Mae's Musings

Where are you and where are you going?
Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:06 pm

Sabaka wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:03 am
Expanding on what is written above, an interesting aspect of pursuing FIRE in the U.K is that as a country we're almost a blend of the United States and Western Europe. So we have some areas where our system more represents the European side of things (free healthcare, etc) and others where we are more like the U.S (tax-free investment pots, etc). Overall it produces a system which I think is one of the most suited to FIRE in the world, so no complaining from me :lol:
cheap healthcare* in my case.

I truly wish more things were tax-free here, but I must also add that I feel relatively protected from sudden high costs in this system.

Also: no student debt because education is so cheap.
Sabaka wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 10:03 am
Welcome Mae :) I'd be interested to know how you go about your vegan lifestyle whilst pursuing FIRE? I only ask because I recently started eating pretty much full vegan, and I've noticed that a vegan diet can either be very expensive (if you use lots of speciality items) or very cheap (if you don't).

Congratulations on the savings rate!
Sure & thank you.

Things I stopped doing: buying processed vegan food (faux cheeses, burgers, yoghurt, etcetera), going to vegan restaurants
Things I started doing: eat lentils, beans and chickpeas for protein, buy staple food in bulk whenever possible, recently started a garden, cook large meals and reheat on different days, bring my own snacks (often a piece of fruit and nuts)

Sidenotes: I was vegan before I started pursuing FI. FrugalPatat and I plan our meals, weekly. Supplementing vitamin B12 is a must. (You might as well supplement vitamin D if you're at it.) I recommend Veg1: https://www.vegansociety.com/shop/veg-1-supplements

I hope you persist in your going vegan. It is good for yourself, the planet and the animals.

...

Seriously,

join the dark side.

...

We have (vegan, homemade, ultra cheap ingredient) cookies.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sat Jun 09, 2018 6:11 am

Asset allocation

Without FrugalPatat's apartment and something-comparable-to-401(k), our combined asset allocation is more or less:
  • 43,5% ETFs
  • 41,5% cash and savings
  • 15% pension funds
Apartment garden

I have been harvesting strawberries and should be growing more arugula but I feel like it isn't worthwile due to the lack of space. Looking into a more interesting setup.

Other

I seem to not be able to work on little projects during the weekend, mainly because of the time spent volunteering and working out. I don't mind working out, but I feel like I am not growing enough anymore as a volunteer. (Increasingly poor ROI.) Thinking about scaling it back, but don't want to disappoint some of the other volunteers who have also become my friends.

Sabaka
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:41 am

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Sabaka » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:04 am

Thanks for the tips! I also have tried to avoid the processed vegan stuff as a general rule, it tends to also have lots of added extras which aren't great. I have started supplementing with B12 and Vit D :)

Good luck with the decision regarding scaling back the volunteering. I can emphasise with you, decisions such as these which involve other people (especially friends & family) can be very difficult. I have found Harry Browne's 'How I found freedom in an unfree world' (a book which is frequently mentioned on these forums) to be helpful in making decisions such as these.

FrugalPatat
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:22 am
Location: Belgium (Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by FrugalPatat » Sat Nov 17, 2018 3:34 pm

Update:

Mae and I are married :)
Mae also changed jobs.
I read some more books related to investing and 'risk' but nothing with an impact on our life (at least for now).

I keep asking myself how much money I should allocate to stock ETFs (current valuations don't help); and whether I should worry about the indexing hype, but I don't see any other way at this point. Also whether to get into bonds or to just keep cash in a savings account.

inchicago
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:03 pm

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by inchicago » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:30 pm

Congratulations to you both! :)

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Thu Nov 22, 2018 1:30 pm

Thank you, @inchicago :)

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:23 am

I'm reading YMOYL for the second time. I find it the most interesting FI book I've read so far (and by far!). Clear language, intriguing concepts. Practical. 10/10 would recommend.

I'll try and share some of the content that resonates the most in this journal.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sat Nov 24, 2018 11:17 am

On another note, I went boxing with a friend today. It was a free try-out, a fun activity, good for social bonding and a wake-up call with regards to my endurance. (Mental note: do more cardio, lift weights more often)

We went eating afterwards. I took the cheapest option and planned to eat a decent lunch at home (after she left). She paid for lunch because it was her birthday. I don't care much for birthdays but this was a nice surprise!

So yeah, free exercise and free food :D

Meanwhile I'm still hunting for durable walking shoes to replace my sneakers with. They fell apart after a year. Meh. I'm on my feet a lot, especially when volunteering and during my days off work.

I have my eyes on these shoes: https://www.keenfootwear.com/en-be/p/W- ... RA-WP.html
Gotta figure out if the glue is animal free, first ...

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:14 am

69,68%. That's our November savings rate.

Can I just say that I am deeply disappointed we didn't hit 70%+ :o

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:34 am

Extra income

Because of fiscality, we received a bunch of €'s at the beginning of December. This will skew our savings rate for December.

Mental shift

I visited a store in a shopping street to buy holiday gifts and was completely overwhelmed by all the junk they were selling. Junk being useless and very minor useful (1 specific use) stuff that most people would still happily buy. (I got a € 35 gift card 2 employers ago and have to spend it before the 18th.) I fled the store.

I can't spend money on gadgets, not even for other people. So I'm probably going to buy perishables at the store that are still considered gift-y.

