Rube's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Post by rube » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:46 pm

First a short introduction:

My wife and I are 36 years old, 2 small kids (4-7 y/o) and we’re living in the Netherlands.

I'm working FT, wife is working PT. I thought we were pretty frugal, till I found this forum and blog ;-)
I have been checking the last weeks our expenses from the last 18 months, but I need to work a bit more on it to get the exact overview.

Thus far it looks like:
1) No debts, except the mortgage. When we would pay of the mortgage now we would have a about 80K left in savings. However, because of the mortgage conditions and tax reasons it's not wise to pay off all now, but we will pay of 10% in December and probably every year thereafter also 10%.
2) According the current figures we make about 5600 per month and our savings ratio is 50%. Which means we save about 33.5K annualy.
3) I want to increase this ratio (obviously ;-) and my wife is okay with most, but won't cut all costs and her “needs” are probably a bit higher on clothes, “doing things with the kids” and holidays.
4) Last couple of weeks I have made quite some cuts in “fixed” expenses. Changes some contracts, terminated others. Some will have effect immediately, others in the next months when the current contract end.

Savings per year in Euros:

cell phone contract (changed) 180

internet contract (changed) 218

funeral insurance 35

legal insurance 248

traveling insurance 63

health insurance (downgraded) 375

websites hosting 60

other contract (ANWB) 19

take food to work 120

Less mortgage + tax(pay of 10%) 765

Total 2083
Some other targets / ongoing savings (annualy):

Car insurance downgrade 360

Commute less (work @ home) 400

Less groceries 600

Less / cheaper eating out 200

Holiday 2000

Total 3560
In total we should save almost 6K more in 2013 compared to 2012. This should get us close to save 40K per year.
Future: expense when ERE and paid of mortgage would be 24K annualy. Based on 4% withdrawal rate + 1.2% asset tax we would need 460K. Current savings 80K, we still need 305K. With the target savings rate this gives 9.5 years before FI.

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Post by J_ » Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:02 pm

Welcome Rube, impressive results already!
Very good work on your yearly savings.

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Post by rube » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:31 pm

Thanks J
Currently I have a pretty easy and well paid job (considering my age / experience):

-Paid quite well because I became a specialist in what I do and there aren't many available

-Relatively easy because I can work from home 2-3 days a week (and 2-3 days in the office), I have no boss around (is on another continent and doesn't tell me how I need to do my job).

-And I like it pretty well.
So this is al great and sometimes it feels already like part time ERE (although I think I work hard enough and make enough hours). But...I got approached for another position. Seems to be a great step for a career move.

But the downside is:

-I would need to go 5 days a week in the office

-it would probably mean (a lot) more stress, at least for the next 1-2 years.

-I don’t know if I will like it that much (and if I can make them satisfied so I can stay long enough)

-I’m just 2 years with my current job. If I won’t be successful in my other job my resume will only show jobs of around 2 years and it might not be easy to get something back paid that well I have right now.
With a huge increase like 30%, I would be able to save € 3800 instead of € 2800 a month.

FI target would go down from around 9.1 years to 6.6 years.
I don’t know at all if they would accept an increase of 30% to my current wage (or perhaps even more ;-)) if they really want me. But I doubt if it would be worth the change and the extra stress for quite some years. Also there is the chance on failure and ending up with having to find another job for a lower wage as my current job.
Anyone having been in the same situation, or willing to give me some advice?

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Post by bigato » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:48 pm

I wouldn't change unless it would reduce your time to ERE to three years or less. And having free time like you seem to have, couldn't you focus on strategies for reducing expenses even further? You could speed it up as much as you want depending on what kind of changes you are willing to do.
I tell you that I would gladly work in such a job even after having enough money to retire.

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Post by rube » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:51 am

I must have mentioned that I'm working 2-3 days from home out of the 5 days in total (also 2-3 days at the office).
With working 5 days, 2 small kids and my wife working 3 days, we do not have so much free time during the week. We are working on reducing expenses further, but we won't be (all) willing to do make changes to cut expenses radically.
On the other hand, you're right. Even with working 5 days my current job doesn't feel like 5 days and would be easier to maintain, even for a longer period.

