Author

investment hunting interview
Interviews,

Interview #6 – Be Smart Rich from Be Smart Rich.com

This is the sixth interview of my interview series, where I interview bloggers blogging about Early Retirement, Personal Finance, and related topics. I have published my first book recently, and I am writing my second book, which will be on what I learned interviewing millionaires. As you can see, I love interviewing people.

This time, I bring you my fellow Canadian Be Smart Rich from Be Smart Rich.com. I hope you enjoy it.

Q1 – Who is Be Smart Rich?

Hi everyone, I run a personal finance blog BeSmartRich. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Canada alone about 10 years ago with my life savings when I was in the early 20’s. I was a high school graduate, had zero English skills and just got out of South Korean military.

be smart rich military

(I used to live in that APC (Armored Personal Carrier) for 2 years)

Similar to other immigrants, I worked anywhere as long as it paid me something. I made less than minimum wage ($7/hour) for a while but I was glad to save up money to get a proper education. I have been always good with numbers so I decided to major in accounting and studied my ass off just to survive through university. Luckily, I got a job offer from an accounting firm that changed my life. I earned CPA in 2013. This is my 7th year of my career in Canada.wife be smart rich

Toronto, Canada but I am originally from South Korea. I traveled to Vancouver first when I was 23 and I loved it so I decided to stay in Canada. I moved to Halifax (my second hometown) to do my university then came to Toronto when I was around 30. I got my Canadian citizen 1.5 years ago. Big changes so far and I am still loving it.

 

I am married to a beautiful wife that I met here in Canada about 3 years ago and have a monstrous greyhound that eats like a horse.

For more, check out About Me.

[Ben: your picture is definitely one of the best pictures I’ve had in my interview series. Awesome! And you’re a lucky dude, you’ve got a gorgeous wife! I also love the fact that you came all the way from Korea and you worked hard and became Canadian. Props to you.]

Q2 – What do you do for a living and what do you like the most about it?

I am an accountant. Currently working as Controller of a fintech startup company. The company has many challenges but is growing at 200-300% every year. Until the company becomes one of the major companies in Canada, I won’t stop. 🙂   The work is stressful but at the same time quite exciting and enjoyable. Never a dull moment and that’s how I like it.

[Ben: pretty impressive you emigrated to Canada with no English Skills and you’re working for a company that has the potential to become of the major companies in the country…]

Q3 – Why did you start your blog and what is your main goal with it?

I just wanted to I want to encourage hard working people to study, work smartly, save, being frugal and invest wisely for better future. Think about it. I was poor, had no family member living nearby, my language skills were terrible and was a high school graduate making less than minimum wage. I worked very hard with smart plans and I am quite different now as compared to who I was 10 years ago. I am nobody compared to all the successful people who sold their companies for billions but I want to share all the tips that I know with people regarding how a regular person just like me has a dream to be a millionaire and getting closer every day and people can do it as well.

Blogging is only one of few ways to reflect my thoughts. I love sharing aspect as well. I am happy to inspire people and educate them how to invest and get them focused in building their nest eggs. All they need was to be exposed to great blogs so that they can follow suit if makes senses.

I want to help anyone who reads and enjoys my blog to be more responsible for their own financial destiny. It really starts from looking in the mirror and tracking your family’s net worth and realizing where they are at and where they will be. Setting up goals and reach one goal at a time.

[Ben: we see things pretty much similarly. I wish you the best success blogging. I love your story and your blog.]

Q4 – What was the main reason for you to think about early retirement?

I have been through a bit with my life and I realized whenever I go through a rough time, only thing (other than my family and close friends) that saved me to get through was money in the bank. I learned importance of saving very early and started working ever since I was 11 years old. I used to be a newspaper delivery man, gas station assistant, convenient store cashier, dish washer, bakery assistant, flyer handout man, buffet and various restaurants server, computer store assistant etc… I saved every single penny from the work and all the saving from the jobs was used in university education in Canada. It was very worth it.

I did not really think about financial independence until I ran into some personal finance blogs. The blogs changed the way I think about money. I opened my direct investing account in September 2014 rather than putting money in mutual funds immediately after the encounter of the blogs and started tracking my net worth. It has been longer than 2.5 years and things are going pretty well.

numbers be smart rich

Thanks to the inspiring personal financial bloggers, my average annual return is at 9% and total return since September 2014 is 25.69%. TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) stayed flat during the same period.

About a year ago I reached $200,000 from $2,000.

numbers be smart rich

[Ben: I am not sure what I like the most: your hustle and your saving mentality or your progress and gains from your investments. I am a very goal-driven dude myself.]

Q5 – At what age are you most likely to retire from your day job?

My conservative prediction is before 45. That is 10 years from now. Considering my salary growth, my wife’s financial help from her job starting in about 1 year and improving investing skills, I may be able to reach the financial freedom even before 42-43. I will retire when my expenses are covered by non-work related passive incomes.

[Ben: I checked your portfolio and I actually think you could do it before you’re 40, if you took advantage of geographic arbitrage.]

Q6 – What do you plan on doing after retirement?

We love travelling and we will travel around the world for about a year. After that we will travel at least 4-6 countries per year until we mark all countries in the world in the world map.  There are so many better things to do than working 9-6 everyday for the rest of our lives. My family will travel at least once a month or two. I will probably join a band playing the guitar and focus on enjoying the life to the fullest. I always wanted to have lots of kids because my wife and I do not have any family in Canada so as long as my boss (I mean my wife) is ok, then we will try our best.

[Ben: If you stop by Portugal, please do let me know! I am happy to know that your wife is running things at home. ;-)]

Q7 – What investments do you like the best, and why?

I like buying stocks among all investments. Several reasons. Firstly, I can do all fundamental analyses myself due to my accounting background. Second of all, I always loved the concept of owning great companies. Lastly, I believe that the world has been and will be moving forward not backward due to nature of humans’ desire for wanting better things. Companies are at front to take advantages of technological advancements.

I like investing in super high quality companies. I used to mimic Ben Graham’s value investing so I had been buying so-called severely undervalued companies that are going through troubles with chance of survival and turnaround. However, I realized more and more through experience and readings (thanks to Charlie Munger and Phillip Fisher) that quality matters the most.

I do not mind owning a house but the Toronto housing markets are quite crazy now so I will wait until correction comes and things settle.

Q8. If you could only use one metric to evaluate a stock, which one would you choose?

Dupont analysis. I wrote an article about how Warren Buffett analyze stocks.

