Will's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:28 pm

Financial update forJuly 2017

A bit late, I just couldn't find the time to write the update earlier.

July was an expensive month, almost entirely due to my hobby cycling. I bought a replacement bike for the bike which I crashed, since I don't dare to ride the carbon frame on high-speed descents anymore. It was a second-hand bike, but it still cost me 720 euro. To be honest, it feels like the bike is much too fancy for me, and I'm considering selling it after my big race in two weeks.
The concussion took much longer to fully heal than I hoped and expected. As recently as last Sunday I still had some concussion-related headache because I had a bad night's sleep, but since then, no problems anymore. Except for my wrist, I seem to be fully healed.
I haven't received any bill from the hospital yet.


Hall of shame for July 2017:

- I paid for parking, which I never want to do. Also it was completely unnecessary since I went to the wrong location (1 euro)
- We got ice cream (1.95 euro)
- I went to the Vosges with some friends to cycle and we spent quite some money on restaurants there. In total probably 100 euro.

100 euro something in July of unnecessary spending, not bad! I am not counting my new bike here though.

Hall of pride for July 2017:

- Our blender broke. Instead of buying a new one, we found the problem (the blades were not moving) and we bought only one component to fix it. This only cost 9,50 instead of >50 euro

Net worth

My net worth went down this month. This was mainly due to two factors:
- eur/usd exchange rate influencing the value of my stocks
- the solar panels which we bought (I did not count them as expense since I see them as investment, and I immediately wrote them off, so I'm not counting them towards my net worth)


There is a major change at my job: the company is considering selling my department or outsourcing a large part of it. Even though they said that nobody would lose their job over this, there is no guarantee at all that it is possible to keep on doing a job you like, let alone the same as we are doing now. I like my job and my colleagues, so I'm also somewhat intimidated by the uncertainty. But on the other hand, if my job will not be nice anymore in the future, I have a good amount of FU money and many opportunities. The market is currently very good for people with my skill and background in the Netherlands. I'm cautiously orientating myself, but I still hope that I can keep my current job.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:36 am

Long overdue update of 2017

A lot has been changing in my situation the last couple of months.
First and foremost: I should write more updates here. The main reason I did not do this was because I started writing for SeekingAlpha at the end of last year and I used up all my inspiration for my articles there.

Goals for 2017
Let's look at my goals for 2017 and see how I did:
- increase net worth to 6 digits --> I first thought this target would be a stretch, but I ended up with a bit more than 120K on the 1st of January 2018, this went much higher than I anticipated! This was partially because of the boom in cryptocurrency, which I sold at the end of the year.
- obtain a savings rate of at least 50% --> 55%, not bad! This was including a beautiful 3 week holiday in Asia last December, a 'new' second hand high end racing bike, a skiing holiday and two cycling holidays.
- cycle at least 7500 km --> I just failed this goal at 7140km, and this was because a second crash in October. After this one I didn't cycle to work and back anymore, since I didn't feel like it and the weather became worse. Not all was bad though: my big cycling target of 2017 in the Pyrenees went REALLY well. But I am planning to cycle less in 2018.
- creating an extra source of income (importing cars?) --> After lots of research into different ways of making money, I tried my hand at writing for SeekingAlpha in September. This went well, and I managed to write multiple articles last year, making a total of more than 1K. Not bad for a start. Though it is hard work and sometimes not easy, I will continue to do this since I like it a lot. Pay depends on factors which are difficult to influence, like pageviews, and will be much less than what I make at my job. (Sorry but I am not posting links to my articles here since I would like to keep my identity here separate from the one on SeekingAlpha)
- declutter our house --> Failed miserably. I mentioned this to my girlfriend a couple of times and did some half-assed attempts, but we completely failed.
- work from home one day per week (both to save time from the commute and to work more efficiently) --> Failed. It is ok to work from home now and then, but only if there's a reason for this (like a visit to a doctor in the middle of the day). It's 'corporate policy'. Bleh.

In total I succeeded in 3 of the 6 goals. With the cycling I just failed, so I will

