Financial Freedom Sloth

achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

Exit strategy

For some months now I have come to the conclusion that for me financial freedom in Belgium will always entail some work
The reason for this is very simple: taxes and our social system
Due to our social system we have high taxes in Belgium which means you will be building your initial stash by earning money that is taxed at 50%!

Taxbracket   Income                                             Tax level
Schijf 1           € 0 tot €10 860                            25% (yes dear American readers, our taxes start at 25%!)
Schijf 2           € 10 860,01 t/m € 12 470     30%
Schijf 3           € 12 470,01 t/m € 20 780     40%
Schijf 4           € 20 780,01 t/m € 38 080     45%
Schijf 5          above 38 080,01 euro             50% (Yep, they go all the way to 50%! Did I mention the 21% sales tax?)

Dropping out completely will add costs to your retirement (since you no longer qualify for any of the social systems you paid into for many years) AND which will add to the amount you need to save, savings that you will need to get by working and being taxed at 50%!

The setup of our social system is such that you will have very little choice than to stay in it. But staying in the system means you either need to be an employee, independent or unemployed. You, per example need to be any of those three for 30 years to qualify for a pension.
Now I know this might be a bit of a bummer to some of you but it shouldn’t be!

The big benefits of working a little bit

A big plus is the tax free amount one can earn and currently sits at 7.130 euro (a mortgage will add to that, children as well, full table below). An extra is that for those earning less than 26.510 euro a year that tax free amount is pushed up to 7.420 euro!

How long would it take me to earn 7.420 with my current job if no taxes would be applied? Around 2 months and 2 weeks! Getting to the 24.000 euro mark will take a full year. So to get my earnings 3.2 times higher I need to work around 5.2 times longer. The difference between those two numbers is due to taxes.

One child will add 1.510 euro to this tax free amount, two children add 3.880 euro in total and three children 8.700 euro.

Our mortgage adds another 2.280 euro to this tax free amount so actually I could earn a total of 9.700 euro tax free! Because this will different for everybody (mortgage reduction in your taxes has become one of the most complex parts of our taxes in Belgium due to lots and lots of changes in the last few years) i will continue to work with the basic amount of 7.420 euro untaxed since this is the same for everybody.
Earning those 7.420 untaxed Euros has a few very powerful consequences.

First off, using the 4% rule it lowers the stash you need by 185 500 euro! With spending 18.000 euro a year, earning 7.400 euro a year by working, your stash only needs to be 265.000 euro. Add in some cash for the down years: 300.000 euro and you are done! You essentially exchange work taxed at 50% before financial freedom by work taxed at 0% after financial freedom. Due to the tax free nature of that last work, total time worked will be shorter than the scenario in which you keep working until the stash is big enough to quit completely. And you will have more free time when you are younger. A big plus in my book!

Second: you will remain in our social system which is always a good thing (extra security and income in the form of a pension later on, health care is also sorted!)

Third: by still working a bit you keep at the very least some employable skills up to date. A lot of people wonder about having enough stash to call it quits. Working three months a year (I’ll assume those short term jobs will pay less than my current one) eliminates this worry. If unexpected expenses do happen you can always work a bit longer until the expenses are covered.

The exit strategy

But all of this means you need a good exit strategy. Just pulling the plug is not going to do it since you will need to transit into some type of paid work. The problem is finding a job that enables this. I doubt my current employer would like the idea of me still working here but taking unpaid holidays for roughly 9 months, each and every year (i might get away with one year by using the ‘big trip in Asia’ as an excuse).
There do exist small jobs, only a few hours a week that might get you the 7.500 euro a year. But most of these are low paid and then you have to work most weeks of the year. I would like to have it done in the least possible time.


Possible solutions:

-security sector: easy to get a short time job. But since these are temporary contracts you would be unemployed for the remainder of the year. While this is free money some people might have ethical problems with this. At the very least there is a big change that after a while you will be hassled by the government agency to go to work again. Especially since the security sector is always looking for people. The extra work would mean extra money, but that isn’t the idea is it?

– find an employer who only needs people for a short duration but will need them every year. Big plus of this is that you do not need to look for a short time job every year. Personally I was thinking of the event industry as I liked working back stage at festivals when I was a student. The rest of the year you would be unemployed again, creating the same problem as with the security sector.

