3 months of doing nothing…..sort of. It’s been almost exactly 3 months since I gave up my well paying job and decided to travel and think what I want to do with my life. I’m now only more confused!

3 Months of Doing Nothing

Since I quit my job in April, I first prepared the house to be able to be rented on Airbnb. Next we disappeared for a 9 week road trip (first two posts are here and here). After we came back renovations works stated on some of our real estate, so that took up some time & energy. But this is progressing well and almost finished, should have this all wrapped up in a couple of weeks.

In short, albeit having no work anymore for the past 13 weeks, I have been far from bored and this does not seem to change in the near future. That being said, emotionally it’s been interesting. Still not sure what I want to do! I’m confused?!

3 Months of doing nothing

3 Months of doing nothing
By Johnycanal – Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Image:Phuka_beach.jpg, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1060769

The good

Quitting your job (when you have a good financial backup) that you don’t like gives an amazing feeling! Some of the (obvious) observations since I quit:

  • I sleep better / am far less tired
  • No more sitting in traffic jams / getting up insanely early to avoid said traffic jams (yeah!)
  • No more stress/frustrations
  • More time to work out
  • The house is a lot cleaner / dishes don’t pile up anymore
  • We don’t have to rush in the weekend to get stuff done (we both were working fulltime)
  • I’m happy and extremely relaxed, have not felt this good in years!

In short, this was a brilliant move! Should have done it sooner. Being happy and relaxed is very important in life, but you often realize this quite late in the journey.

The bad

Are there any “bad” things, yes, but not what you might expect. It’s also not really “bad”, more “unexpected”.

We are not financially independent just yet. However, there is a large pile of cash available and we have a pretty decent cash-flow income every month. Plus Mrs CF is still working and enjoying it. So financially we are in a good shape, but not done yet…… and this is bothering me. This because I’m farting around, while Mrs CF is still busting her @$$ to get us to FIRE. Albeit I know she is fine with it, it’s still bugging me.

I’m also confused as to what I want to do, I thought I knew when I was still working, but now I’m not so sure. Let me explain with the following two examples.

The side hustle

When I quit my job I was already planning a small side hustle to add some extra income (both passive and active). Because I didn’t like me job I was really motivated to get started, spent quite a bit of time researching and setting up a website/content.

But during the road trip the motivation to get started all but disappeared. Still cannot really figure out why, I still like the idea and the interaction with other people about it. But getting my butt moving forward with it is very hard right now. I rather go outside and play in the garden, cycle/swim, or cook. All great activities, but they cost money rather than add some funds to get to FI.

The blog

Same as with the side hustle idea. I really was looking forward to writing lots of content on this blog. But somehow that motivation has (almost) completely disappeared. I still have tons of ideas, but for some reason I cannot focus and write it all down.

The great summer weather outside and various other fun things that I can do stop me from blogging. Where blogging was a great way to avoid doing “work” at work, now it takes time away from sunshine and relaxation. Heck, it almost feels like “work”. Perhaps this changes in the fall/winter when it gets cold and nasty outside.

I’ve therefore decided to limit blogging to once a week for now (if that). Being outside, not behind a computer, is a much better way tp spend my time (sorry for being very egoistic here)

The Plan

So the plan for now is to just relax, enjoy the summer season and fart around. I’m just going to do things when I feel like it, not because they “have to be done”. Perhaps the motivation returns, perhaps not. Perhaps I might look for another job again to speed up the journey to FIRE, perhaps I’ll stay a stay-at-home dad. Heck, I don’t know it anymore, I’m confused! But at least I’m happy & confused 🙂

 

Thoughts? Ideas? How do you deal with lack of motivation? How do you take a hurdle? 

 

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Where I’m normally trying to be a “regular” blogger (in terms of timing of posts),  the coming months posting will “less structured”! If you are new, you might have missed this and this. If you are a regular reader you will understand 🙂

We can’t come to the blog right now, please leave a comment.

Now that I’m happily unemployed and we have started with our 9 week road trip, the blogging side of things is going to be a mess in the coming months. There will be no Cheesy Index updates, no Savings Rates, no dividend updates & no Real Estate Reports for the next little while. I’ve got my priorities sorted and they will be with our travels an my family, and not behind a screen. I know, what a concept!

That being said, I will have to catch up during the summer with all the financial stuff and will owe you some updates. So no worries!

We can't come to the blog right now, please leave a comment.

We can’t come to the blog right now, please leave a comment.

Travels

Travels are fun and the experiences are important to remember. So we will try to chronical our travels. I know that a fair amount of you are interested in the road trip, both visually and financially. If we therefore have a “slow” moment I will try to dump some text and photos on this blog.

I might even do a couple of pictures on twitter: https://twitter.com/CheesyFinance. However, since we don’t have data plans on our cellphones, we need to find a Wi-Fi spot first (yes, we are cheap little buggers! Sorry, meant to say frugal). The finances will have to wait until we return.

For now, have yourself a great day,  work week, retirement, etc. Hope to have some pretty pictures and fun stores to share with you in the coming time. I’m out!

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The March 2018 Dividend Update is not as exciting as the one from February. We are getting close to being done with reshuffling the portfolio. From here on, there should only be a few small corrections. In the far future we may try to expand the dividend portfolio again, depends on stockmarket prices and cash-flow from our real estate..

March 2018 Dividend Update

The following stock(s) were reduced or disappeared from the portfolio:

  • 200 shares of CHW (Financial): sold some shares just before the big sell off due to poor performance results and no dividend growth.

We made the following new purchases:

  • 30 shares of CM (Financial): Diversification of investments into the Canadian banking sector with the CIBC bank, which we did not own yet.
  • 60 share in CAR.UN (REIT): the rise in interest rates made the whole REIT sector drop, which was a nice time to add new shares. This REIT adds more exposure to the residential sector.
  • 169 shares of AGU (REIT): see above.

Note, the REIT purchases are technically not dividend growth stocks (yet?!), but the monthly DRIP’s work very well too!

