles. But not only did we buy a new car, we actually wanted it financed! Something that is an ever bigger NO NO in FIRe circles.

The reason for wanting to finance the new car was pretty simple: 0% interest rates! Yes, thanks to our current low intrest environment you can actually borrow at 0% to buy a car!

You see, I have also always been of the opinion one should only borrow for the purchase of a house (and even then keep your borrowing amount low). But the low intrest environment we are in has definitely changed that. If possible I would be financing everything I buy at 0%!

Buy now, pay later! Much later preferably!

Unfortunately you can not finance everything at 0%. But a new car, that was definitely possible!

As a side note, am I the only one that finds it very strange that 0% car loans exist but that mortgages are still between 1% and 2%? Surely a car loan must be more riskier than a mortgage. Houses, for one thing are rarely involved in total loss accidents.

Loan declined

Unfortunately borrowing for the car was not possible.

We have no idea why not. You see Renault does not actually provide the loan. They use Alphacredit. Which are, and I am choosing my words carefully here, a bunch of assholes. They are assholes because they refuse a credit and then do not tell you why. Apparently, by law, they only need to give you the sources they checked and that is it. In our case that was the National bank of Belgium which keeps a tab on all open loans a person has. You can check this database yourself and as expected we only have our mortgage there. Which is logical since we have never borrowed for anything else than that. We also pay that mortgage on time. I have spend a lot of very annoying phone calls to Alphacredit and got exactely nowhere. The customer support you get is very well trained in not giving you any more information than, ‘here is the list we checked and used to come to our decision about your loan’.

Even now, 8 months later, I still have no idea why the loan was refused. My net worth is around 350,000 euro, I am on track to save 10,000 euro this year (and that is just me, the loan would have been both on my name and the girlfirend) but apparently I am no good to loan 7,000 euro at a 0% rate …

via GIPHY

The only thing we can think of is that somwhere somehow there was a mix up with somebody else because when registering our information the garage owner said we appeared to have a file at the internal bank of Renault itself. Which isn’t logical as neither of us have ever bought a car from Renault. Or had any other dealings with Renault.

I have to admit I took this pretty personal. I mean finance is kinda ‘my thing’ and then being refused for a petty loan really, really annoyed the hell out of me. But after banging my head against that wall for a few weeks I decided it wasn’t worth the time and frustration so we just paid the car in cash. The whole ordeal did change my mind about the size of our emergency fund, it’s back to 10,000 euro now!

Still bummed I didn’t get the 0% loan though!

One thing I did notice that the sales person at the garage got really worried when she had to tell us the loan was refused. I got the impression that this wasn’t because the bad news she had to tell but more being worried that she would lose the sale … is a 11.000 euro purchase reall that big a problem for a lot of people? I mean, I would have preferred to spread it out over 3 years at that sweet, sweet 0% intrest rate but after my double bonus and holiday money (and not going on a holiday) my part of this purchase isn’t more than a one time blip in my excel overview. Are we FIRe people really that far from the norm?

Monthly expense report: June

After the stellar income month of May (where I almost cracked the 6.000 euro income from work) June was a slow transition back to a more normal income.

Income: 3 641,14 euro

Expenses: 1 670,50 euro

Savings: 1 970,64 euro or 54,12%

Yes June was the second month this year of me saving more than 50% of my income. It just shows I need to work on my income side to push the savings rate higher.

Income

Income for the month was my normal wages + the holiday money from work. We didn’t go on a real holiday this year so the holiday money all went straight to my savings account. The bulk of my savings this year actually come from the big pay out last month and this month. The savings account was quicker than I thought back in shape after the big expense of paying for the new car in March.

Expenses

June expenses were pretty average. I did go bowling with friends but at 20 euro that was a pretty cheap night out. I also purchased a house warming gift for friends who bought a house with pool (they are not the frugal kind). I did think the house warming party would turn into a gay orgy near the end of the evening but that did not materialise so with hindssight I definitely should have gone for a different house warming gift 😉

With the first heat wave we also visited a local swimming pond. Not too many people, decent food and a low entrance fee means I didn’t break the bank for this either.

Expect for the holiday money June was a pretty average month. With me still spending too much money on food at work. My wasteline continued to suffer (which perhaps explains why the orgy never materialised .. Surely they didn’t wait till we left … did they?!!)

Buying a new car

So back in December of last year I did mention that our car broke down. And with broke down, I really mean completely kaput! The radiator was leaking even after pouring 2 bottles of Wynn’s radiator stop-leak in it. On top of that it was leaking oil from 5 different places.

