Do you have an exit strategy? This was the question that Mrs. CF asked Mr. CF a couple of months ago during a conversation on investments. I was looking at her and glazed over a bit. A what? Was my counter question. An exit strategy? Having focused on increasing our various investment positions, exiting those positions was not really on the top of my mind. But she had a very valid point, when you buy certain assets, you will ultimately get rid of them too. It is therefore important to think about an exit strategy to make this work as smooth/profitable as possible.

Besides an exit strategy on investments, you might also need an exit strategy when it comes to your career. Albeit we are not there yet, (partial) FI is approaching faster than we initially thought. An career exit strategy is therefore really key at this stage, as the impact on our finances is rather larger when income is reduced and expenses temporarily increase (for details, keep reading :-).

Exit strategy maze, Image source


Investment exit strategy

Why an exit strategy?

Simply but: life changes and evolves! An investment strategy might no longer fit with your preferences, life situation (e.g. divorce, kids, location independency, age, etc.) or market conditions.

For example, we own some real estate. We currently really like it, but we have also seen older folks that simply don’t want to deal with the risks or potential hassles/works (e.g. repairs/maintenance) when they get older. We have seen various investor trying to offload (a portion of) their real estate investment portfolio due to their age/changing preferences.

Another example is your age/time left on this planet, you might lose your risk appetite and decide to rebalance your portfolio from stock heavy to bond heavy. Or you might want to sell your business/franchise, or have someone manage it on your behalf (so you just receive dividends).

Planning for an exit strategy

Albeit not required in detail during your search for investments, you should considered how easy an asset is to sell. For shares, index funds and bonds this is pretty straight forward. But for real estate, crowdfunding loans, or (internet) businesses/franchises this could be a lot more difficult. It can take time to transition these assets to another owner (or may not be possible at all!). If you have time this is not an issue, but if there are time constraints (say due to a divorce/illness/etc.) you have to make sure your asset is ready to be sold at any given time. However, it also needs to sell for the right price!

What to consider?

Here are a few things which you could consider:

  • Approximate moment from or to a major market crash/correction;
  • Conditions of your portfolio (up/down);
  • Type of assets (Stocks / bonds / Loans / Real Estate / combinations);
  • Your risk tolerance;
  • Age;
  • Health;
  • Family situations (no kids, expecting kids, older kids, pets, etc.);
  • Investment preferences;
  • Location preferences (nomad/stay-at-home/frequent traveler); and/or
  • Housing preferences (rent/buy).

Some exit strategy examples

Here are some random examples of exit strategies, for various investments and stages of life:

Stock market exit strategy, image source


  • Index funds; depending on your age, expenses and market conditions, sell one or more year’s equivalent of expenses to capture capital gains. Transfer into bonds to have a stead pot of money to draw from for several years of worry free living. The selection of the number of years you transfer into bonds can depend on how close you think you are towards or from a major market correction (or your age);
  • Keep your rental property in tiptop conditions, so that when a tenant moves out you can sell for a good price on the open market. Or, see if you tenant is willing to buy from you (could save realtor fee’s). Before you sell, decide if and how, you want to reinvest the proceeds (dividend shares, bonds, personal loans, business loans, etc.); or,
  • In case you are older and want to limit inheritance taxes, start selling or transferring ownership of dividend growth stocks to your children, family or charity (e.g. “estate planning”). Same applies to your primary property: sell to you children and rent it back from them for your last few years on this planet (saves lots in inheritance taxes!).

If you have more suggestions, please feel free to leave us some comments!

Career exit strategy

Why an exit strategy?

You never know how life is going to change, unfortunate things happen, so leaving the work force (or changing careers) should be done amicably. Even when you have a horrible boss and cannot wait to never see him or her ever again, the recommendation is to finish off professionally. It’s often a small world, and it could make a difference! References can really aid you in the long run, even outside your current career path.

That being said, handing in the resignation letter is relatively easy. How to do write it and what you are going to do afterwards can be less straight forward. Its needs a plan, it needs an exit strategy.