– find an employer who is ok with you taking 9 months unpaid leave every year. Chances for this happening are low.

-find an employer where you can work half time and add two months of unpaid leave to it. This is probably not going to fly either. Most employers apparently want their employees to work all year round. Even if you find an employer that is ok with it, you would most likely need to work half time during at least 8 months and only have 4 months you do not need to work at all. If I could find something near my house I would be ok with this.

– find a side gig now that you can transform into a ‘job’ after FIRE. The side gig would only need to bring in 7.090 euro. You would need to go the independent route for this, which will have an impact on your pension later. But it would avoid any hassle from the government. The issue remains that I would like to be done with the work in three months (untaxed you would only need to be making 2.400 a month gross) and then not have to work the remainder of the year. But to swing this you would need decent skills in a specific area. And since you would need to do this for the following 20 years, you are going to run into the issue of having to keep your skills up to date to stay relevant in your field.

These examples show that if you try to get the work done in three months or less you will always run into the same issues. Employers, or your own side gig, probably necessitate work the year round. If you do not do this as an employer you will be unemployed for 9 months, which will result in hassle from the government. If you do not do this at your side gig, you probably will not have a lot of side gig left after a few years …

The solution might be found by getting some location independent work (work you can do from a laptop from anywhere in the world). This might be the best route to go. Twelve hours a week of working but with zero commute and the possibility to travel anywhere anytime I want? Sign me up!


I welcome your input because as off now I have not yet an exit strategy in place. That is ok since I just started working at the new job and I will need to work for another 5 years. On the other hand, if I would identify a location independent side gig now, I could start implementing it as soon as next year. Thus reducing the time I need to work by a year AND have a secure exit strategy in place by the time I will be able to quit.

Bicycle, I want to ride my bicycle

Mr. money mustache pushed the use of a bicycle very hard and with good reason. Cars are expensive and bicycles offer the cheapest substitute while still offering a decent speed.

We Belgians, always had an extra incentive in the form of a bicycle compensation. Use your bicycle to go to work and your work can choose to pay you 0.23 cent per kilometer.

With a normal bike the practical distance to do this for most people is around 10 km. Further than that would take too much time and would in most cases also involve arriving at work pretty tired and sweaty (companies also need to offer shower facilities but most people prefer to shower at home and not at work it seems).

The advent of the electrical bicycle changed this somewhat. Distances up to 25 km become now feasible. I myself biked regularly to my previous interim job which was at 20 km distance of my home. This took about 50 minutes, 15 longer as with a car but I got some healthy exercise and around 160 euro a month extra for my troubles.

Electrical bikes that provide assistance up to 45 km are road legal in Belgium but because the law qualifies them as a motorcycle they are not eligible for the tax free bicycle compensation. Our government has now promised to change this and make the necessary legal changes so these fast electrical bicycles will also qualify!

I cannot stress enough the importance of this for us mustachians!

It means that a distance of 30 km will be now completely feasible to cover by bicycle by everybody! This distance will add almost 300 euro to your net pay. The average net wage in Belgium is around 2.000 euro so this one change will mean a 15% increase.

My current work is 50 km from home and it takes me 1 hour and 30 min to get to work with public transport. With a 45 km/h electric bicycle I should be able to cover this distance in about 1h 15 min. so I will save time, get 2 hours of exercise a day and earn around 500 euro extra per month! That would mean  a 25% pay increase and earning back the investment in a decent e-bike in 3 to 5 months.

The law still needs to be changed and then your company will need to adapt its policy so this is something that will probably only go into effect at the end of the year. The government did say they wuld make it retroactive as of 1st of January of 2017. But I would not bank on that and wait till the law is indeed in effect. For me personally it doesn’t matter as I am at the moment working as an interim and i want my employer to realize he is going to need to pay me an extra 500 euro a month after I got a indeterminate contract 😉

Frugal purchase – washing machine

I will never buy a new washing machine.

