Financial Freedom Sloth

achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

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Monthly expense report: May

Well focusing on my health also helped financially as June seems to consists of working, dieting and exercising and not much else. And since I already paid for a full year subscription for the swimming pool I didn’t spend much on either!

Income: 1 834,53 eur

Expenses: 1 335,90 eur

Savings: 734,53

Income was a bit lower because of the difference how holiday money works if you work interim or fix contract. It’s a boring and very complex subject so I will not bother you with the explication. I actually forgot about it until a few days before I got paid. Then thought I would only get a few 100 euro in holiday money and then when paid I realized I actually got a few 100 euro’s less! Disappointed!! But it is what it is and completely out of my control.

on the bright side, spending was also low so I actually still ended up with a very nice savings amount!

Expenses are low because I hardly bought anything. 1 100 euro went to the joint account and then, well almost nothing! The usual stuff like gas for the Vespa and my cell phone bill. Gifts for mother day and the upcoming birthday of a friend and a new ID-card which cost me 24 euro to get. Like I said, working, dieting and exercising and not much else. But working is going pretty good (even if insanely busy) and I enjoy the exercise so I am actually feeling pretty fine! It just goes to show you do not need to spend a lot of money to feel happy.

May was actually the second lowest spending month for me personally. The lowest month? May 2017! I guess May is a cheap month for us.

I did shift some diet purchases to the joint account. Frankly because my girlfriend insisted on it since she was starting to feel pretty guilty with the grocery spending being 95% for her alone. But this had a very small impact as in the joint account May was actually our least expensive month since I started keeping a detailed budget! Burning fat saves money!!

The health report – May

You often hear people say that your health is the most important thing in life.

And guess what? They are right!

Without health, a big pile of money will not do you a lot of good. And with both my mother and the girlfriend working at an institution for people with disabilities I really, REALLY know that being born with full physical and mental capabilities is a great gift.

Knowing this you would think I would have taken better care of my health but as those who have met me in real life can attest, I didn’t.

Squandering a great gift

Actually, I have really squandered this gift. First off: the last time I was somewhat serious about exercising was in my university years. Since I spend my working hours behind a desk that was not a good move. Second, I got fat. This too started after my university years. A sedentairy life style + eating large quantities of food (because moderation doesn’t really fit my personality) resulted in weight gain. Adding a few kilo’s every year which seems OKish. But fast forward 20 years and I ended up at 115 kg. With a height of 1m78 I had firmly nestled myself in the obese category. Health wise not good.

I also take some other measurements so here is a full overview of my starting point:

Date: weight neck chest belly arm
24-03-2018 115 kg 43 cm 124 cm 124 cm 39 cm

Financial freedom wise this was also not good. There are only two ways to increase the number of freedom years you have. Either you retire earlier or you add more healthy years after you retire. And if there is a sure way to reduce your healthy years in life it is being overweight (well that and being homeless or develop a bad drug habit, neither of which is going to happen).

So one of my big goals apart from achieving financial freedom is getting my weight down to a healthy level and start exercising. It was actually goal number two in my mission statement way back in December 2016.

The lazy side is strong in this one! After formulating the goal it actually took me until march 2018 to really start. I do have a few excuses, most of them crap. So let’s just skip them and get to the positive!

Learning from the past

I did learn from my past mistake of losing weight but never starting to exercise (because I am lazy that way) and also putting up strict goals which I then didn’t achieve. This failure then lead to losing motivation which in turn lead to me abandoning the effort all together. And then gaining back the weight… it was a very bad feedback loop of my own creation.

So this time I would exercise and I would make my goals less specific.

I went for a three fase approach.

Fase 1: swimming 2 km 3 times a week

During my last bout of unemployment I had actually achieved this but my back aching up plus starting a new job had me falter again. So I started it back up again in February. Old habits die hard so I did have the occasional thought crop up in my head that I should reach that goal by the first of April. Luckily it was only an occasional thought and I immediately squashed it by reaffirming to myself that every week I went swimming was a good week. That was a good mindset since it actually took me till the second half of April to get there.

