June 28, 2021
The May overview took way longer than expected thanks to the arrival of our little girl! When looking back at May, I originally thought this was going to be a difficult month in terms of Savings Rate due to the medical checks, but I forgot that the medical bills are a month behind so it's actually June that gets the expensive ones. Additionally, the actual delivery is covered by my health insurance. So, how did May go in the end?
May 23, 2021
When my wife wants to receive from or transfer money to her family in her home country, it typically happens through Western Union as that is the most known way. But is it the best way? And if not, which European alternative is better? Wise (formerly known as TransferWise), Revolut or Monese?
May 9, 2021
Sickness, it's not something most of us enjoy experiencing. But it's something most of us will experience. While I have the luck of being generally in good health, getting sick just happens. Since we are still in a pandemic I thought it might be a good idea to answer 10 important questions for when you get sick.
May 5, 2021
April was amazing! From both an income and expenses point of view, I was able to achieve my best result in months. The Belgian government played a huge part in this. Of course, cutting expenses helped a lot as well giving us this splendid SR. Or am I cheating a bit?
April 28, 2021
Do you feel the spring fever? There is a good chance that you feel the urge to start cleaning and scrubbing and remove all the clutter out of the house. Maybe now is also a good time to take a look at your personal finances. With these simple tips, your cleaning duties might also save you some money.
April 24, 2021
Q1 2021 ends much like last year's Q1 ended in the middle of a pandemic. One full year of the corona pandemic; crazy to think a year ago, it all started. Now with the first quarter of 2021 finished, it's time to take another look at my portfolio and see how it faired during these challenging times. Did my portfolio continue to rocket to the moon, or did it orbit a bit and crash back down?
April 16, 2021
With a baby comes not only a new family member but also an extra mouth to feed for the next 20+ years as well as an extra person to dress. In other words, there are some extra costs involved. This is all part of the game, but what is sometimes forgotten is to generate some extra income for him or her.
April 10, 2021
March turned out to be a good month for my Savings Rate. While on the expenses side I spend a lot on the home and ownership part and again on food, I also received a nice extra on the income side thanks to evening deployments for work. I ended up doing a bit of nightly work between 1 am and 3 am.
April 3, 2021
Delays are normal in life. A train that's delayed because the machinist overslept, bad weather causing you to get stuck in traffic and arrive late at work. A lot of them are due to circumstance and you can't do much about them. However, my apartment that only now has reached ground level, clearly didn't just have delays due to Force Majeure from Corona.
March 21, 2021
While we are crawling closer to the delivery date of our baby girl (27 May), there is another delivery that is causing more headaches: my heavily delayed turnkey apartment. Progress is being made of course, but at the current speed, I shouldn't expect a delivery sooner than March 2022. Given these delays, I was startled when I recently received a mail about the fit and finish of my delayed turnkey apartment. My shock continued when I saw the standard finish and how much they charge for extras.
March 15, 2021
With a baby on the way, there is a lot of clothes, furniture, and stuff we have to get to properly prepare for her arrival in May. While this could be an endeavor that goes into the thousands of euros, there is a way to keep it manageable. Here is how we bought and sold our stuff online, not only for the baby but also the microwave or washing machine we didn't need anymore after moving into my grandmother's house.
March 2, 2021
It all started in November 2020 when we had to decide where to stay after I learned that my apartment in Brussels would face a 10 to 12 month (!) delay due to corona -although I'm very doubtful it's just because of that- and that my wife would deliver the end of May 2021.
February 22, 2021
Before our move, we struggled for a long time with the question: "Can you put a price on a good night's sleep?". I think I have found the right price tag. After sleeping years on hand-me-downs, I believed it was about time to get something decent as we approach life with 3. But the prices brought me nightmares instead of blissful dreams.
February 17, 2021
Moving. It's such a fun activity, especially with a baby on the way. We are now well into our fourth week of slowly moving things out of our tiny 40m² apartment and into my late grandmother's house. Besides looking into what to get for our little girl, we also prepare my grandmother's house so that it's to our taste when we finally settle in. Of course, we won't be putting in a new kitchen or completely redo wallpaper, but we make 6 inexpensive home improvements to make this old house (build in the '60s) somewhat modern.
February 10, 2021
There are a lot of things going on in my life right now. First and foremost we have a baby on the way. Obviously, a big event that takes a lot of time. Not only do I have to take care of the mother to make sure the baby grows healthy, but together we also have to look at how we will welcome the little one into this world. Which clothes, food, nursey, and safety products do we need to give her the best care she deserves? And all of that at a reasonable price of course. In short, how do we build a killer baby registry?
