Last months my finances have been dominated by currencies fluctuations more than savings and/or investments earnings (and/or weddings!). I’ve always considered currencies fluctuations a minor factor (and I still do) in wealth management. A factor not worth taking into account, especially when talking about three of the most stable currencies around: the Euro, the U.S. Dollar and the Swiss Franc. They’re pretty solid, aren’t they? None of these will swing by more than 5% in a year compared to any other of them, am I right? We’re not in Zimbabwe!
Well, no. Currencies, even the most stable, have trends and drifts. They’re like giant turtles: they have smaller short term volatility compared to stocks and bonds, but they may go on a straight line for months and accumulate a substantial gap over years.
Before you start screaming: no, I’m not going to invest in Forex or other pure speculative assets anytime soon. Speculating over currencies is a pure bet and you shouldn’t do it for the following reason: while stocks and bonds are expected to grow in the long run, currency pairs are expected to stay neutral. Why? Well, you tell my why not! So you’re facing trade fees for a zero expected return. Even worse: professionals and more informed traders are playing with Forex trading better than you do. Guess who’s going to get the pluses in this zero (almost, due to trade fees) sum game?
So why do I care about currencies?
Yes, the wise investor mantra! Diversifying by currency is another way to avoid betting on a single horse, a way to edge yourself against high inflation in your main currency.
“But RIP, being exposed to a single currency is how almost anyone live… Are we all crazy??”
No, they are not. But it’s important to know that even though my grandpa is not investing, he actually is. He’s investing all in Euro currency: his pension, his flat and his savings. It’s an accepted risk, maybe. But it’s important to be aware and recognize you’re at risk. A small risk, if your main currency is the one used in the country where you live and where you plan to live for the rest of your life.
Anyway my situation is different – and I assume I’m not alone in this, given the high mobility of my generation: I was born in Italy, I’m living in Switzerland and I’m working for an American company (and planning to comeback to Italy). I need to play with three currencies!
Note: when I say “diversify by currency” I don’t mean the trading currency. I mean the currency of the underlying assets. For example, if you own a S&P 500 ETF traded in CHF it doesn’t mean you are exposed to CHF, you’re still exposed to USD which is the currency of the underlying assets. In case CHF halved compared to USD, you’r fund is going to instantly double its face value in CHF.
“Ok, RIP, what are you going to do to edge yourself against currency fluctuations?”
Well, I don’t know yet. First step is always awareness: I’ve added a new sheet to my NW spreadsheet to monitor my currency exposure across EUR, CHF and USD.
Second, I’m probably going to try to keep my exposure almost always balanced, eventually slight unbalanced in favor of EUR first, CHF second and USD third – that’s because I plan to retire in Italy. If plans will change, balance changes too. I’m not going to formalize this by adding some rules to my IPS, I’ll just drop an eye on it every once in a while.
Let’s take a look at our currency split over the last 5 years 🙂
Here are absolute values of assets in each currency.
To compare apples with apples everything is converted to EUR. It means the ~290k peak in the green CHF line in January 2016 is actually ~320k CHF (1 CHF = 0.903 EUR in January 2016).
What we can see is that last 5 years can be divided in 3 phases:
First, the “What are other currencies?” phase. From minus infinity to November 2012. Before moving out of Italy I only owned assets in Euro and everything was easy.
Second, the “Holy sheet let’s pile a huge amount of cash in this fancy currency!” phase. From November 2012 to January 2016. I’m so dumb. I’m sooooo dumb. I’ve been saving ~70% of my salary and watching the pile grow in my 0.1% saving account. So ridiculously dumb. Btw, the jump in January 2015 is due to unpegging CHF to EUR. I’m so dumb.
Let’s take a look at S&P500 between November 2012 and January 2016
Out of those 320k CHF, 200k were investable cash (the rest being Pension Pillars 2&3). I just ran the math to quantify my dumbness, i.e. how much it would have become if I had invested month by month during those 3 years. Drums roll… 242k tadaaaa. I left 42k CHF on the table by not investing for those 3 years. Second biggest financial mistake of my life!
Takeaway for you readers: invest as soon as possible.
I’ve always been financially illiterate and scared of market crashes. I just stashed cash, but to reach FI you have to invest your stash. You need your green army to go to work for you!
Third, the “Wait, let’s try to be smart” phase. From February 2016 on. Started investing, differentiated by asset class, markets, currencies… Did a huge rebalance in November 2016 to expose myself more to EUR than CHF and USD. EUR is so predominant today due to currency fluctuations, maybe I’ll rebalance again in January 2018.
Here’s percent split of our NW:
and here an area chart because… why not?
Final thoughts: even if you’re living your single currency life, please take few minutes to consider whether it’s worth diversifying your assets by currency. This is not a game where passive play is safer than active. You’re always in the game, even if you’re not aware of it.
It’s been quite a long time since my last post but I’ve been very busy with organizing my Wedding, enjoying a month long Honeymoon and wrapping life up after such a big break. Blogging has obviously been postponed for a while.
Follow me over this three months financial update, but first listen to this: I don’t know if I’ll be back at an acceptable post frequency. You know why? I don’t have much to say these days. I’ve been wandering around Italy for a month and that has been terrific. We’ve visited a bunch of amazing places with only one thing in common: sheetty internet. I’ve been forced able to disconnect for a while and It’s not been easy. I don’t want to look like “I found time to stare at flowers and butterflies, and the world out there is an amazing place“, I already know that. Fact is that once returned back to normal life I started digging into my feed reader and my Youtube subscriptions to find that… all articles nowadays look the same. It’s the same article loop being repeated to the infinity. kill your debts, invest, save, earn more, 4534534 ways to save money while washing your dishes, 401 ways to improve your 401(k)… I unsubscribed from several feeds and committed to post only content that is original, useful and personal – in the end this is a blog! It’s my way to track progresses and be “crowd accountable” on my goals.
I’m getting impatient.
Life’s been so amazing while far from work that I can’t really wait so long to build a better life. The FI-nal goal keeps being pushed far in the future due to more safety margins, lower SWR and the need to define a concrete retirement plan that demands answering questions like “where?”, “how?” and “how many people?”. Maybe current FU Number needs to be revisited and consequently the RE date.
Add to this that getting back to work after a month made everything so clear: what I accept as normal in my daily life, such as “spend most of my waking hours at work, then go back home tired to try to decompress”, is so ridiculously wrong. I felt like being the slave who escaped the Plato Cave. First week after the Honeymoon has been one of the worst of my professional life. Not because strange things happened, simply because nothing happened. My wife experienced similar feelings coming back to her job.
Anyway, we’re not going anywhere soon. We just hadn’t had time to sit down and do some self analysis after the storm. We plan to do that next week. Self assessment, goal setting, priorities and a plan.
Fact is that I’m questioning the importance of the final goal (but we all know that FIRE is not the final goal) versus a significant slow-down that improves our lives today.
Yes, but that’s not enough! Working 80% had been awesome so far, but it’s a change in degree not a change in kind. I still live in the same place and do the same things. 4 days working and 3 days weekend, which means 9-10 hours alone (on Friday, roughly 8.30am to 5.30pm) plus 2.5 days involved in social activities, is not enough. Needless to say that most of my Fridays went to “The Wedding Project”. Needless to say that it’s been impossible to stick to “wake up early” in last 2 months. Maybe working 60% would be a sensible increase in well being, but right now it’s not feasible. Working 60% would be a nice setup for afterFIRE life.
And it’s not vertical enough! During our Honeymoon I was dreaming about a 66% arrangement: working October to May (8 months) and taking 4 months (June, July, August and September) off, each year. That would be really awesome. 4 months each year to travel and enough freedom to devote contiguous blocks of time to personal projects. A dream. I don’t think my employer would like that proposal though. I would accept a 75% with 3 months off too. Yet another possible setup for afterFIRE life, seasonally hopping from one project/company to another.
Ok, long rantish introduction is over, let’s get back to the main dish!
Welcome back to my monthly update. As usual, the reference doc is my NW spreadsheet.
Thanks to Mr. USD and Mr. CHF nosedive it may seem not a great quarter, with a tree month NW Delta +11,942 EUR. Split by month is May: +6,142, June: +11,458 and July: -5658. Yes, in July our Net Worth measured in EUR went down by more than 5k. Bad investments? Not at all. Spent more than we earned? Nope, we saved almost 55% of our take-home pay.
“RIP, Are you kidding me?”
Nein! Welcome to the land of a multi-currency life! The fact that both CHF and USD dropped a lot compared to EUR combined with the fact that our NW is roughly equally split among EUR (ETF and an apartment), CHF (Pillar 2, 3 and cash) and USD (several ETFs) generated this funny situation where our NW measured in CHF (+52k) or USD (+74k) skyrocketed, but in EUR it sinked.
Truth is, I’m satisfied. A Wedding went by without leaving any dent in our finances. That’s actually ridiculous. I knew it’d be true, since Italians use to give money gifts, roughly paying back their share of the main cost (the restaurant/location) and giving something more. Add to that that close relatives like parents and grand parents – yes, I still have 2 living grand parents – use to give a lot, in the order of thousands of Euros. Essentially our absolutely-non-frugal Wedding went by costing almost zero to us. Not an excuse to indulge in luxury, someone is still paying for it (and your turn is split across a lifetime of other people’s weddings).
