I’ve run out of evening to make a longer, more elaborate post regarding the Real Estate Report, so will keep this short and simple for today. Any questions, please do leave a comment 🙂

Rental Income

Rental income is boring this month, no vacancies and every rent wat paid on time, yeah!

Rental Expenses

Expenses were a bit higher then anticipated. Primarily due to high costs on the boiler systems of two units. One had a leaking valve, which set us back about €77. Both units needed to be fitted with Carbon Monoxide switches, as both were deemed at risk by the original manufacturer. The cost: €35 for the two sensors. The total cost for the two boilers: €315 (normally that should be €156).

Other expenses for the month are:

  • Interest costs (mortgage and loan)
  • Insurance costs
  • Property mangement costs

Real Estate Report – Overview

Still, a pretty good month none the less. We still made well over €2.000 in net rental income (granted, before taxes!):

There will be some significant costs made next month as two units will be fitted with continuous ventilation. Furthermore the moisture issue will hopefully be tackled too with a lead slap and expoy barrier being placed within the wall. Costs will probably whipe out rental income for the month of Februari and/or March. Depends on when the work is executed and the bill arrives.

But at least we won’t kill our tenants with mold and we will also keep the building in better shape by keeping moisture levels down.

 

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2016 Income Asset Allocations

Portfolio Allocations

This is the final 2016 overview and today we will take a bit more of a helicopter view of the portfolio. The data behind the Cheesy Index is obviously based on net worth. Our network consists of three types of assets:

  • Income producing assets (by dividend, cash flow or capital gains)
  • assets that do not produce any income (cash, our home, certain belongings)
  • Depreciating assets (i.e. our car)

If you add the value up for all these assets you get your net worth, when you then divide each category by this net worth value you get some idea how well your net worth is working for you. Ideally you want to have your income assets as high as possible, limit your non-income assets and have no depreciating assets (when possible). Our asset allocation for 2016 looked like this:

We are actually pretty pleased that we are now above 80% with our income producing assets. The ultimate goal is to have this exceed 90%, perhaps even get to 95%. For this we would have to rent our own home and find some small rental for ourselves or a very cheap property (perhaps abroad?).

Income Producing Assets

The income producing assets are obviously also able to be distributed into various sub-categories. For us these include:

  • Our real estate;
  • The dividend shares;
  • Our Index funds; and finally,
  • The various Crowdfunding loans.

Looking at the above graph you can see that we are heavy on real estate and dividend paying companies. Which we are ok with, but we are considering two options:

  • From now on adding only new capital to index funds and dividend share; or,
  • Cashing in on the Index Funds and/or some dividend share and purchase more real estate.

The first option is pretty straight forward, income from work and rentals is use to purchase more individual share and ETF’s. This would diversify our portfolio and also improve liquidity (i.e. we can get to money faster). Considering cost averaging, this could be a nice way to get to FI in the coming years.

The second option is interesting because you can use leverage of a mortgage or loan to increase your number of rentals and get relatively high yields. But this would also mean more management and some head-aches with related to issues that need fixing and/or high bills from contractors (which is not helping cash-flow). Considering we would like to be location independent at some point (with potentially periods of long-term stays abroad), real estate is doable, but dividend shares and ETF’s are definitely preferred options for us.

Ideas?

We have not decided what to do at this time and are considering various scenarios. What are your ideas about our portfolio? Which one has got your preference from the above two options?

Oh, and crowd funding will be brought down in both scenarios, as noted here earlier. This money will be reinvested as it comes available in the next few years. Fortunately it’s only a minor portion of the portfolio.

How is your portfolio allocated? Are you happy with it?

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Weekend DIY

There are days when we like our old home (built ~1901-1910), nothing is straight, nice high ceilings, beautiful large windows (ok, these were added later, but still). The house also make noise when the wind blows and there is some differential settlement (i.e. the house tilts a bit). Very nostalgic.

But last weekend there was a bit of reflection on all this emotional “wealth”. Mrs. CF and Miss CF went to grandma to make cakes and I finally had the time to start on some of the issues that need inspection, maintenance or repairs. And boy, do you find a lot of (hidden) stuff when you get going….

