How to millennial

At 6, I wanted to be a firefighter.

At 12, I wanted to become a doctor.

At 16, I just wanted to quit school already.

At 20, I didn’t know what to do with my life but i knew i needed an education.

At 24, I graduated from said education with the most useless degree one could get: Art and Graphic Design.

Why? Because i liked drawing so much i thought i could easily make it into a successfull career. (Lol)

It was 2012 and the economy was stuck in the worst recession since decades. Needless to say i didn’t find a job ANYWHERE.

Sounds familiar?

Burn your degree

We’re Millennials, born in a innovative era, the world is changing faster than ever before. Still we’re being told we can face that challenging world the old-fashioned way.

The millennial generation is one of the few generations subjected to so many profound changes in such a short time. We started highschool barely having cellphones (nokia 3310…anyone?) and while doing homework on a typewriter. To graduating college on an ipad and stories about people dropping out of college and becoming millionaires.

Given recent developments in AI and technical advancement there are no signs these changes are slowing down, they’re just getting started.

The truth is that various certainties like ‘work hard and get a good degree’ and ‘hard work will get you anywhere’ just don’t seem right any longer, it just doesn’t cut it in today’s world.

But then what? What do you do? Just dig a hole in the ground and wait for it to blow over?

“if you just work hard and get a good degree/scholarship, it will all work out for you” -my dad

Me, Myself and I

I sent out resume after resume, but never recieved a call. I just wanted what everyone of us wanted; freedom to do what I want (and a car), why was that so hard?

I would be lying if i said it didn’t hurt or that it all went smoothly. Being an adult all of the sudden is hard! It came to me that my education didn’t -in ANY way- prepare me for the world I was shot into. I was educated in a field that barely even existed at the time I graduated.

Eventually i found myself a job doing nightshifts in a Customer Service Callcenter making barely minimum wage. Horrendous workinghours, stressfull, teamleaders on speed (no, really…), colleagues stuck in the same routine for YEARS…and the CUSTOMERS! Don’t get me started…and the list goes on and on.

If you’re currently working in a callcenter and you’re happy where you are, you’re awesome! You guys get me discounts every year! I can imagine there are callcenters where one can work happily ever after, unfortunately i had a completely different experience at the time.

For me, it took a year or two to realise that life wasn’t for me. I had enough. So i started to do what everyone does: updating my resume and writing letters to possible employers. I wrote more than 50 letters without ONE invitation for an interview.

Little did i know that in the two years i worked in Customer Service, the Graphic Design industry changed so much that i had less to offer than everyone fresh out of college. For example: I was the last year to graduate without coding lessons… and nowerdays, you need to be able to code.

Well i was completely stuck, my degree didn’t get me anywhere while it should’ve been my ticket to a good career! …Right? It felt as if i was condoned to a life in Customer Service forever. I was mad at everyone back then, especially the ones I loved most dearly.

So I just quit from one day to the other.

Needless to say: what followed was a rollercoaster from freelance gigs to part-time jobs with a detour at unemployed and a pitstop on welfare. It wasn’t pretty to be honest but it would be unfair if I were to leave my SO out of the equation. She really stood up to the test and provided some much needed emotional and financial stability, I’m still extremely grateful for all she did!

I manned up eventually, took some friends in high-earning positions out for a coffee to see how they got there and fast-forward 3 months later: I started working in the Financial sector and I’m working there still.

So what can you take from this?

  • Understand nobody is the same, everybody developed in their own way and pace. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.
  • Your fancy and costly degree doesn’t dictate your life, you can re-invent yourself at will.
  • Understand that EVERYBODY is looking for a place in this world, it’s no shame you haven’t found yours.
  • You have a network already, use them and hear out their story, we all like to share successes over a coffee.
  • Ready more books, a simple book about the basics of human psychology landed me a 25% raise!
  • Dare to question yourself and your truths.
  • Learn how to write a good resume and cover letter

I’ll cover more on these topics later on, if i can give you one last piece of advice it’s that Change. Will. Take. Time., don’t expect things to change overnight.

