Benjamin de Jager (32) is a programmer and founder of the video chat Mibo. He divides his money over 14 jars, uses Flow because it gives him a sense of control and wants to build his own tiny house one day.
"Until three years ago, I didn't know exactly how much money was coming in and going out. But when I suddenly had to pay a large sum of money in excess of my health insurance and I also received a bill for 500 euros in municipal taxes, I noticed that it made me feel stressed. I did have about 1500 euros on my savings account at the time, but I didn't like having to use so much of it at once. I then mapped out all my costs in an Excel sheet. For example, I figured out how much I have to pay annually for municipal taxes, divided it by 12, and then transferred that amount to my tax jar each month. This gave me an overview of my finances, and that immediately made me feel good."
Trial and error
"Not long after that I started using Flow, and since then, I have much more control over everything. I have 14 jars in Flow, from taxes, investments and sports, to housing and pleasure. From my pleasure pot, I do anything for fun that doesn't fit in any other jar, like having a beer or going karting. How much goes into each jar is still trial and error. I've divided everything down to the penny among my jars, so if I can't make ends meet with my money in one jar—usually that's my grocery or pleasure jar—then I have to get creative with the leftovers from other jars."
"I have completely fine-tuned my spending habits to my current way of life. That is: in corona time, with few trips, parties, that kind of thing. Later, when we can do more again, I'll turn my jars around again. I'd like to have enough money to order that beer, and go to that festival. So, I'm happy to take on that challenge when the world opens up again."
Living alone is more expensive
"For three years now, I've been living on my own. I started living together straight from my parents' house, but when my relationship ended, I lived on my own for the first time. Then I found out that life is a lot more expensive on your own. The fixed costs, such as groceries, rent, insurance and car expenses, we all shared, proportionally to our salaries. At the time, I was saving 500 euros a month, but it's different now."
"For a long time I worked as a programmer in permanent employment at Q42, a company that makes apps for PostNL and the Rijksmuseum, among others. The last three years there I made commercial games and when corona broke out I came up with the idea for Mibo: an environment where you can have online drinks with friends or colleagues. You are in a 3D environment, you hear voices and see groups of people where you can join, or you walk on to the next one to chat—just like in real life. You watch yourself, like in a shooter game, and you decide where your attention goes."
"I started Mibo with help from Q42, but I now run it as an independent entrepreneur. We already employ 7 people by now, so it has gone pretty fast. To become the owner of the company, my business companion and I had to put in a lot of money. I borrowed money from friends and family for that. That may not sound desirable, but I covered and arranged everything well: I pay interest and repay every month. I do believe that our company has a right to exist: this year we raised one million euros from an investor. If Mibo turns out not to be a success, I'm positive I'll find other work as a programmer."
"The reactions we get to Mibo are great. For example, someone said the other day, 'holy shit, this felt almost like the real thing.' Remote teams have always been there, but now corona has made it obvious what those teams were already struggling with: being able to be together despite the distance. I am confident that even after corona we will continue to work at home more often. That's why I think Mibo can really add value. We also work remotely: we recently hired an Irishman, who works for us entirely from Ireland."
"I'm not consciously thinking about retirement, but I hope that at some point I will have a successful business that I can sell later for a profit. I also invest in several cryptocurrencies and I have several stocks. That's how I try to spread my opportunities. I believe in making your own arrangements for retirement, even if you are employed. With the current pension system, you can't really count on that, in my opinion. Therefore, it's important to put your money to work."
"I always keep 2000 euros in savings ready for unexpected expenses. My biggest savings goal besides that is to have my own tiny house. It seems like a smart investment, but again I feel it would be better not to commit too much. I want to keep open the possibility of living in another country for a while and traveling around. Maybe it will be a converted bus after all. That's a kind of tiny house on wheels, the epitome of freedom."