Hello from Bavaria

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horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:52 am

Hi folks,

after lurking for a few weeks I decided to create an account to participate in this wonderful forum (I started to feel a little bit like a stalker, obsessively reading here but not making myself known :mrgreen: ...) I found this community via the "frugalwoods" blog roll and I totally love what is happening here.
Our homestead is located in rural Bavaria/Germany. We have 7,5 acres and keep a few horses - hence the username.
My husband and I do not necessarily pursue ERE or even FI, but have decided a few years ago to reduce our expenses, so that both of us can work only part-time (less than 20 hours a week). This suits us very well - we have the stability of a paycheck and paid-for health care but lots of free time and time for our daughter (11). Were 39 and 41. After starting to read here I think about FI a lot, though... The gears ARE turning in my mind! :idea:

We are hardcore DIY-er in a lot of areas of our life and super thrifty when it comes to furniture, clothes, riding gear, cars, heating ect... My food budget is well under control as we are vegetarian/vegan family and I cook from scratch daily.

Unfortunately we have rather high fixed costs, due to our many buildings on the farm, the horses, tractors and related machinery, two (paid for with cash) cars, and private school tuition for our daughter. I'm very inspired by this community to cut or at least get down a few of those to increase our savings rate. We do save something every month and have both socked away tidy sums in retirement funds. But we need to step up our game in this area, since we will not get much state pension. Part-time work is penalized in the German system when it comes to retirement. I have been recording our cash flow for 1 1/2 years now and see a lot of money leaks that can be closed with some determination. I have to thank Mrs. Frugalwoods for making me see the need for keeping the books!

Our homestead has been paid off for a couple of years now thanks to good timing in buying, aggressively throwing money on the mortgage and the generosity of my (pretty affluent) FIL who afforded us a substantial interest-free loan. There is also a flat in one of our outbuildings which we rent out. We plan to convert another part of our huge old farmhouse into a separate unit to rent out, but this will take some planning and possibly a small loan. Furthermore we have invested in a large(ish) photovoltaic unit 15 years ago. It brings in good money at the moment (we sell the solar power to the provider) and pays for it self plus a nice profit.

So, this for now - it is a novella already. I'm told that I'm a very "wordy" person - seems to be true :oops:
Thank you for reading and letting me take part in this forum!

wolf
Posts: 895
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by wolf » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:22 am

Welcome horsewoman to the forum!

It's very interesting, that you found ERE through the blog roll of frugalwoods. I'm surprised that there's a connection.
Usually it starts with lurking. Glad, that you want to join.

It seems to me, that you are pretty happy about your current setup (farmhouse, family, part-time).
And you are already pretty frugal, regarding DIY, cooking, clothes, etc. That's a great start.

Maybe you can start with showing the details of the cash flow. IMO, that's one key factor, to know how and what for you spend money.
I guess you don't want to work full-time. So, one way to go ERE is to reduce spending in an intelligent kind of way.
horsewoman wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:52 am
I have been recording our cash flow for 1 1/2 years now and see a lot of money leaks that can be closed with some determination.

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jun 07, 2019 12:03 pm

Thanks for replying, wolf!

I'm not sure if ERE is actually on the frugalwoods blog roll, or if Mrs. Frugalwoods mentioned the blog in one of her posts. I'm am sure however that I learned of ERE over there.

At the moment I'm debating with myself if I want to start a journal or not (regarding the cash flow recordings). I'm pretty flaky when it comes to journals and never manage to stay with them. That's probably one reason for not being "richer" even though I'm pretty frugal. Consistency is not one of my strong suits. I'm an ENTP and a "scanner/multipotential" personality, a "jack of all trades" one might say. I like to flit from one hobby/project to the next and become easily bored if the pace of any given project slows down.

Full time work is out of the question for us, so we need to get better at savings. I'll mull it over with the journal, otherwise a post in the "money" category might be a good idea. However! It is a daunting task to put ones finances up for inspection for such a frugal bunch - even more so since I know pretty well that we spend way too much in some areas :mrgreen: see above paragraph, I burn lots of cash on stuff for my numerous hobbies and interests - even when sourcing mainly used gear it adds up. We are a musical family, own quite a few (expensive) instruments and take lessons, I dabble in digital photography and film making, crafts, arts, not to mention our 4 horses :oops:

So please bear with me until I muster up the courage to post my spreadsheet findings :D
wolf wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:22 am

It seems to me, that you are pretty happy about your current setup (farmhouse, family, part-time).
And you are already pretty frugal, regarding DIY, cooking, clothes, etc. That's a great start.
Edited to add: I am really happy with my current situation, but I do worry whether we have enough for old age... That's why FI is very interesting to me right now. I'm an idiot at math so I do not really know to make sure where we stand long term.