Major wins for May-July 2017:
Mr. Market still very generous, with Emerging and Pacific performing amazingly, along with Tech US (again!). Anyway, the free ride maybe over soon: CAPE is close to 30.
June huge Hooli vesting. Several stocks, roughly 20k USD gross, 12k USD net. June is an amazing month. December will be even richer, unless Hooli stock price dropped or I get fired before.
Bonus while at the beach. Don’t check work email they say. Unless you see a subject like “Congrats Mr RIP, here’s a bonus for you: 1000 CHF!“. It was related to a project we launched just before I went on vacation. Nice feeling 🙂
Zero Spending for 8 days in a row. Mrs RIP tool June off. She went to Italy on May 31st to babysit The Wedding Project in its final days. I joined her on Thursday June 8th evening. Despite money flowing away from us by the thousands those days, I went hardcore cheapass. I spent ZERO in those 8 days alone. Zero. I ate leftovers, I biked to work. I walked. I avoided any – ANY – expense. It felt great, although financially impactless.
Financially Neutral Wedding. Enough said. I won’t dig into details. Honeymoon (4.4k CHF) not included. Expensive Wedding covered by gifts plus an almost frugal Honeymoon on our shoulders.
Yet Another Rent Reduction. Referenzzinssatz (reference index) went down and we asked for a rent reduction. Got 28 CHF per month back, starting in October 2017. From 1443 CHF/Mo to 1415 CHF/Mo, including Condo Fees.
Losses of May-July 2017:
CHF and USD Nosedive. Both currencies are losing terrain respect EUR. USD lost 11% since the beginning of the year, while CHF lost 6.4%. Enough already said.
Too many expenses. Even if you remove the Wedding from the equation, our baseline is too high. Trending higher. We need to return on Earth asap and take control.
Indulged in new internet + tv contract with UPC Cablecom. After 4.5 years with the same contract and hardware, I decided to do some upgrades. Moar Internet (200Mbps), moar TV (10+ Italian Channels), bettah Hardware (Verizon HD Recorder vs old Mediabox). 115 CHF/Mo vs 64 CHF/Mo. Wait! Before you start screaming let me add that: (1) new offer include cabling costs of 38 CHF/Mo that I’m currently paying in my condo fees (so I expect them to drop by the same amount) and (2) Hooli is reimbursing 50% of my “internet fee”. Final math says I save some money with the new contract. I still feel somewhat guilty for this upgrade…
Mrs RIP took a sabbatical month for our Wedding plus the first week of July as paid vacation. No salary on June for her. It’s a financial loss even though it’s been amazing for her to stay ~40 days without working.
Other financial facts:
Heavy investment rebalance. I was hoarding cash for the mid-year investment rebalance. Sent roughly 30k CHF, 10k EUR and 15k USD to Interactive Brokers and rebalanced to meet my IPS. Purchased 30k EUR of Euro Stoxx600 ETF and 15k USD of Small Cap US ETF. Still 8k CHF are sitting on IB, for me to play the “let’s time the market!” game.
Finally closed UBS account in early May. Simplify, simplify.
Moved my Pillar 3a saving account from PF to UBS and opened a Pillar 3a for Mrs. RIP. Thrown there 6768 CHF for both of us, the maximum allowed. Our 2 Pillar 3a accounts sum up to more than 40k CHF. Still unsure if it’s worth investing the Pillar 3a with PostFinance Funds like Pension75.
Closed Mrs RIP Italian expensive bank account and moved her money into our shared EUR account within our PostFinance accounts. I’m keeping my Italian bank account mainly for easy cash access when in Italy and to not have to sell our 12k EUR, 5.5% yield Buoni Postali (CDs). Current setup for EUR expenses: cash withdraws either at Swiss PF ATMs with EUR PF Card or in Italy at Bancoposta ATMs. At shops, use my Italian ATM card. Online… we need to use a CHF card (Cumulus Mastercard) and accept currency conversion spread.
We got Married, again 🙂 This time in Italy, with 130 guests and a church, a cake, rings, dresses and all the stuff. I didn’t expect it to be so extremely amazing. We had a perfect day, surrounded by all the friends and relatives we wanted with us on that special day. Totally worth all the effort (a lot of it) we put on it.
We spent a month on Honeymoon. We didn’t do anything very fancy according to standard Maldives/Seychelles honeymoons. We rode Mrs.RIP parents’ car across Italy for 4k Kms, heading south on the East coast (Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Apulia) and coming back in the north along the West coast (Basilicata, Campania, Lazio, Tuscany). It’s been a relaxing month, spent on italian food, beaches and sea in June and early July when the crowds are not on vacation yet. Heaven!
I just returned from a end of July 3 day hike with 3 friends: Pragelpass Weg. Just to remind myself how awesome is to be in the nature, with friends. 60km in 3 days with backpacks.
Blogged Zero in last three months. I still love writing and I want to do more of it. Now that life might ease a little bit I expect to be more active. By “blogged zero” I mean not even interacting with other bloggers, commenting other posts, twits, etc. I didn’t even log into FB for a couple of months (and found few messages I should have replied earlier, sorry friends!).
Numbers & Details
Total Income for the three months was 74,783 CHF (row 40). Income includes Wedding Gifts, salaries, stocks and a spot bonus.
Total Expenses for the three months were 36,265 CHF (row 41), without Wedding&Honeymoon 12,251 CHF (row 46). More details on my expenses sheet.
Yes, I consider wedding gifts as income and wedding expenses as expenses. Not just for accounting cleanliness, but for long term planning and forecasting I’d like to not consider these one-off events. I’m also keeping track of income/expenses without Wedding/Honeymoon (rows 45 and 46). Expenses without wedding were below 4500 CHF per month.
Wedding & Honeymoon. A_LOT CHF, totally worth it :).
Housing. More than 760 CHF taxes for the Italian apartment…
Utilities. Paid yearly 450 CHF tax on TV in May. Spent 70 CHF in roaming data in Italy during Honeymoon.
Groceries below average since we’ve not been at home for a while.
Leisure. Purchased Pandemic Legacy to play it with close friends. Mrs. RIP withdrew 500 CHF for her personal expenses. Classified as Other Leisure and accounted at withdraw time (she probably has still most of the 500 CHF in her wallet, but I don’t want and need to know).
Travel. 320 CHF for the three day hike on the Pragelpass.
Dinners out. Everyone wanted to meet us once we’ve returned to Switzerland, so we indulged a little bit with going out in July (close to 300 CHF spent).
Total savings are 38,518 CHF (row 42).
Saving rate for the three months is 51.5% (row 43), excluding Wedding 75.6% (row 47).
Saving rate for 2017 so far: 60.0% (cell Q43), excluding Wedding 75.3% (cell Q47).
Net worth is 643,444 EUR (cell K17), Delta is +11,942 EUR (row 18).
The progress bar changed from 57.01% to 58.09% , with a step of +1.08% (in three months) toward the big goal.
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 42 months left (+7 months), i.e. forecast Fire Date is January 1st 2021, (cell V10). That’s horrible 🙁 The goal is moving away from me faster than I’m moving toward it. It’s like space expansion caused by dark energy that makes galaxy clusters move away from each other at a faster than light speed… I dread to see what would happen to this very metric when market crashes.
Current Monthly allowance: 1,743 EUR (+33 EUR, cell V13). Current Daily allowance: 57 EUR (cell V14). Food is paid forever from now on. We won’t starve! Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 11.06% (+2.19%, cell V16). A disaster. Current WR is driven by current last 12 months spending, and these include Wedding. Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.59% (-0.11%, cell V17). Years of Ideal expenses accumulated: 17.9 (cell V20).
Next Steps & Other Updates
Thinking about moving to a bigger apartment. I know it seems totally anti-minimalist, but we had an opportunity we declined few weeks ago. Our current apartment is just fine for the two of us, and extremely cheap for where we live. We love it even though it lacks basic comforts like a dishwasher, a washing machine (it’s in the basement, shared with other 10 neighbors), an elevator (we live on the second floor, European second floor i.e. American third floor) and parking space. We’re ok with all the limitations for now. What if we had a baby?
Need to face the italian apartment now. It’s costing me. It’s not rented. It’s kind of abandoned. Time to take a decision, probably sell it with a loss. It’s not easy though. I need to go there to talk with agencies and get an evaluation and bla bla bla.
April 2017 is gone and hopefully this new wave of winter is gone too. Before jumping into numbers let me explain why you didn’t hear from me for an entire month. April has probably been one the busiest month of my life so far, so many things happened! I had no bandwidth for writing and blogging and several other activities. My “watch later” list on youtube crossed 200 videos and my “read later” bookmark folder crossed 1000 (!!) links, maybe it’s time to declare a “bookmarks bankrupt”?
Anyway, I’m fine with that (for now). My April 2017 has been filled with so many amazing life experiences and I chose to fully enjoy them with no commitment on blogging except for this monthly financial (and personal) update. I don’t see myself blogging much more for the next 2 months given we’re organizing the Italian Wedding and then going on Honeymoon for 4 weeks. I’d be surprised (and very happy) in case I am wrong on this.