Big Changes in 2018
- The biggest change in our lives will be coming next July: We are expecting a baby! We are very excited, but also realize that my expected FI goal (250K) for myself might be unrealistic, since I will have to consider the rest of the family as well with these kinds of financial decisions. My girlfriend and I have not integrated our finances yet. Though she is on board with FI she is a couple of years behind me with regard to net worth and a bit less frugal.
- One of the biggest costs for 2018 and beyond will be daycare of the baby. We need to find a good solution for this; our parents both live >200km away from us so we will not be able to count on them. My girlfriend and I will both start working 4 days a week so the baby will only need 3 days of daycare. Tax-wise, this is very efficient: I made an extended calculation and came to the conclusion that by working 4 instead of 5 days a week, my annual net income will drop by only 3K. This is because of our progressive tax system in the Netherlands but also because of daycare subsidies which increase as your income becomes lower. This seriously made me wonder why there still exist parents in the Netherlands who work full time! Daycare will likely cost us 400-500 euro per month, which is a huge expense. I am still playing with the idea of finding other parents and take care of each others' children so we don't need daycare that much. If anyone has advice or experience on this topic, please feel free to enlighten me.
- The above also means that we will retire by 1/5 from the middle of 2018 onwards. Hurray! I'm not planning to ever switch to fulltime again. Also I can always write on SeekingAlpha on days on which I am not working for my day-job. On the other hand, it would be inefficient to make too much money with this, since our taxes and daycare costs would go up accordingly.
- The situation at my job is still very dynamic. My department will likely be sold during the next months. On the one hand, this is leading to much uncertainty among my co-workers. On the other, it also leads to opportunities and it could become a big success eventually. My contract needs to be renewed in a couple of months, but I expect that the current situation does not have influence on it. And if they do not extend, it will not be difficult for me to find a different job.
- With regard to our housing situation we are not planning to change anything the coming year. We are still renting, though this is not very efficient on the long term, the housing market continues to boom in the Netherlands. This makes buying a gamble with increasingly worse odds.
- Investments: I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a rental property, but have not found a good enough deal to take the leap. For now, I will stay with stock investments, which have been doing well in 2017, but the future seems increasingly uncertain. I sold all my cryptocurrency at the end of December after I decided I made more than enough money with it. I like to say that I'm not a market timer, but in the case of cryptocurrency it seems that I got very lucky.
- FI and early retirement planning: I was very excited when I heard that two good friends of mine (a couple) are also aiming to achieve FI. It is always very nice to be able to talk freely about this topic to other people, and we can exchange tips and tricks. One of the things with regard to FI in the Netherlands about which I have been thinking is that it is MUCH easier and more efficient in our country to work part time. With our current expenses, we could probably work 2 days a week (but we would be able to save very little). Maybe it is easiest the reach a certain level of net worth and start working much less so your net worth can continue to compound while we would be able to re-design our lives around FI more gradually. I will run some calculations for this.

New goals for 2018
- Increase net worth to at least 150K
- Achieve a savings rate of at least 55%
- Make at least 6K from writing articles
- Find an efficient solution for daycare
- Continue to do sports at least twice a week (mostly cycling or running)

Of course, I also plan to achieve goals like 'be a good father', or 'support my girlfriend the best I can during her pregnancy'. But I aim to create measurable goals, so that's why there are none of these on the list.

I will try to write an update more often in 2018.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Thu May 24, 2018 4:37 am


Finally a new update. I will discuss things topic-wise this time. Some things have been going really well, other things not so much.

My GF is very very pregnant at the moment, still about 1,5 month until the birth, and everything is well as far as we can see. We have been doing quite a lot to prepare (mostly mentally). We prepared a baby room with almost only second-hand stuff. A childcare facility went bankrupt in our neighborhood, so I was able to pick up many clothes and other stuff from the container in front of their building. We spend about 1000 euro total on the child until now, of which about 80-90% are healthcare costs.
We found an absolutely perfect solution for the daycare: one of our neighbors is retiring later this year, she never had children herself and is very enthusiastic to take care or our baby a couple of days per week. We will pay her of course, but only a relatively modest sum. Also, this solution is much more flexible, and very close to our own home.

Work and 20% retirement
Many changes coming at work. My department will probably be sold, which will not affect my work location or my activities, but still. Also, I started working 4 days a week, which is a MAJOR improvement. I can call myself 20% retired now. My before-tax income will drop by 20%, of course, but after tax the difference is less big. Since I took the Wednesday off, it feels like a short weekend in the middle of the week. At the moment I am filling my time with going to the market for vegetables and building a room for the baby. The market in my city is extremely cheap, with some crazy deals. For instance: 7 mango's for 1 euro, or 15 leeks for the same. Of course I'm always going there ERE-style, on my bike with a huge backpack. Even the salesmen on the market think I'm a traveler, and when I tell them that the backpack is full of vegetables and fruit even they think I'm crazy. Last week I had 27kg of it, which we struggled to finish. Much of it is going into the blender to create smoothies, so usually we succeed in that.
I have been terribly slacking with writing SeekingAlpha articles though. One of the reasons to work one day less per week is that I could spend a part of this day to write articles and compensate for my loss of salary. I need to start doing this again, since I like it and it usually pays well.

Financially everything has been going steadily. Savings rate of 2018 is above 50%, net worth is climbing gradually, though the market correction during the beginning of the year slowed everything down a bit. Though some expenses (child, healthcare) have been a bit higher this year, nothing extraordinary.
According to a model which I built, I could be fully FI between February 2027 and April 2028. I would be 42 by then, but this is still unacceptably long in my opinion, so I will work to decrease this time period. A tricky thing here is that I built this model for my own personal situation, and if I include my GF in the equation, we will even need a bit longer.

