achieving financial freedom one lazy step at a time

Category: general (page 1 of 2)

2020 full year recap

It is starting to become somewhat of a habit to do these full year recaps on the first of February.

Which immediately anwsers the first question: yes I am still as lazy as I was back in 2019.

Since I liked the overview I did last year I will be continuing it this year. This is going to just be a financial recap of 2020. I am saving the whole covid stuff for a ‘1 year working from home recap’ which I will try to do on time . On time being 15 march 2021 as that was the start of the first lockdown in Belgium and since that date I have perhaps been to the office a grand total of 20 days.

4 year recap

2017201820192019 corrected2020
Income30 86227 76539 22134 22132 064
Expenses20 71920 04728 32020 20720 228
Savings10 1437 71810 90114 01411 836
SR32,9%27,8%27,8%40,9%36,9%

Recap conclusions

The trend from the last years seem to continue:

* my annual spending is slightly above 20 000 euro

* that spending is pretty much irrelevant from how much income I make

The sidegig did not materialize in 2020. Let’s hope I have some better lucki in 2021 on that front.

2020 numbers

Income

Income was 32 064 euro.

Working for the Boss man brought in 31 441,67 euro. The reason this is lower than 2019 is because I did not get a double bonus this year. My company has no ‘double bonus’ policy. It was very exceptional for me to get one last year. So this year is actualy a return to normal.

Gifts were 530 euro. With no new car to buy my parents didn’t see any reason to give me any extra gift except for the normal birthday, christmas and such gifts.

Covid did bring my little experiment with ticket arbitrage to a screeching halt.

I also got 89 euro back from my health insurer.

Expenses

Expenses totaled 20 228 euro.

Predictably most went to our joint account since we use that to pay our mortgage, utilities, food .. My half of all these bare necessities has cost me 13 400 euro in 2020.

Theoretically I could live on this amount. It wouldn’t be any fun at all, but I could, well exist on it.

The Vespa cost me 1 367,15 euro. Honestely I thought this was going to be a lot lower since I have barely used it since March when the pandemic hit and I started working form home. But I was close to needing some maintenance when the pandemic hit. So I didn’t really save that much on maintenance (890 euro) this year. I only saved on fuel and that isn’t the main cost of having the Vespa. Not needing any maintenance in 2021 will be the big savings consequence of working from home.

Extra food was 1005,55 euro. I am going to be honest, the only reason this is lower than last year is because of the pandemic and working from home. Working from home means the shop is further away. So just external circumstances, not an improvement in my discipline.

Gifts were 264 euro. Hey, the girlfirend doesn’t get a shiny gift every year.

Hobbies: 449 euro. Most is actualy trying to get a side gig off the ground but since it is not bringing in any money at all I have put these expenses under hobby.

Random fun: 1 019 euro. With nowhere to go I bought several games on steam. But also a laser and fog machine to be able to have the club experience at home (no lockdown parties here but I do hope social restrictions can be lifted somewhat so I can put this equipment to use again).

Restaurant: 145 euro. This is one restaurant visit with the parents because hello Covid.

Sports: 174 euro. This was 64 euro for swimming until the pandemic shut this down and then 110 euro for extra weights for my home gym

Telecom: 150 euro because I have a very cheap mobile viking subscription.

Health spending was 60,5 euro at the doctor/dentist and then another 164 euro at the pharmacy (mainly glasses for 147 euro). Not getting sick turns out to be cheap.

Hobbies: 449 euro Most of this expense is actualy trying to get a side gig off the ground but since it is not bringing in any money at all I have put these expenses under hobby.

Clothing: 92 euro

Travel: 1 220 euro. This amount covers our 10 day holiday to Portugal.

If I repeat the exercise of last year and look at the money i spend on stuff for me I liked buying I end up with 2 333 euro. A little bit up from last year but not by that much. Most of the up can actually be explained by games on steam and one could argue if these are that good for me. On of my goals last year was to spend more on funn stuff for myself but I honestely struggeld with this one. It seems I just don’t need more stuff.

