Author Topic: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?  (Read 4574 times)

Halcyon

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38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« on: October 26, 2015, 07:03:49 AM »
Hi,

I've been reading up on the whole Mustachian movement lately, and while the idea has certainly lit a spark in me and I've already made some changes towards higher savings, it might be that case that early retirement is not really in the books for me.

It seems like most of the profiles I read are either of couples or of highly mobile singles with no dependants. Any divorcees (or single parents) who have made it work, even after the big reset button? In Europe?

For the record, I'm not complaining about my situation, I just don't see the math really working out for me, so I thought I would turn to this community for a better perspective.

Some details on my situation:

- I live in Belgium, work as an electronical engineer.
- My gross monthly income is 4000. After taxes, that leaves about 2200. This is considered well paid here, increasing my income would be difficult and ultimately not really productive because you need a very large increase to result in any meaningful after-taxes difference. I make about 1300 over the median income, but get to keep only about 450 of that difference.
- My total spending is about 1700-1800/month:

Housing & Utilities: 1250/month (including insurance, tax, some maintenance)
Personal budget: 200/month (clothes, hobbies, eating out, etc)
Transportation: 0/month (company pays for car + gas)
Groceries: 100-120/month
Child support: 160/month

- Savings around 500-700/month (20%-30%).
- Assets: About 3000 in savings and 100k in the house (after mortgage). This is less than I had 10 years ago, but a divorce when you were the breadwinner will do that. No use crying over.
- No consumer debt.

In the best case scenario, I'm saving about 8000/year, and that's not enough to get me anywhere close to FI for at least 25 years. I've read (most) of the articles on the site, and they certainly resonate, I just don't know where else to make a change.

Am I stuck? If I'm not going to gain the benefits of early retirement in terms of free time and reduced stress, is it worthwhile to budget so strictly beyond what I would need for a rainy day fund and a comfortable retirement?

Thanks in advance for shedding any light.

Rubic

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Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 08:30:55 AM »
What's your housing situation?  Can you cut costs by splitting expenses with a roommate?

Halcyon

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Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 08:46:39 AM »
Hi Rubic, thanks for replying!

I pay ~935/month for a rather large house. If I were to rent a similar house in the same neighbourhood, it would cost about 1300-1400/month.

If I were to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in the same neighbourhood, it would be ~850/month.

There's also the fact that it's the home my kid grew up in and has always known (he's 4), he loves the backyard, it's very close to his school and the property is still appreciating with extremely low interest on the mortgage (after tax deductions I pay about 25/month interest). So, while it is a bit too large for me, there's not much benefit to be had by moving, I feel. I cannot move away entirely to a lower COL area because we are co-parenting our son.

I've lately been considering renting out a room or doing the whole AirBnB thing, but again having a 4-year-old around makes me very hesitant.

jda1984

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Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 09:50:40 AM »
I second the roommate suggestion.  Good way to bring in some additional money and there may be some tax advantages (there are in the US, not sure about Brussels).  Alternatively, if you did decide to move you don't have to sell this place.  It sounds like you would cash flow 400-500 euors per month between what you could rent it for and what your expenses are.

FrugalFan

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Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 11:00:41 AM »
Do you expect to have a pension through your employer or the government? If the pension is really secure, the numbers can work out quite differently. Then you only need to save enough to get you to that date safely rather than the rest of your life.

belgiandude

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Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2015, 11:12:38 AM »
    Hi,

    I've been reading up on the whole Mustachian movement lately, and while the idea has certainly lit a spark in me and I've already made some changes towards higher savings, it might be that case that early retirement is not really in the books for me.

    It seems like most of the profiles I read are either of couples or of highly mobile singles with no dependants. Any divorcees (or single parents) who have made it work, even after the big reset button? In Europe?

    For the record, I'm not complaining about my situation, I just don't see the math really working out for me, so I thought I would turn to this community for a better perspective.