  • Today I’ve cleaned gutters and removed some rubble, to find that our neighbours need to seriously start looking at their roof (fortunately not my problem, but did inform them to have a look). However our own gutters also need some work done in the next couple of years (this was known already);
  • I’ve finally replaced the rain cover on the central heating unit vent. The old one was blown off in a storm a while back and I had installed an improvised temporary cover (made from a tin can with holes to limit rain from entering the exhaust vent), so I would have time to find a replacement part. Guess what, no longer available (went to 4 DIY stores)…even the original supplier did not have any (they did quote me a whole new vent system….yeah, right). So I had to be a bit creative and modified the vent to accommodate a different model rain cover, with success! I was very proud of myself 😉
  • The thermostat-controlled tap in the bathroom was not working properly and appeared to be leaking (streaks of calcium carbonate). The shower head was also loose and needed to be re-fixed to the wall. So took everything down, removed staining from calcium carbonate, to find out that I had to completely disassemble the thermostat-controlled tap including wall connections (which is where the leaks were). Reassembled, to find that it was till leaking…but now at the washers. Drove to the local building supply store to get new washers, disassembled/reassembled the whole thing again, but this time successfully! Finished with a bit of caulking, as this was not done at the water lines coming out of the wall (during the home inspection elevated moisture levels were detected in the wall, so this should be fixed now too);
  • We also had another leaking radiator, but this seems to have stopped leaking after we opened and closed various venting and closing systems a couple of times. Need to keep an eye out.

Cost for today: ~€10 (washers, kit and hemp) and too many hours of labour… but at least I learned a couple of new things.

Reno gone wrong? (source: http://izismile.com/2010/04/19/upside_down_house.html)

2017 Home Maintenance

Other items that need work in the coming year:

  • Replacement of two sets of window frames (completely rotten, was known at time of the purchase, the new ones are already painted and we also already have the glass), this will be two days of installations and painting. Will need a contractor to help out with this due to weight and access.
  • Finishing trim around newly installed flat bituminous roof (will be done by a contractor).
  • I’d already repaired the design radiator in the bathroom, or so I thought I did, turns out it’s still leaking and will need another go at removing rust, adding hemp fibre/kit to seal and spray paint to finish… more work, yeah!
  • Painting of most windows and doors (was done with environmentally friendly linseed paint, nice mat finish, but some spots need fixing as it was not applied properly the first time around). This stuff should last long (~15 years) and is completely non-toxic, but needs to be rubbed in linseed oil every now and then. So you pretty much have to do all windows and doors….
  • Several km of caulking upstairs and in the bathrooms…lovely
  • Local roof repair to mitigate a small leak somewhere. Think I have it nailed down where the source is, but will need contractor to help me out as it’s inaccessible for me.
  • Upstairs still needs some doorframes painted, moulding placed and wall’s touched up (this may turn into 2018…)

Are we done yet?

Nope, still considering installing noise insulation, as we currently only have newly installed heat insulation. Considering we are living close to a local road, and there are lots of “wild” chickens around (read: about 8 Roosters….sigh), this extra sound insulation is really beneficial for you sleep.

Also need to replace and enlarge the kitchen, this will be a major reno and will likely take about 6 weeks to complete and cost around €25.000-30.000 when done with a contractor. Still trying to figure out how we are going to attack this one…

What’s really ironic here is that I left a comment here (in Dutch) where I noted that we usually get a contractor in to do the works (because we are too busy with work, life, kid, etc.). But now I’m starting to try to do most myself, I keep surprising Mrs. CF  🙂 Time is still an issue though.

How about you? How are your DIY skills? Do you balance between doing stuff yourself and hiring a contractor, or are you hardcore?

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A Financial Party

Are you in for a bit of a “financial party” in Antwerp (Belgium) on February 4, 2017? If so, please do let us (Amber Tree Leave or Team CF) know! We have arranged a venue in Antwerp and have about 20 or so people coming, but can accommodate a few more.

The plan for the day is to gather between 11:00 and 13:00, you can bring your own lunch is you want, or get something from the local eateries.

