August was the first month since March 2019 where I didn’t save any money. In 2019 the reason was me buying a new car. In August a holiday was the rason for the negative savings rate. Below are the numbers:
Income : 2 212 euro
Expenses : 2 465,90 euro
Savings : -253,90 euro or – 11,48%
Income was my regular paycheck from work and a small anniversy gift from my parents. Small gift because they also helpt with some home renovation costs so I am not complaining.
2 465,90 euro is a big number but I packed a lot of fun in that amount.
I had my fixed amount of 1 100 euro to deposit in our joint account to pay for boring stuff like our mortgage, utilities, food and such. Mid month I had to deposit an additional 200 euro into the joint account because she was running low. We are in the midst of renovation our office room and usually do not keep a big balance on our joint account. I prefer saving on my personal account andmaking additional paiments to the joint account when necessary as opposed to a higher monthly contribution and saving on the joint account directly.
Another purely practical expanes was 36 euro for gasoline for the Vespa and a bit for the car (the car is usually paid from the joint account).
A bad expense was again extra food bought for 76,7 euro. You would think my monthly – shameful – confessions of my overeating would have me quiet this bad habit, apparently not …
A bit more joyeus was the 15 euro gift for a co-worker who had a baby!
And then the really fun stuff for me personally:
83 euro for a sauna visit (and lunch at the restaurant)
58 euro for the truss for my laser and smoke machine (shown in this picture)
22,50 euro for a game on steam
145 euro for a restaurant visit with the parents and the girlfriend
And finally: 730 euro for my holiday in Portugal. This amount covers my half of the plain ticket and our airb&b rental.
Without all the fun stuff i would have actually remained under budget for the month and I definitely prefer spending my money on all of this than on anther maintenance bill for the Vespa!
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%
July income can be summed up in one sentence: just my normal wages from work.
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!
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.
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%
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.
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 …
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%
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 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.
Let’s have a look at how much a person can actually spend during a full month of lock down.
Income: 2 258,38 euro
Expenses: 1 624,32 euro
Savings: 634,06 euro or 28%
Once again income consists just of my work income + a small reïmbursement from my health insurace. Work income is declining slightly as I work from home and am no longer eligible for the bicycle compensation I used to receive.
These are mostly the matras I bought at Ikea in March just days before all shops in Belgium closed. Using my debit card the expense showed up on my bank account only in April. A good nights rest is important so I spend 450 euro on the matras. Unfortunately the lockdwon came into effect the day of delivery and I am still awaiting delivery.
The other expenses were a doctor’s visit. This was not for Covid-19. I have been having an issue with the right leg after a bad movement while swimming and since the swimming pool is closed due to the lockdown this seemed as a good time as any to have it checked out. Treatement will be for after this pandemic as non-essential health care has not yet started up again in Belgium.
USA readers prepare for a shock: doctor’s visit + photos of the leg came to a grand total of 47 euro. My health insurer reimbursed me 23 euro so the actual out of pocket cost was 24 euro.
There was my usual cellphone bill of 12 euro’s.
O, and I bought a game at discount on steam for 17 euro. As a side note, Total war: shogun two is free to own at the moment on steam! Go pick it up if strategy games are your thing.
And that is it! A lockdown really lowers your spending even for a frugal sloth like me! Without the matras I would have only spend 75 euro! Well, 75 euro and the 1 100 euro I transfer to our joint checking account for stuff like our mortgage, utility bills and food.
My job has already informed me we will continue to work from home till the 8th of June at the very least. Shops in Belgium will be re-opening 11 May but I don’t really need anything. With the swimmng pool still closed and social interaction with family and friend still a no go it looks like I have another month of lockdown to look forward to. Who know, perhaps I will spend even less than 75 euro in May?
Ouch, April has already passed us by and I haven’t even posted my March report! The reason is simple: the Covid-19 lockdown in Belgium has me working from home. And after working 8 hours behind my desk at home I just don’t feel like sitting more time behind that same desk!
