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Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:16 pm
by herp
Congrats on moving into the new house!

Too bad that the deal fell through, but hopefully you will have a new buyer very soon.

Here's to a prosperous 2018 with a high savings rate :geek:

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:51 pm
by DutchGirl
New buyer of the old house has ... arrived. And will be actually buying with currently 99%-like certainty. That last 1 percent is the bank loan falling through or the buyer, I don't know, dying or falling terribly ill before they actually fork over the cash.
So, let's focus on the 99% chance and say that it's looking pretty good.

These last few months, I've spent all of my income on average, due to the move. Net worth is standing still, more or less. I am itching to see some progress again, but this should start happening with the next paycheck coming in, as all the bills have arrived and have been paid, even the city taxes have now already been paid for the year 2018.

I've also bought an electric bike by the way, which, come to think of it now, I'll use for the first time tomorrow instead of the train. The bike cost 800 euros after tax benefits, an average train trip I'm hoping to replace by biking costs 3-4 euros for the return ticket. So I'll break even after 200-250 workdays... Plus the bike does have the added benefit of leaving whenever I want it to leave. (But the disadvantage that it isn't guaranteed to be warm nor dry, but oh well, we've got clothes for that).
I'm hoping that it was a good decision. We'll see.

The stress from moving is slowly disappearing. But now at work people are ill with the flu all the time, and I'm taking on some of their shifts (which earns me more money, but costs time ) . Plus my in-laws are suffering from health problems. They're now age 78 and 80, so it's not a big surprise. But that's another cause of sorrow and stress.

Income January: 3400, expenses 2590 (ouch).

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:52 am
by figmenter
I'm interest to hear the specifics on the tax benefits wrt electric bike. GF is looking for options to tackle a longer commute. Any insights you can offer we greatly appreciate.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:20 pm
by DutchGirl
Figmenter, this is a typically Dutch thing. One's workplace can offer a "bikeplan" as extra benefit, and then it's allowed to be a tax-free benefit. So as an employee, you can choose a bike to your liking, and your boss can give it to you (pay the bike for you) instead of pre-tax salary.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:47 am
by radamfi
Could I ask what bike you have bought? I bought a Batavus electric bike 5 years ago from a British bike shop that specialises in Dutch bikes. It was the cheapest Batavus one available and would have cost about 1600 euros new in a Dutch bike shop, but more for me as it was imported. The range was not as good as I had hoped so I bought a spare battery from a bike shop in Rotterdam. After about a year, the range of the original battery started to fall dramatically. The British bike shop wanted to sell me a new battery so I found a company in Utrecht that refurbishes batteries to slightly better than its old range for about half price, which has been good up to now, but the range from new battery I bought in Rotterdam is now very low. I now have to decide whether to refurbish that battery or get a new bike.

Have you considered what you will do when the battery range goes down?

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:46 am
by DutchGirl
The Dutch Consumentenbond (consumers union) had the "Batavus Stream" as best performing bike for 2017. So the brand you have is still doing some good stuff.

They recommended a Stella bike as "highest value to money ratio" - so that's what I bought.

And so far so good, but of course I only bought it a few weeks ago, and have been sick this last week, so have not been biking at all. I'm hardly an expert :-)

I did get a three-year guarantee on the battery; if it fails before the three years are up, I'll get a new one. If it fails after, I'll probably buy a new one, myself. Who knows how much improvement we'll see in batteries over the next three years, again.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:57 am
by DutchGirl
Income February: 4300, expenses 2500. So that's a pretty nice savings rate of 42%, even though the expenses are still pretty high.

The income was high due to some work I did in 2017 that got paid only now; that's roughly 1300 of the total income. It won't happen every month...

The expenses in January and February are actually a bit inflated due to me now paying a mortgage, but not yet receiving the tax compensation for paying mortgage interest. So I expect a nice tax refund every year from now on due to this. I could ask for a monthly prepayment of this refund, but I also have other income and other expenses that make the estimation of the total tax refund hard, so to play it safe I'm not going to ask for this monthly prepayment, and instead will take the refund once per year.