I haven't been cycling much this year, as a result of having no big target for which to train. As a result I've started running, about 2 times a week. This takes more time, and by slowly increasing the distance from about 3k in the beginning of January, I can now run 15k without problems. Bad news: my wrist is broken, still from the crash almost a year ago. It hasn't healed well and kept on hurting, so eventually I went to the doctor. Today I have an appointment to discuss treatment, which might involve an operation.

Cleaning up
Together with some friends, we started competing in a minimalism challenge: https://www.theminimalists.com/game/
For us, it's not so much about minimalism, but more about throwing away old stuff we should have tossed years ago. It's going really well, and we already got rid of a ridiculous amount of stuff. My wardrobe is less than half the size it was, and some things we just got rid of entirely (dvds, cds, books we don't read). It's really refreshing, and having other friends also participating in this challenge makes it very stimulating. I can recommend it to anyone who has too much stuff.

Well, I guess that was it for this time.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:52 am

Many incremental improvements during the last couple of months, I start to get some skill in changing my own behavior:
- Decluttered a lot, which also led to more efficiency in our daily lives. We still did not completely finish this yet, I need to work on finishing what I started.
- Started taking cold showers, not only because it's cheaper, but also because it's better for my skin. And I like the challenge. It's still hard, it's been two weeks since I started with taking cold showers and it seems to become only marginally easier. The weather is warm so that helps.
- Started doing some strength training with dumbbells. Because of years of cycling my legs are very strong, but I'm basically completely untrained in my upper body. In spite of my broken wrist it goes well, and being a rather skinny person you already notice the difference quite quickly. Wrist needs surgery; it is half-healed in a wrong way so it will need to be broken again. This is not an urgent treatment so I am basically the last one on the waiting list, I expect that it will not be done until the end of this year.
- Started writing on SeekingAlpha again.

But these changes are about to be completely marginalized by the baby. My girlfriend could literally give birth any time now. Though I'm looking forward to it, I'm a bit scared of whether this baby will lead to mental changes of myself. So for the record, I hereby pledge myself to continue to strive for FIRE. If my thoughts about this ever change, I urge my future self to look up this journal and read about all the improvement which it made in my life already. Whatever happens after the birth, my starting position is a good one with net worth well inside the 6 figures, expenses around 1400 euro per month and a relatively healthy lifestyle. I just hope I will be able to stick to this behavior.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:42 am

We are all here to hold you accountable.

Enjoy fatherhood! All my friends who just had kids in the past few years say it's the "best thing to ever happen to them", I wonder if it's all it's cracked up to be, or they just had pretty meaningless lives prior to the baby =D

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:38 am

Thanks for your support 2B1S. Our daughter was born one month ago and wow, what a change this has proven to be!
The biggest difference is that I suddenly appreciate how valuable our time is: the baby demands a huge portion of it. I'm writing this on a free day when my GF took the baby out for a stroll with some friends - before I just did not have the time to write. While I'm also taking more days off, the days where I do go to work actually feel less stressful and more relaxing than a full day of taking care of the baby. She's very cute but currently only takes effort - very little feedback yet. At the moment I can have more intelligent interactions with my cat than with my baby. But this will change very soon I think, and I have good hopes that being a father will get much more interesting then.

With regard to the spending and mental changes - nothing happened yet. The birth of a child actually prevents you from spending too much money on traveling, which is good since this was one of the most costly money-sinks for us in the past. But yes, a child brings about many other relatively small costs, but those prove to be very manageable until now. No increase in spending noticed until now - only a shift from the travel category to the baby category.

My father-in-law contacted me to look at the finances of his family to check whether he can retire more early than the age at which his pension kicks in. I'm a bit hesitant with advising family on these topics; partly because I do not feel very comfortable being open about it myself. My parents were very skeptical when I told them my plan to retire early.

My GF and my parents are continuing to pressure me to take a more serious look at buying a house. With prices at record level heights though I am not very enthusiastic for this idea: (link is Dutch only, but the graph is quite obvious)
https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/nieuws/2018/25 ... iveau-ooit
At the moment our total monthly housing costs (rent+utilities+tax) are about 800-850 euro per month for the two of us. Houses which we would be interested in (with a garden!) would probably cost around 250-300K, which means that in the cheapest case we would forego 250K*0.05 (I use a 5% SWR) = 12.5K per year of 'income', more than 1K per month. It gets more complicated though since we would probably spend more money on some renovations. But with regard to the taxes it would not be so bad since a house is taxed less than invested money, and there is also an extremely generous homeowner subsidy with regard to mortgage interest. (see https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2011/0 ... ng-policy/)
Still I'm not completely against the idea, since - as my GF frequently stresses - the quality of our life would likely go up as well. I will start building some Excel sheets to compare the different situations. To be continued..