2021 goals

Making goals for the new year is pretty futile since Covid is making a lot of things uncertain. Main things are still that I need to lose weight and get a somewhat interesting, fun side gig.

Monthly expense report: December

With no more expenses for the side gig and my end of year work bonus being paid, December should be a great month for savings. Let’s have a look.

Income: 3 729,15 euro

Expenses: 1 505,90 euro

Savings : 2 223,25 euro or 59,62%

Income:

Woohoo for the income!

Most of it, 3 679,15 euro was work income. My regular mothly wages + the end of month bonus. The remaining 150 euro was from christmas gifts from the parents and my mother-in-law.

Expenses:

I may, or may not have come in under budget this month depending on how you look at one particular expense this month. Mor e on that at the end of this post.

As I do every month I transferred 1 100 euro to our joint account to pay the mortgage, utilities and our joint grocery shopping.


Extra food was 100 euro. Being home helps me not buyng extra food to eat during lunch. Especially because I now do my fitness during lunch break which just dossn’t leave me with any time to speed of to the nearest shop and buy some chips. I spend 60 euro on these extra snacks and then another 40 euro on pizza form me and a co-worker as the co-worker is leaving the compagny and pizza together was a bit our thing … Since he is leaving I paid for his pizza too.


Gas for the Vespa was 0 euro this month as I only drove it one time to work (and one trip to the shop to get some extra chips …). Which reminds me I need to take it for a spin in January and pump up the tires.


Mobile phone subscription for a bizare reason was only 2,5 euro. I have no idea why it was not it’s regular 12 euro and I am too lazy to find out.

Miscelanious expenses are a shampoo for 17 euro and a game on steam for 12 euro.

And then we come to the gift’s section where accounting my expenses has a tricky part.


The non tricky part is the 10 euro I chipped in for the goodbye gift for the co-worker keaving. And 130 euro I spend for end of year gifts for the family.


The tricky – acconting wise – part is the 100 euro I spend on buying Bitcoins. This because for a certain gift I needed bitcoins to pay for it. So I spend 100 euro buying bitcoins on Coinbase. But Coinbase also gives you a sign up bonus and allows you to ear some alt coins by watching some instructional videos (alt coins I off course exchanged into bitcoin the moment I received them). And then there was the incredibale value rise of Bitcoins in the second half of December… Long story short is that I bought the gift (which was 45 euro) but my balance on Coinbase is now close to 200 euro …

So did I just buy a 45 euro gift? Because, then I stayed below my 1 500 euro budget this year… or did I invest a 100 euro, bought the gift with part of my profits and still have another 100 euro in profit I should book? Since it’s a low amount. And since I am still not a fan of this whole crypto craze and will probaby use up the remaining balance in the future for other gifts, I just decided to book the 100 euro as an expense in the ‘random fun’ category.

Monthly expense report: July

After a pretty expensive month of June I was happy to have July return to a more normal level of expenses.

Income : 2 167,40 euro

Expenses : 1 559,90 euro

Savings : 607,50 euro or 28%

Income

July income can be summed up in one sentence: just my normal wages from work.

Expenses

A return to normal and actually almost within budget! Besides the 1100 euro I tranfer into our joint accounts (and which co-pays for our mortgage, food and utilisty bills) I only spend 460 euro:

70 euro on food I should not have bought: shame, shame on me!

33 euro on some health supplements: this actually makes the 70 euro on food from the previous line even worse! The best I can and should do for my health is lose weight. But this is something deserving of its own post. Supplement wise I am actually pretty frugal as I buy powder and fill my own capsules. This comes to about 1/3th the cost of buying pills in a bottle (packaging seems to be the main cost of most generic available supplements).

20 euro on cheap games on steam. People spend more on games during this lockdown apparently. I know I am!

20 euro on my cell phone plan

231 euro on a brand new laser and smoke machine! Yes I caved and bought myself a new laser. I went for the Laserworld EL-230RGB and the Ayra WSM black 01 smoke machine.

I am pretty happy both of them. Covid 19 has closed down all clubs in Belgium. These two turn our living room in our own private little club. In July you could see up to 15 people so we had a small 11 people party (no photo’s of that to protect the not so innocent grin) and the laser was a big hit.