Planning and an example

Depending on what you want to do after your current career, timely commencement of your planning could be important. Take our case, I (Mr. CF) really want to stop working my current day job and pursue a part-time business during (partial) FI. However, we also would like to take a 9 week road trip in 2018 before Miss CF will have to go to school. And we “need” to replace the current kitchen (it’s about 25-30 years old and it is at its end-of-operational-life phase).

The business will not be expensive to commence, but will take time to develop. An early start is very useful here to kick-start this side project. The road trip in 2017 will be done somewhat frugal, but will still cost a fair bit of money. The renovation job I’m actually looking forward to. It will be a combination of me and a contractor attacking this one. But despite my involvement, it still will cost a large sum of money, as we will also enlarge the kitchen by re-routing the staircase and demolishing an old bathroom. The latter is already replaced by a new one, but the old one is now taking up precious (future kitchen) space.

In short, if it were just the new business, I would probably quite once my one year contract expires in November. But due to the extra expenses coming, I hope to get a contract extension and work about 4 more months to offset some of these anticipated expenses. In short, it’s probably good that we considered this about 15-18 months in advance and have some options to play with.

If you wonder what Mrs. CF will be doing, she will likely continue her career that the current company (but you never know!). Her exit strategy will be next.

Life exit strategy, image source

What could you consider?

Some of the things you may want to consider:

  • When you are FI, how solid are your finances? Can you survive a few years in a downward market (e.g. you FI start date is at the worst possible time)? Do you have a back-up plan (e.g. go back to work)? If not, perhaps you need to continue a bit longer, or find something part-time.
  • If you are not FI, how long are you planning to not work (e.g. take a sabbatical)? Or, do you want to already have a new job before you hand in your notice? Or do you want to go part-time?
  • When you are considering a career switch, do you need education? Can you potentially get some at your current employer? Or do you need education to commence the new career?
  • In case you are going to start your own business. Do you have sufficient knowledge? Can you perhaps do an internship or other training to give your new business a flying start and also make sure it is successful. Can other bloggers/entrepreneurs help you? It could be a smart thing to reach out.

In some cases you will find it is better to extent your career a bit to get some extra fun money, or renovation funds, or an emergency fund. Perhaps it also provides you with startup money for a hobby project or new business. On the other hand, if you really do not like your job and it makes your miserable, you could get out early, knowing that you have to get some temporary work to fill the financial gap. Potentially making a part time FI situation for yourself. The options are endless, but you need an exit strategy to make the most sensible decision!

The moral of today’s story is: always have a backup plan. Consider your exit strategy!

Do you have exit strategies? If so, let us know what they are and why you have them. What where your considerations?


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Insurance products can be a great thing. Especially when mother nature decides to cause storm damage to your house 🙁

Winter Storm

Last Thursday we had a winter storm in the Netherlands (and other parts of western Europe). It was not as bad a forecasted, but winds did whip up to over 100km/h (+60mph). During the evening we heard something fall outside, but when looking out the windows we saw our neighbour/tenant walking around and loading her car. She did not seem to be phased, so we figured it was her or stuff she was moving around. We did not investigate any further.

But later that night, the roof was a lot noisier than normal during high winds. It kept us up for quite a few hours until the storm died down later that night. This was something we had to address at some point, but it turned out that we had to do this a bit sooner than expected.

Storm Damage

This morning (Saturday) we finally had some time to go into the yard and clean it up from all the stuff that had blown in. To our surprise we found one shingle too! Turns out we actually have a hole in our roof. Not good.

Storm Damage - Smash up shingle

Storm Damage – Smash up shingle (left) and new shingle (right)

Storm Damage - hole in roof

Storm damage – we have a hole in our roof!


This would all not be too bad, if it was not for the weather forecast for the coming week. So we quickly called the insurance support centre to report the damage. They have now scheduled an emergency repair for this weekend. Been on the phone with several parties already, hopefully they find a spot to help us out. Because, as you can imagine, we are not the only ones with roof damage at this time.