Campitor
Posts: 848
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by Campitor » Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:46 am

@horsewoman

Welcome to the forums! I look forward to any postings you make in the future. It's always interesting to get a picture of daily life/ERE/advice from people who live in other parts of the globe.

PS - no advanced math is required to ERE. Basic Math is all that is needed. If you're saving more than you spend, and if your savings are earning interest that outpaces inflation, and if that amount can eventually grow into 30+ yrs of income that can support your ERE lifestyle, you'll be okay. If you haven't purchased Jacob's book, you should do so - it's a gem. And his blog posts are full of ideas and formulas that even someone with rudimentary math skills can understand; you run a farm so I suspect your math skill is better than you give yourself credit for.

chenda
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by chenda » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:06 pm

Welcome! Sounds a great set-up you have, I'd like to visit the Black Forest and Munich sometime.

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Sat Jun 08, 2019 3:46 pm

@Campitor thanks for the warm welcome!
Campitor wrote:
Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:46 am

PS - no advanced math is required to ERE. Basic Math is all that is needed. If you're saving more than you spend, and if your savings are earning interest that outpaces inflation, and if that amount can eventually grow into 30+ yrs of income that can support your ERE lifestyle, you'll be okay. If you haven't purchased Jacob's book, you should do so - it's a gem. And his blog posts are full of ideas and formulas that even someone with rudimentary math skills can understand; you run a farm so I suspect your math skill is better than you give yourself credit for.
Well I might have been guilty of hyperbole on that point :oops: Of course I'm perfectly able to do some rudimentary math. I even have a basic education in economics, but the matter of inflation, index funds and ETF interest projections is way over my head - not the actual calculating but trusting/interpreting the data! I need to sit down and really look at the bank statements of all our investments. Maybe I'll rope in my baby sister for help, she's a math Ph.D. student!

I'll purchase the book soon - ironically I'm on a spending freeze right now :lol:

@chenda
Yes, we think it very close to paradise :) On the other hand I don't like Munich, full of hipsters who do not understand and scoff at the Bavarian dialect while living in the Bavarian capital :roll: The German Museum is really interesting though!

Gerald
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: Salzburg - Austria

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by Gerald » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:43 am

Hello horsewoman,

funny to read from someone coming from Bavaria as well :) which administrative region (Regierungsbezirk) are you from?

Liabe Griaß
Gerald

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:55 am

Griaß di Gerald!

I'm an expat living in Lower Bavaria - meaning I'm an Upper Bavarian gal who was been lured to lower Bavaria by the low price for real estate.
You decamped for Austria? I was in Salzburg only last week, passing through from vienna by train :)
Have you been to the "Haus der Natur" yet? Very nice way to spend a rainy day!

Gerald
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: Salzburg - Austria

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by Gerald » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:33 pm

Lower Bavaria - that's the right answer. You probably have come to realise now, that although the Upper Bavarians tend to believe they're the real/better Bavarians, they're not. :D low price for real estate is probably the Bavarian Forest's area.

I decamped for Austria, have always hat a strong affinity for our neighbours and the girls are better looking they said. My girl is Austrian of course :)

I haven't been to Haus der Natur unfortunately. People keep asking me that, I'll have a look when weather gets bad again.

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:25 am

Gerald wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:33 pm
Lower Bavaria - that's the right answer. You probably have come to realise now, that although the Upper Bavarians tend to believe they're the real/better Bavarians, they're not. :D low price for real estate is probably the Bavarian Forest's area.
Oh yes, Upper B's like to think they are superior. I never felt like this, actually I always felt a little bit uncomfortable with the whole "detached house/BMW/husband-factory worker/housewife with 2.4-kids/csu-voting" live model that seems to the only viable one around Munich. I really like the more laid-back attitude here in Lower B. People do not care as much about appearances or if you are a little off the norm.
But we did not go so far as "the wood" since I did not want to deprive my kid of her grandparents. Property was still a lot more affordable.