And with the other job, I won't be able to reduce ERE to < 3 years.
Especially since I read jour journal and about your difficult time at work I appreciate my current job a lot. I'll go for a meeting with them but at this moment I don't think I will change jobs.

Thanks for your comments.

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Post by rube » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:55 pm

Okay, so I decided to cancel the next interview of the other position.

I'm staying where I am and it feels good.
October details

Income: 4935

Expenses : 2076

Saved : 2859

Ratio: 58%

Income is normally about 280 more

87 of the expenses will be reimbursed

Savings ratio would then be 62%
Expense details

Transport 294 (150 for public transport work + gas for car)

Kids 132 (incl. quarterly benefit, cost would normally much higher)

Groceries 403

House 523 (net: mortgage , insurance, returned tax)

Other 80 (cash, main part for cost of kids)

Medical +148 (+! Received part of earlier expense back)

Insurance 16

Utilities 247 (65 of cell phone will be reimbursed)

Clothing 162 (ouch, wife, kids....)

Taxes 136 (tax for house, sewage, garbage)

Shops 119 (personal care stuff, some clothing, etc.)

Gifts 27

Hobby 39 (internet website)

Lunch 33 (22 will be reimbursed)

Bank 14 (account cost for 4 accounts)
The first month to keep expenses so precisely!

I will just note the actual expenses and income, so there will be some good months and some "bad" months.

As I wrote earlier, I already made some changes that will gradually reflect the expenses over the coming months.

These monthly details will help to realize some more savings in future.
Notes to myself:

-copy the presentation of one of the other journal’s here to improve readability

-add savings overview and calculation how many years before FI

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Post by rube » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:31 pm

November details:

Income: 6762

Expenses : 2297

Saved : 4465

Ratio: 66%
Income: we recieved some tax over '10 and '11 back and also a correction of our energy bill. The amount we received back in total was 1552. This is a one time only situation (unfortunately...)

Without this "income" our savings ratio would have been 56%, still okay for me.

About 80 Euro will be reimbused by employer.

And some gifts for the holiday season are included (including those for the kids for Sinterklaas=Dutch).

Some of the gifts are for myself :-), I ordered from Amazon some books:

ERE (of course!)

The Permanent Portfolio (I want to learn more about investing)

Your money or your Live

2 books about houses (passive solar)
The first changes I made a while ago shown up in my figures now. In the comming months I should be able to see some more.
And.....I just paid off the first 10% of our mortgage. We can only pay max. 10% a year without a penalty (or when we sell the house).

I don't think we will live here for another 10 years as I would like to build my own hous one day, hence the new books I ordered.

But with the cash we have, I think it's good to start paying off this mortgage anyway and I figured it's only about 7% of our total assets.

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Post by m741 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:07 pm

That is a very good selection of books.

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Post by rube » Sat Jan 26, 2013 2:08 pm