The above washing machine was bought for 200 euro and was around 2 years old (and yes, our utility room still needs some work, planned for 2020 as we need to save up enough money first). New it was a 800 euro machine. Although this was a very good find, our previous washing machine also only cost 200 euro (although for an older model and cheaper brand). That one lasted only three years but moving it several times and the dust of the home renovations probably caused it’s early death. But even then, 200 euro for 3 years use means that a new machine at 600 euro should last 9 years. Every month after the 3 years mark on this machine will be a win in my book.
Washing machines are perfect to buy used. It’s a big and heavy appliance everybody has. Which means that when two people move in together they have a spare. And because it is big and bulky and connecting it is a chore, people do not want to keep one as a spare. Something they might do with a microwave or a water cooker. We got the last one so cheap because the guy selling it was moving the next week and he didn’t want to lug it to his girlfriend’s place (which was up one floor) just to have to carry it down again when a buyer showed up there. Win for us!
Same goes for dryers off course.

The new job

This short post had some people thinking the new job was horrible. Which it isn’t. Like I explained in the comments, it’s more like returning from a blue sky, 25 degrees (Celsius, for the Fahrenheit using people) vacation in October. Even if the weather in Belgium is ok-ish, it’s going to be gray and rainy. And even if you know the weather is actually ok-ish your brain is going to be saying: well this sucks. Because, during those first days it will suck. Not because of how the weather actually is but to what you are comparing it: a near idyllic, paradise situation. And compared to that, almost everything sucks. There is a valuable lesson here: a lot of the time we do not see the things as they are but how they compare to something else. Change your base of reference and all of a sudden things look or actually are something completely different!

It was a bit the same for me, I really enjoyed the three months at home. Really, really enjoyed it. So those first days adjusting to the work life were, ahum, ‘challenging’. The fact that google has been going higher and higher doesn’t help as I know I would have made more by day trading a few hours a day than working 8 hours like I have to do now. I really need to stop thinking that way. Or grow the balls to call it quits now and go the early retirement route/day trading route. Which I am not going to do, so brain: stop thinking this way!

So a little overview of the positive and negative sides of the job might be in order.

The positive:

Steady paycheck

And a nice paycheck at that. I am right back at making the average wage for Belgium. It’s more than the interim I worked at for 9 months, but that one did pay out an untaxed bicycle allowance. So in regards to net wages the difference will not be big.

And let’s face it, the steady pay check is the main reason why I took the job. Emphasis on steady. My day trading did fill the gap between unemployment and the average wage I was used to making. But day trading is fickle. Good months will be followed by bad months. The way I did it, it’s good as a little side hustle to make a bit extra money. The unemployment benefits would also diminish over time (this deserves its own post as the Belgian social security system is neither social nor offers it a lot of security). And after some time the government would start wondering why I was still unemployed and start asking proof that I was still actively looking for work. Dealing with government bureaucracy is not something I particularly enjoy … No, a steady pay check is the final puzzle piece I need for this last leg of my journey to financial freedom!

12 extra holidays

Once my interim period is over I will work 2 hours extra each week which translates into 1 extra holiday per month. I like that. That is two whole weeks I do not have to go to work! The normal amount of holidays is 20, so this is a 60% increase!

Work from home.

Again, once the interim period, is finished I will be able to work from home one day a week. A big win in my book and it should help to keep up with my swimming regime!

 The negative

The job is in Brussels.

That’s a total commute of three hour each and every day. By train. And the train in Belgium isn’t very punctual. So there are delays, a lot of them, almost every day. The work from home will help with this. It is also the reason why I am really happy with those twelve extra holidays. Those are not only 12 days I do not have to work, but also 12 days I do not have to go to work. It will save me 36 hours of commuting in total. The interim I did before this job was near Leuven, I even went by bicycle most of the days! I loved it! I looked for a new job closer by home, but the bulk of the companies that need somebody with my experience are located in Brussels. My present plan is to stay here for at least 2 years (this will also put the ‘patchy’ part of my Curriculum more in the past, which will help in getting interviews) and then very selectively start looking for a job closer to home.

I also try to look at the train ride in another way. I try to see it as a chance to catch up on some quality series. Believe it or not, but even after three months of being unemployed I still have a huge back log in series I want to watch! I thought I would totally eliminate that back log, but I actually didn’t watch that many series when I was home. There were only a handful of days where I did nothing except watching series. Most days I had other more fun things to do. By the way: Westworld is f*ing brilliant!

My 10 minute walk from the central station to my workplace I try to view as my healthy morning walk. It is through some touristy area of Brussels so people travel thousands of km’s to snap a picture of buildings I walk past every day!

