TravelingTrader´s Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:01 pm

Hello everybody,
After some time still reading, I am glad to find like-minded people.

I started with a kind of ERE lifestyle about 1 ½ years ago, without knowledge about this community. Fortunately I´ve found you and now I just want to share some of my story:
I am male, live in Germany and my age is in the mid 30th.
Five years ago I´ve lost everything; my GF, the flat we lived in, most savings and my job.
So I started over again, took a new challenging job, relocated into an expensive city and participated at the rat race. I lived and worked there for about 4 years, started reading (YMOYL, Millionaire next door, 4h workweek, Robert Kiyosaki…) and began to save money for unknown further investments. By working for a bank I also started to trade stocks and read about the stock market. I realized, wasting my hard earned money for electronics and big flat screen TV´s isn’t that exiting as expected. At this point I pulled the trigger, with some savings, and left the job.
Next I relocated into a cheaper city and rented a flat half as expensive as before. I took a six month semi-retirement to discover how I should go further. This time was a great experience which opened my mind in many different ways.
Because I worked in IT my whole life, I started as a freelancer consultant one year ago attending a 12 month contract. Unfortunately this involved weekly traveling (~600km).

Therefore rented a small apartment onside and used my car for the travel arrangements. While driving I listen to audio books. (Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie…)
As I write, the contract is finished tomorrow and I have to deal with new decisions.
Within the last year I was able to save about 65% of my monthly earnings directly into my investment account. (Which I don't touch; just use it to trade) My additional savings can finance a sabbatical easy.
Starting October 1st I will begin this sabbatical to improve my investment knowledge. I want to trade stocks and take as much time as possible to learn more about the market and investing. I also have to put a lot of work into my trading plan.

It´s also planned to begin daily sport sessions as well as fresh and healthy eating.
So, there are some questions left:
What should I do with my 10y old car? It´s paid, not very expensive but there are some upcoming repairs. If I decide to take another project or job after my sabbatical, I´ll probably need a car. But living in the city, a car is a big liability. I know I have to get rid of it, which I am prepared to do. Eventually I will find a contract near where I live, which makes this decision easy.
2nd my sport-motorcycle. It´s paid too, it´s a waste of money but I enjoy riding it. Indeed, if I retire I want to ride my motorcycle all around the world every time. So eventually I will trade this mens toy into something more traveling advisable.
I track the cost of my living on a daily basis since about two years.
And here are my actual monthly expenses:
Rent: 450€ + 350€ project room

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: 640€

Grocery (meals and drinks): ~300€

Eating out (mostly canteen): ~70€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home/10€ mobile)

Car + fuel: ~400€

Entertainment and other: ~100€

Tax accounting 35€
The outgoings are high because of business expenses. They will decrease after the contract ends. It is really unbelievable, how expensive it is to work.
I´ve planned to ERE completely @350-400K / 6% = 21-24K/year (~15-18K after tax) which are about 1250-1500€ (1700-2000$) monthly (~20% archived). Should be suitable and can be done within the next 5-10 years.
To archive ERE I´ve decided to work as freelancer followed by a short semi-retirement to reschedule. As I tried already, this seems to be the best life/work balance for me.
Comments are highly welcome, because I can´t talk with friends or family about this topic.
Thanks for reading.

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Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:45 pm

Post by Boater » Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:51 am

Welcome Traveling Trader,

I would like to make a comment about the cost of your health insurance. I am not sure if any insurance companies in your country offer what we in the USA call a high deductible health plan (HDHP) but you may want to check around. The premiums are much lower on HDHPs because they offer no coverage for the first few thousand dollars. As a healthy male in my late 20s I can sign up for a HDHP with a deductible of $5000 for only $52 per month.

