USA - NYC

Perhaps I’m wrong, but most bloggers are probably more organized than I am. I don’t hold a buffer of posts that I can use when I lack inspiration. This often leads to last minute writing (with associated typo’s and spelling errors, sorry!). So, without pre-planning this week, it will hereby turn into “Real Estate Investing Week” at Cheesy Finance. What’s up with the click-bait title, I can hear you ask? Well, it might actually become a reality in the (distant) future. How do we think we can get to €100.000 Rental Income? Let’s review!

€100.000 Rental Income - Pretty Picture

€100.000 Rental Income – Pretty Picture
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-poelman/have-the-big-players-chan_b_6912888.html

Current Situation

As you might be aware, we currently have 5 rental properties and a house of our own. The market segment we prefer includes properties around the social housing norm (defined as a €710/month limit; rents below this limit are defined by a point system here in the Netherlands). The main reason is the relatively large market available, e.g. there are many people that could afford these properties. This makes it easier to rent out these properties and keep vacancy rates low. So far, this has worded out well. The downside is that the tenant turnover is a bit higher. It’s a trade-off we are willing to accept.

We also have one commercial unit, which holds a artisan workshop. This is not our preferred market, but this opportunity presented itself and we took advantage of it. In the future this unit will be rebuild into a residential unit, which will allow a higher monthly rent and a better return on investment.

The Near Future

It probably is not a surprise to you that we are actively looking to expand our Real Estate holdings. We are currently investigating financing options and properties to see if we can expand our rental income. One option we are actively reviewing is a portfolio of 5 units. The yield is pretty good, but there are some other risks associated with this opportunity. This includes limited increase/stagnant rental income and requirements for urgent maintenance/upgrades of bathrooms/kitchens. But if the purchase price is right, this might not be a major concern. Only time will tell if this will become the right investment for us.

€100.000 Rental Income – Real Estate Financing

€100.000 Rental Income

Now, how do we get from where we are now (~€36.000/year RE income) to €100.000 rental income? Well, it’s something like: “go big or go home” 😉

Firstly we have to do two things with the existing Real Estate: convert the commercial unit and split of our existing house. The idea is to upgrade the workshop to a residential unit, this will probably costs us as much as €75.000 (could be €100.000, subject to work required). We also want to split our current home into two rental units. The costs for this are estimated at €50.000 (new kitchen, heating system, bathroom and partitions + municipal fees and any required works). This would add two rental units to the portfolio and increase income for one. Not unimportantly, we also will need to move 🙂

Secondly, the purchase of the portfolio of 5 units needs to be successful. We have no guarantees at this stage but will keep you updated on developments. Depending on how things go, the direct out of pocket costs for this Real Estate portfolio are about €100.000-125.000. This would mean we have to sell our Dutch dividend shares, sell our ETF portfolio and use most of our cash reserve.

Property Value and Financing

Based on our estimate of the value of all properties combined, we would be in the 7-figure territory. That is a lot of money! See below for a summary of what we believe (and know) the properties should be worth (market value):

€100.000 Rental Income - Property Market Value

€100.000 Rental Income – Property Market Value

Looking at this, we are going to need a lot of financing! This will also cause us to be quite leveraged with this Real Estate investment. Partially this scares the crap out of me! But when looking at the numbers (positive cash flow) and our experience from the last few years, it certainly is possible. A (conservative) estimate of the total financing we need (via investment mortgages and perhaps even personal loans) is shown below:

€100.000 Rental Income - Financing per Property

€100.000 Rental Income – Financing per Property

Right now, our own investment would be about €390.500. This is assuming that everything happens “tomorrow”. This is not the case, as this will take us several years to realize. Realistically, about 4-5 years at a minimum! During that time, principle payments would have increased our investment at bit.

Rental Income

Using the existing rental income, and the estimated rental income of the renovated/upgrades units, we estimate the following:

€100.000 Rental Income - Rental Income

€100.000 Rental Income – Rental Income

This should be a realistic estimate, but could vary slightly depending on market conditions. If the economy does well, this should be very much doable. If we get another crisis/recession (and we will), we might temporarily get a bit less.

Operating Expenses

As noted above, assuming all this happens “tomorrow”, the expenses would look like this (rough estimate):

€100.000 Rental Income - Rental Expenses

€100.000 Rental Income – Rental Expenses

The expenses includes interest costs, property management, building management, insurance, maintenance reservations and property taxes.

Obviously we won’t be able to make this happen “tomorrow” as we simply don’t have that much money nor the ability to get all financing at once. This is therefore a conservative approximation, as over the coming years we pay down principle and the effective interest expense will go down.

Personal Taxes

Because all these investments will be considered wealth, the investments will be taxed in “Box 3“. In this case the tax burden (assuming the investment is done “tomorrow”) will be €1.704. The calculation is as follows:

  • Total assets are €1.070.000 (estimated market value)
  • Total assets corrected for being in “rented state”: €909.500*
  • Combined debts are €679.500
  • Net Wealth for taxes: €230.000
  • First €50.000 of wealth is not taxed (for a couple like us)
  • Next €150.000 is effectively taxed at 0.86%
  • The final €30.000 is effectively taxed at 1.38%
  • Leading to a total tax burden of about €1.704
€100.000 Rental Income - Personal Taxes

€100.000 Rental Income – Personal Taxes

*: note that we currently don’t know what the property municipal assessments (WOZ) would look like for this portfolio. This assessment is critical as it determines the value you have to add for your personal taxes. In rented state you have to use between 45% and 85% of the assessed value of the property. This percentage depends on the “yearly rental income” over “WOZ value” ratio (see here, Dutch only). We assume 85% for our scenario. This translates into the fact that the “total assets in rented state” is likely an over estimate. This as we used the market value at 85% and not the WOZ value, which generally is (much) lower.

Interesting note, if all mortgages and loans are paid in full. The total tax burden on €909.500 would be €11.082 per year (for the 2017 tax year). This is an effective tax rate of 1.22%

Net Income

So what are we left with at the end of the day? Based on the above we have the following:

  • Income €100.320
  • Expenses €67.448
  • Net income before personal taxes €32.872
  • Personal taxes €1704
  • Net income after personal taxes €31.168

Now that is more then enough to become FI for us! It would even give us about €6K more in travel allowances per year, yay 🙂

Note that taxes in this case are only just 5.2% per year! This will obviously rapidly climb as the properties are being paid off and your wealth is increasing. For example, as noted above, the taxes are €11.082 if you have no mortgages/loans. In this case the expenses would drop about €17.000 (2.5% interest on €679.500). Your net income before personal taxes would increase from €32.872 to about €50.000. In this case the tax burden would become about 22%. In that case you are left with about €48.900, that is more than enough for FI in the Netherlands!