Weather forecast – lots of rain…

Financial Damage

Considering the work is not actually completed at this stage, the final bill is unclear. However, the insurance policy states a deductible of €250 for damage other than damage by Fire. The work itself is very limited, but due to inaccessibility the final bill will likely still be around the deductible. Ah well, such is life.

March 3 update:

The roof finally got fixed this morning. They also bolted down an additional row of shingles to prevent this from happening again. Curious to see what the bill is going to look like! Hope it will be just the deductible of €250.

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We are doing another historical review today, after we reviewed our historical savings rates earlier this week. However, this time we will be looking at the development of our income assets. We will look at the historical return on investment on those assets. And, in addition, we will also be looking at the return on investment on our total net worth.

Historical Income Asset Allocation

When we were doing the historical data evaluations for the savings rates, we obviously did more than just that. It was a great time to review most of our historical developments. it took at bit of time to get to this stage, but it is interesting and fun to see the (financial) developments match with life decision we made in the past.

Same as with the saving rates, data up to 2010 is a “best guess” based on income/tax statements, (partial) excel overviews of expenses and receipts from all kinds of purchases. As of 2011 the data is very accurate as we have been keeping track of our finances in detail. The result looks a follows:

Historical Income Asset Allocation

2006-2016 Income Asset Allocation

Income Asset Allocation History

We were able to reconstruct our finances back to 2006, which is when Mr CF got his first job out of University. The first few years we earned quite a bit of money so our savings rate was high. Unfortunately we did not invest much into the stock market at that time, only Mr CF had some ETF’s. This was a financial legacy from his parents (a gift when I turned 18, the fund were to be used for school/housing/etc.).

As interest rates were pretty good at that time, we deposited most of our money in “Deposito’s”, which are savings accounts with fixed interest rates for fixed durations. We got around 3.5-4.5% per year on most of these accounts (which is amazing compared to these days).  For the period between 2006 and 2009, we did not own a house (were renting at that time to remain flexible in our living locations). The percentage of our income producing assets was therefore high, but did not really grow organically over time due to a lack of real estate of stock market exposure.

As of 2010 we sunk pretty much all our money into a McMansion (and cars/motorcycles). The drop in income producing assets is shocking to say the least! But we simply did not know any better at that time. Fortunately, we started with company pension plans and our income producing assets slowly grew again between 2010 and 2013.

The Income Asset Turn-Around Years

In 2014 we had our financial epiphany and started our turn-around. We withdraw money from out mortgage to purchase two rental properties that year. Significantly improving the amount of income producing assets.

We sold our McMansion in 2015, investing the money we got out of our house into our pension accounts (maxing our the RRSP’s), as well as unregistered investment accounts/crowdfunding. This process was slow and steady for about a year and a half. Some of the money “left” was used for the purchase of our home and associated rental properties in 2016. The resulting jump in income assets is pretty impressive! Not only in percentage, but also in return on investment which we will be looking at next.

Return on Investment – Income Assets

Due to a lack of data, we were not able to reconstruct the return on investment on income producing assets before 2014. But it is safe to say that percentages would have hovered around 2.0-4.5% for the period 2006-2010. Considering we did not have any stocks during the crisis in 2008 and 2009, we never actually “lost” any money. We therefore likely also did not see any negative returns on income producing assets either. For the period 2011-2013 they would have probably been between 4-6% considering we primarily held ETF’s within our RRSP accounts and the market was slowly recovering.

What we do know is the return on investment as of 2014 till now. Because our investment strategy is very diverse, and because of exchange rate variations (which were positive for us), the return on investment is actually rather good. Especially for 2014, when the market went up nicely and exchange rates shifted in our favour. The ROI for 2015 and 2016 is still very good due to climbing markets, but is dropping somewhat due to our real estate investments. The latter is however providing good cash-flow results, which is what we prefer.

