Personal finance, it’s very personal.

I read a lot on personal finance, just too learn from people and their approach. It’s not just the financial independence part I’m interested in. Mostly I am more interested in how people go about the decision making process. A always pick something useful out of that. One thing I have learned it’s an incredible personal journey. The math is different for everybody, as well as time span, risk adversity and all other factors one might take in consideration.

There are some basics , most people start off by paying off consumer debt, student loans and mortgages. The variation starts from that point on, one might want to pursue a world trip , others want a better retirement or really early. All of these goals have different metrics. So there is not one right way , generally speaking the basic and key metric is spent less than you make.

One thing I have learned along the way is , make sure you know what your end goal is. And make sure this is really what you want. This is generally the hardest part to figure out. It’s has partly to do with the amount of time it takes achieving these life changing goals.

Also goals can change over time. And that’s ok, nothing wrong with that. Just don’t change them every month week or year. The journey in itself is rewarding as well, focussing and maintaining an outlook with a better and more secure future will pay off sooner than you think.

As it being personal one key thing will change for most. Your stress levels will decrease once your debt decreases and your net worth increases. Your mindset will change for the better. More mind space is available for things other than worrying. In my experience things will get better fast, more relaxed and your mind sharper. The main thing is getting better not just financially but also mentally and physically.

As with all long term goals you will get lost on the way, it helps defining and keeping an eye on the main prize at the end of it , but setting intermediate smaller goals in sync with the end goal keeps you enthused on the journey. Find those small goals and make a list. Once you get one , mark it as done. Celebrate it ! Share it with people that are important to you. Once the list is done, make a new one and save the old one. It’s a nice reminder of where you came from. It has worked for me in every part of life, not just finance. With my recovery as well. It keeps you grounded and thankful for progress made. It’s not an easy task getting in (financial) shape, but the ups and down will make you stronger !

While goals and time lines may vary wildly , the benefits and rewards that come with more financial stability are around the corner. The beginning might seen hard but your persistence will pay off. Find your first goal and stick to it.

Under 3 – Fourteenth week of training

Another week of training goes by, fast. The end of my training schedule is in sight. And so is the big day. The ultimate goal of running under 3 hours might in this instance be a bit of a stretch. My newly acquired long run pace has just been on the right level for a short amount of time. Too short in order to do a solid attempt at under 3. So this adventure will go on for a bit longer. But with the new way of training, the adjusted schedule and all things considered I have made some serious progress.

So I will go on and continue in this fashion. So how did it go this week? To be honest, it’s about time to run that marathon. Training went fine but the real drive is a bit lost, I am just excited to go out and run that marathon!

At the beginning of the week there was a bit of fatigue due to lack of sleep and therefore I had a bit of a hard time getting into the groove. Luckily after a few Km’s this mostly goes away and I have managed too run all planned runs. The longrun was not that long anymore with 24K so I had more time for recovery.

Yoga is still part of the routine and as I have said before whether it really helps or if it’s just in my mind, it works ! So I will keep practicing Yoga. One more week of training, then a restweek and then it’s the big dat. I for one can’t wait !

Small improvements , massive result

Striving to run a marathon in under 3 hours I discovered something new, well for me at least. I had read about it but never really given it any further attention. The large benefits of the small improvements you make if you do something long and consistent enough.

In sports it has been a thing for a few years now, make small improvements in a lot of areas and the sum will surpass anything. Which is off course true , mathematical speaking, take a spreadsheet and set a few numbers and keep adding 1% , compounding in action.

During my training it’s been evident that regularity in workouts is hugely important in getting the most small improvements. But here comes the kicker, for a long time you will not notice any improvements at all. It’s like being stuck, and all of a sudden there is this breakthrough moment. My times improved , tartrate dropped and recovery was shorter.

I am am nowhere near as data driven as a top athlete , but I just noticed the effect and it was significant.
Like it came out of nowhere. Which when you look at it, isn’t true. The consistency and persistence combined with a slow and gradual increase of volume in training has made this possible. But at first there is a whole lot of time were you notice nothing of great significance, it’s just maintaining your condition it seems and not moving forward at all. This is a dangerous point, you get demotivated and you start focussing on something else. Or you quit.

During my revalidation it was always hammered down that you should celebrate small victories, I was mostly frustrated because I was not achieving my bigger goals. I tried and compensate it by working harder and having draw backs. Finally I kept my schedule and things improved. Still not too my liking and my real breakthrough moment never really came.

In hindsight it was just the amount of time that was simply too short, you can’t do that much in a year and I have to get back to the drawing board and see how I can get at these small improvements by means of regularity and slowly increasing my load. I am stuck in a vacuum of no progress for some time now. At one hand that could be it, I am at my maximum in recovery, but I believe in something better.

The running is the proof for me. And while thinking about this subject it really applies too all things that are hard in the beginning. Or stay hard for a long . long time. Take learning how too read for example, or paying off a huge debt. In the beginning nothing real seems too happen. All the effort looks worthless. But then there is a moment it all takes off. The ball starts rolling , and then it goes really fast.

What I have learned , it’s more important too regularly work on a goal and grab the small improvements. Than try and sprinting towards it. Persistence is key , it should become a habit and not a burden.

Let’s get more small improvements!

Under 3 – Twelfth week of training

Week 12 is a wrap. This week its been harder than normally, my brain didn’t cooperate at all last week, mentally I was very tired. My daily dose of outside impulses I could not process. Running mostly provides a way for me too process all the left over information my brain hasn’t dealt with during the period before the run. Now it was a nessacity just to get some of the unprocessed information out of my head.

But because of my fatigue I really had to force myself out of bed, starting a run and simply showing up was the hardest part. Once outside it was mostly ok. These hard weeks make me very appreciative of the good ones. Training itself went pretty good, the long runs in my new pace start too feel more and more easy and relaxed. I will not run a sub 3 hour marathon at my next attempt , but I am hoping this progress will continue.

Onto week 13 !

Under 3 – Tenth week of training

Another week of training is done, one less run but all the others were a bit longer. With some build in speed parts and hill training. I was a bit tired at the beginning but at the end of the week it all went better. Lot’s of rain and wind as well all week, I don’t mind a bit of rain but every training gets a bit too much.

This is the first week of a serie of weeks where the amount of kilometers gets too an all-time high. In order too get me into marathon mode if you like. The long run was especially cold , wet and even some hail too accompany me on this 32 Kilometer long run. I started out early and after a few km’s in, I was already soaked. So I decided too ditch all the watching the hart rates , speeds etc on my watch and just focus on running and enjoying a nice pace.

After the first half the rain got a bit lesser, and even the sun showed up sometimes. It went very well and also my gel intake was up too par. I wasn’t really fatigued at the end and my muscles were not sore after and not the next day.

It also was pretty fast, I did however got some rain damage along the way but it wasn’t too bad. A very good week again despite tired me starting out.

Onto the next one !

Fear

Fear, my biggest fear ? Losing control, or more accurate losing the illusion of control. I have always wanted too have as much control over my life as possible. More often than not pushing it too the extreme. Combining this with setting high demands for myself and big goals, I made it quite difficult for myself to really have control. Not in ways of getting towards my goals but controlling myself.

Eventually my biggest fear became reality, I now only have limited control over my life. The daily condition of my brain determines what I can and cannot do that day and it makes for a lot of unexpected moments. Offcourse I do all I can controlling this. It’s my nature.

The difference with the past is I am not trying too force this at all costs. All I can do is plan well , exercise and train well and rest. Controlling everything simply costs too much of my valued and scarce resource , energy.

It had taught me that living in the moment is very valuable, you simply cannot control every aspect of your life. You can work on creating the conditions and environment too increase your chances of achieving your goals, and thats an attitude I recommend too everyone. But in the end you are reliant on so many factors and moments that there is a point at which it simply does not make sense trying to control more. You end up in an illusion, and you keep pushing for more influence on a increasingly smaller effect on the outcome of events.

Energy better spend on fun things in life, or activity’s which you can do in reaching your goals. Not just trying too control everything.

It’s strange how you always fall back on old instincts , which have taken me far in life and still my discipline , controlling nature and perseverance take me far today. But in the past these attributes were in my way a lot of the time. It backfired numerous times when achieving my goals. Controle became a goal in itself. There was no more logic.

Now there is more acquiescence, frustration about my failing brain is still there, and also acceptance is a long way down the line, but this has given me the insight in the simple fact you can better put your energy in little steps towards a goal , the using it too control stuff you can’t. Or obsess over details. Problems will arise anyhow, and when they do , I will deal with them.

My life has a lot more direction and focus , and is more relaxed than it used too be. Everything is a bit smaller, at a lower pace. Unnecessary fear is bad guidance , and working at overcoming this fear is a very valuable side effect too my brain damage. I doubt if I would have ever gotten it otherwise.

Under 3 – Ninth week of training

Week 9 , time flies. This week was relatively calm in the way of training with a half marathon run as the piece the resistance if you will. Not a road race but a bit of trail run. Apart from a few patches of hard surface the track mostly went via horse trails and forest lanes. With the added bonus of a few climbs along the way.