The old car

The car (an opel combo) was also around 13 years old and we had driven it for 230,000 km. Spending several thousand euro’s fixing it was definitely not worth it.

Although we did get somewhat attached to it over the years, it had served us well. We bought it second hand for 8,000 euro when it was 3 years old and only had 30,000 km so all in all we good good value for our money with that car. With the big storage capacity it offered we have really moved a lot of stuff with it over the years.

Needing a rental

The moment it broke down was less fortunate. It was just before the end of year holidays. Christmas and New year mean visiting our family all over the country which means driving a lot of km’s. So we rented a car for almost two weeks. In a way it was somewhat of a waste of money but we really needed a replacement car in short notice. We did chose the cheapest possible model. When we showed up at the car rental place that car was not available. Which got us a free upgrade to a brand new Opel Mokka: the fanciest car either us have ever driven!

The car rental got us over the end of year festivities but since our new car was not available in stock we had to wait till early March for the delivery. Lucky for us family had a not often used second car which we could borrow.

Buying a new car

Conventional wisdom among the FIRE community is to not buy a new car. The reason for this is that a new car loses immediately 20% of it s value the moment you drive it from the car lot. Depreciation for a car is the highest the first couple of years. Conventional wisdom is to have somebody else absord that depreciation, buy the car when it is around 4 years old and then drive it until it falls apart. We did this with the Opel Combo and a purchase price of 8 000 euro + 2 000 exceptional maintenance costs for 10 years of use came around 1,000 euro depreciation per year.

Which brings us to the Dacia brand. Dacia is the budget brand of Renault. The cars are build with older technology (the passenger windows are not electric for example, there is no touchscreen to be found anywhere in the car) and they offer only a handfull of options in colour scheme and extra’s. The upside of al of this is that their cars are cheap. On their site they even advertise a starting Logan model (which is what we got) of 7 590 euro!

Do not get suckerd in by this! They are sneaky little bastards at Renault and I honestely doubt they ever sell the basic load out. It doesn’t even have a radio or fog lichts for that price! So ignoring the very basic set-up which only exists for advertising purposes you could still get a brand new car for less than 10,000 euro.

Except if you want a somewhat stronger engine like we wanted. Our family lives 100+ km from us which means using the highways to visit them which means we preferred a somewhat stronger engine. But Renault, being the sneaky little bastards they are decided that if you want the stronger engine you also have to take the full option package. So yes, we bought a new car with all the bells and whistles which even includes airco (first ever car with airco!).

The price for all of this: 11 226 euro. It does include free paint because promo conditions and a 500 euro reduction for are old car (which we were glad to get rid off) but also a 500 euro extra cost to install a towbar to pull our remorque (having a big garden and animals does mean we us our remorque frequent enough to justifiy this expense).

Amortization cost, or revisiting conventional wisdom

If we have use the car for 10 years and 200,000 km’s the amortisation per year will be slightely higher than our old car: 1,200 euro/year instead of the previous 1,000 euro/year. If we can use it 12 years and 240,000 km like our previous car we will be right back at the 1000 euro/year amortizing cost.

Conventional wisdom still apllies, even to Dacia. If you have the time to look around you can find Dacia cars of only a few years old and not to much milage which would push that amortisation below the 1,000 euro/year. But then you need to find a good second hand car! And there isn’t all that much on offer because Dacia seems to attracted buyers like us who buy the car with the full intention of driving it until it falls apart. Because of the low starting price of the car new that bigger amortisation in the beginning doesn’t even matter all that much. If I would have to stick a number on it I would guess you can save around 2,000 euro over 10 years by buying a good secondhand Dacia Logan as opposed to a new one. The extra 2,000 euro negates the luck you need in finding a good second hand car + gets us at the very least 4 years of completely worry free driving a brand new car.

Now, 2,000 euro is still a decend amount. Especially if you take into account a person will at least buy 6 cars during his life. If we had more time we would have probably took our time and looked around for a decent second hand car. But we didn’t have all that much time. Our old car was not safe anymore to drive and we had so much breaking down in December that we just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of looking for a decent second hand car. Honestely, those 4 years of worry free driving without a need to even go to the annual car inspection was really appealing back in December. And also, 11 226 euro for a brand new car, with airco and pull bar really isn’t expensive! So I am going to file this under frugal habits, even if it goes against the conventional FIRE wisdom and might cost 200 euro/year more than going second hand.