January 23, 2021
My third financial look ahead, this time for the year 2021. It has the same goal as the last one. I want to share my expectations for this year and use this as the Kickstarter to create my targets or milestones.
January 19, 2021
For a couple of months now, in my team at work, we can’t do any more updates or new software to customers (“pushing to production”) during regular working hours.
January 11, 2021
With 2020 over, a review of not only my portfolio but also the milestones I set myself is in order. Throughout 2020, I updated my milestones, but now it's time to hold them against the light and see which milestones I reached in the end.
January 8, 2021
December, the month of Christmas and New Years'. Lots of celebrations meaning some bigger expenses. This wasn't any different this year even with corona. We just did it on our own and just handed over the gifts outside. We went a little wild with food but my income was higher so it balanced things out a little bit.
January 4, 2021
If there is one thing I've learned in 2020, then it's that you can find a lot of useful financial info on Youtube. Not that you should follow any self-proclaimed finance guru you come across, but there are at least 6 gems out there between all the grey, bland rocks, that are worth your precious time.
December 19, 2020
Not a surprise for the attentive readers as I dropped hints here and there, but in case you did miss it, I'll proclaim it in big bold letters: I and my wife are expecting a little one next year!
December 10, 2020
The markets run day and night, worldwide. Every second the prices change, driven by a never-ending stream of news and the millions of decisions of all kinds of investors.
November 30, 2020
Another rather calm month. Both in terms of expenses and income. It will make for a rather concise monthly overview. I am currently on-call again but because the last week is partly in December I will only get paid at the of the month so expect to see a bigger salary by the end of the year. For now, it's my base salary.
November 6, 2020
I covered why you should(n’t) get a turnkey apartment, but what if you get one? The purchase of a turnkey apartment is a major decision that can save you a lot of time and headache if you keep these 9 tips into account (+ one extra at the end!). It are points I looked out for before I signed the sales agreement way back in June.
October 26, 2020
I received an interesting newsletter recently from a(n) (online) bank I'm a customer with. According to a Febelfin survey of 1000 young people between 16 and 30 years old, it appears that over 1/5th of them started investing, including a quarter of them during the corona crisis.
September 23, 2020
A couple of weeks have passed and the construction is making good progress. The foundation and base plate is placed. How do I know? As the project progress, I receive invoices for said construction. Last week Friday I received the invoice for the finalization of the foundation works.
September 3, 2020
I finally took a step forward in my personal milestone! It took way longer than expected but I will finally move forward this month. After this I still have other milestones to achieve but whether or not I'm going to make it remains to be seen.
September 1, 2020
August was a bit more expensive than expected. Mainly because the summer sales got moved to this month. I tried my best not to fall for the tricks they try to apply every year and I think I succeeded very well. But even then, I did buy a few things I needed.
August 19, 2020
If you would have told me 2 years ago I was going to get a turnkey home, I'd have a good laugh and move on. In my mind, I had already worked out that I wanted my house to be build from scratch or at least heavily renovated to modern standards. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up getting one as my first property.
August 9, 2020
There is a famous saying that money cannot buy happiness. That may be true but having money sure can help in gaining happiness. If there is one thing that the corona pandemic has shown us, is that saving for a rainy day isn't such a bad idea. It can prevent a lot of unhappiness.
August 3, 2020
If I had to describe July in one month it would be 'fun'. Bit of a weird thing to say during a pandemic, no? Thanks to a couple of trips and celebrating my wife's graduation from her Master (yeaaaah! well done!) we were able to forget the return of the coronavirus.
July 30, 2020
The health care sector is at the center of the Corona pandemic. Especially in Belgium where during the first wave, elderly care centers got hit hard. Luckily, after a bit of delay, the situation stabilized and the worst was over. It also didn't impact the rental payments too much as both healthcare REITs Aedifica and Cofinimmo kept receiving rent. So, both healthcare REITs seem to be solid amidst this continuing chaos but are either one of them better than the other?
July 21, 2020
Having gone through the process of buying my own home I wanted to share all the costs that came with this crazy adventure. There are a lot of costs associated with getting your first home, whether it's a house or apartment. I was quite honestly a little surprised by all the paperwork and meetings that come with it. This overview should cover the majority of costs, both recurring and one-time for both the notary and the bank.
July 15, 2020
Quarter two was just as much of a thrill ride as Q1 but in reverse. We went from a bear market to new highs in a matter of weeks instead of months or years. The question is though, is this move sustainable? For the moment the sharp recovery results in an excellent recovery of my portfolio across the board.