I did have to improvise with the placement of everything. So I wasn’t a 100% happy and in August I also bought a truss to add to our set-up and that does add a little professional feel to the whole set-up. Me happy!

Laser and smoke machine on the truss, behind the truss the DJ gear of the lady of the house

We are currently finishing the renovation of our office room. Once the office is finished we will finally be able to move the last of our boxes out of the living room and finish the living room (the wire sticking out of the wall). And this in turn will give me the space to turn that corner of our living room into our own small club. Off course, once we have replaced our roof I will have an entire 90 square metre attic to play with. But for the time being this will do .. .

Frugal living doesn’t mean living a miserable life but instead spending your money on what is important to you. it’s why I am not happy with the 70 euro spend on food I shoudl not have eaten in the first place but also why I am very happy spending the 230 euro on the laser and smoke machine.

Monthly expense report: June

June expenses really, really, annoyed me. Which is probably why I didn’t do this expense report sooner. The numbers below may look good but it is what behind the (expense) number that annoys me.

Income : 3 623,74 euro

Expenses : 2 423,50 euro

Savings: 1 200,24 euro of 33,12%

Income

June income consists of my normal wages + my holiday money. The total is 3 623,74 euro and this will be the last time work is giving me anything extra for the remainder of the year. The higher income is alos the only reason why I was able to save at all. My normal income of around 2 160 euro would have not covered my expenses.

Expenses

Those expenses were 2 423,50 euro. The main culprit for this high amount is the Vespa.

Due to working form home most of the days I do not use the Vespa all that much anymore. This is the reason why maintenance only happened in June. In my mind this was going to be a ‘cheap’ maintenance. New tires and some other stuff decided otherwise and left me with a maintenance bill of 890 euro. Driving the Vespa too fast even added another speeding ticket of 108 euro. Add in some gasoline for the Vespa and I spend just over a 1000 euro on the Vespa this month. In other words, I would have remained firmly within my budget this month without the Vespa related costs.

I blame in part my garage, and in part myself.

Blaming the garage is the easy part. They maintain the Vespa too well. Honestely they do! They do the maintenance by the book which means they replace stuff when the maitnenance book says it is time to replace it. Thing is that those maintenance books err on the safe side. Big advantage is that your Vespa is always purring like a happy little kitten. Downside is that it increases the maintenance costs. Those new tires? Yes they could use replacing. On the other hand, I am sure they would have survived another 2 to 3,000 km’s, probably … So a bit more flexibility with the ‘recommended’ maitnenance guidelines could save me a couple of bucks left an right. But I think we all knwo who is the main culprit here. Yep, it is me.

The person I really need to blame is myself! I know the maintenance is expensive. Hell, I did an entire post about it back in January. What was the conclusion again of that post?

Right, I need to move my ass on the electrical bicycle front. Did I do it?

Nope. I didn’t do it in June when I was really annoyed at the high maintenance cost.

And I haven’t done it now, almost 2 months later. People, really, if I tell you guys I am a lazy SOB, believe me, I am!! So yeah, I still need to do this.

And since I am being critical about myself. The second largest expense in June after the Vespa was, drum roll … Food! 133 euro worht of extra food I purchased.

Might not be a big amount but I am supposed to be trying to lose weight! It is my eternal struggle and this 133 euro just represants too many instances where i didn’t follow my food regime. I am definitely being to lazy there.

The othere expenses were a 50 euro gift, a visit too Pairi Daisa (we visited shortly after it reopened during the week so almost no people!). My cell phone bill (13 euro this month) and a game on steam for 17 euro. All very reasonable, normal expenses. If it wasn’t for the damn Vespa and all my eating June would have been a very good month …

Monthly expense report: May

Another full month off lockdown has past. In May lockdown measures in Belgium were relaxed. But since we are not big on shopping and my work continued his work from home policy the relaxed measure didn’t really have a big impact on either off us. The only real difference was that we did get to see our family, once.

As of 8 June measures will further be relaxed with pub and restaurant visit becoming possible. And also meeting with up to 10 friends. As of Monday I will also be able to go back to work if I choose to so we will finaly see a real impact on our lives as off Monday.

Last month I only really spend 75 euro due to the lock down. In May I did spend a bit more.

Income : 4 062,45 euro

Expenses : 1 307,70 euro

Savings: 2 754,75 euro of 67,81%

Income

May income consists off my normal wages + my anual bonus. Add in 100 euro from a late easter gift from the parents and in April i saw over 4,000 euro flowing into my checking account.

Expenses

Expenses were pretty low again. And most of it was even on fun stuff.

I spend 36 euro on 3 steam games. I went once again bargain hunting in the steam promotions and now really have enough games to last me for months and months of play time.

Another luxury spend for me was 35 euro for a nice black metal jerrycan. I have jerrycans but all are of the cheap plastic version. And ever since buying the Vespa I have wanted a nice, quality metal jerrycan. Yes I am weird that way.

I off course had to fill up the Jerrycan (and also did a fill up of the Vespa zel) so I did spend 19 euro on gasoline as well.

In May we would have normaly visited Extrema outdoor but since that got cancelled and did want something of a festival vibe I decided to buy a T-shirt from one of my favorite techno labels. I consider it a little gift back for all the excellent stremas DJ’s have been doing online over the last month. And I could use a new t-shirt anyway.

On the practical side I had my cell phone bill of 12 euro. This might go even lower in the next few months as Mobiel vikings reshaped their formulas and is now offering 1 GB and 150 min call time for 10 euro. Mobile subscriptions (and technology in general) is one of the areas that firmly remains deflatory: year after year you get more for the same money.

On the bad side: I did spend 45 euro on grocery shopping I should not have spend. I continue to struggle with my weight and diet regime. Hence also the reason why I still haven’t done a health reports.

But all in all May saw me going considerably below budget. It was even enough to push my monthly average for the year below my self imposed budget. On average I have now spend only 1480 euro/month!

June will probably screw this up since the relaxation of the Covid measures will enable us to catch up on several social obligations. After 3 months of being cooped up in our house we also want to go somewhere. So, weather permitting we will probably do some day trips in Belgium.

Monthly expense report: October

October was a pretty average month with one exception. Read below to find out.

Income: 2 320 euro

Expenses: 1 822 euro

Savings: 497,80 euro or 21,46%

Income

This was pretty simple this month: only my wages from working.

Expenses

Once again I spend ot much on food at work. November was better in this regard so I am hoping this was the last really bad month I had food wise.

We also wend to a decent restaurant with me picking up the check for the girlfriend. This is a food expense I do not regret as the food there was excellent and the friends accompagnying us there will soon be leaving for Portugal. As of next year we will have friends living in Protugal, Japan, Thailand, Dubai and Israel. So we are not lacking travel options for the future. We will off course be travelling to Menorca next year . Menorca, where we know nobody …

The last main expense which I do kind of mind is the one that pushed me over my budget for the month. The Vespa needed maintenance again. This came in at 470 euro. The simple fact is i am driving using it for about 11,000 km a year which means stuff will need replacing every year to keep it purring happily. This time it was the drive belt, next time probably a tire. I kind of blame myself. The plan for October last year was to have a fast electrical bicycle so I could cut my use of the Vespa in half. This would also double the time inbetween big maintenance jobs, effectively cutting that maintenance cost in half as well. Did I do this? No I did not! Why you might ask? Probably because I am a lazy sloth.

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.

The job evolution

So I noticed I didn’t post anything about my job situation since August last year. Which is a bit of a shame because a lot changed since then! All for the better. There even is some juice stuff to tell!

Now I wasn’t really exhuming a lot of enthusiasm for that job in this three month recap. Hell, I even ended the post saying I was actually looking for a new job again.

Guess what? My employer at the time noticed it too. And do you know what a company does with a guy working interim that does an ok’ish job but isn’t really motivated? They don’t give him a full time contract!

My contract was up for renewal the end of September and well, that didn’t happen.