Keen on some Canadian shares? Try this awesome list to see which companies might be of interest. Oh, don’t forget to check out the community updates at the Dividend Diplomats and Easy Dividend!

March Dividends

All the dividend deposits received into the bank accounts (and correct for exchange rates) sum up to a total dividend income of €638.93. This is a decrease of 21.4% compared to last year. This is because we sold many RDSA/UNA shares last year to be able to do real estate investments, which made a big difference.

Unfortunately we saw another worsening of the EUR/CAD exchange rate in March too. In Canadian dollars the dividend actually grew by 11.1% from a year ago, which is really good!

One note, last month’s total was corrected downwards to €320.83, as one payment shifted into March. We therefore ended February with a small decline in total dividends received (in € anyways), instead of a small increase.

The stats for last month:

March 2018 Dividend Update - Dividend Income

March 2018 Dividend Update – Dividend Income

The graph below is showing the yearly dividend totals for 2015, 2016, 2017 and the YTD for 2018. We received €1.490.44 in dividends so far for 2018. Very happy with that result! And no, we are not going to get to 2017 in terms of dividend income.

March 2018 Dividend Update - Yearly Dividend

March 2018 Dividend Update – Yearly Dividend

Dividend Stock Overview

Our dividend portfolio now contains 38 companies with a total of 9.150 shares. As noted in previous post(s) NTR is noted twice in this overview. This is due to the merger of POT and AGU (we each had one of these in our RRSP accounts). Since I’m lazy (and have the spreadsheets setup to provided an overview of both our accounts individually), this probably won’t change soon.

We generally try to keep the weight of individual companies within our portfolio below about 5%.

The portfolio looks like this:

March 2018 Dividend Update - Dividend Overview

March 2018 Dividend Update – Dividend Overview

Dividend Sector Breakdown

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

March 2018 Dividend Update - Sector Allocation

March 2018 Dividend Update – Sector Allocation

 

How did you do in March on the dividend side of things?

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We did a Podcast! Not sure how many of you have done one, but it’s an interesting experience. Why? Because it’s like a genuine chat, but with “strings attached”. Kind of found out this out only about halfway the recording! Let me explain.

Podcast

Guess you know you have “made it” in the FIRE scene when you get asked to do a podcast right? 😉 Neah, just kidding! But we did have to think about it for a while before we said yes. Albeit we have already lost our “anonymity” in the (local) FIRE community (thanks to various meetups), we didn’t want the same to happen to an even larger public. So we agreed to maintain our “online” identity during the interview.

And as to the “we” on this decision, it really means WE 🙂 Where the blog is primarily run by me (Mr. CF), I was able to get Mrs. CF crazy enough to accept this podcast invite. She generally does not prefer to be in the spotlight (not even on this blog), but does like to spread the message of common-sense financial approaches and help others with their finances. She even volunteered in a woman’s shelter to help out with financial literacy. Show’s what kind of person she is (awesome, if I may says so myself. But I’m slightly biased 😉 ).

Podcast

Podcast
Source: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/podcasts/

The Recording

Our host was pretty relaxed and even came to our house to do the recording. She actually was really good at interviewing! Smart questions, moving the whole interview along without pressuring and keeping the tempo up. Overall I enjoyed the experience, but I like talking about money and investing (go figure?!), so this was not a real surprise.

What I did  find frustrating about the podcast is that what comes out of your mouth is what is being broadcasted. When blogging you have time to think about what you write and how much. It’s hard to add a note once the topic has ended.  I only “really” figured this out halfway the recording. Where in the beginning I talk like I usually do (too much, too fast and all over the place topic wise), by the end I was trying to give more short and to the point answers.

The “annoying” thing about a podcast is that you can only scratch the surface, there is so much more to discuss and review! There are also so many boundary conditions and limitations to each subject discussed, you cannot point them all out in a podcast. For example, just giving only 3 blog (or book) recommendations (at the end of the Podcast) was way too little! For blogs we like and would recommend do check our blogroll!

Still, it was fun to do and I (we?) would do it again! No, this is not a hint, just saying.

The Final Result

Ok, I’m now probably going to disappoint about 75% of you. Because, and you probably guessed it already, the podcast is…… in Dutch. Sorry! So unless you already know Dutch, or want to get started, the podcast is likely rather useless.

Anyhow, you can find the final result here:

The interview and associated editing (down from about 50 min to “just” 37min!) was done by Meike van Zandvoort. She is an entrepreneur who gave up her 9-5 and started as a freelancer/one-woman company. She’s a pretty cool lady (and I’m not saying this only because she brought beer to the podcast!). Check her out at https://www.rijkerleven.nl/

 

For those Dutch among you that have taken the time to listing to us babble, what’d you think?

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I Quit! No, not with the blog, I quit my job today. I will officially be unemployed as of the beginning of May. You have no idea how good this feels. But what is next? Well, there first will be the 9 week road trip, some home & rental property renovations and then I will start my new business!

I Quit!

Albeit we are getting close(r), we are not yet FI, so cannot RE either. However, we are more “free” than we sometimes realize. Mainly because we do now have a pretty decent cash-flow income from real estate and dividend. Plus we have a nice stash of cash. With all this wealth we are now able to “buy” ourselves some extra freedom. Both literally and figuratively.

I Quit!

I Quit!
Source: https://www.imoney.ph/articles/time-to-quit-your-job/

The peace of mind you get from have a nice pile of money and investments is amazing! The other benefit is the luxury that you get in making life choices. Where Mrs CF loves her work, I don’t. Now having the ability to say “F-you” to my employer, because I have a safety net, is a luxury position I only now start to grasp.

The interesting thing is, that even with just Mrs CF’s job I could have made this decision sooner. But there is something strange about quitting your job if you always had one. There is this fear of losing that steady paycheck. Even if you technically can easily do without. Emotions are a strange phenomena!

What’s Next?