Welcome back to my monthly update. As usual, the reference doc is my NW spreadsheet.
Numbers may not grasp the actual goodness of this month. NW Delta +8,078 EUR may seem not that good but I’m actually very happy!
Major wins for April 2017:
Mr Market bullish again, most of my ETFs went up, with the STOXX600 horse (Euro area) running like crazy after France election!
Contained expenses. Yes, above 5k CHF this month but more than 1K is extra and one-off (Travel, Wedding, my 40th Birthday party, quaranta anni). We did good after all.
Losses of April 2017:
Very strong EUR currency. France elections boosted EUR currency and stocks. I measure my NW in EUR while I own assets in 3 currencies. It means my NW measured in EUR got a bump. Anyway, not a big deal, currencies fluctuate. On the bright side, my NW in USD got a +23.5k, that’s an incentive to retire in US, lol!
Naked Hooli salary. No bonuses, no stocks, just my very naked salary this month. Turbo-Sad.
Other Financial Facts
I have 13.5K sitting in my brokerage account. That’s my timid attempt to time the market, proven wrong so far. 10K are sitting since a couple of months, 3.5K since the beginning of this month. Market performed well, so wasted opportunity here. Never time the market!
We are accumulating cash. Now that both my salary and Mrs’s one are flowing into the shared account, we have a fat cash reserve. This is not an attempt to time the market, it’s more about we should sit together and discuss what to do with money. We have a wedding + honeymoon coming so we’ll need cash. Will think about it in July, after Mrs RIP takes her very deep financial course with an awesome teacher: myself 🙂
Theater theater theater! 2 amazing weeks of plays. It’s been a success (for an amateurial company) from every point of view. Attendance satisfied, new friendships built, genuine feelings and whatever else. I found myself biking back home late at night singing and feeling very happy. That’s just the beginning, we’ll soon start planning next show and few summer activities, workshops, etc.
Run a relay Marathon. I spent the whole March training for it. I performed way better than expected. I’ve run 12 km in little above 1h. Next step: Half Marathon in September and probably a Marathon next year! Sadly, after the run I had a small calf muscle injury and I’ve not trained much during second half of April, but I’m getting better now and running again 🙂
Another Hike Trip, along the Via Francigena with Mrs RIP and a group of 16 people during Easter holidays. It’s my third hike trip in less than 1 year: May 2016 Italy Coast 2 Cost walking alone, October 2016 Via Appia with a dear friend and April 2017 Via Francigena with my wife and a large group. Three totally different experiences. This one was really amazing. From San Miniato to Siena, all in Tuscany. 5 Days walking a total of 100km with backpacks, almost always immerse in nature with no cars in sight. Not a very tough hike but spectacular landscapes and nice group. Made a lot of new friendships and, most important of all, Mrs RIP first hike trip stimulated her. She wants to repeat the experience! Another taste of FI life. Photo gallery at the bottom of this post 😉
Visited Rome while Mrs RIP went to Milan. I’m not going to Rome frequently these days. I went after Easter (for 5 days) mainly to give Wedding invitation letters to friends and relatives. Meeting uncles, aunties, cousins and grandparents was fun, but spending a full sunny day hiking in Rome, 28km by foot, covering almost everything a tourist can do in a week was priceless.
I turned 40 years old. Since our life is so intense this season I asked Mrs RIP to not do anything spectacular for this special date. No big celebrations. She can’t help, she organised what was supposed to be an informal “apero” at our place and became a 20 people thing with 24 hours of upfront preparation, cooking and organization. But it’s been a very warm and frugal party, I love my wife!
Loosing weight took a pause. Intense sport month till Francigena hike, then dropped everything. With an intense life I had trouble keeping up with good habits. Bad weather and a calf muscle problem set me down for a couple of weeks. I allowed myself to overeat and drink a little bit too much during theater nights and travel. Getting back on track in May.
blogged ZERO this month. Enough said. I’ll be back.
Having hard time keeping up with my waking up early habit. Several late evenings both due to theater and celebrations of various kind. But it’s ok and I’ll be back on track soon.
I met MP! Yeah, I physically met the awesome person behind The Mustachian Post blog (and forum)! We met for lunch and we had a 2 hours intense discussion over soooo many interesting topics. We seemed happy like children, like we knew each other since forever. It’s so fulfilling to know you’re understood and you speak the very same language 🙂 I hope we’ll meet again soon, maybe at FIWE?
Numbers & Details
Total Income for the month was 16,770 CHF (cell H40). Base income for both of us. I started putting Mrs. RIP Pillar 2 contributions in our NW and cash flow.
Total Expenses for the month were 5,070 CHF (cell H41). Without Wedding expenses 4,547 CHF (cell H45). More details on my expenses sheet.
Wedding. 523 CHF, payments for photo shooting, flowers and make up.
Travel. 442 CHF, Francigena expenses like hotel room for the night before starting the trip, in Bologna, and cash expenses for food (and beers) for the 5 days.
Groceries. 891 CHF, kind of a lot. We did a bulk grocery purchase in Italy and spent quite a few bucks in groceries for our “frugal” 40 years old Mr. RIP party at home. It’s ok.
Transportation. 231 CHF for train tickets, tickets from Siena to Rome (me), Milan (Mrs RIP) and then back to Switzerland for both of us. Probably these should be budgeted to Travel.
Dinners out. 102 CHF, essentially we didn’t go out but on the very last day of the month, still on “40 years” celebration mood.
Leisure. 547 CHF, Theater, theater tickets I gave to relatives that came to watch me acting, a day in the SPA (40 years old celebration, ok, not so frugal) and Mrs. RIP cash withdraws. We can do better here.
Total savings are 7,953 CHF (cell H42), not too bad after all.
Saving rate for the month is 61.1% (cell H43), excluding Wedding 65.1% (cell H46).
Saving rate for 2017 so far: 69.4% (cell Q43), excluding Wedding 75.1% (cell Q46).
Net worth is 631,502 EUR (cell H17), Delta is +8,078 EUR (cell H18), percent +1.30% (cell H19).
The progress bar changed from 56.28% to 57.01% , with a step of +0.73% toward the big goal.
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 35 months left (+1 months), i.e. forecast Fire Date is March 1st 2020, (cell V10). Uff, the goal is moving faster than us. I knew that since 12 months linear forecast is stil consuming those awesome 2016 months when NW delta were above 20k per month.
Current Monthly allowance: 1,710 EUR(+22 EUR, cell V13). Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 8.85% (-0.23%, cell V15). Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.70% (-0.07%, cell V16). Years of Ideal expenses accumulated: 17.5 (cell V19). If we cash all our assets we can live with 3k EUR per month without the need of any money until end of 2034, assuming no income and no investments. Reassuring, isn’t it? 🙂
Next Steps & Other Updates
Prepare myself psychologically for the ~20k Wedding&Honeymoon expenses over the next 3 months
Invest these 13.5k I have sitting in my Interactive Brokers account.
Keep postponing financial chores (close UBS account, Pillar 3a for Mrs. RIP, Pillar 3a funds instead of saving account for both of us, invest more instead of keeping too much cash)
How was your April? Mine was ridiculously intense!
March 2017 is gone, spring arrived earlier this year in Switzerland. At the time of writing this post it’s 23 degrees and I’m biking to work wearing only shorts and t-shirt!
Welcome back to my monthly update. As usual, the reference doc is my NW spreadsheet.
A very unusual month and hard to compare with others, mainly for a special reason:
♥ We got married ♥
Yes, Miss RIP is now finally Mrs. RIP. Ok, I previously explained that we’re going to celebrate in Italy later this spring with relatives and friends, but we got legally married few days ago in Switzerland! So yeah, I’m getting married twice this spring. Cool. And turning 40 years old. Less cool.
Ok, back to the finances. From a financial standpoint, getting married in Switzerland means life is split in before and after. We keep as individuals, what we had before. We share what we’ll earn after. It means we now have individual economies and a shared economy. Since almost 3 years we were already contributing into a shared account so we’re used to a shared economy. But we did that just to cover for shared expenses, not to accumulate wealth. Contributions were similar to taxes. Each one had to take individual decisions to manage his/her own wealth.
Now every source of income goes directly into the shared account. We’re responsible together for every new purchase, debt, investment. To make this manageable, Mrs. RIP delegated shared wealth management to me – but I demanded we do monthly reviews together and I’ll also offer some basic financial lessons to her. I’m not ok with being alone understanding our finances.
About expenses, we need approval of both for shared expenses above a certain amount (still undefined) and we allow 500 CHF each for monthly individual expenses with no question asked. At the end of each month we send 500 CHF to our individual accounts.
Net Worth. I used to track my net worth plus the shared one. Since we plan to reach FI together and since I just care that we, together, will reach FU Number, I’m going to merge the NWs and track the sum of them. I know, it’s risky for several reasons:
Mine is bigger. I mean my NW is an order of magnitude greater than hers. But we’re together and I don’t care. I’d already be FI if I had to cover just for my personal expenses.