But even with trying to look with a positive attitude to a big part of my commute, the fact remains I leave home at 7:15 in the morning and am back at 18:15, except Tuesday and Thursday when I go swimming: then it is closer to 20:00 when I am back home. Two days of teleworking from home would be ideal. We’ll see if I can arrange that in the future (= extra motivation to do a good job!)

The work

Well, it’s work. It is sitting behind a computer doing stuff for around 8 hours. There is a lot I need to learn but there will be enough variety in my day. Which is good. I like variety, it makes the day go by faster. I actually did spend a lot of time behind my computer when I was home also. I like surfing the net, reading about interesting stuff, figuring stuff out or go on the hunt for classic techno tracks from my youth (spend the bulk of my last weeks at home doing this, still haven’t finished!). The difference is, now I have to do work stuff. Which I find a lot less interesting than all the stuff I did when home. But that is ok. I did it before: usually I build in some rewards during my day. Finish task A, then read a blogpost. Finish task B, then take a little break. Finish task C, time for lunch! … It breaks the work day into 4 blocks or more and makes the day go faster. When I am able to do this system it actually improves my productivity!

 Conclusion

Although at 42 I am in a way better position than most of my peers in the ‘having to work’-department the fact remains I am on a course to achieve financial freedom (even with some work once this is achieved) when I am 47 or 48. Although this is 20 years less than the official age I find this pretty, pretty old. Hell, I find 42 pretty old. I now know 35 (or perhaps even 32) should be possible if one starts young enough on this path. The solution for this is part letting go of the fact I did not follow the optimal route and part of the solution is getting in better shape. I know for a fact that improving my physique and losing weight will make me feel younger again (I have a very interesting story about that 5 month window where I lost a lot of weight and experimented with a testosterone booster, it sure made me feel a lot younger!).

So even if I did enjoy the 3 month test run of early retirement immensely, the reality of life is that I still have some work to do. Work in the house (finish the home renovations), work on my health (lose weight, build muscles) and work on the stash (it needs to be bigger).

I guess it is time to get to work again!

Monthly expense report: April

Another somewhat ‘wonky’ month due to the big tax return last month. As of next month income and expenses should return to a somewhat more stable rhythm (famous last words …).

Also the first month ever where I kinda did a withdrawal from the stash. As mentioned here I started day trading a bit just to hurry up the renovations of our house. Option premiums will remain in the investment account and hopefully help build up the stash a bit but day trading profit as of now will be used for home renovations. i could withdraw it in one go but that would make these monthly overviews very ‘wonky’ again. So, I will also try to smooth out highs in expenses or lows in income with it. In the end it doesn’t matter as I will withdraw all day trade profits from this year in this year. It will just look better this way.

Personal account:

Income: 2 039,50

Expenses : 1 557,88

Savings: 481,62 or 23,61%

Income was 1 430 euro unemployment benefits, 330 euro profit participation from last year when I still worked for a few months at the big bank and a 250 euro day trading withdraw from the investment account. Total profits of the day trading are at the moment 2 250 euro so I still have 2 000 euro’s ‘at the bank’. It remains to be seen how much day trading I will be able to do now I am working again.

No payments to the joint bank account as we are still eating up the tax return from last month but we did book a 12 day holiday to Lanzarote which has been paid in full. Most other expenses are pretty standard. Another 60 euro for fun stuff for the retro techno evening we will be holding and around 70 euro for the train for the job interview and signing of the contract stuff and such. I am pretty glad that that last budget line will be zero again (train abo paid by work again, yeah!).

The joint bank account

Income: 71 euro

Expenses: 2 955,58

Savings: – 2 884,58 or -4060% (haha)

Income, well we couldn’t really leave it at zero as then we would have had a negative to infinity savings rate here!

Expenses are high mainly due to a 545 euro maintenance fee for the car. having the car checked (a legal obligation in Belgium) also cost us 46 euro. The car is 11 years old and has driven 210.000 km. So all in all we are ok with these costs. Hopefully we can squeeze two more years of life out of the car without major expenses.

Groceries are also higher with 543 euro. We have been eating less frequently and less healthy this month. I am to blame for most of this as I still have not started my new diet.

Add to that a nice present for the birth of the second child of some good friends of ours and we end up with the most expensive month for our joint account off the year.

May holds no weddings and no births so here’s hoping the expenses next month will be closer to the 2 000 euro mark than the 3 000 euro mark!

Anyway, my half of this joint expense comes to 1 442,30 euro.