Fase 2: a very strict diet

Originally I wanted to have completed fase 1 before starting this but that was taking a bit longer than anticipated (and I was fine with that, honestly I was!). I also was being pretty fed up with being overweight. Being fine with a not so strict time table is one thing but the weather is improving and I have a few cool t-shirts I’d like to be able to wear this summer! So I started the strict diet on the first of April. How strict? Remember the bit about me not really being a fan of moderation? Well, I hover around a 1.000 kcal a day for the moment. Probably a not too healthy  approach, definitely not very sane. But it is working for me.

On the 15th April I stood at:

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

(No update from today since part of my new approach is not weighing myself too often.)

Fase 3 will be the addition of fitness/weight training 3 times a week. I will probably start with this on the 1st of July for no other reason that the Gym has a 6 months subscription for a 100 euro’s.

I will then exercise 6 times a week for 1 hour. This should get me in a reasonable shape and hopefully prevent me from gaining back my weight once I stop with the strict diet. Well, I’ll probably need to start eating healthier also. Not looking forward to that, let me tell you …

I should end up around 90 kg, depending on how much muscle the weigh training adds. Somewhere around 95 kg I am planning on spending some money to get a full body scan to determine my fat percentage and muscle ratio so I can fine tune the work-out regime. If I would have to guess I think that at present I still need to lose between 13 to 15 kg of fat and add somewhere between 3 to 5 kg of muscle to be in a decent shape. The body scan will give the hard data I need.

I’ll try to make this a monthly series but no promises (after all I am a lazy sloth and I have discovered that I am not a big fan of self-imposed deadlines).

Monthly expense report: April

I both spend very little and a lot in April. I’ll explain below …

Income: 2 188 euro

Expenses: 1 970 euro

Savings: 218 euro

Income wise a very normal month. No holidays, no gifts. So just the normal job income. Job still going good: the work itself is ok and the co-workers and general atmosphere really good. I always knew I would do a lot better in a start up environment (technically we are in the scale-up phase) than the big giant corporation. Point in fact: I was allready asked to transition into another position (perhaps I should have asked for a raise when accepting it?).

Expenses are a lot higher. What happened? The Vespa happened. Well maintenance on the Vespa happened. After driving it for 5000 km it was due for a big maintenance. In needed a new drive belt and rear tire. Also decided to have a small windscreen installed on it (I actually used this as an argument to knock off 250 euro of my purchasing price when buying the Vespa). The bill came to 600 euro. About half of it labor. Which leaves me wondering? Do I learn to do my own maintenance on the Vespa or not? It would require some up front cost in equipment but should be profitable in the long run. And I do really love riding the Vespa. It could even become a way to make some money after retirment because at 60 euro an hour mechanics do not come cheap …

Except an Easter gift for the godchild, gasoline for the Vespa and protein powder (I am on a diet, it deserves its own post. Here is a hint: it’s going great) I actually didn’t buy anything. Hence the ‘I spend very little’ in April. Without the Vespa maintenance this would have been my cheapest month since December 2016! And May is going pretty well also. But I did have the maintenance so it was my most expensive month since keeping a detailed track of my budget (hence the ‘spending a lot’ part). And I still managed to save some money! That’s the advantage of having a decent savings rate. Even when a sizable expense comes up, the only impact is on your savings rate!

In the joint account nothing unusual. No visiting Brussels or going clubbing. We did do quit a bit of home entertainment having friends over for three consecutive weeks (even 1 BBQ for 11 people). So that did costs us a little in the way of food and drinks but the budget didn’t really suffer because of it. Home entertainment definitely is a lot cheaper than going out.

I did put my find of this site to good use and we have now switched energy provider. We should start seeing the impact of this in the coming months. I even made a note in my calendar to do a new check-up next year! Look at me being all organized and shit!

Monthly expense report: March

Things are chugging along nicely. 4,5 Months into my new job I am once more used to the regular pay check and socking away 500 euro’s each and every month. Not going to lie, it is a nice feeling to see the savings account go up, up and up. After a year of not renovationg we are now looking around to have some more work done in our house.

Income: 2 356 euro

Expenses: 1 673,06 euro

Savings: 682,94 euro

Income is a bit higher than usual because easter came early this year! We visited my parents a week before easter so we got our present a week early as well. My parents continu their guerrilla tactics of using every excuse in the book to give us money. They even invent a few of their own. For instance: they give us money when they go on holiday because we told them a few years ago we preferred them not to buy us any local ‘trinkets’. I do prefer the money above some useless crap that will end up on a landfill eventually but really? Giving us money because they went on a holiday? It’s ridiculous and I can not explain it to a sane person. On the other hand, I also have no sane explication why I just do not relent and let them pay for our last home renovations …

Expenses are more or less the same as last month. But this month I did not have a faulty hard drive to replace. So where did the money go to?