    Some details on my situation:

    - I live in Belgium, work as an electronical engineer.
    - My gross monthly income is 4000. After taxes, that leaves about 2200. This is considered well paid here, increasing my income would be difficult and ultimately not really productive because you need a very large increase to result in any meaningful after-taxes difference. I make about 1300 over the median income, but get to keep only about 450 of that difference.
    - My total spending is about 1700-1800/month:

    Housing & Utilities: 1250/month (including insurance, tax, some maintenance)
    Personal budget: 200/month (clothes, hobbies, eating out, etc)
    Transportation: 0/month (company pays for car + gas)
    Groceries: 100-120/month
    Child support: 160/month

    - Savings around 500-700/month (20%-30%).
    - Assets: About 3000 in savings and 100k in the house (after mortgage). This is less than I had 10 years ago, but a divorce when you were the breadwinner will do that. No use crying over.
    - No consumer debt.

    In the best case scenario, I'm saving about 8000/year, and that's not enough to get me anywhere close to FI for at least 25 years. I've read (most) of the articles on the site, and they certainly resonate, I just don't know where else to make a change.

    Am I stuck? If I'm not going to gain the benefits of early retirement in terms of free time and reduced stress, is it worthwhile to budget so strictly beyond what I would need for a rainy day fund and a comfortable retirement?

    Thanks in advance for shedding any light.

    You should be able to increase your income with at least 1000 euro after taxes by:
    • Switch companiesThe max for engineers in the company  (big corporation) I used to work for was about 6500 euro before taxes. This does not include bonus or thirteenth month etc. (and yes, I was 30 year old when offered this. I did not take it.)
    • Go independentYou can start out as an independent contractor. The minimum you should ask is about 65 euro per hour. However, 90-120 euro per hour is not unheard of. You can optimize taxes being your own company.
    • Ask for a better fringe benefits package. Do the meal vouchers, eco cheques, representation allowance, internet, etc. When I started out, my 3700 euro was about 2500 after tax. These benefits do that.
    • Cheaper car Ask for the cheapest car they can lease and get the difference added to your salary. You really do not need a BMW 3/5 series if a 1 series or a toyota yaris will do. This adds 100-200 euro to your after tax salary.

    On the personal front:
    • Share your house, sell it, whatever. Belgium is not the place where a house is a good investment (despite what everybody says. Stock market is much more lucrative). My total housing expenses were around 400 euro (including electricity, garbage, etc.);because I shared my house... If I did AirBnb, it would have been cost neutral. If you are skeptical of this, convert your attic/basement to a studio and ensure that guests cannot go to your living quarters - add a door with separate keys - depends on the layout of your house though

    For your reference, I lived really well in Brussels/Leuven and my yearly expenses were less than 10k/year. No kid though. [/list]
    « Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 11:26:18 AM by belgiandude »

    belgiandude

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #6 on: October 26, 2015, 11:32:19 AM »
    Do you expect to have a pension through your employer or the government? If the pension is really secure, the numbers can work out quite differently. Then you only need to save enough to get you to that date safely rather than the rest of your life.

    Yes, Belgians are generally offered this.
    Retirement money consists of 3 parts; one offered by government (similar to US social security); one offered by company you work for, and one that you can invest in yourself.
    Most Belgians only have the government part.  The rules are also written in such a way that you do not get the full benefit(s) if you retire early (and no; it is not proportional; e.g. working 30 years out of 45 will get you less than 2/3 of the allowance).


    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 03:16:35 AM »
      Hi Belgiandude, great reply!

    You should be able to increase your income with at least 1000 euro after taxes by:
    • Switch companiesThe max for engineers in the company  (big corporation) I used to work for was about 6500 euro before taxes. This does not include bonus or thirteenth month etc. (and yes, I was 30 year old when offered this. I did not take it.)

    That's very impressive, but it represents the top few percent of the wage scale, though. In my sector, I'm very unlikely to get such an offer, though I realize I'm a little underpaid working for an SME. Do you mind sharing what field you are in?

    Quote
    • Go independentYou can start out as an independent contractor. The minimum you should ask is about 65 euro per hour. However, 90-120 euro per hour is not unheard of. You can optimize taxes being your own company.

    As I specialize in mobile data, contracting work would be hard to get as a stable gig, only 4 customers in the country. I've spoken to quite a few who have gone that route, but they tend to just move to a different country when their contract inevitably doesn't get picked up after a few years.

    Quote
    • Ask for a better fringe benefits package. Do the meal vouchers, eco cheques, representation allowance, internet, etc. When I started out, my 3700 euro was about 2500 after tax. These benefits do that.
    • Cheaper car Ask for the cheapest car they can lease and get the difference added to your salary. You really do not need a BMW 3/5 series if a 1 series or a toyota yaris will do. This adds 100-200 euro to your after tax salary.