On all other accounts the lockdown doesn’t post any problems for me. I have never been a ‘people’ or ‘shopping’ person. So no big changes for me on that front.
The weather in March was not all that good either so I didn’t really miss being able to go somewhere or invite friends over.
Health wise I definitely ate way too much crap during the first weeks of the lockdown (which started the second half of March in Belgium).
But this is the financial report. So how are my numbers for being half a month in lockdown? Pretty good!
Income : 2 385,20 euro
Expenses: 1 433,45 euro
Savings: 951,75 euro or 40%
Income is once again very boring. Just my wages from work + 66 euro from my health insurer.
Wohoo, inside of the budget of 1 500 euro!
But I have to admit, I did cheat a bit. I bought a 400+ euro matras at Ikea that I put on my debet card and that cost will be coming in April. The reason is mostly smoothing out spending. With the lockdown approaching I knew I wasn’t going to be spending a lot in April. So instead of having a big bump in March and then a big drop in April I used the debit card to even that out.
Anyway, enough talk about my cheating ways: I only spend 333 euro above my fixed 1 100 euro contribution to our joint account!
And I even had about 120 euro health insurance costs (53 euro for a forced government plan and the rest for my personal insurance).
Not good was my increased spending on bad food once again. I really went all out on that front and I am really happy I was succesful in turning this around in April. But that’s a story for next months expense report.
Most countries in Europe are now in lockdown (either a hard one or a
soft one) and our freedom of movement has been severly limited. The
financial markets have taken a serieus beating it probably also feels
as if our financial freedom has been limited as well. But personally
I do not look at it this way.
As far as the stock market crash goes: this too shall pass. I have been investing long enough to witness the dot com crash and the 2008 financial crisis and I can assure you that a few years from now the current market panic will mostly be forgotten. Probably replaced by an all new ‘crisis’ dominating the headlines.
As far as striving for financial freedom goes, the current crisis has
only strenghtend my resolve.
For me, those who already achieved financial freedom are those who are the least impacted by all of this. They had the lowest change of getting sick since they had no need to commute to work. And now that the lockdown is in effect they do not have to worry about their job or income. They also have the most flexibility time wise to take care of their children if the schools in their area are closed, to help others or to explore other more local leisure activities. Actually, there is a good change they allready know those locale activities. The lockdown is, in a way, is forcing more people to live like a mustachian: no more eating out, bike more, live your live more locally …
Which brings us to
the people trying to get to financial freedom. Mr Money moustach
proposes to live close to work (and thus not waste hours commuting)
and I for one am pretty happy I no longer needed to take public
transport to go to work. Something tells me that my infection risk
was a lot lower on my Vespa then it was on our overflowing commuter
Since all of us in the FIRE community live below our means we also have the financial resources to gt through this crisis. We can afford to buy all we need. The worst that can happen to us is that the most frugal option is not available. But the only impact that will have is on our savings rate. For people living paycheck to paycheck the impact will be real and will mean not being able to buy food or pay rent/mortgage, utility bills …
articles are starting to appear that it is the poor that are being
impacted the most by the lockdown. Estimates are that around 1
million Belgians will end up on temporary unemployment? At the moment
around 600,000 already are. Our government has boosted the pay-out as
the temporary unemployment system was never meant for prolonged
periods of time and for these big numbers. The max pay out was 1 450
euro a month and has been pushed to 1 600 euro now. For me this would
fall within my self imposed monthly budget and I would be fine. A lot
of others will not be. Our government has also promised help with
utility bills and asked banks to be flexible in regards to mortgage
payments and such. This indicates that our government knows that lots
of people will not be fine finance wise. We in the FIRE community are
the lucky ones. Or at the very least, the well prepared ones.
