You have 168 hours this week

Reading is one of my passions. I love reading about personal finance, behavioral economics, psychology and business in general. I literally cannot fall asleep if I don’t read, even if only for 5/10 minutes.

About 2 weeks ago, I had nothing to read and no ideas on what to read next. I found this post from Paula Afford Anything and the 168 hours book she recommended sounded interesting. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to manage a full-time demanding job, a baby, buying property #2, a constant effort/research on how to save more and where to invest. A book on time management was exactly what I needed, in particular one tailored to families and written by a woman.

Laura is amazing (you can listen to her TED talk to understand what the book is about) and her book made me feel I really have more time than what I think I do.

Hours in a week 168
Sleep (8 hours/night) 52
Work (8 hours/weekday) 40
Commute and getting ready for work (1.5 hour/weekday) 7.5
Total time left 68.5

A week has 168 hours. After accounting for sleep, work, commuting and personal hygiene/getting ready to work, I still have 68 hours left to do whatever I want. The key is to use this time on what makes you happy, which for me is my family, exercising and my sidle hustle (my investments, this blog and my passion for personal finance).

Laura made me realise than I actually spend more time with my baby than at work! Even though I only see him 3 hours a day on weekdays, which feels too little, I have the whole weekend to be with him. Plus, I found strategies to maximise the 3 hours I am with him by outsourcing what I don’t prioritise in my life. I realised I was spending too much time going to the supermarket, cooking, some days I would also do some laundry and this was all done, of course, during these 3 hours I was supposed to be with him. Non-sense! I have decided to talk to my cleaning lady and double the time she comes every week. She will, not only clean the house, as she did before, but also cook and take care of our clothes. We have also started shopping online, which saves us at least 1 hour per week. Now, I am fully enjoying these 3 hours stress-free with my baby and it is so much better/easier for everyone.

On the other side, yes, I am spending more money than what I “should” which seems not to be in line with my financial independence goals. I gave a lot of thought to this, since I consider myself frugal, but I think I will try to be more easy going from now on and think about my core competences, where really I want to spend my time on. And, I have to admit, I don’t like home work, I hate cleaning, doing the laundry, I don’t mind cooking but also don’t love it. I do like: spending time with my family and friends, my work, my side hustle, doing exercise, in particular yoga, reading, thinking about where to invest next and how to help people having a healthier relationship with money. This is where I will spend my 68 hours per week that I have left, on the things I love, and not on the things I hate, which I was doing just to save money. Plus, I don’t plan to retire early, my goal is finance independence but not early retirement. I want to create passive income so I can feel free to pursue my passions, try my luck by starting my own company and hopefully make some money while helping others.

What I have changed in my life after reading 168 hours:

  • I now have a cleaning lady 6 hours every week instead of 3
  • I use my lunch hours very effectively, either to take care of something I need, or to go to the gym or to have lunch with friends (I schedule appointments to make sure I have lunch with people I care about and not just because they are my work colleagues)
  • I don’t feel bad about spending money on books, it is an investment towards my financial future and I love reading
  • I am more organised and I plan more, to make sure I am able to do everything I want during the week
  • I am more present, I try not to get distracted and enjoy the moment. If I am working, I try to focus and get things done as quickly as possible. If I am with my family, I don’t even look at my phone.

This book is of course tailored for people living in developed countries and who have their basic needs fully fulfilled. You have time for everything. You just need to define your priorities and organize your week around them. Time is more important than money. Do you agree?

Advertisements

Financial Statement – April

We had an increase of +6.6k in net worth which I am pretty happy about! Plus, this month we had an additional cost of 0.8k because my husband purchased the monthly transportation ticket and, even so, we managed to save a lot!

Cash 55,800
Peer to Peer 858
Pensions 76,540
Security deposit for current house 4,000
Rental Property #1 100,000
Rental Property #2 133,000
Debt (Rental Property #2) -94,000
Total networth 276,198

Savings rate = 53%

Our savings rate is not great and we could definitely improve it. It is amazing what you find out when you really start computing the figures! I would have guessed that my savings rate is around 60/70%.

Even though we are saving 6.6k, we are still spending 5.9k a month which sounds like a lot (and it is!). Almost 40% of that is on rent which we are not willing to compromise because 1) we love our apartment and it is quite cheap for the type of apartment/area in which we live 2) is it very convenient/time saving that both of us live close to work and to the creche 3) additional costs when moving into a different apartment.

My husband is not very keen on tracking expenses and for the sake of my marriage I have decided not to force him to 🙂 He is relatively frugal by nature and willing to engage in actions that allow us to save more money but he does not want to track every single expense. I get it and accept it. This month we have decided that from now on we will go to the cheaper/discounter supermarket at least twice a month. I am not really sure but I would say that our second most significant expense is groceries, as I think we spend more than 500 Euros in supermarket on a monthly basis. I hope we can go down by 100 or 200 Euros.

Very soon we will be buying Rental Property #2 and hopefully have it ready to rent it to tourists before August. Read more about our strategies in my previous post on Rental Property #1. I still cannot believe how much we have achieved in the last 3 years, from only slightly above 0 in net worth to almost 300k and from 0 properties to almost 2!