As a Bavarian dirndl I can not agree that Austrian girls are by default prettier ;)

Frita
Posts: 186
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by Frita » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:39 am

Hi, horsewoman, and welcome. It seems that women are unrepresented in ERE, but we are often ENTPs. My spouse is an ISTP and enjoys keeping financials as well as details. I enjoy being the idea person. ;)

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Fri Jun 21, 2019 1:25 pm

Thanks for the welcome, @Frita! Yes it seems to be very "male" here, but I like the emphasis on finances. I have been pretty frugal all my life so I can learn very little new when it comes to simple living or frugality in the household - topics that seem to be more typically covered by blogs / forums targeted at women audiences. What I know next to nothing about is investing, and I hope to remedy that soon.

My husband can't be bothered to take the test, but I think he might be an ISFP - so I'm on my own in planning and managing our retirement - early or regular :)

Sclass
Posts: 1631
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by Sclass » Fri Jun 21, 2019 11:45 pm

Welcome. Farm life is of interest to a lot of the ERE people. There are a lot of opportunities for frugality, self sufficiency and permaculture. It’ll be fun to hear about your activities.

Parts of my family operated small farms. There were aspects of the life that are very attractive to me. Like being DIY.

Do you do things like shoe your horses and mow hay with your tractor?

I had an uncle from Triberg. He got me into Mercedes Benz cars back in the 80s. I wish I’d made it out there while he was still alive. It sounded like an interesting place.

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:07 am

Actually, I begin to realize that farm life is pretty expensive, with all the maintenance and insurance costs! Reading in this forum is rather eye-opening - I always thought we were financially healthy because the mortgage is paid off, but I never understood how much fixed costs we need to cover prior to recording all expenses... We DIY a lot, but costs are still high.

We used to have a business taking in other peoples horses (gave that up last year due to being fed up with having people around all the time!) so we are pros when it comes to horse care - the blacksmith and vet do not visit us often. Most things we can handle on our own.
We own most of the machinery to cut our own hay and did so this summer - in the last years we used our land as pasture and bought hay, since we did not have enough room to feed 14 horses. Making hay is a nerve wracking business, that's for sure! To mow or not to mow, that's the question :)

Triberg is in Baden-Württemberg, our neighboring county. ASAIK there are beautiful waterfalls there. The south of Germany generally is a very nice area.

wolf
Posts: 895
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by wolf » Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:24 am

Maybe you can sell some of your DIY-skills to others? Could you earn some extra money with your knowledge, skills and experiences being a farmer and being an horse expert? It would be similiar to Jacob's advice to choose those kind of hobbies with which you can sell on the (local) "market"/economy.

horsewoman
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Hello from Bavaria

Post by horsewoman » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:38 pm

@wolf for other people this would be excellent advice. In my case things are different - I'm "recovering" from a major burn-out from turning my hobbies into money earning endeavors. I had a baby in 2008 and never went back into employment after "parent - time" (Wolf knows this probably, but for the others reading: here in Germany you get 14 months off work after having a baby, and still get paid 60 or 70% of your salary. Nice, huh!?).

Instead we took in "boarding horses" and I opened up a Etsy shop selling sewed goods (I'm a trained seamstress, although I never pursued it as a career). I'm also a singer/musician, and when my kid was in school I started to do paid gigs as well.
Sounds good in theory. What it meant long term was that I lost my passion for all three.
The constant hassle with the horse owners, the price wars on Etsy and the need to haggle for fair musicians fees really wore me down.
Also, since I'm running a photo-voltaic unit I'm an entrepreneur when it comes to German tax law. That meant I had to keep detailed books with sales tax for ALL my side hussels! (@Wolf - in short, no § 19 UStG Kleinunternehmerregelung). It was a nightmare, especially the bill from our tax accountant. Germany is NOT an entrepreneur-friendly country, that's for sure!

Last year I was so burned out that I gave it all up and started to look for an office job (I have a qualification for that as well, scanner personality, remember?) I totally lucked out and found a great part-time job with super flexible hours. It has been very therapeutic to do my hobbies again without having to think about whether it pays off or not.

We will restart the horse business again - smarter now! - and in a smaller scope to offset at least the costs for our horses. I might do a few paid gigs here and there, but I'm wary of turning my hobbies into businesses again, I seem to have not the right personality for that.

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