I lose a bit of control over Saving Rate and NW: every individual Mrs. RIP expense would impact the saving rate and our total NW. But yeah, that’s true anyway 🙂
I lose a bit of control over Asset Allocations: Mrs. RIP has some cash, more than what’s reasonable for a normal emergency fund. She’s not into investments and I don’t want to force her. I’m ok to push for aggressively managing our shared wealth, but not her individual one. Summing our NWs would skyrocket the cash component. Not a big deal, I will compensate as much as I can reducing my own cash reserve and the shared one.
I lose expenses trackability: I don’t want to (and I totally shouldn’t!) track Mrs. RIP individual expenses, but I’d like to get a sense of total amount. I’ll keep accounting individual expenses I see on our credit card into their own bucket, but her cash payments are not tracked individually. When she withdraws cash, I just consider it as a Leisure expense at withdraw time.
Given all the above, this month we had an obvious nice jump on total NW, with a NW Delta of +45,331 EUR I’d like to fuzzy a bit Mrs. RIP’s NW so I won’t provide many breakdowns.
Anyway, as usual, here are the major wins for March 2017:
We got married. It’s a win 🙂
Mr Market got a cold mid month but he’s back on track! My Euro Stoxx600 ETF, where I invest ~150K EUR, went up 3%. Both Emerging Markets and Pacific went up 2.5% – 3%. US market ETFs stayed stable overall, with Tech (again!) covering for Small Caps’ losses.
I’m the new swordmaster! I did something unprecedented (well, I’m not sure) in Swiss history: I contested a medical bill and got a reduction! Well, not much, just 16 CHF from 354.40 to 338.60 but believe me it’s a great feeling. The story is: understanding Swiss medical bills is impossible, they have hundreds of complex entries. Even though my German is not very good, it’s good enough to understand that they charged me ~40 CHF for a “phone consultation” of three 5-minutes blocks, i.e. 15 minutes. What actually happened is that they call me to tell me “your blood exams are good, let’s meet again end of March, bye bye“. I went thru my call history and I found the call to be 2 minutes and 9 seconds. I walked in their building ready for a fight and I obtained a 5 minute block cut from our “phone consultation”. Plus I canceled the checkup visit.
Hooli stocks vesting. Extra money. I sell them automatically as soon as they vest. The proceedings are sent to my IB account ready to be invested. I have vesting events in March, June, September and December. June and December are major vesting events, March and September are minor ones.
Losses of March 2017:
Too many expenses. Dangerously close to 7k CHF. Ok, there are one-offs here, like 2170 CHF Wedding related, 830 CHF travel related, the above mentioned 340 CHF for the medical bill, but there will always be one-off expenses every month (hopefully not wedding related after July!).
Stronger EUR currency. Since I measure our NW in EUR and we own assets in EUR, CHF and USD, having a strong EUR means our NW performed worse. The USD was losing 3% till few days ago, it eventually recovered most of if.
Naked Hooli salary. No bonuses, just my naked salary this month. Sad.
Having hard time keeping up with my waking up early habit. Several late evenings both due to theater and celebrations of various kind. But it’s ok and I’ll be back on track soon.
Other Financial Facts
Changed Target Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR) to 3.25% after a very deep dive thru the incredibly amazing Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates, on earlyretirementnow blog. Everyone who’s planning to retire on investments should definitely read all their posts! Previous target SWR was 3.33% so it means we’re playing it safer and we’d require a bigger FU Number.
Increased Target monthly allowance to 3000 Euro per month. Another safety margin at play here. Another FU Number increase. I don’t know if it will be the last one, I may play with monthly allowance more in the future. Anyway, these two factors pushed FU Number to slightly more than 1.1M EUR.
I’ll Track Saving Rate (SR) with and without Wedding Expenses. Wedding is (hopefuly) one-off. We’ll face wedding expenses till July (Honeymoon) and forecasts are north of 25k EUR, including Honeymoon. My principles say that I should save at least 50% of my take-home pay and I want to measure it against standard expenses, not extraordinary ones.
I lost weight. How much? Roughly 5 kg. How? A combination of few things worth a post on his own 🙂 Here’s a teaser trailer: strong motivation (getting married in June in Italy, want nice pictures), accountability (signed up for a half marathon happening in few days, a 5 days hike trip in Italy with Mrs. RIP during Easter and a triathlon in August) affirmation (got inspired by Tim Ferriss Show episode with Scott Adams, anyway, more on this in its own future post), mindfulness eating and tracking. I’m not done. I plan to keep going till end of the year and hope these new habits will stick and become the new normal.
Theater Acting Intensified. I’m on stage these days. 2 weeks of plays. We spent most of March doing rehearsals even during the weekends. I love this kind of life. That’s another taste of FI. I remember back in 2002 when I started (ouch, 15 years have been passed, how old am I??) I was close to quit my studies to go all-in with theater acting. Good thing I didn’t, but at the time I wondered “what if…”. Well, reaching FI means I can discover “what if”! I’m really craving for it. I look forward to having more time to play even more intensely. That’s yet another reason not to go out for dinner or spend money on happinessless things.
I blogged almost ZERO this month. Too many things on my plate. But I’m way happier thanks to increased physical activity, more outdoor time and theater acting, so I don’t actually care. But yes, I have a new series (and several dozens of new post ideas…) for this blog coming soon. Stay tuned!
Numbers & Details
Total Income for the month was 16,770 CHF (cell G40). High income due to Hooli stock vesting and Mrs. RIP salary. I’m not counting Mrs. RIP Pillar 2 contributions yet.
Total Expenses for the month were 6,932 CHF (cell G41). Without Wedding expenses 4,765 CHF (cell G45).
Wedding. 2,167 CHF, some payments for rings, dresses and a luxury lunch with close friends here in Switzerland.
Housing. Italian condo fees 120 EUR.
Health. 338 CHF for the doctor visit and the phone consultation I mentioned above.
Transportation. Good month here. Few trains tickets purchased for Mrs. RIP’s family to come to visit us beginning of April (to see me acting) and no monthly local pass for me. I bike to work with this nice weather!
Travel. Paid off our 5 days hiking trip with Mrs. RIP along the Via Francigena during Easter (in a couple of weeks!) and purchased some gears for it, mainly hiking shoes (mine wore out after more than 10 years).
Leisure. As I said, Mrs. RIP cash withdraws go here.
Total savings are 9,838 CHF (cell G42), not bad, above the acceptability threshold.
Saving rate for the month is 58.7% (cell G43), excluding Wedding 71.6% (cell G46).
Saving rate for 2017 so far: 71.4% (cell Q43), excluding Wedding 77.4% (cell Q46).
Net worth is 623,424 EUR (cell G17), Delta is +45,331 EUR (cell G18), percent 7.84% (cell G19). As I said, these numbers are kind of meaningless this month since we joined our NWs.
The progress bar changed accordingly, from 57.81% to 56.28%, with a step of -1.53% toward the big goal. This is because we moved the target away.
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 34 months left (+4 months), i.e. forecast Fire Date is January 1st 2020, (cell V10).
Current Monthly allowance: 1,688 EUR(+136 EUR, cell V13). Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 9.08% (-0.44%, cell V15). Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.77% (+0.00%, cell V16). Years of Ideal expenses accumulated: 17.3 (cell V19).
Next Steps & Other Updates
Not closed UBS account yet, too busy. Will April be the month?
Not made any decision about Pillar 3a investments for both me and Mrs. RIP with PF yet.
I have 10K CHF and soon 3.3K USD sitting on my Interactive Brokers account. Need to think what to do with them.
Not planning to invest shared money in April, even though our cash reserve is higher than planned. Keeping cash for Wedding & Honeymoon expenses.
February 2017 is gone, it’s been incredibly warmer than average here in Switzerland, it really looks like spring already!
Welcome back to my monthly update. As usual, the reference doc is my NW spreadsheet.
This was a strange month. First of all, lowest saving rate since started this blog, 50.9%. Ouch. Few unexpected medical expenses, some expected wedding expenses and lowest salary ever since joined Hooli made it. I guess next 3-4 months won’t be better, with wedding date getting closer. Second, very high NW Delta of +19,496 EUR. How is it possible? Last month we saved 23k and NW went up by 6k… this month we saved 5.5k and NW went up by almost 20k, am I cheating? No, it’s simply that cashflow is not the same as net worth. NW growth is affected by savings, investments growth, and (in our complex 3-currencies life) currencies fluctuations.
Anyway, as usual, here are the major wins for February 2017:
Market’s doing incredibly great! I’m here, sitting on my chair, waiting for the market crash, the apocalypse and all the things and nothing happens! Why? All my ETFs are up at least 3% during February. I’m so tempted to time the market…
EUR is weaker compared to both CHF and USD. I’m tracking my NW in EUR and I’m exposed a lot to both CHF and USD. EUR/CHF moved a little while EUR/USD a lot. Both in the right direction. Does it seem odd to aim for a weaker reference currency?