    I have pretty much the whole range of fringe benefits. Meal vouchers, ecocheques, internet, phone, car, pension plan, hospital plan, etc. My boss is a great guy, but he's quite frustrated with how much wages are taxed. As for my car, I completely agree with you, I went considerably under budget and got a small Volvo.

    Quote
    • Share your house, sell it, whatever. Belgium is not the place where a house is a good investment (despite what everybody says. Stock market is much more lucrative). My total housing expenses were around 400 euro (including electricity, garbage, etc.);because I shared my house... If I did AirBnb, it would have been cost neutral. If you are skeptical of this, convert your attic/basement to a studio and ensure that guests cannot go to your living quarters - add a door with separate keys - depends on the layout of your house though

    Separate studio is not an option, but I feel like this is pretty much the best option in the short term to increase savings rate. Did you share with friends or just rent out some rooms? If it were just me, I wouldn't care, but it's a little intimidating settling strangers across the hall from my kid.

    I do agree real estate is quite overvalued, but I get the impression the bubble isn't bursting for quite a while yet. For some reason, people keep building, even at silly prices. My plan is to get rid of it in the next 8 years, when my son is a little older or sooner if prices start going down.

    Quote
    For your reference, I lived really well in Brussels/Leuven and my yearly expenses were less than 10k/year. No kid though. [/list]

    10k in those locations is impressive! If I could get my housing down to 400/month, I would be at about 11-12k, but I'm still far from that goal :)

    brainfart

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #8 on: October 27, 2015, 03:24:23 AM »
    The solution is actually quite simple. Find a new partner, let him/her move in, and then save together. A couple needs less than a single person, both now and in retirement.

    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #9 on: October 27, 2015, 03:30:25 AM »
    I second the roommate suggestion.  Good way to bring in some additional money and there may be some tax advantages (there are in the US, not sure about Brussels).  Alternatively, if you did decide to move you don't have to sell this place.  It sounds like you would cash flow 400-500 euors per month between what you could rent it for and what your expenses are.
    It's a good suggestion and I looked into it, but there would actually be a lot of fiscal disincentives to renting an apartment while renting out the house. You can only get a tax credit for a house if it is your only residence, etc. With additional insurance I'd have to take, (admittedly low) income taxes on the rent, and the fixed costs for property taxes and maintenance, I'd only come out ahead some 100 euros/month (or less).

    The math is rarely simple here.
    « Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 03:42:23 AM by Halcyon »

    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #10 on: October 27, 2015, 03:40:38 AM »
    The solution is actually quite simple. Find a new partner, let him/her move in, and then save together. A couple needs less than a single person, both now and in retirement.
    One obstacle to that solution is that I'm thoroughly unpleasant, though.

    FWIW, I'm saving a lot more now than I was ever able to while married, but that seems not to be the norm. If I could find someone near my own earning level and with my own spending profile, I could save 66%+ of my income, but I think I should not plan around that event. Who knows what the future brings?

    It feels somehow a little disheartening that the path to financial independence is dependant on having a partner.

    john c

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #11 on: October 27, 2015, 05:05:26 AM »
    You seem quite hesitant to make changes.  Though the changes suggested here are tough, you COULD make them, you just don't want to.  That's fine; it's your choice. 

    With the tax situation, parenting situation, etc. the main drivers to increase your savings rate is your housing or your love life (which really amount to the same thing).  I completely understand your kid situation.  The solution to this is to make a suite in your house that you can rent out.  This would eliminate the issue of having strangers in your house with your kid, since the tenants would have a separate entrance, etc.  This is a hassle, but ultimately all change is.

    Secondly, get a girlfriend.  I know that's tough after a divorce, but give it time.  Sharing your expenses either with a partner or a tenant is the way to go.

    You mention that getting a girlfriend is out of the question, because you're unpleasant.  You can work on this, too.


    FrugalFan

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #12 on: October 27, 2015, 06:28:26 AM »
    Your housing takes up such a large proportion of your income, that is obviously the best place to try to make changes. With AirBnB, you could only offer your place as available on the nights when your son is with your ex. Even if you only rent it out a few times a month, that could bring in substantial extra income. Or if you prefer a tenant, it doesn't have to be a stranger. Maybe a friend or relative could move in with you? They could save money and you could make extra.

    kvaruni

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #13 on: October 27, 2015, 06:51:22 AM »
    Fellow Belgian here. The good news: you are probably in one of the best countries when it comes to a pension. Rejoice!