Posts: 489
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:03 am

Post by Hoplite » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:29 am

Welcome! I enjoyed reading about your journey very much--very inspiring that you have come this far in a short time after losing so much.
What struck me is the statement that "It is really unbelievable, how expensive it is to work." As someone who has been self-employed most of my adult life, I fully understand this; I have spent far more to work than to support myself. I also live in the city, where a car is a liability in many ways, and I got rid of mine many years ago.
I would get rid of the car, unless it is very difficult to acquire one where you live. In the U.S., one can buy a car at any time in any place at just about any price, so there is no advantage in keeping an idle car. If your next contract requires a car, price in the depreciation and operating expenses. If you work local with no car, you can offer a price advantage. If you do not do this type of job-costing, you will not really know how much you are making or how to properly price your work. And spending money in anticipation of some future job usually does not pay.
But I would keep the motorcycle if you enjoy it, until you either trade for something else or tire of it.
Best of luck to you!

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Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:21 pm

Post by HSpencer » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:29 am

Health insurance: 640€
Hope the above is a typo? Your saying that you pay 640 a month? Just for yourself? I know we are talking Euros so your in the EU somewhere, but if the UK then what about the NHS? Must not be in the UK.

Well, everything seems to be fair otherwise. I don't know about this unless your really making some bongo bucks I don't see your expenses as worth it where you are. You could have a good easy job in the US, pull in 2 grand a month and live in the South, say somewhere like Alabama or Tennessee and do really good just yourself. If your working for a big big fee on a job to job basis, then your probably right on with your plans. I seem to think your deal could be easier on you with a change on that health insurance. Do you have some kind of pre-existing illness that jacks up the costs?

Anyway, sounds like you got a plan and a good goal!! Best wishes!

Posts: 267
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:16 pm

Post by palmera » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:34 pm

How much do you have in your ERE fund at the moment? By what date do you want to completely ERE?

Posts: 1090
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by DutchGirl » Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:47 pm

I know Germany is different from the Netherlands, but we pay 100 euros per month for basic health insurance (covering all hospital stuff and visits to the general practitioner). Maybe Germany is a bit different when you're self-employed, but so much?
Welcome to this forum and I hope to read more inspiring stories.

Posts: 188
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:28 pm
Location: NL

Post by simplex » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:36 am

640 euro may sound a lot, but I think in the german health care system this would also provide insurance for children if you had them.
@dutchgirl yes, basic insurance in the Netherlands is 100 euro, but you also have to pay a part depending on your income (together with taxes).

That's 7.75 % of your first €33.427 earned (max €2590 per year) + AWBZ (also "included in taxes) 12,15% of your first 32.738 euro earned (max euro 3977). So together, on a monthly basis you could be paying around euro 647 per month for your health insurance in the Netherlands!!! That's what you pay now working.

The good thing for ERE is that you primarily pay the 100 euro per month once you don't work anymore.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:19 am

Hello everybody, first week off work – feels good but many tasks to do.

Thanks for all replies.
One additional expense: Bought 2 pair of shoes. One pair of black business shoes and a pair of Gore-Tex shoes for the upcoming autumn. Shopped at a factory outlet and paid 145€ instead of 200€.
Beside, today I received an invitation to an interview. I will check the offer and decide after knowing the details.
About the car: A friend recommended a fair prized garage to where I brought it for service today. Numbers will follow next time.
Health insurance is mandatory here and will cost not less than ~150€ - If the earnings aren’t more than ~850€/month. Otherwise the amount rises with the earnings.
If I got employed I don’t have to worry about this because health insurance is part of every package.
Tax Accounting: ASAP I will do this work myself. If necessary, I can go back for help anytime.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:40 am

@ palmera:

- As much as I need to ERE in an SOA country @minimum wage I have right now.

- I am mid 30th… My mid 40th should not be working days.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:35 am

Hello everybody,
something interesting just happened:
Yesterday I wend to an unexpected upcoming interview for a opening position. Now guess what happened - They wanted me asap; I rejected. November it is.
The office is reachable with public transportation, health care is included as well as an acceptable payment with 25 days paid vaccation.
I belive saving more than 50% into my trading account could be accomplished as long as I stay at this job. Can´t miss that opportunity.
Seems I have to trade beside work from now. Will miss the traveling part...

Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:49 pm

Post by ExpatERE » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:05 am

TravelingTrader---- Welcome. I enjoy reading about your story. Best of luck with the new job. IMO ditch the car if you can and keep the motorcycle. Every man needs a hobby and I've lusted after a bike for a long, long time myself.

Posts: 1090
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:44 am

Congratulations on your new job!

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:38 pm

Hello everyone,

here is the October update:
To leave my “comfort zone” I attended to an business-appointment in Berlin and decided to stay some additional days. To make this a challenge, I choose not to take a suitcase as usual. I traveled just with a backpack, which was an interesting experience for me.

In Berlin I ve eaten Injera (using your right hand only) in an very authentic restaurant. Really unusual here.
Car repair was 400€ - I used the car just once the whole month.
The new job I am in seems fine. But after working so hard and rewarding as an freelancer, there is a very huge desire for something else. It feels hard to get up in the morning knowing to have enough investments available to budged travel and experience the world. Especial as I am young enough to do so.

I feel sad about that.
There is something else: While working full time now, I don't have the time to trade anymore.

I have a 6 month probation period to address this question to myself.
The October numbers are:

Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Hotel Berlin: 68€

Health insurance: no bill this month

Grocery (meals/drinks): 300€

Eating out: 90€ (Invited some business partners and eat out in Berlin)

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Car: 400€ (Repair)

Fuel: 80€

Other: 40€

Necessary business cloth: 130€

Tax accounting 120€

Public transportation: 62€

Invested about 80% this month.
Taken care about the tax accounting position by the end of this year. At least I can expect a tax-refund, which will make the expenses even.

October was the last month obtaining a big cheque rewarding my former freelance work.

From now on it´s much less - just the wage from my new IT-job.
It gets cold here by now. I have to heat and spend much gas/electricity while being at home every evening. This will lead into a subsequent payment next year and increase the monthly rate.
Which brings me to another project: Expatriate to somewhere beneficial with an tempered warm climate. This topic is in my mind for a very, very long time - And I will get serious about that soon!

Seems you are right. I will postpone this decision up to next spring. It seems here started a new car sharing company last month.
Thanks for reading. Next update early December.

Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:49 pm

Post by flyer2009 » Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:22 am

I would highly recommend getting rid of the car unless you are a do-it-youself kind of person. I just sold my 97 Toyota Camry even though it was running just fine because I don't want to deal with unknown future repairs. It seems everything you touch (gaskets, hoses, etc) becomes a lot more fragile and less reliable after 10 years. Jacob would say - don't get a replacement at all, but I would say if you are going to get one, get a reliable one that you are going to keep for many years).

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:54 pm

Hello everybody,
First the Numbers for November:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: Job included

Grocery (meals/drinks): 300€

Eating out: 35€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 35€

Tax accounting: 120€

Public transportation: 62€

All: 1122€
I am within my ER budget of 1250€/Month, (15K year) even with special expenses as the tax accounting position. (probably the last time)
I have some quarterly expenses (~15€) regarding my Internet presence and email accounts. Will move those to Google, which actually is free.
I´ve read Jacobs post about the lens eating and tried it. The experience was fine, but it seems I am the noodle and tomato sauce person. Fresh tomato sauce is easy to make, cheap, can stored well and eat with gnocchi, noodles, rice and many other ingredients. Perfect.

Self made Bulgur salad with fresh bread last up to 3 days. I´ve also visited an organic-shop and will try tofu next time.
As special challenge for December I would not eat meat. Only exception: The company's Christmas meal, for which I had already ordered.
The first month in the new job seems fine. The work is much below my full potential, but because it´s paid well I´ll stay at least as long as I can take it. But I have to leave sometime to start traveling.
My investments do well in this volatile times, got off the market soon enough. I use stop loss orders to protect every single trade.
Regarding upcoming Christmas, I´ve made an agreement with my siblings: We don´t buy anything for each other. That´s real ERE style ;-)
And of course I´ve participate (again) at the DV-2013 green card lottery.
Thank you all for the help-full comments.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:36 am