 

How about you, are you interested in real estate investing? What do you like about it? What are you afraid of?

Austria - Castle

Last weekend we had our 3rd BENL (Belgium – Netherlands) FIRE meet-up in Utrecht and it was a blast! We had a total of 28 people show up to talk about money and freedom for the day. Many people we had never seen before, you got to love internet finance dating for strangers! We are pumped to do this again later this year and plans are already being made for that meetup. As part of the meetup I also did a short presentation: Real Estate investing – a Dutch Case study.

A slightly shorter version of this presentation is provided below. It includes some additional comments based on the feedback during the meetup. Note that this presentation is to provide some basics for property research and selection. It therefore lacks details! If you are really interested in finding the right property for you, additional detailed assessments are required. Such include risk assessments, investigation into the state of the property, taxes, a maintenance plan and more.

Property Screening

The first step into Real Estate investing is high level property screening. For this we use several sites to find properties that match our search criteria. Typical sites in the Netherlands include www.Funda.nl and www.beleggingspanden.nl. If you leave outside the Netherlands, do your search for your applicable sites, which should be easy (i.e. realtor.com, mls.ca, etc.).

Real Estate Case Study - Screening

Real Estate Case Study – Screening

Property Selection

Before you can make your property selection, you need to know what you want! Do you want commercial or residential rental unit? If residential, do you want a house, townhouse, condo or even a house boat (for Airbnb rentals).

Real Estate Case Study - Property Selection 1

Real Estate Case Study – Property Selection 1

Once you know what type of property you want, the next will be to look for one. You will have to select on price, location and the general state of the building/property. The latter is important as it affects the sales price. If you are handy and have time, a fixer-upper could be a good one. But if you are not, you should look for something that is ready to move in, but well priced.

Real Estate Case Study - Property Selection 2

Real Estate Case Study – Property Selection 2

The Condo Case Study

For this Case Study I ended up selecting a condo unit in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This property looked appealing, some maintenance to be done in the bathroom, but generally in pretty OK shape. Price was reasonable too, but not spectacular. A perfect case study!

Real Estate Case Study - The Condo

Real Estate Case Study – The Condo

The Expenses

The first thing to look at are the expenses. We start with looking at the purchase expenses. These include costs for purchase, transfer taxes, notary and financing. Additional expenses could include urgent renovations, which are not assumed here. Please note that we assumed that there is some negotiation space for the price too (i.e. the lower purchase price)!

Real Estate Case Study - Expense Calculations 1

Real Estate Case Study – Expense Calculations 1

The next thing to look at are the monthly expenses for running the property. These include property management, insurance, maintenance, building management (i.e. condo fees), taxes and sewage fees. Because this is a condo, we only include about 1% for the maintenance reservation (otherwise it usually ranges between 2.5 and 3.5%). This allowance is to be used for kitchen and bathroom replacement, and any other things like flooring, lights, etc.

Property Management fees are included due to their tax advantages in the Netherlands (which makes this investment an Box 3 investment, rather than Box 1 income!). We also like the risk management side of things, as these guys have more screening tools than we do.

We included monthly fees and the selection fee (one month rent + VAT @ 21%). The latter is spread over 2 years (i.e. we expect new tenants every 2 years), which is slightly above average in this market segment.

Real Estate Case Study - Expense Calculations 2

Real Estate Case Study – Expense Calculations 2

Financing

We assumed we needed financing, so added an investment mortgage of €70k with an interest of 3.85% (5 year term). You might be able to get something cheaper, but will depend on your personal circumstance and other assets you may have.

We quickly calculated the total yearly mortgage costs and the cost of interest only. If you add that to the above expenses, you get the numbers at the bottom of the slide below. For cash-flow the maintenance reservation is not taken into account. As you won’t pay this every year, but likely in lumps  every couple of years. You may decide to do this differently when you are looking at a house. In which case you have yearly heating unit maintenance, for example.

Real Estate Case Study - Expense Calculations 3

Real Estate Case Study – Expense Calculations 3

The Income

Now the fun part starts, the money coming into the bank account! We normally use 3 scenarios for screeing purposes, so get some feel for the spread and associated cash-flow scenarios. These scenarios are based on 12 month occupation (best case), 11 months (base case) and 9 months (worst case). Albeit it should be noted that it could be way worse! For example if a tenant does not pay and you cannot evict due to strict tenant protection laws.

Real Estate Case Study - Income Calculations 1

Real Estate Case Study – Income Calculations 1

Now the next step is to find out net income, so after the expenses shown in the previous paragraph. When you do, this is what  you get:

Real Estate Case Study - Income Calculations 2

Real Estate Case Study – Income Calculations 2

Not bad, even in a worst case scenario you are still cash-flow positive! Well, at least you are close to breaking even, because utility costs are not included in the expenses for the 3 months you do not have a tenant. As a landlord you are responsible for these costs at about €15-30/month (subject to usage and utility rates).

Yields

So what does this all mean in terms of yield on your investment? The shown yields are not really great to be honest, especially considering the risks you take as a landlord. You kind of what to have a cash-flow yield around 8-10% in this leverage scenario. In short, you either have to get the property for less. If you cannot, you have to walk and look for something else.

Real Estate Case Study - Cash Flow Yields

Real Estate Case Study – Cash Flow Yields

In the ultimate scenario, when all the mortgage is paid off, you get the following (2017 price level: no inflation correction):

Real Estate Case Study - Ultimate Yields

Real Estate Case Study – Ultimate Yields

Not great yields, but your cashflow is likely about €4.5-5.0K average per year. With about 7 of these, and wealth taxes included, you would be FI!

Disclaimer and considerations

Some important assumptions and considerations apply to this simplified calculation, and its results:

Real Estate Case Study - Other Considerations

Real Estate Case Study – Other Considerations

If you have any questions, do leave a comment!

 

Cheesy Finance Options Trading

Finally had some time to tally up the options trading income for May. I’m pleasantly surprised to be able to report we made some money again! Please find below the May 2017 Options Trading Update.

May 2017 Options Trading Update

Slowly getting a better feel for options trading and the risks and opportunities associated with it. Still not trading on a non-cash secured margin. Not my style! The options trading income for May was a very respectable €176.75.

May 2017 Options Trading Update

May 2017 Options Trading Update

See below for an option trading overview for 2017. We are already well over €300, that completely beats my expectations!

Monthly Options Trading Income

Monthly Options Trading Income

 

As you can see, we traded various options on Boskalis, the stock we bought as a mistake (were aiming for a quick win…wrong!). We were able to recover some of the losses and received the dividend as well last week. Still an overall loss on paper. But working hard to correct and potentially still make a bit of money on it……may be.

How did you do on the options front?

It is that time of the month again, the time to present to you the May 2017 Cheesy Index! Let see how we did this month in increasing the ration between our net worth and our FIRE target number (which is under 7 figures in case you are wondering).

April 2017 Cheesy Index

We were pretty much at a stand still for May. We are up to 61.6%, that’s just 0.2% for the month. This is partially driven by the low savings rate and the exchange rates really hurt this month too. That being said, despite all these “setbacks”, we still moved ahead! Should be happy with that. There will be a time when we won’t see another increase, guess this is a nice mellow trial in “disappointing” results. Will have to get used to it at some point.

May 2017 Cheesy Index

May 2017 Cheesy Index

Exchange Rates Again

So, the pain continues.  The exchange rate was CAD 1.516 by the end of May. Compare that to CAD 1.49 by the end of April and even CAD 1.42 by the end of March. That is now an almost 7% change in the wrong direction. But such is life and there will be more fluctuations to come.

On the other hand (I’m the glass half full type of guy), our net worth expressed in USD actually did increase by about 6% since March. Not that this is helping us in any way, but it’s fun to think about it 🙂

How was your May? Did your net worth or index grow too. Hope it was more than ours 🙂

BENL FIRE Meetups - Financial Fun Since 2016

As you might have seen in earlier posts, we (Amber Tree Leaves and us) are organizing a Belgium-Netherlands (BENL) FIRE Meetup in Utrecht on Saturday June 17. We still have a few spots left, so if you want to join in, this is your last chance! Please leave us or Amber Tree Leaves a comment/drop us an email and we will get back to you.

The Tentative Program

The program is as follows:

  • 10:15-11:00 informal get-together in Utrecht, do some chatting and have a coffee or tea with a biscuit/cookie of your choice;
  • 11:00-12:00 Financial Speed Dating (one-on-one or two-on-two sessions of about 5 min each to get to know each other);
  • 12:00-14:00 Brown Bag Lunch (i.e. bring your own) and more informal chats
  • 14:00-17:00 Presentations and discussions. Topics to be presented and discussed include: alternatives ways to FIRE, part-time FIRE, FIRE in Europe and a Real Estate case study;
  • 17:00-18:00 Spare time in case we are having too much fun with the above;
  • 18:00-19:00 Do dinner together (bring your own / pot-luck, take-out or local restaurant);
  • 19:00-21:00 More chatting and some beers and close out of the evening; and,
  • 21:00-??:00 Party in Utrecht for the real Die-hards?

Other Details

Some other details that could be useful for you to know:

  • The venue in Utrecht is very close to a train station, but also has free local parking;
  • We will bring coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer and a few light snacks (but please do bring some yourself if you can);
  • You bring your own lunch/dinner. For dinner we would recommend cold dishes like salads and pasta, or things that can be prepared without a kitchen. Otherwise you can order/get some food from local venues (pizzeria/snack-bar/local super market);
  • Costs will likely range around €10-12 pp, including beverages/light snacks. But is subject to the final number of people attending (more is better here!);
  • You don’t have to be a Blogger! Partners are welcome too; and,
  • You can come and leave whenever you want.

With under one week to go, we are slated to have some serious financial fun. We hope to see you all in Utrecht!

P.s. for those that are on the email distribution and have confirmed they are attending, details will be send to you later today!

After the stellar March and April dividend updates, we were due for another slower month. At least, that is what we thought! But we were surprised by the results. Here is the May 2017 Dividend Update.

Monthly Dividend Update

The following shares were added last month:

  • 100 H (Hydro One – Canadian Utility provider)
  • 100 BOS (deviated from the rules here, not a great move! So this one may sting a bit. Will use for options and its dividend in June)
  • 100 ABN (also for options trading and it’s dividend in June)

We also have tons of DRIP shares including AAR.UN, CJR.B, DRG.UN, PLZ.UN, GS, CIX, SJR.B and a few more.

We also sold about 150 of LIQ (had over 500 shares). We had the option to sell with a limited loss and reinvest into better growth shares. LIQ is the largest liquor retailor on the Toronto stock exchange. Always had a very high dividend, but cut to a third a while back due to issues in Alberta. This was one of our first purchases when we started investing in dividend stock, but not one of our best selections. Should have paid more attention on the pay-out ratio! Lesson learned.

Oh, and keep your eye on the Dividend Diplomats and the Predictable Snowball for great DGI income summaries from various other bloggers.

March Dividends

Once we added up all the deposits received into the bank accounts (and corrected for exchange rates), the total comes to: ~€420. That is a 33.3% increase from a year ago. Pretty happy with that.

May 2017 Dividend Update - Dividend Income

May 2017 Dividend Update – Dividend Income

The graph below is showing the yearly dividend totals for 2015 and 2016, and a year-to-date dividend total for 2017. We are now over half way the 2016 income and we are not even half way the year!

The “Dutch” dividend income (AH, ABN, BOS, UNA and RDSA) are all after taxes (15%). The rest are held in RRSP’s and are not taxed (we will pay withholding tax when we withdraw from the account, but the dividends are not taxed themselves).

May 2017 Dividend Update - Yearly Dividend Overview

May 2017 Dividend Update – Yearly Dividend Overview

Dividend Stock Overview

Our dividend portfolio still contains 47 companies with a total of 11.292 shares and looks like this (up 1.651 shares from a year ago):

May 2017 Dividend Update - Share Overview

May 2017 Dividend Update – Share Overview

Dividend Sector Breakdown

When you breakdown the previously shown dividend stock overview by sector, it looks as follows:

May 2017 Dividend Update - Sector Allocation

May 2017 Dividend Update – Sector Allocation

How was your May? Did you have a bit of a surprise too?