Beside the fund stuff of travelling and doing renovations. I’m getting really excited about the starting of my own business. The scary part of stepping into the unknown and doing something completely new is very thrilling. I’m loving that feeling! As crazy as that may sound.

I’m not about to reveal my new business plan and business name (yet?). Mainly because I would loose whatever “privacy” I have here at Cheesy Finance. I’m not comfortable with that much exposure, especially as a lot of financial details are available on the blog. Perhaps this changes in the future, but for now I’m going to (try) to keep the two apart.

I Quit! Next, I start up?

I Quit! Next, I start up?
Source: https://www.fundrecs.com/blog/Six-Lessons-Learned-Quitting-the-Day-Job.html

As my new business is completely different from what I (still) do in my daily life, I have a very steep learning curve ahead. I’m going to make lots of mistake, but due to the type of business the failures will have a limited financial impact. However, to limit the amount of mistakes I have already reached out to several more experienced people that could help out. All of these folks have their own business, albeit in wildly different fields. Funnily enough, they have very similar tips and tricks, guess there must be something to it? 🙂

Things that are on the “to do list” include:

  • developing a business plan (actually revising it, as we already made one)
  • registering the company, arranging insurance and website (latter is already up and running in basic form)
  • developing of various products
  • marketing
  • getting my first paying gig.

How hard can it be? 😉

In future posts (as of Q3-ish) I will reveal more about how I’m going to start up my company, the mistakes I will make, the things that go well and if I actually will make any money at it. The plan is to make both passive and active income streams, the passive to pay “the bills”. The active because I actually enjoy doing it.

 

Any of you that are freelancers? What are the most important tips you have for me?

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How much would it cost to be living on a boat in the Netherlands? I had no real clue, but expect it to be rather pricy. After we looked at our housing history last week, I found myself on Funda once again (a “house for sale” site). Here a found a “creative living option” that looked rather promising (and quite pretty). So I got out the good old calculator, opened up my internet browser and started having fun. Please tell me I’m not the only one doing this 😉

Living On A Boat

What caught my eye? Well this beauty! Almost 22 meters of old Dutch design (built 1902). Pretty cool, eh?

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The price for the “floating house” is now €75.000. That is still a lot of money, and you can certainly buy a house or apartment for this. But I doubt the views and character will match. For those interested, you can download the sales brochure here (just in case the ad disappears from Funda in the future ):

Living on a boat – bolhaven 10 Zeewolde

Purchase:

The vessel is for sale for a price of €75.000. Based on the notes in the brochure, there are no transfer taxes applicable (for a house this would be 2% around here). No sales taxes either. You would want to inspect the vessel, that would probably set you back €300-400 (unless you want to take it out of the water). Then there are the notary costs at about €600-800. In short, you should bring a total of about €76.000.

You cannot finance this vessel with a regular mortgage, apparently (see brochure). The ING bank stopped these special “floating house” mortgages in 2016. Only the Rabobank still does them apparently, but not for this boat it seems.  So you would have to get creative! It will be either cash, or crowd fund, take out a personal loan, family loan, or ….(and any combination of the mentioned).

Expenses

What expenses are to be expected for living on a boat. Most will be very “similar” to those for a house, but some will be typical for a boat obviously. From the advertisement/brochure and from browsing around the web, I got to the following monthly expenses:

  • Slip fees (“havengeld”): €275
  • Heating & Electrics: €225
  • Financing (€75.000 @ 4%): €250
  • insurance: €75 (could not get a quote quickly, so I assume it’s much more expensive then a house)
  • Internet/phone connection: €25
  • Maintenance: €500 (costs and reservations)

The total monthly expenses will likely hoover around €1.350 (or about €16.000 per year). That is all-in! Not too bad actually, especially not considering your house is mobile, spacious and you are living on the water.

Some notes:

  • No garbage or property tax apply according to the brochure (likely partially included in slip fees)
  • Water use is assumed covered by the slip fees
  • The maintenance is a rough estimate as I don’t know for sure how well the boat is maintained. Nor do I know all the costs associated with getting it out of the water for maintenance. I do know it won’t be cheap! You will need to paint something on this boat about every year. You will also need to  pull it our of the water to clean, paint and repair the underside every 5-10 6 years (costs are about €3.500-4.000 + repairs). Also the diesel systems need to run and be maintained regularly.
  • Not sure how the gas stove works? Did not see costs for gas use anywhere.

Practical?

Living on a boat is often not very practical, but this is a fairly large boat and the layout seems rather good.

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It might not be ideal for tall people, but I can see this being a very nice place to live. The location where the boat is currently moored is close to the town of Zeewolde in the province of Flevoland. So even groceries, medical care, etc. should not be a problem. Heck, you might have these guys as your “neighbors” (blog in Dutch).

Investment?

Financially savvy as we are, we also need to look at this in terms of it being an investment. Let’s assume that we just buy the boat in cash. Let’s assume the monthly expense noted above are the same (minus the interest). In short, operating expense are around €11.000 per year, excluding cleaning.

Based on some browsing around for other vessel/house boats that are rented out, we found that €100-150 per night is nothing out of the ordinary. We will take €125 per night as average (sleeps 5 max). Let’s assume no one wants to say here during the three winter months. The fall and spring will have 60% vacancy and the summer only 20%. This is a yearly utilization of 40% (144 nights) as a base case. This should provide you with €18.000 gross income.

Now let’s say we have cleaning expenses of €30/cycle. The assumption is 144 days of utilization, with an assumed average stay of 3 days = 48 stays. That is €1.440 in cleaning expenses. This leaves you a net operating income of €16.560 – €11.000 = €5.560/year. On €76.000 that is a yield of 7.3% (before taxes). Not bad! We might just need to get ourselves a boat 🙂

 

 

Have you ever lived or stayed on a boat?