    As you mention, your income is pretty good, so not much wiggle room there. So ... you need to cut your expenses. Child support and groceries are good numbers. Transportation is good as well. I do think you need to hammer down your personal budget. If you want to save, then this is the list of your wants and those are all optional. You need to keep some to for your own sanity, but make it hurt a little bit.

    The elephant in the room is your housing. Belgium is so small that you really don't have an excuse to say that houses in your area would be similarly expensive. Just move ... I used to bike from Kortrijk to Gent, which is a commute through about half of Belgium. We have highways everywhere, and fast railways everywhere. So just be "adventurous" and move to another province where things are cheaper. Yes, your commute will be worse (but it is free anyway! so only more time). But I bet you can cut housing in half that way if you would really want to.

    Paying 300 in utilities also seems high. Would you care splitting this up so we can check those numbers? I have to admit that internet can be expensive and that you often pay as much with or without TV in your package. Anyway, it may help us to give you some ideas. For all of them, call them and tell them you want to leave. It is the easiest way to be passed on to the retention department where they - often very willingly - give you a 20% discount. Also check if changing gas/electricity to another provider would help.

    Finally, know the tax laws and get your money working. Keytrade or Binck bank are a good choice, DB can be a good choice. I would invest it all in 2 or 3 index-tracking ETFs and that's it. If you want, I can look mine up for you. Be sure to use the buy-and-hold strategy as you will get hammered with taxes if you sell anything within 6 months of purchase on the stock market as of 2016. Also make sure you pick ACC versions of ETFs and not INC versions. You only have to pay tax on INC versions and a small tax (0.5%) when you finally sell a share. This means that an ETF ACC will have no effect at all on your taxes (or shouldn't, but do double-check), regardless of the amount you invest.

    And get a new girlfriend. You're a fun, responsible, well-off person. It all starts with the perception you have of yourself ...

    Zamboni

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #14 on: October 27, 2015, 06:56:34 AM »
    Just wanted to chime that I am a single parent also. It is possible to increase your savings rate or increase your income, but you have to be motivated to take the steps to do that.

    The steps I took included not having cable, not eating out at all for quite a long time, switching to a cheaper car (might not apply to you), not buying clothes since I already had plenty, getting children's clothes second hand as they grew, finding lots of "free fun" for the kids, shopping around for the absolute cheapest phone and internet possible, etc.

    My ex- had a boarder for awhile. At first it weirded me out, but then I realized that I was okay with it since the boarder was someone I already knew and felt comfortable having with the children. It was probably better for the kids anyway since the boarder was someone who was very responsible about taking care of the house, walking the dogs, etc. My ex- couldn't actually handle everything very well it seemed due to mental health issues, and there were some concerns about neglect (like never having any food of any kind in the house or not fixing major broken things like refrigerator/toilet type concerns) so that extra adult there provided more than just rent money.


    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #15 on: October 27, 2015, 09:08:08 AM »
    You seem quite hesitant to make changes.  Though the changes suggested here are tough, you COULD make them, you just don't want to.  That's fine; it's your choice. 

    I realize that most of the adjustment I will have to make will be psychological, and I do realize I'm not there yet.

    I'm very willing to make sacrifices in my personal comfort, I'm somewhat prepared to make sacrifices in my professional life, but not at all willing to compromise the quality of life for my son. I guess I'm figuring out where everything falls on that spectrum, as a lot of it is interconnected. Reading all of these replies truly is helping me do that and get some outside perspective, so thank you for that.

    Quote
    With the tax situation, parenting situation, etc. the main drivers to increase your savings rate is your housing or your love life (which really amount to the same thing).  I completely understand your kid situation.  The solution to this is to make a suite in your house that you can rent out.  This would eliminate the issue of having strangers in your house with your kid, since the tenants would have a separate entrance, etc.  This is a hassle, but ultimately all change is.

    I've decided I'm going to do this.

    Quote
    Secondly, get a girlfriend.  I know that's tough after a divorce, but give it time.  Sharing your expenses either with a partner or a tenant is the way to go.