Buffett also loves Dupont analysis. My second favorite is free cash flow analysis. No matter under any circumstance, cash flow is the king.

[Ben: Interesting. I wonder what you think of the metrics I use.]

Q9 – How about eleven places you love that you’ve visited or have lived in?

I have been to most of major cities and travel destinations in Canada – Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, St John’s Cabot Trail, Rocky Mountain, Niagara Falls etc… and been to some American cities such as Seattle, New York, Boston etc… I used to be an auditor working with an accounting firm so anytime I had to be on business trip, I took extra days off to sightseeing. It was great.

My favorite was Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Driving beautifully paved shoreline for an hour was unbelievably fun. Not to mention so many beautiful beaches around the shore. I went there with my girlfriend (my wife now) and our best friends couple.

picture be smart rich

Q10 – If you could go back in time, what investment advice would you give to your past self?

Start early. I mean really early. I would have been a millionaire by now if I started when I was 18. That’s quite alright though because it is never too late to start.

[Ben: So agreed!]

Q11 – What did you like the most about my blog, From Cents to Retirement? Do you have any advice for me?

I love the online income updates. It is really honest and detailed. Hard to find any other bloggers showing honest advices that work. Great job!

[Ben: Thanks buddy!]

save to retire early
Daily life,

Living frugally – the 1st pillar of early retirement

Living frugally is probably the number one thing to look at for those who want to retire early. We already know the formula: earn well, live frugally (aka save as much as you can) and invest wisely. Write down a plan and follow it no matter what. But what about the details of frugal living? How to get through them, become financially independent and still live happily?

Living frugally – the 1st pillar of early retirement

While some things are difficult to envision, try to look out for examples. This family of 4 lives on $14k a year. This family lived a year on extreme frugality. If they can do it, you can do it too!

In this post, I’ll tell you that living frugally actually means and how I do it.

What exactly do I save on?

If you stop to think about them, our culture is geared towards spending money. We are constantly bombarded with ads that prompt us to buy. We end up buying a lot of things by impulse, not because we really want them or need them.

I’ve decided to do it differently. I spend money on what I need the most, or what leaves me truly happy. You have to ask yourself the same question: what does leave you truly happy: a new car, a new smartphone, new clothes very season or being able to retire early? I am not saying that the latter is the right choice, I am simply saying that it is what I want. In the following, let me share some tips:

Home and car

As I wrote last week, I am moving to a very small condo in one of my multi-unit properties. I think I haven’t shown my car yet, so here is it:

 

Although a beautiful, reliable VW from 1999, it only cost me €3000. My family was quite surprised when I bought “such an old car” for “someone with a PhD and a large salary”. Guess what, I could not regret it less. I absolutely love my car. 🙂

This car serves me extremely well. First, it is a classic over here. Second, it is super reliable. Third, it has a huge trunk and can take up to 5 people. No other car would make out my happiness, really. Well, to be fully honest, a brand new Mercedes A45 would probably make me a little bit happier, but it would cost me €27000 more. €27000 is what I need to live comfortably for 2,5 years, so choosing between these cars having in mind that the Passat will allow me to retire at least 2,5 years before is a no brainer, even from the happiness point of view.

Food

Pretty simple – I never ever throw away food. I plan every meal accordingly and I buy food for them – not more, and rarely less.

Coupons

I’ve been less of a coupon freak. Back in the day, I use to literally go through every coupon magazine and collect tons of coupons, filter them out, and spend them or change them for money. I was a coupon machine. Today, my time is way more valuable than that. If you have spare time and you get bored easily, do search for coupons, they can save you a lot of money.

Today, I still chase coupons and try to take advantage of sales, but I am not a coupon freak anymore. I think that the time I would invest into finding coupons is way better invested in my online and Real Estate businesses and this blog. Plus, having a growing blog does leave me happier than saving a few bucks at the supermarket.

Family

Pretty difficult to deal with, I gotta be honest. My family does not understand why I want to be so frugal. If you hold a PhD and your family think you have a large salary, they won’t understand why you don’t want to go out for lunch or take advantage of Black Fridays. My family knows that I have CFS but they don’t really know I want to retire in my 30s. Plus, they don’t have a very frugal background, so frugality is not something they are really used to.

Gifts

This is the hardest part of saving. I use to give my relatives and friends pretty generous gifts, and ever since I started to work on my early retirement, I changed that. It is not exactly like I give them crappy presents now, but I try to go for something cheap that either they really need or looks expensive. For women, I tend to give flowers more often.

Let me know about you – how do you save and what tricks do you use?

how much square feet space you need
Daily life, Lifestyle,

How much square footage do I need to have a good life

The first question that everyone who wants to retire early should make. It is also one of the first questions that I analyze with my clients… How much square footage (or square meters, if you’re European) do you really need?

I’ll try to answer it from a not so explored angle…

How much square footage do I need to live the good life

Most people fantasize about a huge home (and a nice car). This is in fact what trapps them into a mortgage that they need to work their entire lifes to pay off.

However, if you are asking yourself how much square footage you need, you’ve probably arrived at the conclusion that a small home is a smart decision…

So, this month I moved to my new home. My net worth is about a quarter of a million dollars, but as always, I like to look at spending money based on the amount of happiness it brings me. If having lunch out will boost my happiness on that particular day, you bet I am going to go grab that 10 buck lunch!

This follows my philosophy that you should spend your money based on the amount of happiness it will bring you. ALWAYS make that question before spending any money. “Do I really want to drink an espresso right now, or is this rather an impulse buy?” “Does having lunch out today will make me happier and more productive?” “What will make me happier? A big home and a big mortgage or financial comfort and a passive check in my mailbox?”

Think about life as a game, where characters have those fancy “happiness bars” on top of their heads. Something like this:

happiness bars how much squared footage do I need

OK, these are what I am talking about. Imagine those next to you. You’re in the game now – you’re the main character and you’re trying to maximize your happiness. If you look to the other side, you’ll see a number, that is your money. Now go out there and try to get the best case scenario: spending as less money as possible, you want to maximize your happiness bar. Note that in this game you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. Stop now. Ask yourself. What is my perfect home now?

Chances are you’ll say you don’t need a big home because there is a sqft where your happiness levels actually start to decrease. Instead, you’ll trade a few square feet for a few (a few != many) other things, including a nice chesterfield where you can relax and a fast internet connection to read From Cents To Retirement or any other nice site out there (although you know that this is the best). You’ll probably buy plants or something that connects you to nature because we are naturally connected to nature. Or maybe you’re a city guy and nature doesn’t turn you on. Maybe an espresso machine and a shelf of books (this is sooo Ben Davis).

