Monthly expense report: August

August has been a busy month. Working, swimming, day trading, job hunting, birthday, preparations for a 20+ persons BBQ in our orchard … Let’s see the impact on our finances.

Personal account:

Income: 2 320,29 euro

Expenses:  1 557,35 euro

Savings: 762,94 or 32,8%

A bit higher income as it was my birthday. Since I am not accepting any financial help from the parents in the home renovations (I would find it a bit strange since I have a stash of over 250.000 euro)  my parents have resorted to a guerilla-style of money giving. Any time they have an excuse to give me (or the girlfriend!) money they do it. And they have been increasing the amounts too! Sooner or later I will need to have a talk with the parents about this and either let them pay for the remaining renovations or put a stop to this monetary guerilla-warfare. It’s starting to get a bit ridiculous!

I only count day trading income when I actually transfer it to my personal account so that explains why my day trading profits of 800 USD do not show up here.

Just a little bit over the 1 500 euro mark on the expenses. I have only myself to blame as I spend 93 euro buying graphic novels. Back when I was a student I used to be a pretty big graphic novel fan. One of my favorite pass times was browsing the new arrivals in different comic book shops. I still enjoy it and had a few new issues on my wish list for some time now. First time ordering it on line as I just didn’t have the time to go visit a shop. And isn’t that a sad statement?

The joint bank account

Income: 2 672 euro

Expenses: 2 752,66 euro

Savings: -80,66 euro

An expensive month due to one reason: home and fire insurance of 854 euro. Yes, I need to look into it. But first I need to still check if we can transfer/renegotiate our mortgage. And then afterwards go shop around for better insurance. On the other hand, we do have a big house and those things apparently take square meters into account …

We also had one restaurant visit to enjoy one of Belgium’s best national dishes: mussels and fries with a cold beer!

Income was also higher due to finally getting the meal ticket situation sorted out. Finally got my hands on the card where three months of accumulated meal tickets was waiting: 472 euro of extra disposable money!! (In Belgium companies can give their employees meal tickets. A fiscally interesting way since this is not taxed or something. But my present company worked with a provider of which I no longer had a card. They first send the card to their office in Ghent , then to their office in Antwerp and finally to the Brussels office. I then needed to find the time to go get the card because it is a form of compensation so papers needed to be signed and identity verified, sigh!).

The meal vouchers also present me with a bit of a problem. How do I count it? I get them as income but they go directly to our joint expenses as a bit of an extra. We both pay 1 200 euro into the joint account, I give whatever meal voucher I get and the girlfriend pays for the cat food. We try to divide stuff 50/50 but neither of us want to start calculating it down to the last euro so we just agreed upon this (the girlfriend did get the better part of the deal, damn her and her womanly ways!! 😉 )But it is income that we do spend.

I think I will add half of it to my income. So doing that and adding half of the 80,66 euro deficit to my expenses gives me a savings rate of 28%.

Monthly expense report: July

I can’t believe another month has gone by. Been busy with fun and work. My to do list of things to read, watch, listen to, or just plain do (garden, house, car stuff) is getting longer by the week! Finance wise things are on track.

Personal account:

Income: 2 226,31 eur

Expenses: 1 490,40 eur

Savings: 735,91 euro or 33%

Once again below 1 500 euro, woohoo! Let’s hope I can keep it that way for the rest of the year. And it hasn’t been an uber frugal month either. Went to a festival and spend 40 euro there. Prepaid 15 euro for a ticket for another little festival and went to the Gentse feesten. So fun is definitely possible on this budget.

We even visited a restaurant for my mother’s birthday but that came out of the joint account. Let’s see how we did on that account.

The joint bank account:

Income: 2 631,13 euro

Expenses: 2 286,01 euro

Savings: 345,12 euro

A bit higher income here as I appear to have paid our road tax twice and we got a refund this month.

Adding half of that road tax return to my income, then adding half of the savings to my own savings and I get a savings rate of 35,6%!

All in all a good month. next month will be a bit more challenging as the home insurance of 850 euro landed on the 1st of august. And some more fun is planned as well. We’ll see how it turns out

Monthly expense report: June

June has come and gone already. Times sure flies when one is working! Second month of being back to work again and things are starting to fall into place.