Savings Rate Update

The horror! The pain! May was a brutal month from a Savings Rate perspective. It’s one of those months where all the bills come in at once. But whom am I kidding, we should still be happy with the results as we are still in the black this month. We probably still beat about 95% of the country too (completely pulled that stat out of my a$$). Gotten curious? Let’s have a look at the May 2017 Savings Rate!

May Finances

For May 2017 we ended the month at a savings rate of 29.7%. Really not happy with these results, but you cannot win them all! 

A financial overview of the month:

  • We received our regular incomes and the holiday allowance for Mr CF (at 8.33% of gross income). Mrs CF gets hers paid every month in her salary. We also made a payment for Mrs. CF professional registration fees and costs for a business trip. Reimbursement is scheduled for June;
  • The crowdfunding is now down to just €190 in deposits (we currently have had 4 out of 33 projects with some sort of issue, 2 resulted in a complete loss of payment other are delayed or paid off completely);
  • Living and healthcare spending was insanely high this month due property taxes and waste/sewage fees (~€1000) and the bill for the new windows and associated works (~€1630). Other costs include a new Grohe tap and showerhead for the shower (both broke within just 3 years!) – cost €225. We decided to spend some extra money here in the hopes that it will last longer in our hard water area;
  • The transport costs were above average with about €210. One fuel-up from the holiday was included here. Besides this charge, the overall fuel consumption was pretty low due to all the cycling to work in May;
  • Grocery costs were above normal this month with a total of about €322. Not sure about the reasons actually, did not do anything special, albeit we did by lots of nuts, dates and figs at the market a couple weeks back;
  • The kid category was again fairly stable, we paid for day-care fees (net fees are about €953) and some clothing again (kid is growing fast!);
  • Travel and Leisure for this month was about €110. Had a few day trips and some charges from the holiday in Belgium; and,
  • The other category was about €336 with some cash withdrawals, charges for the gym for Mrs CF, and costs for the reservation of the Meetup room in Utrecht!.

May 2017 Savings Rate 

The savings rate for the month of May was thus 29.7%. The overall savings rate for YTD 2017 is now 57.5%, but we are trending towards losing the “Gold Badass Saver” status this way. Are we worried? Not really :-). We have no major plans for the rest of the year, albeit we are still awaiting the deductible for the work done of the roof earlier this year. This could be up to a €1000 bill (no news yet). We are planning for another vacation, which could be a bit more than the €642 we spend in Belgium. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much.

Fun fact for the month, the expenses in May were bigger than that for March and April COMBINED! The only reason why the Saving Rate is still pretty good is because of the Holiday allowance that was paid to Mr CF (in the Netherlands this is a mandatory 8% of income!).

Here are the stats:

May 2017 Savings Rate - Overview

May 2017 Savings Rate – Overview

If you breakdown our expenses for the month, the distribution looks like this:

May 2017 Savings Rate - Expenses

May 2017 Savings Rate – Expenses

How was your Savings Rate? Did you have a bad month too? Was it for similar reasons?

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge

I’ve made it! Had my doubts there for a while as my knee was playing up. But shaking up the workout routine (with the Skeelers) and adding some “Insanity Cardio Recovery” workouts really helped. Let’s have a look at the results of the Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge: The Final Episode. Sorry, sounds a bit like a Star Wars movie title 🙂

The Final Results

Up to Wednesday May 31 Friday June 2 I’ve been able to do the following workouts:

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge: The Final Episode Plot 1

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge: The Final Episode Plot 2

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge: The Final Episode Plot 3

The above summarizes to:

  • 33 days of exercise;
  • 49 individual activities;
  • Total running distance 36.61 km (next month a full marathon distance??);
  • Number of “Insanity Cardio Recovery” workouts: 4;
  • Total Skeeler/road inline skating distance 26.81 km;
  • Total cycling distance 664.59 km; and,
  • Calories burned 21.652 (that is well over two whole kg’s of body fat burned!).

Observations and Notes

  • I’m happier! Maybe it’s the endorphins, but I actually feel more upbeat;
  • Cycling speed (especially with head winds) is definitely improving;
  • I’m far less tired now when I’m arriving at home or at work from cycling compared to the first week(s), actually feel fresh (and fruity, ok…maybe not that);
  • Still no six-pack.. 🙁  But perhaps I’m aiming too high (and snacking too much);
  • Knee is doing well, no issues anymore;
  • I’m really starting to enjoy the cycle commute to work, especially with the great weather we have had lately;
  • I do have to go to the bike shop today as my parts for the bike have arrived. The chain/cassette were making noise and the chains had too much slack, both needed to be replaced. Costs are estimated at around €80-90 including labour (don’t have to tools to do it myself….); and,
  • I’ve actually finished a workout challenge! Yeah 🙂

The whole challenge has been great and the improvements are amazing. The plan is to continue with the regular workouts, but perhaps tone it down to about 4-5 days per week, rather than the full 7. Ultimately, for next year, the plan will be to up this to about 6 days per week to have 2 days each of cycling, running and swimming for the preparations for an Olympic triathlon. Getting more and more motivated!

A Twist

In a twist of events, Mrs CF also started to workout again! I’m really delighted actually. She prefers sports like badminton, table tennis and such. But due to time/life restrictions she ended up getting a gym membership. This way she can workout during her lunch hour as the gym is located in the same office building, so no lost travel time.

Unfortunately, gyms are normally not really cheap. In this case it is €30/month + a €30 signup fee. Her motivation was, it’s cheaper to get a gym membership than to buy new clothing. Guess this is female logic at work, but in her case it might actually be true. Not because of her expensive taste in clothing, but due to her size. Mrs CF is pretty tall and has really long legs, so finding cloths that fit properly is often difficult and expensive (especially the pants/jeans department). If you are wondering how tall that is, she beat’s me by about 3 inches (~7.5cm) and I’m well over the Dutch average height.

However, I’m just happy she is moving again. Any weight loss is great, but the benefits to her health are far more important to me. Gives her a better chance of bugging me a bit longer (and vice versa) 🙂

How about you, how is you workout routine going?

The Perfect Heist

A cop and his partner investigate the death of an accountant, who is found in an industrial wood shredder (what’s left of him anyways).

In their search for the truth they end up with a pastor at a local church. This pastor turns out to be a con-man who had defrauded another congregation a few years before. His signature trade was to have the congregation work hard to make money for their parish. Next, the “wolf in sheep’s cloths” (aka the Pastor) would transfer the funds abroad (Curacao in this case) and vanish with his pretty partner.