We calculate Return on Investment on Income Assets (IA) as follows:

((Net Worth this year – Net Worth previous year) – Invested Funds ) / IA (previous year)

The results are as follows:

2014-2016 ROI Income Assets

Historical Return on Investment of Income Assets

Return on Investment – Overall

We also calculated our Return on Investment on All Assets (i.e. our Net Worth), which we did as follows:

((Net Worth this year – Net Worth previous year) – Invested Funds ) / Net Worth previous year

This is rough measure to figure out how well you have been doing with your money over time. For example, when you buy a big house, cars or go on expensive holidays. Your overall assets will decline (directly or over time) due to expenses and/or depreciation. However, if you are in an wanted area, your house may actually increase in value and add to your net worth. In our case, our home did increase in value, but this was offset by money we spend on the yard and basement development.

Return on Investment - All Assets

Our historical return on investment on our net worth

As noted prior, we purchased our house, cars and motorcycles in 2009 and 2010. This lead to a massive drop in our Return on Investment on our overall assets. However, this was not the only reason, the drop in 2009 (and the rise in 2011) were actually also significantly affected by fluctuating exchange rates.

That beign said, we are just very happy to see that since 2011 we have been doing well and our net worth is increasing steadily. This is partially caused by an bull market and partially by our FIRE revelations and decisions. We are working hard to keep the percentages as high as we can going forward.

Return on Investment – Yearly Average

Now this is the one that hurts the most. When looking at our total net earnings over the years (so income minus expenses) and compare that to our net worth at the end of 2016, you can calculate the average yearly Return on Investment (on all assets). In this case ours was……just 2.9%. We barely kept up with inflation (could be worse, we could have lost money)!

But if we now only look at the last three years (after we discovered FIRE and rearranged our finances), it’s a more respectable 8.7% yearly average. For two Duchies just winging it, that’s pretty decent. And it even included some rookie investment mistakes. We are a very happy couple 🙂

How did you do over the years, do you know your return on investment on your income assets?


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It is history week at Cheesy Finance, with two posts this week about our historical financial affairs. Today we will focus on our historical Savings Rates. Later this week we will look at historical Return on Investment and income asset allocations.

Historical Savings Rates

We kept detailed records of our spending since about mid-2010. But we had some partial household overviews from 2006-2008, plus bank statements, pay checks and receipts from (large) expenses to puzzle together the remaining years. Everything up to and including 2010 is therefore our best guess, everything from 2011 is pretty accurate.

An overview of our savings rates for the period from 2006 to 2016 (and the average to date) is shown in the figure below:

Historical Savings Rates

Historical Savings Rates from Team CF between 2006 and 2016

A Bit of Team CF Life History

Mrs CF started her career in about 2004, Mr CF started his in 2006. Both of us graduated with MSc degrees in our fields. When we met in 2004, Mrs CF had just about paid off here student loans. Mr CF (thanks many as three side jobs at one time and his parents) was able to graduate without any student loans at all.

Before we started living together in the same home in 2007, we still each had a student accommodation (costing about €275-350/month). When we moved in together we rented a small place for about €600/month (including heating, excluding electricity/water/internet). This place was a lot bigger than our student accommodations but overall costed about the same.

At this time Mrs. CF has a pretty good job as an accountant, Mr CF had a job which included extended travel outside the country. In short, we were (still) living like students and had good pay-checks. Because we were somewhat frugal by nature, our savings rate started out really good in the beginning. But then Mr CF got restless……and consumerism/”keeping up with the joneses” started to take hold.

Saving Rate Developments over the Years

As noted and shown in the previous paragraphs, the savings rates between 2006 and 2008 were pretty good as we kept our life simple and only had a small apartment. Then we moved to Canada in 2009, this obviously was not cheap as you have to start your life again (although the visa’s and move were paid for by the company). For most of 2009 only Mr. CF had a job and Mrs. CF did lots of job interviews (bad timing with the crisis ongoing), studying and volunteer work. However, we bought a new car and motorcycle that same year.

As of 2010 we both had full time employment and life was good. We did lots of hiking, travelling but still kept our budget in check. We had also purchased a home in 2010 (reasonable timing as far a purchase price, but it was a massive 280 square metre (3000sf) McMansion!), a second car and upsized the motorcycle. We actually sunk virtually all our savings from 2006-2009 into the house, cars and motorcycles. Consumerism at its finest.

