DutchGirl's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

First half of the windows are installed. I think it's awesome, already. I might be biassed, though :-)

Before they came to install the first half, I went around the house to check the old windows. There were more single-pane windows than I had realized. I thought only the small windows were single-pane, but apparently also the big ones on the first floor were. So it's extra good that we're replacing them now, and now I do think we'll be more comfortable in winter and perhaps see a reduced gas bill.

Today (Tuesday) the remaining windows will be installed.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

The windows look great. They did eat all my surplus for a month or two, but oh well.

I did a lot of other things in the holiday-week as well. Bought two more bookcases and installed them (together with my parents who dropped by). Installed a carbon monoxide alarm and fire alarms. Cleaned up the study and the storage room - and brought some stuff to secondhand stores and to the dump. Did a good sweep of the garden (will of course be necessary again soon because everything grows right now). Had the plumber over to repair a malfunctioning ventilation system. And the most time-consuming job for me: created a USB-stick which stores all the important paperwork from my guy & me. Think things like investment paperwork, diplomas, work contracts, a copy of the will et cetera. It's now all up to date and I gave my parents a copy too to put in their safe.

Pfew! But I was and am very happy with the results.

It's back to work this week. But while I worked Monday&Tuesday, today I had the day off, so that's a nice easy start of the work life again. I brought the ebike to the store today for the free one-year maintenance (which I had done after 1.5 years, oh well). So that's another chore done. Tomorrow I'm working in an airconditioned environment and I'm looking forward to that because it's quite hot here in the Netherlands. So for once, I don't mind working so much. Things should cool down by the weekend, so a few more days to go now.

My guy is like 6 months away from becoming FI - and it's a comfortable FI for him, I'm pretty sure he will spend less than 3% of his net worth per year; and then twenty years from now he gets an extra influx of cash from the social security system. He's still working and he will continue to work for at least another year to finish his current project. I actually also have no doubt that if a new interesting project comes by, he'll jump on it. But he is also slowly getting used to the idea that he has enough money. So I'm curious what he'll do. We'll see!

steveo73
Posts: 1432
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by steveo73 »

Hi Dutch Girl - good to hear about your man who is getting close to becoming FI. I get the impression you are sick of your job. I don't have any advice other than I can relate.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Yeah, I'm quite sick of some aspects of this job of mine. But there's a mix of good things and bad things.

Let's list the bad things first:

1. In the ten years that I've worked there, it has been about downsizing, layoffs, budget cuts all the time.
2. Colleagues complain. A lot. They may be correct (see my item number 1) - but it doesn't help with the atmosphere.
3. Sometimes it's very busy and it's hard to get your priorities straight while you're dealing with several people who all need your help.
4. The working hours are irregular and often in the evenings.
5. I took on a new temporary extra task two years ago which is more about politics than I personally care for.

Now for the good things:

1. This job in healthcare needs doing. I get to feel useful for doing it.
2. Colleagues are happy when they find out they're working a shift with me. They express that happiness and that makes me smile.
3. Most often I feel like I'm capable of doing this job. At the end of the shift I can most often feel that it was a job well done.
4. The working hours are irregular - so sometimes I have the full weekday off and can go do anything I like to do.
5. The new temporary extra task did mean learning some new things and having some new experiences.

For now I'm planning to hang on for at least one more year, because then the temporary extra task ends and I won't leave my colleagues hanging with that. I am considering reducing my work hours some more maybe five to ten months from now.

wolf
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by wolf »

I'd focus on the good things, especially #2 :-)

herp
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by herp »

I agree with wolf. The fact that colleagues are happy to work with you is something that I would consider a big plus. I'd go as far as saying it's one of the best qualities you can have as an employee.

rube
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by rube »

Hi DG, I have learned there is always/everywhere "something". On the other hand, in some places it is more then others and it can be too much.
My 2 cents: make sure you don't get in a situation it affects your health, i.e. burned out, stressed too much etc. Apart, from that +1 on Wolf en enjoy the things outside work.
For myself it has helped me to focus on milestones not too far away, like you mentioned the 5-10 months before you wil like reduce the hours.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