No figures yet for December and January.
Lately I do not really have the energy/joy to do a lot of things, including ERE figures.
It feels like mainly I'm doing "only" work, and neccassarry things like paying bills and what's really needed.
Even for work I'm not so productive lately as I used to do. And It's not that I don't like it or that I have a boss watching my back. Actually I have been not even one day to the office this week, worked the whole week from home.
In the evenings and weekends I spend too much time on useless internetting and watching TV. Even when reading the ERE form, often I can't bring myself to get the laptop and reply (I read mostly on my phone).
Maybe it's the cold weather which I don't like, maybe it's just the dark nights that give me this feeling and/or make me less productive.
On the other hand, I'm not depressed and I did and achieved several things.
To feel better I'll list the things here that I did accomplished over the last two months:
~Finally finished two (small) papers that were outstanding for 2 years. I'm waiting on the result now. Hopefully it will be okay, I get the certificate and can close this case.
~Started reading ERE - YMOYL - PP - Square Feet Gardening. Didn't finish any yet, but all are interesting.
~I was on a bussiness trip for 15 days to Asia, of which I was able to enjoy 4 days holiday at the end on a tropical isliand. NOT good for ERE, but I loved to be in the tropical climate for the first time again after 5 years. REALLY liked it.
~Did some batch cooking for our own family and cooked dinner when friends came over
~Enjoyed time with family during x-mas
~Quit snacking as a habit at night as a daily habit and lost over the last 4 months about 4 kg (8 pounds). Would like to loose another 3-4 pounds, but it's not really high priority (I'm 72 kg, 1m78).
~Checked a few plots out to see if we would like to live there and build our own house. Result: learned what we want and want we don't want. Not found the right lot yet. It will also be difficult with the ERE in mind and our requirements as plots are very expensive over here and DW don't want to move to far away from family (also difficult at this moment because of work)
~I terminated the rental contract of a shed I used to use for storage stock. The business is not very active anymore and the storage is basically only used for useless items and stock that has no longer value.I sold the racks that are not needed anymore for € 200 cash. Still need to get rit of a lot of garbage in the next two months when I need to give the keys back. I will need to hire a waste container for that. So there will go the money (and more) I made with selling the racks. The good thing is the monthly expense will be gone soon.
I probably did more, but can't remember now something that is worth to mention.
Concerning expenses: we had some unneccessary expenses (or some that I thing were not neccessary) but overal I don't believe it was too bad, considering X-mas and my short holiday after the business trip.
I'll see if I can bring myself this weekend or next to work on the figures of December and January to have a better overview. See if it was really okay or perhaps not so good as I think right now.

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Post by J_ » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:32 pm

Rube, going forwards is doiing!

Only by finding out what your expenses were you can say ok, or that is worth to reconsider. See it as a sport, to increase your skills in less spending.

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Post by rube » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:31 pm

J, your 100% right!
December details:

Income: 6786 (of which 1281 quarterly interest)

Expenses : 3347

Saved : 3439

Ratio: 51%

Assets: 264K
Expenses were way higher as the previous 2 months.

Special expenses:

840 health insuarance for the whole of 2013

125 Plane ticket for short holiday after business trip

Without the health insuarance costs, the plane ticket and some x-mas gifts it was similair as the previous month.
From now on I'll try to also include averages of the last months:

Average Oct-Noc-Dec 2012

Income: 6161

Expenses : 2573

Saved : 3588

Ratio: 58%
January figures will follow next week.

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Post by rube » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:32 pm

January details:

Income: 5443 (of which 22 interest, CL sales 245)

Expenses : 2813

Saved : 2630

Ratio: 48%

Assets: 274K Something is wrong this or the previous month, can't be 10K more in one month. Will find it our later.
Special expenses:

About 500 for short holiday after my business trip

Some cost were for 12, 6 and 3 months. If I correct it al to 1 month, total cost would be 281 lower.
averages of the last months:

Average Oct-Noc-Dec-Jan:

Income: 5982

Expenses : 2633

Saved : 3348

Ratio: 56%
I finished the Permanent Portfolio booked. I only skipped the tax chapter as it was not applicable for my region.

I want to implement the PP in the next comming months for part of my savings. Have to figure out, how to do that for Europe (I'm following the other thread about the EU PP)

Expenses: I do expect less expenses next month. No special trips, no yearly or quarterly expenses. I hope we can get as low as around 2200 for expenses. But...DW expresses her discomfort with every sigh I make on her purchases. Have to find the right balance for this.
Income: will probably be similar. I will submit my expense report for some costs that I made in January during business trip. That should be around a 2-3 hundred extra income for next month, but I do not expect any income from sales on CL.
To Do:

Finish reading books YMOYL, ERE

Starting to implement EU PP
And..thanks for reading this boring update if you made it to the end :-)

George the original one
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Post by George the original one » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:58 pm

> Assets: 274K Something is wrong this or the previous

> month, can't be 10K more in one month.
LOL, well, if you have more than $120k in the stock market, then yes, you likely did gain $10k in January.

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Post by rube » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:06 am

@George: stock market was not the cause, but I found an error in my sheet.
February details:

Income: 6867

Expenses : 2370

Saved : 4497

Ratio: 65%

Assets: 275K
Income: high this month due to bonus over 2012, 1250 euro.