 

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Guess there is a new trend in blogger land (well, at least in the Netherlands). Several of our blogging colleagues have been reviewing their housing history. In short, they told us how they lived in their lives, from the moment they were out of school/University. Including some explanation on why they did what they did, costs, prices and more. They sometimes also noted what their plans are for the future. Guess it’s our turn next 🙂

Housing History

To put it mildly, we did not sit still for very long (or we are getting old, you pick). Over the last 12-13 years we have lived in many different type of properties in two different countries. We owned and we rented, in both countries. The latter was usually the best option if didn’t know how things were going to develop in our careers/lives. It’s also the “mandatory” place to start when you have no money 😉

Housing History - Think big! Well maybe....not.

Housing History – Think big! Well maybe….not.
Source: https://www.homeaway.nl/info/meer-info-voor-reizigers/top-10-lists/romantische-kastelen

The Start

Our living journey overlaps a bit with our student days. As Mrs. CF was still living in her 20m2 (215sft) student condo during the first 3 years after she graduated. She had a shared kitchen and bathroom and paid about €270-300 per month for the place I believe (including utilities).

At the same time I was living in a 35m2 (377sft) social housing condo. I was fortunate enough to have my own kitchen and bathroom. For this unit I paid about €350 per month, utilities/taxes came separate. We were living about 40km from each other during these days. Because of where we were working at that time we often used each others condo’s to live in, saved a lot of commuting time!

Housing History - Small Condo

Housing History – Small Condo
Source: http://www.inrichting-huis.com/klein-appartement-van-38m2/

Fun fact, this first “grown up” condo for Mr. CF was actually huge compared to the previous student room(s) rented prior. That was a mere 11m2 (118sft) divided over two rooms on either end of a hallway (with shared bathroom in between), but it had it’s own “kitchen”! Needless to say that was rather small but with fun house mates.

Moving Up

After we decided that we really liked each other, we moved in together. We found a nice condo that we could rent for about €650 per month and was “huge” compared to what we had been living in prior. The condo had 4 rooms as was 70m2 large (753sft). So we had more space, spend more time together, and we were still paying about the same!

Before we moved into this condo Mrs. CF did look at buying a place of her own, but could never find something affordable at that time on her income. This was also when we discovered we really like house hunting!

Housing History - Bigger Condo

Housing History – Bigger Condo
Source: https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/cookiewet?html5=true&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.rtlnieuws.nl%2Feconomie%2Fhome%2Fruim-15-miljoen-euro-voor-duurste-appartement-van-nederland

Moving Abroad

The next step in our adventure was to dump all our stuff into a sea container and fly to Canada. We were lucky enough to have a fully paid for furnished condo to our disposal when we arrived. This gave us the ability to look around for a rental place so we would be covered for the first year. Obviously we didn’t have the ability to purchase a property yet, nor did we want to. When arriving in a new country you want to be flexible to be able to adapt to your new life.

The place we found was a 130m2 (1400sft) detached house with attached double garage! Coming from the Netherlands, we were so not used to this amount of space. We loved it! And started to fill the garage with one nice car, a motorcycle, bicycles and a BBQ….(oops). We paid about €950 ($1.500) per month for it (based on todays exchange rate).

Housing History - Canadian Style

Housing History – Canadian Style
Source: https://www.point2homes.com/CA/Real-Estate-Listings/SK/Saskatoon.html

After about a year we decied that Canada was a very nice place to live and wanted to stay there longer. But renting was out of the options, as it was considered “too expensive”. This was before we realized the amounts for maintenance costs an property taxes! As the house prices had just stabilized from the crisis years, and the interest rates were pretty low already, we made the plunge into home ownership.

The first house we bought was 205m2 (2.200sft) without the basement developed. We did that a couple years later and added another 75m2 (800sft) in living space to it. Getting to a total (and very ridiculous) 280m2 (+3.000sft). The house cost us (including fees, garden and basement development) a total of €315.000 ($500.000). Yes, we used to own a half million dollar house! My fault, lesson learned and won’t do that again, unless it’s a rental property 😉

Moving Back

After Miss CF was born we decided to change our housing history once more and move back to the Netherlands. Because we had no jobs we decided to rent a house once again. We found a deal via Mrs CF’s father and landed our butts in an old farm house. As we were ready to downsize, we would have taken anything, but still ended up with whopping 220m2 (2370sft).

Housing History - Farm House

Housing History – Farm House
Source: https://www.monumentenverbouwen.nl/renovatie-restauratie/oude-boerderij

We only paid about €800 per month for this place (it’s condition matched the price, in case you were wondering). However, we also had a huge heating bill! The place had virtually no insulation (and mold in the basement). It still was a pretty cool place to live for a while and we enjoyed the place quite a bit. The house had “character”, shall we say.

Second Home Purchase

After we had settled and found jobs again, it was time to buy another property. One that we could potentially modify and rent out in the longer term. We were definitely not looking for a “forever home” this time around. The last time we did it got us 280m2 to clean, heat and maintain! We’ve (more specifically me) learned that “more space” does not equal more happiness.

It took us a few months of browsing, and a couple “near miss” purchases, before we got our hands on our current house. We now own a 125m2 (1345sft) house consisting of two floors. The price for this house was (including fees) €200.000. Our current mortgage payment for this place (interest and principle payments) is about €626 (excluding any tax returns on the interest). It’s still owned for 86% by the bank 🙂

The Future

The next step is to move again! We will split our house into two rental units and move out ourselves. The current plan is to move into one of our current rentals. This unit is “only” 77m2 (828sft) and has no more mortgage associated with it.

We will however take mortgage on the property to have more money to reinvest into other assets. As it’s a nice place and situated in a good area, we probably could get a €150.000 low interest mortgage on it. That gives us a lot to work with!

Housing History - Tiny House

Housing History – Tiny House
Source: https://www.curbed.com/2017/12/1/16723858/tiny-houses-for-sale-rent-canoe-bay-wisconsin

Anyhow, it’s a nice little semi-detached house and situated near some green spaces and water bodies. It’s a good place to live and it much closer to family. The latter will make Mrs. CF a happy woman, and a happy wife is a happy life, so onwards we go.

