Progress update

Long overdue.

“What?” you might ask.

Well … euhm … this post.

Unpublished progress reports

I’ve started to write a status update on my goal three times before. Once in October 2011, once in November and then once again by the end of December.

They never got published.

Not because there was no progress. There was.
Not because there was no time to write them. They were almost finished.

They never got published, because I wanted to finish the last details. I wrote the reports on my iPad, and although the WordPress app is cool, I did want to have the last finishing touches on the site itself. And that’s where it went wrong.

As soon as I log in to my blog, the big backlog in maintenance work is staring me in the face, and it distracts me. I do quite a lot of work setting up sites for other people, and maintaining them. And there I am … neglecting my own place on the web. And it holds me back.

Every time I went in, I did some maintenance work on the site, and left it at an unfinished state. Not to return again to finish it, but also not to publish the post.

No longer! I’m first going to finish this post, and after that I’m going to make one of the hard decisions I have been procrastinating for way too long.

Progress?

Yes! Progress. There’s progress on my financial freedom goal. I’ve been working on some of the aspects of my goal, in between all the other things I’m doing.

First of all I’ve been working on “plugging the leaks”. The leaks of course are the expenses I’m trying to cover. The expenses are there, and partly unavoidable. But I want to make sure that they are as small as they can be.

Renegotiating the mortgage

I made an appoint with the bank to talk about our mortgage (this was back in September 2011). I knew that there was a small surcharge on our interest-rate for increased risk, related to the debt/equity ratio of our mortgage. I wanted to negotiate that surcharge out of the mortgage.

In the end I did not get the 0.1% surcharge out, but due to changes in legislation I was offered a replacement for the life insurance product that’s part of our mortgage. The new offer offers more transparency, more flexibility and a lower monthly charge. The monthly charge for this drops from €152 to about €138. Savings: €14/month (€168/year and a whopping €3,800 over the remaining lifetime of this mortgage).

And the getting rid of the surcharge was within reach as well. It mainly depends on how the housing prices will develop … but the coverage is closing in on the limit to get the surcharge out. And that would bring this cost down another €20/month.

Energy costs

Another big chunk of the expenses are caused by the energy bill. I had already worked on lowering our electricity bill by investing in LED lighting to replace our incandescent bulbs. It helped to bring down our electricity consumption, but the energy company wanted to RAISE our monthly charge. But even though energy prices were rising, I knew that this was not correct.

I track our energy consumption pretty meticulously, and after a couple of weeks I was convinced that our monthly charge should be at or about our previous monthly charge. So currently we’re at €230 a month.

But this week we had some more insulation done in our house, with an expected reduction of between 20-30% in use of natural gas. It’s too early to see the effect of this measure … especially since temperatures have dropped significantly in the week following the insulation job. We had a night of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), which is extremely cold for our country. So I’m cashing in on the investment already, but it may not lower my monthly charge just yet :-)

Status

So the current status of my goals is this (measurement date = 31 January 2012):

Expenses
Expenses

Income
Income

So that’s 4.6% coverage for my expenses, which in fact is less than when I started. But at the same time the gap between income and expenses decreased as well.

Next steps

I’m pretty much done with plugging leaks here. It’s now time to focus on getting more low maintenance income. Sure there’s still the possibility to lower my mortgage expenses by another €20/month, but for that I need to wait for the new official valuation for my house, before I can even begin to calculate how much I need to down pay to get that reduction. And waiting is hardly an activity, now is it?

In the meantime, I need to work on increasing low maintenance income. There’s still not a lot of that coming in just yet. And my time fills up quite quickly with other activities, so it needs conscious effort to get that part done.

Oh … and the hard decision I’m making after I hit publish on this post? Well I made it already, but I have to execute it yet. I’m cancelling the email subscription service at Feedblitz for this blog. This will cost me 100+ email subscribers. But it will clear one of the hurdles for getting this blog back on track, and it will save me about $10 a month as well. So if you’ve subscribed to my blog through FeedBlitz, and you want to keep on receiving updates, please resubscribe to the blog by following this link: Subscribe by email.

Posted in counting beans on Sun 2012.02.05

{ 1 comment }

Sarah October 14, 2012 at 20:13

A while back we decided to analyze our monthly expenditures a little bit. It was amazing to see what we could save by comparing trash, phone,internet and cable plans with different companies and combining insurance with the same company. Sometimes a call to these companies allowed a representative to offer us a special or to suggest a different plan that was more affordable for us.

Just a suggestion, it might be great to have a link to your comments on the main page where it shows your most recent post. I almost thought your blog didn’t accept comments before I ended up here.

Great piece. Admirable goal.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: