Financial Freedom Sloth

achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

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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.

Monthly Expense report: January

Nothing broke in January! After December, where almost everything broke I count this as a success! January, in my book, is the month where we, slowly, start to rebuild.

Income: 2 202,60 euro

Expenses: 1 661,30 euro

Savings: 541,30 euro or 24,6%

Income

The bonus unfortunately only comes once twice a year so it is back to the ‘normal’ income of around 2 200 euro. I have come to realize that getting to a higher savings rate is only acivable for me if I would increase my income. Then again, I usually am pretty close to savings 25% of my income which actual means I am allready financial free for 25% of my time without taking the stash into account since I only need to work three weeks to earn enought money to live four weeks. I find that a very comforting thought!

Expenses

Expenses stood at 1 660 euro. Part of me wants to say this is pretty good since it also covers 320 euro for a new motor vest and all weather motor pants. For the last year I have been making due with what I had but the broken zipper on my winter vest in December forced my hand and I finally purchased a decent motor vest. When (and that is a definite when, not if) I ever kiss the ground while going 90 km/h I will be very gratefull for the purchase. Meanwhile I am enjoying the added comfort during these winter months! The 1 660 euro also covers 100 euro in birthday gift for the godchild. Something I am happy to give and once our house is renovated am planning to greatly increase.

So that was the good part. The bad part is 128 euro spend on sandwiches at work and snacks for in the evening. The relaunch of the diet is not going all that well. I kind of crash and burned in this regard. I need to write about it. But a big part is the work situation. Which I also need to write about. But actually, the work situation is also THE reason why I have been blogging a lot less the last months because I come home exhausted and have 0 interested in sitting behind a PC at home as well. I will dive deeper into it in the next post I promise.

I actually have a few intersting tid bits to post about:

The work situation.

Buying a car.

Not getting a loan for the car because some credit organization somehow decided I am no good for a 7,000 euro loan. Even if my net worth is close to 350,000 euro and I save 500 euro a month!

And the really interesting one: how last year I lost 90,000 euro in the stock market. I’ll give you a very short recap of that one: leverage can be a bitch and yes it really hurts. Keep your questions for the actual post, even though most of it happened in February last year the wound is still a open hole of pain and misery. But also do not worry, I am fine!

Monthly expense report: December

Stuff broke in December. Actually a lot of stuff broke in December. Like our PC, our car, the zipper on my coat and part of my sanity … For the moment this has had little repercussions on my spending but the big ticket item
(a new car) is coming …

Income: 3 489,83 euro

Expenses: 1 551,50 euro

Savings: 1 938,33 euro of a whopping 55,5%

Income

The much higher income is due to my job paying a Christmas bonus or 13th month as it is often referred to in Belgium.

In April/May we are also eligible for a bonus if we meet certain goals (we will) which will also be close to an extra month of wages. And since I have worked all off 2018 for this company I will have 30 holiday days that year. So in 2019 I will get paid close to 14 months of wages for 10,5 months of work. Ok, why the hell am I striving for early retirment again? O right, I am a lazy weirdo.,,

Expenses

Expenses are 1 551,50 euro and I am particulary proud of this as they also entail 300 euro I personally chipped in to but the new computer. The rest of the purchase is paid from our joint account but I wanted a decent graphics card the gilfriend has absolutely no need for so I paid it myself. So minus this purchase I only spend 250 euro and 45 euro of those went to excellent videosoftware via a humble bundle (25 euro for Movie studio 15 is a steal! ) and a game I have been drooling over for a year but couldn’t play on the old computer. PC gaming wise I am set for the next year as i have some older games on Steam I haven’t played in the last year or two because the old computer was getting so slow …

All in all we end the year with good buffers in the checking and savings account. The car purchase will oblitarate those in the new year and the full year recap for 2018 will tell you how my stash was decimated during 2018. It’s a tale of overleverage and greed that left me battered and bruised at the side of the road but I will try to make it a fun read for you my loyal followers!

Monthly expense report: November

Income:  2 167 euro

Expenses:  1 583,50 euro

Savings:  583,50 euro

November was a pretty standard month form an income and expense point of view.

Income was only the job income. November 15 I was one year at the current company so an update is needed on that front but work has been so insanely busy the last weeks that I really didn’t feel like starting up the old desktop at home. It also explains the lack of posts over the last month. This sloth is tired in the evening.

Expenses

Didn’t buy a new laser, still want to! I did buy some new graphic novels so the itch to buy something ‘fun’ is satisfied for the time being. The graphic novels came to 88 euro.