Monthly expense report: May

I have several months of catching up to do and these monthly reports are pretty easy to write, thus ideal to get in the wing of things again! Expect some more of them …

Income: 5 858,10 euro

Expenses: 1 533,50 euro

Savings: 4 324,60 euro or 73,82%

Yes, the income needs some explaining …

Income

No gift or lottery winnings in May. The high income was 100% me having worked my ass of in previous months. When I told you guys I had to work really hard at my job I wasn’t lying. I also wasn’t lying when I said my boss and the management appreciated all my efforts. The month of May is bonus month at my job so the 5 858,10 euro is my normal wages of 2 298 euro + my normal annual bonus of 1 581,40 euro. And then to top it of an extra second bonus of 1 978,70 euro just for me! I didn’t ask for it but management wanted to do something extra because they did realise I had been working for crazy for several months so they did. I have to say, it is nice to be appreciated!! I also really like the high savings rate and the fact that it put me right on track to achieve my savings goal for the year!

Expenses

Just a little bit over my own 1 500 euro mark.

Not bad especially because this month I had to increase my contribution to the joint account because funds were running a bit low there with the new car related expenses + taking the nephew to the efteling.

And off course I spend to much money on food, further increasing the waste line …

Monthly expense report: April

Wow! 7 months of zero posts. I have to say: those months just flew by.

What happened is that the job remained very busy but not as insanely busy as before. You would think that once the pressure got less I would find the energy and time to write/post more. That’s the theory. But in practice, with the pressure gone, the thing proppelling me forward was also gone and I just got lazy. Not at work, work is still pretty busy, but manageable busy. But on all other fronts activity went to zero, zilch, nothing. I didn’t even read other blogs anyore. I guess my mental energy was zero and I needed time to recharge. I am not saying the fuel tank is now full again but I did feel like posting again. And since I have some catching up to do, here are my expenses for April.

Income: 2 302 euro

Expeses: 1 490,50 euro

Savings: 811,50 euro or 35,25%

April was a good month numbers wise. After buying the new car I was motivated to get my savings back up. 35,25% savings rate was the highest for the year but due to buying a car in March the savings rate for the whole year still is negative at the end of April.

Income

Not a lot to say here, standard income from working + 100 euro gift from my parents (probably for easter).

Expenses

Expenses, although low, were not all good during the month of April.

I had to pay a 75 euro speeding ticket (still driving the Vespa too fast all of the time) and spend way too much money on food. The latter is not only bad money wise but an utter disaster for the waste line. This does merit it’s own dedicated post. I have to say, not looking forward to it.

Monthly Expense report: February and March

I normally can sit behind a computer for hours, and hours and hours. February was the exception to this rule. Between work and having more sick than healthy days in March. I had during the evening zero inclination to spend any more time behind the PC. Which explains the zero posts in all of March. So I’ll just put both the February and March expense report in this one post.

February

Income: 2 247,60 euro

Expenses: 1 764,30 euro

Savings: 483,30 or 21,50%

Income was a little bit higher as I am still experimenting with a side gig which made me an extra 53 euro. More on the side gig in a later post.

Expenses in February were also higher. But the 1 764 euro does include 331 euro for a Festival in Amsterdam in August, 26 euro a doctor’s visit. The only expense I really do not like is the 55 euro I spend on sandwiches at work. It’s a waste of money and mad for my weight (and thus my health). I really need to stop it! Anyway, 1 500 euro a month definitely is doable, I just do not seem to be able to get there!

March

Income: 7 280,70 euro

Expenses: 9 474,41 euro

Savings: -2 193,72

Yep, March is where I have some explaining to do.

If you want the short and fast version: I bought a car, paid cash for it and my parents gave me money.

On the income side I had:

2 218,20 euro from my pay check

5 050 euro gift from my parents

12,50 euro income from the side gig

On the expense side I had all the normal expenses.

And then I had 8 113 euro for the car. The car will get his own post but we bought a brand new Dacia Logan for almost 11 250 euro. Deduct the 5,000 euro my parents insistent of giving me to help buy the car left almost 6 250 euro. My half of this came to 3 113 euro. I could have put the 5,000 in our joint account but since I no longer report in detail on that one it wouldn’t have shown up anywhere so I put it here. Basically I out 3 113 euro out of pocket but now have a brand new car which should last us for another 12 to 14 years. Thank you mom and dad.

Annoyingly I am negative for the year by about a 1,000 euro and it will take me till May to get positive for the year. It is one of the reasons I would have preffered the 0% financing but that clusterfuck of a tale is also for another post.

