saving

Savings Rate December 2020: closing the year with an amazing 69.46% saving rate

With 2020 coming to an end its time to calculate my savings rate for the last month of the year. December finished at a 69.46% savings rate, meaning I was able to save a huge amount of my income. Of course its also thanks to the semi-lockdown in Belgium and the end of year bonus I got this month

Expenses

Lets go over the different expenses for this month

The highlights

  • Housing: my housing costs remains the biggest with with 760 EUR, with the biggest part being the loan. Additionally I bought some new furniture that costed me 120 EUR. At some point you might think your home is finished. Well let me tell you something, your home is NEVER finished, you will always think of something that can be better, and once you went all around the home to improve everything you can start back from the first item you improved.
  • Hobbys on the second place at 273 EUR: this was mainly bicycle maintenance for both bikes. Together they costed me about 215 EUR in Maintenance. For my racebike I expect this will be rather rare, for my mountainbike that I use heavily I am considering to take a course so I can do more myself. At least basic maintenance like putting in a new chain is something I will try myself next time. The material is cheap, just the man hours are expensive.
  • Groceries at 217 EUR: a 30 EUR drop from last month, I suppose its partly because I went to eat Christmas dinner out of the home. Within the Corona rules of course. I also decided to eat more bread going forward, as opposed to eating cooked meals twice a day
  • Shopping 84 EUR: mostly small things but one thing I purchased was Tile. Tile lets you easily find your items when you lost them, by showing its last known position and they also have the ability to ring. It costs me 70 EUR but I figured losing my wallet or keys would cost me more..
  • Costs 63 EUR: this is mainly my insurance that costs me about 61 EUR to renew
  • Smaller expenses: gifts (47 EUR – it was Christmas..), Holidays (26 EUR – down payment for spring) and restaurants (20 EUR takeaway + treated a friend).

Expenses overview for 2020

Total Expenses for December = 1494 EUR, my lowest of all of 2020! Paying attention to what you spend helps! My current top expense on record is January 2019 at 1426 EUR so I came very close to breaking it!

Income

My income rose to about 4890 EUR this month, mainly because I got my end of year bonus, which almost doubles my regular wage. Taxes on these bonuses are huge unfortunately.

Saving Rate

So thanks to this boost on income I was able to report 69.46% saving rate this month!

2019 saving rate: 45.8%

2020 average: to be announced in my overview post

What’s next

  • I will blog about my conclusion for 2020, and more importantly I will use all my 2020 data to take a realistic look at my spending, and make a realistic budget for 2021!
  • Expenses planned Q1 2021: tools & toolbox for bike repairs (so I can do more myself) – 70 EUR, yearly membership sailing club – 180 EUR, safety leash kiting – 70 EUR, I will try to spread these out over multiple months..

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saving

Savings Rate November 2020: topping off at an amazing 51%

Its been a while since I could show such nice figures for my savings rate. While I must say my expenses did not do particularly well, I got a nice amount back from the tax-man that gave me a great boost on the income side.