The start was a bit slow, it was pretty busy and it took a while finding a free zone and picking the right pace. Ahead of the race the warning was too save a bit of energy in the first part , because the hard bits in regards too climbing were in the second half of the race. I took this advice , and didn’t go too fast in the first half. Retrospective , this part could have gone faster. But because I am in the buildup towards a marathon this isn’t a bad thing. It’s good not to go all out and exhaust yourself.

The second half of the run was easier then expected and I could keep my pace without a problem. Didn’t force anything towards the end and ran the remainder quite relaxed. Net finish time 1:29:59, just shy of 1,5 hour. Excellent result, and a happy me.

The usual Yoga strength training and the rest of the runs also went excellent this week. No complaints there either, all in all a good week. Hopefully this will continue in week 10!

Under 3 – Seventh and eight week of training

2 weeks of training already over, forgot posting last week. Anyway back again. Week 7 went well. Bit harder because of a lack of sleep and a lesser recovery. Which you will notice , but by paying attention too my body I could manage the training load pretty well. It took a little longer than usual before I got into a comfortable rhythm. Fortunately after the training is done it always feels good and I got an empty mind. All very good benefits.

Week 8 was a lot easier then week 7. Thanks too some adjustments in my overall planning and getting more rest moments pushing it a bit in training went a lot smoother. This week was the first week we got to a 30 K long run. Lot’s of rain and wind and it took a while before the auto pilot kicked in. After 8 K all went smooth and the right mindset and feeling were there. Did a bit of experimentation with gels on route and none of them were a problem for the stomach or otherwise. This is usually the case but better test it beforehand.

The recovery on this beautiful Monday is good as well, no funny pains and or sore muscles. This week the program is somewhat less demanding since I got a half marathon next weekend. A trail run , looking forward on pushes the limits a bit on this one. Let’s see how it goes!

Under 3 – Sixth week of training

This is week 6 already, a though one because of the busy week I had, which had its fall out when training. I skipped one run and took it a bit easier in the other runs and workouts. Also took some extra rest when possible. I am still happy with this week however , because I could largely maintain a good pace and despite the fatigue I could also do most of the training.

In ways of running speed I have some progress too make. The long run tempo’s and faster paces I can cope with just fine, just the hart rate is a tad too high. My next marathon will most likely not see a sub 3 hour finish. I still keep training for it and see how far it takes me. Because if you not train for it, you will never reach your goal. See you all next week !

Mortgage free ?

Mortgage free , a goal a lot of people aspire nowadays. It’s how I got started viewing my finances differently and more specifically my take on risk. I went on paying off as much as I could as fast as I could. The math was extremely simple, I had an interest rate on my mortgage of 5,35 % and was getting 0,25% or thereabouts on my savings acount.

This turned out to be a smart move , especially when bying a new house, there was some money left after selling the old house and clearing the old mortgage. This made the proces easier , there was no need for stretching towards the maximum lending capacity. We carried on paying off the mortgage at the same pace. The math was still in out favor, despite getting a significant lower interest rate of 2,7%. In the mean time the savings account produced only 0,05%. Full disclosure , I do not take into account any tax reductions or other tax advantages because they differ for everyone.

At some point I became aware of the fact that nothing in terms of housing was cheaper than any of the alternatives. Including a maintenance provision. All other alternatives like renting or buying a smaller house are more expensive. Even social housing is costs more , which I do not qualify for.

So all other alternatives are pricier. I started wondering if my extra mortgage payments still made sense. Isn’t it better investing these sums in other more liquid investments ? The mortgage will take care of itself in the remaining time the mortgage still has too run.

For me the answer was yes, simple math with a return of 5% gets me more money at the end of the line and the money is available, it’s more liquid.

Isn’t this simply hedging the mortgage against more riskier investments ? Yes it is , I am using the time and the debt in the house too take on more riskier investments. Brings us back too risk, what is the risk ? I live in the house and in the current market there are no opportunities in finding something cheaper. The biggest risk is I can’t afford the mortgage payments anymore. And this would mean finding cheaper housing when that happens, which isn’t available.

It’s now time for kicking my habit of extra monthly payments and the little voice in my head saying , just get rid of the mortgage ! So I am taking these monthly extra payments and putting them in my ETF portfolio. Then at some point , likely faster I will simply have the remaining mortgage sum in liquid investments , which means I could at that point pay it off in full.

A very reasonable risk if you ask me.