Slightly greater than expected 80% salary. February is one of those boring month where I don’t have 13th, yearly bonuses or stocks vesting. So I can finally see what’s my regularsalary about. My base net salary is ~86% compared to a base one from last year. Cool. 80% work, 86% pay 🙂
Miss RIP got a raise. A small one, still better than nothing. This raise in not visible here, since I’m not tracking (yet) her NW and we keep contributing in ratio 3:1 to shared economy. Wait… now that I work 80% and she got a raise my net salary is no more 3 times hers so we should change internal taxation! Nevermind, starting next month we’re going to join future incomes.
Losses of February 2017:
Expenses over 5000 CHF. I set 4k CHF as “we did great” threshold and 5k as “we should be worried” threshold. We went above the second one. The good news is that base expenses were ok. If we exclude wedding expenses (1141), unexpected medical expenses (364), book-in-advance-to-save-money train tickets (~200) and once-per-year expenses (165, Miss RIP’s Half-Price Card) then we are below 4k. It’s a weak excuse though, our life is so complex that it’s normal to have unexpected expenses. It’s kind of… expected!
Saving rate slightly above 50%. The minimum since blogging. Why? Because of both a base 80% salary and high expenses. At least it’s still above my acceptability threshold of 50%.
Invested more money. Sold Hooli stocks and invested the whole 14k from proceedings. Why did I sell them? Am I not being loyal to my awesome employer? No, it has nothing to do with loyalty. It’s about differentiation. I’m already exposed a lot in Hooli and in IT in general because that’s where I work. What happens if Hooli bankrupts tomorrow? I’d lose my job, my immediate ability to earn a lot of money AND my stocks. Differentiate for the win.
Another round of rebalancing,according to my IPS. When I wrote my IPS I defined what my ideal asset allocation strategy would be. My actual investments were not aligned with my strategy back then. I’m aiming to my ideal allocation without having to revolutionize all my investments (which would generate huge trade fees).
So, here follows this month’s steps: sold another 20k of Tech US ETF (SWX:XLKS-USD). With 34k available (20k from selling Tech US and 14k from selling Hooli stocks) I purchased 17k of a Pacific ETF (SWX:CSPXJ-USD) and 17k of an Emerging Market ETF (SWX:CBMEM-USD). According to the investment sheet on my NW spreadsheet I’m almost good. The sheet is not in sync with my IPS though. I may tweak a little bit my IPS to include a 15/5/5 split of US exposure (large/tech/small) instead of 20/5 (large/small). Need to think about it.
80% life kicking in. I’ve been able to enjoy 4 amazing 3-days weekends, the last of which have been spent entirely with Miss RIP, like a small 3 days honeymoon at home.
Got a credit card. Why? Wasn’t I showing off by claiming I never had a debt?? Well, keep these complains for next post about “my credit card experience” so far 🙂
Numbers & Details
Total Income for the month was 10,797 CHF (cell F40).
~7,900 – my Hooli salary + a spot bonus and some extras (base 80% salary ~7.5k).
~1,900 – my Pillar 2 contribution.
1,000 – Miss RIP contribution to shared economy.
15 CHF – Migros Blue coupons.
Total Expenses for the month were 5,300 CHF (cell F40). Expenses detail on my expenses sheet. There are 10 CHF untracked from my new credit card that should show up in next few days. I’m going to backfill expenses once the issue is solved. Here on the right a screenshot of 2017 expenses so far. Click on it for details.
Wedding (1,141 CHF), not counting several train tickets we purchased which are because of the Milan wedding.
Health. I got a tooth repaired in Italy for 170 EUR and I few exams in Switzerland for 183 CHF. Still waiting for another doctor bill expected in the range of 200-300 CHF.
Transportation. Purchased a lot of trains tickets (~200 CHF) for March, April and May. Successfully experimented blablacar twice! Here’s the story: it used to be simpler to find cheap train tickets to Italy on Fridays and Sundays. Sadly, it’s no more true unless you purchase them months in advance (that’s why we did some planning and crazy shopping for the months to come) and it’s hard to find discounted tickets on Sundays. We had to go to Milan a couple of weekends ago and there were no discounted tickets. Buying tickets full price (with half price card) for 2 people (round trip) would have costed ~220 CHF. A lot. We used to pay 10 or 20 each ticket (40-80 total). Just before I was going to buy the pricey tickets mumbling and complaining with “the system”, my beloved Miss RIP proposed “why don’t we try carpooling? Like Blablacar?” We tried, we spent 15 EUR per person per ride (75 CHF total considering blablacar fees and currency conversion), we had nice and comfortable experiences and we met great people! Strongly recommended! We’re still missing few tickets in our trips plan for the next 3 months, but we’re completely relaxed since we have a new default option!
Restaurants and “food outside house” above 300 CHF. A lot, I know. We indulged a little bit, but that’s a category that gives us a lot of value so it’s ok. Fondue with friends? I’m always in!
We went to an overpriced SPA with friends and spent more than 100 CHF for 4 hours. Nice experience but too expensive.
Several IB Trade fees(52 CHF) for investments.
Total savings are 5,497 CHF (cell F42), too little saved this month. Saving rate for the month is 50.9% (cell F43), barely acceptable. Saving rate for 2017 so far: 77% (cell Q43), declining too quickly to normality 🙁
Net worth is 578,093 EUR (cell F17), veeery good! Delta is +19,496 EUR (cell F18), percent 3.49% (cell F19). Good, thanks Mr Market and Mr USD!
The progress bar changed accordingly, from 55.86% to 57.81%, with a nice step of +1.95% toward the big goal. We’re almost back in the 2% monthly jumps world 🙂
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 30 months left (-3 months), i.e. forecast Fire Date is August1st 2019, (cell V10).
Current Monthly allowance: 1,552 EUR(+54 EUR, cell V13). Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 9.52% (-0.23%, cell V15). Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.77% (-0.20%, cell V16). Years of Ideal expenses accumulated: 17.3 (cell V19).
Next Steps & Other Updates
Money & Investing
Everything is ready to close UBS account, probably doing it in March.
Still thinking about a better Pillar 3a with PostFinance, like PostFinance Pension 25/45/75. TERs are high, considering that they are funds of funds, and market diversification is very low. They invest in Switzerland stocks, essentially 3 stocks (Novartis, Nestlè, Roche). I know there are better options out there but I’d rather stay within PF, my financial life is complicated enough and I don’t want to make it more complex. Plus, Pillar 3 constitutes less than 5% of my total wealth and I may want to withdraw it within next 5 years. Keeping my money into a saving account at 0.2% interest may still be ok.
What about a Pillar 3a for Miss RIP? We’re getting married and next year we’re going to join our tax returns which means we might want to save taxes on those 6.7k she could set aside. In that case there will be too much money sitting at 0.2%, funds become more tempting.
Extra rebalance to adhere to my IPS. I’ve done a good job moving money around and investing more in Jan-Feb with limited friction (115 CHF total fees). As mentioned before need to think about 15/5/5 split between Large US, Tech US, Small US vs 20/5 Large/Small as mentioned by my IPS. Technically it’s the same stuff. Tech US are large companies. Problem with current split is that I’m triple exposed with Tech US: I work for them, I invest in Large US (most of them are tech anyway) and I invest in Tech US. Home bias is hard to die!
Wedding is coming! We’d get officially married in Switzerland in March, and then we’ll celebrate it with a big party in Italy in June. March will be an interesting month! From a financial point of view, the default in Switzerland is that we, individuals, keep whatever was ours before the marriage while whatever we make as a couple after the marriage is then shared. If you want something different (sharing everything or keep finances separate) you need to sign a contract in front of a notar. Anyway, since we’re planning to reach FI together I’d add Miss… pardon, Mrs RIP NW to mine. Expect a nice jump forward in March 🙂
About the wedding budget… last time I took a look at the spreadsheet it was dangerously coming close to 25k…
I need to find a way to account for monetary wedding gifts too. Both my parents and future in laws are going to give us money, several thousands. I expect some of the invitees will too. I don’t want to consider it as income nor I want to don’t consider monetary gifts at all. Need to think about it.
February has been my least active month on my blog and on the communities (forums, other blogs,…) since I started blogging. I’m not losing passion, it’s simply a too intense period of my Stardew Valley farm life.
Financial Independence Week Europe (FIWE) 2017 has been announced! I’ll be there for sure during the 3 main days and probably few days more to hang out with bloggers and participants! Follow the link if you want to join us! We’re going to Timișoara (Romania) in September 2017!
January 2017 is gone. It’s been freezing cold here in Switzerland with temperatures below zero all the time.
Anyway, new year new spreadsheets! 2016 monthly reports have been very long full of boring details. I want to simplify from now on. The main NW spreadsheet for 2017 has been simplified and assets in the same class collapsed (except stocks/ETFs investments).
Before we start, here’s a note about 2017 Net Worth: I won’t take into account virtual earnings, i.e. “vesting” stocks, 13th month, yearly bonus. I used to consider them, a fraction each month. I have quarterly, by-quarterly (semesterly?) and yearly vesting stocks. I used to put into my NW respectively 1/3, 1/6 and 1/12 of the “vesting stocks” each month. I used to account for 1/12 of expected net 13th month and yearly bonus each month. Now I don’t. Those are not guaranteed until the money is on my checking account and the stocks are in my brokerage account.
What does that mean? While NW growth due to earnings used to be regular, it will now be spiky. March, June, September and December will be stellar months while the other eight will look poorer. In the end the yearly delta will not change.
