(Yet?) Another Dutchie joining the fray!

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Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Post by Meliora »

Hello all,
After some years of on-and-off reading of both the blog and this forum, I decided to stop my quiet lurking and finally jump in.

Hopefully keeping a journal here or at the very least, posting here, will become something akin to the proverbial 'stick' when it comes to my ERE.
Now, for something of an introduction (warning: long because apparently, I built up quite some enthusiastic semi-rant about myself!) :
'Like the topic title already states I am one of those bike-loving Dutch folks. I am 25 years old, of the female persuasion and a full-time student. I am hoping to finish my Master's in Anthropology/ Public Governance next year. I know, I know - not one of the most ERE-minded studies, but at the very least, (economical) anthropology taught me a lot about consumerism and human culture(s).

My dear parents (most of all my mother and her family) taught me that saving one's money was the right thing to do and frowned upon 'frivolous spending'. So I guess I have always been more careful with my money - even though books have been (and most likely always will be) my guilty pleasure when it comes to spending money. Thank God for libraries.
However, I had never thought of retiring before the age of 65 (or whatever the 'official' retirement age will be in the future) and was extremely impressed by the ERE-blog (the book should be on its way as well by now).

Still, I highly doubted that I was able to follow the blog's guidelines and live as 'strict' as Jacob did (and does).
Especially since my first boyfriend and their family were a lot less tight with their money - I 'loosened' up. That is, I became less frugal (even to the extent where I barely cooked my own food anymore, shame on me!)

However, I continued to refuse spending more money than I earned and somehow, I almost always managed to save some money. Even when things got really tight and I had (still have) to finance all my study expenses by myself - I still got by.

Said change in my financial situation, caused by a several accidents and illnesses few in the family once again made me realize that there was (or had to be) more to life. More to life than the 'typical career path' of studying, getting a good job and work hard at said job for 45+ years to finance a big house, expensive dinners and so on.

I also realized (or re-realized?) that spending (read: splurging) money on random things was not real happiness. Not to me anyhow. (Even though I can still rejoice over a new/ secondhand book, a quality bike, etc.)
So, I here I am. I decided to get really search for what matters for me and become a better person. I see ERE as a great way to do this because of the discipline it involves, but even more so because it gives you a definite goal.

So far, some of my plans and/ or accomplishments are:

I went 'back' to the gym and work more on my health because a) you only have one body and b) the required health insurance won't be getting any cheaper here. Also, I really hope to fix/ lessen my asthma - something which showed up after I gained too much weight. So I am doing some weight-lifting/ cross-training and overall more cardio focused exercises (spinning at least 1/week, planning to add some running into my scheme). I am learning to eat more healthy again. Which, for me, mostly translates to just eating the healthy things (something I already do) and no longer maintaining the unhealthy side-snacking habit which I had acquired over the years (WIP ;)).

So far: I lost 10kg (22lbs) by now and am looking to lose another 10kg before December this year.

I have also learned how to cook and garden (growing herbs and experimenting with vegetables) and am looking to further improve these and other DIY-skills in the future (permaculture, but also improve on my electronic skills, math-skills and overall teaching-skills for example).

Turn of the television (and computer) more often and grab myself a good and instructional book more often again. (Speaking of which: there are some great lists on both the blog and the forum, thanks for that!)

Also: get a good overview of my finances and possible ways to start saving up more.

Learn from other people (that definitely includes all the people here - I loved reading all the posts and especially the journals) and generally become a more useful and self-reliant person.
I hope to create a journal on this forum in the nearby future. In this journal I plan to keep track of all my personal goals, both financial and otherwise.

It should also help me with getting a more concrete plan and an actual overview of what I have and want, as well as the road towards said 'wants'. I have noticed that having an actual overview of e.g. one's finances allows one to see where the money goes (and also, where you can/ need to save money!)

Also, I know I sometimes want to do too much at once or the way in which I tend to lose track of the progress which I have already made when things get tough(er).
So.. I guess that's the end of my most likely too-long and slightly chaotic intro.
All the best and thank you all for contributing to this forum. It really inspired me. And of course, Jacob; thanks for creating this blog/ forum in the first place.

If you have any questions and/ or comments - fire away.
TL;DR : Dutch, female, 25 years, student Anthropology/ Public Governance Masters, works part-time as mail-woman and tutor (10-20 hours a week). Thrifty upbringing, got sloppier along the way but never managed to shake off her frugal roots and now has decided to 'rejoin' the fray and get ERE-serious.

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Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 10:31 am

Post by Aaldert »

Yay more Dutch people (hoi!). It seems pretty impossible to me here to even come anywhere near the usual savings rates mentioned in the forums in the Netherlands, but if you can keep housing cost down from the get-go (cheap social rent before you start making serious money) it just may go well! (Also, the 1.2% capital tax currently doesn't help if you're into serious saving).
Hope I didn't scare you :) Being money-wise always helps, because once you know where it's all going you can make a conscious choice about it, whereas most people (that I know) don't have a clue.
I'm looking forward to your plans and how they're progressing as an example of how it should be done!

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Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Post by Meliora »

Hi Aaldert!
Thanks for the welcome. I am aware that the ERE figures for the Netherlands might be (very) different as compared to e.g. the United States. Still, I had not even taken our lovely capital tax into account. Becoming (more) money-wise is definitely on my list ;)
However, I am attracted to ERE also (or perhaps mostly?) because of the attitude it requires, the kind of person it 'creates'. It is not just about (financial) independence for me, but also about a more conscious way of living. About being aware of my impact on the world as much as it is about learning what 'really' makes me 'tick'. About realizing that I can (and should) do with less and becoming a 'better' person because of it.