The Perfect Heist - Industrial Wood Shredder

The Perfect Heist – The Industrial Wood Shredder, a useful tool for every criminal/murderer
Source: https://www.vermeer.com/NA/en/N/industries/wood_waste

 

However, this time the female partner realized she is betrayed by the pastor. She had found out that he impregnated another female of the congregation. In a twist these ladies start to work together and conspire against the pastor and have the congregation members kill him. They end up getting away with $357.000 and you see them sipping (virgin) margarita’s on the beach in Curacao. End good, all good! Or is it? For some reason(s) we don’t think this was the perfect heist….

Curacao

The above story lines comes from an episode of the series “Grimm”. We watched some of this series on Netflix last week. The episode was called “the good shepherd”, in case you are interested. But his episode got us thinking, it is possible to survive and even thrive on the income from “the perfect heist” as commonly shown in movies and series? Time to find out!

The Perfect Heist - Curacao

The Perfect Heist – Location of Curacao

Let’s start with the story line as noted above. Besides the $357.000 heist from the parish in Portland, the initial heist from the first parish also collected $440.000. This totals to a nice $797.000, assuming all the transferred funds were untouched. Now, the two ladies had to fly to Curacao. There would have been costs for bank accounts and transfer fees. Let’s also assume they party a bit in the first month of “retirement”. A rough guess is that they would have about $790.000 left for a long-term stay on Curacao.

A Long and Happy Retirement?

For sake of simplicity we assume the 4%-rule is true and will hold up in the coming decades (this is debatable, we know). The 4% SWR would yield $31.600 per year. Let’s assume this is after taxes. Would these two ladies be able to survive in Curacao?

According to the Cost Of Living Index, Curacao is not too bad for individual costs. However there is no data rank for this place. We therefore assume it is about 65% of living in New York City (which is the benchmark). This percentage is based on neighboring countries/areas and the fact that Curacao is an tropical island (and thus more expensive for certain goods and services).

At 65% of NYC, the living costs without rent is approximately $727 per person per month (NYC = $1.119 pppm). Rental of an apartment outside a city with 3 rooms averages about $1371/month. The two ladies would therefore need about $2.825/month. This is $33.900/year. What do you know! If they are able to save about $2.300 per year, they might actually be able to make it. But it won’t be margaritas on the beach every day served by sexy waiters. It would be a relaxed, but a far from glamorous retirement.

Low Cost of Living Areas

Perhaps it’s not a bad idea for them to move to a lower COL area, to stretch the “hard earned” dollars a bit further. Based on the COL index, you’d likely end up in India, Egypt, Pakistan or Ukraine. If they’d like a bit less of an adventure and a more “western” feel to it, they could go to Las Palmas in Spain.

The Perfect Heist - Las Palmas Spain

The Perfect Heist – Las Palmas Spain
Source: http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/Discover-the-city.12652.0.html

Las Palmas has a COL index of 48.62. This translates into living actual costs of just $544 pppm. Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment is about $621/month. This would mean total costs of $1709/month or $20.508/year. That would leave about $12.000 per year for sun, fun and margaritas! Guess we have a clear winner here.

Catch?

But there is also a catch. Curacao and Spain both have an extradition treaty with the USA. Considering the two cops already know who they are, they could be in for some serious issues! More on this later.

Heist Amounts

In most cases heists are performed by a group of people. Even the electronic heists are usually done with a team of “experts”. I’ve make a short list of several movie heists and associated values (total and per person). It is actually quite hard to find the heist amount in most movie synopsis. If you feel I missed an important one (or two/three/etc.), please comment! Would love to make this list a bit longer.

The Perfect Heist - Heist the Movie

The Perfect Heist – Heist the Movie

  • Heist: Cash for sick daughter’s medical bill. Value: $300.000 (not for retirement, obviously)
  • Snatch: 86 carat diamond. Value: $3.9M. Team size 6 = $0.65M pp
  • The Score: Scepter. Value: $4.0M. Team size 4(?) = $1.0M pp
  • The Italian Job: Gold. Value $38M. Team size 6 = $6.33M pp
  • Ocean’s Eleven: Cash. Value $150M. Team size 11 = $13.63M pp

In most of the above examples, the guys/girls should be just fine financially. Especially in the case of Ocean’s Eleven! They would have no issue living in Zurich or Bermuda (the two highest COL areas in the index).

But in some of the above cases they are on the run from law enforcement, or pissed off gangsters/mobsters or even both. It is probably time to disappear instead of flaunting the new wealth, but where to go?

Safe and Affordable Locations to Retire for the Aspiring Criminal

A quick search on the interweb found the following post. There is quite the list of countries with no extradition treaty with the USA. This is the good news if you have law enforcement coming after you! However, as noted in the article, there is still the chance of you becoming a pawn of governments. A deal to extradite you might still be made and you would be out of luck (and in prison!).

That being said, the following countries could be interesting (depending on your retirement preferences):

  • Cuba (No COL index available)
  • Indonesia (Yogyakarta COL index = 35.08)
  • The Maldives (No COL index available)
  • Namibia (No COL index available)
  • Nepal (Kathmandu COL index = 34.24)
  • Morocco (Casablanca COL index = 37.94)
  • Samoa (No COL index available)
  • São Tomé & Príncipe (No COL index available)
  • Taiwan (Kaohsiung COL index = 59.78)
  • Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City COL index = 43.38)

Unsurprisingly, most these places have a pretty low COL and you could live like a king. Not really low key though….might attract more attention than you want. Guess if (fellow) gangsters are after you, the Brazilian jungle or Siberian mountains are a better place to stay. These places will undoubtedly have a low COL too, but are far from glamorous/comfortable.