Other Bloggers

Fellow bloggers that posted about their housing history:

 

How about you? Where did you live and how has your housing history developed over the years?

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Based on this already “old” post by Early Retirement Extreme (ERE), Jacob was able to live off $5.000-7.000 per year, as late as 2011. For argument sake, let’s assume that this $7.000 annual spending in 2011 is now $7.714 in today’s money (2018). This would be about €6.250/year (current exchange rate ~$1.233/€), can you survive on this amount in the Netherlands? How low can you go? In the Netherlands at least!

How low can you go?

We have done earlier assessments about how much money we would need in various scenarios for FIRE. I’ve plans to revisit this post and apply the 2018 taxes. But it also got me thinking, how low can you go? Let’s have a look!

How Low Can You Go?

How Low Can You Go?
Source: https://steemit.com/ethereum/@ndre1224/ethereum-limbo-how-low-can-you-go

Some boundary conditions to consider:

  • No insurances other than mandatory ones (e.g. health insurance);
  • Bare bones living, no fluff/holidays, but  some leisure is included;
  • No government benefits included;
  • You still need to be able to stay healthy (e.g. eat/sleep well);
  • Let’s assume you are FIRE and have no need for a job (i.e. no commute, limited clothing costs, etc.); and,
  • It has to be legal!

Housing/Living

The idea is to live a cheaply as possible, so we will look at extremes here.

How Low Can You Go? The Garage Box

How Low Can You Go? The Garage Box

Options that I found/could think of are:

  • Camping out in the “wild” (read public lands or forests) = Free, but very much illegal in the Netherlands. You would still need a tent too!
  • Live in your office = Free, but probably illegal and not applicable as we assume you are FIRE.
  • You could also live in a box truck  = Free and illegal. However, buying the APK approved truck (i.e. road legal) would be rather expensive around here, probably not really an option.
  • Garage box (€35/month). You probably need some funds (or do dumpster diving) to make it “habitable” and a gym membership to be able to shower (€25/month). Total costs about €60/month. Also illegal!
  • Room for rent (€50/month). The lowest I could find was really cheap, but you had to help with choirs around the house. Let’s go with this one (not discounting that you might be able to live somewhere for free if  you work on say a farm).

Since we are law abiding and we want to do as little as possible (i.e. limited work), the yearly expenses for living are about €600 (including utilities!).

A more reasonable/realistic number, if you want to have your own “private” room is about €250/month including utilities (€3.000/year). But again, this is not really barebones, eh?

Food and Groceries

Based on our own grocery expenses (with 3 people, about €350/month), you should be able to easily live off €116 per month. Let’s assume you are good at cooking and very efficient. You also don’t want to die from malnutrition, so let’s assume  you can live off about €3/day (€90/month). This include toiletries as well.

Total costs per year: €1.080

How Low Can You Go? The Groceries

How Low Can You Go? The Groceries

Side note: according to the NIBUD (a budgeting site from the Netherlands) I’m grossly underestimating. They recon you need €5-6/day as a minimum per adult person. However, despite the NIBUD stating our expense are “not possible”, we managed to do this already for a few years in a row.  I’ll take their numbers with a grain of salt.

Healthcare

In the Netherlands you are required to insure yourself, its mandatory by law. The lowest rates I could find, based on an adult, was €75/month (no dental/highest deductible/basic coverage). Assuming nothing bad happens and you are healthy and brush you teeth, the total yearly expense are €900.

Transport

We are in the Netherlands, so you will have a bike! Depending on how much you use it, let’s include €50/year in costs related to wear and tear. There might be things you need to do that are not within cycling distance. For this let’s assume €250 in transport related costs for public transport or occasional car rental for a day.

Total yearly expenses: €300

How Low Can You Go? The Bicycle

How Low Can You Go? The Bicycle

Leisure

We said bare bones with no fluff/holidays at the beginning. In short, most leisure activities are things like reading books, going for a hike or cycle ride, volunteering & visiting free activities around town. However, it’s not about becoming a hermit, so let’s include some minor expenses for the occasional leisure event.

Total yearly expenses: €200

Other Costs

Considering life has become increasingly digital at the moment, you will need access to internet (for banking, health insurance, taxes, etc.). Some access can be free at the library, but let’s assume you cannot always time things. Let’s also include mobile phone (sim only, no data) and banking fees with this. Total costs per year €125.

You also need cloths, thrift stores are great for this obviously, but they may not always have what you need. Since you have time on your hands, you already repair some of your own cloths. Total expense for the year €150 (I’m generous here).

I’ve probably forgot a few items, so let’s include another €225 for unforeseen expenses.

Total other costs sum up to a total of €500 per year

Conclusion

The grand total of the expense noted above is €3.580. That is really low! It’s also very much barebones, not easy and you are really just “surviving” with the occasional exceptions. If something happens the expenses will quickly rise. For example, if you are taken to hospital, your deductible of up to €885 will be added to your expenses. If your bike breaks, that’s likely another €50-100 (for a used cheap bike). Perhaps you need glasses? You see where I’m going with this. The number above does not include for any buffer! Nor does it include replacement costs. Perhaps a value in the order of €5.000 is more reasonable (add in the “private” room and you are at €7.400).

For reference purposes; what’s poverty level in the Netherlands? It’s about €1.030/month for a single adult (2016 numbers). This is a total of €12.360 per year. Welfare support at the moment, for a single adults over 21 year of age, is €992,12/month (€11.905,44 per year). There are all after taxes.

The point I’m trying to make is that it is possible to survive in the Netherlands with very little money. How much you will enjoy life, and how comfortable it is, is a different thing. It seems that the numbers by Jacob are achievable, even in the Netherlands, but not easy to manage. Then again, we are talking Early Retirement Extreme here!

 

Thoughts?

 

 

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We have a “guest” post today! Mrs. CF decided it was time to step up her game! She was asking herself the question: are we getting HOT? Or perhaps better “HOT-er”? H.O.T. stands for Happy, Opportunity rich, Time rich. This is what she was thinking.