Even adding my personals savings of 481,62 euro to it keeps me deeply in negative territory. I guess it’s a good thing I have a job again!

Important public announcement

After being home for three months and having worked for a week I can with certainty say that life is a hell of a lot better when you do not have to work.

That is all.*

 

 

*Brevity is the soul of wit

Special circumstance investing – April update

I am still waiting to be able to sell the UVX put I bought at a profit. I know this eventually will happen as the UVX is guaranteed to lose value. But I must confess I am not a fan of the product. The liquidity is so low and spread so big on the options on this, that selling it is not always a given. I find this annoying so once I exit this position I will probably not do it again. It is an almost certain way to make some profit. But the annoyance I have with the product and the fact that you can only deploy limited money in it (due to the low liquidity of the options) make it unattractive for me.

What did I do?

The two put options I wrote on ABI have expiration May. Strike is 100 euro, current price 103 euro, there is only two weeks left and the dividend has been paid. I am almost 100% sure these puts will expire worthless. So I am letting them run their course but I did write 2 new puts, again strike 100 but expiry July. I explained last month why I prefer not to get assigned but I do not mind picking up another 400 euro. And the cash I have is really working hard for the next two weeks. It is

A) insurance if I have to unwind my leveraged position -buffer there is still healthy-

B) covering the put that expires in May and

C) covering the put that expires in July.

I love it when my money works hard since it means I can be lazy 😉

Do not forget I earned this cash by creating a leveraged construction in January. So this is money I earned by borrowing money. This why I keep it in cash so I can unwind the leveraged position if necessary. But thanks to these puts on ABI the cash will have earned 5% in the first half of the year!

I have also been day trading a bit in April. I started with Monsanto as I found that very safe due to the offer by BASF. Volatility was a bit low in Monsanto so it didn’t make a very good day trading stock. But I did make a bit of a profit on it and by some dumb luck I happened to have a position in Monsanto when it went ex-dividend. Hooray for a lucky extra 210 USD! I switched to Google afterwards which turned out to be a good choice. Current total profits of day trading are 2.250 USD which is exactly the amount I needed to bridge the difference between unemployment benefits and my previous wages (not a coincidence!). Since I am now working again, day trading activity will be very sporadic (the evenings my girlfriend has to work until 22h). But I am going to try to continue, so I can speed up the home renovations a bit.

Update: the 2 new ABI puts didn’t actually go through so they have been replaced by 5 contracts on ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Company), strike 40 and expiry June. Full explication in the comments, grr how does work dare to intervene with my investing!!

The girlfriends portfolio

I did a merger arbitrage play on Monsanto in the girlfriends portfolio at 1x leverage. Now I have to confess, I can be a bit pushy when it comes to investment stuff. So I kind of just did it, and then went and explained it. Thing is, my girlfriends ethical side is a lot more developed than mine. Which means that ethics play zero role in deciding where the money goes. The only deciding factor is if I can make a profit at a low risk. Actually, if it didn’t carry those big expense ratio I would have bought a bit of the Vice fund for the sole reason to annoy some of my friends. It turns out that for my girlfriend it does matter where her money is invested.

So she actually wasn’t too happy to be invested in Monsanto and to profit of the merger. So after hearing her compalin about it for almost two months, I have unwound this arbitrage play. With a profit of course, and after the dividend pay out!! But at a lower price than the current one, so her ethics have cost her over 400 USD already. And it will cost her more as I am still convinced the merger will go through! But hey, a happy girlfriend makes a happy sloth. And a 1.200 USD profit in less than 2 months isn’t bad either.

Since she didn’t have any leveraged position any more I did do some day trading in her account also. Profits there are around 500 USD.

As said, I am working again so for May i just hope to finally be able to sell the UVX puts and do a little bit of day trading if I feel like it after a loooong day at the office.

I am a creature of two worlds

I was originally going to write a short post about the fact that I love outlet centers. Real outlet stores like D’store in Bierbeek which sells last year’s sports outfits at a very nice discount. I snagged the walking shoes below for 35 euro (50% off) and had I found a second pair in my size I would have gotten 75% off on that second pair! Shoes are a necessity of life and I love to get that at a low low price because it means I do not need a lot of money to provide for it for the rest of my life. If they last me 2 years of daily wear and I would need 2 different pairs to cover the different occasions in life, that would mean an annual financial burden of 40 euro a year x 25: 1000 euro stash and my feet are covered in early retirement!