Well, 50 euro went to a very stupid thing. I got a traffic ticket for the Vespa. Remember when I bought the Vespa I said it made me feel like a 16 year old again?

Well, I am riding it like a 16 year old as well. Difference is I now have a plate (50cc motorcycles did not use to have a number plate when I was young). Police is also a lot more active in trying to issues speeding tickets. It is a stupid waste of money. It also highlited the difference between me and not so furgal ffriends. When I told a friend about it she just shoughed her shoulders and was like, ‘yeah speeding tickets happen, just pay it’. Because she looks at it as 50 euro expense on a 2 350 euro income. That is only 2,2% of the monthly income. Not worth to overthink.

But I have a (self imposed) budget of 1 500 euro AND 1 100 euro of those are going to the joint account to pay for life necessities (house, heating, food …). So in my mind, my monthly budget is only 400 euro. And wasting 12,5% of it on a speeding ticket sucks big time.

There was the Flemish health premium to be paid (51 euro) and the mutuality (86 euro). Ridiculous low amounts compared to health premiums in the USA but I am not too happy with them anyway (there is a lot that could be improved upon in our health system). They are also expenses you can not do anything about …

In the fun category we went to Brussel and visited a few multimillion homes like villa Empain. They are great to visit and look at but I rather not own one of them (the parents of friends of us used to own a country estate in every sense of the word. The heating bill alone was above my total annual budget and that was 15 years ago when they finally came to their senses and sold the money pit). But we drank and ate our way through Brussels so it was not a cheap day. But 60 euro’s well spend!

We also went clubbing. Usually not a big fan of it. But some friends roped me into it and the girlfriend definitely needed some good fun so we went. At 120 euro for the both of us not exactly a cheap evening. But great fun. Still, I prefer the home approach as my drinks selection puts most clubs selection to shame (no, in my world Bacardi is not an A label Rum) …

In the joint account we got hit by insurance costs (all of them at once even) and we also paid a visit to Ghent (and pizza) form the joint account. But previous months had us well under budget there so we are still good for the year.

All in all I had a fun filled month for a 1 700 euro budget. 1 500 euro definitely is a stretch as the first three months (and last year) show but 1 700 euro I find very comfortable. And the goal of all this bookkeeping isn’t actually to see how low I can go but to determine at what level of spending I achieve optimal happiness. After one year and 4 months of budget keeping the amount appears to be around 1 650 euro a month. I’ll see if I can lower it a bit in the next 16 months …

On the topic of lowering the expenses. My inner sloth was pretty happy with discovering this site. It provides a very easy and lazy way to switch energy supplier! An estimated 250 euro savings for 5 minutes of work? I’ll take it!

Our house (not following the FIRE rules)

Everybody seems to be writing about their housing past and present and it is something I had planned to write about as well. Mainly because our situation is 180 degrees opposed to what most people aiming for early retirement would do. Where most talk about future downsizing and living small we went big! Really big!

But first a little bit of history.

Up until we bought this house (now 8 years ago) I have always rented. The girlfriend however bought a small house in Ghent about twenty years ago. Total purchasing price after renovating the roof: 57.000 euro. That gave a mortgage of a grand total of 350 euro a month. So when we got together I moved in with here. I started paying rent with a little twist. We agreed on a rent of 200 euro a month (far cheaper than my previous place!) but since her house still needed some renovations I paid it in lump sums. One year of rent gave her 2.400 euro which she then used to make some improvements to the place (often executed by me and my dad). Up until this point we were following the FIRE rules: living small and cheap.

After a few years we wanted to move, the neighborhood we lived in was not improving (actually getting worse, a clear sign being when our Turkish neighbors starting moving out due to the rising number of East-European Roma moving in). The girlfriend had always wanted a big garden with room for animals. So we started looking. I had one iron rule: I would not sell any of my investments to fund the purchase or the renovations. in practice this meant our budget was limited to what we could borrow from the bank and even there we were conservative: we wanted to be sure we could pay our mortgage even if one of us lost his job. This limited our purchase price even more. So we had a self imposed limited budget but wanted lots of land. To reconcile these two facts we had to resort to geographic arbitrage.