    You mention that getting a girlfriend is out of the question, because you're unpleasant.  You can work on this, too.

    That remark was mostly made tongue in cheek, I'm only mildly unpleasant. Truth is, the divorce is fairly recent and I am/used to be a mate-for-life kind of person so romance is pretty far removed from my mind right now. I'd also hate to start dating again for the purpose of optimizing my budget.

    That doesn't mean that you aren't 100% correct, rationally. It'll happen if it happens, and it'll be a good thing if it does.

    Retire-Canada

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #16 on: October 27, 2015, 09:39:40 AM »
    Working out what to do and what the future might look like is tough. I would suggest you start by spread sheeting your costs, investments and your income. This would include what you are making now and what you will receive as a pension later on.

    Once you have a good spread sheet setup you can wargame different scenarios to see when you can retire and what that retirement looks like.

    A savings rate of 30% isn't a bad place to start. Work had at hitting that each month and not the lower 20% rate you mentioned. Once you are steady at 30% savings monthly look for ways to improve further.

    Work on an investment plan so the money you do save is working for you.

    Don't worry about an ultimate solution yet just keep working on laying a solid foundation for your future. Your worst case is a very comfortable and secure normal aged retirement with the combined support of your own savings and your pension benefits. That's not horrible. Every dollar you save and invest helps give you other options.

    I got onto the MMM train too late in life to have a really early retirement [I'm 46], but I'm really happy to more and more freedom to do what I want as my investments grow and my need for a job is less and less.

    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #17 on: October 27, 2015, 09:48:07 AM »
    Fellow Belgian here. The good news: you are probably in one of the best countries when it comes to a pension. Rejoice!

    Hi there! More Belgians on here than I would have expected.

    Are we? The relative level of our pensions are kind of on the bottom of the pile, at least by Western European standards. It is pretty guaranteed, though, so that's good.

    Quote
    As you mention, your income is pretty good, so not much wiggle room there. So ... you need to cut your expenses. Child support and groceries are good numbers. Transportation is good as well. I do think you need to hammer down your personal budget. If you want to save, then this is the list of your wants and those are all optional. You need to keep some to for your own sanity, but make it hurt a little bit.

    I'll lower my budget to 150 and see how I manage. This does include clothing, and I'm sure other people will have an opinion for how optional this is.

    Quote
    The elephant in the room is your housing. Belgium is so small that you really don't have an excuse to say that houses in your area would be similarly expensive. Just move ... I used to bike from Kortrijk to Gent, which is a commute through about half of Belgium. We have highways everywhere, and fast railways everywhere. So just be "adventurous" and move to another province where things are cheaper. Yes, your commute will be worse (but it is free anyway! so only more time). But I bet you can cut housing in half that way if you would really want to.

    Major factor here is the co-parenting. My kid's mother, his school and his friends and family are near Leuven, so there is only so much distance I can put between us before it becomes impractical. I'm a little more attracted to the notion of making the house work for me, right now.

    Quote
    Paying 300 in utilities also seems high. Would you care splitting this up so we can check those numbers? I have to admit that internet can be expensive and that you often pay as much with or without TV in your package. Anyway, it may help us to give you some ideas.

    Gladly.

    Monthly expenses:
    55 electrical
    35 gas
    25 water
    35 internet + tv
    935 house

    Yearly expenses:
    1450 property tax
    780 home insurance
    200 maintenance

    That's a little more than I listed, because I've been making some changes that should lower my electrical and gas bills in the future (unplugging TV/cable boxes when out, putting my network equipment on a timer switch, reprogramming thermostat, etc).

    Quote
    Finally, know the tax laws and get your money working. Keytrade or Binck bank are a good choice, DB can be a good choice. I would invest it all in 2 or 3 index-tracking ETFs and that's it. If you want, I can look mine up for you. Be sure to use the buy-and-hold strategy as you will get hammered with taxes if you sell anything within 6 months of purchase on the stock market as of 2016. Also make sure you pick ACC versions of ETFs and not INC versions. You only have to pay tax on INC versions and a small tax (0.5%) when you finally sell a share. This means that an ETF ACC will have no effect at all on your taxes (or shouldn't, but do double-check), regardless of the amount you invest.