We also visited a friend in Brussels, The friend is a big Asia nut so we visited a -cheap- Japanese restaurant. I went to talk about an online side gig idea I have tumbling around in my head for some time now. Turns out the friend is even more skilled than I thought! I tried to nudge him into starting his own thing as he could do all the work himself and he does like to travel Asia for months on end. I wasn’t really successful as he has witnessed in his immediately family the high price that comes with building out a business empire. He is part too smart and part too lazy (there is a reason I get along with him!) to go down that rabbit hole …I would still over to convince him that there is a middle ground. Anyway, the visit did cost me 43 euro but was money well spend.

On a more practical front I also spend 72 for some new underwear and 21 euro on new swimshorts. Both things desperately needed. Well, desperately needed according to the misses, a sloth knows no shame …

On the’ bad’front: also spend some money on sandwiches at work. The diet is still not going that good. I actually even started skipping some of my swimming!! It merits its own post. But I am a stress eater and did I mention that work has been insanely busy? I am recognizing the signs from my time at the back office for the trading floor of the big bank. Luckily management is aware that there is a ‘support-situation’ at the moment. Management also knows that I have been putting the pedal to the metal for the last couple of months. So I have told them that this will only last until after new year. And to not take my current productivity as something to count on long term. I’ll see how it goes.

I do not envy them as some tough decisions will need to be made. I also need to bite the bullet and not only keep up the insane work volume at work but in my free time actually start working on one of those ‘fun-to me’ work projects that needs to be done but nobody at work has the time to do. For once in my life I want to be strategic about it and leverage my current strong position into something that has long term benefits for me. Fortune favors the well prepared…

On a totally unrelated note. Cheesy finance and geldnerd have a very different definition of a backyard. To parafrase an old australian saying: that’s not a backyard, this is a backyard …

Our backyard, and yes that is a pig on the right …

Monthly expense report: October

Income: 2 195 euro

Expenses: 1 656,50 euro

Savings:  535,50 euro

With no more birthday presents and tickets to sell, income fell back to the usual amount earned by working. This might drop a little bit going forward as from 1 November we got hospitalization insurance via work! This will cost us around 12 euro a month but will cover any costs above 250 euro if we end up in a hospital for any reason. Yes, the girlfriend is also covered with those 12 euro! So we are pretty happy with it as work from the girlfriend does not offer any and we didn’t have this insurance since I got fired at the big bank in March 2016.

I do -finally- have an idea for a website/on line community that might  be profitable to run. We’ll see but hopefully it is successful and I can boost the income a bit next year. At the very least I’ll pick up some new skills in building it.

Expenses

The problems with the Vespa seem to be in the past! Joehoe! And very glad this money drain finally ended.

The 1 656 euro spending is actually pretty good when you take into account the fact that this month I needed to pay for my swimming pool subscription for the next year. Going swimming costs me 270 euro. This comes down to around 2 euro per swim. Which is pretty reasonable. Even if it wasn’t, there is no other way to swim cheaper than this. And it is the exercise I enjoy doing the most. I view it as a small price to pay for a better health.

I did spend a bit to much for sandwiches at work. It is not really a big amount but since it is bad for the diet any euro spend on it is not good. I need to step up my game in that area but I’ll go deeper into it in the upcoming health report.

Curious thing also happened. I felt to need to spend money on fun thing. I still have it actually. After the Vespa soaking up money, and now the swimming abonnement. Plus a decent amount spend on renovation the utility room I just want to spend money on something frivolous. Like another party laser for in our house. Or these music reactive lights. You now, completely useless crap. It has been a pretty long while since I had this urge. At the moment I can still fight it back but if I am below my 1 500 euro spending goal at the end of November I might just give in .. Because, well, shiny lights and such. …

Pension and FIRE

This pension shuffle post over at Cheesy finance reminded me I also need to do a post about pensions.

The Belgian pension has three different components.

The first component is the official government component. As an employee there is not a great deal that can be done about this. It will be what it will be. It is also a very complex subject. Personally I would love to be able to speak to somebody who is an expert to see what the impact of FIRE on the official pension will be. What I do know is that with the guaranteed minimum pension and the ceiling the government implements my approach of working a bit after FIRE might not only be more tax efficient but also more pension efficient.

It boils down to this: above a certain amount earned you are still paying pension contributions but those do not result in a higher pension since you have already reached the ceiling for that. There is a guaranteed minimum pension if you reach the 30 years threshold of employment (or time that is equivalent to working like unemployment and pregnancy leave and such).

So pulling the plug earlier and limping your way across those thirty years with a combination of some work and unemployment should result in a better pension than working full throttle for say 25 years and then completely stop with working. Should. Like I said, I would really love to have an expert in this run a few simulations. If somebody knows of somebody please send him my way! It could be an interesting topic to delve into deeper at a FIRE meet-up.