From 13:00 we will have some informal chats and general introductions (i.e. you talk to whom you like and have a cup to tea/coffee or a Belgium beer)

At 14:00 we will start with the discussion and presentation portion of the day, this is what we have planned so far:

  • A guide to financial independence – if you really, really want it fast (By the Financial Freedom Sloth)
  • Options Trading (by Mr Amber Tree Leaves)
  • Group Discussion: Systems vs Goals
  • How to become financially independent in the Netherland and associated official retirement implications and options (By Mr FOB – site is primarily in Dutch, but has google translate option to English) 
  • If time permits, a short review of real estate investing will be done by yours truly.

Around 17:00 we will divert to the dining location

From 20:00 we can start to explore the nightlife Antwerp has to offer. Considering Belgium is the country of the world’s best beers (Ok, personal opinion but still very much true ;-), this should be lots of fun.

More Details

You will be responsible for your own costs for food and drinks. So you can make it as expensive or cheap as you like (really frugal folks will bring their own. No, this is not called “being cheap”!).

The venue is easily reachable by public transport, but you can also park your car for free along the river Scheldt and walk to downtown. Parking is available along the St.Michielskaai/Cockerillkaai/De Gerlagkaai.

We will only request a small (<€5pp) compensation for the rental of the venue and associated costs.

Interested? Drop us an email or leave a comment!

P.s. if you want to meet some of the hotshots of the FI world (such as Mr Collins and the Madfientist), you can also check out this:

http://ukchautauqua.weebly.com/

Most likely an event to remember, but does not come cheap at around €2.500-2.700pp (for 7 days, includes everything but the flight to the UK). There were still some spots left. We have considered going, but have decided against it and instead invest the money to become FI faster.

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December 2016 Cheesy Index

If you have been reading our posts on the December 2016 savings rate, real estate and dividends, it probably is not a surprise that also the Cheesy Index had a good month/year. With lots of extra income in December, favourable exchange rates and solid passive income streams, the Cheesy Index was propelled to a record high in December last year.

As you can see below, the index hit a solid 57.4%. Considering we started the year with 47.5% (note that we did have a correction in the Cheesy Index to account for a more favourable taxation than anticipated), this means we went up a staggering 9.9%. To put this in perspective, at this rate it would take us only 10 years in total to become FI. That is seriously quick! Albeit not ExtremeEarlyRetirement.com quick….

Cheesy Index History and Forecast

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There were many factors, including exchange rates and market conditions, that could still negatively affect our Cheesy Index in 2017 and therefore our ability to become FI. That being said, our portfolio is primarily driving by passive income and cash-flow. Fluctuations in the Cheesy Index don’t necessarily have an impact on our ability to become FI.

For 2017, we have a new target set based on our re-forecasted progress curve to become FI. As you can see below, the target for year end 2017 is 64.4%, or a 7% increase of the Cheesy Index compared to the close of 2016. We might underestimate the progress, but  you never know if we actually will get this long awaited market correction in 2017 and what other events may occur this year. We are currently scheduled to become FI somewhere in 2023. That is about 1.5 years ahead of the original planning we calculated back in 2014, when we got started on the whole FIRE thing.

Do you also have an index or net worth figure that you target? If so, how well did you do in 2016? What is your forecast new number for 2017? In any case, best of luck!

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Hey Folks, hope you are having a wonderful day!

Today’s post is reviewing how our little blog has been doing in 2016, expect a full disclosure!

2016 Blog Statistics

As you can see below, we almost it hit 15.000 unique visitors last year, who did just over 57.000 visits and generated over 133.500 page views. That is amazing! What’s even more amazing is that you guys stayed for an average of about 275 seconds (!) per visit, guess the posts must be interesting enough to stick around. That is a very big compliment to us and we sincerely appreciate that, so thank you all very much for the support! At least now we have the feeling that we are not doing this just for ourselves, but hopefully are helping a few others on the way. That really makes all the effort worthwhile 🙂

Some other random statistics:

  • Total number of posts to date: 88
  • Total number of comments to date: 1067 (just under half are ours)

The best and … our personal best?

What did you like best in 2016? This was a bit of a surprise…..