Expenses

Lets go over the different expenses for this month and compare with last month

October
November

The highlights

  • Housing: my housing costs is the biggest one this month at 1249 EUR. This is because I had my quarterly syndic payment this month. Good news though. Its a new year, and with one of our loans almost paid off the quarterly syndic costs dropped from 670 EUR/Q to 520. A nice drop of 20%! It will drop more next year, and even more the year after.
  • Groceries at 246 EUR: If the groceries are my second highest cost then it must have been a pretty frugal month. Although I know people are doing better then me, it is much lower then it used to be. As you read in previous blogs I am shopping in the Aldi, and while it has lowered my grocery bill by a lot, I want to see if there is options to shop even cheaper, without cutting back on health of course!
  • Hobby’s 150 EUR: while I usually spend about 400 EUR on hobbys, this time it dropped. the 150 EUR was because of: 1)Report costs to my kite, 2)purchased a second hand harnass to kite. I really believe in second hand purchases when it comes to amateur sport gear. Yes you will never have that extra edge to be the top, but you are doing it for fun afterall and I am having a great time with my second hand gear. Remember I purchased a second hand full carbon racebike in October for 250 EUR? I tested it out and where I used to be at the back of the pack, now I spend a large portion pulling the pack and taking the wind. So as long as you look hard enough you can do great bargains! I also saved on my monthly tennis/gym subscription which is together about 120 EUR per month. Although I would prefer the gyms to reopen of course. Maybe in January..
  • Shopping 146 EUR: mainly because I had to buy a bike – carrier for my new car. It costed me 129 EUR and can carry 2 bikes. I purchase most sportgear usually at Decathlon, but they didn’t had what I needed for a good price, so I got this one at bol.com. I absolutely love the quality.
  • Business expenses 144 EUR: I purchased a new domain for my Website (changed from euromoney to roadtriptofire), and it was time for my monthly renewal. I have a Premium account at wordpress that costs about 100 EUR per month.
  • Smaller expenses: restaurants 23 EUR (I got 15 EUR coupon from Uber eats, so went ahead and ordered 2 meals, and I got another coupon for a free bickyburger so went to get some fries), also gifts (67 EUR) because of Christmas coming up is worth a mention

Interested in coupons? Check out the app spydeals. I sometimes get coupons there but free stuff as well!

Expenses overview for 2020

Total Expenses for November = 2275 EUR

2020 average = 2146 EUR (+12) / month

Income

My income rose to about 4500 EUR this month, mainly because I got about 2000 EUR taxes back. Why so much taxes back: startup investments, pension savings and a loan on my house are the main reasons to get taxes back.

Saving Rate

So thanks to this boost on income I was able to report 51.44% saving rate this month!

2019 saving rate: 45.8%

2020 average (so far): 40.43%

What’s next

  • I don’t really expect any high costs in December to be honest. Of course its gift month, so I need to find Christmas gifts for my family. I usually budget at about 30 EUR per gift, which is normal in my family. For birthdays 50 EUR is expected..
  • Im looking forward to use all this data to put me some realistic budgeting goals for 2020!

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Financial Independence · saving

How cycling will help you reach Financial Independence faster

Hobby’s can have a bigger influence then you think about Financial independence. Remember every euro you spend is a euro less you can invest. I have done a dozen of different hobby’s in my life, sailing, surfing, horse riding, scuba – diving, running, swimming, .. and the list goes on. Until I knew FIRE I never really tried to balance the fun it gave me with the cost. If two hobbys give you the same amount of fun then why would you not go for the cheapest hobby?

What do hobby’s cost?

I do not think you should hold back with spending of your favorite hobby. Even if you chose a more expensive hobby. I do think you should control yourself on spending a lot of money on different hobby’s. Generally hobby’s become cheaper the more time you spend doing them. In the initial stage you will usually spend a lot of money on classes and rent of materials. Once you both have the knowledge to do your hobby and the equipment then things will become a lot cheaper for you and things will come down more to maintenance cost.

At the top of the class we have the most expensive hobbys. Yacht sailing for example. Once you passed trough the training lessons it can cost a few 10.000’s to get your own Yacht. Flying airplanes or Hot Air Baloons fall in the same category. You could of course limit yourself to taking classes and renting equipment. But if you plan to do that every week it could get expensive fast.

In the middle class we have hobby’s horseback riding, diving and sailing smaller boats. Even a smaller boat like a laser can cost 5000 EUR to get it. Additionally you need room to store your boat. The same goes for a horse, the costs of a horse are similar to a small boat, but you will pay a bigger maintenance cost. It needs much more room then a boat and of course you need to feed it every day, costing easily a few 100’s per month. The equipment of a diver is not so expensive. You probably have a full kit for 2000-3000 EUR. But you will still spend a lot on gas or travelling to go diving in your country or abroad.

In the lower end we have hobby’s like cycling, walking, swimming, running, playing board games, gaming, dancing, … These usually have a low startup cost, and do not need much maintenance. Probably you can budget less then 100 EUR per month for these and that should be enough.

