Februari 2018: results are in!

We’ve had a crazy Februari, which is why I’m so late with the report this month. More will follow next months with (hopefully) better timings!

So let’s dive right into it. As I said Februari 2018 was tough. We had a ton of work! To keep my 2018 goal of a global 50% savings rate proves a hard goal to meet. Mrs MF and I started doing these ‘little surprises’ for each other. While amazingly sweet, these always come with a little cost, and little amounts quickly become big amounts.

So February has been mostly about balance, and I think that’s also a bit of the essence to reaching FI for us. Saving your ass off gets you where you want to be quickly, but when there’s someone you share your life with, things become more complicated whether you want it or not.

Mrs MF and I have a busy life, we’re working 6 days out of 7. So free time is precious, doing something passive is very tempting at that moment! Like watching TV or something…but thankgod we don’t own a TV nor cable 🙂 The previous month, we decided to ‘do’ things more often. We’ve put ourselves on a tight budget, so ‘cheap and awesome’ things here we came!

We went drinking a glass of wine in our favourite wine bar.
(if you’re ever in Ghent, be sure to check out ONA!)

It truly is an amazing experience for any wine-lover, unique and little known wines at your disposal. And if I’m honest; they’ve received quite a portion of my budget over the last two years 😀

The weather was terribly cold in Belgium with temperatures dropping to -10 degrees Celsius! Those are the times I miss my car to commute to work. But I warm myself to the fact that not having a car saves us a LOT of money!


Generally, we kept to our budgets quite well. So my savings rate for the month Februari is quite good at 41% saved. We went a bit overboard with the wine and bought a plant for our house, so i spent more than double of my ‘fun’ budget of 100 euro.
(oh yeah we went on a ‘mindfulness’ class too, quite the experience)

If i can get it over 50% and keep it there, I’ll meet my 2018 goal!
I’ll be honest that i’m not sure we’ll get there, we’ve booked our tickets for two big trips we’ve been planning for years so that’ll take quite the pinch out of our emergency savings. We’ve been saving diligently for over two years so a real vacation was long overdue in our opinion.

Net worth

My net worth dipped slightly due to the recent dip in the stock-market. For now we seem to be on a good track again, but the future remains to be seen. I’ve decided to remain in my positions for now. The long term is all that matters.

My crypto assets have bled quite extensively since December. While everybody’s selling i’m slowly adding coins to my collection! I’ve decided to invest my money every week while ignoring all the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that’s being spread. Let’s hope I’m right in the long term. 🙂

2018-02-08 13.37.47

Alright that’s about it, no other news! If you have any questions: to the comment section!


How we cut 40% on our expenses!

When we started our FI-journey, saving money was (and still is) priority number ONE.

We love seeing our costs go lower and lower each month, freeing up more cash to put to investments or just building our emergency budget.

We discovered new ways of saving money on various aspects of our lives. (Did you know drinking tapwater instead of bottled water can save you up to €400 yearly?)

When FI was just a vague concept for us, we looked into the typical money-saving tips you find everywhere on the internet such as; eat out less, shop discounts at the groceriestore, start biking more instead of resorting to your car and so on,…

We had the feeling these were good to start with, but didn’t go far enough. What’s the use of biking to work once a week if you’re still paying for your car that’s sitting idle on the driveway? Why shop discounts if the advantage is marginal?

We knew we had to think further if we were going to tackle this FI thing head-on and not just save €50 more a month. (Which would make our FI journey longer than life itself)

So we tackled the big guns first; rent, car, utilities and groceries. Our house in the suburbs was nearing the end of contract and we wanted to move closer to the city again, just for convenience.

The city is expensive yo! Our rent was 650 a month, the new house we set our eyes on was 780 a month. That alone would be an increase of 20%! We were planning on downscaling, not upscaling our costs!

So we worked out a radical plan.

The house we were renting had an extra room, so we looked for a roommate! Having a roommate cut our housingcosts by a third, instead of the full 780 a month, we now pay €520 a month. That’s 33% LESS than before while getting all the benefits of living in a city.

We were happy with the extra amount we saved because of this, but boy were we on a roll now!

We started questioning our car, did we actually need it? When we moved to the new house, we started counting the times we actually needed our car. The result? Living in the city brought another benefit along; we used the car 2 times a month! We did everything on foot or with a bike so we could very well do without it.

The car took up a large portion of our budget for a long time. Gas, insurance, upkeep and maintenance aren’t cheap!

So we sold it and took on the experiment of doung everything with public transport, bike or on foot. We even got ourselves a little bike-trailer to go to the store! We’re half a year in, and so far, so good.

Our costs went down almost immediatly, instead of spending around €300 a month, we freed up €300 to invest! Another major win!

We won almost €600 on two big components of our household, areas that are often taken for granted or overlooked when thinking about ‘spending less’.

We went even further, we went shopping for the cheapest gas and electricity supplier out there and found a fixed-uear contract that saves us almost €400 a year. I’m a bit of a freak on these things, so i started tracking our gas usage every month to see when we were spending the most and how we could cut back on our bills.

We did the logical things; changing our old lightbulbs by LED versions, optimizing our boiler settings,… but we were still spending a lot of money on gas and electricity…

So we did the thing millennials are best in; thinking outside the box!

We looked at exactly how we used our heating and our water. One of the most striking discoveries was that we both liked to wash our hands with hot water!

(We have a boiler that activates itself once you activate warm water in the house.)

We asked ourselves; would it make a difference if we washed our hands with cold water instead of warm water?