As a matter of fact: I could even see myself as having a more 'part-time' ERE by tutoring students (or having whatever job) for x hours a week but spending most of my time as a 'retired' person. (Jacob listed a really nice example of his old '4-hour work week' on the blog)
Either way, thanks again for the encouragement - you have not frightened me at all. As a matter of fact, I am excited about creating a journal. I have been keeping track of my finances more closely for precisely that reason; being able to produce some solid numbers instead of wondering how much I spent on this or that.

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Post by DutchGirl »

Welkom, Meliora :-)

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Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:33 pm

Post by ktn »

Welcome to the boards, Meliora. Another European here.
My guess is that Dutch cost-of-living and ERE figures cannot be very different from what people in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Finland, etc. have reported here. Or is it?
Yes it takes us longer, but we also have a good/functional healthcare and social system and a welfare net as last-ditch insurance should our well-laid plans really go wrong. This is something our American friends mostly do not have.
By "capital tax" I assume you mean your wealth tax: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_tax
How do you guys cope with that? In these days of low investment returns and negative real interest rates, wealth tax is a serious dis-incentive to saving. With the advent of the Eurozone, I wonder if citizens of countries with a wealth tax are choosing to hoard their savings instead in countries without?
I am not surprised there are many Dutch people here. If ther is anyone in Europe who can give the Scots a run for their nickel, you guys are it. ;-)
Maybe I have just had terrible luck, but 3 out of the 4 Dutch people I know are what even I would call cheap, not frugal (as in frugal = being cheap with myself, without causing harm nor inconvenience to others AND treating others financially equal to or better than I do to myself).'
I hope you guys don't take offence by my saying this.
I think the frugal aspects of Dutch people are commendable. Many of the posters here are proof of that. I also think Netherlands is a pretty country with friendly people and streets that are so clean you could eat off them (okay, maybe not in the big cities anymore).
In any case, welcome to the forums!

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Location: Netherlands/Austria

Post by J_ »

@ktn: wikipedia is wrong here.

Our wealth tax works as follows:

when a person has more than € 20.000 in assets (not his main house, not in art like precious paintings, not the things one uses), and those assets are the positive balance of assets minus debts (also mortgage debt) then those assets are yearly taxed by 1.2%.
So when I have no mortgage, an old master of Rembrand the painter and € 40000 I pay yearly 1.2% of 40000 - 20000= € 240 a year

But also we have the rule that every dividend, interest or other yield that I make with those € 40000 is untaxed, and every euro I loose by investing those € 40000 is not deductable.

I have no Rembrand, and my balance is positive so ktn, I cope with it by simply paying my taxes.
(ps you will understand now why prices of art have risen lately :)

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Post by DutchGirl »

That all Dutch are frugal is of course a stereotype. If you could understand Dutch, I could show you some blogs of Dutch people who got themselves into a lot of financial troubles by being big spenders.

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Post by Meliora »


First of all, thank you for the welcome. And for the kind words on Dutch people/ the Netherlands in general. Hearing foreigners/ immigrants talk about one’s own country helps me discover new things about ‘my’ country.

So no offense taken at all! There’s cheap Dutch people too, without a doubt. Just like there are frugal Dutch people and decidedly not-frugal ones. And everything in between, too. I am just sorry you had to run into the cheap people and hope your luck has turned for the better by now! (Or will do so in the future)
Having said that, good question on the wealth tax. I must admit that I have no real plan of ‘dealing’ with that one just yet (I don’t have really impressive savings yet either) But for now, I plan on ‘dealing’ with the tax/ expenses first and foremost by cutting as much of said expenses as possible. Try to be(come) as self-reliant as possible in a country like the Netherlands. Grow one’s own food, keep the health-insurance as low as possible. So no, not much of a plan here yet to deal with the tax specifically. (Yet another reason for me to stick around this forum!)

That all Dutch are frugal is of course a stereotype. If you could understand Dutch, I could show you some blogs of Dutch people who got themselves into a lot of financial troubles by being big spenders

Thank you for the welcome and very true indeed. Stereotypes are everywhere, but I must admit that I never really minded the ‘frugal/ cheap’ stereotype that we Dutch people have (had?) in the rest of the world. After all, the worst I could do was confirming the stereotype, eh? (That is, the ‘frugal’ one - or so I hope. Then again, I doubt anyone would like to think of him- or herself as ‘cheap’)

As for the (former?) big spender blogs: I think I have seen some (Dutch) examples of the kind of blogs you described. Still, those were mostly about people who used to be ‘big spenders’ and are now trying to get back into financial shape. I personally love those blogs especially because these people really start at the bare basics yet come up with some quite creative frugal ideas along the way.
Speaking of which: one of my favorite (Dutch) blogs is about a stay-at-home-mum who manages a frugal household with ten children. Nine of them still live at home, but she has a full-time task managing her household and makes a lot of things from scratch and overall is quite frugal. Still, her household 'feels' warm and very complete - if not more so than some of the households in my own environment! (Eenvoudigleven.blogspot.nl ) /spoiler out
Oh, and J_ - thanks for the information! Like I said, I am still educating myself in terms of finance (read: bare basics) and snippets of information like the one you posted are always welcome.

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Post by DutchGirl »

There are some good books about finances in the library, you might want to check them out. Some are about getting out of debt, others are about building wealth. Read several and form your own opinion after that:-)

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