Moving to the countryside

We first looked around Ghent but property price had really skyrocketed. We then looked closer to my parents but there too it was more land = more money. We finally ended near Tienen (it has the same time commuting to Brussels than Ghent) where land is/was still affordable. We landed on an old farm sitting on 2 800 m² of land. In all honesty, we bought it for the garden because even back then we knew the house was too big for just the two of us.

How big? Around 350 m² for the house alone. Not counting a 25 m² utility room (still needs to be renovated) and not counting the numerous outbuildings we have no idea what to do with (the cat does seem to like them, so there is that). We have the barn (there are parts of the barn attic the girlfriend has not been, ever), the stable, the garage, the work shed and then, because we ran out of names, something we call the green gate because the door is green and ‘the shed next to the work shed’ is just too damn long. Hell, ‘the shed with the green gate’ was too long so it just became ‘the green gate’. It is not uncommon for us to have the following conversation:

Do you know where item X is, I cannot find it in the utility room?

I probably put it in the barn with the garden equipment or the work shed.

*going outside, checking it, coming back inside*

Nope, I probably put it in the green gate.

*takes the key, goes back outside*

5 minutes later: damn it is not there either, where the hell is it?

No idea, it will turn up eventually

2 months later: hey I found item X!!

You did! Where was it?

In the green house!

The green house when it was nice and tidy

We have 4 bedrooms for just the two of us. And that is not counting the 100 m² attic (still needs to be renovated) which I will probably convert into a home fitness/cinema room eventually because well, more bedrooms would be futile and what else should we do with it?

We might, might, try Airbnb in the future but at the moment neither us is big on having strangers in the house (we have done workaway in the past).

So while it certainly did add some years to our early retirement date (had we stayed in Ghent i would probably be done about now) we were pretty smart how we went about it.

Being stupid, the smart way

Even though buying a way too big house that needed extensive renovation derailled our retirement date with several years we did do it a pretty smart way.

First off: we sticked to our budget. Purchasing prize was 185.000 euro. Or as one bank office manager said: you got the garden for free (we saw it the other way around: we paid for the garden and got the house for free).

We borrowed at a low rate: 3,6% and then refinanced it down to 2,6%. And I am currently looking to go even lower than that.

The girlfriend made a very, very nice profit on the sale of her house in Ghent. About half of that was invested (GBL for those curious), jump starting her stash. The other half was used for renovating the house.

We renovated while already living in the house (the three months our kitchen and bathroom got renovated were no fun). Hell we are still renovating! We have got about 5 years and another 50.000 euro to go.

pretty happy with our living room since it looked like this at a certain stage

We will probably end up putting 350.000 euro into the house (purchasing price + all renovations). A sum we did not want to borrow. By spreading the renovations over 10+ years we limited our borrowing costs. And can actually afford the house!

We both like watching house shows and honestly, I have seen a lot of properties being sold for 350.000 or more where the house is so, so uninspiring average. And I don’t do average very well. This house is many things but average it is not.

For our quality of living it has been a big change. Even with all the renovations being done.

We are both people who need space to be alone. We got that in spades.

It is also a lot nicer where we live now. One year we drove to Croatia to go on holiday. Two weeks later we drove back home. The holiday feeling persisted right up to the moment we drove into our neighborhood. This drop in holiday joy, just by driving into our street really reaffirmed we needed to move.

Our current place is the complete opposite: this summer I went to our local bakery to get some bread. The sun was shining, I was driving my Vespa down some nice country road and I actually felt like I was on holiday! In Ghent we were probably the richest people in the street. Now I doubt we make it into the top half. And it may not be politically correct in these times to say but wealthier neighborhoods in general means nicer neighborhoods.

It all comes down to happiness. Although Ghent is a great town we were not happy living where we lived then and we are pretty happy living where we live now. Yes, this means working some extra years but in this case it is a sacrifice we are both more than willing to make.

Monthly expense report: February

A short month which unfortunately didn’t translate in low expenses.