I'm doing terrible so far for 2019. Until Sept 30: income 34,500 euros , invested/saved 12,200 euros including mortgage equity - for a savings rate of 35%

To be fair, two things:
1. Over 3000 euros of my expenses went to maintaining/repairing our house. Now we have isolated windows, the plumber fixed an issue with the pipes which could have gotten nasty, and the garden is more to our liking now (and greener), and still relatively easy to maintain. Next up will probably be the replacement of the roof in a year or two - sigh. There will always be something when you own a house. But I hope that the average annual cost is lower than what we paid this year.
2. For the full year of 2019, I should receive over 4000 euros back come tax time next year due to deductions for mortgage interest and charitable gifts.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Six more months before I'll reduce my hours, a holiday next week and a 3-week-holiday in March (so actually something like 3 more months with normal hours, then an almost-monthlong holiday, then 1 more month with normal hours, and then the reduction in hours ... I should be able to do that).

Ten more months before I can say goodbye to the extra task that is more political in nature than I care for.

And then perhaps at some point a career switch (for a few more years). We'll see. I sometimes feel like I want to say goodbye when things are still fun and everybody still likes me. I can be quite sulky when I don't like what I'm doing.

In October I prepaid some of the gas & electricity for the next ten years. I bought kWh's and gas cubic meters, so now I hope the prices go up big time so that I can point out to my boyfriend and to you guys how smart I was for prepaying. But we'll see.

I bought a new phone for 185 euros (roughly $200), the previous one was 2 years old but after a few unlucky falls had trouble connecting to the provider. For the new one I now also bought a better protective sleeve than I had for the old one. Apparently clumsy me needs that to be able to keep a phone for longer!

I developed some small income on the side this month. The Dutch government gives a grant for organisations who do R&D, but you have to fill in paperwork for that of course and that's what I have been doing for a small company. They pay me per hour, and if they get the grant they will probably receive about 100 times what they spent on me. So we both win. Perhaps in a couple of years I will dare to up my fee, or to go for a "no cure no pay" scenario where I ask for say 5% or so of the grant if they win it. But for now I get paid per hour and am happy with that.

rube
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by rube »

The reduced hours sounds good. It will be April before you know.
The gig seems nice. Is that still the "WBSO" arrangement? I don't know how much you get per hour but would recommend not be too shy with your wage 8-)

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

The political task at work (it's called a works council apparently) sometimes really sucks.

I had a meeting with the big boss two days ago. I made a remark to her about a very very short and badly-worded "evaluation" that her team produced for the works council to read. My boss said I wasn't giving credit were it was due, "we're professionals too, you know", she said. I decided not to pursue it further. But anyone with some scientific background would agree with me that the thing was shoddy.

Thinking about it now, I think she knew my criticism was spot-on. And maybe the whole "evaluation" text was completely bogus - sucked from someone's big thumb as we say in the Netherlands. Bullshit. Maybe that's why she blew up on me, to distract from my "accusation" that they didn't do their job well. It worked by the way, but we'll meet again. Muhaha. And sigh. This is actually not what I hoped to be able to do during my stint in the works council. Listen to your employees, folks. Sometimes they do have a point.

By the way, I'm on the one hand pretty sure that they won't fire me for being critical. There are not enough employees to do the "real" work that I do (for which I have some suggestions to fix that, but they're not listening), and I also have protection by law as long as I'm on the council. And on the other hand, even if they do - so what? I have a nice stash saved up already, I'd just take on a different job for just a few years. Shrug.

And yeah, Rube, I worked on filling in some WBSO forms, so yes, that could be one of my sources of income over the next couple of years.

My boyfriend's really close to reaching his FI number (likely within 3 months now), so that's pretty awesome. This also makes me more confident, as, to be honest, if the worst came to happen and somehow I wouldn't be able to produce enough income for my expenses anymore, he would and could support me if needed. I'm not planning on it, but it's a safety net that's there.