Are We Getting HOT?

You all know Mr. CF as a person who can’t wait to be FIRE. He keeps a monthly score of everything in Excel, so that he knows exactly where we are in achieving this goal. He sometimes curses the day that he became aware of the whole FIRE movement, as he would rather be RE yesterday than today. So when we finally (!) picked a date that he would quit his job and start enjoying being RE something interesting happened.

Are We Getting HOT?

Are We Getting HOT?
Source: https://divnomics.com/2017/06/22/is-h-o-t-the-new-f-i-r-e/

What Was Happening?

I really thought this plan through. I gave him two options for a resignation date. I thought of goals that he needed to achieve and I even gave him a way out. If not-working isn’t his thing, he could always start working again in two to three years time. At that time, I have to opportunity to start working part-time and/or work more from home.

So what happened, you might ask yourself. Well I will tell you: he was looking for a job. Seriously?! I was thinking it was just a little phase. But then he already talked to two different potential companies in the last month! I asked him the question: why? Mr. CF couldn’t really come up with an answer. So even a person like Mr. CF, from whom you least except it, is living with a stigma that not working is just plain “wrong”.

It Just Isn’t Fair

Mr. CF’s biggest excuse of staying with his job (or finding a new one) is that he doesn’t think it is fair against myself, Mrs. CF. We haven’t reached our Cheesy Index goal, which means that currently only one of us is technically FI. But, he is forgetting two important things when making that conclusion.

The first thing is: I love my job! Mr. CF knows this but apparently this is not persuading him to stop looking for jobs.

The second item he is forgetting is the following. Half a year after we started the journey to become FI (over three years ago) he asked me what I wanted to do when we turned FI. To be honest, I didn’t know! It is not the sort of thing I had already thought about in detail at that time. However, I have also asked this question to Mr. CF in the past three years on several occasions with always the same answer: I will figure that out when I am FI (Mr. CF: hey, I’m being flexible!).

But for me, these goals have now become clearer. With Mr. CF quitting his job, we will actually accomplish 2 of my top goals and it perhaps brings us closer to a third goal that I have. Are we Getting HOT?

HOT and FIRE Goals

Most people have goals or make plans to travel to faraway countries or just golf all day when they are FIRE. Not me, Mrs. CF needs to do things differently, I need to be HOT!

The two main goals that Mr. CF will help me accomplish, after he quits his job, have to do with family. As a parent, being there when Miss CF comes home from school, is important to me. I want one of us to ask Miss CF how her day was, sit down with her to have something to drink and help her with homework. I want a strong relationship with our daughter. It would also be possible again to have family meals more than twice a week in the weekend (Mr. CF: our work schedules and avoiding traffic jams are hard to combine unfortunately).

Because Mr. CF will run the household, we would have much more free time in the weekends (and perhaps even some days during the week). This gives me, for example, more time to spend at my nephews and nieces birthday parties. Or take them out somewhere fun, to build better relationships with my family. I would love that! This for me is HOT!

Goal Nr 3: The Move

Ideally I would also like to move closer to my family. Mr. CF doesn’t always agree with this idea (Mr. CF: moving  to one of the most expensive areas of the Netherlands that is! And I prefer Thailand…..). We are still debating and figuring out how we would do this, but there are a few options that we are considering that might not break the bank. However, it would not give us all the options that we would like during FIRE, such as a big yard to grow more of our own food. But you can’t win them all! Becoming HOT is finding a balance.

Yes, I know, these goals/plans “may be cheesy”, but they are my own. Everybody is different and these are important to me. If Mr. CF wouldn’t stop working, I would have probably started to work part-time sooner. But now, I don’t have to! For me it’s the best of both worlds.

 

How about you, do you have different priorities than you spouse during (and before ) FIRE? How do you deal with this? How are you compromising skills?

 

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Another yearly overview? Yup, I’m afraid so. You may run away screaming if you want. However, I like statistics and watching data sets develop. So no wonder I actually like making this post. Here is a quick review of the blog statistics and revenue for 2017.

Blog Statistics and Revenue

As noted in this earlier blog post, we don’t have Google Analytics setup for this blog. I’m very lazy and use what is readily available to me, so I use the AWStats data (measured at the server) to figure what’s happening. It appears to be a slight overestimate of what happened in reality (see also explanation in the previous link).

Since we changed the site in early May of 2017 to have a secure SSL (https://) connection, blog traffic data is split into a secured and a non-secured connection set. Therefore the two graphs below:

  • Graph 1 show traffic via non-secured connections
  • Graph 2 shows traffic via a secured connection
Blog Statistics and Revenue - Non-secured Blog Stats

Blog Statistics and Revenue – Non-secured Blog Stats

Blog Statistics and Revenue - Secured Blog Stats

Blog Statistics and Revenue – Secured Blog Stats

If any of you know how to interpret the combined stats, please let me know! I don’t have enough knowledge to properly state if this data has overlap in terms of visitors/visits. I recon it does, but don’t know to what extent.

For sake of convenience, let’s assume it doesn’t. In that case we would have had a total of 577.525 page views in 2017. I find that a lot! Based on the secured connection data, we now regularly exceed 50.000 page views and have around 6.000-8.000 unique visitors per month. Not bad for this little “labor of love”, don’t you think?

Best Posts of 2017

Based on combined numbers for secured and non-secured sites, the following 10 posts were most popular in terms of page views:

But you guys also really like the following pages:

Blog Revenue (or Lack Thereof)

Now it get’s juicy….. neah, not really. Total revenue from our friends from Google was €64.5. Which does not even cover hosting and domain fees. Which are now about €82 (€6/month hosting en €10 per year domain name registration). Had to up the hosting package in early 2017 due to the volume of traffic. Was hitting the previous hosting package limits and it was affecting the blog load speed.

I had started with the Bol.com affiliate program, but did not make this into a priority to set this up properly. No money here either.