July 9, 2020
After a live-changing May, June was a lot less crazy. That is not to say that nothing happened in June. I actually invested quite a bit in the site. These investments made my SR drop but thanks to my holiday pay, I was able to keep the damage to a minimum.
July 7, 2020
In 2020 Belgium is still the country with the highest average income tax and tax wedge in the world (OECD, 2020a). I'm willing to bet Americans' blood would boil seeing my payslip at the end of the month. 52.2% of what my employer pays for me ends up in the hands of the government. For comparison, the tax wedge for a single with no kids in the US is 29.8% (OECD, 2020b). So where do these taxes come from
June 27, 2020
In recent years, the Belgian government made it easier to make an extra income through a side hustle. In 2015 it introduced a new form of unlimited untaxed income albeit with stringent measures: Flexi-jobs. Later, in 2018, it introduced another form of untaxed income with a limit of 6,340 EUR. It is this last form that the Constitutional Court has annulled. But what does this mean for people that want to still earn something extra?
June 19, 2020
My favorite individual stocks in my core-satellite portfolio are my Belgian REITs. Aedifica and Cofinimmo are solid companies that focus on a sector in real estate that is still growing: (health) care. Where Aedifica already has over 60% in care property, allowing it to reduce its withholding tax from 30% to 15%, Cofinimmo is now nearing that threshold.
June 13, 2020
A small update on my portfolio. Increasing my portfolio by 15K has impacted the performance, but how much? I want to address that now. I'm going to check out two major metrics that help determine my portfolio performance: Time-Weighted Return or TWR and Money-Weighted Return aka MWR. How did this increase impact my portfolio?
June 7, 2020
As eluded to last month, May was a life-changing month. I even received a little surprise windfall at the end thanks to my grandmother's inheritance. With all of the preparations done in April, May was relatively calm in terms of expenses. This further improved my Savings Rate and pushed it to an all-time high.
June 3, 2020
Isn't it frustrating to see how something like having your bank statements be automatically imported into your favorite banking app isn't possible because the banks aren't opening up? Well, Europe has you covered. With the new Payment Services Directive (Directive 2015/2366, 2015), usually shortened to PSD2.
May 31, 2020
2nd May was a day I will never forget. I married the love of my life. Eventhough this was during the Coronavirus pandemic and we were in lockdown resulting in not having any witnesses, we were still able to make it our own and have a day that we will remember fondly. Unfortunately, a week prior, I experienced something I won't forget either, the passing of my grandmother. This was a sad moment but my heart skipped a beat on Friday seeing a small windfall on my account.
May 25, 2020
Gold is well known as the safe haven in times of economic turmoil. But what about it's lesser know but more expensive and rare (metal) sibling palladium (not to be mistaken with platinum)? And what about white gold? Could these be an interesting alternative to gold, especially in these difficult and stressful times?
May 17, 2020
You read that right, I'm a married man as of the 2nd of May! First things first, saving money was not the key reason we got married in this period ;). The major reason we wanted to get married was that we believe in it and want to share our lives. Cliché, I know.
May 11, 2020
YNAB, short for You Need A Budget, stopped YNAB4 support on 31 October 2019. Being a user for +7 years I had to decide. pay nYNAB subscription or use Excel.
May 6, 2020
"Those silly people", is what people usually said when they saw pictures of people in China or Japan covering their faces with a (surgical) face mask when going out in public. Not anymore, or at least, they won't say it in public. COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, made it abundantly clear that such hygienic measures are essential. Not only to protect ourselves against others but also -especially in the case of face masks- others against us.
May 3, 2020
April was the prelude to a life-changing May. Quite a few preparations were made in April for a big moment in May so it's only a given that some money was spent. Add to that the higher grocery expenses due to the corona measures and you can already guess that April wasn't a cheap month. Luckily I received my profit participation which prevented me from going negative.
April 26, 2020
Because of lockdown and social distancing rules, many constructions sites have come to a halt. Just like my newly bought, yet to be completed apartment. I mailed my contractor to see what the impact will be for the Brussel’s apartment. I expect a half evasive answer saying they’ll do their utmost best to limit the impact but ”a small” delays might be possible.
April 18, 2020
More and more thematic funds are being released on us: from agriculture to solar energy. It's won't help you keep a simple portfolio, but if you are interested in dabling in other areas than a region-based portfolio and don't mind doing some futurology -yes that's a thing- I'd like to go over a few interesting options.