The Perfect Heist - Cost Of Living Index

The Perfect Heist – Cost Of Living Index Map of the world
Source: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/

The Perfect Heist

The perfect heist is obviously difficult, as nothing is perfect. So here are some considerations for “the perfect heist” (or “practical heist”) from a financial perspective:

  • Gold is not too bad. The weight of $1M in gold today (@ $1.267/oz.) is about 789.3 oz. = 22.37 kg. You could still add this into your luggage and not have to pay extra when flying out of the country! It does have poor resale value at (smaller) jewelers/pawn shops. When stealing $1M in market value, you could probably lose up to 30% or so in commissions/exchange rates.
  • Diamonds are great in the sense that they are light and easy to transport. The price is however subject to the market, quality and the size (higher carat diamonds are generally worth more per carat). You would have to steel many more smaller ones to get the same value. But in this case you should probably still steel small diamonds, as the bigger ones are more difficult as there are fewer available. Finding a balance is key here.
  • Cash might also be a problem too depending on how much you steal. The weight of $1M in $20 bills is 50kg and encompasses nearly 52l of volume! That’s an extra charge at the airport (unless you use points or are a frequent flyer). Perhaps you better steel $100 notes, in that case you are down to 10 kg and just over 10.3l of volume. That should fit in a backpack! Traceability might still be a problem, as each bill has a unique number/code.
  • Art is a tricky one as the value per weight/dimensions can be really high. But because art is so unique, selling it might be difficult. When you sell on the black market it is likely also at significantly reduced values.
  • That leaves electronic data/currency, which has no weight (unless you transport on a stick of drive). It might take some time to shift the funds via different banks in different countries to a final destination bank or banks. Even better, transfer into Bitcoin or some other non-traceable digital currency. This way you might be able to really disappear of the (virtual) radar. But with Bitcoin, the value in USD also changes and I’m not sure about any transfer/transaction fees. The fluctuations might actually work two ways, it could make you even more money, or result in big losses. Only time will tell.
The Perfect Heist - The Diamond Heist

The Perfect Heist – The Diamond Heist
Source: http://www.enigmarooms.co.uk/

The Moral of this Story

If you plan “the perfect heist” of some sorts, make sure it is for a good amount of (guaranteed) money to cover your risks. And quickly get your butt to a non-extradition country and lay low for a while!

But despite all the options, the perfect heist is likely not doing one at all. Probably better to just slash costs of living and invest the difference into income producing assets. This is almost a guarantee for success with no risk to your personal life. Clear win if you’d ask me.

So, no plans on our side for any of this, but one can dream, right?! How about you, what’s your perfect heist?

P.s. interesting trivia, the actor playing the con-man/pastor actually stopped working to sail around the world for 2.5 years with his family! Seems like a smart cookie that knows how to value life and experiences.

Already the last post of this month. Man, time flies! It was a fun but busy month. So let’s quickly have a look at the Real Estate Report – May 2017.

Rental Income

Still no surprises here, same tenants, same income, all on time again! The usual income overview is provided below:

Real Estate Update - May 2017 Income

Real Estate Update – May 2017 Income

Rental Expenses

As you can see below our expenses were quite high for the month, this was as expected due to taxes/sewage fees due and the maintenance bill. It cannot be unicorns and rainbows all months 🙂

The expenses for the month include:

  • Insurance (for buildings and liability);
  • Interest costs (mortgage and loan);
  • Property Taxes/Sewage (3 out of 5 properties);
  • Maintenance/repair costs (bill for mechanical ventilation unit placement); and,
  • Property management costs.
Real Estate Update - May 2017 Expenses

Real Estate Update – May 2017 Expenses

More property taxes, sewage and garbage fees are scheduled to arrive in the coming two months. They are not as bad as this month though, fortunately.

Real Estate Report – Overview and Forecast

We made a total of €1.417 in net rental income for the month of May (before taxes). The net cash-flow will come in around €1.100. Our total YTD rental income for 2017 is €9.098 (before taxes).

Real Estate Update - May 2017 Overview

Real Estate Update – May 2017 Overview

Because it has been dry (both inside the one apartment and outside) there currently is no moisture or mold issue on the one unit. But this will come again once fall comes around. However, we are still struggling to find the right tools for the installation of the vapour barrier. We need to cut through 20cm of stone to install the barrier. But most available tools only go as deep as 10-15cm. Our contractor is still looking around, but due to the good economy he is busy as can be. Story to be continued.

Have not made much progress with trying to setup a sale of one unit, nor have we looked at work on the outside wall either. Need to review our options here soon as paintwork is due too. Really need to make a decision on what we will do going forward. Problem is there are few interesting opportunities out there right now, prices are going up everywhere and deals are hard to find. Perhaps it is better to keep the unit for now, fix the outside and try again next year (will look better and be worth more this way too). Many things going on right now.

How was your May from an RE perspective?

During our Holiday in Belgium, we had a fair number of discussions about what we want to do in the coming years. As mentioned before, we differ greatly in the way we think about the future. A compromise is essential for us. The time during the holiday in April was a great way to work out some of our ideas into a plan: The 5-year plan!

Jobs/Work

Mrs. CF loves her Job, Mr. CF……. not so much. The plan going forward includes Mr. CF quitting his day-time job by the end of 2017.

The idea for Mr. CF is to start to hustle a bit (besides running the household and preparing for a Olympic distance triathlon in 2018). I’m really looking forward to do things I actually like doing! Lost my passion for the “normal” work already too long ago.

The 5-year plan - Work

The 5-year plan – Work
Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/should-i-work-free-well-duh-martin-aleta-curry

Activities that are being considered include:

  • Start to coaching and organize workshops on how to become financialy stable, financially independent and/or retire early;
  • Up the blogging with more case-study posts regarding real estate, B&B’s, starting a franchise, etc. I simply don’t have enough time to write more content posts at the moment, which I’m not happy with; and,
  • Dog walking. Our current house does not really allow for a dog or dogs. Dog walking is a perfect combo, playing with dogs, bit of exercise, no expenses and potentially even making money on the side. A clear win-win if you’d ask me!

Mrs. CF will continue to work, but likely reduces to part-time work (32 hours) as of 2018 or 2019. This depends a bit on how her team is doing. She’s training several people and it they do well, she should have the time to work less.

Investments

On the investment front there will be a couple (small) changes. Primarily driven by our investment preferences (cash-flow heavy portfolio) and available time. That being said, if an opportunity presents itself, we might deviate from the below:

The 5-year plan - Investments

The 5-year plan – Investments
Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-top-alternative-investments-you-probably-didnt-know-kirk-chisholm

  • Phase out of crowdfunding. This investment style is not for us. Albeit we like the cash-flow of the investment, the yield only has downward potential (to the point of negative yield!). This due to the risk of defaults in projects, which are not uncommon as many people have no idea how to properly run (or grow) a business. In about 4 years all (still successful) projects should have been completed and the account will be closed;
  • Keep investing in dividend growth stock and expand the portfolio to about 60-75 different companies (currently at about 45);
  • Increase the rental units from 5 now to 7-8 in the future. As we don’t know how the real estate market will develop, we either have to renovate and increase the units within our current property. Or alternatively, we have to sell two of our existing properties and buy a larger building with more 3 or more units. Time will tell which option it is going to be (perhaps even both!);
  • Index funds are probably one of the best and easiest investment methods out there, but they are boring! I don’t like boring, but I probably should. Unfortunately is not in my nature. We therefore might sell the index funds and use to increase our dividend stock holdings and/or real estate holdings. However, for now we will continue with this investment method as it is a good diversification of our portfolio and it is easy to liquidate too; and,
  • Options trading/day trading. I would like to expand this a bit more, perhaps up to about 10% of our investment portfolio. Why would we do this? Because it is fun and can be lucrative too! It might also be a way to generate some additional income to offset the loss of income from the day-time job.