There is one other item that potentially brought in some money, which was the referral link to the Combicoin. I say “potentially”, as we won’t be able to sell before February 8. A lot can happen between now and then. About 6 people apparently used the link, which provide us with about 1 more Combicoin token (current value at time of writing $42.77 = ~€35). Thank you for using that link, I hope it makes you and us some money!

 

If you have a blog, how did you do in 2017? Any comments on our stats? Suggestions?

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A couple of days ago I wrote my draft resignation letter. For those of you that have been paying attention, you know I don’t like what I do. I’ve been trying to shake things up with multiple career switches. But apparently didn’t shake this up hard enough….

I Wrote My Resignation Letter

It is time to take the plunge. It’s time to try the biggest shake up I’ve done in my working life: stop working. I’ve talked about my work ethics before and my lack of motivation, and it’s (finally….. according to Mrs. CF) gotten to the point I don’t want to continue. It simply does not feel right. It’s simply not worth it anymore (not even financially!). It’s time for a change.

I wrote my resignation letter - I Quit

I wrote my resignation letter – I Quit

Change

There will be a lot of change once I quit and on the other side, not much is going to change. Huh? Allow me to elaborate a bit. On the changes front, I’m going to try to be multiple things at the same time:

  • part-time stay-at-home dad (Miss CF goes to school and will go to after-school care for one or two days per week);
  • being a contractor (for our own house to both upgrade and rebuild into two rental units – multi year plan!);
  • entrepreneur (starting my own little side business, fingers crossed & wish me luck!); and,
  • work out more (a lot more! Still want to try an Olympic distance triathlon at some point).

Keep It Steady

But there are also lots of things that won’t really change. Some of the key things that came to mind:

  • we will still try to work out ways to become FIRE (it will just take a bit longer);
  • I’ll continue to blog (perhaps even up the frequency, subject to how the above items will develop); and,
  • the way we live life won’t change either. The way we cook, do holidays (except for the major upcoming one) and how we spend our leisure time are expected to continue unchanged. In short, our expense should not really change much, they should in fact go down a bit due to lower after school care expenses.

Timing

So when is all of this supposed to happen, I hear you ask. The plan is to hand in the resignation letter somewhere in March. Considering we already arranged time off for April-June, and a replacement will be arranged at work, the timing will be right before we take off. Should be smooth sailing for the guys at work anyways.

Why then and not now? We are low on cash and need money for the long trip, upcoming renovation works at two of our properties and a general buffer. By having paid work until April, we should be in a good position. This also will mean that my life as an unemployed (but not early retired yet) will commence late June.

Am I mad?  No idea, but I’m sure looking forward to it!

 

Ideas? Suggestions? Comments?

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I like satire and sarcasm, I also like finance (you had not noticed I assume). But when you combine the two, I have a real blast. I love financial satire!

In the Netherlands there is a website called “De Speld” (translated: “the needle”). It’s the Dutch version of “The Union” (a US satirical news site). Their posts are generally clever, funny (sometime hilarious) and revolve around current news items.

Financial Satire

When I was browsing the web yesterday, I stumbled upon a new article in “De Speld”. It’s an instant winner in my mind, but it’s written in Dutch of course. Below is the freely translated version for your amusement.

Financial Satire - Bitcoin

Financial Satire – Bitcoin
Source: https://www.bitcoin.com/info/roger-ver-economic-code-of-bitcoin

Staying Rich Quick? Don’t Invest into Bitcoins.

Jasper put all his savings not in Bitcoins, and still has all of his money.

19 January 2018 by

Staying rich quick is no longer a dream. Since the market of cryptocurrencies collapsed more people don’t invest into Bitcoins to stay rich.

We spoke with Jasper van Baasbank. He didn’t invest 5000 euros into Bitcoins and still has that 5000 euros.

When a friend of mine told me about cryptocurrencies, I started to investigate the opportunity. I quickly discovered that not converting my money into Bitcoins would be a great and easy way to keep my hard earned cash. I also didn’t invest into Ethereum and ripple, that’s now also paying off handsomely.

Still, Jasper is not only driven by a desire to keep his money.

I’m staying away from the Bitcoins because I sincerely do not believe it works. I’m sure that dubious golden coins won’t be the currencies of the future. Mark my words: in a couple of years people still don’t pay with golden coins.

Original Post

The original post can be found here (in Dutch only). All credits go to the folks from “De Speld”.

https://speld.nl/2018/01/19/snel-rijk-blijven-investeer-niet-bitcoins/

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Our television decided to partially die, how does a television partially die? No idea, but it sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn’t. We even brought it to a repair guy, but he could not figure out what was wrong with the bloody thing. It refused to die in his repair shop, whereas it had no problems doing it at our house. The fight continues with the partially died television…….

Television

Yes, we still have (a partially operational) television. But we dumped cable back in early 2009. We had cable in the Netherlands, so after arriving in Canada we tried cable for a short while too. However we got so fed up by the amount of commercials we got rid of it as soon as possible. Yes, commercials are annoying in the Netherlands, but Canada and US have brought annoying to a whole new level!

Netflix

Netflix had just started in Canada in late 2010, so we gave that a try. Almost 7 years later and we still have Netflix. The relatively small monthly fee was worth it in terms of not having annoying commercials and a good selection.

Lately though we have been debating to also drop Netflix, especially now that the TV is also on it’s way out to the dodo’s. But we have not pulled the trigger yet. Miss CF does like to watch the occasional cartoons. Netflix is a far better option than using YouTube. No junk, no commercials but fewer options (so she gets bored an stops watching!!).

Television - Netflix

Television – Netflix
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/on-demand/0/netflix-codes-secret-numbers-unlock-1000s-hidden-films-tv-shows/

How Much?

How much television do we watch? Probably too much, but we primarily watch documentaries and movies. We occasionally watch a few series, but not nearly as much as we used to (no time, something with kids…). We don’t watch news, talk shows or sports (we rather DO sports). However, we are suckers for shows about real estate……(Grand Designs is awesome!).