Time for a test! We spent the next month paying attention to use cold water when we washed our hands. The result? We spent 15% less on our gas!

We were astonished by the big result such a small insignificant change could have. It means we spend €120 less on our utilities bill a year!

Making big and small changes is part of the journey towards Financial Independence. We’re still looking for possibilities to cut back on costs and save money. But at the meantime we still want to be able to enjoy life.

That’s why we focussed our attention on the big three: housing/utilities/transport. If you’re able to cut back significantly on those costs, you can ease up about spending €6 on a double espresso once a week.

Quality of life has always been important to us, so cutting back on those major costs and thinking outside the box freed up almost half of our original household budget. Meanwhile we still allow ourselves the pleasures of everyday life and we love every moment of it.

Of course, cutting back even more frees up even more money for investments and savings, but do you really want to spend your days counting pennies untill the next paycheck comes around?

We made a budget for every expense in our household and try to stick to it, but having a budget doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself from every joy in life.

Remember; you can have anything, just not everything!

2017 was a good year.

I’m a little late to the party, but i’ve finally found a moment to gather all my data from 2017 to see how i did financially. So let’s dive right in!

But why?

For me, 2017 was the year i got really serious about finding Financial Freedom.
Being able to put my hard-earned money to work seemed awesome at the time, and honestly? It still excites me today!

We’re all stuck in a rat-race, we’re always late, hurrying and scrubbing from one place to another. Deadlines at work, social obligations, kids soccer practice, cooking, cleaning,..
We spend so much time running and yet we never arrive. There’s always a ‘next’ or ‘later’.

Financial Independence represents ‘a way out’ of the rat-race for me. It enables me to spend time where and how i wish to spend it. Whether it’s at work, sitting at home reading a book, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s intentional. I choose to be there. I want to be able to experience that kind of freedom as early as possible.

If you will live like nobody else, later you can live like nobody else.

-Dave Ramsey

Financial Independance is no sprint, it’s a marathon.
Long term planning is key. Mindblowing 20% Stock market corrections as occurred in ’08 dwarf in face of a 20 to 40 year timespan. If you can think about the long-term picture (the reeeeaaaally long term picture) you’ll come out on top.

And now the numbers!

So how did i do this last 12 months?

Well first of all i had a few setbacks. Me and my SO moved to another town setting us back quite a bit. And the new place had to be decorated of-course!

We started 2017 with a savings rate of 24%, went down as far as 11% in September (the month we moved) and back up to even 60% in November! I had a 80% rate in March, when I sold my excessive stuff (like my second Macbook and iPad) and added it to my ‘extra’ income for that month.

Schermafbeelding 2018-02-04 om 18.08.54(I’m a sucker for graphs)

Averaged annually, my Savings-rate hovered around 41%, that nearly half of my take-home pay i was able to save! In actual numbers this means i bumped up my savings this year with 12700 euro (15800 USD)

i didn’t just put it on a savings account, but invested the year through making the most out of the dollar-cost average principle. It’s basically investing every month with what you can spare, let the magic of compound interest do the rest!


I’ve also made a wrap-up of my investments’ performance in 2017.
My current portfolio consists of the following positions.

Rolls Royce
Royal Dutch Shell

Crude Oil Index EFT
Vanguard S&P 500 EFT

As you might notice, it’s 100% stocks and 0% bonds, this because I work in the financial world and can spend my days trading stocks for clients as well as my own.
I would NOT advise you to invest 100% in stocks if your plan is to take in positions and never look at them again. A good rule of thumbs is to take your age (for example 40) and have that percentage in low-volatile options as bonds or options alike. For me, that would be 27% bonds and 73% Stocks.

If you’re planning on really diving into the wondrous world of stocks; go all for it but invest only in what you know.

A few of these pay dividends every year and i’m planning on pumping more in those positions such as Shell and Rolls Royce and reinvest the dividends every time. It’s a great way to expand your income sources!

Averaged I’ve closed the year with a return (pre-tax) of 75% which made my net-worth go over 10K for the first time in my life.

I’ve also had quite some success with Crypto currency.
I invested 4000 euro in the ‘Big 3’ (Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin in March 2017, and made a pact with myself to let it sit for 12 months. The deadline is looming on the horizon but the returns have been off the charts for 2017.

Because of this, i closed 2017 with almost 50% of my net worth allocated in Crypto, which is WAY above my risk tolerance. i’ll be adjusting soon.

Net Worth

No talk about closing a year without looking at your Net Worth!
It’s a simple equation; Assets – liabilities (loans,…) = Net Worth.
If you were to sell everything you own, what amount of cash would be in your hands?

I often hear people including their house worth, illiquid assets such as artworks and more in their calculations. But in my own calculations I keep non-liquid assets such as computers or my house out of the equation, nice and simple.

So if i look at my Net Worth, the spike caused by my Crypto assets is immediately visible. While many disagree with Cryptocurrency, being liked to criminality and said to have no ‘real value’ I’d like to offer my two cents; I do believe it can have a place in an investment strategy albeit at a very very high risk. (it really is the wild west out there)


Schermafbeelding 2018-02-04 om 17.37.58.png
2016 was a dull year because i listened to the advice everybody got; save 10% of your income. i also never heard about FIRE back then 🙂

So that pretty much rounds it up for now!
What were your financial WINS for 2017?
let me know in the comment section, i love to hear from you 🙂

Disclaimer: this post is purely informative, not intended as advice nor investment guidelines.