Why I chose cycling as my main hobby

I got into cycling rather by accident. My sister let me ride her mountainbike and I really liked the way it drove. At some point she convinced me to get my own and I participated in my first tour. The tour was organised, costed about 5 EUR to join, and was about 30 KM. During the tour we met two checkpoints where we could eat and drink all the snacks we wanted. There was signs put up everywhere along the road to make it easy for cyclists to follow the road. I loved the landscapes, nature and I was incredibly surprised of the value for money I was getting here.

It was actually a very painful 30KM, especially the last 10. I was not prepared at all, my tires were at 1 BAR (recommended is 2,5-4 BAR), and I had a big backpack holding some extra drinks and equipment. This made my first ride quite a challenge in terms of effort. But I was happy, I loved it and I had finally found a hobby that I liked and was surprised how affordable it was.

How much does cycling cost?

Just to be specific, the type of cycling I am doing is mountainbiking. I started one year ago with a beginners bicycle I bought at the decathlon. It costed 300 EUR. Of course the type of bicycle is important for your speed, you will go faster with a lighter bicycle, but I do not have that much trouble to keep up with friends or colleagues, in fact at this point I can out-cycle even some of them with a more expensive mountain-bike. At the start of your cycling career getting condition is actually the most important.

My Mountainbike that I purchased for 300 EUR

After you get the cycle I recommend to also got the following:

  • Some kind of membership or subscription. I got myself a membership at Cycling Vlaanderen for 30 EUR. Apart from slightly cheaper tour costs they will also recover you if you have an issue with your bicycle
  • An extra spare inner tire (3,5 EUR) + pins to help you change the tire (about 1 EUR)
  • A holder for my phone, this way I didn’t had to buy a GPS (20 EUR), and I could do tours by myself
  • Extra Power-bank (20 EUR): I needed this to recharge my phone for rides over 55KM
  • Wireless Earplugs for music (30 EUR)
  • A bag for extra gear I can tie to my bicycle (10 EUR)
  • Watterbottle (10 EUR)
  • Helmet (30 EUR)
  • Sunglasses and Rain-glasses(35 EUR)
  • Click-pedals and click-shoes are needed for winter and steep trails in summer (100 EUR)
  • Summer clothing (50 EUR): short trousers, shirt
  • Winter Clothing (200-250 EUR): jacket, long trousers, shoe protectors, gloves, light warm sweater
  • Organised tours cost about 5 EUR each, I do about two per month. The advantage is you get free snacks (all you can eat!) on the tour so you almost save money by participating. Often I also get a free sandwich, fries or a beer after the tour.
  • Powerbars + Energy sugar to mix with water

So year one to startup / total costs was about 1000 EUR. It seems a lot but I did not buy everything at once. If you start in summer you can just start with 500 EUR, and the rest of the year you can slowly build up your gear. Year two will be a lot cheaper since by now I have most of my gear (of course there will be a maintenance cost), which goes back to my first point that every hobby has a startup cost.

With this gear I am able to cycle by myself for long distances in both summer and winter, up to 80 km per trip so far, so for a beginner its really enough.

I estimate I will spend about 400 EUR in year two. 100 EUR for maintenance on the bicycle (I try to do most myself but I cant do everything), 30 EUR for a membership fee, 150 EUR for entries for tours and events, 70 EUR for food (powerbars), and 100 EUR for new clothes if required. I might need to set some extra aside as well for a new bicycle at some point.

One more point. I also really LOVE to cycle in nature. So apart from choosing a cheap hobby I am also happy to have found something I really enjoy.

Additionally I can save some parking costs because I more often take the bicycle to meet with friends, you might save on health costs in the long run and if there is a lockdown you can still visit family and friends 😉

And why not consider replacing the car by cycling all along? Right now thats one step to far for me, but its good I will have the ability and the condition to do this if it would be needed at some point.

Let me know what hobby you do!

So what hobby did you chose? Do you know what it costs you? Please let me know bellow in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe 😉