  1. A post on (an ultimately failed!) running challenge with ATL – 2503 views (completely non-financial post…)
  2. Our year-end dividend update for 2015 – 2283 views (yes, let’s talk money!)
  3. Where we travelled – 1071 views (another completely non-financial post, is this a hint?)

Pages that were most appreciated are (no real surprises here):

  1. Our Blogroll – 3370 views
  2. Our Cheesy Index – 1875 views
  3. The About Us – 1606 views

From our end, the posts that we liked most (primarily because of the underlying research/calculations and associated new insights):

  1. How much money to do you need to FIRE in this cheesy country – 691
  2. What is the optimum amount of money to have in a mortgage? – 367
  3. Am I mad? – 285

Ad Update

We do have some advertisement up on our blog (we know, they are annoying…sorry) to try to cover expenses (with a promise to remove them when we do). This is not yet a success, but you have already been helping quite a lot. The total income for 2016 is €54.24. But considering that costs are €86 per year, we are still a bit short. Hopefully 2017 will change that.

Thank you all again for lots of fun, comments, new ideas and feedback! We hope to see you many times again this year.

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December 2016 Dividend Update

Another (dividend) year has come to a close, and what a year it was! We were able to pretty much reinvest all cash from sales of ETF’s. These were part of a company pension package, we did not like it and decided to sell at their highs in 2015 and start to manage ourselves. We also used some cash from our home sale to sink into (primarily) dividend stocks.

We reinvested the cash gradually over the course of one year, as we needed time to research and select stocks we think should help us in the long run. Albeit we made some mistakes and corrections, the portfolio we have now will remain and be slowly expanded in 2017.

For December 2016 we got just over €642 in dividends, which included a nice one-off bonus dividend from Evertz Technologies (ET). This (bonus) dividend was DRIP-ed and added 12 more shares to this holding. Nice! Purchases for the month included some 50 shares of AH (Ahold).

The usual breakdowns are provided below for your entertainment and curiosity:

The Dividend Portfolio

Our portfolio includes 45 companies with a total of 10307 shares and looks something like this:

The Sector Allocation

And if you breakdown by sector, it looks as follows (seems pretty diversified, but there is a bit more work to be done):

The total dividends received in 2016 was a very nice €5.591. Let’s see if we can increase that for 2017 ;-).

How was your Devember and the whole of 2016 from a dividend perspective? Were you pleased with the results?

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Savings Rate December 2016

December, and for that matter the whole of 2016, was fantastic from a savings rate perspective. We had a record month from the income side of things, and an average month in terms of expenses. This is a recipe for a winner. We ended up at a Savings Rate of 75.9% for December!

The summary for December is as follows:

  • Incomes from Mr .CF (one sign-on bonus and one pay check), Mrs. CF (two pay checks) and an expense claim hit the checking account. Life was very good!;
  • Income (principal and interest payments) from crowdfunding loans is now exceeding €180/month, this is a high as it is going to get and will stay this way for the coming 2-3 years (“hopefully”, see post on crowdfunding on details);
  • Transportation was just above normal due to the many family trips and that fact that we are now using our own car again to get to work, in short the current expenses are likely the new normal for the coming year;
  • Living expenses were below average this month, no surprises like unexpected maintenance and no property taxes or similar expenses either. This is the way we like it;
  • Groceries & grooming hit a record high in December, mainly because we did some massive shopping. Normally we take the bikes for the grocery trips, but this time we actually drove the car to the grocery store (we do this once every one-two months). To be honest, we actually needed to go elsewhere and were driving by the grocery store on the way back, talk about efficient use of the car :-). We used the opportunity to stock up on necessities;
  • Pretty much all social events were free, or virtually free. So again nothing interesting to report here. Had great fun with the various Christmas lunch and dinners, plus enjoyed some family time together over the holiday break. Most expenses associated with social activities are actually included in the groceries category this time around;
  • Costs for day-care and kid related expenses below normal as the benefits for 2017 have increased and the first payment arrived in December. Daycare will now “only” set us back about €955 per month for 4 days per week. But there are obviously also some other costs in this Kid category, such as cloths, toys, etc.; and,
  • The “Other” category was higher this month as Mrs. CF needed some new work clothing and a new jacket (she really got her money’s worth out of the old one).