The bottom line is that if you ask these questions to yourself, you’ll find a reasonable limit where more sqft don’t translate into more happiness. Fortunately, downsizing has been considered more and more a weapon to early retirement. For instance, this family sold their house for £130,000 and bought a £24,000 boat, where they live permanently in. And I bet they are happier!

Have a look at the property I chose to live in (which is actually one of the units of my 6-plex), since the beginning of the month:

kitchen How much square footage do I need

room How much square footage do I need

living room How much square footage do I need

This unit is about 500 ft². Yes, that’s it. It has a small kitchen, a room, a living room and a small bathroom. I will live alone, so that is more than enough for me.

Would my happiness bar increase a lot if I moved to a much bigger home? Probably not. Would yours?

tips for real estate investors
Real Estate,

The best real estate investing tips for beginners – my experience

10 real estate investing tips for beginners

1 – Market research

May sound obvious but this is the number one mistake I’ve seen from real estate investors. Many people buy properties because they look like a bargain to them. Yes, but what if it doesn’t rent out? The very first thing that I recommend my investors to do is to make sure they are considering properties with a high likelihood of being rented out.

2 – Conduct a property inspection before buying the property

Mistake number two. I’ve seen so many investors buying properties without inspections because “they looked OK” and suffered from that. First, chances are that the repairs may end up costing A LOT more than you imagined. In some cases, they can cost more than the actual property (especially if there is something wrong with the foundation). Second, you can actually get real numbers to put a proforma together and decide whether the deal makes sense.

Do not get caught off guard!

3 – Track your expenses from day one

Mistake number three. I just published an article on tracking your expenses. So many investors fail at keeping track of their expenses because “they pay for them with their checking accounts”. I do that myself, but it doesn’t mean that we should not track those expenses. The main reason to track expenses has to do with knowing your numbers. If you don’t know whether you’re making money on your property, how should you expect to scale your business?

4 – Know a lot of contractors

A fundamental part of a good REI business. Knowing multiple contractors means that your flips won’t ever stop, you’ll always have somebody to inspect a home you gotta close fast, and so on.

I typically ask for a few quotes on each renovation I do. This allows me to have the best of the best deals. It also happens that one specific contractor may charge you more on a specific location (because they are located far from that location). Always keep a bunch of contractors in your contact list!

5 – Grow free platforms to advertise your homes

This is an awesome idea because Real Estate companies charge a lot to rent out your homes. I like to grow my own platforms to advertise my homes and cut down on fees.

I personally like Facebook a lot. Create a page, and invite your friends to like it and invite their friends to like it too. Run a few contests and ads, if need be. My Facebook pages for my Real Estate properties have a total of 5000 likes. It has been a successful way to generate leads and get prospective tenants to visit and rent out my properties.

Facebook is yet another way to do it. You can use Craigslist (be aware that there are many Craigslist rental scams, so don’t take it personally if people don’t trust your ad right away) or even grow your own e-mail list. The latter has been very effective for a very good friend of mine, but I haven’t tapped into that yet.

6 – Create a limited liability company to hold your rental properties

This one you should discuss with a lawyer and this is by no means legal advice. For risk management reasons you should consider setting up a limited liability company to hold your real estate investments.

There are a gazillion reasons why you could be sued. If you protect your personal assets (creating an LLC to hold your rental properties). If you are sued, you’ll at most lose your investment, but your other assets stay out of reach.

7 – Get to know a lot of real estate agents

This is really how the best deals are done. If you know and become friends with many real estate agents, you should expect to be offered a lot of deals before they reach the public (if you show them you are a recurrent, serious buyer).

8 – Understand intelligent remodeling

I’ve written before on intelligent remodeling, i.e. ways that you have to maximize your remodeling value, but keep your costs low. I am fortunate I got to stay at marvelous hotels throughout the world, due to traveling a lot in work. This allowed me to see many renovations and get a lot of ideas from these places, which I use to this day.

9 – Get ideas from magazines

Not long ago, I was featured on Home and Beauty, and I decided to explore their page. Boy, I got so many ideas from that! If you understand that intelligent remodeling is the key to maximize value and minimize cost, you’ll immediately understand why this is so important.

10 – Create value, but don’t sell yourself short

The philosophy I use to run my Real Estate business is to create a lot of value. I want people to come to my homes and be astonished by the remodeling I do and the rents I ask for. I try to create as much value as I can (that is my philosophy in business, really). However, there is a limit where you start selling yourself short. Do not do that! Charge reasonably, slightly below-market rents for high-quality homes, but don’t decrease rent just to get a tenant!

tracking expenses rental properties
Real Estate,

Tracking rental property expenses – can be hard, but there are tricks!

I thought that every real estate investor out there was tracking rental property expenses the same way. Until, one of my clients who bought a property two months ago, confessed me something surprising: he paid for the renovation of the property from his personal account and didn’t record any of the expenses. We had a session last week and I wanted to run some numbers. Turns out he didn’t have any idea of how much money he spent. Please, if you are a real estate investor, please use a better way to track rental property expenses!

How To Track Your Rental Property Expenses for free

If you are investing in real estate, you must know your numbers. Otherwise, it is tough to say whether you’re making money or not! This is a problem if you want to replicate the deals. You gotta know your numbers!

OK, so if you thought I was going to propose you to use some expensive software for real estate investors, you’re mistaken. 🙂 Frugality is still a must at From Cents to Retirement…

Here’s what I do:

  • I record every single transaction on the day it occurred, in a spreadsheet (see below). 
  • I don’t care if we are talking about 20 cents or 20 bucks. Every transaction means every transaction.
  • If I drive to the property, I also record how many kilometers I drove.
  • I also record when I collect rents, including the amount paid, the date and the form of payment (rents are mostly wired these days).

The main advantages of doing this, include:

  • You’ll know your numbers. Good investors know their numbers.
  • This works beautifully for tax deductions. You’ll know exactly the expenses you can write off!

Again, I’ll stress this: if you record your transactions whenever they take place this process becomes much easier. I’ve found it very stressful to try to remember all the expenses – plus if I didn’t, I’d get frustrated.