In 2011 and 2013 our incomes kept getting bigger, but our expenses stayed about the same. In short, pretty good savings rates for those years. It’s interesting to see the good saving rates despite getting married, doing a 20-day Hawaii honeymoon and Miss CF being born in those years.

The Transition Years

As of 2014 the effects of Miss CF being with us, and associated parental leave, are becoming visible. The lack of income, some extended travel and daycare costs start to have a big effect on the savings rate. However, 2014 was also the year that the FIRE principles started to take shape. The parental leave gave us insight into living with all the time in the world on a modest income. Then Mrs CF discovered ERE and things rapidly progressed from there with the purchase of our first two rentals.

2015, which was a massive transition year, was pretty “bad” from a savings perspective. We emigrated back from Canada to the Netherlands, but this time we had to pay for the international move ourselves. We also were unemployed for about 3-5 months that year, and we did a bit of travelling as well. It was a great year, just not from a savings perspective 🙂

Last year (2016) was a turn-around year, for the better. We both were employed for the whole year, had good incomes, our investments did well and we managed to add 2 properties and one workshop (as well as one property for ourselves) to our portfolio. The savings rate is back into the right territory, despite the massive costs of day-care for Miss CF (about 30% of our total expenses). We did not travel much last year either, which is not necessarily a bad thing as we did quite a bit of travelling over the years. But it obviously had a big positive impact on the savings rate.

The Future?

For 2017 we hope to keep this momentum going! But there are many developments and ideas we are working on, we don’t know yet how the year is going to turn out. If we keep our employment as it is now, we hope to remain around the 50% mark. This is driven by day-care costs and renovation works scheduled, plus catching up on travelling.

How about you, do you know how your savings rates developed over the years?

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Mr. CF was driving to work one morning last december when I heard a loud bang on the front windshield….. A big crack appeared throughout the front windshield, darn. Well, we are insured for stuff like this, so filled in the online form and got the insurance process started. “Great fun”. First thing was to find the right windshield to replace the cracked on, sounds simple, right?

The Missing Windshield

When I called the garage to I told them about the cracked windshield and that the car is imported from Canada. No problem he said, but do drop by so that he could have a look. Considering the repair shop is close by our house, I drove by on the way back from work.

At the shop, the owner looked at the various ID markers on the car and window. Later that day he called and told me to come back 10 days later for an install (this was just before Christmas, so it took more time than usual). Perfect, I was off for the Christmas break anyways and could drop by on the proposed time and date. Problem solved, right? Wrong!

When I arrived at the repair shop, they partially ripped out the windshield before they realized that the one they had was too small! Huh? How does that work, the car is the same shape and size as the European model? Anyway, went home with a complely ruined front windshield and a nasty feeling.

The nasty feeling is not because of the window being broken, but because the APK ((bi)-yearly mandatory inspection for cars in the Netherlands) was due late February. With the broken window I could not pass the impection. If you do not have a valid APK, you have to park the car as you are no longer permitted to drive! Still, we had a few more weeks before it would become an issue. We were positive for a good ending.

Car Scare

Car Scare

About 4 weeks later (after several calls back and forth) the guy calls me back to say he cannot find the windshield. He told me to go to the dealership to have another look. I did that a soon as possible and drove by the repair shop again to find out that…..they could not supply an new windshield until halfway April! Oops….

This news meant that we now had to suspend the car (costing €70) as of the APK laps date, arrange loaner cars, rental cars or otherwise (I still need to get to work!). Aahhh. Have you ever looked at what a car rental costs for almost 7 weeks? In the netherlands, at the lowest possible price for a very small car (think Toyota Aygo), you are looking at close to €1.000. This is not really money we want to be spending!

The only “good” thing is that when you suspend your car, you can also suspend road tax and insurance. This would “save” us about €200. Fortunately after some asking around, we were able to arrange cars for about 5 our of the 7 weeks. So just two weeks of potential rentals required (thank you family). Then we get a call in the first week of February…

Good News!

