Liebster Award

liebsteraward

The fun people at our next life have nominated me for the Liebester Award. Vielen Dank nochmals! 🙂

ONL are a couple of DINKs in their mid-30’s from the USA, who have a retire early date of December 2017. They’re blogging anonymously now but are planning to reveal themselves once they retire, so it’s a pretty exciting time to jump in on their story. They’re also dog people which is a big plus in my books!

What’s a Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is passed on from blog to blog to help the personal finance community discover new and upcoming blogs, while learning more about its bloggers in the process.

The rules are simple:

You are to share 11 facts about yourself so readers can get to know you better.

  • mention the person who nominated you.
  • answer the 5-11 questions that the nominator asked.
  • nominate another couple bloggers to receive the liebster award and ask them 5-11 questions.
  • let your nominees know either by leaving a comment on their blog, sending them an email, calling them out on social media, etc.

11 facts about me

1. Due to lifestyle choices (travelling, studying), I didn’t start my career until I was 30.

2. Freelancers in my field make literally 3x as much as I do. One day I plan on freelancing too, but for now I’m still gaining experience and building up my network.

3. I’ve moved to Germany twice. Once in 2009 and again in 2010. But I don’t count my first stint, because I was only travelling. It was my second move that really felt like a move.

4. My German is terrible. But I’m learning.

5. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 13, and on my 30th birthday, I finally went vegan. Within the first 5 days of being vegan, I knew it was the best decision I had ever made. For the animals, for myself, for the environment, for my health, and even for my relationship. Once you cut out animal products completely, you see how senseless it is to ingest and use animal products to begin with. Plus, your body thanks you!

6. When I was doing my undergrad, I worked 1-4 jobs to put myself through school while taking on a full course load. I ended up graduating debt free, and with a healthy 5-figures in the bank.

7. When I was in grad school, I landed a ‘real job’ before graduating. So it took me 3 years instead of 2 to finish my Master’s. While it was doable for me to work so much in my undergrad, it was really really really hard for me to do the same in grad school.

8. I’m a woman of colour. My ethnicity is Chinese. Germans tend to find me interesting since I look Asian but speak with an American (Canadian!) accent. I don’t bother telling them that there are millions of me in North America. 🙂

9. My favourite city is Paris, and I’ve been there 7 times. I also love London and have been there 5 times. In total I’ve been to 25+ countries.

10. Mr. German and I met in Canada while he was passing through. We then had a long distance relationship for the next 3.5 years, before I moved to Germany (twice – see #3). We’ve been together for a while, even though we’re newlyweds.

11. Dogs. I’m a crazy dog lady.

dogs_working_together

Answers to our next life‘s questions

1. Describe your dream day once you are able to retire early. My dream day is pretty much this picture:

campervan

Waking up in an RV that’s parked on a beach. Doing some yoga, eating fresh fruit, then getting my surf on.

2. Once you’ve reached financial independence, do you have any creative trades or hobbies you want to pursue? My hobby is [trying to] lead a healthy life. Mostly my career hinders this, as I spend a disproportionate amount of time sitting and staring at a light bulb (computer screen). I try to be as healthy as I can given these constraints, but working can really cramp my style. Once I reach FI, I’d like to quit and devote my time to being healthy. Eating tons of fresh fruits and veggies, surfing, hiking, biking, yoga, etc… As for creative outlets, I play the piano and had a hard time deciding between science and music as a major. (I chose science) It would be great for my soul to spend more time music making.

3. Where are you most eager to travel once you have time to travel slowly? I’m most eager to do a Great Canadian Roadtrip from coast to coast!! I haven’t travelled much of Canada yet, so it’s about time, eh? After that, I’d like to slow-travel and maybe set up a second base in Asia. I’m partial to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Mainland China.

4. What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve made to further your fi/re goals? Moving to Germany! And then actively choosing to live in a blue-collared city to drastically reduce our costs. Of course when I moved to Germany, I was in my 20’s and drunk on love with a hot German guy. Now I’m in my 30’s and drunk on love with a hot German guy, but I can also see the benefits that living here brings. Financially I earn less than my Canadian and American friends, but the cost of living here is very low compared to where I’m from. Culturally, it’s also easy to be frugal here because Germans are also frugal, which I appreciate a lot.