December and last 2011 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: Job included

Grocery (meals/drinks): 250€

Eating out: 40€; Booze (to much) and food at the “German Weihnachtsmarkt”

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 50€

Tax accounting: 35€

Public transportation: 62€

Taxi: 19€ (company x-mas party)

Extra income: +17€ (eBay sell)

All: ~1000€ - Saving rate ~60%
This month again, I spend very well within my ER budget. There is some room left for the “extreme” part as well.
Vehicle fleet 2011 annual expenses without fuel:

Car: 1360€ (=114€/month)

Motorcycle: 450€ (=37,50€/month)

I´ve decided to sell both vehicles 2012. It´s unbelievable: Almost two month worth of living. This finally opened my eyes.
Received the tax payback from 2010: +2900€. (Seems paying for tax accounting was a good decision). The money is already dedicated for some upcoming expenses/challenges in 2012 and will be invested until than.
Also reduced my grocery bill by ~50€ not eating any meat in December. This was an very interesting challenge. I will start eating less meat in better quality than before this experiment. But becoming an vegetarian? I guess not. But eating meat more responsible? I agree.
Sold something on eBay too. There are much more items I can sell to simplify my household. January challenge: Just do it.
The last thing I am proud for 2011: Almost reached my investment goal set for 2012. Seems I need bigger goals.
Happy new year!

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:03 pm

January 2012 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: Job included

Grocery (meals/drinks): 300€

Eating out: 0€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 30€

Doc & Med.: 35€

Public transportation: 62€

All: 997€
I´ve continued without eating meat in January. I am excited to enjoy a big steak later to end this interesting experiment.

Had to visit the doctor which cost some extra money this month.
It´s so cold here that I am rarely enjoy leaving the house.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:24 am

February update - A special one
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: unsolved now.

Grocery (meals/drinks): 270€

Eating out: 20€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 40€

All: 900€
After being on a sick leave last week I got fired, finally.
Being an employee since the last 4 month showed me what I can not stand anymore:
These corporate philosophy “We are all one happy family”, for me it´s just work. I have no interest in after work events or making friends there. Some colleges even worked remote from home late in the evening (for free!). I would not do that (anymore). You can´t imagine my boss facial expression when he told me about the new Blackberry's; when I answered “I do not want one”.
So, I am fine at this point. Feels good to be free. (At least for a limited time)
Just got my last paycheck which was 2600€, spend 900€ this month - saving rate is 65%.

Why should I work as employee when I can earn four times the money as freelancer, able to save 75%? I would prefer that kind of work situation as soon as I need to earn some money.
Late in 2004 I bought a video game called “Half Life 2” and never had the time to start it seriously. Guess what I finally finished last week - while ill at home. First time I did something like that since 5 years.
Next week the computer exhibition CEBIT take place next corner around and I have the time to attend at this fantastic event. Already got some free tickets. I should start to offer my professional skills there.
March is my first official sabbatical month.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:47 pm

March 2012 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: unresolved

Grocery (meals/drinks): 290€

Eating out: 10€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 10€

All: 880€
The CeBit was very interesting. Went to the exhibition on 3 days and especially enjoyed the beer at the after parties.
Also March was the first official month in my sabbatical.

And this feels great. After working so hard over the last 5 years, I´ve forgotten how good it feels to have time just for yourself.

And I have about 10 hours more time a day, just because I don't have to go to work. Wonderful.
I've started reading a lot, do workouts and jogging, cook fresh, started to learn spanish and finally did some long necessary work at my flat done. Thanks!
Happy easter !

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Wed May 02, 2012 11:30 pm

April 2012 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: unresolved with problems

Grocery: 220€

Eating out: 0€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 30€

Refuel car: 90€ - First refill since October 2011!

All: 910€
Passive income: 15€ (interests)
Second month in my sabbatical.

The grocery bill was the lowest since 2 years.
Feel more healthy by getting about 8 hours of sleep a day now. When working I rarely got more than 6.

The best is, that time doesn't matter that much now. I don't care if I need 1 hour or 4 to get to somewhere.
The weather is getting better and I've started bicycling just for fun. Sometimes I take my kindle and stop somewhere just to read. Never did something like this while working.
Lately I find out about my interests in physics. I've started to view some university video courses. Why didn't I ever considered to study physics?
Also I've started to acquire first passive income.
Enjoy the spring!

Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:33 pm

Post by ktn » Thu May 03, 2012 10:16 pm

Hi TravelingTrader.
I just stumbled upon your journal. Since I live in the EU and work in IT too, I found what you journal extra interesting.
I am curious, what kind of a place are you able to rent for 450 euros per month? Is it a not-so-great part of town? Are you splitting the cost with room-mates? That seems like a really great rent compared to where I live.
Enjoy your spring too. Maybe, true to your moniker, you will start traveling again. Being free and not having a schedule can be a great way to snag travel agency bargains that are put on sale at the last minute.
I do hope you get the health insurance sorted out soon. Otherwise that could become a nasty surprise. Otherwise, you like you are doing great! Good luck.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:50 am

May 2012 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: Solution in progress. Approximately 150€/month expected

Grocery (meal/beverage): 250€

Eating out: 0€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 80€

Fuel car: 10€

All: 1060€ - very well within my sabbatical budget
Spend 120€ to repair the car. Unfortunately another service is necessary before I can sell it. I will add this expenses to my yearly expenses sheet - which is covered by the tax refund.
I had to hire an attorney to resolve my health insurance issues. The insurance company charge a monthly rate of 650€. Without income about 150€ should be the correct rate. Unfortunately they don't respond to any of my writings. In Germany a Health insurance is mandatory by law.

Every time in the past when I consulted a lawyer, an problem in my life floats away. It seems worth the money.

I've rented a 2 bed apartment (unfurnished) in an inexpensive city. I need some privacy for myself. Indeed I like the benefits of public transportation in front of my door to be at the central station in 15 and the airport in 30 minutes. Leaving Munich cut my living expenses by about 50%.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:18 pm

Good news everyone,
got response from the lawyer:
The problem with the health insurance company is finally resolved.
The former bill with the highest rate of 650€/month is reduced to the lowest rate of 150€.

That give me much more financial freedom with my ongoing sabbatical.
By outsourcing this task I got an reasonable result in just 3 weeks. By myself wasn't able to get any progress over several month. At least something learned at all.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:42 pm

Jun 2012
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: 150€

Grocery (meals/beverages): 185€

Eating out: 3€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

Other: 45€

Fuel: 35€

Ebook: 10€

All: 953€
This month I took care about my vehicles:

I've invested some money into my bike and car for necessary repairs.

The bike is now ready to sell and this is my next challenge.

I will keep my car - as long as I stay here.

Will add these expenses to my “yearly expenses list”, until everything is covered with the selling price. And, some idiot stole my hubcaps.
Again I am thinking about relocating.

The place I am now is good for staying for a while. But I feel not well here. One disadvantage is the cold and rainy weather. The gas bill for heating is a mess.

I have some places in mind, but need to visit them before consideration. Another challenge here.
Eventually I just need some vacation.

Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:19 pm

Post by TravelingTrader » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:41 pm

Jul 12 update:
Rent: 450€

Electricity and gas: 75€

Health insurance: 150€

Grocery (meals/beverages): 195€

Eating out: 3€

Transportation: 4,50€

Car fuel: 90€

Telephone and Internet: 45€ (35€ home / 10€ mobile)

All: 1012,50€

Passive income: 22€
This month I attended to two spontaneous job interviews. After talking about the open positions working details, I realised I do not want to do something like that again.
I've put the motorbike on sale waiting for buyers.
Bought a new laptop replacing my 4 ½ years old one. The old device was too slow and got issues. Paid with my tax returns on the yearly bill and hopefully it will least another 4+ years.

Old one was 1300€, the new one 900€.

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