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Re: Will's journal

Post by prognastat » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:26 am

Congrats on the birth of your daughter. I don't have kids myself, but have heard the first few months are by far the worst as far as exhaustion/sleep and time are concerned.

Hopefully this is true and after a few months you'll be able to feel a little more relaxed. Also it seems men on average tend to be better with post-toddler stage kids.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:50 pm

Thanks prognastat! I already notice a lot of improvement - both in the relaxation and in interaction with my daughter. She is starting to get interested in the world around her, and though I cannot really communicate with her yet she gets much more fun to take care of. What also helps is that she usually sleeps very well during the night.

During the first weeks after the birth I sometimes was very worried that I wouldn't have time for anything anymore. Though I realize my life will continue to revolve around the baby for the first couple of years, I started to get more sane the last weeks. Started sporting again with my old determination (I ran 30km last Wednesday, which is insane since I just started running this January, and cycling remains my primary sport, though running and cycling have a lot in common with regard to stamina). I also wrote a Seeking Alpha article again.

My girlfriend will start working again from the last week of October so then there will be a lot more responsibility demanded from my side. From then on, the rest of 2018 I will only work 3 days per week. This also gives me the chance to design my own life more efficiently. With my GF at home full time she more or less dictates all the baby-stuff, which I think we could manage much more easily when I would have some time for it. In 2019, we will both be working 4 days per week.

What is really difficult for me is the amount of (in my opinion) unnecessary gifts which we receive for the baby. I knew we could expect a decent amount of stuffed animals, toys and clothes, but it has proven to be MUCH more than we need, in basically all the categories. Before the birth of the baby, we basically got all clothes for free from different friends. Though I really appreciate that people want to give us something, it's sad that we get brand new clothes which the baby will only wear a couple of times. Of course, we will pass on all the clothes to other friends which have babies, but it is really unnecessary. Also, it makes me feel like our minimalism efforts of a couple of months ago were futile.

On the money-front all is steady. Expenses were a bit high this month, this was due to some extraordinary expenses, like getting new passports, a visit to the vet, a high medical bill and some baby-expenses. We also booked a (cheap) ticket to visit my sister in California in spring next year, at the moment doing some research on how to get a cheap large car, mini-van or camper for rent there. We already found Turo.com, but if somebody has some advice on how to cheaply rent a vehicle for 3 weeks in California, it would be very helpful! Already read a lot on the website of C40 about how to camp for free in nature - really looking forward to it!

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Oct 26, 2018 6:39 am

A tribute to hitchhiking

I would like to add a story to my journal about an activity which greatly influenced my personality during my young adulthood: hitchhiking.
For most, it's a mode of transportation. For some, it's a competition. For me, it's both.

My first experience with hitchhiking was when I participated in the yearly hitchhiking competition with a group of students at the university. We would just pick a destination (a campsite) somewhere about 800-1000 km from home, and travel in pairs. Rules were simple: The pair which used the least travel time to get to the destination and back wins. Time was paused as soon as you reached the campsite, of course. The only other rule was that you were not allowed to spend a dime on transport. Usually the weekend of Ascension Day was picked as the travel date, since there were four free days, of which in general (if you were lucky) two days were spent traveling and two on the campsite.

During my first hitchhiking experience I was part of the organizing committee and we decided to do a test-hitchhike, to see if the destination we picked (a small village in the south of France) was doable. The feeling you get when you put your thumb up for the first time is on the one hand one of ultimate freedom: anything could happen. On the other hand, you are fully dependent on other people for your transportation, which can be quite scary. The feeling after you score a first ride is indescribable, but this brings about many new difficulties like where you want to be dropped off and how to socially engage with your drivers, which sometimes speak a language you don't know.
Of course, in our youthful enthusiasm we picked a much too optimistic destination which we never reached, and made almost every possible rookie mistake I can think of: being dropped off at a highway exit instead of a petrol station, taking a ride in the wrong direction, walking away from a petrol station, etc etc. Eventually, we decided to turn around without reaching our destination and even took the train the last 200km!

Not a good start, but it did not stop me from participating in the contest many years in a row, winning it once, and mostly reaching the destination in one day. I also hitchhiked purely for transportation to travel to my girlfriend in Germany, and spent a summer hitchhiking through Europe with a friend. Of course, I did sleep at petrol stations, hitchhiked in the middle of the night or had some major trouble reaching a location now and then, but nothing extreme. Like life, hitchhiking is often a mixed bag: you meet all kinds of different people, some very interesting, others boring. It's not the safest way to travel, but certainly in Europe the biggest risk is having a traffic accident. Also, you can decide to not take a ride which is being offered, so you can influence who your driver is. The most successful strategy is asking for a ride on petrol stations, so here I would mostly approach people who I think look easy-going and would possibly give me a ride. I had many cool and crazy experiences during the hitchhiking trips, like being woken up by three French kick boxers who wanted to give us a ride, being invited to people's homes and offices, and many others. Never ever have I ended up in a place where it was not possible to score a ride. In fact, in more remote places it's usually much easier to get a ride than on busy roads, no idea why.

