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
Savings: 1 938,33 euro of a whopping 55,5%
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 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!
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.
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…
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.
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. …
Finally a good month, saving wise! This good luck will however be short lived as the Vespa is in the shop again! But that are worries for later. Here are the numbers for September:
Income: 2 258,43 euro
Expenses: 1 601,20 euro
Savings: 657,23 euro
Income again a bit higher because I got another birthday present in September. But also because I sold some festival tickets I previously bought but ended up not being able to attend. Made a 10 euro profit on a 30 euro investment in 3 months time. In absolute numbers this is very small but return on investment wise this was a great return. This got us thinking so the girlfriend (because she is the big ‘going to parties’ person in our relationship) decided to run a little experiment and see if you can actually make some decent profits by buying tickets in the first – cheap – wave and selling them when it hits the second (or third) more expensive wave. More on this when the experiment is finished in December/ January.
Those are reasonable for the month. With no Vespa expenses 1 600 euro is actually pretty high for me. But there is a lot of fun in those 1 600 euro expenses.
There was a private party with some friends at the beginning of the month
We went to The world of Tim Burton and ate an unbelievable delicious pizza afterwards. The World of Tim Burton was pretty cheap because you got a free ticket if you bought the weekend edition of De standaard. We finished that evening by rewatching Beetlejuice. You gotta love the old classics!
There was a 50th birthday gift for a friend (talk about an old classic;-) of ours.
I went to the theater and ate another pizza. Pizzahut this time, sometimes I like my pizza’s greasy and unhealthy. For those of you wondering about my diet, sue me modderfokker!
And the last weekend, the girlfriend and I went to another restaurant (the diet is fine, honesty!!) and out clubbing.
What can I say? We work hard, we play hard 😉
Without that last weekend extravaganza I would have actually stayed in my 1 500 euro budget. But this retro techno phase isn’t going to last. So we will enjoy this opportunity to listen to the old school classics the way they were intended: in a busy nightclub full with sweaty, half naked people (mental note: I really need to focus on the diet again).
As a little bonus for your viewing pleasure, a documentary I really enjoyed:
If I had to sum up my expenses for August in one sentence it would be: the bloody Vespa again! Here are the -ugly- numbers.
Income: 2 338,44 euro
Expenses: 2 016,10 euro
Savings: 322,34 euro
Income is a bit higher because I had my birthday which means presents! Well actually only one from the parents as we have all but eliminated the back and forward giving of presents. I have all that I need and if I – rarely – want something I usually buy it.
Expenses blew up to the highest of the year. Above 2.000 euro thanks to …
Yep, the Vespa.
Last time the shop apparently did not solve the root cause of the coolant problem. So three weeks later the issue reared it’s ugly head once more and back to the shop it was. For another 620 euro bill. Most of it work time. I can’t say I am overjoyed with this as they should have found the issue the first time around. There is the possibility that the second issue developed after them fixing the water pomp but the Vespa made the same ticking sound it did after the first maintenance than it did before the maintenance. So I really think they missed the root cause, fixed the water pomp which was probably a symptom of the underlying issue (a crack in cylinder housing) and this time had to do a lot of the work again to fix the real problem. With me paying twice!
And a skilled mechanic appears not to come cheap.
Honestly, these maintenance bills have taken a bit away of the joy of driving the Vespa. But only a bit. Here is hoping for many carefree months of riding it and getting my joy back!
The lessons I take away from this are:
In the short time I am going to look for a ‘guy’ who not only will work on the Vespa at a lower hourly rate I am paying now but is also willing to teach me how to do most of the work myself. Thus, hopefully avoiding other big maintenance bills in the future.
Long term I will most definitely build myself an electrical speed monster of a bicycle! Building it myself will insure I know every little detail of it and be capable of doing all the maintenance myself. It is going to cost me time off course (most things are a trade off between money and time + effort) but I should pick up some valuable skills that will also serve me well after FIRE.
Now some people claim that a 13,7% savings rate is still descend but let’s be honest, this is the FIRE crowd. Even my usual 25% savings rate is at the low end of the spectrum. So high time for me to return to more acceptable savings. Half September I will have my partying behind me and then it will be a 100% focus on finance and health for the rest of the year.
Not all months can be good months. July proofed this as it was an expensive month and not on fun stuff!
Income: 2 188,44 euro
Expenses: 1 963,50 euro
Savings: 224,94 euro
Almost no savings this month! The main culprit behind this, once again: the Vespa. The water pomp decided to stop working so I had another 600+ euro maintenance bill. I think driving through some mud floods a few months back didn’t do it any good. But we can also safely conclude that a Vespa isn’t the cheapest way to get to your work. It isn’t the cheapest brand (so parts are more expensive) and I do add an impressive amount of distance to it every week: 200+ km in total, each work week. Keeping a budget really confronts you with the cost of stuff so I have been thinking about the cheapest way to limit the wear and tear on the Vespa. The cheapest way is to work more from home. My new work accepts this and I just did a test last Friday. Don’t know if I will make it a regular thing. It was OK now because we have a bit of a slower workload at the moment but when it is busy again I think I would prefer to just go to work. An old time motorcycle where I could do the maintenance myself is a possibility but I think that electric is going to be the way forward for motorcycles (might even happen faster than for cars as very nice electric motorcycles are coming to market at reasonable prices). And if I am going to learn new skills I prefer them to be future proof. So I think I’ll start with building my own electric bicycle. Since anything self-build above 25 km/h isn’t street legal in Belgium I am just going to ignore the 45km/h speed limit as well and build me a real speed monster. Let’s be honest here, if you are going to do something illegal better be fast enough so they can’t catch you … I am still busy till September so I’ll have my dad on the lookout for a suitable mountain bike as of October and then do the build during the winter months so I am ready by next spring to bicycle to work 1 or 2 times a week. Knowing myself, the faster the bike is, the more I will do it.