Just to be clear, as long as Mrs. CF is still working we don’t mind a more active approach to investing. But once she’s also leaving the company when we are fully FI, the passive in “passive income” is going to become more critical.

The key here is to find a balance between cash-flow, passive, fun and yield. What that exact balance will be is subject to the stage in our lives and the time we have available. Our portfolio will therefore be re-balanced a few more times, but the key components will remain real estate and dividend growth stocks.

Housing

We bought our last house with a different approach than most people do. When we bought our current house we were not looking for our “dream home”. We were looking for an investment opportunity, and we found it! The plan is to move out in about 4-10 years (depends a bit on Miss CF and how our family is doing health wise) and redevelop the building to house 5-6 units (currently it has 4, including the main one we are using).

The plan is to move out of the region and move closer to where lots of our family is living. We are keeping our eyes open for a small house (75-100m2 / 800-1100sft) with a large yard (ideally 2.000m2 or more) to be able to generate our own food and potentially sell some on the side too. Now this is going to be a struggle as finding such specific properties in the western part of the Netherlands is hard. It’s the plot size that makes it difficult to find/affordable.

Vacations/Travel

For 2018 we are planning a 9 week road trip through Europe (southern Europe to be exact). The timing will be around April-June. Main reason is the costs (not peak season yet), weather (not too hot), and our daughter does not have to go to school mandatorily yet (starts at age 5 here in the Netherlands).

However, we are also considering an around the world trip. But with only 9 weeks of available time this might be a bit too ambitious. It certainly is possible, but we actually want to also enjoy our time and limit the amount of jetlag/”travel” time.

The 5-year plan - Holiday

The 5-year plan – Holiday
Source: http://weknowyourdreams.com/single/travel/travel-07

Another thing to consider is obviously cost. But this would be a “once in a life time” trip so spending some money on this is not a big problem.

A tentative itinerary could be something like this: Dubai, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, USA, Canada, Iceland. Most of our time would be spend in Australia and New Zealand.

In the near term we will do another holiday in September of this year, it will be something similar to our trip to Belgium (read: cheap, fun, close-by).

That being said, with the recent story on free castles in Italy, we might need to do a holiday there to do some research 🙂

From 2019 and onwards we are planning to have about 2 trips per year, primarily focusing on Europe. Once Miss CF gets a bit older and is able to really enjoy and remember the travels, we might expand our travels a bit further.

What about FIRE?

Well, this is really simple, we will still FIRE at some point but likely not in the timeframe we were initially envisaging (around 2023-2025). When our income drops substantially, the amount available to invest will also drop. It’s only to be seen how much can be offset with hustling by Mr. CF. it’s likely nowhere near the amount I’m earning now.

But that is fine, we rather both enjoy what we do on a day to day basis, then make the sprint to FI. Especially because I’ve been going work for years that I don’t really get any satisfaction out of. I really don’t what to continue this for another 5+ years!

That being said, you could also consider this as partial FI. As we do already have sufficient assets to offset more than 60% of what we spend (and plan to spend once FI). In line with this recent post by the financial freedom sloth, working part-time in combination with a stash is also a good way to enjoy more time now. Another benefit is the social interaction at work and perhaps even some fun experiences from less conventional/seasonal type work.

Do you ever think about your future? Do you have a “5-year plan”? What do you think about our musings?

Cheesy Finance Options Trading

After a weekend filled with exercise with some new skeelers, and a great frugal Saturday morning breakfast with blue (berry) pancakes (ok, it’s more purple…).

It’s time for the first official options trading update. After being motivated by Amber Tree Leaves, with his passionate presentation in Antwerp, I’ve started trading options as of late March (Mrs CF does not care about this at all). I also wrote up the basics of options trading in this post. But, without further ado, here is the April 2017 Options Trading Update.

April 2017 Options Trading Update

Without a good feel for how this work, no clear strategy and just wanting to have some fun. I’ve started full steam ahead (smart? probably not). However, we actually ended the month with a bit of money made! The options trading income for April was €130.

See below for an option trading overview for the  month of April.

April 2017 Options Trading Update

April 2017 Options Trading Update

Monthly Options Trading Income

Monthly Options Trading Income

The Options Trading Strategy

As noted earlier, there was no real strategy for options trading so far (other then a few high level ideas outlined in the initial post on options trading). Primarily as I was trying to find out what works for me and what I feel comfortable with. But I think I have found some rules that I should trade by:

  • Only trade options with stock you don’t mind owning, or better, actually want to own;
  • Use limit orders to write both puts and calls
  • Make sure the strike price is about 5-10% from trading value of that time
  • Trade with expiration dates of about 30-90 days in the future
  • Roll options within 10-30 days from the expiration date if you don’t want to be assigned the shares just yet
  • Accept an assignment of shares if the strike price is acceptable, and turn around to collect both dividend and write call options
  • Trade often and trade small
  • Develop a specific strategy for the stock/options and stick to it!

Oops….

Actually already ignored the above last week and bought/traded options on a share of a company I could normally not consider….. Boskalis (a maritime service provider). Their ex-dividend date was May and it pays a nice €1 per share (it’s a yearly dividend payer). They are not doing so peachy at the moment, and were punished in the stock market by dropping around 10%.

I thought to be smart and bought before the ex-dividend date at a relatively low price for that day. But then in the next week it plummets another 7%…ouch. I’m therefore now trading call options on this stock to recover from the loss in share value (even after the dividend payment is included!). It is going to take some time for this (paper) loss to be corrected with options trading. Dump move, as I don’t want to own this stock for the long term.

The moral of this story, stick to your own trading rules! A quick win can bite you in the a$$ and turn around into a loss really quickly.

Any trading mistakes on your end? How was your options trading for last month and this?

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge

As noted last week, I (Mr CF) started an exercise challenge to get back into shape. The results are pretty good so far. Let’s have a quick recap of the last week.