Hitchhiking taught me many life lessons. First of all, I learned to embrace uncertainty. You never know when your ride will show up, but eventually it will. It also taught me endurance. To stay active and socially engaged for an entire day (or more if you’re unlucky) is not easy. Combined with the uncertainty, this can be mentally draining, especially during the first time you hitchhike. Also, it confirmed my faith in humanity: no matter how remote you were or how bad your language knowledge was, there was always somebody who would give me a ride. And even more than that, some offered to take a detour or wanted to give me something like food, money, or pepperspray (true story!). Also, it teaches you how to ask people for something, and how to deal with different personality types communication-wise. I think the lessons which I learned during hitchhiking helped me greatly during the rest of my life. If I could recommend a single educational activity for a young adult, it’s hitchhiking, especially for people who have an INTJ personality type.

I have hitchhiked in many European countries and only encountered a dangerous situation twice: one of our drivers bought a six-pack beer in the petrol station and started to drink it while driving, after which we strategically asked him to drop us at the next petrol station again. And another driver wanted to impress his girlfriend by driving 260km an hour on the German motorway (legal, but insane!). The others of my 500+ rides were all good experiences. Since I own a car myself I’m always screening the streets for hitchhikers, but I sadly don’t see them often.

I often feel the urge to hitchhike again, which might happen when I’m on my own, but my girlfriend is sadly not open to it. I often joke that now is the best time of our life to do it – who wouldn’t offer a ride to someone traveling with a baby?

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Re: Will's journal

Post by letsdothis » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:37 pm

Hey Will, your journal is great! I've just read most of it and really like it. Gave me a bunch of ideas.Very inspirational and motivating.

Congrats on the baby! As time goes by your views of life/purpose will probably change a lot, your priorities etc. you'll most likely stop viewing kids from a financial aspect :) especially since you're pretty frugal anyway. The main thing is time, and that's mostly while you're sleep deprived so you don't think straight enough. I think the cost for the kindergarten is money you can easily make up with slightly more income to be honest. It's simply necessary if you want to have a couple of extra hours to be able to earn and it's (later on) also good for the baby to socialize etc. It's probably not so easy in the Netherlands where sometimes they basically send babies that still breastfeed to kindergarten. I just feel in some cultures it's quite different. Like, in Eastern Europe, or Germany, you get a whole year off/paid to be with your baby. To me it's just much more natural than having to work at this time when your child needs you. Still, it's a complicated topic for sure. All I'm trying to say is once your baby's a bit older looks at you and tells you "Daddy" hugs you and says "I love you", your mind will just melt and you won't view anything about them as an expense but an investment and a life you share together as a family/ in the same boat. Otherwise one day they might view us as an 'expense' and just send us off to an old people's home :) well hopefully when you're FI we can cover it ourselves :)

anyway, great journal! Thanks a lot and I'll keep reading.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by prognastat » Fri Oct 26, 2018 5:06 pm

I think the opposite can be true too though, not all spending on your kids is an investment and it is also an investment(of effort) to teach them they don't get everything they want simply because they want it and that money doesn't grow on trees so to speak. Also what is worth more in the life of your kids, you spending more money on them or you being able to spend more time with them? There is going to be a point where more time isn't adding value and instead money would be, but I think there are many times where being there is much more valuable.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by letsdothis » Sat Oct 27, 2018 1:01 am

@prognastat, of course, I agree. I just meant that, in general, kids don't cost much at all. Where you buy food for two people there's easy space for a third or a 4th mouth to feed if you know what I mean. Kids can, of course, cost a lot, if you buy into the marketing that they 'need' everything. I guess it's just the same like for adults. What I'm saying is that I believe people's idea that kids cost a lot simply isn't true, because they don't have to cost a lot at all. Also, simply the psychology of viewing your kids as an 'expense' is, IMO at least, very bad for your relationship with the kids as you continually associate expense=negative, something negative to your child. I just can't see how that can be positive for anyone. Also I feel it's normal that, before you get kids, you worry about the financial aspect of a baby, but once you get one, it doesn't become an issue anymore. You just use pure logic and you wouldn't shower the kid with buying everything or solving everything with money. On the other hand, also giving a child 100% of your time and being a 'slave' to the child doesn't seem like the best idea either. I can't prove this scientifically, but a lot of parents who overspend their time with kids end up having kids which don't value their time later on or effort. So I guess it's about balance. It's more about when you do spend time together that it's quality time rather than just the amount of time itself. Of course, definitely better to give them time then to spend money, but the whole time=money=money=time thing mixes these two up a lot. Just how I feel about it at least :) Anyway, sorry for taking the thread a bit offtopic :)

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Re: Will's journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:05 am