Personal account:

Income: 2 037,74 euro

Expenses: 1 670,36 euro

Savings: 367,38 euro or 18%

Things are back to normal with a 1.200 euro contribution to the joint checking account to cover mortgage, electricity, gas and food. I did spend a bit more but I had maintenance done on the girlfriends electric bike I used for 10 months (I did do some maintenance myself but since we are thinking about selling it I wanted it in perfect condition). Then there was the road tax for the Vespa (61.5 euro, about one fourth of our car!), a modest restaurant visit in Leuven at 40 euro and my dad’s birthday. The swimming pool is costing me some money and I could lower this cost by getting a year subscription. No I pay 3 euro per visit, with subscription it would be around 2 euro. Main question is if I will keep it up for an entire year? I have a history of quitting things like this. I’ll make a decision after the summer.

I also made 300 USD in day trading profits but for the moment I leave them at my broker. When I transfer them to my checking account I will count them as income. I’ll keep them to smooth out any bumps in income when I take my two week holiday or make the transition from interim to fix contract (and from being paid weekly to being paid monthly).

The joint bank account

Income: 2 440,59 euro

Expenses: 2 128,91 euro

Savings: 311,68 euro

We each transferred 1 200 euro to the joint account and got a 40,59 refund form our electricity and gas provider. The month proved to be a bit expensive as we got the bill for the road tax for our car (231,13 euro) and our water bill which is only every three months (143 euro) and hopefully the last veterinary visit (another 79 euro).

Adding half of these savings to my own savings gets me a savings rate of 25,7%. I should continue to hover around this rate for the rest of the year. This means that working three weeks a month covers all of my spending and I can save the 4th weeks wages.

All in all this was what should be a typical month of earnings and savings.

More important than the savings rate (as all savings will be spend on home renovations eventually) for me is if I can indeed survive on a 1.500 euro a month budget AND enjoy it.

I always thought my spending was around 1.500 euro and these six months of using a budget did proof that. Average spending the first 6 months of 2017 was 1 576,46 euro. Pretty close for what was essentially a guess.

We did have the onetime tax refund of around 3.000 euro but we also had the onetime expense of buying a Vespa scooter.

In my first six months of expenses is also the holiday in September which I prepaid in full. And a few other onetime costs because we both have been re-examining our live, what makes us truly happy. And as a result we have been somewhat re-orienting our life. I also had some costs linked to looking for a new job. With those costs gone, no more other one-time expenses in view (well, I could use some accessories for the Vespa …) I should be able to get my spending down to 1.500 euro in the second half of the year.

Have I been enjoying the last 6 months? Hell yes!

There was the mini-retirement for three months, the Vespa and a rediscovery of lots of old school kick-ass trance classics.

Monthly expense report: May

Things start to smooth out again. One full month off working again under the belt. Interim at the moment and the weekly payments are a bit annoying for the budgeting (there is some  delay). But this should sort itself out over time. And I still have around 2.000 euro in day trading profits to smooth things out.

Personal account:

Income: 2 090,59 euro
Expenses: 1 145,99 euro
Savings: 944,60 euro or 45,2%

Since my contract started on 2 may (1 may being an official holiday) I got 52.86 euro of unemployment. This will be the last payment and as of next week I will be officially full time employed in the eyes of the government.
Day trading was almost non existing as I just do not feel like it after work. Just did it one evening for a grand total of 20 USD! More on that in my special circumstance investing post.
The high savings rate is because payments to the joint bank account were low: only 750 euro this month so the last of the big tax refund is used up. I did spend 60 euro to go swimming, 58 euro on a really, really heavy duty lock for the Vespa (using the to go the train station now and do not want it to get stolen. The lock will probably survive me and any of your grandchildren as it is top quality) and 20 euro on a diet/eath healthy eating book as I am feeling motivated to tackle my weight. The girlfriend is going to a music festival in Portugal this week so dieting will start after that (I really need to do a health post). All other spending was pretty normal.

The joint bank account

Income: 1 500 euro

Expenses: 2 344 euro

Savings: – 844 euro

As stated above, we only contributed 750 euro each so the last of the big tax refund was used up in May. As of next month contributions will return to their normal 1.100 a 1.200 euro level.