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge – Update

Up to Wednesday May 17 (wrote this post on Thursday morning), I was able to exercise every day! Still a win so far 🙂

An overview of the workouts is provided below:

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge - Update

Cheesy Finance Exercise Challenge – Update

The above summarizes to:

  • 17 days of exersize;
  • 23 individual activities;
  • Total running distance 25.44km;
  • Total cycling distance 338.63km; and,
  • Calories burned 10.273 (that is one whole kg of body fat burned).

Observations and notes

  • Really love my GPS watch. Great way to track progress, maintain pace and get data to play with 🙂
  • My legs are not nearly as tired as the first 10 days
  • My calorie burn during cycling is dropping like a brick (from 700-750 calories to 550-650 calories per trip). This is a combination of faster cycling with a lower average heart rate. Quite a bit of improvement in endurance already!
  • I feel and sleep better
  • Still eating like a horse, but the feeling of hunger is less
  • My knee is not liking all the exercise and I have to be a bit careful in the coming days. Perhaps I do need a break? Of a yoga type exercise perhaps?
  • I was/am suffering from RSI (repetitive strain injury) symptoms. Probably partially caused by my new job, which involves lots of database work to prepare cost estimates (and blogging does not help either). However, since starting the workouts the symptoms have significantly reduced!
  • The far burn is starting to show off, the six pack is slowly peeking around the corner. I have a pretty slim built, but still have some fluff around the waist obscuring muscles. However, it’s trending in the right direction.
  • I’m getting a nice tan too from all the cycling
  • I feel good and want to keep going!

How about you, did you workout this week? How did it go?

BENL FIRE Meetups - Financial Fun Since 2016

As noted earlier by both us and Amber Tree Leaves, we have another meetup scheduled for June 17. We have a maximum of 35 spots available and we are now already at about 20+ 25 confirmed people. But we have room for more! Do you fancy a date with complete internet strangers and talk money? This is  your chance 🙂

The Tentative Program

The tentative program is as follows, but we are happy to make adjustments if you have a brilliant idea:

  • 10:00-11:00 informal get-together in Utrecht, do some chatting and have a coffee of thee with a biscuit/cookie of your choice;
  • 11:00-12:00 Financial Speed Dating (one-on-one or two-on-two sessions of about 5 min each to get to know each other)
  • 12:00-14:00 Brown Bag Lunch (i.e. bring your own) and more informal chats
  • 14:00-17:00 Have a couple of fun presentations and discussions;
  • 17:00-18:00 Spare time in case we are having too much fun with the above
  • 18:00-19:00 Do dinner together (bring your own / potluck, take-out or local restaurant)
  • 19:00-21:00 More chatting and some beers and close out of the evening.
  • 21:00-??:00 Party in Utrecht for the real die hards?l 

Discussions and Presentations

Based on the previous meeting in Antwerp and feedback from many of you, the following topics could be presented during the meetup:

  • Life in the rear view mirror (a financial life in review)
  • The mystery portfolio (submit your portfolio, with as much or as little detail as you want for an blind review by the group. To get some various views on the matter)
  • Real Estate – what to consider and a case study
  • Crowdfunding – good idea or not?
  • How to be self-sufficient
  • When do you have enough and how do you get out?
  • Etc.

Let us know what you are interested in, and we will try to make an interesting afternoon program for you! Do you want to present, please let us know too! Still need one or two people/volunteers.

Other Details

And finally some other details that could be useful for you to know:

  • The venue in Utrecht is very close to a train station, but also has free local parking!
  • We will bring coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer and a few light snacks (but please do bring some yourself if you can)
  • You bring your own lunch/dinner. For dinner we would recommend cold dishes like salads and pasta, or things that can be prepared without a kitchen. Otherwise you can order/get some food from local venues (pizzaria/snackbar/local super market).
  • Costs will likely range around €10-15 pp, including beverages/light snacks. But is subject to the final number of people attending (more is better here!)
  • We need someone who can bring a projector for the presenations (Chris, are you still on?)
  • You don’t have to be a blogger! Partners are welcome too.
  • As noted, we can have a maximum of 35 people.

With exactly one more month to go, we are slated to have some serious financial fun. We hope to see you all in Utrecht!

P.s. for those that are on the email distribution list but have not confirmed, please let me know if you want to join (and with how many).

Monthly Cheesy Index

It’s time for that magic number, the one that shows how close we are to FI (sort off). It is time to present to you the April 2017 Cheesy Index!

April 2017 Cheesy Index

We had another increase this month, but it was rather modest considering the various good incomes in April. We are up to 61.4%, that’s just 0.4% for the month. However, we are still very much on track to hit our 65% target before the year is over (and hopefully sooner).

The usual contributors for the increase in the Cheesy Index are the real estate, dividend income and our pretty solid savings rate (i.e. the money we did not spend). But this month we also received the second payment of the 2015 Canadian Tax return (for Mrs. CF this time around). For all this money coming in, why such a modest increase in the cheesy index? Two words: exchange rates!

April 2017 Cheesy Index

April 2017 Cheesy Index

Exchange Rates

What we have been dreading (and expecting) has finally happened. We were hit massively by the CAD/EUR exchange rate in April. Where the exchange rate was a nice CAD 1.42 by the end of March, it changed to 1.49 by the end of April. That is an almost 5% change, in the wrong direction! Ouch.

In short, the value of Canadian shares nosedived this month (expressed in EUR), which had a significant impact on our overal net worth and thus the Cheesy Index. Still surprised we actually did not see a drop in the Cheesy Index. On the positive side, the total value of the Canadian shares actually rose from the end of March to the end of April (due to dividends and capital gains). This obviously buffered some of the exchange rate effect.

Other good news is that it does not matter (yet), as we will now withdraw this money for quite some time. We will therefore see many more ups and downs going forward. However, we are kind of hoping the oil price (and/or other commodities) will increase again, which usually lifts the value of the CAD vs. its counter parts. This will allow us to shift the tax return money to Europe, so we have more money to invest here.

Why not invest in Canada, I hear you ask? We have no more ability to add the funds tax efficiently into the RRSP account. Nor do we have a “normal” investment account in Canada either (and opening one from a distance is hard/impossible). In short, the funds need to be transferred to the Netherlands at some point in time. Just no sure when (I know, we should not try to time this!).

How was your April? Did you also record an increase in your net worth of investment index?