30% Financial Independent

I am currently taking a sick leave from work the whole week and I have to admit that I am actually enjoying staying at home. I have a 1-year old baby and it’s been over 1 year I am not home alone! So, despite the pain in my body and throat pain, I am actually enjoying this “time-off” from work. It got me even more motivated and more into financial independence because it allowed me to have time to do things I really enjoy:

  • I read 2 books I have been wanting to read for a long time (Misbehaving and When, totally recommend both!)
  • I have been reading more blogs on financial independence, running and updating my numbers and learning new concepts, in particular the difference between Full FI and Lean FI. I have realized I am a bit over 30% Full FI, which sounds great, because the following 30% will be much faster to reach than the first.
  • I have been doing yoga by myself and realised I need to learn more/do more, even though it is very challenging to find the time when you work full time + have a baby. I will definitely do a yoga teacher training once I decide to “retire”.
  • I have also been thinking on how to combine my two passions which are personal finance + girls empowerment. I am not specifically talking about the new movement current out there, I would like to focus more on how to help poor girls get through, empower them and help them to make sound financial decisions. Again, very difficult to do it in the country where I am currently living – Germany – not only because of the lack of time but also because I do not speak German fluently (not even close!), so maybe I have to delay this till when I go back to my home country. Meanwhile, I have to think what could I do online related to these topics. Any suggestion?
  • I have convinced my husband to finally start saving first, i.e., every month both of us will put in a separate account 2.5k each so that we manage to save 5k a month. Let’s see if we manage to do it! We start this month!

Even though there are many things I love about my work, to name a few being an international environment, my manager is an amazing coacher, my organization is very flexible in terms of working hours, the high salary, etc., working is definitely killing my creativity and separating myself from my true passions. I feel I would be of so much more use to the society if I could focus my time on helping others to achieve their own freedom and to thrive, either through personal finance or yoga/meditation practices. However, on the other hand, I feel I still do not know enough of personal finance or meditation to be able to teach. And because I work full time I cannot find the time to get better, or at least not as much as I would like to. I guess I still need to wait a couple of years and meanwhile I will try as hard as I can do improve my skills on the topics I passionate about, without being hard on myself for not being able to do it full time.

Financial Statement – January

I have just realized that my last post was written on September 2017, almost 5 months ago!!! Lack of time I could say? But let’s face it, we never really have lack of time, just time management issues or different priorities. I have been a bit busy with managing working full-time + having a baby + my first real estate investment. And, although I feel having a blog is useful as it makes me fell accountable for how I manage my money, I couldn’t find the time/motivation to sit in front of a computer. I missed it though!

Since it is of no use crying over spilt milk, I will just go on and update you on what happened in my life in the past 5 months (many exciting real estate news!) but first I want to update you on my financial net worth at the end of January 2018.

Cash 44,900
Peer to Peer 700
Pensions 71,920
Security deposit for current house 4,000
Rental Property #1 100,000
Rental Property #2 133,000
Debt (Rental Property #2) -94,000
Total net worth 260,520

This is, of course, mine and my husband’s. Our combined savings rate this month was 37% (mostly due to husband’s salary lower than usual as he took parental leave since mid-January).

Check out the next post to see how I am managing my first real estate property and how I am currently on my way to buy the second one!

Is renting really too expensive?

This is by far the best calculator I have found online that provides an estimate between the cost of renting vs the cost of buying. I love this calculator because it takes into account all the costs of owning a house, which are underestimated by some people, in addition to the opportunity cost of not investing in other assets that might yield better returns, in particular on the value of the down payment.

This should be used to evaluate the pros and cons of buying the apartment/house you will live in. Do not make the mistake of just comparing the monthly bank payment with the monthly rent. Much more (significant) costs have to be considered when owning a house.

An image worth more than a thousand words

The Eurostoxx 50 and the S&P 500 have historically been fairly correlated. However, since 2009/2010 we clearly see them splitting, as Europe is rather stable and the US presents amazing returns.

Index fund investing as a simple strategy is more complex than what John C. Bogle says. There are too many options to choose from. For investing in Europe I am confident that ishares is the best, do you have any other suggestion?

Naturally many other factors have to be taken into account when deciding what to do in terms of investment, in particular which index funds to buy. But, as we know, there is no point in thinking too much about an investment strategy; even financial experts rarely beat the market. So, would you say there will be a crash soon in the US? Shall we invest in the EuroStoxx? Let me know your views!

A hungry man is not a free man

Most of the people spend all their life driven by others’ expectations or by extrinsic motivation, as Dan Pink very accurately described in his book Drive: The surprising truth about that motivated us. It basically means we spend our lives looking for approval in the society mostly through money and/or recognition at work. However, this only gives us a temporary boost of motivation/satisfaction/happiness. The permanent happiness is found in the intrinsic motivation which, according to Dan Pink, relies on three principles: Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery.

My personal journey to financial freedom is actually part of a bigger journey to autonomy, to finding purpose and to having time to master all the issues I have always been interested in. However, I have to admit that the short-term focus is extrinsic, that currently I am focused on making money, not for the purpose of consumption, which is used by mostly for people as a way to fell that they belong to a certain social status, but for the purpose of saving, of being free from every-day bills. As Adlai Stevenson very wisely said A hungry man is not a free man. Therefore, only when free from obligation we can be free to enjoy life at its fullest.