On the buying sandwiches at work front I did not improve and spend 78 euro! Yes, I definitely went off the rails here and my wasteline is paying the price. No more in April!

The job situation

Back in July last year I posted a status update of my job situation. For those of you tl;dr people (no need to hide your laziness here, actually I encourage it! Consider this a safe space for all you lazy buggers out there!) I’ll give you a short recap:

  • The job is near Leuven.
  • My net wage is a bit higher than before (long live the Belgian Bicycle to work compensation! Tax free compensation is the best kind of compensation!).
  • I now work in the Fintech sector, combining Finance and IT
  • Part time not possible in my current job. But things are moving and changing fast here so who knows in a few more years?
  • And then the most important part: I like the new job!
  • The company is in the scale up phase at the moment. So insanely busy on all accounts. Part of me doing less posts here is because I am tired in the evening folks. And I really do not want to sit any more time behind the PC in the evening. But it is a good kind of tired. And the atmosphere is very much still start up rock and roll.

The present

Has anything changed since last July? Well, the last point in July already mentionned it was insanely busy. Management also knew this so we got two new hires!

Unfortunately, they are not really working out all that well. Sigh.

We are supposed to do about 50 tickets a day. My other co-worker more or less gets those done. One of the new hires is only now (after quiet a bit of help from me) getting there. And the other one sat arond 25 tickets. Have one guess who picked up the slack? Yep, me!

But we are also a fintech company in a scale up fase, so we are growing about 25% a year (or more, because we have a diabolicaly great marketing guy). Have another guess who absorbed all those extra tickets our growth brought with them? Yep, me again!

I sit around 70 to 80 tickets a day, some days topping the 100.

My own worst enemy

I achive this insane number by sprinting out of the gates first thing in the morning and then keeping that tempo up until the very last minute of my working day. Very often running two things at the same time.

It is working very vast and very concentrated for the entiry day.

Now I have always worked this way because I am an all or nothing type of guy (I really should do something about that!). I either work very hard or not at all. Well actually, I work very hard because I want to be able to be lazy as quickly as possible. It is an approach that worked well at all my previous jobs because I just finished my work in about 6,5 hours and had 4 x 15 minutes of very lazy internet time build into my work day, Random internet time relaxes me. On occasion I even wrote a draft of a blog post at work! Ah, happy days …

But it is an apporach that is not working in an environment where there is an insane amount of work to be done. Because when there is still a lot of work to be done I do not allow myself those little breaks during the day. For a couple of weeks this is ok, but it has been over 4 months now and repercussions are starting to show:

  • I am as stress eater so enter the sandwishes during work days and exit the diet …
  • sport helped to relax up to a certain point. Beyond that point I am so tired I don’t even have enough mental energy to get to the swimming pool. So my exercising suffered …
  • In the evening I just want to zombie out and watch some random crap on tv. So my posting on the blog suffers. Hell, even my relationship suffers as the mental energy for the girlfriend is also all used up at work…

Overworked and annoyed

Management is aware. My evaluation was stellar! And there should even be a raise in my near future.

There should also be a new hire coming. The bad one has been moved to other duties. This has off course caused an even bigger flood of work at the moment. And working very hard and just about keeping up is one thing. Working very hard and falling more and more behind every day is another thing. I hate falling behind. Our customers and our company deserve better. So now I am overworked and annoyed, and being annoyed also costs me mental energy, grrr.

I have been here before when I worked support for the trading room of a big bank. I know I can handle it. And I am trying to protect me from myself. Communication with my boss in this regard is really good.

But it is a great example on how even one thing can seriously impact your work situation and sometimes that one thing can be out of your control.

Hope for the future

I know that this too will pass. And if I am completely honest part of me is getting some perverse sense of satisfaction out of the fact I can still do it! After the two years at the big bank keeping 4 different derivates products afloat during a major restructuration (and as a thank you losing that job once the restructuration was done) I was very much spend. The first year after those two years of ‘work hell’ I definitely reached my ‘red line’ a lot faster. I was convinced that work wise my ‘best’ years were behind me. The tank being so banged up it wasn’t big enough anymore for prolonged, hard runs. I had made my peace with that. Even looked for ‘easier’ ‘low-stress’ jobs. But hey, three years of easy jobs intersected by months of unemployement apparently got me right back into shape!

I am really happy to know this because even post fire I might have a project or two where I would need to put the pedal to the metal and just floor it. But at the moment I just hope the current insane workload would just light up a little bit.

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