The motivation that drives us to financial independence is the will to create a different life for ourselves. Different from the status quo, and one where we are in better control of how and on what we spend our time. To pursue total freedom and independence of somebody you have to work for in order to get money. And one of the most important question for many FIRE seekers is: what are you going to do post-FIRE? Since that is where you’ll path will lead you.
This question has kept me busy for a while, and so far the best answer I got is: doing more of whatever we want to. It could literally be anything, as long as it is of value to us. Not very concrete, but then again we would just do more of the things we love and less of the things we don’t.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old,
but on building the new”
Every month I have published a monthly update since the beginning of this blog, and that’s not going to change. Partially to track our progress in our journey to financial independence, and partially because I like to get ahead by sharing with and learning from others. There is a lot of information we share, and some we don’t share for privacy reasons. Every step, success, and failure will be shared here though, hopefully, to inspire others and to raise awareness around the concept of financial independence through investing.
After the Christmas holidays, we only have a few days left before the new year starts. It’s going so fast.
We had some lovely days, spend a lot of time with family and ate a lot (really a lot) of delicious food. Even received some small presents.
With 2017 nearing its end we are looking back at an awesome year where much has happened. We got engaged, attended several NL/BE FIRE meet-ups, I landed a new job (with pay raise!), connected with some amazing people, discovered the European version of FIRE, celebrated my one year blogging anniversary and started investing in real estate instead of dividend stocks. And after the small Christmas break, we are currently stuck at the office once again.
Stocks & Dividends
In last month’s update, I explained that we sold all of our stock holdings in order to accelerate the growth in our real estate investments. And as time passes, we have collected the last of our dividends in this month.
While December is mostly the best dividend paying moment of the year, we just collected the remnants of our old portfolio and were lucky many of the stocks we owned had been sold after the ex-dividend date. Only the dividends of LyondellBasell and Gilead were lost as we sold before ex-dividend date.
We still collected dividends of 7 different companies the past month. Due to the loss of dividends from Gilead, LyondellBasell and Marathon (which we sold earlier this year), we have collected less compared to last years results. Not a big surprise.
Our December dividends rounded up to €124.85, a -8.8% decline from last year.
Besides the gift buying and unwrapping, food preparations and end of year work evaluations, we have been quite busy with our rental properties. The wheels are beginning to get in motion, and while the beginning wasn’t that time-consuming. We’ve spent almost all weekends in December on our units, which has partially to do with a new milestone you can read below.
Rental unit #1: This one has already been occupied by our first tenant, with the result that we got our first rental paycheck this month! We had none to little work on this property, which is the reason why we could already scout for a tenant even before we received the keys. And so, we already cashed in a nice sum of 826.45 euro. Because this went so fast, we had (almost) no monthly costs whatsoever for this property this year. The mortgage payments will begin in January and we only had a fraction of the cost spend for some cleaning products.
We had one small scare though when our tenant called to let us know he got no hot water. Or in others words: problems with the boiler, which can become quite costly. Fortunately, the boiler is being leased. Meaning that all repairs being made are covered by the company leasing it to us. With one phone call to report the issue, it was being fixed without ever breaking a sweat. It took us only 5 minutes of work.
Rental unit #2: This little piggy is quite the opposite. We have not found any tenants yet, as we are still busy fixing up and cleaning. We needed to build an extra room, paint the whole apartment, fix the bathroom and clean out the whole kitchen. We plan to finish it up before the year ends and get new tenants in before the end of January.
Although it’s amazing to see how much we learn about building materials, getting a rental ready and real estate management, we also notice how much time has gone into this particular project already. Not something that is very convenient at this busy time of the year. Of course, you can always outsource the work to a property manager, however, we decided not to. For next year, we now know that December might not be the best month to fix up a new rental property.
Rental unit #3: That’s right. We have another property to add to the mix. Recently, we have bought the third one of this year! It will pass somewhere in early February, it’s a multi-unit property, and is already rented out fully. We acquired a private loan from a fellow RE investor to cover the funding. I will probably not give an update as detailed as I did on our first rental property. But take it from me, that there’s more than enough insights to distill some good blog posts from.
December tends to be one of the slowest blogging months as it comes to traffic. Not very surprising when people spend a lot of time with family over the holiday instead of behind a screen. Still, I managed to pull off a best month ever for Divnomics. To date, 938 people have come to the blog this month and they have checked out 2409 pages in their visit. I need no further motivation to continue blogging and since I’ve passed the critical 6-month stage a long (very long) time ago, that shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m excited at all the possibilities that lay ahead of us. For the next month, we will speed up the plans for our wedding, have full focus on blogging, and set up all the details for our third rental property to pass. In the next week, I will publish a yearly overview as well. Like many others. Giving a reflection on our numbers, looking back on the whole year and making some plans for the next.
How did your month go?