The Overviews

For the year we actually did really good , if you don’t mind us saying. We ended the year with a overall savings rate of well over 60%. See below for the details (YTD totals on the left side):

2016 Savings Rate

2016 Savings Rate

The expense breakdown looks like this:

For 2017 we are not expecting such a high yearly savings rate, as we have some reno works still pending (as well as a bill for work done in 2016). Furthermore, we did not go on a holiday in 2016 due to job changes and moving to our new house. We do plan to go once, maybe even twice in 2017, so set aside a larger budget for this. We hope to still keep it above 50%.

Did  you do OK in December too? Was it also because of extra income, or were you able to limit the holiday expenses (or both!)?

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Team CF wishes you and your family great prosperity and health through frugal living and good investing.

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast

Now, on to business. In this case the business or Real Estate. We will first look at the month of December 2016 to see what happened with our properties, next we will take a short look at the forecast for 2017 and expected developments regarding income and expenses.

December 2016 – Real Estate Report

December was fortunately unexciting (mostly). All properties were rented out and all rents were received on time, distribution is as follows:

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast: December 2016 Income

Expenses this month were higher due to the interest payment on a personal family loan (as of 2017 this will be paid monthly). Other expenses such as mortgage costs and property management fees were normal. We had some negative expenses (i.e. a refund) on the insurance side. This was the result of a new assessment on the value of one of our properties. No maintenance costs for this month, but we had the heating systems serviced for two units. Bills are expected for January and will come in higher than planned due to placement of carbon monoxide sensors (€35 each) and issues with fine-tuning during boiler maintenance…..small setback.

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast: December 2016 Expenses

At the end of the day, December and 2016 as a whole looked like this:

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast: December 2016 Overview

Real Estate Report – December 2016 and 2017 Forecast: December 2016 Overview

For 2016 we had about €9400 income, €6400 expenses and a net profit of €3000. Not bad for a year in which we really got going on the real estate side.

2017 Forecast

For 2017 the forecast is as follows:

  • €35.000 rental income (don’t expect empty units this year, buy you never know!)
  • €19.000 expenses (includes €9000 for large scale external maintenance for two units)
  • €16.000 net income = about 7% net yield (before taxes)

The large maintenance for the two units was expected and we have been saving up for it as well. These two units are old (1910-ish) and the outside paint work will be removed and replaced with stucco. This way the units will have lower maintenance going forward (no more masonry or paint work required in the next 10-20 year, depending on the quality of work). Windows frames will also be repainted. After this final large reno work, these two units are in tip-top conditions and should need very little work over the next decades.

We also found that the moisture issues (migrating through the outside wall), as discovered in one of the new units last year, is worse then expected. We are getting a contractor in next week to have a look. We have made some reservations for this one too. But this is the large unknown for 2017.

Stay tuned!

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Yes, yes, I did not do it again……. I was so close to spend two shares of RDSA, but the Force is strong in this one 😉

It might finally be another frugal New Years Eve this time around.

Although I’m a bit early: Happy New Year!

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Please prepare for a completely non-financial, non-educational, non-frugal, non-useful but hopefully still entertaining exercise about cars. I (Mr. CF) still like cars, albeit have not been focusing on them as much as I used to (i.e. since starting with the journey to FI). I still like watching programs like Top Gear, Fifth gear and the likes, but have started to realize that the dream of owning a small little sports car is more expensive than I would like. Unless we win the lottery (which we don’t play), I’m very doubtful that I will ever own a sports car (small or fancy). But I may solve this by renting one, one of these days. The experience is likely worth the money for a petrol head like me.

What cars have you driven?

After having some work done on my company car that I’m current driving, I got a temporary loaner car. Because apparently the previous user had smoked in the car, it smelled horrible. So I requested another loaner. Then I realized I had just been driving 3 different cars in the span of just 3 days, which got me thinking about the number of cars I have personally driven since getting my driver’s license in 2001 (hint, I was well past 18 year of age before I got my license. Got something to do with a good public transport system, high cost of driving/owning a car and being a student). I therefore began to make a list in my mind, but this got a lot longer than I was anticipating.