For me personally the impact at the moment has been very limited. We have always bought our non-perishables in bulk as that is the most frugal/efficient way to buy that kind of stuff. The only difference was that instead of using those bulk purchases completely before buying new I resupplied two weeks back when only half was used up. And the only reason for this was convenience as I wanted to avoid the supermarkets when the shit hit the fan. So we had a well stocked pantry when the hoarding commenced. I looked at the long lines outside supermarkets on television and was glad to be a lazy, frugal weirdo because sloths do not do long waiting lines!
I also bought extra animal feed as the bags weigh 25 kg which makes me the only person being able to carry them and I wanted to avoid having to lug those around if I fell sick. Again, a decision based in convenience and laziness and not fear of stuff running out.
I work from home now
so my income will not suffer. It would take a complete and total
economic collapse before my company would move us to technical
unemployement (actually, in that case we would probably have more
work ..). The girlfriend works in healthcare and as such has a decent
job security at the moment. So our income will not suffer.
Health wise we are
fine for the moment. With one confirmed Covid 19 infection at the
girlfriends workplace, chance is high she will fall sick in the
coming weeks. We will see if the government has plans to boost that
pay-out too, But if not, as mentionned above, only our savings rate
will suffer …
A short month should mean a cheap month, right? Let’s see if the numbers reflect this as well.
Income : 2 355 euro
Expenses: 1 509,12 euro
Savings: 845,88 euro or 36%
If my January income was boring, February income is even more boring! Only my wage from working, that’s it! It can not get any more simple than this. I am still hoping to be able to unsimplify my income by adding a side hustle. I have a few ideas …
Oh damn, just outside the budget of 1 500 euro! Well, not really …
I actually did better than the numbers show. Knowing I was going to be pretty close within my budget I went on a little shopping spree.
I stocked up on some anti-abrasive gel for all the swimming I am doing again. 3 times a week in the water for 45 minutes + and skin starts to hurt in some places. I stoked up not only because of the left-over budget but also to avoid any delivery fees so I am now good for close to a year.
With still some money left over I also purchase a fine single malt whisky. The Glenlivet 15 years, french oak reserve is worth every eurocent it cost me. And it did cost me 5 350 eurocent. I do not drink a lot of whiskey, but when I do I like it to be of excellent quality. And over the past years my stock has been slowly dwindeling down. If I keep staying within budget as I have been for the last two months I will use those opportunities to replenish my supply …
Also in the fun category was carnival which set me back 68 euro. Which does proof that you can be both frugal AND anti-semitic 😉
I also paid the last part of the glasses I bought in January: this cost me 47 euro but I will be getting a 60 euro refund from my health insurance. This refund unfortunately was not paid into my account in February.
In the bad category:
I did spend 67 euro on food I shouldn’t have bought. I really need
to remind myself that this could have gone to another bottle of fine
Concerning the drop in stock values which, by a wild guess off me, had my net worth drop by around 25,000 euro in less then a week I refer to this great post of JL Collins.
Bottom line is I really don’t care and neither should you,
With Februari half gone, and me finally being caught up, I better hurry up with the my January expense report before I fall behind again. Especially because January was pretty good.
Income: 2 512 euro
Expenses: 1 505,90
Savings : 1 006,10
euro or 40%
January income was pretty simple. My normal wage from working and a 200 euro end of year gift I got on the 1st of January.
January is boring in this regard. But if boring means a 40% savings rate boring is good!
In January I was almost within my self imposed budget of 1 500 euro.
It is especially impressive if you know that I had to pay a 130 euro speeding ticket. I blame the Vespa, the Vesap blames me. What can I say, we have a toxic relationship in this regard.,,
I also paid 100 euro for new glasses because well, I am getting old.
A dentist visit cost me 13,50 eur (did I mention am getting old?)
On the fun side, I visited a friend in Ghent and went to see the
latest Star Wars at the Cinema. The grand cost for all this fun was
And then the expenses I am most proud off: 32 euro for our locale swimming pool as I have been ramping up my swimming (I do not trust myself enough to pay for a yearly subscription – yet). And only 45 euro spend on food stuff I shouldn’t have bought. The diet is going more or less well. Not perfect but I have let go of ‘perfect’ in this regard. ‘Good enough’ will do. If I keep up the ‘good enough’ food wise and ramp up my swimming I should – eventually – be alright weight and health wise.
