Do you ask what the proper limit is to wealth? It is first to have what is necessary, and second, to have what is enough.
Seneca, Letter II.
I spent a lot of time last year writing about spending. I tracked my spending religiously, and I still do. And I focused a lot on the numbers; the outcome over the process, if you will. So when I didn’t achieve my original goals, I adjusted the target. Three times. And then I still didn’t quite meet it.
And no matter how you slice it, when we focus on the goal over the process, it stings when we don’t reach our goals. It’s uninspiring and de-motivating, to say the least.
When it comes to saving money for future freedoms there really is very few ways to reduce our spending than to improve our eating and food preparation habits. Since eating is a daily activity for those of us so fortunate, it will directly affect your budget in a big way if you can reduce what you spend on food. You will almost definitely be healthier, which improves your quality of life and saves you (and me*) money in the long run.
For example, I have a friend who makes good money, but is always living paycheque-to-paycheque, and its because he literally almost never eats at home. He grabs a little something from Tim Horton’s on the way to work, goes out for lunch on his break and then will eat out after work as well, perhaps snacking in the evenings on some of the things kept in his cupboards from a monthly drop by the corner store. I don’t know if he ever makes coffee at home, but drinks it every day. I would venture to say that he is spending about $40 per day on food, which is nearing $300 per week or $1,200 per month! Now I’m not here to judge, but that’s a mortgage on a decent starter home**, and I am here to point that out.
I had been staying in the beach town of Dominical a few nights already, and compared to the world-class surf experience I had just had in southern Costa Rica, the conditions had not been great.
It was August, and the off-season for the droves of American and European tourists that flock to Costa Rica every winter. So Dominical was sleepy – very sleepy. This isn’t a big deal when the surf is good, but when it’s not, a surf bum can quickly start to wonder about what they’re going to do with their day. And what the hell are they doing with their life!
And that’s when you know it’s time to get a move on. Time to get on your feet and out of your head and find something else to do in the area. Besides – it’s Costa Rica! Apart from great surf and beaches the country is filled with natural treasures, wildlife and all sorts of activities for tourists to get up to.
Thanks to the internet and the well-developed tourism industry of Costa Rica, it wasn’t hard to quickly come up with a few ideas and narrow it down from there. I decided I would head to some waterfalls in the area, and from what I had read, Nauyaca was the go.*
Today is May 13th, 2019 and I have been wasting time watching the markets dip pretty hard. As I start this draft, the Dow is down 2.54% for the day while IEMG, an emerging market ETF denominated in US Dollars, is down 3.64%. By the time of pressing ‘publish’, it will probably be May 14th, and markets will have recovered a bit, as they overreact to their overreaction on May 13th.
And they did.
So why is this happening?
Well, the answer, of course, is easy: it is due to an overreaction by the markets to the re-escalation of the Stuff Wars between US and China in recent weeks, including a new set of retaliatory trade tariffs placed on US goods by China today. That is, tariffs placed on the obscene amount of things – stuff – that we ‘trade’ with each other have turned the markets from a state of greed to a state of fear – their two primary emotions.
As my original Freedom deadline approaches and I’m looking at yet another year of full-time employment and a summer of construction on my home and rental-income property, I have been re-visiting my goals and intentions a little more regularly of late.
When I sold my home in Canada and soon after bought one in Mexico, the crux of my plan was living rent-free in a home that paid me. You might call it my own minimum basic income project, trying to find a way to have the basics – food and shelter – covered while I follow curiosity and work on projects that create a spark in me, whether they pay well or not (or maybe even nothing).
res·o·lu·tion /ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/noun 1. a firm decision to do or not to do something 2. the quality of being determined or resolute.
A “New Year’s” Resolution is just one way of making resolve
It takes resolve to see something through. A “New Year’s” resolution is simply a pledge to take something on at the start of a New Year that you intend to maintain throughout the year (or beyond). But we take make all sorts of resolutions of all shapes and sizes at any time we like. The turning of a New Year is simply a convenient tracking marker.
This year, I plan to focus much less on updating my blog with monthly spending updates, as they became the crux of the blog by the end of the year. The intention of The Resolution, of course, was simply to find out how much I really spend, on everything, which I have more or less done.* I will try to get back to writing about my journey to financial freedom and the meaningful adventures I make and things I learn along the way, while applying resolve in many other important aspects of my life and financial journey.
With the passing of John C. Bogle recently, it is as timely as ever for this blogger to do a little quick-take on his investing strategy and to make sure all is still in line with his goals and beliefs.
Bogle, of course, was the man who pioneered the Index Fund, an investment vehicle designed to mimic or track its respective Stock Market Index. This index can be a particular part of the market, such as, say, Information Technology (VGT) or, say, all of the US stock market (VTI) by bundling many companies together in one ‘stock’ that an individual can purchase at a relatively low fee in comparison with hiring an active money or mutual fund manager.
Ok folks. Here it is. The last entry of the 2018 Resolution series, and the last time (in 2018 anyway) that I will call you all folks. This was just a small part of the blog at this time last year, but is currently all I am posting as I have found myself wrapped up in other creative pursuits with my free time such as a renewed focus on photography and have been learning some graphic design skills through online training in the Adobe Creative Suite, which has led me to even trying my hand at art, such as this*:
It’s been a wild ride. I started out strong and ambitious, with goals of spending as little as $12,000 CAD for the year. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed to adjust that goal, and later I adjusted it again, ultimately settling on a goal of $18,000 spending for the year (less than $15,000 USD).
The end is nigh. The end of the year, that is. And thus, The Resolution.
There’s no doubt my spending goals have slipped throughout the year, but things come and go, and you’ve got to stick with something in good times and bad in order to make any real gains. Ultimately it will still be my most financially efficient year ever, and still likely my least expensive year in terms of spending money as well. I am determined to reset the The Resolution in The New Year and apply what I have learned.