5. What financial advice do you wish you could go back and give your 20-year-old self? Sell your Nortel stocks, stat! Yes, I was a holder of Nortel when it was $100+. I had inherited them when Nortel broke off from its parent company, which I was a shareholder of. In general I would also encourage my young self to take charge of her finances by learning how to invest, and to not bother wasting time ‘thinking’ about real estate. In my 20’s, I had always assumed I would invest heavily in real estate, but turns out, that’s the worst investment for someone like me who prefers NO maintenance investments. My 20 year old self didn’t need much financial advice though. She needed to love herself more, to enjoy life more, and to ditch that guy who kept disappointing her!

My nominees

Now I’d like to pass on the Liebster Award to Insider Accountant and Chun Yi at Smart Kohle. Insider Accountant is a 32 year old who works in finance and shows us what it’s like to reach for FI in Australia. He also likes shopping at Aldi! Chun Yi is an Engineer, Singaporean, and fellow ex-pat living in Germany, who may or may not like shopping at Aldi. He aims for FI and writes the very helpful Smart Kohle guides for confused expats like me. While his site is more information portal than blog, I’m still nominating him in case he wants to participate.

I really like Chasing Gains’ questions in his Liebster Award entry, so I will pose most of them to my liebsters too, if CG doesn’t mind:

1. If you could move to any part of the world right now, where would you go and why?

2. Favourite activity to do on weekends?

3. You win $10 million in the lotto, how do you spend, save or invest it?

4. Is your partner on board with FIRE?

5. Why did you start blogging?

6. What is your favourite place that you have visited?

7. If money wasn’t a factor, what would be your dream job?

8. What is your overall goal in life?

Viel erfolg!

Alternative to renting or buying in the city

I am so cute and functional!

I am so cute and functional!

Since Mr. German and I have not been successful at finding a flat in our city, we have been exploring the option of buying land and building a tiny house on the land.

This is actually my dream! I love the tiny house movement and am hippie enough to try it. :mrgreen:

I think Germany is a great place to do this since any land we buy would still be fairly connected to the city. Which in my mind means that the land will hold its value.

Welcome to my modern home on wheels.

I’m ultra modern and close to the city.

Sounds great, right?

Except it’s illegal. 😦 I know tiny house living is generally semi-illegal in developed countries, but in Germany it’s illegal-illegal. At least that’s how I understand it. There are some people here pushing the envelope on tiny houses, but as I don’t have permanent residency yet, I don’t feel comfortable being one of those people. Plus there’s a lot of red tape and expense connected to it, and for us, tiny house living was meant to cut down our costs not increase them.

Not all is lost though. We accidentally stumbled upon a different but similar movement in Germany that I’ll write about in another entry. It’s getting late here!

Losing money never felt so good

Coins and plant, isolated on white background

On Thursday, I finally spent all my euros on VWRL.AS. Wheee!

I put in an afternoon order to buy at market, which at the time was 67.80 EUR per share.

On Friday, VWRL.AS closed at 66.68 EUR.

Even though I’ve lost money on paper, it still feels so good!! It may not seem like a big deal to be able to trade, but for me it represents a big step in the right direction. For years I’ve ignored my finances, because I moved countries and have been busy trying to settle. Now it feels like I’m getting on track. Yay! :mrgreen:

Why we’re still renting after a 10 month search

Finding a place is not as easy as this.

Finding a place is not as easy as this.

A few weeks ago, Mr. German and I agreed that I would concentrate on stocks, while he would focus on finding us a flat if he wanted to.

So far I’ve pretty much given up on owning a flat in the city. We’ve been searching for 10 months now, and still can’t make up our minds on what we want. This is more me rather than Mr. German – he is very focussed, but I keep morphing and changing the criteria on us.

I am even less sure of what I want now, than I was when we started 10 months ago! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?!

