Uncategorized

Where did my 25.000 EUR go?

In 2020 I spend almost exactly 25.000 EUR. I said it before, but I started working at a 1270 EUR wage and I still remember this. So spending 25.000 EUR in one year is a huge amount. I have to admit I have been hit by lifestyle inflation, and because my money kept growing I never really paid much attention to it.

2020 Budget review

In this blog I want to have a closer look at how I did in 2020 (as opposed to 2019), where the money went, I also want to budget for 2021, but that might be a follow up blog. Something I never tried in the past as my income was always higher then my expenses, but a change in expense can really do a lot to reach Financial Independence.

At the same time I don’t want to drastically cut costs, there is a few things that remain important to me, that I will not cut on.

Would you want to reach Financial Independence to realize you have nothing to live for? I don’t think so. So I do feel its important to keep investing in living, but at the same time I do need to admit there was certain things I bought that now I wonder why I have them. So the main thing I want to do less in 2021 is buy stuff.

Where did the money go?

The easiest way to find out is the visualize this in a flow chart.

2020 Expenses

When seeing the flow chart it actually makes much more sense. The large majority went into Housing Costs (11261 EUR), which is mostly my loan (I include the principal + interests), and syndic costs (a stunning 2600 EUR this year). Then we have groceries, again a little bit on the high side, but not completely unrealistic.

What stands out the most is Shopping at 2646 EUR and Hobby’s at 2848 EUR. I don’t really blame myself for spending so much on hobby’s, as I said I do think its important, but it would be great if I could cut back on Shopping. I actually do feel I have to much stuff in my home already!

I do want to compare with 2019, so I did the same exercise then.

2019 Expenses

So I actually spend almost 6000 EUR less in 2020.

Where are the differences? Much higher hopping, restaurants, holiday expenses and slightly higher housing costs.

In all fairness in 2019 I spend almost 100% of my workdays abroad. I do get a small reimbursement for this which is specifically meant for food like going on restaurants, and is at least as much as the extra expenses I have on restaurants. I do not always have the option to cook at home, especially if I’m on a hotel. For that matter I really think the restaurants costs are okay, even if at a first glance my expenses seem much to high. I also went to South Africa in 2019, and I do think the 3500 EUR spend on vacation was worth it as this was really a once in a lifetime trip!

At the same time I do think its to high and I am happy I was able to reduce my expenses with 6000 EUR in 2020, and feel I should try to reduce it further.

Budget for 2021

So for the first time I will budget my expenses in the hopes that it will make it easier for me to reach lower expenses.

I would like to set as target to spend 2,5% less in 2021.

It’s possible if there is big changes in my life that I will recalculate this budget however right now I feel its realistic. I will also be checking my monthly savings rate to see that I am still on budget.

Total 2020Target 2021Budget per month 2021
Activities2515013
Business Expenses52026022
Costs73992377
Day trips34934929
Gifts24036030
Groceries29672670223
Health76060851
Hobbys28482848237
Holidays12332467206
Housing Costs1126111261938
Restaurants14201278107
Shopping26461217101
Transport93938
Total Expenses25101244842040

What has changed?

In total I am hoping to spend 2,5% less in 2021. I see 2021 as a special year as I am planning a move, and will rent a place. I expect there will be a few months overlap between my loan and renting. This is the main reason my housing budget will remain the same as in 2021, its only in 2022 I expect this to cut in half.

I have foreseen more budget for activities (post-covid), costs (expecting extra car costs), gifts (more parties in 2021) and doubled my Holiday budget.

I have cut on Business Expenses (lowered my wordpress subscription from Business to Premium – I have 2 sites), Groceries (I feel I can do better then last year by going to the Aldi), Health (no Mouth mask purchases planned and Im in better health then last year), Restaurants and Shopping (severely cut back, I want to buy less stuff!).

I kept my planned expenses for hobby’s identical, as said before this is really important for me.

For housing I also made a more detailed calculation what my costs would look like the next 3 years if I found an apartment for 750 EUR rent / month and moved in May. As you can see both the moving date and the amount it will cost me to rent are a bit hard to predict. I would be okay with renting for 800 EUR to probably.

The most important thing is that its clear that there is a constant drop in costs during the year, so even if I would be spending more in 2021 I know there is a drop coming. This drop is mostly thanks to paying off my loan on my first property. If renting out my first property goes well, I might buy a second apartment at one point.

I will be checking if I am on budget during my monthly saving rate check ups of course!

What did you expenses for 2020 look like? Do you feel I spend to much or to little? Post a comment and let me know?

Interested to find out if I manage to stay on budget? Follow me to find out more.

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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Uncategorized

Savings Rate October 2020: gaining momentum at 37.92%

Time again for my favorite post. As much as its fun to see the monthly numbers of my portfolio go up, I like this post because I feel I have more control over it.

At least up to a certain extend. I do have trouble to keep expenses in check sometimes. I recently had an idea. I noticed that the last week of the month I spend a lot less, because I know I almost need to record my saving rate. So what if I tried to do only purchases the first 7 days of the month? Something to try in November and see if it will help to cut on spendings. I do expect I will then spend more in the first 7 days, but at least I will have thought a long time about what I am spending it on.

I can’t wait for November. As much as I hate lockdowns, I do think it can have a positive impact on my savings rate.