Expenses are pretty normal. We did get our water bill which lands only every three months (143 euro), there was the vet visit for our cat and the insurance for the Vespa. 93 euro for a full year of insurance is pretty cheap. So I had no financial reason whatsoever to drive around on the Vespa uninsured for almost 2 months, just me being lazy …

Anyway, subtracting my half of this overspending in the joint bank account form my savings and I end up with a savings rate of 25%. Not bad!

This is also the first month I could transfer money from my checking account to my savings account. Victory! You see, I used to feel comfortable having 2.000 euro in my checking account and 10.000 euro in the savings account. I managed to keep those numbers for most of our home renovations and then we did the kitchen and bathroom renovation last year and when all was said and done I was left with only 300 euro in cash on my checking account and 0 on the savings account (talk about being asset rich and cash poor). I was close to transferring something to the savings account when I decided to buy the Vespa. So I am glad I could transfer 500 euro this month and that I am back around the 2.000 euro mark on the checking account! I would like to get to 5.000 euro on the savings account (mainly because our car is old) and then we start renovating 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!

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.

Monthly expense report : february

It is once more time for an overview of my expenses and savings of the last month.

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: 2 094,62

Expenses : 1 670,05

Savings: 424,57 or 20,27%

The month was off to a bad start with a 35 euro parking ticket. This was my most stupid expense by far as it was perfectly avoidable (free parking for 2 hours if I had just put the little blue disk out) but just shows not to be in a hurry.

The yearly carnival in my hometown of Aalst also cost me around 140 euro. But I had a fun time, so I consider this money well spend.

Anyway, these two items explain the expenses above 1 500 euro. The ultimate goal of keeping a budget for me is to see if indeed I can live on 1 500 euro a month. If we look at what we saved on the joint bank account this goal was once again achieved. Any savings will eventually be reinvested in home renovations. I am counting on special circumstance investing and rising stock prices to grow my stash.

The results of the joint bank account

Income: 2 344 (1 100 euro each and some meal tickets)

Expenses: 1 886,63

Savings: 457,37

Adding this half to my savings amount and my savings rate for the month of February was 31,2%.

Gas for the car seems to hover stable around the 150 euro mark. Hoping for not too much rain in March so we can use our bikes more and try to push this bill a bit lower.

Groceries were 345 euro which is not bad for a 2 person family. The girlfriend can now eat for free at her work. This depends on which work hours she has to work so this is unfortunately not all days. I have started my diet again so for the next couple of weeks our grocery bill should be even lower!

I did get lucky as a big Visa bill will be landing in March. Extra luck: we will also get a big tax return in march so we will keep a positive savings rate!

Monthly expense report: January

A bit late as we are already 7 February but illness (there is currently a flu epidemic in Belgium) had me off the computer for most of last week. As the misses can attest, a very rare occurrence! Circumstances must really be dire to pry me away from the holy LED screen!

Even worse, it had me miss the second Belgian Dutch meet up!

On friday I had high hopes to be well enough to make it. But saturday had me waking up with a headache for the fifth day in a row and a throat that felt like a hedgehog had take up permanent residence down there. Waking up around 8 I lay in bed have an internal debate about just rolling over and be sick or actually drag myself out of bed, under the shower (most definitely needed a shower) and then off to Antwerp. But then I coughed something up that will be starring in the upcoming remake of the 1988’s classic ‘The blob’ and decided to not expose my fellow financial travelers to these horrors from the deep ….

How I felt for most of last week

But anyway, on to the expense report of January!

As mentioned in December, these are without any investment gains taken into account. Principal payments on the mortgage are also viewed as an expense. Once paid off this will off course have the huge benefit of living mortgage/rent free but as this is something that will only happen after I am financially free I do not take it into account.

Personal account:

Income: 2 134,09

Expenses: 1 524,93

Savings: 609,16 or 28,5%

Significantly lower than last month but there were a few exceptional expenses:

-hosting costs for this site (113 euro) have been paid for the full year. As I paid with Visa the bill landed this month

-doctor visit and medication: 45 euro. I will get some money back from the doctor visit, and I actually found a few older certificates I never bothered to give to my health insurer so next month I should have a nice amount back.