Income: 2 180 euro

Expenses: 1 671,60 euro

Savings: 508,40 euro

No more gifts this month so back down to the normal income of the job. As predicted last month I now ‘earn’ about 50 euro more per month thanks to the tax reform that took effect.

Expenses were 1 670 euro or 170 euro above the goal of 1 500 euro. But as also mentionned last month one of my hard drives failed in my Synology NAS. Replacement cost was 200 euro. Without this I would have reached the 1 500 euro goal.

Another goal was spending less money on unhealthy sandwiches at work. This month was a low for me at only 53 euro! This was due to february being a short month, me taking some holidays and eating the seaweed bread I mentionned last month. I did need to buy more seaweed but for 85 euro I think I got enough to cover the whole year.

I also became the godfather to a friends baby. So a 100 euro gift there. This will probably become a recurring item as, finance wise, I have big plans for the little rascal.

I did have a 50 euro pure ‘fun’ expense and we also had carnaval in my home town. It’s free to go, we have a chest full of outfits from previous years  and since we usually buy in bulk we didn’t even have to buy any beer for it this year!

All in all I could see myself coming pretty close to the 1 500 euro goal this year with only two exceptions. First is: going on holiday. What we are planning would cost less than the holiday money I will receive but it would still push my budget above 1 500 euro. Second: a new PC. Knowing me, that would cost more than the holiday and kill any change I have got in coming close to my goal. Not sure what I will do there. For the moment I just keep using the old PC which is getting slower by the month (also hoping for a price drop in graphic cards, damn you crypto mining fools!).

In the joint account we did keep our self imposed limit of only going to the fries shop once a month (yeah for ourselfs!) and groceries were just under 300 euro (mainly due to February being a short month). Everything else was pretty standard.

So from an income and expense view February was a pretty good month. Investment wise, not so much ….

An unpleasant experience

Well, we had a drop in the market. Finally. Let’s be honest, it was long overdue. And actually it wasn’t even that much of a correction.

Being an active investor sinds 2000 this isn’t my first drop and it definitely wil not be my last one. But it was my first one with a huge leveraged position. Which did add a little bit extra spice to the whole experience.

The broad overview is this. On the first of February my stash stood at 289 722 euro. The 5th February it would reach a low of  253 860 euro. That is 35 862 euro gone poof.

The reason: the strong drop in AB Inbev which first eliminated my buffer and then continued to plunge down.

How did it feel? Well, imagine somebody putting on a glove with spikes on the inside and then cupping your balls.

Day 1: there is slight pressure. You are thinking you are not liking this (and if you are me, a small part of your brain is also thinking, ‘Hey, if it was a beautiful woman doing it, I might find this kinky’ 😉

Day 2: the pressure increases. Gone are all thoughts of it possibly being kinky. Ugly ogre or the most beautiful woman in the world. It doesn’t matter. There is pain, so much pain.

Day 3: you hear craking. There is not supposed to be any cracking down there! What the hell is making the cracking noise? Also pain, so much pain. Please, please let it stop!

After trading hours you take stock of the situation. The biggest question you have is this: have I been an idiot? How stupid was it to put a construction on AB Inbev with it trading around 95 euro? Was it a bad price?

Well it isn’t a really cheap price, I knew that going in. But they do make a ton of money. They will continue to make a ton of money. The dividend is healthy and assured. They will pay down there debt, making either room for more dividend or new acquisitions. I read Dream big and know those guys are efficiency freaks, squeezing an ever increasing free cash flow out of their operations. I read almost every interview with Alexander van Damme. He is smart, high up in the management and already owns a ton of shares of aB Inbev but on 10th January he bought an additional 500.000 shares via patrinvest (and the time before he even bought at  101 euro).

If there is one guy on this world who nows the value of AB Inbev it’s him. And he just put in 48 million euro at 95 per share.

Also, I knew there might me a change of a correction. It’s why I reduced my leverage. It’s why I chose a stable dividend paying stock for the construction because  the dividend covers the financing fees. As long as I do not get a margin call I can keep the position for all eternity and even get some positive cash flow out of it! And a margin call was still a long way out!!

All of a sudden the pain was gone! My head cleared.

And then it hit me like a freight train! I actually could make a profit from this drop. If AB Inbev would eventually go back to the 95 euro level I now had an opportunity!