    I've been learning about this the last few weeks (and kicking myself for waiting so long), so I'd indeed be very grateful if you could share your experience. I've put some money in ETFs, but I'm still sort of winging it on the different tax regimes of the different stock exchanges for these funds, or some of the technical differences between the hundreds of funds out there.

    Quote
    And get a new girlfriend. You're a fun, responsible, well-off person. It all starts with the perception you have of yourself ...

    Thank you for the good advice and kind words.

    Halcyon

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #18 on: October 27, 2015, 09:58:08 AM »
    Just wanted to chime that I am a single parent also. It is possible to increase your savings rate or increase your income, but you have to be motivated to take the steps to do that.

    The steps I took included not having cable, not eating out at all for quite a long time, switching to a cheaper car (might not apply to you), not buying clothes since I already had plenty, getting children's clothes second hand as they grew, finding lots of "free fun" for the kids, shopping around for the absolute cheapest phone and internet possible, etc.

    My ex- had a boarder for awhile. At first it weirded me out, but then I realized that I was okay with it since the boarder was someone I already knew and felt comfortable having with the children. It was probably better for the kids anyway since the boarder was someone who was very responsible about taking care of the house, walking the dogs, etc. My ex- couldn't actually handle everything very well it seemed due to mental health issues, and there were some concerns about neglect (like never having any food of any kind in the house or not fixing major broken things like refrigerator/toilet type concerns) so that extra adult there provided more than just rent money.
    Sounds like you're both in a better situation now, good to hear. Were you doing the FI/RE thing before separating? Did it have a big effect on your plans in the long term? (if you feel like sharing)

    Goldielocks

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #19 on: October 27, 2015, 10:15:44 AM »
    Get a boarder. This could be an exchange student or adult. I was a boarder for a year when working in a different city, and liked being with a parent and child.. Much better than a house of random adults.  Maybe look for a female?

    belgiandude

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #20 on: October 27, 2015, 10:20:22 AM »
    My kid's mother, his school and his friends and family are near Leuven, so there is only so much distance I can put between us before it becomes impractical. I'm a little more attracted to the notion of making the house work for me, right now.

    You should not have any problems with renting a room out in Leuven. I would target people that just started working at the university; their budget is quite low, but their income is reliable. You may want to have a look at http://samenhuizen.be/ for roommates.
    Personally, I opted for 1 friend and some friends of friends. Ask around; facebook may be useful for this.

    W.r.t. investments; follow news about binck; there have been rumors that they would leave Belgium due to the new speculation tax. It would be additional work if you need to transfer your investments to another broker (e.g. keytrade) in a couple of months.

    Caveat: I recently moved to USA, so most of this does not apply to me anymore. However, my experience is quite recent, so my advice should be solid. I do the MMM thing since I was a student - my expenses are getting lower every year... I am theoretically FO, but keep on working, as it is too much fun (I love my work).
    « Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 10:35:01 AM by belgiandude »

    Zamboni

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    Re: 38 y/o, divorced European, any hope for independence?
    « Reply #21 on: October 27, 2015, 08:41:50 PM »
    My separation and then divorce were 5 years ago and I did not know about MMM at that time (was he even blogging then?)

    My ex went to business school and controlled our financial lives while we were together. I grew up poor and never had money to worry about until I started working as a scientist, and then I just handed over my paycheck to my spouse. We have opposite money personalities (spender vs. saver) which caused a lot of conflict whenever we tried to talk about finances, so I generally just avoided thinking about it while we were together (17+ years of willful ignorance by me!) That meant I didn't really look at retirement planning seriously until 5 years ago. Thankfully we had both been contributing reasonably well to retirement plans at work since that could be automated, and we both have always had incomes to support ourselves. Now I contribute the absolute maximum to every tax deferred plan available and also save extra for a rainy day, colleges, early retirement.

    It is very disconcerting to be on your own suddenly, so take your time and enjoy what you can each day. One book I read at the time of my separation said that couples who split often take turns "stomping each other in the foot" or something like that and that it ultimately hurts kids more than anyone, so I've tried to be very kind and understanding with my ex even when I am dealing completely irrational behavior. Now, 5 years later, we have a reasonable enough relationship that we really can cooperate and concentrate on co-parenting as well as we can. It was definitely rocky during the first couple of years after we split, though.

    I understand wanting to stay where you are for your son. You sound like a good dad.