-too much snacks at work (50 euro!) especially bad as I really should lose weight

The results of the joint bank account are:

Income: 2 326 (1 100 euro each and some meal tickets)

Expenses: 2 019,49

Savings: 306,51 euro. Adding this half to my savings amount and my savings rate for the month of January was 35,7%. I think this still ok for a month in which I fell sick and we bought a 500 euro chest freezer.

Groceries were 420 euro but we did start to stock up a little bit in the chest freezer and car expenses 146 euro. No repair bill just all gas.

Taken into account the savings on the joint account my budget for January was again under 1.500 euro which is the main reason for me to be running a budget.

2017 will be interesting and challenging in many respects. With a stash at 240.000 euro I know that will take care of itself (well a little bit of effort here and there). What I need to do is not touch it for a few more years and in the mean time get the house renovations finished and lay the ground work for the second half of my life. I will be prioritizing this above generating income so I fully expect this savings rate to drop even more.

Monthly expense report: december

As mentioned previously, achieving financial freedom is not all that hard. Keep your expenses low, work, save a lot, invest wisely and then after X number of years: Boom! You have enough investments to retire on!

It really is THAT simple.

If you have bothered to click the link you will get a nice graph that shows you how long you need to do this. It is pretty compelling stuff. The only thing I do not agree with is the assumption of a 5% market return. This should be higher in my opinion but since he is more of an index investor and beating the index, although possible as a retail investor, does takes work.

This approach also means keeping track of your income and expenses and trying to get that savings rate as high as possible. Being lazy, I never really budgeted. If I would make a wild guess, based on my savings, I would guess I have save around 35% to 40% of my income over the years. According to his graph it would then take me about 22 years to achieve financial freedom. Add in a return that is on average a bit higher than his assumption of 5% and that would put me on track for financial freedom after 20 years of working. More or less what I am aiming for! As I said before, it really is not all that difficult (I mean, if I can figure it out …).

Since I am approaching the final years of stash building a more detailed view on my expenses is necessary. When choosing early retirement, ‘guessing’ is better replaced by: ‘knowing for damn sure’.

Hence the monthly expense report.

Without shame I ‘borrowed’ No more waffles budget sheet.

It only needed a few tweaks to also work in google sheets so now I can immediately fill in every expense I make via my smartphone (because remembering to do it later is hard!). December is a bit of a base line, although naturally frugal I never really did a disciplined effort in tracking my expenses and trying to lower them. During 2017 I will be making this effort and sharing the results with you guys. I am genuinely curious what the result will be off this more focused approach.

I will only be looking at income from work (all investment gains are excluded).

Personal account:

Income: 2 092,86

Expenses: 1 339,40

Savings: 753,46 or 36%

But the biggest part of my expenses is the 1 100 euro we each contribute to our joint bank account. This money is used to pay for the mortgage, utilities, grocery shopping and such.

The 240 euro above that is what I spend on buying food personally (which actually equals snacking at work. Bad, bad! Especially since I really need to lose some weight.), my personal cell phone bill (which was 16 euro last month) and some random fun items (it was December after all).

The main savings will be made in the joint account (since the main expenses happen there). But no more snacking and cutting my own hair should be able to shave another 60 euro of my personal spending.

The results of the joint bank account are:

Income: 2 299 (1 100 euro each and some meal tickets)

Expenses: 1 729,49

Savings 569,51 euro, half of which would be mine. Adding this half to my savings amount and my savings rate for the month of December was 49,6%. I am pretty pleased by this.

Biggest expenses in the joint account are:

– mortgage: 935 euro (at 2.7% fixed rate not a lot can be done to improve this at the moment, we

already refinanced this down from a 3,6% rate in 2016)

-groceries: 381 euro (we should be able to lower this by shopping more at the Lidl and Aldi)

– car: 142 euro (we didn’t spend that much on gas but did have a small repair bill of 50 euro)

– gas & electric: 219 euro

– internet and television: 44 euro

December was a pretty frugal month (although we did go to the cinema together). But since it was the first time we were closely tracking our expenses it actually felt like we were spending a lot!

Here is hoping for another frugal January!