I analyzed our natural gas use this year (so far) versus last year. I found out that you can use "degree-day"-corrections to correct for some winters being more severe than others and natural gas use being higher in those colder winters. So far it does seem that probably because of putting in more insulating windows we reduced the gas use from 0.3 cubic meters per degree-day to now 0.2 cubic meters per degree-day. So 33% less natural gas use. So I expect our electricity/gas bill to be lower from now on due to better insulation and due to prepaying gas/electricity for the next ten years. Nice.

herp
Posts: 152
Joined: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:11 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by herp »

Sounds like you are realizing more of the benefits of FI. Not being forced to have a specific job is indeed a nice perk! Sometimes you just have to decide if it's worth the effort to speak up about things that aren't working as they should be. I'm still early in my working life, but I've experienced similar tendencies as you describe just about everywhere that I've worked now. It's hard for organizations to change - habit and office politics are both powerful forces. The latter in particular I still haven't quite been able to reconcile with.

Along similar lines, a good manager is worth their weight in gold.

Saving on energy consumption is definitely helpful. The place I'm currently renting could really use some improvement with respect to window insulation. I reckon it wouldn't even cost that much, but alas, it's scheduled for 5+ years down the road.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

My boyfriend has reached his FI-number! He was happy to know that. He is self-employed, and his plans are to finish the current project that he's working on, and to then take a longer break between projects. Also, he now has a new number that is higher - so he's going to work towards being some kind of fatFIRE. But he knows that he could quit working forever if he wanted to; that the safety net is there. And he says it helps with his stress levels, knowing this.

Things are quite rough currently at my workplace. A combination of various people falling ill (hurray for my flu shot, I've not been ill yet) meaning I'm called quite last minute to work an extra day, the work load being slightly higher than usual, and management ordering us to work in new ways that are, let's say, not very practical (and thus take even more time). Oh, and as I'm also on the works council, there's also a reorganisation going to happen of a different part of the organisation where we are involved - that takes time too, of course.

I'm going to work 4 hours less per week starting in May or so and I am looking very much forward to that right now.
Last edited by DutchGirl on Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:33 am, edited 3 times in total.

CS
Posts: 569
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by CS »

Wow! Congrats to the boyfriend - and you! That was fast.

Regarding work - I think people reflexively will argue back, even if they agree with you! I think someone with better social skills than I could figure out how to say things that would give room for the other person to agree, rather than feel obligated to argue the other side. I'll also watched myself do it. If anyone here knows how to present things without getting automatic pushback, I'd love to learn.

Of course your manager could have taken the comment and thanked you for it. Sigh.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

CS wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:04 am
Regarding work - I think people reflexively will argue back, even if they agree with you! I think someone with better social skills than I
...and I. I'm also not the best in that regard. But yeah, learning...
In this case, I think there was very little else I think I could have done, except keeping my mouth shut. Of course, that can also be a part of your social skills, knowing when to shut it :lol:

CS
Posts: 569
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:24 pm

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by CS »

Lol, that is my resolution for 2020... not saying stuff! It's going okay. I think the personal stress reduction will be worth it. :)

rube
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by rube »

Hi DG, it is impressive your BF has already reached his FI number! Congrats to him (and you!).
Re. work, I hope it is not too bad and it will be getting easier as of May for you.

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

I made a budget for 2020, and the first few months are going to be tough, moneywise. I'm spending more than what is coming in, meaning that money will have to come from savings. This is due to the fact that I put my charitable donations at the beginning of the year (to get them over with) and that city tax also comes knocking this time of year. Things should get better by May.

So far, I did not mess up the budget in January, and on the upside I also got some extra income in January and will also get some in February. (Due to working more hours than what my workload should be and getting those hours paid out to me). So that should make things a little easier.

In the workplace things are tough, I'd say. I've now got one new asshole colleague, H, who I can't avoid - he thinks he knows everything, but he doesn't, and I get to clean up the mess he makes. It's hard to avoid him for now, although I hope our complaints about him will mean something in the end. I am working more hours than planned, and while that has the upside of a higher salary, it also has the downside of not having as much free time as I'd like. This may continue until the end of the year, especially if I choose to pick up some more responsibilities. I'm tempted to do so, but not completely sure whether I should. (In May I will start working less hours officially; this may also mean that I'll indeed work less hours than I do now, but probaby still more hours than what my contract will say).