Inspired by your hitchhiking story: I hiked the Pieterspad (roughly 600 km, we used our weekends to do this). Best lesson I learned from that is that the solution is often just ... one more step away. At some point you think you're lost, you are looking for clues on where you need to go, and often you'll find a postsign or a recognizable building or a streetname if you just walk those two more meters from where you are standing now.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:59 am

@ letsdothis & prognastat: In my journal I might come across a bit cold and rational with regard to our child, but no worries, in real life I do not only see her as an expense at all. In fact, she's one of the best things to spend money on if necessary. That being said, she hasn't been expensive at all yet, money-wise: She's now 3,5 months old, and since the start of the pregnancy we spent a total of €1804,28 on her, and this is including all related expenses like an additional health insurance for my girlfriend, pregnancy yoga, furniture for the baby room, baby first aid courses. Currently my girlfriend and I are both working 3 days a week (4-day contract, 1 holiday) until the end of 2018. The fifth day our daughter is going to two very kind and capable neighbors. We want to pay the neighbors (they're already retired) for taking care of her, especially since they're planning to do it three days a week starting in 2019. I'm planning to give them a nice monetary Christmas gift and in 2019 give them a monthly gift. The only thing which nags me a bit is that I do not want them to feel that they do it for the money.
This small piece aligns more or less with how I want to raise my daughter: https://www.16personalities.com/intj-parents

@ DutchGirl: That's really cool! The Pieterspad sounds like something I would love to do as well someday. This is something also my girlfriend might be interested in. With regard to sports, especially running an cycling, we usually cannot do those together without upsetting one of the two of us (I get bored at her pace and she cannot handle my pace). But hiking seems like a good middle ground, though I'm still too stubborn to start seeing it as a sport ;)

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:23 am

October 2018 update

She's growing, and she slowly starts developing some new skills like consciously grabbing and moving stuff to her mouth. She's sleeping like a baby during the night for about 11 hours, so the days of getting bad sleep for us should be over! It's becoming nicer to be a father every day.

Sports & Health
I have been training with weights a couple times a week, only the dumbbell clean and press, I discovered this is one of the only practices for which I do not need to bend my wrist. With regard to my wrist: I need a major operation which will happen somewhere at the beginning of 2019. This probably means that I will not be able to use the weights for a couple of months.
I have also been running, which goes well. At the start of this year I wouldn't have dreamed that I would be able to run a half marathon distance already, but I already ran more: 30km from my work to home.
I'm still taking cold showers (since June), and it still really sucks, but works wonders for my dry skin and makes me feel like a badass.

I'm only working for 3 days a week the remainder of this year, and it's great! I do not want to go back to 4, but I will in 2019.
My job is not bad though. My department will be sold in the middle of this month, and then we will be transferred to the new employer. This basically changes very little (location stays the same, team as well), but we will have more autonomy in influencing the course of our business, which I like. And eventually we will get more customers I hope.

I have been thinking that normally I would really need to start looking for a new job at this stage: I am not learning a lot of new skills in my current job anymore and the economy is running very smoothly, so I would probably have no trouble getting a better-paying job which is closer to home. But I like my job and want to see how the takeover plays out. Also we will receive a bonus from the takeover (about a month's salary) and I will not get anywhere near the amount of holiday days somewhere else (38 on a full-time basis).

Smooth sailing for now. Maybe because of my investment philosophy (only invest in stable companies with good future prospects & focus on sustainability) I only lost a little in the current correction. My current investment results for 2018 YTD are still 4% in the plus, which is also helped a bit by the EUR/USD exchange rate. During the month of October my net worth even continued to climb, but this was only because my savings were more than what I lost on the stock market. Net worth should reach 150k around the end of this year. Total spending for 2018 should be around the same number as for 2017 (16k), maybe even a bit less.
I promise to myself that I will create some nice graphs again for my post at the end of this year!