Which reminds me that I own you guys a health report …
With the end of Januari being here I realised I had not yet done the
full year recap of 2019.
And then digging through my archive I realised I never did one for 2018 either.
And let there never be any doubt about my laziness!
a 2018 recap a year too late seems a bit silly to me but with three
full years under my belt a small three year overview might be
So before diving into 2019 here is that recap:
Three year recap
2017 had on the income side a 5000 euro gift from the parents
I went on a holiday and bought the vespa for 3 000 euro
2018 income was just my wages at the current employer. It was my first full year of working at my employer so I didn’t really get any profit bonus as those are calculated on the previous year. Holiday money also is a complicated mess (due to 2017 being in part unemployed and the other part filled with interim work) with me actually having to pay some back.
expenses had nothing exceptional either.
on the income side once again had a 5 000 euro gift from my parents
to our new car purchase.
This off course means I had a 8 113 euro expense for said car also. If you correct the car purchase from 2019 I feel those corrected numbers reflect my spending a lot better.
three year recap conclusions
Two broad conclusion can be taken from the above:
annual spending is slightly above 20 000 euro
that spending is pretty much irrelevant from how much income I make.
second point is proven by 2018. This was a low year on the income
side because no gift from the parents and the first year at the new
employer (so no profit bonus, no holiday money that year) but my
spending remained pretty much the same.
Logic then dictates that as my income goes up so should my saving and especially my savings rate. The 2019 corrected numbers clearly demonstrates this. Hell even with the car purchase I saved more in 2019 than 2017 or 201! The conclusion is I need to boost my income with some type of sidegig.
Lets dive a little bit more into the numbers of 2019
Income was 39 221 euro.
Main part of the income was work: 33 510,27 euro
Gifts stand at 5 345 euro. The main one being 5 000 euro from the parents for the car and the remainder being the normal birthday, christmas gifts and such
My litle experiment with buying and selling tickets did bring in 135,40 euro but it is clear that as a side gig I need something better (and also more legal in Belgium).
And I also got 130 euro back from our health insurer
The bulk of my 28 320,21 euro spnding went to our joint account:
13 800 euro. Understandable as this money pays our mortgage, all house related costs (like heating, electricity) and the food for both of us.
The Vespa cost me 1 649,20 euro (as I showed in this post)
Extra food 1 311,5 euro. This is a bad expense!! It annoys me in particular as it was just too many sandwiches, pizza and candy bought. Add it all up for an entire year and it is a pretty decent amount. And + it made me fat again! This category needs to be lower in 2020 and thus far Januari has been good in this regard. 11 more months to go!
in telecom was a 350 euro smartphone and Clothing : 114 euro
include these last two because of this: of the 28 320,21 euro I spend
in 2019 I only spend 4 629 euro on what can be considered ‘fun’
stuff. The remaining 24 000 ish euro are fixed expenses I had to do
(one could discuss the car purchase ..). En out of the 4 629 euro 1
226 euro was gifts, or stuff not for me! On myself I only spend 3 400
euro on stuff I liked spending money on (well, I liked buying the
gifts but you get what I mean). And that includes 1 311 euro extra
food I should not have bought.
Bottom line: I only spend 2 019 euro on stuff for me I liked buying and was actually good for me. That amount is the sum of the hobbies, random fun, restaurants and sport categories! It is around 10% of my expenses. It is also scary realising how low this number actually is!
So my goals for 2020 are finding a decend side gig that can push my savings rate higher, drastically lower the extra food purchases (idealy some of these expenses are shifted to the sports category) and spend more money on fun stuff for myself! And all the while stay below 20,000 euro in total spending.
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
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