So, the spreadsheet you should be using should capture ALL your expenses, and then aggregate everything in a very readable way. In particular:

  • Capture all expenses with a timestamp.
  • Automatically sum up the expenses, per property and per month.
  • Provide a clear summary, per property and per month, of the breakdown of the expenses you had.

You can do a spreadsheet yourself, or download one from a reputable Real Estate site. I recommend the following ones:

In particular, I like the second one, from Fast business plan:

Rental Income and Expenses Spreadsheet

Not only it describes the macro and micro information, as it also gives you an awesome monthly view:

Rental Income and Expenses free Spreadsheet from fast business plan
(the images were taken from Fastbusinessplan.com)

Either way, test all of them and choose the one that helps you the most. If you’re looking for a Real Estate pro forma, have a look at this one.

guest post ten factorial rocks
Stock Market,

Investing: Dividends or Index?

I am pleased to bring you a guest post by a blogger who is an expert on the stock market, Ten Factorial Rocks. I follow a free cash flow model (which roughly means that I need to see extra cash at the end of the month) but this may not be ideal for every one of you. Take it away TFR…

Investing: Dividends or Index?

index dividends

In acquiring an education, we graduate through various stages, from primary school, middle school, high school and then, to college and graduate school. Life and personal finance are the same way as well. We mature through every experience that prepares us to take on higher order challenges and improve our ‘qualifications’, ultimately leading to financial independence.

In this article, I will be talking about one such ‘higher order’ topic in investing. It assumes that the readers have mastered the basics of personal finance. Like spending less than they earn (primary school), having a 3-6 month emergency fund (middle school), have no debt or have manageable cash flow/debt ratio (high school), and have invested in or believe in cash flow generating (or) appreciating assets like stocks or investment real estate for their long-term future (college level).

There are excellent resources available about the long-term benefits of investing in equities and specifically, equity index funds.  Separately, there are resources available about dividend investing that a DIY investor can pursue.   I wrote a detailed investing series comparing Dividends vs. Index because nobody truly compared the two investing philosophies from multiple perspectives without the bias of a blind advocate of the method they believe in.

Investing Philosophy Reflects Your Personality

Just like we can choose from multiple majors in college, in ‘higher order’ investing, we can take multiple paths to a secure retirement. One way is investment real estate, which Ben Davis believes in, and another way is equities that I believe in. If you choose the equities path, it becomes necessary to have the lowest costs of investment, in other words, invest efficiently. Even within low-cost equity investment universe, we can choose either very low cost index funds (some as low as 0.05% for US total market funds, and below 0.3% for international index funds) or create a diversified portfolio of higher quality stocks across multiple sectors that pay periodic (and often increasing) dividends.

It is the last point where there are divergent points of view. There are no absolute right or wrong answers once you reach this stage of personal finance – it’s like deciding which graduate school to select. You are already a winner and way ahead of millions of people in the journey to financial independence.

If you are a dividend investor with investment portfolio of $250,000 or more who makes, say, 20 trades a year, low trading costs will actually make your annual investment expenses lower than passive index investors.   This is because index fund fees of 0.1% on $250K is still $250 per year, which is equivalent to 31 trades at $8/trade!  These days, trading costs have declined so much it most online brokerages offer $2-5 per trade, or even less. On the other hand, the index fund fees in absolute dollars will only increase as your account size grows each year.

What is the right investment strategy here?

I am a strong believer in indexing as a strategy to build assets, that is, if you are in accumulation stage of life. You can continue to be an index investor for life, there is nothing wrong with that approach. However, if you are willing to understand how indexes are constructed, you will realize that a vanilla index fund, while it is diverse in terms of number of holdings, can expose you to more sectoral risks than you realize or are willing to tolerate. For example, S&P 500 index fund has 21% allocation to Information Technology sector and nearly 15% to Financials sector. These are sectors that do well when the economy is growing but have sharper declines during recessions than other sectors, like Utilities, for example. Utilities are only 3.2% of S&P 500 and they generally lag during raging bull markets but shine during declining markets due to their relative safety. Utilities and Health care, along with some REITs (not all), are considered ‘defensive’ sectors. 

Better get comfortable with Beta

Collectively, all the market sectors, based on marked-weighted capitalizations, give total market volatility. This volatility is defined by the term beta. It can range from a low of zero (no volatility) to any number based on how volatile a stock’s price movement is. Cash has beta of zero, because its value is completely independent of the market.

By definition, since all volatility is calculated relative to the broader market, the S&P 500 index has a beta of 1.0. So, if your stock portfolio has a beta of 0.9, you should have 10% less volatility than S&P 500. Similarly, if your stock portfolio has a beta of 1.2, you are likely to experience 20% more volatility than the index. According to Modern Portfolio Theory, it doesn’t matter if the 0.9 beta is achieved by owning slightly less volatile stocks or by owning a portfolio of 90% S&P index and 10% cash (which has a beta of 0). The latter portfolio also has a weighted average beta of 0.9, and thus, theoretically, no different than the former portfolio of 100% stocks having a portfolio beta of 0.9.

But the reality that many investors face is different.

Stocks are the best asset class to own in the long run to achieve the highest possible return – on this, there is no dispute. But once you build a sizable portfolio, your focus may shift from wanting to bear the full market volatility. Also, you may choose to allocate different weightages to sectors. For example, you could decide to own dividend paying stocks across sectors such that you have say, 15% allocation to Utilities and a correspondingly lower allocation to Financials and Technology than what S&P 500 has. Doing so will cause your portfolio volatility (beta) to be 0.8-0.9 range, that is, 10-20% less volatile than the market. Similarly, you may choose to select high quality dividend paying stocks across the sectors in such a proportion to give you a dividend yield that roughly corresponds to your withdrawal rate. If you wish to live only on dividends, you can construct your investment portfolio of say, $1 million to deliver $35,000 in annual dividends. In this example, you can engineer your dividend portfolio to deliver a 3.5% starting portfolio yield, with an expected annual dividend growth rate of 5%. This takes care of both your current spending needs with a cushion for inflationary adjustments in the future.

Dividend investing is just a subset of equity investing, and it is not a different asset class that some assume. Dividends are more stable than capital gains, a fact that has been proven over 80 years (Ibbotson study). Also, dividend payers and growers, as a sub-class, have generated better overall returns than the index over the past few decades (Ned Davis Research).