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:58 am

November 2018 update
Lots of stuff happened this month. Good and not so good.
Let’s start with the bad stuff first: I had a major health scare one and a half week ago. During one evening, I couldn’t thing straight anymore and it was as if my brain was slowly starting to explode. It slowly built up during the evening so I wasn’t worrying in the beginning. Eventually I tried to get to sleep but my thoughts went crazy, there was one main stream of thought which I could still control but the others were running wild. I never felt like this before and was really scared that it could be something very serious like a stroke, a brain tumor or a heart attack. I started to sweat like crazy and was very cold. So I called emergency services and we went to the hospital in the middle of the night. No ambulance, since during the phone conversation we checked my vitals and they luckily all seemed to be in order. But I was in complete panic and thought I could die that night, or permanently lose my mind which is probably as bad. My girlfriend drove (I would certainly have created a traffic accident in my condition) and the baby was being transported with us and slept the whole time. When at the hospital and speaking to the doctor my thoughts calmed down a bit, and after checking a lot of things he had to conclude that it was psychological, most likely a panic attack.
Until now I’m a bit confused how this could have happened. I always considered myself to be very emotionally stable, but somehow it happened. For some time, it felt like a near-death experience, even though it wasn’t. After thinking long and hard about the topic and talking on the phone to a psychiatrist, I think five different things have contributed to it happening: some blowback from a flu a week ago, me not having done sports for almost 2 weeks (because of the flu, and I badly NEED sports to be happy), the lack of sunlight the last couple of weeks, all the changes in my life with regard to the baby, and some fights I recently had with my girlfriend. After this scare, I actually had some very good discussions with her about the baby and how I felt. I told her I was really struggling with the child sometimes since it takes so much time and I can’t seem to find any psychological rest anymore, and that I’m sometimes doubting if getting a child was the best choice for me in hindsight. Don’t get me wrong: my daughter is a VERY easy baby, and I love being a father a lot, I’m just struggling with all the changes. After having told her this everything lightened up a bit so I hope we will have fewer disagreements.
A couple of days later when my thoughts were feeling a little bit like what happened the other night, I decided to actively fight them: I know they’re purely psychological, so I did not need to be scared. My solution was to go running. Even though it was pitch dark and I forgot to take any lights, it worked. The thoughts didn’t go away immediately, but during the run they because less and less, and finally when I got back home I was feeling fine again. Since then I did not have issues anymore. I decided to not go into therapy, since I think I can control my own situation.

Other health and sport
I have my wrist operation planned in January, after which I hopefully will be able to use my left hand much better again. At the moment, I cannot do pushups or make movements which require both power and moving my wrist at the same time.
I haven’t done much sports this month because of a major flue two weeks ago. I was literally ill from one moment to the other, and stayed in bed for two straight days before I could even sit behind a computer again. I started running and a bit of weight training again, but I’m not in the best shape at the moment. Because of the flu I quit my cold showers and I find it very hard to start with it again.

The shift to the new employer now officially happened and we received a nice bonus. For the rest, nothing much changed. Still working three days a week which rocks. Going back to four from next January.

November 2018 might have been the best month ever financially. Partly because of the bonus, but somehow my investments performed quite well too, which is a bit surprising since global markets are volatile at the moment. My net worth jumped with 8k to 154k, my SWR is somewhere in the 7% and my savings rate of November was a whopping 78%! Here’s a picture of my income/spending/saving of 2018:


Next year, things are looking worse financially. We will have more expenses since we will pay for the caretaking of our baby, and I will have less income. Partially because I will now work four days a week for a full year (this year it was only a part) and partially because my previous employer consistently paid me too much. I have really doubted whether I should be honest and tell them, but I kept postponing it and now I’m working for a new employer, so chances they will ever discover it are low. But the downside is that I will certainly make less money next year than this year.

Ok, this update has become quite long, see you in 2019!

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Re: Will's journal

Post by jennypenny » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:19 pm

People who've never had a panic attack think that it's the difference between simply being anxious and being really anxious, but it's a completely different animal. Exercise is a good way to ward them off but you won't always be in a situation that allows you to drop everything and go for a run -- you might want to learn how to use meditation/prayer or self-hypnosis to get through them.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. It's common to get them when you are sick, particularly with influenza or a stomach virus. I sometimes get them after getting my flu shot.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:03 am

I thought the same until it happened to me, it's really something which is in an entirely different dimension from what I experienced before. Thank you Jenny for the advice with regard to meditation or self-hypnosis. I know next to nothing about those, going to dig up some information when I have the time. Do you have some recommendations for complete beginners? It gives me comfort to hear that I'm not the only person who has these kinds of problems.

I remember that when I was sick as a child and in my young teens, I experienced a mental state which was something comparable to it, but on a way lower level. Could it be that recently was the first time since then I got a 'decent' illness again? It might be, I've luckily been very healthy. The strange thing was that it occurred after the influenza seemed to be completely gone for two days already. Ah well, it probably doesn't matter, I'm just not going to worry about it and taking precautions in case it might happen again sometime in the future.

Gravy Train
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Re: Will's journal

Post by Gravy Train » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:03 pm

FWIW, I suffered from panic attacks for years, especially during turbulent times (which it sounds like you're going through, with a new baby and changes at work and a sickness). For me there were tells when a panic attack was coming - a pressure in my chest, a numbing/tingling of my face, labored breathing. I only got a handle on them after going to therapy and eliminating known stressors from my life. I second Jennypenny's advice about meditation. At least for me, I was particularly susceptible to attacks when I felt completely out of control of my life, and meditation could probably help with that. If you have the time and money, I found therapy really helpful, too.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:29 am

2018 Wrap-up

First some hard numbers:
Total expenses: 15,605
Income: 41,787
Savings rate: 62.7%
Net worth increased from 123k to 151k