 

Life is a long-ass marathon, not a sprint.

 

 

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!

Investments

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

Alphabet
Apple
ATOS
Rolls Royce
Royal Dutch Shell
UCB

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.

Now where did all that money go?

Ever asked yourself this exact question?
Well this post is going to turn your broke ass around, so sit down because I’m going to rant about something really sexy and popular: Budgeting.

As i said in my previous post, keeping track of your expenses is vital for financial health.
Do i practice what i preach? Well off course!
I’m a HUGE believer in keeping tabs on your expenses, And what better feeling to have than to see that you just saved about 50% of your income that month?

Well…FUCK

Money is a curious commodity. It makes us do weird things and it influences us more than we’d like to admit. We don’t want to part with our hard-earned cash so badly it’s even hardwired in our brains. Still you end up broke every month. Why? Where did it all go?

Well to illustrate that I’m going to tell you a little story about a man two years ago that just started working a full-time job: Yours truly.
You can laugh, but I was there every month: broke and living on ramen noodles the week before my next pay-check. I worked in a bank talking about being responsible with money and iIwas the most irresponsible person when it came to my own finances.

I had NO CLUE where my money was going, really. I fucking spent like there was no tomorrow. New glasses? -Heck yeah! Hey my washing machine makes weird sounds? -Throw it out and buy a new one!

I was a perfect example of how media expects our generation to be; Consumerists.
I threw my hard earned cash away on stuff.
Did I need that stuff? Well maybe or maybe not, but for sure it didn’t make me happier.

One night, my bankaccount went below zero. I was in debt for the first time in my life and it didn’t even start yet! It was my wake up call.

That night i started listing up all my expenses of the last six months, the result?
More than 10 000 euro gone. (12 000 in Freedom Units for my American readers)
I was disgusted with myself, where did it all go? I could’ve done so much with that amount of money!

So here’s the list and the expenses on it, or as i like to call it; My money destinations:

  • Housing – 450 euro
  • Utilities + TV – 150 euro
  • Food – 600 euro
  • Clothing – 200 euro
  • Magazine Subscriptions – 25 euro
  • Fitness – 20 euro
  • Healthcare – 10 euro
  • Going out/Other – 150 euro

Not so bad actually eh? Not in relative numbers no.
Let’s look at it in percentages; My top 3 then looks like this:

  • Housing – 28%
  • Utilities + TV – 10%
  • Food – 37%

Right there, i spent about 75% of my total income.
Well, for me it meant ALL MY MONEY OUT THE DOOR.
My money went everywhere and refused to stay inside my pockets.

Starting the Budgetgame

I knew i had to turn this around, this was a downright unhealthy situation. I couldn’t afford anything because there was never any money left at the end of every month. Let alone the stress I experienced because of that!

So, insert a budget.
I started looking at every expense; Do I need it? Do I want it? Can I live without it?

Fast forward a few months: I cancelled my TV subscription (never used it because I was always working), I cancelled my magazine subscriptions, stopped shopping, looked at cheaper stores to shop for food (hellooooo Aldi!) and much more.

All of a sudden i was able to start saving for the first time in over a year!
What an awesome feeling!

But tracking your expenses is hard work, at least for us Europeans out there.
There are no really awesome budget apps out there like Mint that you can link to your bankaccount so i did (and still do) it all myself in Excel.

This way you get your own life’s financial data, how awesome is that??

Start now, don’t wait ’till next week

If you don’t start now, you will never. Next week is an excuse you make to yourself to stop taking responsibility. I had my wake up call, now t’s time for you to have yours.

Even if it’s just on a piece of paper: Start. That. Budget. Going.
It’ll work wonders and gives insight where you don’t have any right now or are just guessing away. How much do you owe on that loan? Can you get a better percentage? Start calling your provider, what can they do for you? The options are endless.

Once you know where your money is going you can start figuring out if it’s all really worth it.

 

Using a budget gives you a head-start, YOU know where YOUR money is going.
Unless any unforeseen event happens, you know how your month’s going to unfold money-wise. How’s that for some mental peace?