The second component is the additional pension you can get from your employer (this comes in the form of a group insurance thing.

This is the part where a pension shuffle as described in the guest post at Cheesy finance can come in handy. So when you have changed employer and you are dragging an old pension scheme of the previous employer with you it can be interesting to check out if it is not better to fold it into the the one offered by your new employer.

I am in this boat. But the one of my previous employer is actually pretty good (return and cost wise) so I have decided to keep it there. I have to add that it is great to ‘earn’ an additional 1.500 euro (it went from 15 640 euro to 17 014 euro last year) at an employer you have left 3 years ago. So I am just going to leave it there for the moment.

On the other hand, there is no way to get an early payment of this. I just just view it as an extra when I reach 65 years (or perhaps 67?) but do not take it into account for my FIRE plans.

The third component is the individual savings account every adult Belgian can do.

Whendoyouretire put up some calculations on the money mustache forum here. I did ask him to turn it into a post on his blog but these youngsters today with all their drugs and partying … 😉

When striving for FIRE, I am of the conviction not to bother with it because:

  • The amount you can put in, is low (less than 1.000 euro a year)
  • The return, even with the tax refund, isn’t that good (see the calculations of whendoyouretire)
  • Costs are usually high
  • You only have access to the money when 65 (or perhaps in the future 67)
  • Do your really trust the government not to change the conditions of this in their favor in the next 20 – 30 years? There is a lot of money on that pot and it can’t go nowhere. In government language that means ‘easy pray’ …

So to sum it up:

For the official Belgian government pension I (or we as the Belgian FIRE community) should really speak to an expert about the impact of our FIRE plans on this.

For your employer pension plan, check if you have one from a former employer laying around and see if it is interesting to fold it into your current one.

For the personal pension savings plan: don’t bother.

The health report – October

The summer seems to continue forever in Belgium so our winter hibernation has also been postponed a bit. There were a few restaurant visits and a dinner date. Despite i was able to  refocused my efforts on the diet. It was a little bit of a bumpy start but in the end I got there.

Fase 1: Swimming

Perfect score on this account. Didn’t mis one session. And I have the impression I even got a little bit faster this last month.

Fase 2: a very strict diet

Like I said, a bumpy start. Getting back to the hyper focused diet stage wasn’t that easy. The first two weeks I gradually improved. But the small improvements made me feel a whole lot better. This in turn helped me to get my focus back 100%. The clubbing also helped! Yes, I want to be that 50 year old geezer with the great body, banging his head out on some old trance tunes and embarrassing his wife #relationshipgoals. So the last two weeks were spot on!

The numbers:

Date: weight neck chest belly arm
24-10-2017 114 kg 43 cm 124 cm 124 cm 39 cm
15-5-2018 104 kg 42 cm 115 cm 114,5 cm 38 cm
17-6-2018 104 kg 42 cm 118 cm 115 cm 38 cm
15-7-2018 101 kg 41 cm 118 cm 115 cm 38 cm
15-8-2018 99 kg 41 cm 118 cm 113 cm 38 cm
15-9-2018 101 kg 41 cm 118 cm 114 cm 38 cm
15-10-2018 98 kg 41 cm 118 cm 113 cm 38 cm

Yes! An all time low and I got rid of the cm gained in the summer!

Perhaps even more important: I feel great! More energy, more power, more stamina. Although I celebrated my 44th birthday  end of August I actually feel younger (and a hell of a lot sexier).

Fase 3: fitness

Well, you can’t win them all. Not only did I not add the sit ups to my regime. I even skipped a whole week. Did make a little bit of progress:

date repetitions
15-8-2018 3 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 6
18-9-2018 4 – 5 – 5 – 5 – 7
15-10-2018 5 – 7 – 6 – 6 – 9

I think I am not that motivated to do them because I only do the push up. It’s not enough. 5 minutes and puff it is over.  I don’t get into a groove like I do with the swimming.

What I want to do is a full fitness set and really feel the muscles burning. But for that i need to wait until the utility room is ready and we have a place to set up my fitness bench (I checked, it was a hard no from the misses to set it up in the living room 😉

But there is some good news on that front. The paint is done (by dad and me). This week the floor goes in. After that, all we need is to get a big ass closet installed and the fitness bench can go in. i am guessing/hoping early December. until then I jsut need to remind myself that any progress i make with the push ups will pay dividends later.

But I have always been an all or nothing guy so this ‘little bit’ of fitness really isn’t my style. On the other hand, the all or nothing approach hasn’t really worked for me health wise the last 20 years. Perhaps moderation is key. The question is, can this old Sloth change its ways?

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