Due to the stock market taking a small tumble, networth is actually slightly below January's, but yeah, that happens...

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:56 am
by Suzanne
Haven't read in a while, but wow you've made nice progress in the last years!

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:33 am
by DutchGirl
Thanks, Suzanne. Always nice to know that people read this :-D

Income March: 2900, expenses 2150. So a savings rate of 26% for the month, which is low. However, I spent almost 700 euros on an annual contribution to a charity (and will get a refund for 40% of that at tax time), the mortgage interest compensation hasn't arrived yet, plus I heard we're going to get a small raise at work which will mean recalculations of our salaries from January 1st.
I guess I'll have to calculate a "true" savings rate for 2018 at the end of the year, when all the tax refunds etc are known.

The old house has finally sold - including the transfer of money and keys and what-have-you. So it's done. Which is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. No more trips to the old house to make sure nothing's leaking, the central heating is still working, the flowering plants near the window look healthy, etc. That's really a load of my mind, so I'm very happy with that. The proceeds will go to my boyfriend as it was his house. And I do hope the new owner will enjoy it as much as we did (or more).

At our new house, I'd say the first two floors are starting to look nice, now. Things are settling down in designated areas, most boxes are unpacked. And after a bit of confusion, we now also know of most items where we put them. The third floor is still a bit chaotic, but we're working on that. So I feel like I'm settling down, too. Less tasks on the to do-list, and the tasks on the list aren't urgent or important. We can live well with the house as it is now.

This week I had the week off, but I spent most of it on administrative tasks, so it wasn't a lot of fun. On the other hand, better to do them now than to have to do them in between work, right? Also, some of the administrative tasks I'll be paid for, so I can't complain about that. Yesterday and today I've been working on the income tax paperwork for 2017. It looks like I'll get a small refund for 2017. I hadn't prepaid taxes for my side-income (this is allowed in the NL as long as you don't owe large amounts come tax time), but then again I also had deductible charitable expenses and the mortgage interest that I paid in the last quarter of 2017. So I think it'll total up to a small refund for 2017 of 500 euros or so.

My net worth is around 145k euros now. In three years time, this could be around 240k euros (me adding 20k/year plus some gains) - on top of that I have a pension plan that would start paying out at age 70 for more than what I'd need (even taking some cuts into account). So when I have 240k euros or so, I could quit my current job and withdraw 10k/year plus supplement with side income of roughly 5k/year or so. Alternatively, I could at that point go "extremely" parttime at my current workplace, work 20 hours per week for a few years, which would mean I'd still earn more than what I'd spend, allowing for an undisturbed further increase of my net worth.

I'm thinking about these options. I'm also, again, realizing that doing "nothing" won't really be my thing. I think I'd go crazy if I didn't talk to other people and didn't feel useful and appreciated in some way. Then again, right now I don't have the right work/life balance just yet, so I'll definitely work less when I have reached that 240k (ish). I still have plenty of time to think about these plans and also perhaps to start working on some of them.

I also realize that I'm already very fortunate to have this much in savings and investments. Most people here don't. Most of my colleagues don't, and thus I see some of them struggling with health problems and general exhaustion to make it to age 68, which is the official retirement age here right now. They were born in 1950 and are thus part of the babyboom generation - and the "early" babyboomers from 1945 to 1947 or so were allowed to retire at age 63 or so, or sometimes even years earlier with some "early retirement" offer, but the later ones aren't allowed to do so by the government. (If you retire earlier, it's on your own dime). I'm happy that this won't be me; and I'm always happy when one of these colleagues does reach age 68 and can leave. It helps them (and they're dear colleagues), but it also helps with productivity at work...

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 2:17 am
by DutchGirl
Income April: 3100 euros, expenses 3400 ... so a negative savings rate. 1000 euros went to charities, 1000 euros went to paying down the mortgage. I somehow spent roughly 100 euros cash that I can't think of anymore what I spent it on. That's why personally I like paying by card better - I can at least see WHERE I spent something, which might give a hint as to what I spent it on.