You see, the construction has two legs. And one of them had a very nice profit. The other leg just had an even larger loss. But that loss would disappear if AB Inbev rebounds. But part of the profit on the other leg would then also disappear. Solution: take the profits on the one leg. Then wait till AB Inbev rebounds enough and only then deploy the second leg again. I could actually make a lot of money of this drop!

So day 4, this morning, I woke up with a shiny new pair of metal balls and traded the shit out of the drop.

If it all works out, and AB Inbev does bounce back I will have made an extra 14.000 euro. If it starts dropping again I just sacrificied another 1,7 euro of downward protection because now I am fully exposed to any price movement in AB Inbev. Do me a favor: drink more beer!

Monthly expense report: January

This year I am going to try to focus more on the expenses. So no more joint account overviews or savings rate. Savings rate was pretty useless in my case anyway as I was not saving to put into the stash but am saving to finish our home renovations. We estimate to have another 50.000 euro renovations to do before the house is finished. We will not count the big renovations to our expenses as we want them done before we stop working. We will keep count of normal maintenance costs as that is something that will happen during our ‘retirement’.

Income: 2 354,55 euro

Expenses: 1 496,45 euro

Savings: 858,10 euro

The income is wage and 230 euro in new year gifts. Good news for next month as the tax reform came into effect and I will be receiving around 50 euro more net wages! Yeah, something to look forward to!!

Expenses were just, barely, under 1.500 euro! Yes!! The first month is in the bag. Next month will not be that good as one of my hard drives in my Synology NAS died and replacing it will cost 200 euro. D’oh!

But this month I limited my spending to 1.500 euro so for the moment I am going to enjoy this good feeling of a mission accomplished!

The bulk of my spending goes to the joint account. 1.100 euro that serves to pay for our mortgage, electricity and gas, fuel for the car and food for our bellies.

So that is 400 euro left for real ‘personal spending.

I did still spend 145 euro on food for myself. But half of it is for protein bars as most mornings I am in too much a rush to get a proper breakfast so I just grab a proteine bar which I then munch down at my desk. Not the most unhealthy choice but it isn’t particualry healthy either. I should make it a project to build up a healthy morning routine. In all honesty: at the moment I am too lazy to do it …

I have made some progress as the girlfriend makes me a healthy seaweed bread once a week. That covers breakfast and lunch at work for three days. It is both healthier and cheaper than the two sandwiches I normally order at work. So that is about half the week taken care of. And it did limit my work food expenses to 70 euro this month. Now I just need to find something to cover the other half of the week. We are looking for something healthy, cheapisch (anything under 5 euro a day is a winner) and quick to do.

Gas for the Vespa was 40 euro. That is about 10 euro a week. This gets me to work every day and to the swimming pool 2 to 3 times a week. I could eliminate soemof this cost by biking more to work. It would take longer but give some more exercise which I do need. But once again my lazy side wins out and I have used the vespa all the time.

A cinema visit + some snacks costed me 33 euro + 17 euro for the train to get me to Ghent. This was to meet up with a friend and I always enjoy my time with him so money well spend in my book.

The remainder of the money (all 147 euro) was spend on an excellent bottle of Whisky. That stuff has gotten expensive! Last time I bought it I think it was around 94 euro. But winning some prices and nicer packaging apparently made it a lot more expensive!! Still, we quit enjoy it and usually it lasts us a long time (last time I bought this bottle was over 8 years ago, so there is that …)

To keep our cost down, this is are go to whisky, very nice and a lot more affordable.

To be honest, the 150 euro spend on the Whisky is realisticly the only real wiggle room I have in my personal budget. I could get my food budget down a little bit. And the gas cost for the Vespa by biking more. But we are talking 20 or 30 euro a month here.

At 1.100 euro the joint account gets most of my spending and htere is definitely some savings possible there but even if i realize some savings there they will go to home renovations and I will not feel it in my personal spending.

But there are some expences I really want to get lower.

We spend 20 euro at the fries shop. That is two visits. Since I really need to lose some weight I am going to limit this to 1 visit a month.

Groceries for us two came to 525 euro. Which is too high. I think we should be able to reduce this with at least a 100 euro. Big part of it is not enough planning.