April 10, 2020
Being stuck inside for longer periods is never fun, whether it's because you have the flu, or because the rest of the world has it and you don't know who exactly so you are locked up for three weeks now, with no end in sight yet. To help with the boredom I've tried to do some new things, or at the very least pick something up that I wanted to do for a long time but never got to, for... reasons.
March 19, 2020
Until a couple of weeks ago, the markets stayed unphased by the ever-expanding coronacrisis. The markets got caught cold by the coronavirus in the meantime. Is a recession on its way? With steep a decline as we saw these past two weeks, is it time to go in a bit more and "buy the dip"?
March 11, 2020
Something interesting happened about a week ago. As you might have read –on my twitter feed or on the blog– I signed the deed of the mortgage and apartment. As a result I'm official the owner the apartment and the land the building is build on; Partially when it comes to the land. What I hadn't mentioned was that I got a 16,575 EUR tax deduction!
March 7, 2020
Recently the Belgian bank NewB got its banking license. This makes them the first bank focusing mainly on ethical banking. What started as an idea in the aftermath of the financial crisis to change banking forever, much as the crisis did, is now a bank with a license.
March 3, 2020
This February update is finally a lighter one. The start is the end of my trip to my fiancee's home country. After this, things have remained relatively calm beside the occasional date night. We saw "Little Women" for example. Unfortunately, my Savings Rate still isn't above 50%.
February 28, 2020
2020 is now well underway and with the Coronavirus swooping across the globe infecting hundreds, the market is selling off all of the gains it made this year, and then some. The majority of stocks have gone quite a bit lower. However, thanks to their defensive nature, REITs were able to remain relatively steady.
February 5, 2020
John C. Bogle barely if ever bought any individual stocks. I’m going against this a bit by using a core-satellite strategy for my portfolio.
January 15, 2020
2020 is upon us! As I did last year, I will try to aim for certain milestones on both a personal and financial level. I already went over my 2019 milestones, which let us be honest, was so-so. But if I can learn from this and do a better estimation this year then it was worth it to make them.
December 3, 2019
One year ago I wrote this article to share some of the best dividend paying stocks in Europe. One major event caused a major shift in this list. I'm of course talking about the corona pandemic. Some of the original stocks unfortunately don't make the list anymore. It's so bad even that of the 24 original dividend aristocrats, only 19 remain!
Newest notes from around the world – how central banks device new ways to make counterfeiting onerous
October 30, 2019
The practice of counterfeiting notes is as old as the production of the notes themselves.…
September 3, 2019
This popped in my head a few weeks ago when transferring my deposit of 5% for my apartment in Brussels. Say that at the end of a busy day, you make a wrong payment or pay to a wrong account, can you get the money back?
August 23, 2019
It’s been a tumultuous two weeks. As you know I’ve been searching for my first home. I started that search 4 months ago and the original plan was to move in once I found the perfect fit. While I originally intended to take more time, I recently made two major decisions that turned my slow approach into a rapid one.
February 17, 2019
The who, what, why of MiFID, Market in Financial Instruments Directive. Rules aiming to increases transparency in the European Union's financial market.
January 27, 2019
Thanks to a three week Christmas holiday I finally had the time to do some reading. Of the four books I choose to read in these next three weeks, the first one that I wanted to get my teeth in was the Dutch book "De schitterende eenvoud van indexbeleggen: wat de banken u niet vertellen" which loosely translates to "The marvelous simplicity of index investing: what the banks don't tell you" written by Mr. Jacques Wintermans.
December 8, 2018
It's been long overdue, my first book review. I originally planned to get this out faster, but life got in the way. That said, without further ado, a review of the book with the enticing title: "How you get rich and stay rich" by Erica Verdegaal.
November 28, 2018
Most retail investors that trade on their own already noticed starting 2018. As a European, it’s not possible to buy US-based Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) anymore. If you were trying to find out how to get these US-based ETFs in Europe, I hate to burst your bubble, but there is no straight forward for this after a new ETF regulation in Europe (no, options aren’t straightforward). The major culprit? PRIIPs.
November 18, 2018
When trying to reach FIRE you can’t get around brokers. I’m no different. I have two brokers I use for various reasons and means. In short, I will cover why I chose which one, and for what reason. I will also keep this post up to date if I have new experiences to share.
October 7, 2018
Savings Rate (SR), it's probably one, if not the, most important concept you must understand when you try to reach Financial Independence and Retire Early. It's also the perfect place to start if you are wondering how to get into FIRE. Let us see what this "fire ratio" actually is.