I've clustered the charitable expenses during the first half of each year. I've committed to these over the years and I'm happy to contribute to these causes. Plus, I'm getting roughly 40% back at tax time - at least, I'm getting 40% of 2017's charitable expenses back come tax time 2018, so in a few weeks... But it does have an impact on my savings rate during the first six months of the year.

Total income after taxes for 2018 so far 13,700. Total expenses so far 10,640, so a savings rate of 22%...

I'm looking forward to May's paycheck, as it will almost be the double amount due to the "vacation money" that we always get in May. This is of course part of my total compensation, so I'm glad to report that from 2019 onwards I can choose to have this "vacation money" paid to me in 12 equal shares over the months. Currently the company keeps it all until May. I'd rather have it right away! Same willl be true for the extra Christmas paycheck, which you can then also choose to have paid to you in 12 equal payments over the years. I think I can handle that responsibility...

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 2:58 am
by NickHalden
I love how you never seem to cut on charitable givings. I personally try to do to the same thing but nowhere near the numbers that you do.

The 240k goal seems quite low but reasonable if you can live off 10k a year. But don't you feel some sort of dependency on your boyfriend that way? Maybe I do not understand it correctly but you cannot live in that new house by yourself off that 10k right? Not judging in any way, but for me I would never retire if my wife wouldnt be able to do so at the same time. If you want please share your thoughts on this.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 4:22 pm
by DutchGirl
You're right, Nick, I couldn't live in this house on my own with an annual income of 15k euros, but I can afford half of the housing costs on 15k/year. However, if we were ever to break up, it would be possible & fun for me to move to another part of the country where houses are 30-40% cheaper, and I would probably buy a smaller and thus even cheaper house there, too. So that would be affordable on 15k of annual income.

My boyfriend wants to live in this specific area of the country. He would prefer a more expensive house than what we have now. So we compromised on this house, and for now in this area of the country. What's next? Well, we've just moved into this house and we are probably going to stay here for quite some time, so we'll see by then. Lots of things can change in a decade or more.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:05 am
by DutchGirl
Income in May: 5200 euros (lots of vacation money), expenses 2700 euros.
Total income after taxes for 2018 so far 18,900. Total expenses so far 13,340, so a savings rate of 30%.

Charitable expenses of 700 euros, mortgage payment of 1000 euros roughly. June is going to be the last month with high expenses on charities for 2018, after that my expenses should go down - meaning I'll hopefully be able to see that savings rate rise a bit more.

I've "designed" an asset allocation for myself a few years ago, with a specific ratio of bonds, stocks and savings. I also at that point decided what I wanted my actual components to be in the end, so if which specific fund I'd like to have how much before pulling the plug. I'm not giving details here, because my asset allocation and my choices are good for me personally in my situation, and others will have other ideas for their situation - I don't think it's worth discussing. But this month I reached the desired amount for one of my funds, so that's a milestone. Of all seven of my desired funds, I now have three down, and four more to go.

A colleague of mine is reducing her work hours, so our boss asked us who wanted to work more hours. So from July onwards, I'll be working 32 hours per week instead of 28 hours per week at my main job. Still way less hours than many other people, but my schedule is irregular, and it will probably mean working three 8 hour- and two 4 hour-days per week, including lots of evenings. In return I'm planning to "let go" of one of my side income streams that pays way less per hour than my main job (its benefit was that it was more flexible and the work-from-home type of thing). Hopefully this will help me to keep a nice balance in my life, as I'm prone to burnout/depression if I don't get enough time to unwind.

We still need to get some stuff done at the house, like changing the garden, isolating the walls and changing the windows to more energy-efficient ones. This will cost money, but at least some of these things will also need to be done only once and will then produce ongoing savings, as well. However, it's been hard to set things in motion over the last month or so. So these things will be on my to do list for June...