So I had to write it down (and I probably still missed a few):

  • BMW 335ibmw-7-serie-740i-2008
  • BMW 740 (shown)
  • BMW X5
  • Cadillac STS
  • Citroen ZX 1.8
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Daihatsu Materia
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Dodge RAM 1500 dodge-ram-3500
  • Dodge RAM 3500 (shown)
  • Fiat Cinquecento
  • Ford Ka
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Ford Focus
  • Ford Focus SVT
  • Ford Focus Station wagon
  • Ford F150
  • Ford Taurus
  • Ford Suburban
  • GMC Sierra
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC 1500
  • Iveco Daily (ok, this technically is a van and the longest one at that series, parking was fun!)
  • Jeep Patriotlancia_thesis
  • Lancia Thesis (shown)
  • Mercedes C220 (car in which I learned to drive and passed the driving test)
  • Mitsubishi ASX
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Nissan Micra
  • Opel Astra station wagon
  • Opel Insignia
  • Renault 5 Alpine
  • Renault Twizzy (not sure if you can actually call this a car)
  • Seat Ibizasubaru-wrx
  • Seat Leon Station wagon FR
  • Smart for two
  • Subaru Impreza WRX (shown)
  • Suzuki SX4
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Toyota Previa
  • Toyota Prius Plus (or Prius V in North America)
  • Toyota Tundra
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Volvo S40
  • Volvo V502006_volvo_s60_r_base
  • Volvo S60
  • Volvo S60R (shown)
  • Volvo S80

That’s a total of approximately 47 48 49 different cars (added the Fiat based on a comment below), which sounds like a lot. But this is actually only just over 3 different cars per year for the last 15 years.

Unremarkable?

Most of these cars are quite unremarkable (horrible even) except for a few:

  • The Lancia Thesis might not sound as exotic (or look the parts for that matter) as a Ferrari or Porsche, but this particular car was a bit special. It was the first ever delivered to the Netherlands (of only 67 total that first year!) and equipped with every available option. It may actually have been more rare than some fancier cars like the Porsche 911.
  • The BMW7 series is a master piece, great car for extremely comfortable cruising. I drove this car when I was hustling during my student days as a private chauffeur. Never forget the moment when I drove up to a McDonalds and walked in there in my blue suit. Still remember the looks on people’s faces……how can that young guy afford such a car…it was priceless.
  • During the same side hustles as noted above, I had the opportunity to drive the Volvo S60R. Fun car for sure, especially if the client allows you to pull up at the lights at full throttle and directly fly up the highway at 120km/h (plus). You should have seen the smile on my face 😉

Notable mentions of cars I did not drive personally but experienced from the front passenger seats:

  • Audi S42008-dodge-charger
  • Dodge Charger SRT8 (shown)

If you have not had enough about cars yet, we can recommend the following:

http://www.financieelonafhankelijkblog.nl/gratis-koken-tijdens-autorijden/

(in Dutch, for some creative car cooking).

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/09/12/reader-case-study-young-man-saved-from-jeep-suicide/  (for some good old financial car bashing).

This one is really special, it made my cry and smile at the same time…..

https://divnomics.com/2016/11/12/we-traded-in-our-car-update/

 

How about you? What cars have you driven? Any cool cars? Have you ever rented a sport car for a day of fun? If so, was it worth it?

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It’s have been a great year and we are happy and proud that we could share it with you! Christmas is upon as and we will be enjoying a couple of nice days with fiends and family, good food, laughter, joy and relaxation. We hope you do too!

Marry Christmas!

We hope to see you again after boxing day.

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November was amazing for the Cheesy Index as it rose to a record 55.5%. So far this year, the Cheesy Index went up 8%. I’m speechless, that is really good progress. But why? For November it was mainly due to Mr. Trump (did not see that one coming), more favourable exchange rates and two pay checks for Mr. CF (due to the 4 week pay periods).

With another good month anticipated for December (“13th month” payment for Mrs. CF, no major expenses anticipated, sign on bonus coming in due to the career switch), we might actually get close to the 58% mark. That would be seriously amazing if that were to happen. More to follow in 2017!