Also about 250 reimbursement and I made (unexpectedly) about 107 on CL sales.
Expenses: we received medical expenses of around 200 euro from Summer 2012 which I forgot about. Otherwise we would have made the 2200 as I hoped. It was better as Dec. and Jan. anyway.
averages of the last 5 months Oct.-Feb.

Income: 6159

Expenses : 2581

Saved : 3578

Ratio: 58%
Worth of our car is 3K. So I changed out car insurance from all-risk to the the minimum that is required. That will save us about 400 euro annually.
I opened 2 broker accounts. I'm still waiting to receive details of one. I hope I can implement PP in March.
I finished the ERE book and lend it out to a relative who's interested.
Did a lot of physical activities last weekend while freezing. It felt good though, despite the muscle pain I had for a couple of days.
That's it for now. Maybe I will post more frequently some more non-financial updates from now on. I love reading all the other journals and most of the other posts.

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Post by rube » Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:59 pm

I recently realised that I treated the whole monthly mortgage payment as an expense. However, a (small) part of it is actually used to build up savings and not interest. I correct this in the sheet.
Also I added reimbursments from our employers to our income. This is not correct as we wouldn't have spend it when we would have worked here. So instead of adding this to our income, I deducted these of our expenses.
These changes improves our figures. Our monthly expenses are actually 140 euro or around 6% lower and our savings ratio is 3% higher!! Yahoooo.
New averages of the last 5 months Oct.-Feb.

Income: 6007 (was 6159)

Expenses : 2341 (was 2581)

Saved : 3666 (was 3578)

Ratio: 61% (was 58%)

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Post by rube » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:17 pm

I'm in the process of cleaning out our warehouse of a business I had a few years ago. There is still some old stock and I hope I'll be able to sell on CL and generate a little extra income.
On another note: my motivation for my job is declining, even though the job is relatively easy, I can work 60% the time from home, makes good money....

Maybe it's because I'm in this field now for 4 years and the excitement is gone, maybe it's because my manager that was really motivating me left the company 8 months ago, maybe because of the lay-offs that seems to occur every 6 months...

All in all I'm not sure if I will be able to stay here untill I am FI.
These two things makes me wondering if I can find a gig beside my regular job. I hope I can find one that is fun, gives me energy and some additional income.
But first I'm working to have the warehouse empty by the end of this month. Also the 2 broker accounts were opened and I'm now in the process of implementing the Permanent Portfolio. I hope to be ready by the end of this month.
I'm about 3/4 of YMOYL. But to be honest, most of it I find not so interesting and I think it does not apply to me. I never had debts (besides mortgage), I always have been quite frugal and save a large portion of my income, have been aware of the value (in time) of money. Regardless of this, I'll finish it but the ERE book was much more interesting to me. I wished I had read that 13 years ago when I got my first "real" job.

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Post by J_ » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:06 pm

Your projection to work about 13,5 years in the same job with the same employer is perhaps not so realistic. Job environments change, you change, changing is natural.

So would it not be good to prepare yourself for changing, perhaps is getting prepared already enough for now.

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Post by krul » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:12 pm

hi rube, based on your comments it seems to me you have a Dutch savings mortgage ("spaarhypotheek"). You talk about prepaying 10% p.y. But as an alternative you can generally also deposit extra money into this savings vehicle. You can usually do this annually for 10x the lowest amount you ever put in during a year. The up-side for you is that this amount is taxed in box 1 (instead of 3). If you pay into this vehicle for 15 years, it is not taxed. (Otherwise the profits are taxed at the marginal income tax rate). The added bonus is that you avoid the 1.2% box 3 tax on this amount. Next to that you also earn a guaranteed spread vs your mortgage interest, because generally the rates are the same. (So the spread is due to interest expense deductibility through income taxes). Especially if you have a fixed rate mortgage from a few years ago, this can be quite attractive.