We will not extend your contract with us

I saw it coming so when called into my supervisors office it was no surprise. But my supervisor was in for a surprise! You see, she was nervous as hell because:

  1. she was going on holiday for two weeks and I left on holiday the last week of September. So there she was, having to tell a guy in early September that his contract is not going to get renewed but could you please continue to work here for two more weeks? Without any boss being present?
  2. I transferred millions of euro on a weekly basis as part of my job and
  3. the last guy she let go was so pissed at her that he threatened her outside the office and cops actually showed up at our office to take her statement about the whole incident. I think her being nervous is actually an understatement. There were visible tension lines on her face and on the face of the interim office representant (the last one definitely was not present when they ‘terminated’ the last employee).

So what happens when you say to a guy with a sizable stash who really doesn’t like the current job that you will not be renewing his contract?

Well, in my case, said guy is actually pretty fucking happy. I literally could not hold in a big fucking smile when she told me! I was, ‘Oof, yes, I am out of here!!’

I should have filmed their face! It was priceless!

They went from all tensed up to wary: is this guy for real, is he actually happy to be let go?!

And then they relaxed and started smiling themselves (probably thinking: this is going SO MUCH BETTER!). I think we were the happiest people to ever leave a meeting like that. We all left with smiles on our faxes and everybody visibly relaxed. Half the meeting was my boss saying to the interim representant that she was happy with the quality of my work and the interim representant almost apologizing to me for finding me a job that did not meet my expectations. And assuring me that they would find a better job after this one ended …

Time to party

Honestly, I was looking forward to some quality time at home. Did I say I really enjoy relaxing at home?! Alas I wasn’t that lucky …

I had already starting looking for work beforehand and one of those applications was successful. And they wanted me to start as soon as possible. I did manage to push back my start date a bit but alas, on 15 November I was back at work. Only 1,5 months of being a lazy bum. Sigh, I guess you can’t have everything in life.

Scoring a hatrick

In that 3 month recap I posted what I was looking for in a new job:

1)      Closer to home (30 min by Vespa of 1 hour by decent e-bike). Basically Leuven.

2)      About the same wage as my current wage

3)      In a field that actually interests me (finance, IT, entertainment)

4)      Hopefully also a job I could transform into ‘less than part time’ once I have achieved financial freedom and I only need to earn the tax free sum of 7.400 euro.

So how did I do?

  • The job is near Leuven. Check!
  • 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!). Check!
  • I now work in the Fintech sector, combining Finance and IT. Check!
  • 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: do I like the new job?

Big check there!

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.

I knew I would be a good fit when  the CTO during my interview showed up and his wardrobe was even worse then mine is. I had dressed up but he showed up to the interview dressed as a street bum. I knew I was going to like this place immediately!

It wasn’t a typical interview either.

Some of the questions and my answers.

Q: How much importance do you attach to your job title?

A: zero

Q: What do you do when there is an insane amount of work to be done?

A: I work like a crazy person

Q: What do you do when there is no work to be done?

A: I get lazy. I work best under pressure. His reply: good, we’ve got heaps of pressure here.

Q: do you find it important to get credit for improving stuff

A: If it makes my work easier I don’t care who gets the credit. I have even in the past made sure my Boss got the credit so I could finally get my hands on that shiny new application that made my day to day work a lot easier!

Those answers got me hired! Which really shows the culture of this place. Also, the CTO left a month ago without any new job lined up. His plan: bum around in Portugal for a few months and then see what he feels like doing. I guess I got hired by a Moustachian!

Also, our CEO is transitioning into a new position at the big finance company that bought us and is on holiday now. So we are flying without a CEO or CTO at the moment. Rock and roll, baby!

It probably won’t last because, as a big finance corporation bought us. Some corporate stuff is already starting to seep in! But that is a gradual process. So by the time our atmosphere gets all corporate and stuffy I won’t be needing a job anymore … But for the time being, I do not mind working all that much!

 

Back to work: a three month recap

I just got a phone call from the temp agency that placed me at my current job to ask how everything went. The classic ‘how is it going?’, ‘you like it?’ blablabla.