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 3:06 am
by Seppia
It's so great that you contribute this much to charities.
I love to read/hear from people like you (or my little sister, who does the same) because it keeps me humble. I also contribute to charities in larger amounts than the average, but less than you are doing.
Keep being awesome.

p.s. I was just in Amsterdam for work this last weekend, got back to Italy yesterday. I remembered it was a beautiful city but not that it was THAT beautiful.
Without all the junkie tourists that flock to the city because of the weed it would be amazing

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 7:14 am
by wolf
DutchGirl wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 1:05 am
But this month I reached the desired amount for one of my funds, so that's a milestone. Of all seven of my desired funds, I now have three down, and four more to go.
Well done DutchGirl!

I learned myself that having a few milestones along the way to FI is very motivating. I recently defined a milestone for my journey. I'd like to reach a certain amount of money by the end of 2019. That is shortterm and motivates me to reach it.

Also congrats to you total income in 2018. And with your increased working hours you could even earn and save more. Momentum is on your side I guess. Keep on "riding that wave" :-) But also take care for yourself in order to avoid a burnout.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 4:28 pm
by DutchGirl
Seppia wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 3:06 am
p.s. I was just in Amsterdam for work this last weekend, got back to Italy yesterday. I remembered it was a beautiful city but not that it was THAT beautiful.
Without all the junkie tourists that flock to the city because of the weed it would be amazing
May I suggest you take a train to Leiden, Delft and/or Gouda the next time that you're in the area? Same type of city style, less junkies. Maybe you like it even more...

PS. I logged in again to share one "win" from May. My boyfriend's not very enthusiastic about (my plans for) early retirement. He wonders what I'll be doing when I'm retired. However, I've started tracking his networth once per month, and I've seen it grow a lot over the last few years. He recently started on a work project that'll probably last for three years and give a reasonably high income during that time. I told him that by my estimate, with his current assets plus three more years of investing, he could very well be financially "set for life" by that time. The win: he really did like that thought! Perhaps he won't stop working right then, but it seems like at least he wants to reach this milestone.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Wed May 30, 2018 5:38 pm
by Seppia
Will definitely Italy try to take a day to travel next time I'm there, thanks for the recommendations

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 12:44 am
by Eureka
Great to read about your progress, but hard to read that you think that not working equals "doing nothing". There are so many better and more fullfilling things to do than to be employed. You can study and gain new knowledge about whatever you desire, make smaller and bigger projects of your own, have more time to spend in nature and with people of your own choice (and not those who by chance happen to be employed at the same place as you), time to read and get fully absorbed, time to take better care of yourself, time to let things happen when you want them to and not having to postpone until weekend/vacation/old age.

Even without a job, I have so many things I'd like to do that I have to prioritize my time.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:27 am
by thegreatvoid
You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:00 pm
by DutchGirl
The funny thing is, Eureka and thegreatvoid, that I actually believe that my job has some meaning. I work for the blood bank. I make sure that the people who come to donate their blood are safe and well (1). And I make sure that the blood they donate is safe for the patients (1). I believe that making sure that safe blood is present in the hospitals for the patients is something that is valuable. Zooming out twenty steps, I think that helping to save people's life is generally a good thing (2).

So... to me it's relatively easy to see the benefits and value of my job and that someone does it. Me, in this case. I think by the time that I'm FIRE I'll gladly retire and let someone else do it (and earn the income from it), but I like the idea of it, and I will probably have to create new meaning for my life if I quit this job (3). And new challenges. And new structure.
Sometimes the work invigorates me and gives me energy. Sometimes it's tiring.
I'll definitely have to adapt to a life without this job, and that's okay.

(1) Very rarely this doesn't completely come true and a donor faints or gets a big bruise, or a patient gets a fever, but all in all my job adds more safety.

(2) In general ... we can discuss about whether saving a life is always worthwhile, say for example giving a specific terminally ill patient blood just means he lives one more week in pain and discomfort, or one more week in an unconscious state of mind, and then dies anyway. Worthwhile?

(3) I used to really really need to see what value my life could create for others, or else I didn't see a point at all. Talked to a psychologist who pointed out that that's just one way to see things. It probably has to do something with my past. I am a bit more relaxed about this now, but I'm guessing others still have less trouble with this "life's meaning" stuff.