achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

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!



  1. When Do You Retire?

    Looks like a very decent expense pattern. Except your exaggerated snacking at work!
    Nice savings rate for december 🙂

    • finan112_wp

      Thank you for getting me in trouble with the misses!! I am supposed to be on a diet …

  2. No More Waffles


    Awesome savings ratio, especially since you count your mortgage as all expenses. I’d only take the interest payments as expenses since you also repay some of the capital, which is saving in my book.

    Keep it up!

    • finan112_wp

      Thanks, capital repayments on a mortgage are indeed a kind of savings but you have to live somewhere and the only advantage I will have from the capital repayments is a lower monthly budget once the mortgage is payed off. Since I bought a house when I was 35 the mortgage will be paid off when I am 55. And I want to retire before that, so I am not counting this (just as I do not count a work pension plan I have floating around somewhere to my net worth: it is only accessible at 65 so useless for my current FIRE plans).

  3. arakelian

    Hi sir, nice report! and a very decent values.

    Small remarks:
    – snacks. Take some apples 😀 (Belgium apples are best, not chocolate like me)
    – have you tried to renegotiate the mortgage and do some simulations? I pushed to 1.8% but I heard people with 1.5% and 1.1% (mine one 1.1% is variable rate but first 5 years is fixed, I accepted this because in 5 years I will …renegotiate 😀 , and worse case scenario they can double, that’s 1.8% x 2 = 3.6% , but in that case I will start to pay down fast – and I have not).
    – You said anything about mobile phone. you don’t have it? (in that case you are my hero, I lived 2 years without … then I took one 😉 )

    Greetings from Brussels.

    • finan112_wp

      Our mortgage rate is fixed for 20 years and then the rate is ok’is. We already did a remortgage to get to that level and it dropped our monthly payment with around 50 euro/month.
      We do have a mobile phone, but the bill of that is only 15 euro a month each. So not a lot of extra savings possible there.

    • Arakelian

      I forgot to say: I am Claudia and we met Saturday.

      • finan112_wp

        I was home ill on saturday, pretty sure you have me confused with somebody else (or did my evil twin escape from the basement once more ….)

        • arakelian

          ok, in that case it met another financial freedom aspiring sloth at Freedom meeting in Anwerpen, Saturday 😀
          (Sorry for confusion 😀 😀 )

  4. FinancePatriot

    Your gas and electric seem really high to me. Is that due to usage or just European utility rates being much higher than the US?

    • finan112_wp

      219 for heat and electricity is pretty low. More than half our utility bill is taxes by now so I am guessing they are higher in Europe than they are in Belgium.

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