So there I am, being all happy to have saved 35 euro on shoes. And then I come home and access my broker account and see my stash moving around a couple of 100 euro per minute. And it is strange.

Normally I ignore my stash. It’s there, I do not touch it and now and then I do a trade. But I am lazy so I do not do a lot of trades. Thus it is easy to ignore it. It is easy to ignore the day by day fluctuations if you do not see them. In my day to day life I am like anybody else. I have my -limited- resources and I try to cover my bills with it. It is in this day to day life that I am happy with a savings of 35 euro. Because in this life those savings matter. In my day to day life I am down to 900 euro in my accounts (we replaced our bathroom and kitchen a few months back and I just prepaid my holiday for September). And with a few renovations still necessary, I will need to continue to life within my – very narrow – limits for a few more years.

And then I access my broker account. 90% of my stash is in 1 stock: Berkshire Hathaway class B shares. For a grand total of 1500 of them. If that price moves by 1 USD, it makes a difference of 1.500 USD right there. But a movement of 1 USD  on a stock price of 166 USD. That’s a movement of 0.6%. It is going to move more than that! Actually, I have a leveraged position that makes movements even worse! My stash went up 30.000 USD in something like 2 months. Then it went down by 20.000 USD in one month. Hell, my leveraged position costs me 43 USD in interest EACH AND EVERY day (do not worry, the position earns around 90 USD per day also, so I am making a profit on it).

All this is easy to ignore when I do not see it. But as mentioned before, I am again doing a little bit of day trading again. Not only do I now see the stash (and it’s fluctuations) on a daily basis. The day trading actually makes matters even worse. Just today I have bought 100 CfD’s on Google 6 times and sold them (and made a small profit each and every time: yeah me!). I have bought and sold for 558.000 USD in Google stock!

So day to day life: 900 euro in the bank and really happy when I make a 35 euro savings on shoes.

My investment life: daily fluctuations of 1.000’s of euro’s in the stash, bought and sold more than half a million USD in Google stock in half a day!

Like I said, a creature of two worlds.

I have to say it is weird. But it must be weird for all mustaschians. I read blogs of people living on 50.000 a year but where the stash sometimes moves 100.000 USD in a month because their stash is over 2 million. It is this strange spa-gate between big stash and frugal living all of us will need to learn to handle. Ignoring the stash usually works. So time to get back to work where a 100 euro still equals a full day of work and not some small movement in the google stock price (even if I would love to be behind my screen when it crosses the 1.000 USD mark for the first time!).

Unemployment and financial freedom

As mentioned in my monthly expense report I am currently unemployed. there was a time not that far ago when this would have annoyed me. Not because off the fact that less money is coming in but more because I had a plan and things are not going to plan!! Grr, Hulk mad, hulk smash!

Growing as a person

Part of my personality has always been that I am a planner. I think most people in the early retirement community are planners. You need to be to achieve financial freedom (well, at the very least it helps)! And there are a lot of positives with being a planner. The thing is, as with all things, you should not overdo it. And I did make that mistake. My future vision was too strong and often stopped me from enjoying the present. I worried too much. Both about things I could not control and about things I could control. When I was home last year I didn’t enjoy it (I’ll delve deeper into this in another post). Things not going to plan annoy me still. But I try to limit its impact on my mood or on me enjoying the present.

Not working costs me around 750 euro a month. There is no way I would have spend almost 3.000 euro on a Vespa while being unemployed last year. This year I did. And I have enjoyed it immensely! What changed is my perspective.

Another perspective

The plan, in general terms, is to work another 5 a 7 years in a decent paying job so I can save enough money from work to finish renovating our house. These years would also give the stash enough time to grow big enough so it would reach the point where I could limit my working time to a couple of months a year and live of investments for the rest of the year.

Previously, I would have seen being unemployed as a derailment of the plan. Being unemployed and having less income each month would mean I would be older when I could stop working full-time.

Now I see this period of unemployment as a test run for later. I see it as a temporary mini-retirement because at the moment I DO NOT HAVE TO WORK. if I truly enjoy this time, it will be a mini-retirement! if I spend all day worrying and being annoyed because I am not following my plan it will not be a mini-retirement. So I chose to enjoy it.