Wen we purchased the chest fridge the plan was to do some more food planning, cooking bigger batches and reducing the grocery shopping. And we did do it. For a while. Now we have reverted back to old habits. Shopping two or three times a week and not always at the cheapest place but at the most convenient place. Our grocery bill reflects this.

So things to improve upon are:

– on occasion bike to work (weather will need to be nicer for this)

– limit fries to 1 x month

– improve our meal planning/grocery shopping

Special circumstance investing – January update

The last of the big moves has been done Things are going to get boring from now on. Here’s hoping it’s a profitable boring.

What did I do

Well I didn’t do a lot this month since the new leveraged position is, well, new. I like to have a nice safety buffer before adding another leveraged postion by day trading. And at the moment the leveraged position is reporting a loss. No big deal as especially in the beginning smaal fluctuations in price can cause big movements in value. Time is at my side in this construction and thing generally smooth out after a month or three. Nothing left to do as wait.

Waiting can be good.The put option on Ahold Delhaize is gone! Expired out of the money so A) I didn’t have to do anything (my preffered activity) and B) I didn’t have to pay any fees! I was right, the market was wrong and I made 750 euro because of it.

Did I do anything at all, except lazily wait? Yep, I entered a new UVXY puts position. Ramping it up: bought 71 puts, strike 6 expiry January 2020 for 4,35 USD. That is around 31.000 USD I now have in it.

The girlfriends portfolio

Same situation for the girlfriend.

AD puts are gone and entered a new UVXY puts position: 59 puts for her.

The big move was in the parents portfolio where I finally also unwound there old leverage position and set up the new one on AB Inbev as well.

All three portfolio’s are now running similar position which is a lot easier to manage. Yes, my parents portfolio also had the AD puts expiry out of the money and entered a new UVXY puts position. 43 puts for them. In total I have now over 70.000 USD in UVXY puts. I am hoping to triple this in the next two years.

For the next few months my only investment activity will be to take profits on the UVXY puts and then enter a new postion and perhaps roll the AB Inbev puts I still have. So pretty good change I will do nothing at all in February. Does that make me a happy sloth? Yes it does, yes it does … Gives me time to hunt for some more classic trance songs …

2017 full year recap

Looking back at 2017 I can only conclude it was a pretty good year. Financially we made great strides and got a lot closer to our Financial freedom (more about that below).

On the overal happiness front it is a bit of a mixed year.

I bought a Vespa and riding it does make me happy.

I didn’t lose any weight. My current condition is not good and being 25 kg overweight can not be healthy. Should make it a priority for 2018.

I did find a pretty cool new workplace but I actually enjoyed being at home a lot more. I came to the realization that for the last three years I actually only worked 8 months (or less) every year. The realization that having found a cool new work place also means working full time for the next three years (at the least) makes me a bit sad to be honest. What can I say? I really enjoy being lazy at home …

The girlfriends job started to suck this year. Which had it’s impact. She is at the moment finishing the last days of a six week medical leave, it wasn’t enough … . Work should improve again as of April. Should …  . We are not getting our hopes up as for the last few years when things for one of us started to look up, things for the other person turned to shit. A kind of perverted back and forth game of job related misery. Quiet frankly and honestely, we are both a bit sick of it. Come April – May I should be a lot more secure in the cool new workplace (only started mid November) so if things are still crap at the girlfriends workplace we will use the stash as fuck you money and either greatly reduce her working hours or just have her quit all together. A shame because we always thought she could keep her job even after fire. It is possible at her work place to only work a couple of hours a week or replace people during a few months in the year, thus making it a perfect post-fire workplace. So we always thought the girlfriend was set for post-fire and it was me that would be looking for the odd job each year. Enter idiotic managment …  Sigh.

But onto the financial recap of the year!

Personal spending

My personal income in 2017 was 30 862.70 euro.

Work: 17 084,62 euro. I was a bit surprised at the low number but I shouldn’t have been as I only worked 7,5 months this year.

Unemployment benefits: 6 452,83 euro. I collected 4,5 months of unemployment benefits in between jobs.