You could see it as a nice gesture or them checking that the temporary placement will lead to a fix contract which means a few more months of making a profit on me and then getting a bonus from my employer for finding such a good match without them having to do any additional work (but that might just be my cynical side).

I saw it as a sign to write this three month recap.

So the job. What can I say. Well, it’s work. And a steady paycheck that has done wonders for my cash position on my checking and savings account. I was down to 900 euro available cash when I started this job (another limit I tested).

I start to know enough so it isn’t as boring as the first month when I could only do the most simple tasks. But it’s still pretty boring work (long live podcasts!). Then again, I find most things pretty boring after a couple of months.

The co-workers are also pretty boring. Perhaps it is the job. I can imagine that doing this job for years and years on end could crush anybody’s spirit. It could be me. I like investing and options, reading weird stuff on line and classic trance (although dark wave horror synth and old school goa aren’t bad either) and I have got two pet pigs. It’s not easy to build a report with people if you have to lie about what you did on your three day weekend (Friday 21 st July was a holiday in Belgium). I mean, that Friday I did some day trading and sold a put on AB Inbev, earning about one month in wages in three hours. I am NOT going to say THAT to any of my co-workers! And I am not even going to start about Saturday … Basically, I am a weird dude. And my co-workers aren’t.

And the job is in Brussels. So that is a long commute. Leave home at 7:15, only back at 18:15 except when I go swimming. Those days I am only home at 20h. Which means that a lot of practical stuff needs to be crammed into the weekend. So you have to live a much more planned life. When can you do practical stuff A, B and C, When do you have time to see a friend or visit family? Do they have time in their schedule to see you … I don’t really care for having my life dictated by google calendar…

I should actually exercise more if I ever want a change of actually losing some weight (almost 5 months of swimming, 3 x 2 km a week and net result is I gained two kilo, hoping it’s muscles …). I should also put more time in meal planning AND preparing. Both things that would be a lot easier to do without the current job.

I don’t want this post to turn into a complain post. Truth is I am pretty happy with the job. The pay is decent and as far as the work goes, I have worked under much harsh conditions for many years in the past. The boss is pretty relaxed and does not micro-manage (I hate micromanagement). A decent job was also the final puzzle piece missing for my last five years leading to financial freedom. But even if I could transform this job in a ‘less than part time’ job 5 years from now, I would not want to keep doing this job.

Truth be told, I found live to be a whole lot more pleasant when I didn’t need to work or even when I did the temp job near Leuven (and that job and co-workers also were boring). The closer location saved me 2 hours in commute. Only one hour when I went with the bike, but I liked biking to work a lot. I found it to be pretty relaxing. I just had a lot more hours in the week where I had control over as where now my time from 7:15 till 18:15 is pretty much outside of my control.

So the plan is to stick with the current job, hoping the work from home option becomes available as soon as I have a fix contract. And that I can stretch it to 2 days a week. If working two days from home is not possible I’ll work full time for the first year of my fix contract and then ask for a 4/5th contract. This should give me an extra free day every week. If I go to Brussels via e-bike the remaining three days, my take home pay should stay the same as now. I can see me doing that arrangement for the remaining years I need to achieve financial freedom.

In the meantime I will start looking for a good job closer to home. This is going to take a lot of time. I will be looking for a job that is:

1)      Closer to home (30 min by Vespa of 1 hour by decent e-bike). Basically Leuven.

2)      about the same wage as my current wage

3)      in a field that actually interests me (finance, IT, entertainment)

4)      hopefully also a job I could transform into ‘less than part time’ once I have achieved financial freedom and I only need to earn the tax free sum of 7.400 euro.

I’ll settle for 1 + 2 + 3. But getting 4 would be nice.

Off course, this means that job hunting is one more practical thing I need to put in my google calendar …

The new job

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

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

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

The positive:

Steady paycheck

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

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

12 extra holidays

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

Work from home.

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

 The negative

The job is in Brussels.

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

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

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

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

The work

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

 Conclusion

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

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

I guess it is time to get to work again!

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