Enjoying unemployment

That is why I did decide to buy a Vespa. It gave me a lot more mobility and it finally got me to go swimming again. I have to say, I really enjoy going to the swimming pool when almost nobody is around and having a lap all to myself.

I enjoy planning and preparing a little retro house party with a few friends at our place. Did you know that for 39 euro you can buy a pretty nice laser for your home! My inner gadget freak squealed in delight with all the new fun little toys that exist now (apparently I am not the only one who enjoys some techno in his living room).

And it was great fun hunting down all the classics from my youth. Did you know winamp still works on a windows 10 machine? Yes, I mean it when I say I am going retro!

A little bit of cheating

Now, most off you will be thinking: ‘that is really great Mr. financialfreedomsloth. Fantastic that you have not only identified a personality trait that stood in the way of your happiness and are trying to work at it. Kudos!’ And you should be thinking that! I am really happy with the evolution I have made in the last year. Yeah for me! I could stop here. But I want to be honest with you guys.

And the thing is, I am now enjoying being home so much I kinda want to have the house finished as soon as possible. I want to be able to sleep more people so I can have more guests at the techno parties I will organize. I want to have our office room finished so I can turn it into a chill out room for the party. I want the roof and attic finished so I can have my own private cinema-room because I already  enjoy the hell out of running my own Synology NAS with the Plex server connected to our flat-screen. Having a big ass screen, surround sound and perfect darkness is going to be heaven for the movie geek in me (and I know I can do it under a 1.000 euro once the attic is finished).

So I have been day trading again. I did it last year and well, my brain is pretty good at pattern recognition. It might not be day trading like the professionals do, but I did make 2.450 USD last year. That money stayed in the investment account. The goal now is to at least make up the difference between unemployment and my previous job (I am at 1.200 USD at the moment) so I can hurry up with the home renovations!

Some might say I just found a way to reconnect with my original plan and that is why I am actually enjoying the unemployment and not because I have found a new perspective. But I swear on the heads of my pet pigs (didn’t see that coming did you?) that I was already enjoying it before I started day trading again. I actually enjoyed it more before I did the day trading. I do not find it particularly fun to do: it is staring at a computer screen for hours on end. But for me, it is easy money.

Monthly expense report: march

How time flies when one is having fun! This month is going to be a bit ‘wonky’ for several reasons. I am afraid this will be true for the next month as well

As mentioned before: no investment gains are taken into account and our monthly mortgage payments (which are by far our highest expense) are viewed as an expense.

Personal account:

Income: 1 545,88

Expenses : 1 889,55

Savings: – 343,67 or – 22,23%

Income: 1 545,88

Expenses : 1 889,55

Savings: – 343,67 or – 22,23%

A negative personal savings rate!

Biggest reason is the drop in income due to the fact that once again I am unemployed. The temporary job came to an end 31st of january and well, I suck at job interviews! This is where a nice stash comes in handy as I am not particularly worried finance wise. If it was not for the house renovations we still need to do I would have been tempted to pull the plug now. It is something deserving its own post so more on the whole ‘being unemployed’ in the future.

Another reason was expenses. My part for the Vespa came was 1 500 euro which was the bulk of my expenses. second highest expense for me was actually 60 euro to go swimming again. Yes I have started to exercise again: feeling good and also something that deserves its own post!

No payments to the joint bank account as we had a nice tax return this month. Let’s take a look at that.

The joint bank account

Income: 5 771,43

1 100 euro each and a tax return of 3 571,43, we front load our joint account that is why this month the joint account still received funds of each of us where we did not incur the cost this month. The joint bank account will receive no funds in April as we will first eat up the tax refund.

Expenses: 2 907,84

Savings: 2 863,59 or 49,62%

Things now get a bit tricky to calculate my own savings rate. Best I could think of is add half of the tax refund to my ‘income’ of the month and then add half of the savings on the joint account to my savings.

Total income would then be 3 331,59

total savings would be  – 343,67 + 1 431,80 = 1 088,13 or 32,66%

Not bad for an unemployed person who also bought a Vespa!

Next month will be the reverse: good savings on the personal account and deeply negative on the joint account. This will all average out when I do a full year round up so I am not that concerned about this wonky month.

We also had an expensive restaurant visit and a wedding to attend this month. Otherwise we would have been closer to 40% savings rate on the joint account.

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