The only credit I allow myself is the yearly bonus credit: issued in December and paid in January. Once issued it’s guaranteed unless you quit the company or get fired between Christmas and end of January. Not a wise decision to quit in January. That’s why January is not a stellar month given that paycheck contains yearly bonus. That’s why I expect December 2017 to be ridiculous in terms of NW delta: 10-12k net vested stocks (4 stocks packages, at today’s stock price), 7k base salary, 6k 13th month, 15k yearly bonus. All net, not gross.
This month NW delta is +6,624 EUR. Not that bad given that the USD dropped 2.5% compared to EUR, and US – where I invest a good portion of my wealth – has been downgraded to a Flawed Democracy.
Till the European morning of January 30th the delta was in the 5 digits world but then Muslim ban’s market reactions, dollar dropped and, yeah, 4K burnt to ashes.
Here are the major wins for January 2017:
Market’s still doing good! Well, I started drafting this post before The Psychopath signed the Muslim ban, right before market dropped. Anyway, all our ETFs went up, gold medal being the Tech US ETF (+2.77%). That’s to remind me that I did a stupid move last month by selling 40K of it. Never try to time the market again.
(Expected) Ridiculous saving rate,87.3%. 2016 Yearly bonus + January salary = very high income. As I said, if you wonder why NW delta is small (+6.6K) given 23.8K CHF absolute savings and a favorable market, I already accounted for my 2016 yearly bonus under the “Other” (row 13). Expected 17K net, probably received a little bit less (I can’t tell exactly, but salary + bonus + extras = 24K).
Low expenses, less than 3500 CHF. A month below 4K is a good month! Well, there are some wedding expenses not included here, like Miss RIP’s wedding dress (she paid with her account but we will share total expenses). Actually there will be several wedding expenses in the following months that mess up our finances, but that’s how life goes.
Another small bonus at Hooli. 500 CHF to be credited in Feb for my amazing performances, cool!
Losses of January 2017:
Lower than expected net salary. 26K gross bonus + 10K gross base salary + unknown extras (complicated and boring to explain) = 24K net salary. Who said Switzerland is the land of low taxes??
USD dropped 2.49% compared to EUR (and 2.77% to CHF).
Wrote my IPS. Took time to write down objectives, strategies and asset allocation.
Invested more money. 13th month and Yearly bonus went straight to InteractiveBrokers! I’ve sent 35K CHF to my brokerage account and extracted 10K EUR to my Italian EUR bank account to cope with wedding expenses. A nice side effect of using InteractiveBrokers is the amazingly low currency conversions costs. I can buy EUR on the market at its price (actually buying EURCHF currency pair) and pay between 1.50 and 2.50 CHF trade fee. No costs on deposits to IB and no costs on your first withdraw each month from IB. Beat it if you can!
Rebalanced my investmentsaccording to the IPS. I didn’t fully adhere to my newly written IPS since it’d require a lot of trades. I’d like to aim to perfect balance with time, with new money being invested in assets lacking funds rather than selling current assets and buying new assets. The more money you move the higher you pay in trading fees. With 40k USD cash sitting on my brokerage account after the sale of half of my Tech US ETF and the extra 35k CHF invested I purchase 50k EUR worth of STOXX600 ETF and 15k USD worth of SWX:CSUSS-USD, an ETF tracking the MSCI USA Small Cap index. Extra 10k have been sent to my Italian EUR bank account as previously explained. My portfolio looks better to me but still not perfect.
I started a healthy routine of waking up early. Still not at it’s final permanent stage (and I skipped a morning), but waking up early in a consistent way is bringing more quality time into my life.
Free Fridays. 80% is here and it’s awesome! I don’t work on Friday anymore and the life balance of a 4 days workweek / 3 days weekend is a step toward acceptability. I guess 3 / 4 would be even better but in my “Hard Accumulation Phase” working 60% would unacceptably slow my FIRE journey.
Health emergencies in both Mr. and Miss RIP family. Both RIP Sr. and Miss RIP’s brother had surgery in Italy. We had to travel at the very last minute to visit our relatives. They’re ok now, but they have both seen better days. So yeah, January nomination to “first month without international trains or planes since I-don’t-even-remember-when” had to be withdrew.
Wedding budget finalized. It won’t be a frugal wedding and I’m not happy with that. What makes me happy is that Miss RIP cares about a perfect wedding and I’m doing my best (not much though, just avoid complaining too much with pricey extras) to make her happy. I won’t put many details here, like individual wedding related expenses, because few close friends of mine read my blog. I’m ok with throwing totals here though. Initial budget was 20k EUR, current forecasts say 23k but I guess we’d end up above 25k. It’s a shitload of money, I know. I don’t feel comfortable with it. I made the mistake of showing Miss RIP my yearly bonus… Anyway, wedding expenses will mess up our finances this year. Regular monthly cycles no more apply in 2017 and bills will come at random till June. Combined with spiky income months, I expect expect negative saving rate when the stars align.
Finished reading the Healthy chapters of Tools of Titans (Tim Ferriss). Want to blog about it. It’s awesome. It’s very inspiring.
Mr DIP found a job and he’s no more unemployed! I guess he needs a new nickname now 🙂
Numbers & Details
Total Income for the month was 27,227 CHF (cell E36).
~24,300 CHF my Hooli salary + 2016 bonus. Expecting less taxes but it’s ok.
~2,000 CHF my Pillar 2 contribution.
1,000 CHF Miss RIP contribution to shared economy.
Total Expenses for the month were 3,448 CHF (cell E37). Nice one! Anyway, I’m trying to change the way I report expenses. I added an expenses sheet to my NW spreadsheet. I won’t go into details here, take a look at the sheet if you want.
New health insurance, costs went up from 426 to 490 CHF.
Several Trade fees (64 CHF) for investments. roughly 0.08%of capital moved (70k) plus some currency conversions.
Milan condo fees 120 EUR. We pay condo fees in Milan 5 times per year in July, September, November, January and March.
Paid 180 EUR as deposit for our next group hiking trip along the Via Francigena! It will be 5 days during Easter with Walden Viaggi a Piedi, an italian social trekking company. Both I and Miss RIP will take this break right after my theater plays and before turning 40 and getting married. Yes, it will be a pretty intense Q2 2017. Anyway, this trip will be a super frugal group hiking with a guide and seeking for hospitality in hostels and monasteries. Have you ever heard about Via Francigena? Canterbury (UK) to Rome? It’s our Camino de Santiago! Well, we’ll just walk 5 days in Tuscany, from Florence to Siena, first time together (I’m used to hiking trips). looking forward!
Total savings are 23,779 CHF (cell E38), very good. Saving rate is 87.3% (cell E39). Do not worry, we’ll be back to normal in February.
Net worth is 558,597 EUR (cell E15). Crap. Delta is +6,624 EUR (cell E16), percent 1.20% (cell E17). Very bad. As explained above it’s mainly due to USD drop and lower than expected net salary.
The progress bar changed accordingly:
With a small step of +0.46% toward the big goal. We were used to 2% jumps, it’s ok. There will be better months. And worse for sure! If Mr. Market will get irritated w may end up reusing some of the old logos…
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 33 months left (+1 months, calm, breathe), i.e. forecast Fire Date is October1st 2019, (cell U19). What the hell! A month has passed, net worth increased by 6.6K and FIRE date moved away from us by 2 months? Just for fun I tried to play with linear forecasts. What if our NW increased every month by 6.6K EUR during 2017? We’d be doing steps toward FI, I expect to get closer to the goal. Let’s take a look at the FIRE date:
Whaaaaaaat?? If our NW increased by 6.6k per month in 2017 we’d end the year with 56 more months to go. How depressing 🙁
What if it increased by 5 digits per month from now on?
Holy sheet, 10k NW increase per month and at the end of the year we’d still be 34 months far from FI? Carrot and stick. Actually 10k per month is above my expectations for 2017. I don’t think the Market is going to positively surprise us in 2017 and let “exponential growth” or “compounding magic” happen.
All forecasts are linear forecasts over a 12 months window.
Current Monthly allowance: 1,552 EUR(+19 EUR, cell U25). It represents how much I could withdraw indefinitely per month (at my desired WR) in case I decided to call myself FI today.
Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 9.75% (-0.35%, cell U28). This represents the WR I need to support current spending regime with today’s NW. It got better this month because we increased our NW and reduced yearly expenses compared to previous forecast.
Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 5.97% (-0.05%, cell U31). This represents the WR I need to support my desired spending regime (lower than current, since I plan to retire in Italy and not in Switzerland) with today’s NW. When this number will meet the desired Withdrawal Rate (cell U10) we’ll be FI.
Next Steps & Other Updates
I have extra money to invest in February, roughly 13k USD from Hooli stocks sale. Need to finish rebalancing my investments. I may sell another portion of Tech US (17k) to kick off Emerging Markets and Pacific.
Since we’ll do joined tax declaration in 2017, I’m thinking about opening a Pillar 3a for Miss RIP. She holds her Swiss savings in cash, what a waste of money. She’s totally not into investments and I may consider suggesting “safe” investments to her.