Because the TV really didn’t want to turn on for more than 5 min, we were prevented from watching television for most of the month of December. In the beginning we didn’t mind too much, and even debated to ditch the television (and associated equipment/media) completely. However, by week 3 we started to miss it. We really enjoy watching movies and documentaries. It’s just great (low cost!) entertainment and gives you time to relax a bit. So be brought the TV in for repairs (which failed miserably as noted earlier).

The Old Television

We bought our current television back in 2007. At that time the whole concept of FIRE didn’t really exist for us. We were generally frugal, but had a lapse in judgement with this one…. I had been working internationally and was earning some very good money. As I have always been into watching movies, I wanted a big screen TV. We ended up buying a 46” LCD television, a Sony Bravia with glass and aluminum rim (very nice model). For that time it was huge and very expensive. We paid about €3.200 for it, ridiculous! As this television is now pretty much written off completely, the yearly depreciation costs are about €320…ouch.

Television - Sony Bravia 46X2000

Television – Sony Bravia 46X2000
Source: http://www.techradar.com/reviews/audio-visual/televisions/plasma-and-lcd-tvs/sony-bravia-kdl-46×2000-116361/review

A New Television?

So the hunt is on for a new television. But considering we have not been looking at new televisions for about a decade (ours was working fine till now, so had no desire to look around), it’s interesting. We actually found out we are a bunch of dinosaurs! We still have a VCR recorder (1998), a DVD player (2001) and a PS3 (2012 – Free!), neither of which is used regularly (and a vinyl jukebox and record player – perhaps we are fossils?!). Guess we still have all this because of sentimental reasons. The minimalist in us is still losing this battle.

But this begs the question, what does the new television need to adhere to in terms of specs? Are we going to look for SCART hookups? Or are we going to solely go for HDMI? How big do we want the screen to be? What screen resolution would we like? How much money do we want to spend on a new one? Heck, what do you pay for one these days? We had no idea!

After some digging around we noticed that TV’s are a lot less expensive then they used to be. LCD and Plasma TV’s pretty much disappeared and are replaced with LED TV’s. These are also a lot more energy efficient too. Our energy use would go down by about 60-80% depending on model and size, compared to what we use now. That’s a lot! Then again, the amount of energy it takes to make one is insane too. No TV is definitely better 😉

Today

We still have not bought a new TV, the old one seems to hang in there for now (it miraculously started to work again, has not turned off in two weeks now???). If we buy something new (eventually), it will likely be a smaller model between 32” and 40”.  We will likely stick to HD and not 4k in terms of resolution. Reason is simple, older movies look extremely fake on high resolution TV’s, which takes some of the fun out of it for me. HD TV’s are also cheaper, so two reasons to keep it simple(r).

It will likely still come with a SCART connection (not yet ready to ditch the DVD collection, call us weak if you will) and will not cost more than €300-350. About what we paid per year for our first big flat-screen television!

Oh, we did check out second hand stores and ebay/marktplaats/kijiji/etc., but the prices for a used ones are the same as for a new one. People have not realized their used TV’s are not worth more than about €50-100. So this option is out for financial reasons (environmentally it would be smarter move thou….).

 

What’s up with your Telly? Still have one?

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Hi, I’m Cheesy Finance and I’m NOT an alcoholic. If you look at “our” twitter feed (ok, it’s just mine) you’d think differently. But really, I’m not an alcoholic, I just like beer 🙂 Or am I now in denial, really can’t tell.

We really love beer - we really do

We really love beer – we really do
Source: http://www.we-love-craft.beer/

Hi, I’m Cheesy Finance and I’m NOT an alcoholic

Yes, I really do like beer. But in 2017 I made the decision to only damage my body with alcohol if it is actually worth it. In short, no more cheap beer or “regular” stuff. Taste matters, quality matters, really good beer matters.

To prove my point, see below for several exhibits on me not being an alcoholic, but a genuine beer lover.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C (Ok, this might be the right one……what was I saying about being a non-alcoholic again… Oh right 0% beer, see alcohol is bad for the memory 😉 )

Exhibit D

Money and Beer

Beer is cheap, good beer not so much. Some people are not going to agree on this, but you could also considering drinking less beer, good beer that is. Most good beer has a lot of alcohol in it anyways, it’s much heavier and really deserves to be enjoyed slowly. That’s what I’m doing, I drink good beer, just not a whole lot of it, no really.

Where to get your beer and when? I’ve noticed that around year end many beers go on sale, so stocking up is always a good option. That is obviously what I have been doing over the Christmas break. Should have enough to last me a few months. Most of my beer is coming from the supermarket at this stage, I’ll move into the specialty stores when I’m out of new options. I’ve already been scouting 😉

Twitter and Beer

A special thanks goes out to my fellow non-alcoholics, aka beer lovers and (former) beer brewers!. Folks, please keep the inspiration coming and the beers flowing! One special thanks goes out to  Waffles on Wednesday: the #drunkonfire mastermind! Make sure to visit and please add some good stuff yourself too!

Roadmap2Retire is also good at joining the party!

https://twitter.com/Roadmap2Retire/status/946904216236429312

My fellow countrywoman and former beer brewer is also truly inspirational

And Carl, what’s to say about Mr. 1500 himself?

Cheers!

Gosh, I’m thirsty now! Might need to get myself a beer.

 

 

What is your favorite beer and what is your financial strategy for your beer collection?

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Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and all the best wishes for 2018. We hope that your 2017 was awesome for you (and your family) and that you can continue this trend in 2018.

We also wanted to thank all of our readers for the support and feedback we have received over the past year. It’s been very rewarding to have been able to make this FIRE journey with you al, both online and in person. We hope that we are able to meet many of you in real life at some point (perhaps already in 2018?). On that note, looking forward to next Saturday for some stroopwafels, cheese and beer. Until that time, enjoy the food, fun, family and friends!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

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