Expenses

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

September
October

The highlights

  • Housing: costs have dropped to 593 EUR, which is perfectly normal, it includes mainly my loan, electricity/internet/heating/Tv
  • Costs: this one always seems to surprise me. My yearly taxes on my apartment. It was a little over 400 EUR this year. I thought I was going to have a pretty good month until I ran into this.
  • Hobby’s: I purchased a second hand bicycle for 250 EUR. its full carbon so I think I got a really good bargain. Its not end of season so I thought it was a good time to buy this now in preparation for next year.
  • Groceries: I continued to shop in the Aldi, with one small difference: I stopped buying microwaved food. As you can see my Grocery bill dropped from 245 EUR to 222 EUR. So only a very minor drop, and hardly worth the effort of cooking. However cooking is also much healthier, so I think I will continue to cook most of the time.
  • Restaurants: 112 EUR, I usually aim at 100 EUR per month for this so this is fine. Its mostly getting quick snacks or drinks after sports
  • I also got 300 EUR of taxes I had to pay additionally, but I didn’t count that in, because they need to do a recalculation and I expect to actually get back 1500 EUR of taxes back in November instead

Expenses overview for 2020

Total Expenses for September = 2218 EUR

Total Expenses for October = 1904 EUR

2020 average = 2134 EUR (-25)

Income

My income rose slightly because I managed to book in some overtime. This month it was 3067 EUR, including wage, meal allowances and overtime.

Saving Rate

Given the circumstances a saving rate of 37.92 % is quite good

2019 saving rate: 45.8%

2020 average (so far): 39.33%

What’s next

  • The lockdown will lower my sport and restaurant expenses, so I should have a 100-200 EUR less expenses / month at least (tennis / gym subscription /..)
  • I just heard that the 670 EUR syndic cost I pay quarterly will be lowered to 520 EUR quarterly in the upcoming year. It will drop even more in 2022 so I’m really happy that I’m able to save an additional 150 EUR every quarter
  • At the same time the garage gate needs to be replaced which would set me back 250 EUR

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Uncategorized

Savings Rate September 2020: slowly gaining momentum at 26.67%

I really enjoy to write this post. It forces me to do some self reflection on the past month, and hopefully it makes me think about the next one. But most of all I just enjoy to play with numbers.

Unfortunately some urgent repairs at my house took a big bite of my budget. My washing machine had been leaking for over a year. I finally decided that it was not a good idea to let it go on. The whole venture to get a new washing machine costed me about 600 EUR, so a big bite from my budget. You can read more about that bellow.

Expenses

Lets go over the different expenses for this month

Recurring costs

I decided to look at the recurring costs every month to see if I could do anything about them:

  • Loan 1: 547 EUR. This actually will end by September 2021, so only 11 payments left! Unless I find a house to live in first of course, then it might even go up…
  • Syndic Costs: 647 EUR every 3 months. This will drop to 400-500 EUR by May next year. Currently it means 215 EUR / month recurring costs
  • Gym subscription: 59 EUR: its actually the most expensive in my region, but they give a lot of personal guidance and have an egym which is what I need to stay motivated
  • Tennis: I play tennis 2 hours weekly, this costs me about 15 EUR/hour (average) so 60 EUR per month
  • Gass & Electricity: 54 EUR atm, I will try not to turn on the heating at home yet since I work a lot from home now I fear this could go up
  • Internet: 27 EUR for 100 GB with Proximus. The 100 GB is not enough now that I work from home, at one point I might need to take a different subscription
  • Netflix: 6.59 EUR, which is bellow the minimum in Belgium of 7.99 EUR. How did this happen? I used to live in London and paid it there. When I moved back to Belgium the pound collapsed because of the Brexit and I kept the subscription

Right now there is not one of these costs that I would want to touch right now. That leaves me with a total recurring costs of 968.59 EUR

The highlights

  • Housing: costs have dropped to 799 EUR
  • Hobbys: again most of it is sport related. I don’t like to save on sport because my physical and emotional health is important to me. Of course there is a recurring cost of 120 EUR for tennis and Gym, but I also spend some in the Decathlon to get some extra gear for kiting, and went sailing a few times (10-20 EUR per time).
  • Groceries: I wanted to shop an entire month in the Aldi and I have. I can see a clear difference in cost: 314 EUR last month vs 245 EUR this month. So clearly worth it to shop in the Aldi, by now I also know where to find most items, so I actually start to enjoy to go there. The biggest downside I found was that I bought mostly I bought unhealthy microwave based food. So a point for October: cook more and try to eat more healthy. I wonder if cooking more will also lower my grocery bill. Let’s find out next month!
  • Shopping: I had to buy a new Washing Machine that set me back about 540 EUR. A few days after I bought it Mediamarkt lowered the price by 19%. They were so kind to give me a 93 EUR coupon I could use later. I ordered it online which was a big mistake. Delivery was a disaster. They needed to plan in 4 deliveries to finally get it to me. I will never order from Mediamarkt online again.
  • Restaurant costs are at about 139 EUR, the highest since the lockdown! So I will be watching this expense and try to get it back under 100 EUR next month.

Expenses overview for 2020

Total Expenses for August = 2289 EUR

Total Expenses for September = 2218 EUR

2020 average = 2159 EUR (+7)

Income

My income rose slightly because I managed to book in some overtime. This month it was 2848 EUR, including wage, meal allowances and overtime.

Saving Rate

Given the circumstances a saving rate of 26.76% is ok. This month it was mainly higher

2019 saving rate: 45.8%

2020 average (so far): 39.49%

What’s next

  • I will try to shop 1 month at the Aldi and cook more (at least 60% of the time), and see how this will impact my Groceries bill
  • I need to get my restaurant expenses under 100 EUR / month again

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