This wedding project has been so far the most complex project we’ve been involved together. So much effort for “a single day”. I’m talking about the wedding day here, not about the fact we’re starting a family and the long term project. Just the wedding day.
Miss RIP is handling roughly 90% of the details, while I take care of bureaucracy. She’s doing an amazing job with location, invites, hotel for guests, transportation for guests, menu details, church details, flowers, rings, photos, videos… I’m just caring about my dress, whose hunt didn’t start yet while she’s already purchased it.
Anyway, expenses are coming. A lot of trips to Milan are coming too. In February we’ll purchase tons of train/plane tickets to Rome/Milan to cover until end of June 2017. Purchasing in advance lowers ticket costs by up to 90%.
That’s going great! I’ll be on stage end of March – beginning of April with at least 7 performances. The theater company is amazing and I already love all my new friends! I took over minor IT responsibilities and now maintain the company website and Facebook page. Feb & March will be super intense with full weekends of rehearsals and then it will be “on stage” again!
I was (again) close to rent my apartment starting February but the tenant declined (again) at the very last minute. It’s getting really depressing.
January has been a page view record month. After few stable months PVs spiked! That’s not due to an “awesome day”, just the daily basis kind of doubled and… it feels good 🙂
Engagement followed the same pattern: more people interacting, commenting and it feels good too! I’m active in Rockstar Finance Forum, which probably helped a little.
I technically have more time to blog so I may end up writing more. I still love writing but I’m thinking about kicking off a coding project with my free time that might erode time to my beloved blog. I don’t know. No, I won’t switch to full time Stardew Valley farming, do not worry 🙂
December 2016 is gone. Well, the whole 2016 is gone.
What a year! Half of the singer/actors died, terrorism and wars are everywhere and populism is slowly destroying the human species.
Sorry, I can’t help but share the cutest image ever, as a sign of hope for an amazing 2017. Here’s a kitten with a froggy hat.
Anyway, sad episodes apart, this 2016 guy has been incredibly good for RIP’s economy! I don’t know if we’re inside a (tech?) bubble or not, but everything went well beyond the most optimistic expectations!
Let’s not rush and follow the steps: as end-of-month routine I’m here showing my detailed numbers and getting positively surprised by them. That’s another over the top month, where along with an expected very high saving rate we achieved yet another gargantuan NW increase.
The reference document for the following considerations is my Net Worth spreadsheet. I’ll post a screenshot every month in these financial update posts.
Last month, we got the third comma (in Italian Lira), a round number I dreamed about when I was a kid! Apart from breaking walls, we increased our NW by ~22K and I thought that this trend was going sooner or later to reach an end.
Not today! December 2016 went actually better, NW increased by 23.8K EUR!
Here are the major wins for December 2016:
Good investments’ performance, especially the STOXX600 fund! Go Europe go! Actually, just before Christmas things were even better, with investments peaking and EUR weaker compared to CHF and USD. Delta NW was close to +28K, doomed to decline to a modest ~+24K 🙂
(Expected) Amazing saving rate,83.4%. Mainly due to thirteenth salary and stocks vesting. Anyway, these factors were already accounted for in previous months (rows 11 and 34).
Greater than expected yearly bonus at Hooli. Expected 20-22K, got 26K. This bonus will be credited in January 2017, and that’s the 17K you can see in row 34. In November we had ~18K credits, part of it was the 13th month, part the expected bonus (lower than the actual one). Now I’m putting in 17K, which is the (pessimistic) net expectations for the 26K gross bonus, while the 13th has been cashed. That’s a nice contribution to NW increase.
Losses of December 2016:
Close to rent the Milan apartment, potential tenant declined at contract signing date. I hate my failure-remembering apartment. I’d rather sell it and put a big stone on this.
Unexpected medical bill for an October Miss RIP’s doctor visit we forgot. 437 CHF. We’d been below 4K without it. We received a suspiciously low bill of 134.50 CHF in October and here is the “remainder”.
Pillar 3 Buy in of 6,768 CHF done. Started a new Pillar 3 with PostFinance.
80% part-time request at Hooli approved! I’m starting in January 2017. Sadly, first 2 Fridays are already gone for a trip to Rome to visit RIP Sr. which is in hospital for some heart problems. Anyway, being able to go to Rome 4 full days (Thu 5th evening to Mon 9th evening) without having to take vacation (just trade the following Friday 12th with Monday 9th) is one of the aspects that makes this life closer to what I expect FI would be. I can be there to help and support instead of being at work.
Income for the month was 26,547 CHF (cell O57), second best month of the year, second to January when I received 2015 yearly Hooli bonus. This very high salary was expected, thanks to 13th salary and huge stocks vesting.
~15,500 CHF my base net salary + 13th month. As you can see it’s lower to twice regular salary because (1) money got taxed more (2) my 13th salary was prorated by ~90% – I worked 90% this year – and (3) some benefits are not doubled, like health insurance contribution and transportation allowance. Anyway, very good!
~7,700 CHF stocks vesting.
~2,250 CHF Pillar 2 contributions.
1,000 CHF Miss RIP contribution to shared economy.
15 CHF Migros blue coupons. Yeah, I consider them income.
Total income in 2016: 191,250 CHF(cell P57). As expected, above 190K. I’m talking about net income. Actually, net take-home pay that includes everything injected into our Net Worth that doesn’t come from investments appreciation, dividends, interests etc.
Average monthly income in 2016 is 15,938 CHF (cell R57).
2017 Target is 170KCHF. I know, it’s conventional to set a target higher than last performance cycle, but I’m going to work 80% and that’s going to make a difference. I’m cutting 10% to 2016 income and let’s see if it works. I don’t plan (for now) to have a worth-mentioning side gig or other passive revenues.
Total expenses for the month were 4,376 CHF (cell O58). Wait, before you say “Ha-ha you didn’t make below 4K as you planned!” I can explain the difference. We received an extra bill for a forgotten Miss RIP October doctor’s visit of 436.90 CHF. Without that we’d make it. In Christmas month, with two trips to Italy and huge and expensive dinners with friends and relatives. It’s totally ok!
“Hey RIP… ha-ha you didn’t make below 4K as you planned!”
Here’s the detailed list of expenses (in CHF):
1443 – Flat rent (1278) and condo fees (165). Business as usual. I figured out that the actual split is 1278 rent and 165 condo fees. Just saying.
863 – Health.
437 – Doctor’s bill. Unexpected. From October.
426 – Insurances (213 each one). Lower than the other months since we removed Miss RIP’s accident insurance. Next month on, this expense will grow into 490 CHF per month, since we changed provider and all providers are raising their premiums by 10% at least. Apparently healthcare costs are raising, that’s the second year in a row. And they say inflation in Switzerland is below zero… If you wonder how does healthcare work in Switzerland, there’s enough complexity that I feel time has come for a post about it.
674 – Groceries. What the hell… We spent more on groceries during this month than the previous 3 combined! I had to do the math twice to be sure. Well, we’ve organised (and paid for) several huge dinners during this Holiday season. Plus we’ve done some convenient grocery bulk purchase in Italy and returned 100 EUR to Miss RIP’s dad for a grocery bulk purchase done in November.
532 – Travel & Transportation:
251 – Mexico trip. It seems so far away now, but yes, we returned on December 4th.
101 – Local Transportation. My local monthly pass and few Metro tickets in Milan. I could and should have biked this month. The weather has been nice and it never rained. January looks way cooler and I can’t stand below zero biking, for now.
85 – Flight tickets to Rome. Told you I’m using my first 2 Fridays to go to Rome: Jan 5th to 9th. I purchased last minute tickets using my Miles&More miles and got a nice offer. 15K miles for the “fare” portion of the ticket, i.e. 200 CHF. They offered me to pay the 85 CHF taxes and “fuel surcharge” with another 15K miles but I’d rather keep them and optimize their value. Btw, why there’s still a fuel surcharge when oil price is at its minimum?
43 – Gas. Twice in Milan, used Miss RIP’s family car. Yes, I know, I bragged about being car free since 2008 but we’re going twice per month in Milan for secret project X and we need to be surgically fast and time efficient.
42 – Trains. We paid for December train trips to Milan in advance, so this expense is for January Miss RIP’s solo trip to Milan.
10 – Tolls. Italian highways.
217 – Dinners Out. Christmas time, friends time and 100 EUR associated to Project X here.
125 – Leisure. Few items purchased. In this category I also put 50 CHF for Theater Acting! The news is that after too many years without acting I’m back on stage 🙂 The financial news is that I joined a self funded company and at subscription time you have to pay a one-off entry deposit of 500 CHF. They say when you leave you get the money back, assuming shows tickets will cover costs (which they claim it happened for 20 years out of 21 since the company exists). To be safe, I’m assuming I won’t get my money back. I don’t wan to call a 500 CHF expense for December, so I’d keep an asset in “Other – CHF” (row 36) which will depreciate by 50 CHF per month for the next 10 months, generating 10 monthly expenses of 50 CHF. If I’ll get back my money when I leave the company (hopefully very far in the future) that would be a nice unexpected small windfall.
111 – Taxes. Extra property tax on Milan apartment…
100 – Cleaning Lady. A single 4 hour visit this month.