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Post by rube » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:25 pm

@J: I am not really expecting to work at one place that long. I have not even been working that long yet! The longest I stayed at one place was 4.5 years. And since then it has been another 2 times of about 4 years in the same field. I'll stay here for some time if I can, but It's more that another small gig besides my regular work will learn me new things and helps me to diversify income stream (a little). Anyway, it has to wait another month before I'm able to think more seriously about it.
@Krul: I've got a "beleggingshypotheek" but this should be the same approach, right? Regarding Box 1 and Box 3: the house does not count as an asset to be taxed for the 1.2%, so that makes no difference? Anyway, I forgot a bit about the details, but I have looked into this last year. My final conclusion was that the difference is just marginal and there are certain pros and cons with either option. Since I like simplicity and I don't like debts, I decided to keep it simple and start paying of my mortgage by 10% each year.
I just did a forecast for the monthly expenses. If there are no high unexpected expenses coming my way these last 9 days, it will be the lowest month since I started keeping track 6 months ago
Income will be "normal", no extras. But savings rate will still be high because of the low expense this month and I hope to be around 68%. I would be very pleased with that. Fingers crossed.
Also I found out that the value of our investment-saving part of our mortgage was actually 1500 more as I thought. On top of that we are likely to get around 1500 from taxes back later this year. Total 3K unexpected money to be added to our net worth.
On the other hand, the value of the house is currently probably a little less then the (original) mortgage. So I'll be using a more conservative value for that for the next net worth calculation.
I've seen here tips and tricks how to be able to get access to retirement funds before 65 (67) in the USA. But as far as I know this is not possible (anymore) in the Netherlands. therefore I do not include those with my net value.
So far the interim update.

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Post by DutchGirl » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:48 pm

@Rube, errr, I really don't understand that stuff, but there's a certain rule starting soon where mortgages in box 3 will be taxed from now on, unless you change the mortgage before April 1st. Here is a link. ... aar-box-1/
I actually don't have a house myself (my boyfriend is the owner of the house we live in), so I'm very glad that this paperwork isn't mine to handle...

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Post by rube » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:14 pm

March details:

Income: 5260

Expenses : 1876

Saved : 3384

Ratio: 64%

Assets: 265K
Income: normal. 83 comes from CL sales.

Expenses: yeah, lowest over the last 6 months!!!!
averages last 6 months:

Income: 5882

Expenses : 2263

Saved : 3619

Ratio: 62%
I'm quite pleased with the results thus far. I don't expect we will be able to decrease expenses a lot anymore, unless we make major changes which are not likely to happen in the near future.
What amazed me: if I would quit working now some costs could be reduced (commute, day-care) and the the income of the DW (part time, 3 days) would already be sufficient!

But, that's not the (complete) goal, so we will continue for now as we do.
PP is not yet implemented, but I'm close and will be done in the next 1-2 weeks for about 1/3 of our total assets.
Spring is finally approaching
@DG: thnx, but that is luckily no applicable to us.
edit: finally figured out how to make a bold heading....

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Post by krul » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:48 pm

@rube: I think it applies to the "beleggingshypotheek" as well. And I think you can by a savings product within that "beleggings" part that has an interest equal to your mortgage rate. (But I am not 100% sure, since I do not have one.)
Anyway let's say your mortgage interest is 5% (post-tax 2.4%). 5% (post-tax 5%) is also the interest on the savings part of my mortgage. The interest on a term deposit is like max 3% (post tax 1.8%).
Let's say you choose between saving in box 3 or paying down. By paying down, you forfeit 1.8% in income and do not have to pay 2.4% in mortgage interest. Hence, paying down is 0.6% more attractive vs saving through term deposits and not paying down.
But if we compare putting your money into the savings/beleggings vehicle, then you earn 5% instead of 1.8%. Hence this is 3.2% more attractive than saving in term deposits. And 2.6% more attractive than paying down.
You can also do both: depositing into vehicle and paying down, since both have limits that are probably much lower than what you could do.
Do note that there are a few conditions for your "beleggingshypotheek" to qualify for the box 1 treatment (KEW). It needs to last at least 15yrs since inception. Also contributions for the beleggings-part need to be done every single year of those 15 years. So if you pay down 10% p.y. for 10yrs you will be rid of your mortgage to early. All your returns will than be taxed! (This may already be a danger in your current approach)
Tax details wrt to KEW can be found on the website of the "Belastingdienst": ... gen_woning
Other caveat to look out for is fees in this "beleggingshypotheek" when you do non-standard contributions.