We hope you had as much benefit from Mr. Market as we did! How was your month, did you also increase your net worth by quite a bit? Let us know!

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This grown man has bought himself a tricycle (with the blessing of Mrs. CF!) .… what on earth was I thinking? Anyhow, it looks like this (yes, the flames make it go faster ;-):

What is it?

It’s nothing more than a recumbent tricycle/bicycle with cover to reduce air resistance, called a velomobile. The one shown above is a very basic model made of aluminium. As you can imagine, fancier models (see image below) are also available with better aerodynamics and lower weights (e.g. some consist of carbon fibre). Prices range from as low as €1.000 for used older models, to as much as €12.000 for new carbon fibre models with electronic support systems (to help with inclines slopes and get up to speed faster).

How fast are they?

This obviously depends on the model, the rider and the course. But to give you some indications, the model shown above should be able to make speeds up to 40km/h (25mph) possible for short stretches. With average speeds around the 25-30km/h mark depending on the route (personally will aim for 27km/h for now).

The more fancy models with trained riders have been known to be doing speeds of well over 100km/h (65mph) during races. The record is currently set at over 85mph (138km/h)!! That’s insane for a human-powered vehicle.

But why?!

I can almost hear you think, well, the answer for us is primarily two-fold. And perhaps unsurprisingly consists of:

  • Economics; and,
  • Health.

But there were various other considerations as well, all will be reviewed below.

Economics

Ok, so here are the numbers:

  • Purchase cost: €1500 (pretty good deal, bought it used in Belgium)
  • Expected residual value: €1000 (this is conservative as these velomobiles keep their value well)
  • Missed opportunity cost: €105 (assuming 7% ROI on purchase price)
  • Maintenance: €50 (not sure what yet, but you never know, there is always something)
  • Ferry crossing: €0.91 per roundtrip (have to cross a big river to get to work)

First year (worst case) yearly expenses: €655 + ferry costs

  • Estimated cost of using the car (excluding road tax and including increased maintenance and partial depreciation, as we would have had the car anyways, even when not using for commuting to work): €0.18/km
  • Normal car commute: 84km (roundtrip, bicycle route is significantly shorter due to a ferry crossing at about 54km)

Cost per day traveling to work by car: €15.12

Number of trips needed to break even: 46 trips = exactly one trip per week for the first year (I actually have 6 weeks of paid time off per year = 46 working weeks per year).

Now here is the kicker, I’m being partial compensated for costs of the car. I’m going to get €0.12/km for my normal commute: €10.08/day (this is not taxed!), but this is irrespective of what form of transportation I use. Plus I received a sign-on bonus to further compensate the costs of commuting. This was part of the negotiation for the new job, as I would no longer get a company car.

The compensation works out to also be about €0.12/km after taxes (based on using the car 46 weeks per year, 5 days per week, 84km per day). In short, the compensation (€0.24/km after taxes) already completely covers the operating costs of the car, and potentially a bit more (depends on the amount of maintenance required).

Now, the actual savings are a bit harder to calculate, as it will become a complicated calculation with many variables including depreciation (car and velomobile), maintenance (car and velomobile), number of trips by car/velomobile, etc. Many of which we don’t know at this stage.

But based on our best guess, and an average of 1.5 trips per week with the velomobile, the total “savings” should hoover around the €1700. For the record, this consist of elimination of the car expenses (€0.18/km) + compensation (€0.24/km) = €0.42/km “income”. Subtracted are the various velomobile/ferry expenses. This is quite a bit of money and will motivate me to get my butt legs moving in the tricycle.

Health (and Time Management)

Since Miss CF came along the time available to work out is limited. Trying to squeeze in a workout between work, commuting, household chores, spending time with Miss CF and Mrs. CF, blogging, etc. is difficult. So when replacing my normal (somewhat useless) car commute to work by cycling to work, I kill two birds with one tricycle: better health and optimize use of available time.