75 – Utilities & Phone.
63 – Fees. Half of it is Interactive Brokers fee on 40K sale of my Tech ETF. More on this later. Then bank fees and Project X fees.
<5 – Not tracked.
That’s ok, that would have been below 4K without the unexpected late medical bill. We could have saved on groceries and maybe some dinners out, but it’s Christmas, that’s essentially why we’re getting a thirteenth salary: to spend it on stupid useless things! Or, in my case, to ‘stash it entirely!
Total expenses in 2016 is 59,740CHF (cell P58). Below 60K, cool. Above last month’s ambitious target of 59K. It’s ok.
Average per month: 4,978 CHF(cell R58). Finally below 5K per month.
2017 Target is 70K CHF. Whaaat? Less income and more spending? What’s wrong with you RIP? Well, Project X will cost a lot. It would involve some math and there will surely be some positive financial consequences too, but still expenses will skyrocket.
Savings & Saving Rate
Total savings for December are 22,035 CHF (cell O59). That’s… fun!
Total savings in 2016 is 131,510CHF (cell P59). As expected.
Average monthly savings are 10,959 CHF (cell R59). Boom! 11K saved per month! It’s more than I earned in 2006. Earned, not saved. In 2006, not December 2006. That’s amazing!
Saving rate for December is 83.4% (cell O60). Out of every 6 CHF earned, 5 have been saved. Enough said.
2016 saving rate so far 68.8% (cell P60). Big jump toward 70% but not enough. We should have spend less than 2200 CHF in December to get the platinum badge! Anyway, I’m temporarily in first position but I heard that Oliver at Frugalisten will break the wall. Good for you mate! 🙂
Target for 2017 is 60%. Can’t cheat with Math. Less income, more expenses… 60% is actually hard to achieve.
Net worth at the end of the year is 551,973 EUR (cell O41 or P41). More than expected! Thanks Mr. Market!
Delta for December 2016 is +23,712 EUR (cell O42). Again, best month in 2016!
Delta Percent December 2016:+4.49% (cell O43).
The logo of this blog changed accordingly:
With another big jump of +2.37% toward the big goal.
Net Worth Delta in 2016: +169,459 EUR (cell P42). Being a high income FIRE seeker, most of it is due to savings. Still roughly 38K EUR come from investments, though. Not bad!
Net Worth Delta Percent in 2016: +44.30% (cell P43). Last year we achieved +53%, which is ok since all of it came from savings and the starting point was lower while earnings were similar to 2016.
Net Worth Target for 2017 is 670K EUR: expecting a 8% returns on investments (optimistic, given that we’re at all time market high) and lower savings.
Forecast for 100% FIRE: 32 months left (-4 months, again), i.e. forecast Fire Date is August1st 2019, (cell T20). Forecasts are drugged by these incredible months where I’m cutting 4 months each month and it just can’t keep up forever. I’m also going to slow down in 2017, so I guess I’ll need way more time.
So far I’m forecasting using current year’s data. To avoid getting depressed by an eventual bad 2017 start I’ll keep using a 12 months window. Plus, I think I’m going to review the Million EUR goal soonish.
Current Monthly allowance: 1,533 EUR(+66 EUR, cell T26). It represents how much I could withdraw indefinitely per month (at my desired WR) in case I decided to call myself FI today. This month I created another 66 Euro per month, forever!
Current Withdrawal Rate – Real: 10.10% (-0.51%, cell T29). This represents the WR I need to support current spending regime with my today’s NW. It got better this month because we increased our NW and reduced yearly expenses compared to previous forecast.
Current Withdrawal Rate – Ideal: 6.04% (-0.27%, cell T32). This represents the WR I need to support my desired spending regime (lower than current, since I plan to retire in Italy and not in Switzerland) with my today’s NW. When this number will be equal to the desired Withdrawal Rate (cell T11) we’ll be FI. Getting closer…
Pillar 3a. Opened an account with PostFinance and moved there 6,768 CHF, i.e. maximum Pillar 3a contribution for year 2016. I’m letting the money sit into a Pillar 3a saving account. PF allows you to invest part or all the money into some Pension funds with high stocks component, like Pension 75. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but these funds are kind of crappy: high fees and the stocks are mainly Swiss stocks, which are not performing well. I can change my mind anytime, so no need to rush. Plus, we may be forced to cash it out when we leave Switzerland so we may lack the required long term horizon for a stocks-based investment. I’d also like to close the UBS 3a position (3 years of contribution, ~20.5K CHF) and move the money to PF. I don’t know if it’s possible and how much it would cost to me though.
Stocks & ETFs – Strategy. I didn’t set up time in this crazy December to write my Investor Policy Statement (IPS), redefine an assets allocation strategy and study which investment tools are better for my situation. Anyway, I’m giving myself room for corrections, i.e. I’m hoarding cash and differentiating by currencies. I’ve sold roughly 40K of Tech US ETF (sell price per share 116.51 USD, price now is 116.35). I’ve converted USD from the ETF sale to EUR, roughly 40K EUR (USDEUR price was 0.954, it’s still 0.954). I’m keeping cash, I’m expecting another ~35K CHF cash coming by end of January (Hooli stocks sale and 2016 yearly bonus). I plan to rebalance my portfolio by end of month, and I’ll need a strategy by then!
I didn’t start the process of getting rid of UBS account yet but I changed all the electronic bills and direct debit instruction to PostFinance shared account. I’ve also opened a personal PF account.
Missing: move salary over the new personal PF account, close Pillar 3a account (and ideally move the money to my PF Pillar 3a) and get a non UBS credit card. No need to rush but I’d like to get it done early this year.
Installed access apps for my banks and few mobile payments apps. Bye bye access card readers! On the downside, I’m even more bound to my phone. It’s the single most important thing I own, and not for its value but for the data you can access from it. If I lost it or it gets stolen I’m ruined.
Most important pieces are defined, details (tons of them) need to be resolved, but that’s the fun part of the project!
“Hey RIP, you think you’re funny? You want to grow a hype around this project none cares about? Just tell us what it is, who cares?”
You’re rude! Not now, be patient!
Tax credit for 2016
We do taxes in March but with a click you can postpone tax time to September and that’s what I usually do, as a first class procrastinator. Not this time, though! In 2017 I want to file my taxes as soon as possible.
Like last year, the Pillar 2&3 buy-ins will likely generate some tax credit that I want to add to my NW asap (look at the +5,366 CHF entry on cells K36:O36, it’s about 2015 taxes). Tax credits and debts are resolved in 3 fiscal years, so in 2017 I expect to have to pay 2014 tax difference of 784 and be left with 2015 and 2016 huge tax credits. I’m not sure 2016 tax credit will be huge, since I’d need to pay taxes on ETFs dividends even though my ETFs are accumulating and not distributing, i.e. I received no dividend, the fund itself reinvests them. The Swiss tax authority has a list of dividends payments by fund and you’d better check it out before buying shares of a specific fund: if yours is not in the list, the whole capital gain (normally not taxed in Switzerland) will be considered dividend!
So, assuming 2% yearly dividend on my 250K investment basis we’re talking of 5K taxable, which means 2K taxes. I still expect to get back more than 3K. Good.
I was close to rent my apartment starting January but the tenant declined at the very last minute. His current landlord demands 3 months notice to leave the apartment. I don’t understand if he started this process though. I’m not sure he’s assuming I’ll wait till April, without any signed agreement. I don’t know, I’m losing hope here.
On the bookkeeping side, I’m planning to simplify these reports: there are too many details here and information is too spread. I’ve set up the spreadsheets for 2017: a fully detailed one (the master, maybe not shared), an aggregated one with less information and cool to share, an expense-centric one and a dashboard one (cool graphs are coming).
I’m also going to stop including work credits, like “vesting” stocks or portion of 13th and bonus each month. It will lead to greater variance between months and in general smaller NW growth, since I’ll only add credits when they are 100% guaranteed. For example in case I’d lose my job the bonus and not vested stocks won’t happen. They are not guaranteed, so I don’t want to consider them until the money physically sits in one of my accounts.
The year is gone, I’m 6 months into this blogging thing and I’m still ultra-motivated and want to write about so many things that it feels frustrating not to have enough time. Winter’s weekends are perfect for writing, but on each December weekend I’ve been busy traveling or hosting friends.
I only published 4 posts in December, one per week, and 52 posts since the beginning (i.e. 2 per week).
Readership is slowly growing and it makes me feel good. I’m not doing anything special to make it grow. I don’t set growth goals, I’m not selling anything and this blog is ads free, ideally it will be like this forever. It’s rewarding to see readership growth, though. It’s a morale boost!
I think with 3-days weekends I’ll have more time to write but I can’t commit to that. Several weekends will be spent with my Theater company, preparing our next show (8 dates between March 30th and April 9th).
Uff… ok, you’ve been patient enough. I and Miss RIP are getting married in June 2017 🙂
It’s an Italian traditional wedding so it will not be as frugal as I would have liked. I set up a budget of 20K EUR but I may overflow to 25K… Probably half of it may come back as gifts. Moooore on this in another post: the non-frugal wedding of the RIPs!