Expenses by category, only categories higher than 100 euro:
4094 Rent
1887 Public transport (which is almost all reimbursed by my employer)
1694 Groceries
1364 Healthcare costs
1133 Car
1030 Child
984 Travel (this includes a skiing holiday and flight tickets to SFO for 2019)
917 Health insurance
417 Municipality taxes etc
386 Restaurants
332 Energy
299 Renovations in our apartment
290 Cat
228 Gifts
103 Water

The biggest out-of-the-ordinary costs in 2018 were my healthcare costs, which I needed to pay because I took an insurance with the highest possible deductible (which I have been doing for 10 years, this is the first time it backfired). In a couple of weeks I will have my wrist operation so I chose my insurance for 2019 accordingly, with a low deductible. My healthcare costs for 2019 will likely be much lower because of it.
I find it scary to see that our car costs are higher than the money we spent on our baby, we probably use the car once a week (but when we do it is very convenient, especially with a child).
Note: these are my numbers only. My GF and I still keep our finances separated, and her numbers will more or less look the same. Most of the costs are identical, like the rent, baby, car and cat. Since we make more or less the same amount of money we split all the shared costs 50/50.

2018 Achievements and failures

- First, I cycled way less than I was planning to do. This was because of time constraints (cycling takes soo much time compared with other sports) and motivation problems: I didn't have a concrete target to train for. Instead, I started running a lot and training with weights. I achieved my goal to do sports at least twice a week on average.
- The SeekingAlpha side hustle went not as good as I planned. This was because, many times, I just didn't feel like writing. I will try to do this better in 2019, but we'll see how it goes. It still remains a side hustle and I don't want it to become uninteresting for me.
- I reduced my employment contract from 5 to 4 days per week. This was a major improvement and the most positive development in my professional life last year.
- We made a very nice appointment with our neighbors who love to take care of our daughter a couple of days per week.
- I wanted to get rid of a lot of stuff to minimize our belongings. Last May and June, this worked quite well and we threw away a lot of unnecessary items. But I guess a baby also brings along a lot of physical stuff, so we more than got back the amount of materials after the arrival of the baby: clothes, toys, etc. Still, the attempt at minimalism was a success and we are already actively donating clothes which have already become too small for our little one.

Outlook for 2019

Some of our costs will likely be higher in 2019:
- Child: we will pay our neighbors for taking care of our child 3 days a week, this will drive up costs
- Travel: we will visit my sister in California in May, which is likely to be the most expensive trip we ever made. Though we already paid for the flight tickets a couple of months ago, we still need a rental car or camper van which will likely not be cheap.
My income will be lower in 2019, since I started working 4 days a week and my new employer pays me according to my contract (and not more like my previous employer). On the one hand this is nasty since it feels like a pay cut, on the other hand I enjoy working 4 days instead of 5.

Targets for 2019, to keep myself accountable:

- Achieve a savings rate of at least 50%
- Do sports at least twice a week
- Have a revenue of at least 3000 with writing content for SeekingAlpha
- Get another source of income of at least 1000
- Decrease my commuting time with at least 25% by year end

As you can see, one of the things I should make active work of is the differentiation of sources of income, which should make my position more anti-fragile. During my time off after Christmas, I already found a gig which I really like: working as a rider for Deliveroo. In a bike-paradise like the Netherlands, this is a quite safe job. I already applied and started working for them, I will strive to do this once a week. Apart from the rain this is probably a job as good as it gets for me, since it combines doing some sports with being outside, and even making some small money in the process. The competitive aspect also appeals to me (the faster I ride, the more I get paid). Like my writing on SeekingAlpha, this activity is more a hobby than a job for me. Still, I fantasize about quitting my regular job and writing/cycling for a living. For my current expenses I would need about 1,300 euro per month. 500 can be taken from my investments at a 4% withdrawal rate. I think I would consistently be able to make about 250 per month from SeekingAlpha without it becoming boring, so that would mean I would still need to make 550 from working as a rider. This would equate to about 12 hours per week. Basically this means I could 'retire' with two hobby gigs already. I am not going to do this, since it would mean saying goodbye to any margin of safety, and at the moment I'm still not hating my main job.

My commute has been nagging me already for three years. It takes 50 minutes to travel from my home to my office using the train. It takes 25 minutes by car, but this is only achievable outside of rush hours, and the traffic is very unpredictable. When I went by car I sometimes needed over one hour, and I really, wholeheartedly hate driving to my work by car. I'm always in a bad mood after commuting by car, even if traffic runs smooth.
So basically I'm wasting 100 minutes every day with commuting, which equates to 400 mins per week or 17,760 per year (296 hours, 37 working days!). This is about 5% of my waking time over a year. This needs to change. To make a start, I want to reach a situation where I spend at least 25% less time on commuting by year end. I have no idea how I'm going to achieve this, maybe find a different job or work from home one day a week, but this urgently needs to be done. I'm already browsing through vacancies to see if there is a different job which could be a fit for me, because I also think the economy is at a point where you can really maximize your earning potential.

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