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Weapons for financial independence #1: Banking

The subject of banking is a complicated one -  it depends greatly on where you stay, and what options are available to you. My views on this topic are geared to the European (more specifically, the Dutch) economy.
I can understand that banking is not the first topic that comes to mind when thinking of Financial Independence. However, for me, banks are the cornerstone of my strategy towards becoming financially independent. If I am to trust an institution with my life’s earnings, I want to ensure it’s credibility.


Important factors affecting my choice SafetyThis may be a personal thought, but if I am trusting a bank with my money, it better be safer than Fort Knox. I am okay paying a higher monthly fee for this, if the bank guarantees safety for my money.A higher interest rate is not a deciding factor for me, since I like to control my investments myself, and would not use a bank to invest in the markets.Because of this, I’d ideally prefer an institution that practices full-reserve ba…

How I make budgeting work for me

I have tried to make budgets work multiple times with varying degrees of success. And through the multiple attempts at making budgeting stick, I've noticed a few key learnings on what works or doesn't work for me.
Now, I do like personal finance, but the idea of logging every single purchase and the necessity of checking my bank apps multiple times a week (or day) is a horrifying prospect for me. This is something I did not know when beginning, but now is clear as crystal. After many attempts I believe I have settled on a way of budgeting that works best for my preferences.

1. Automation makes it easy to follow through I started off with an iPhone app called "Buddy" that needed me to key in every single expense to the nearest cent. As the initial enthusiasm of sticking to a budget waned off, I realized that remembering to log every expense was simply not habitual for me, and that I did not enjoy the activity of remembering to add my expenses after every payment.
Per…

Weapons for financial independence #2: Credit Card

This is a continuation in the series of tools that I choose to help me get to financial independence (which for me, is a combination of primarily earning more, and spending within limits). The previous post analysed my choice of bank in the Netherlands, and can be found here.
As anyone in the Netherlands may know, Dutch banks have a habit of giving Maestro or V-Pay cards ("pinpassen") to their clients. I can understand the advantage they offer to merchants, since the merchant fee for these cards is much much lower than traditional MasterCards or Visa cards. So, Maestro and V-Pay offer a robust solution to bringing digital payments at lower costs to an economy.

Why do I need a credit card? This is a good question, since Maestro and V-Pay are accepted in many countries world wide. They work perfectly well for usual Point-of-sale payments, or for ATM withdrawals and many of these cards also support contactless payments. One can argue that their universal acceptance makes them …