Many who seek the freedom through FIRE are loving the way of slow life. Not having the urge to tick every box, the hassle when you go out, or the need to plan everything due the limited time you have available. January is one of those months where it feels like the daily life is getting by slowly. Then again, after the speed lane called December. Everything feels like a slow month. It’s just getting back to normal.
You could question how normal our lives really are. Everybody working their way to financial independence aren’t doing the ‘normal stuff’. They take side-routes, alternative ways and think of new methods to ditch the 9-to-5 route a lot of ‘normal’ people are taking.
Three years ago that side-route opened up for us as well. Starting with index trackers, then entering dividend growth investing. And now… Real estate investors working on growing that not so passive income.
Every month I always give a monthly update on our progress, financially speaking. These updates are an overview of what we have done investment-wise. By explaining what we do, and why, we give insight in our view on real estate investing and how we get things done (or not). Every update consists of a rental report and an update on our progress towards financial independence in the form of the cash flow index. As of next month, both updates will each get their very own post.
We do this as a method of accountability and reflecting on the road we take towards financial independence. This is just one way of doing it. We acknowledge that our style is not very standard but therefore gives a unique insight into the world of FIRE and real estate investing.
Real Estate Rumble
The past month we had a lot to work on, which is also why I had a small blogging break the past 2 weeks. The last work on the renovations for property #2 had to be done in January, which we did ourselves. This included painting the apartment, cleaning everything up, get administration done, duplication of keys and assembling some basic furniture. This took about two full weekends.
A big chunk of the time, however, went to the search for new tenants of property #2. We asked around and placed some ads on different networks (mostly Facebook) and waited. Which is surprisingly a very fast way of reaching potential renters. Three weeks and three viewing sessions later, we rented out all three units before the first of February.
Of course, as real estate rookies, we had to face some hick-ups as well, unfortunately.
We had to deal with a bad WiFi range, a broken dishwasher, solving some electricity hazards and a major gas leak that needed to be fixed asap. Yup, you’ve read that right. On top of it all, once everything was fixed, the heating decided to give up. So, then we had to solve a heating problem…
Not quite the month we expected it to be, nonetheless, it was something we learned from a lot. Always double check everything, make sure you know the right maintenance guys and set up a checklist before renting out. We had to spend some additional money on fixing all this.
Property #1, on the other hand, was as easy as pie. We had no additional costs and have spent no time whatsoever. The only thing I did, is watching the rent come into our bank account. Despite the hard work on the other, this unit was literally as passive as possibly can for this month.
Taking everything into account, it wasn’t a bad month. Just facing some rookie startup problems. We will receive the invoice for fixing the gas leakage, and the heating problem in February, which means that is not included in the below overview.
Cash flow Index
Starting from this year, I will be using the Cash Flow Index (CFI) to calculate our progress to financial independence. It’s based on our expenses (+ margin) for the past month, connected to our calculated target of income from investing. Basically, we check how much of our income from investments, is covering our expected expenses after we reach financial independence.
For January we end up with a Cash Flow Index of:
Ok, I wanted to make it a bit nicer as it truly is. I’ve incorporated the deposits we have received into our investment income. Which was 1.5 times a months rent for 3 rental units. But of course, we have to return the deposits (if everything goes well), once the tenant moves out.
Our total real estate expenses came down to € 1785
This includes mortgage payments (principal + interest), normal maintenance, and remodeling of property #2.
And without incorporating the deposits as income, our cash flow index turns to a negative of -11,9%. Which means we had no profit, but a loss, from our investments. With only one unit paying a full month’s rent, and all the costs of remodeling, it’s not a big surprise. And, all things considered, not even that bad.
Next month expectations
What happened to property #3 you may ask? Well, I shortly mentioned it in the last update. Early March we will receive the keys, up until then we are busy with some preparations like setting up the financing, taxation, insurances and other kinds of paperwork. The property is already rented out, so we need no further work on finding tenants or dealing with renovations.
Additionally, we have some other network events lined up to connect with fellow real estate investors and will be checking out a new property we can hopefully add to our portfolio pretty soon. Can’t say much about it yet, but everything looks very interesting so far.
The one thing I’m really looking forward to, is the first 2-day (!) FIRE meet-up in Leuven, Belgium at the end of February. Catching up with fellow money enthusiasts, can’t wait!