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Post by rube » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:05 am

I like graphics. In an eye blink I can "read" them, they're just so much easier and faster as plain text.

C40 is a great example on good graphics! Thnx to C40 for the examples AND his explanation how to post pictures
So this weekend I cleaned up my excel sheet, simplified/improved the formulas I used and added some graphics. It will be an ongoing improvement, but hereby the first graphics of the 1st 6 months of this journal.
No explanation or text this time, details were given already earlier.
Feel free to comment on the graphics, what you are missing, what you don't like, what you would like to see differently etc. Thnx!
Pictures are clickable for bigger versions:

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Post by rube » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:52 am

I submitted last month the annual tax papers (well, no actually papers, but digitally).

On our gross income, we’re paying about 33% of taxes.

That does NOT even include yet any VAT, Municipal tax (for the house, sewage, garbage), Car tax.

*sigh*, ah well, I guess we’re living in a country we’re we also getting some back of it (some directly, some indirectly).
Note the next part is about Dutch taxes and mortgages. Skip if not interested for you.


We do not have a “savings”mortgage but a “stock-bond”mortgage. That means that the “savings” interest is not the same as the interest rate of the principal loan.

The capital gain is completely depending on developments of the underlying values (ETF’s of the stock-bond market). So it could be better, but doesn’t have to be.

Also, we’re only able to select a limited number of ETF’s and the fees are quite high.
That’s why we have chosen to pay of the principal loan by 10% per year (that’s the max.) and to setup a Permanent Portfolio ourselves completely separated from the mortgage.

The PP has much lower fees and 100% freedom to choose the ETF’s etc. we want and to always have 100% access to it. We will still be required to pay around 110 euro each month into the ETF’s funds of the “stock-bond” mortgage, until it’s paid off completely. So I believe this is the best and most secured diversification we can do at this moment.
Also, when not paying off the principal loan, there is the risk of losing my job and not be able to deduct the interest against the current 52% tax rate (and that will be the case anyway once we have reached ERE). Another factor is that I do not believe the interest deduction adjustment, as announced recently, will not be further and quicker decreased. So even the return of paying off our mortgage is now only (5.5% * 0.48) = 2.64%, it will increase in the future sooner or later to the full 5.5%.

So I am happy to take the 2.64% +1.2% (because the assets tax does not applies to 1st own house) = 3.84% for this part of our investments.

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Post by rube » Fri May 03, 2013 9:37 am

Revised March details:

When checking the April details I found out I missed received interest of 1062 in March. It’s because I expected this actually early April and I don’t check those accounts daily. In any case, after correcting the figures it boosted the savings ratio to 72%. Our highest ever, quite pleased with that number :-)
April details:

Income: 5381 of which 211 came from CL sales.

Expenses : 2007. Two new tires for the car against 125. No unusual expenses otherwise

Saved : 3374

Ratio: 63%

Assets: 272K
averages last 7 months:

Income: 5963

Expenses : 2199

Saved : 3764

Ratio: 63%
Going steady but strong if I may say so myself. Every time I look at these numbers I am amazed how much we do save each month over and over again.

Although we’re far from being 100% FI, it is a very, very nice feeling.
PP implemented

PP is implemented for about a third of our assets. Gold crashed about 12% a couple of days after we bought it. But today gold is down “only” 6.4% and the whole PP is only -0.17 down. Thus far the PP seems to be doing what it suppose to do.
May forecast

Next month we will receive holiday allowances, this is common in the Netherlands to receive in May or June and is 8% of our annual salary. So our income will probably be the highest since starting the journal here. But, one of these months we will also spend more on the preparations and finally the actual holiday. So on average it will probably not increase our savings ratio (a lot) but it could become the highest monthly savings ratio.

Still need to work on more exercising, watching less television.

Spring arrived finally, love the sun and warmer weather.

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