My Dividend Investing vs. Indexing series examines the issue from the vantage point of an individual investor without any of the filters and biases of either camp that has its share of advocates.  The individual investor is often a victim of the financial industry.  I care about the individual investor because that’s who I am.   Hope this series helps you in your thinking about an appropriate investment strategy for your FIRE journey. To understand this topic in greater detail, it would be useful to study my Indexing vs. Dividend Investing Series in detail. They are linked below for easy reference.

Part 1:  This sets the background context and frames the debate from the context of passive income.

Part 2:  This examines the flexibility of passive income in DGI using three investors in different stages of their lives with different objectives.

Part 3:  This evaluates the role of dividend income in total returns regardless of which strategy you like to pursue.

Part 4:  Choosing Indexing vs DGI is not an either/or strategy.  What makes better sense depends on you and where you are in your investing journey.

Part 5:  What about the risk of lagging the index in total returns? We examine this risk of DGI and the impact from both financial and life perspectives.

Part 6:  Can you get the best of both indexing and dividend investing?  Yes, you can.  I share portfolio examples here on how to execute this strategy. 

I would appreciate your comments either here or on my website.

 


BIO: Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) owner is a 45-year-young corporate manager who values financial independence. Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) was created to chronicle my journey towards retirement while sharing my learning’s, absurdities and pitfalls along the way towards my search for a more meaningful life. Wall Street finance and stock option riches have one thing in common – they never passed through my life! TFR is not just about financial independence.  TFR is also about self-empowerment while getting to financial independence, and our search for a better, meaningful life (of which early retirement is just one milestone).  We aim to educate, entertain, share life stories and analyze the oddities of the world around us. TFR – why the strange name?

30 to 90 days of
Daily life, Health, Lifestyle, Planning,

30-90 days of… a new set of challenges in my life!

Hey guys!

Today, I want to bring you something I’ve been working on and I am really excited about! I decided that I will try a certain technique for 30/60/90 days, and I will report the results on the blog. I will cover pretty much everything, from money to personal development. For the most part, I will cover health and personal development techniques, though. This will go hand in hand with my new diet, which I expect to maintain throughout the year.

I will try to report everything in a scientific matter (or at least, as much as possible). I will try to record every single time I apply the technique and on what day. Then, I will report the results. Some techniques may produce results after 30 days. Some may only work after 60 or even 90 days. Either way, I will report after 30 complete days of a given technique. Every time I report the 30-90 day experiment and the results, I explain thoroughly why I decided to do it and the meaning of the technique.

Here’s a few things that I am eager to test:

#1: 30-90 days of Deep meditation

I have been meditating for a while, but it is easy to forget about it. Honestly, on most days, I feel I didn’t have time for anything I wanted to do (and I could only do what I had to do). I want to meditate for at least 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before going to sleep, for 30 days, and assess the results.

#2: 30-90 days of Visualization

Visualization is a very powerful tool that, put roughly, takes advantage of the fact that the brain cannot distinguish between what we are thinking of and what is in fact happening. Logically, if you accept that bad thoughts affect your overall health, then we could use visualization to affect our health in a positive way. That is what I want to do. This is the best video on visualization I ever saw:

the most important part of visualization is focusing on the feeling that you experience when visualizing.

#3: 30-90 days going to bed before 11.30

I will use the time until 00 to meditate and visualize and get to sleep at midnight or even before. The crucial thing is to be on my bed at 11.30, the latest. Ideally, I will try to be there at 11 and use 30 minutes to meditate and visualize.

#4: 30-90 days on Ginseng every single day, twice a day

Ginseng is known to be an excellent adaptogen, which helps with memory and fatigue. I’ve personally used Ginseng with great success, but I will report on it again. I personally like Ginseng from Now Foods as I said many times before.

#5: 30-90 days being grateful for everything I have

In particular, I want to be grateful for what I have every day in the morning, and before bedtime. My research has shown me that our mind is really the catalyzer of life, in the sense that I personally think that a strong mindset it is the most powerful and quick way to change your life for the better. Some scientific evidence has shown that being grateful can translate into things like sleeping better and having stronger immune systems. This source also reports that there is Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons (the author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier) shows that keeping a gratitude journal can increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Does it look obvious of why I want to do this now?

#6: 30-90 days being super kind to others

…almost to the point where they think it’s fishy, I don’t care. Many people have told me that this works beautifully in making friends and having others being kind to you. You remember the commercial with that guy who waves to those who are pissed and insulting him? That is also part of the experiment. I simply want to check what result this will have on me.

#7: 30-90 days acknowledging and complimenting others

Same thing as #6.

#8: 30-90 days with irreprehensible posture

Living is learning and I am always trying to learn more and more. I recently learned that your posture affects your spine’s health, which in turn affects your well being. I wonder how much this could affect my personal situation. To maintain a really good posture, I will use a posture vest and remember myself every single day to sit straight at the computer – if I dominate that, I will pretty much be on a correct posture 95% of the time.

In this context, this is a pretty good exercise you can do at the gym:

#9: 30-90 days forcing myself to feel

Feel the smells, the air against my skin, the water falling on my body (in the shower), the sensation of success, etc.

In this context, I’ve found 5 things I can do right away to improve and harnessing the power of feeling good now. This challenge is tightly connected with other challenges (#1, #2 and #5) and they all boil down to having the part of our brain that experiences the best pleasures and emotions turned on.

#10: 30-90 days forcing myself to relax

Very connected to #9, and yet a heck of a different one… We live life so up close that it is super hard to appreciate the small moments. When I sit on my couch I do not feel that I am relaxing, yet I am. Feeling the relaxation – noticing it and letting it go through your body – is key! At least I suspect it is. Let me do 30 days of this and report the result back to you!

#11: 30-90 days going for a walk every day, for at least 10 minutes

Did you know that some people think that taking walks might be better than going to the gym?

Just forget about the routine, problems, and simply go for a walk (and enjoy it). I suspect this will free my mind, get my muscles to work and have a positive effect on my day. I am only able to do this during the Summertime (which in Portugal is pretty much 9 months in the year) LINK MISSING, but I am super curious to assess the results.

#12: 30-90 days without Facebook

Being constantly on is clearly preventing my body from relaxing. Facebook is a big part of that – although certainly not the only on. Maybe I will actually cut everything all along, including Whatsapp and other social media I use. As a hard-work blogger, I also check google analytics quite often (and Amazon affiliate/book fees), and I think that I will also refrain myself from checking those.

BTW, you can friend me now, I just created a profile: Facebook.

#13: 30-90 days without coffee

I love coffee. I absolutely love it. A good Italian or Portuguese espresso (which mean great Cameroon’s or Bolivian coffee) is certainly one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.

Coffee has a myriad of health benefits, in case you don’t know. However, coffee worsens my dizziness and therefore I would like to try out a period without any coffee whatsoever and assess the results.

#14: 30-90 days without chocolate

Actually, this is almost part of my new diet, but I want to completely remove chocolate for 30-90 days and assess the results.

Chocolate is another big pleasure that I have, but something I tend to overuse. I typically buy 70-95% cacao chocolate bars (meaning with as little sugar as possible) but this is still something I’d like to use less and less. Usually, raw cacao is preferred over any form of processed cacao for health benefits.

I figured that starting with 30-day chocolate periods is the best start to eventually eat less and less of it.

Lately, I’ve been having some trouble losing weight and I think I am overeating chocolate (really one of my favorite things to eat). Let’s see what comes out.

#15: 30-90 days focusing on others

Someone told me that the best way to feel better – especially if you have a health problem that is tightly connected to your emotions – is to focus on others. This topic has actually gotten quite popular on Quora.

I must admit that I am really going through some of the worse periods of my life. I feel quite sick and dizzy for more of the day, which are two symptoms of CFS. However, I know that this is a tight connection with my emotional status. In fact, I tend to think too much about my problem and I often have thoughts of “this is my worst phase ever” or “I will never be healthy”. Focusing on others (probably together with visualization) may be a good way to flip the switch, and I am willing to give it a shot.

#16: 30-90 days stretching every day after waking up and before going to bed

If you don’t know the benefits of stretching, I think you should have a look at those. To me, the most important one is that it may increase our energy levels. This is the routine I think I will follow (if you have one that is better, do let me know!).

#17: 30-90 days drinking 1 gallon of water every single day

Although one gallon of water may sound like a lot, we need to consider that our body is 60% water.

Now, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need.

If one gallon of water is too much or ideal, no one knows. What I know is that, back in the day, I’d drink close to a gallon a day and feel great, so I will give it a shot. If you think about drinking one gallon a day yourself, consider that a few things may happen in the transition.

#18: 30-90 days doing acupressure every single day, especially before going to bed

I’ve used acupressure before, with success, and it is also part of my lifestyle to fend off CFS symptoms. Some sources claim that regular acupressure will certainly increase immunity against all such diseases. For that reason, I want to give it a shot on a recurrent basis and assess the results.

Here are three acupressure points for overall health.

#19: 30-90 days drinking tea

The first good news about tea is that it can significantly reduce anxiety levels after suffering a stressful experience. This was confirmed by a study conducted by Malcolm Cross, of City University London.

I am not a big tea lover, I must confess. Coffee turns me on way more. However, I know that tea is a healthier alternative and can be used very effectively to treat anxiety and dizziness. I will pretty much drink chamomile and ginger tea in this experiment.

#20: 30-90 days preparing each day the night before

Have you heard that preparing your day the night before comes with a hand of benefits?

I think that the main point for me is that I won’t be anxious to make a break or something similar to that. I will be in control and know what I am supposed to do. I am curious to see how well this will work for me.


The goal of this experiment is quite intuitive, right? If something produces results in 30-90 days, then it will have a heck of a result if we apply it throughout my life. And habits compound too! We’re creatures of habit and I honestly feel I work better if I follow a specific routine. I will test out all these and adopt those that work better.

Let me know in the comments down below if you have any suggestions on what to try out!

my consultancy business
Lifestyle, Planning,

My consultancy business

During the last two months, I’ve been receiving a few e-mails asking about my consultancy business and whether it is replicable, what are the costs, etc. I figured it would be helpful to write a post on it, showing you the nuts and bolts of my business so that we clear the field here. My blog is getting known for being totally transparent and I would like it to continue like that.

If you checked my online income report from April, you’ll see that I’ve made about $1000 on consulting. I actually turned down a lot of work because I can’t fulfill, due to my part time research position. Should I have more time, I would have made at least $3000. I received all kinds of messages regarding how I set up the business, how clients get to find me, etc.

Just so you know, I actually went through all consulting opportunities I had from January until the beginning of April, and those would sum up to over $10k. I turned down all that work, but I honestly didn’t realize it would sum up to more than $10k. If we set taxes aside for a while, this calculates into the nice sum of $40k/year. Needless to say, this income is declared and I pay taxes on it. I explain how in the following.

Note that consulting itself is not where the pretty bucks are. Some of my clients ask me for products that cost thousands of dollars. This is made through my Real Estate company.

…wait, so what is the difference to the Real Estate company?

My consultancy business operates under a small consulting company, which is a different entity than my Real Estate company (which again is different from the entity that holds my Real Estate). My Real Estate company only sells Real Estate and looks for properties to investors, on a 1:1 basis. This service costs thousands of dollars, and can also be sold to the people that consult with me. I have a partner in this Real Estate company.

In essence, none of the money I make through these businesses goes directly into my pocket. They go to the checking accounts of their respective LLCs, into the books, and distributed at the end of the year, as dividends, or kept in the company to grow the company. I cannot keep detailed reports on the checking accounts of the companies in my net worth updates; However, I will keep you guys posted regarding how they do.

The bottom line is that I have 3 businesses, all of them hosted on different entities. My consultancy business, whose income is reported in my online income updates because I find my clients through From Cents To Retirement, is separated from everything else. As I write on the income reports, the figures I present there don’t represent the actual net profit as I have logistic costs to keep the company going. I do most consulting work out of my living room:

my office at home

In case you wonder, I’ve gotten people contacting me through From Cents To Retirement that could have been served directly by my Real Estate company (although I have turned the work down because I didn’t have the time to fulfill). However, most leads I have from From Cents To Retirement are served by my consultancy business. Either way, this is transparent to the clients, as the only difference is really the bank account they transfer the money to, and the company that issues the receipt.

Licenses

I always get questions about licences upfront, because to consult on finance you usually need to be a licensed advisor. Well, not exactly accurate because… that highly depends on where you’re located. Being (now) located in Portugal, I could leverage the local legislation and get away as a financial consultant who doesn’t have any license. I could charge $200/h and still get clients. I’d make so much money I could actually set up a real company (by real I mean with offices and stuff :-P) and hire people at $8/h to do most of the work.

Yet, I prefer to go a much more honest (I am not as much profitable!) way: 1) I am not a licensed financial advisor and although I promise to provide tons of value, I will charge affordable rates and 2) you should see my “consultancy” as mere “sharing of experience and knowledge”. This is a much more honest way to portray my services, and people appreciate my honesty. I am not the ultimate investing guru. I simply acquired so much knowledge (both by reading and practicing what I learned) over the last years that I can put people way ahead of where they are. From my experience, this is in fact what people are looking for.

If you want to have a better idea of what you’d learn from me… Just ask yourself what you could learn from a guy who bought 10 units in less than 2 years and is able to generate great returns on those investments. Or a guy who needed a few months to hit 65k monthly views on his blog. Or a guy who read over 100 books on personal finances and investing. I am not bragging at all – I am writing this so that you could think of you could learn from me.

Services of my consulting business and pricing

As I said, in my consulting business, my work revolves around sharing my experience. That may mean:

  • structuring personal finances,
  • investing in different asset classes,
  • general things about investing,
  • starting an online business
  • and much more.

I’ve had people paying me exclusively to learn from me how to negotiate real estate or buy and manage real estate abroad. I’ve had people paying me to successfully negotiate a 30-year fixed rate mortgage in Portugal, when “the bank told them they couldn’t”. And the list goes on and on.

As for pricing, I started low. My partner in crime (just so I don’t get problems, I must say that I mean business) charges €30/h. I learned a lot from him, so I figured that at most, I’d charge as much as he does. He has already achieved financial independence, so he does it exclusively for fun. I am still trying to retire in my early 30s, so I did start at €30h and slowly moved the needle up.

Currently, I don’t consult for less than €50/h (= $60/h) and if I continue to have this volume of clients, I will soon set the price to $100/h. I’ve seen other bloggers charging between $500/h and $5000/h – so please don’t think that I am stretching the game like nobody… For example, John from Simple Programmer charges a minimum (and “minimum” is actually in bold) of $500/h but if you want 1:1 consultations, it can cost you $2000/h.

I hate translating my time into dollars. I think that my time is worth way more than $100/h, but I am taking clients at $60/h and I spend hours and hours writing posts for From Cents To Retirement that are not returning anywhere near what I invest in them (time-wise). However, I will make From Cents To Retirement a reference in the context of Early Retirement and if this is what it takes (or part of it), then heck – let it be!

Why do people contact me?

I’ve been approached by many people lately. Should I have a perfectly working firm with a few employees and I’d turn all those contacts into revenue. Sadly, I can’t do that because I would be overwhelmed pretty fast.

The channels I get most of the contacts from are my blog (people usually shoot me an e-mail directly, at fromcentstoretirement [at] gmail [dot] com), Quora and a few other sources. Ever since advertised on Quora that I started to consult on REI, I’ve got many requests for consulting services.

Right now, I think that I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to start your an online consulting business. I would also promote it in similar ways to what I am promoting it now, but it would essentially happen much faster are more effectively.

Philosophy

My philosophy revolves around keeping my clients as happy as possible, regardless what problem they have. The key idea is to provide tons of value. I always put myself in my client’s shoes and think “do I think this was a good investment?” and obviously think that the answer is yes.

The obvious benefit is to have a lot of referrals, but this is also who Ben Davis is. I believe in creating standing out value in any business. That is for example what I do through my Real Estate business: have above-average homes renting for below-average prices. Same thing on my consultancy business. Yes, at some point I may charge more (especially with demand going higher and higher) but I will probably be able to help my clients (or at least some topics) in a much more effective manner. Either way, I’ll be above-average charging below-average, regarding my market is the $40/h range or the $400/h.

But why consultancy?

I always loved to coach people, as I said. Consulting was sort of a natural step: I am working part time for a university, and I need to make extra bucks. The blog is growing (although I projected way more) but I felt I needed more money to execute my plan to retire in my 30s. To be quite honest, my third rental property sucked way more money than I thought, as I said over the last months, and I felt that I needed to feed the beast. At the same time, my relatively big pay from Germany was about to finish and I had to reason to believe I would get a contract so fast.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you know that coaching people is something I like because I actually plan to do it after my retirement. We all love certain things and seeing others succeeding by following my advice is something I love. In fact, I think this is why my consulting business is being successful. At the end of the day, I love doing it and I try my best so that my clients succeed.

My advice for you, regardless you’re planning to retire early, is to do what you love and enjoy life. Always chase your dreams – there is nothing to stop you. I decided to consult because it was a way to make some extra buck, but also because I love it. If I could, I would definitely escalate it and turn it into my full-time job until retirement. In fact, I can see myself becoming a self-employed blogger, who makes most of his money consulting. Let’s see what the future holds!

Toodles!

Ben

three-fund-portfolio
Stock Market,

Why I will set up a trident and a 3 fund portfolio after the next stock market correction

Why I will set up a trident and a 3 fund portfolio after the next stock market correction

If you follow the blog, you know that I’ve been selling out my stocks. While I plan to invest heavily in the stock market as part of my strategy to retire early, I expect a market correction soon. I know exactly what I will buy when the correction happens. That would be a set of simple portfolios including the trident portfolio, a 3 fund portfolio, and Portuguese stocks for tax reasons. The first two portfolios are lazy portfolios, while the latter is a much more actively managed portfolio.

Trident portfolio

The trident portfolio, which I learned from Milos Baljozovic, is composed of US small-cap value stocks, gold and long term US treasuries. The trident portfolio has consistently outperformed many other portfolios. This includes the 3 fund portfolio between 1972 and 2015, as shown here. Some argue that this is mainly due to gold and long term treasuries, which have grown a lot in the past. Long term treasuries are particularly low at the moment, so we should be careful when assessing this data.

The same source, reports the following, based on the portfolio visualizer:

3 fund portfolio three fund portfolio

3 fund portfolio three fund portfolio

This portfolio is specialized on capital gains; Gold doesn’t pay dividends and US small-cap value stocks barely do. The most interest of the portfolio comes from long term US treasuries.

3 fund portfolio

The 3 fund portfolio is composed of a domestic and international total market funds, and a bond total market fund. There are multiple advantages to this portfolio, including its simplicity and tax efficiency (depending on the funds you choose and where you live). Although I don’t plan to move from Portugal anytime soon, I will use the US as the reference for the domestic fund and the world for the international fun. You can check out another more detailed definition of the 3 fund portfolio here.

Most likely, I will go with a vanguard 3 fund portfolio. I think the term “vanguard 3 fund portfolio” is given to the three fund portfolio when it is composed of vanguard funds. The best option for me is, I believe, to go with the “Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund”, “Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund” and the “Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund”. I will choose their ETF versions, i.e. the funds with the tickers VTI (total market vanguard ETF fund), BND (Total Bond vanguard ETF) and VXUS (total international market ETF) in equal value proportions. Note that these funds trade at different values, so adjustments are needed if you want to have equal proportions (33%) of each one of them.

Reasons

The primary reason to go with these two lazy portfolios is the lack of time. On top of that, their past yields have been interesting. I don’t really have time to keep myself updated of the Portuguese and the US market to make active decisions. I will do an active management of my Portuguese stocks as I like to keep myself well informed with respect to the local market and I will be a customer of many of the companies I will hold shares of.

More details

As a Portuguese tax resident, I have to pay attention to a variety of factors, as the Portuguese tax code is considerably different from the US tax code. First, and more importantly, you cannot defer paying taxes on dividends to the future. This means that if some dividends clear on your account, you must pay taxes on them, even if you reinvest them. As a result, I must pick funds that automatically reinvest dividends so that I don’t pay as much on taxes. If you recall correctly, I follow a free cash flow investing model, which, at first glance, does not match well with this strategy. This means that I have to know upfront that I would reinvest dividends on the same fund even if they cleared on my account.

The trident portfolio doesn’t generate significant dividends (for the reason that small-cap stocks do not pay significant dividends themselves). Long term bonds do pay recurrent interest, but I am not that much concerned with paying taxes on that. The most susceptible tax for both the trident and the 3 fund portfolios would be paid on capital gains during the rebalancing (which is commonly a small part of the portfolio).

I will most likely not buy REITs because although they match my investment model, I already have enough exposure to it. 🙂

rental home renovation costs
Real Estate,

Rental Home Renovation Costs: my experience with RP#3 in Portugal

After spending lots of money on the renovation of my third rental property (RP#3), I had to do a post on rental home renovation costs, as this is the second property that I remodel. I will try to go over the kitchen design and remodel, bathroom remodel and remodeling cost in general. If you are looking on information on house renovation, I hope this post helps you. I will use one of the 6 units of the property as the reference.

Property specs

RP#3 is a 6-unit property that I bought for a very low price. It was clear from the beginning that I had to spend a lot of money towards remodeling this property, but as I said before, I have underestimated this rental home renovation costs twice. Because the property is in the city center, there are no garages and my main target tenants are students and millennials who do not own a car.

The property is divided into two different parts. The first part is a three-story house, where each story is one rental unit. There is a small common area which gives access to the three units. The other three units have independent accesses.

When I bought this property, I knew that it needed a full renovation and no units could be rented out as they were. Surprisingly, I’ve had tenants asking me for surprisingly low rents, and I ended up renting them one unit before remodeling it. I rented this unit for €150/mo, which increases automatically to €200/mo in September 2017. I have also rented one of the renovated units for €275/mo. For this first part of the renovation, I renewed two units entirely and the common area that they share.

Kitchen design and kitchen remodel

We all know that the kitchen sells the house. In rental properties, I’ve learned that the kitchen is also the most important element for tenants. Therefore, I typically spend more bucks towards the kitchen than any other room in the property. As the picture shows, I’ve chosen special tiles for both the wall and the floor. These tiles come out roughly at €20 every 11ft². There are way cheaper options (especially if we are talking about rental units), but I’ve accepted the fact that beautiful tiles do improve the chances of attracting great tenants and so I use them. Either way, the most expensive part of renovating homes is the man labor and so it does make sense to use medium end materials.

kitchen remodel kitchen design

As you can also see, I applied stone countertops (black granite is also way more expensive than the rest and although Quartz is commonly preffered to granite, it is not Popular in Portugal) as I think that it is way better than any other material. Polished black granite is my favorite. This stone you see in the picture came out at €400. An equivalent laminate countertop would cost about €180. Still, stone countertops are way more beautiful and last way longer. That is, in fact, my first reason to choose stone over laminate or wood.

The second unit

The countertop I applied on the second unit is made out of regular polished granite:

kitchen remodel kitchen design home renovation costs

Not as beautiful but way cheaper. This baby came out at €400, but it is way bigger than the countertop of the other unit. As you can see, the cabinets are identical to those in the other kitchen. The cabinets are made out of wood (real wood) and each kitchen cost about €700 – I know how to negotiate if you’re wondering…

I didn’t like these tiles, but it was too late to change when I saw them on. Lesson learned: I will never choose yellow or close-to-yellow tiles for a kitchen. I think that my first choice will primarily be black and white tiles as those I used for the kitchen above, or while all along.

It is very difficult to explain how these kitchens were before the renovation. They were in absolute bad shape and I am pretty positive nobody in this world would like to live there. Now, they look two modern, decent kitchens. I am very happy with the final result – except for the tiles of the second kitchen.

Bathroom remodel

Another big chRental Home Renovation Costs bathroom remodeling Bathroom remodelunk of any home renovation costs is remodeling the bathroom. I personally think that we can renovate bathrooms with style without spending that much money. Unlike kitchens, bathrooms have more to do with how materials are used than what materials are used. For instance, have a look at this “tile window” in the shower, as you can see in the picture.

This is one of the advantages of having traveled so much and stayed at so many nice hotels. I got to see many 5 and 4 star hotels in my life and I copy several ideas. They will be usefull in my goal of owning 100 homes. 🙂

Another thing that helps with the looks in the fancy rubber-tile you see in the window. It is certainly expensive, but I try to buy it from contractors who bought too much for their own renovations. The one you see in the picture cost me about €10.

Lastly, I definitely recommend a fancy shower like the one in the picture. That cost me about €30.

Bedrooms

kitchen remodel kitchen design home renovation costsBedrooms were, by far, the lowest portion of the home renovation costs. I typically use pergo for the bedrooms as pergo is warmer and cozier than tiles. From now on, I will apply the same style for every bedroom I renovate. That is, gray pergo, gray walls and white skirting. I like this combination a lot. The picture on the right side shows just that.

Summary

I didn’t go over the renovation of the property in full detail, as it is impractical to do that in 1000 words. However, I highlighted the main points of this renovation, which was the biggest I’ve ever made. Although the property is very optimized in terms of units, there was a lot of money to be spent on extra-unit parts of the property. For example, the common area of the first three units cost more than €4000.

There is a lot to say about rental home renovation costs, and I feel that I have acquired substantial knowledge of this subject over the past two years. Maybe there is enough content to write a book about it.