Anyway, without the Vespa maintenance cost I would have stayed well within budget! And the budget even allowed for a good amount of fun. In July I visited some pop up stuff in the nearest city with a friend. Went one day to Dour festival for only 10 euro (yeah for work paying for the VIP tickets and most of the drinks/food!). And visited the Gentse feesten with some other friends.
August also looks promising on the entertainment front with a techno gig in our town, the Leuven free city festival next Sunday and a Goa festival (already pre-payed). So curious if I can stay within budget the next month …
The joint account also was pretty expensive with our fire insurance (I definitely need to look for a better insurance next year) and our grocery shopping which came in at 730 euro! We need to pay closer attention to this one and really, really need to start with the meal planning/prepping. Going to be honest, that too is something we are hopeful to start in October.
The half year mark. So time for a round up and see where I am at budget wise. But first the numbers for the month of June.
Income: 2 168 euro
Expenses: 1 520 euro
Savings: 648 euro
income bounced back to it’s normal number of around 2 160 euro since the weird holiday money from last year thing is now passed me. Since I have been on a fixed contract since november last year (which remind me that I really need to do an update on my work situation) there will be no repeat of that next year! Hooray for not having to deal with one of the most complex pieces of legislation in Belgium (holiday money, and number of holidays are really, really complex. Especially if you transition from unemployment/interim work to fixed contract).
Expenses are just above my self imposed 1500 euro mark. But an anniversary gift for a friend turned out more expensive than anticipated because the Belgian post office is a den of thieves! (A USA order clearly marked as costing 24 USD got magically priced at 64 euro with the import taxes to match it! Thieves I tell you!). I also pre-paid a festival for early September and had an honest to god restaurant visit. A motor shop had a sale out so I also paid 36 euro for so high quality gloves. I only need some descend rain resisted trousers now and I am all set for the next winter on the Vespa. Since I planned on starting fitness in July I also bought some sporting stuff: 70 euro for 4 work out t-shirts (a bit of a shame as I have plenty of work out t-shirts but for the moment they all fall in the ‘good to wear if I lose another 8 kg’ category. Sigh, on the other hand, if I do lose those kg’s t-shirt wise I am good for the next decade). Also got decent sport shoes for 40 euro and spend 40 euro on swimming stuff. So all good there. Listing it all up like that and I come to the conclusion I bought a lot for only 400 euro’s!
The joint account also came in under budget again. But everything left over there goes to the home renovations we are doing this year. But still, under budget for the core expenses is always a good thing.
6 month recap
Total income: 13 077 euro
Total expenses: 9 675 euro
total saved: 3 402 euro
Average income was 2 180 euro a month and average spending 1 613 euro. That is more than 100 euro above my 1 500 euro. The reason is simple: the Vespa. The 600 euro maintenance fee (and my monthly 40 euro gas bill) pushed my expenses higher. If I subtract all Vespa related expenses from my total I had an average spend of 1 455 euro! But I like riding the Vespa. I really, really like it! I even dare to say that most of the time it makes me happy (especially with the current weather). So I am definitely going to keep driving it. It does show that Mr Money mustache was right: riding a bicycle can help a lot to achieve a frugal live!
I did go with a fine comb through my expenses of the last 6 months and eliminating stupid expenses like sandwiches at work (which I no longer due to the diet but that only started in April) and the traffic ticket (stupid, stupid) would have brought my average spending to 1 545 euro. So on average I spend 60 euro a month on stuff that did not increase my happiness (or was downright bad for my health). I’ll try to do better on that front the next 6 months.
But hey, I am well on my way to save over 6 000 euro this year. So saving wise still good. Even after paying for the renovations on our house I should end the year with more savings than I started the year.
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
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!!
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 (that site seems to have dissapered, here you can still compare energy suppliers) 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!
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 (the energiegids site appears to have dissapeared, but you can still compare energy compagnies here). 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!
I am not a certified financial advisor and do not hold a license from the FSMA. Everything written on this blog expresses my own personal journey and opinion and is pure entertainment. It is never an advice on what how and where you need to invest. If you need this advice, then please reach out to a financial service expert
Following this blog
If you want to be informed of new posts I advise you to use a reader (Feedly seems to be popular, I use The oldreader myself). Personally, I hate the 'subscribe via e-mail' pop ups you get on so many sites these days. As for social media, I am more than capable of setting up a twitter, facebook or instagram account. And nothing wrong with those things for certain subjects. I just don't see the use of them for a personal finance site.