Gifts: 5 405 euro. Thanks mom and dad! On the other hand, their portfolio increased 14% in 2017. Their default option is to keep the money sitting in a savings account (way, way to much cash in savings accounts!) or some crap product of the bank. On their own, they maybe would earn 2% on it. Looking it from that way, I am making them money! And quit a bit more than 5 405 euro at that! Hmm, perhaps I should let them pay for our remaining home renovations …

Withdrawal from the stash: 1 750 euro. I took some daytrading profits from the table. I had planned to take all daytrading profits to hurry along our home renovations. But UVXY puts have such juicy returns I am plowing all off the available cash into that. I still need to break the news to the girlfriend. She will not be happy …

The remaining 170 euro was refunds of health care costs and such.

Of course, my stash increased in 2017 with 42.000 euro. Which is a cool 11.000 euro more than what I had as income and about 2,5 times what I earned by working.

If I take the stash into account (I usually ignore it) total income would come to 72 862,70 euro! And only 23,45% of it came from work!! If I consider the unemployment benefits as a kind of tax refund (and in a way it is) well, then my taxes for 2017 have to be in the low digits category. Ten, perhaps 15%? I ma too lazy to calculate it in detail but with all gains in the stash being untaxed, gifts untaxed and only work being taxed. Yep, didn’t pay  a lot of taxes this year … At least, when I hear a politician saying something stupid again I can find solace in the fact that I didn’t pay for it this year …

Personal expenses came to 20 718,93 euro. That gave me an average savings rate of 32,87%! (ignoring the stash earnings here, otherwise I would be at a crazy 71,56% savings rate). This is an average spending of 1 726,58 euro a month. Not that close to my 1 500 euro goal.

But I should deduct 1 500 euro for the Vespa (I used a tax refund to pay for the other half, yes I know, I made a bit of a mess of it …). So deducting that and I am at 1 600 euro average per month. That amount does include some fun:

I have Hobbies for 941 euro (mainly swimming , graphic novels and the raspberry pi) and a random fun category for 390 euro (carnival, cinema tickets, drinks with friends …).

My holiday in lazarote cost me 1 208,50 euro

If I deduct all these ‘fun’ lines my personal spend was 16 680 euro or 1 390 euro a month! But what is life without some fun in it?

On the basic expenses front, the main cost was towards our joint account: 6 800 euro. This is my half for our mortgage, utilities and food for the both of us. if it seems low, well we had a tax refund which we used to cover those expenses for some months. (Yes, I know, I made a bit of a mess of it, will do better this year, I promise).

Clothing came at 333 euro. I bought some pants and shoes. This year: shirts!

Here is a fun fact for my American readers. Health costs in 2017 were 116 euro!

I did spend 1 355 euro for food on myself. This is mainly food bought at work (i.e. sandwiches). I feel bad about it because A)bringing my own food should have been cheaper, B)bringing my own food should have been healthier. See the above mentioning of not having lost any weight. So I was actually spending money to remain unhealthy. Yeah, not happy about it!

Joint spending

If I look at our joint acount. The big categories are the mortgage ( 11 213,76 euro) and utilities 3 678,63 euro (electricity, gas and water) and then the car (2 110 euro). Bicycles, or a Vespa, really are a lot cheaper! Groceries (both food and cleaning stuff) for the two of us was 5 151 euro. That is around 430 a month. Ok, but not that great. There is definitely some fat to trim here.

Insurances set us back 1 508 euro. But that covers the house, car, Vespa and personal liability. I need to have a look into our insurances and see if a cheaper alternative can be found but I also would like to include a general insurance for legal counsel (as attorneys can become expensive fast) so I do not think any savings will be found in this category this year.

Food for our animals: 851 euro. But we love our animals so this went under hobbies.

Restaurant was 818 euro and my personal account had another 100 euro or so in this category. Some restaurants were fancy (like 280 euro for four people) but we also put our local fries shop here. health, and money wise, we go a bit too much to the fries shop.

Even in our joint account we have a random fun line, which was mostly fun, for 486 euro.

Conclusion:

If you do not buy a Vespa I think you can have a nice and even fun life with about 1 600 euro a month. I ‘think’ because this was the first year of budgeting and I definitely made some mistakes.The division between personal and joint account does not always make it easy and then there is the question how to tackle tax refunds or the meal vouchers I get from work … For next year I am going to focus more on the spending part and skip the savings rate completely. Also trying to get it as close as I can to how it would be when we would be FIRE. Still learning. Hopefully still improving …

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