Considering the commute is just under 27km one-way, it takes about an hour to get to work (including ferry crossing). Add about 15 min in changing and showering, the total duration is about 1,25 hours per trip or 2,5 hours per day. The normal commute is about 1.5 hours (under normal conditions, one big traffic jam and it can stretch to 1,75-2,0 hours), so the additional time is normally 1 hour. However, as I don’t have to work around rush-hour and traffic/traffic jam restrictions (i.e. not having to get to work before 7:00 and leaving before 16:00 in my case), I can make my day more efficient and the 1 extra hour actually does not have a whole 1 hour impact on the day. But still provides 2 extra hours of workouts (and indirect overall health improvements), now that’s a clear win.

Other Considerations

Besides the economical and health reasons, there are a few other considerations that led to the purchase of the velomobile. These were, in no particular order, the following:

  • Traffic: no more traffic jams, awesome!!
  • Safety: having three wheels makes you a lot more stable on semi wet and slippery roads. Which means I would have more days out of the year that I can use my regular road bicycle to get to work
  • Storage space: I can actually take some stuff with me like clean clothes, shoes, food without needed a heavy backpack like I need now on the racing bicycle.
  • Speed: a velomobile should go a bit faster on the longer distances than a regular road bike (note “should”, still need to prove this is the case). Despite having more weight to move (a velomobile is about 20-25kg heavier than a road bike), the Cd resistance value is so much lower that overall you can achieve higher average speeds (caveat here is that this applies on stretches that have few traffic lights and/or other area that you need to slow down).
  • Weather: I hate cycling in rain and wind, but this should make that a bit more manageable and enjoyable.
  • Environment: replacing the trips normally done with the car is obviously a good thing
  • Band-Aids: completely in line with a post of a while back. This way of commuting takes effort and makes me, us and the planet a bit better. So it’s worth the extra work.

Resources

For those of you whom are interested in further information, you can check out the following websites.

Quick overview of the Alleweder velomobile (one of the most successful production models of any velomobiles to date at about 500 units):

http://alleweder.jp-web.de/index.php?page=introduction&lang=en

Largest producers in the Netherlands (in Dutch, also includes some model overviews)

http://www.velomobiel.nl/

http://www.alligt.nl/

For those in the USA and Canada:

http://www.velocityvelos.com/

http://velomobiles.ca/index.html

How about you, what did or do you do to make your commute more efficient. Is this tricycle something for you too?

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“Wisdom comes with age” is an commonly used phrase, which is absolutely true for most things. You have to live life, make mistakes and learn from them to get better at everything you do. The older you are, the more mistakes you have a made, the more lessons you have learned and the old-fartmore wisdom you have gathered (generally speaking anyways, some people never learn and some are way ahead of the curve). But that means that for most people the aha-moment for financial independence comes a bit later in life (or not at all!). This is also true for us, Team CF (credits go to Mrs. CF for pointing us in the right direction). We had a relatively late start, but fortunately still have time to catch up.

A short while back during a meetup with other FIRE enthusiasts, we met the young fellow behind the blog https://whendoyouretire.wordpress.com/. This guy has managed to have a net worth of over €100.000 by the age of 21! The most impressive part is that he managed all this without an inheritance, amazing job, super income or other (lucky) shortcuts. He is just frugal, works hard, lives life and invests, life can be simple some times.

Besides being a really great guy, he is also one of the very few that is way ahead of the wisdom vs age curve. During the meetup most at the dinner table expressed the frustration that they did not know about FI at his age and all were kind of jealous (including me). But hindsight is 20-20 as they say (i.e. you old-fart-2-jpgwould get a 100% success rate if you could do it again) and you should look forward not backwards. WDYR if you read this, we sincerely hope that you will be successful in becoming FI by a (very) young age, and hope to meet you again in the future.

For all of us that missed the boat at an early age (or are about to), there is this think called the internet. It will provide you with a world of information on everything (personal) finance. The great thing about the internet (well the content on it anyways) is that it allows you to learn from mistakes made by others. The only thing you need to do is be open to new ideas and suggestions. Once you can do that, a new world will open up full of opportunity, F-you money, lots of free time and peace of mind.

So do yourself a favour, get ahead of the curve, get the wisdom before you age 😉

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