I think it’s because I can’t find anything suitable, so continue searching for alternatives. And also if I dig a bit deeper, I don’t really love living here. Germany in general maybe, but I’m not exactly in love with this area of Germany either. It’s not a bad place, but I hardly click with it and don’t feel very ‘at home’ here.

Germany for me, is an “it’ll do for now” type place. There are many benefits to living here. Of course, the number 1 benefit being that my husband is here and that he is very cute, so I must stay for those reasons alone! But I also have a good career that is not too demanding, and Germany boasts a relatively low cost of living while having all the amenities and infrastructure of a rich, developed country.

One of the BIG driving forces for me in achieving financial independence is so I won’t be location dependent anymore. I don’t mind having Germany as a base, but I want to be able to leave when I want, for as long as I want. I have a life outside of Germany too.

So it’s an ongoing process, but I’m trying to live here.

I thought maybe if I dug in some roots, it would help my feelings of homeliness here. But turns out, my brain keeps rejecting it every time we come close.

So maybe buying a flat here is not the answer.

We have found an alternative though, asides from renting, which I will write about it my next post. I’m trying to keep my posts shorter and less rambly!

I’m 100% invested in stocks – almost

bull-bear

Due to me spending my free time outdoors these days, I haven’t had the chance to buy my VWRLs yet (Vanguard All World fund).

Although my CapTrader account is now set up, I just have to wait a few days for the compliance department to give me clearance to trade in the Netherlands where VWRL trades in euros. For some reason I was limited to Germany-only, but probably because I ticked some box while I was signing up.

I found this out because I gave CapTrader a call yesterday to ask for step-by-step help in executing my first trade. I felt a bit high maintenance in doing so, especially because when you open an account, you’re supposed to do 100 demo trades before they let you trade. I of course, confirmed that I did the demo trades via email (without actually doing them), then proceeded to ask for help on how to trade!

Yes, I have no shame. 😛

The customer service was really helpful and friendly though, so I’m glad I’ve chosen CapTrader. Plus they have really low fees: 0.1% transaction fee, with a minimum of 4 EUR and maximum of 29 EUR.

Since I have to wait a few days for my security clearance, I’ve gone ahead and wired over the rest of my euros to CapTrader. By the time I can buy over the Amsterdam exchange, I will have 30% of my networth waiting to buy VWRL!

This 30% also equals 100% of my money in Germany. Minus the few hundred I keep around handy to pay my half of the bills, which I don’t count in my networth.

The rest of my money (70% of my networth) sits in a high interest savings account in Canada. Once I open my Canadian trading account, I’ll buy VCE and VUN. (it’s in the works)

Then I will really be 100% invested in stocks. Wheee!!

Personality types and retiring early

personality-types

It takes a certain personality to not follow the pack – who are able to eschew consumerism while everyone around them equates spending money with comfort, entertainment, and status.

These Myers-Briggs personality types are INTJ’s, INTP’s, and ISTJ’s. Apparently they make up most of the early retirement community and are also the most likely to succeed at reaching financial independence at an early age.

I am none of these types. But interestingly enough, Mr. German is.

He’s an ISTJ!

Yet in the distant and recent past, he has resisted me so much when I introduce FIRE-friendly options. Such as shopping at discount supermarkets, buying used stuff, or investing.

The thing is, even though he resists my ideas at first, he eventually ends up getting even more into it than I ever was.

I tease him about it and tell him that soon he’ll be more into FIRE-ing than I will. It’s gonna happen any moment now, I can feel it. 😉

Surprisingly enough, my personality type is the least interested in money. I’m an INFJ, the idealistic do-gooder. I strive to do what’s right and live as closely as possible to my morals. Earning money is not my top priority.

But I think this makes me very suited to achieving early FI. Because my life goal requires time and freedom. I can’t save the world when I’m stuck at work going from one pointless meeting to the next. My personality type is the most likely to take on low paid jobs that help people/animals/society. That’s not the kind of job I have, but I will admit that I strive for this type of job. I just want to be financially independent first so that I don’t stress over living costs.

Also, since money is not important to me, I can invest and not flinch when the markets crash!

What is your personality type? Do you think it’s conducive to early retirement?