DutchGirl
Posts: 1250
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by DutchGirl »

Money

Two weeks ago I’ve sold some bonds I had and am now buying low-fee ETFs with the money. I put in six buying orders running for a month with lower and lower buying prices, and now four out of six were honored and the two last ones may be executed as well sometime in the next few weeks. After that, I’m mostly out of money (except a small emergency fund and my paychecks coming in) so I’ll just have to sit tight and wait. I guess I hadn’t *quite* anticipated the level of panic, I could have waited longer with buying, but oh well.

I’m updating my net worth every three months. It’s not going to look pretty at the beginning of April, but we’ll see.

My spending is doing quite okay. I’m staying within the budget. I’ve also prepared my tax paperwork, my MIL’s tax paperwork, and the tax and administrative paperwork for my boyfriend’s company, so I’m feeling quite accomplished here. For our personal and MIL’s tax paperwork, we’re getting refunds but the money will take some months to arrive.

Work

At work, H got fired. Yes, there is some good news in the world, still! So far, no replacement has been hired, so I’m still working more hours to get all the work done, but at least I have to spend less time on first cleaning up his mess! We still have to talk to our supervisor on why things went so horribly wrong and how to prevent that from happening the next time (or catch it sooner), but yeah.

So… I worked a lot more hours than expected in February. (I will get paid for this). I have cancelled my request for working less hours from May going forward, as the work load already is way too high for my colleagues and I. So I will keep working my hours as I've done before, at least until January 2021 when I'm taking a sabbatical.

Due to working at the blood bank and the COVID-19 going around, I cut short my planned holiday in March and will also be working a lot more hours than originally planned in March. I’m putting in some effort to not get ill myself (we’re all at red alert on hygiene at the workplace where we meet 80+ blood donors per day, who hopefully are not ill but you never know), but on the other hand, yesterday we had a friend over who has just visited Barcelona, Spain. Not a current known epicenter of the disease, but who are we kidding here? We will only know what's happening now in two weeks or so. I will still be on holiday (hopefully) starting now and for the next 1.5 weeks, so I’ll try to maintain my health in this time period. We’ll see.

House

We still see a 30% or so reduced use of natural gas per degreeday – so this is already more or less corrected for differences in temperatures in different years.
The city gave us a city tax bill based on, according to them, a value increase of the house of over 15% in one year. The value went from 300k in Jan 2018 to 350k in Jan 2019 according to the city. That’s ridiculous, by the way. The housing market is hot, but not *that* hot. I have officially protested (can’t be bothered to find the official English word for this) against this, because the houses they used for comparison are not comparable. I sent the city the appraisal we had done on the house in Jan 2019 and it said the value was closer to 325k. So I hope they will correct this and our tax bill will be slightly reduced. I hear mixed reports on this process – some say that you will just get a letter from the city that says “we’re right, your request is denied” and some say therefore you will need to get a professional bureau to do the protesting for you. Others have reported that the city lowered the house’s potential value when they protested. We’ll see.

Personal

In November/December or so I was wondering whether I was depressed again. Now things are looking up again. Might be the increased hours of daylight. The improved situation at work might be helpful as well (H messed things up, but he got fired and during that process my colleagues and I were told that we are doing the right things – I need that confirmation sometimes). And I’m a natural worrier, but I’ve found in earlier stressful episodes (like when my sister was really ill, or when I had a health scare) that I can perform under stress. And then when things get better you’ll find me on the couch under a blanket, whimpering and whining. I wish knowing that the stressful times aren’t as bad as I think they will be would make me worry less. I guess I’m learning this a bit as I grow older and get more life experience, but I’m not 100% there yet.

rube
Posts: 662
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: DutchGirl's journal

Post by rube »

Hi DG, I am glad things and work look better - though a bit worried for you now you have to work more and with the COVID-19 going around (and being in contact with quite some different people?). Be safe.
Last edited by rube on Tue Mar 17, 2020 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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