Writing regularly on a blog takes some effort. One that clearly isn’t one of my best features. As this year has developed somewhat different than I imagined, time is one of those things that you always seem to have too little of.
On the other hand, we have accomplished such great things already. While we were busy with real estate, family & friends, the FIRE community and getting to that office job every day. Things are happening. Like really happening. It sometimes feels like we are building up towards a wonderful momentum and await the time when we can finally launch off the ground. Not always being aware that we launched already a long time ago.
Somewhere in the summer of 2014, we discovered dividend investing and it’s compounding powers. It was in that moment when we got a small notion of the big impact passive income could have on our lives. And the start of our very own FI path.
Over the years we progressed step by step over time. And in the last years, things really took off due to our real estate endeavors.
After our wedding and vacation time in June, our spending – and saving – levels are back to normal. The times of extensive catering budgets, driving through wine country or heavy cuts in the saving ratio are over. We have taken quite a hit as it comes to our savings ratio in June, which turned to a negative of -28%. Not a very pretty sight. Last month we got back to 38%. Which is still not as high as I prefer, but due to some expensive car maintenance, we had a minor setback. As long as our normal money behavior is quite alright, I don’t mind having this kind of one-time big spending.
Our Cash Flow Index is growing to new heights. We use this metric to monitor our progress towards financial independence. It’s a dynamic target that will automatically adapt to our spending pattern. So the more we spend, the more income we need to cover it. We do this so I know for sure that our investment income can cover our spending with a save margin. For this year I want to reach a target of 40% of our investment income covering our monthly spending.
Over 2018 our average Cash Flow Index is 11%. With every new rental unit time and money has been invested in order to get things going, causing a lower rental income stream at the start. With most of our rental units have matured a bit, our rental income will stabilize more over time.
One way of boosting our CFI is to increase our income, another is to decrease our spending. In the months May, June, and July our spending were a lot higher than average, pressing our results in a steady income flow.
On the income part, we are steadily expanding our portfolio and thus our income.
Since the start of August, property #4 has been rented out. It only took 2 viewings and the promise of a pool to be used by tenants.
| Quick tip: renting out units with access to a pool works like a charm during a heat wave|
From start to finish? Including financing, remodeling and finding tenants: 3 months.
Just in time for the next project! In the first week of September, we have moved on to property #5. We have bought this property a while back. The expectation was that we needed a week for renovation purposes. Normally we would just hire anybody to do this for us. This time we searched far in advance since workers are hard to come by, and found someone with whom we hope to build a more steady and long-term relationship with.
The renovations took around 3 weeks due to unforeseen electricity problems (sigh). We learned a lot from our past mistakes. And our time is a well-appreciated concept after we had 4 consequent weeks where we had not even 1 night to relax at home. The good news is that all the work is now finished AND it’s all rented out.
Compared to passive dividend income, rental income is quite volatile. Besides the maintenance costs to consider, vacancy in multiple units at the same time is more common than you might think. At least this was the case for us. We had 6 units to fill in the past 3 months due to tenants leaving.
Because of this, we have missed some rental income over the months. And on top of it, we also had some further maintenance to deal with. This shows that real estate, although a solid moneymaker, is also having its downturns as it comes to a steady (and passive) investment income.
You know what they say: there is no high return without a high risk.
There are quite a few things that I am working on right now. We have launched our new business two months ago and started to reach out to potential clients. We keep on fine-tuning our business plan for the coming months and try out some things to see what works (and what not).
Oh yes, and property #6 is well on its way. We closed the deal in a few deals, back in September. And we will receive the keys in the mid of November. This will be our first property where a big amount of renovation needs to be done. The expectation is around 3-4 months for renovation, and then a refinance the property in order to get a part of the investment back as liquid assets.
Additionally, I have been interviewed for a national magazine, which will be published this week! The article/series is about 6 women who invest besides their day jobs, which also gave me the chance to hear the stories of other people.
This interview and a few talks with friends helped me decide what to do with this blog. Some of you know that I am thinking of changing the blog name, or start up a new one since dividends are no longer part of our FIRE journey. I kept postponing to do something about this and had to wrap my mind about some decisions I had to make first.
With the blog being somewhat unattended in the past months, I also noticed a lack of attention to the whole of the FIRE community from my side. And to my surprise, it is actually something I really miss. All of you guys (bloggers & readers) keep me grounded and very conscious about why we do things the way we do.
Luckily there was a meet-up end of September, which was great as always. And with the community growing and growing, there will be more activity on meet-ups and planning for future events. These are exciting times and there are some changes coming up in the very near future. For real though.
Real Estate Introduction Course
By the way, if you want to learn more about real estate. We are holding an introduction training together with Cheesy Finance. It will take place in Utrecht on the 9th of March.
Wanna join? You can sign up here.
Hopefully till then!