They found the windshield, so I quickly made a appointment two days later to have it installed. It turned out that they were looking at the wrong vehicle and had ordered the wrong window to begin with (they got it for a regular version of the car, not the wagon). So as soon as we had the new windshield, we also drove by an APK certified car dealership to have the APK inspection completed the same day.

We are now able to (legally) drive the car until 2019 on Dutch roads, and we see out of the front windshield again. In the end it did not cost us a cent extra, but it did gave us a good car scare!

Have you ever had a car scare? Where you lucky too?

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Net Worth

Some of you may be familiar with J$ (or J-Money), whom runs the websites and (both very entertaining websites/blogs by the way). On you can also find a list of net worth updates from various personal finance bloggers. It’s quite diverse as it ranges from as much as -$0,5M to as much as +$4M, and everything in between. The list of millionaires is quickly growing as more people blog about their finances and are open in discussing where they are and how they got there. Albeit we don’t post our net worth (we do have the Cheesy Index of course!), most of you that have been here before and are keeping track of what we do, should have a pretty good idea of what we are worth.

Earlier this week, Mr. 1500 posted another similar and rather personal question to his readers to divulge their net worth’s, what followed next in the comments section was rather spectacular! I was reading it all with awe. There were so many non-bloggers and bloggers that were very open about their finances and many (new?) millionaires-next-door popped up, some folks who’s comments I’ve been reading for a while or others I’ve never seen before.

Feeling a bit like a loser…

But seeing all these millions pop up, it suddenly made me feel like a loser! Although our net worth is nothing to sneeze at, we are nowhere near any of these $1-2,5M numbers. And most likely we won’t even reach anywhere near these numbers in the next decade….

This actually has two reasons, one: we don’t need that much money to live and two: I don’t’ want to be working for a boss so much longer (I simply don’t like my job that much). Will be ultimately hit a 7 figure number, absolutely, just not any time soon (at least I hope not because that would mean someone would have died and left us a sizable inheritance. It won’t be the lottery, since we don’t play :-).

Strangely enough, it was both motivating and demotivating at the same time. On one side you kind of want to be that successful financially, it would really be a pat on the back that you have been frugal, have invested well and have made the “right” decisions. On the other side, we only saw “the light of FIRE” about two and a half years ago. We have made massive turn around in that time, cleaned up our act, moved internationally and nearly quadrupled the value of our income producing assets and added 5 properties to our portfolio. That on its own should be something to be proud of! But it doesn’t feel that way…..

Patience is a virtue

Maybe I want to much too soon, building wealth takes research, efforts, time and patience. Not doing this would actually hamper you efforts to increase your wealth and would probably even make you unhappy. My major problem is patience, it’s not my strongest character trade. I can get really motivated and can achieve quite a bit in a relatively short period of time. When the changes are visible quickly, it really motivates me more, again improving the results in return. But at some point you have done as much as you can and just need to “ride it out” to the finish line (read: keep on saving and investing).

Any words of wisdom?? How do you deal with motivating yourself on the path to FIRE? Do you know that double feeling when looking at others that are already successful on obtaining the status of FI?

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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:

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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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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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.


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:

(in Dutch, for some creative car cooking).  (for some good old financial car bashing).

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


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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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.


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.


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):

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

For those in the USA and Canada:

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 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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Have you every realized that we as humans are extremely good at not solving the core problem (i.e. the root cause), but rather stick a Band-Aid on it? What make this really bad is that we do this with almost everything! A couple of random examples (feel free to add a couple more in the comments section):

  • More and more people are distracted in traffic by mobile devices, so let’s make an app for that. Really? Why not just shut it off or ignore the phone when you are behind the wheel.
  • You’re suffering from high blood pressure, let’s take some medication for that. Really? Why not stop eating products with added salt (which is pretty much anything processed), meats (which stiffens arteries in the hours after consuming), eat more greens and beans and work out more? The previous few items are actually proven to be a lot more effective and much better for your overall
  • You are having a piece of month left at the end of your money. Take out a loan or pay with a credit card! Really? Why not cut back on expenses, make a budget, evaluate your life priorities, find ways to earn more, etc.
  • I need to clean my yard, of all the leaves that have fallen recently, with an obnoxiously loud leaf blower. Really? Why not get a rake and get a bit of exercise and not annoy your neighbours.
  • I need a bigger house, because I cannot fit all my stuff and toys in it. Really? Why not sell/donate/recycle all the things you don’t use, clean up the place and enjoy the same place for many more years to come.
  • I need to buy X, X and X on black Friday because it’s on sale, Really? If you actually need it, you would have bought it before and would be using it already. If you do have time, and have done  your (price) research (and could not find it used or at your local thrift store), black Friday might be an okay time to buy (assuming the item actually is cheaper).
  • I don’t like where my country is going, let’s elect an “interesting” real estate businessman for president, really? Well, you see where this is going 🙂
  • Etc., etc., etc.

But why do we do this? Because it is the path of least resistance, it takes very little effort. If you actually want to solve the problem you have to work hard, be dedicated, be informed, want to improve and, most of all, are willing to change. Without the aforementioned you will just go for the quick fix, which in reality does not solve the problem, it masks the problem and often makes it even worse.

We are obviously not immune for this, and we keep reminding ourselves not to fall into the convenience trap. For example, instead of buying a second-hand compressor and accessories to inflate car tires, we used the bicycle pump to inflate our car tires to the optimum pressure (potential savings €50). This obviously takes more effort and time, but you get a bit of a workout and savings in return.

Moral of the story, take the long hard road, it will make you happier and improve your life!


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It’s official, Mr. CF is going to do a career switch (sorry, it’s not one yet that revolves around FIRE….)! Where my former career was primarily revolving around project engineering, project management and design management, it will change to cost engineering. The financial side of FIRE is actually starting to rub off on things I want to do in life/work, primarily in the sense that I like to do financial estimating, cash flow reviews, profits, yields, risks and associated analysis.

I’m new to cost engineering, so will be going through a steep learning curve in the coming months but I consider this a very good thing. However, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence….let me explain..

I’m a very social person and like people around me for most of the time, I therefore like working in teams. This position is one that you do more on your own with fewer interactions with other parts of the team (which are supposed to provide you with inputs, that you usually only get at the last minute….). I hope that I’m overestimating this impact, but will have to see what happens.

The company is good, but it’s not the best one I have worked for in my career. My new boss seems decent, but I’m a bit sad to have to leave my current boss, who is an amazing guy. The decision to leave was therefore not an easy one (have a good boss makes a difference in a job).

I’m also going back in paid time off (currently have 40 days, will go back to 31 days), which I also will be partially compensated for. However, I rather have more time than money, but this was not negotiable….

The pension plan is also not as good at the one from my current employer, but this should not be a major concern considering we should be FI well before we reach the time that our pension will be paid out (at that time it’s a bonus/back-up income), which currently looks to be at 67 years and  3 months (and climbing).

Financially, it will also have a significant impact on our household budget, both positively and negatively. The main impact comes from losing the company car, so I will be using our own car to get to work (keep in mind that cars are very expensive in the Netherlands). Fortunately, I’m partially financially compensated for this “loss” in conditions from my old job. Furthermore, I’ve decided to bike to work one or two days per week (about 54km/day), which would help lower transport costs, get me in shape and improve my health. Clear win on this one, but the expenses for our own car will go up significantly (fuel, maintenance and depreciation). Based on our calculations, we should be cost neutral or even a bit positive (if maintenance is not too bad). Curious to see what will happen. However, due to the various compensations, different pension plan deductions and a few other incentives, overall income will go up (both absolute and cash-flow wise), even when taking into account the increased transport costs.

The bottom line is that this career switch should get me/us ahead both personally and financially. Which will actually bring us to our FI goal a bit faster and be more satisfactory from a work perspective. In short, I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge.

How about you, did you switch jobs lately? If so, why? Did you do it for the money, or for personal reasons?

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