Also, the concept of a 'shopping street' and 'shopping for leisure' seems completely revolting in the context of finite resources and climate change.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:46 am

Utilities: today vs. one year ago

Electricity: - 18.4 %
Water: - 15.4 %
Gas: - 24.1 %

We are mildly conscious of wasting energy and don't know what caused these big shifts, except that we didn't turn on the heating much this year. The temperature in our apartement is around 19-19.5°C at the moment.

MBTI

Why I'm not big into the Myers-Briggs personality types: I get a different outcome every time I take a test. So far, I've had: ENTJ, INFJ, ENFJ, ESFJ, ESTP. That's all.
Last edited by Mae on Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

wolf
Posts: 874
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by wolf » Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:03 am

Well done! Those are big changes compared to one year ago. Was it a great effort to achieve this?
Have your bills/expenses for electricity, water and gas reduced accordingly?
It would be a great motivation, not just to save energy, but to save money as well.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:33 am

@wolf, no, this was achieved with pretty much basic mindfulness. I bet we can reduce it even further, but with greater difficulty.

These numbers include the water we drink, by the way, we do not buy bottled water.

Some of the things we (or I) do:
- Our apartment has good insulation, we barely turn on the heating. Put on a sweater (or two) when it gets cold
- We don't have a bath. I don't shower everyday, FrugalPatat does. Don't shower longer than necessary
- I rarely prepare food in the oven
- We have a small fridge with built-in freezer (as opposed to e.g. American fridge)
- Energy-saving lamps!
- When the shower is running and the water isn't warm yet, we capture it in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet

We'd have to compare our bills from last year and this year, but we haven't received this year's bill yet. I also don't know where to find last year's expenses, but I'll see if I can find them!

We've also started experimenting with changing companies we're with each year. :) So it would indeed be very useful to compare the bills. I'll get back to you on that!

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 672
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:46 am

Great improvements on the energy front! It's one thing we don't track (due to utilities being included in our rent).

I would be curious to know our own consumption.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:35 pm

@2Birds1Stone, thank you! The thing that got me into tracking our energy consumption was some basic energy analytics website. Every first of the month, I get a reminder via mail to log everything. It automatically generates charts, etc. which is how I could compare this and last year so easily! Unfortunately, it's in Dutch and developed for the Belgian energy situation, otherwise I'd share it on here.

I think you could easily track yours if you'd read it from the meters (explore the basement!) at set intervals. It's always interesting to know where we stand, isn't it?

FrugalPatat
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:22 am
Location: Belgium (Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by FrugalPatat » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:04 am

Mae wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:34 am
Extra income

Because of fiscality, we received a bunch of €'s at the beginning of December. This will skew our savings rate for December.
An exceptional savings rate of 89.20% this month for Mae and me!

Some further reductions in spending:
  • We changed electricity and gas providers for 2019. Every time you change you get a reduction for 1 year and thanks to the government's regulations this has very little administrative overhead. So we change every year.
  • Mae changed health insurance provider
  • Getting used to indoor temperatures below 18°C
  • I'm going to eat less peanut butter (I eat 100g a day), because I can order peanuts for less. So I will replace part of the peanut butter in my meals with peanuts.
  • Since Mae is working only 3 days a week she now has the time to go to another store for groceries that is cheaper (but farther away)
  • I was changing settings on my laptop to improve battery life, current working all the time in battery savings mode with a high contrast black screen. This has improved battery life remarkable (I'd say 50 - 80%). I have considered installing a command line only linux and using a command line browser such as links but currently it seems a bit too extreme. But still interested in experimenting with this.
With a return on investment of 0%, no increase in income, no inflation and an SWR of 4% we currently would be considered financially independent in about 8 years. In practice I would never stop working at that point (I'd consider it maybe with an SWR of 1-2%). However I'd consider trying to get into another field outside of corporate IT without worrying too much about the salary.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:26 am

Maintenance of stuff

My parents have the most annoying and wasteful habit of buying most things new, never repairing anything and getting the newest version of something before owned items give out.

I don't want to be like my parents.

Bicycle: I've started putting air in my tires more regularly. I'm ashamed to say I didn't make a habit out of doing that. I use my bike every week or so. I'd like to dig into basic bike maintenance.

Espresso machine: I've only recently figured out that maaayyybbeee we should descale it every once in a while. We've had this machine for nearly 3 years. What the *bleep* This not only improves the taste of our coffee and lifespan of the machine, but also lowers energy usagee, etc. (Don't judge us for the machine, we were ignorant back then. I will keep that machine working properly until I die of a caffeine overdose.)

Jason
Posts: 2173
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Jason » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:31 am

Mae wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:26 am

My parents have the most annoying and wasteful habit of buying most things new, never repairing anything and getting the newest version of something before owned items give out.
I assume you weren't adopted.

Mae
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:44 am
Location: Belgium (Western Europe)

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Mae » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:16 am

Jason wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:31 am
I assume you weren't adopted.
Not adopted. Full on facepalming at my parents and doing a 180 when it comes to my own life, which I guess most people do.

FrugalPatat is the one with financially literate parents.

Jason
Posts: 2173
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Mae's Musings

Post by Jason » Sun Dec 30, 2018 2:00 pm

I think you need to be careful with the 180. It's psychologically impossible. I think you can isolate parts, and say, I need to avoid certain things or do certain things differently. But unless it was monstrous, there's usually things of value imparted.

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