The Resolution: September 2018

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September is one of those months.  Not quite fall, no longer really summer.  It doesn’t come with a lot of expectations besides back-to-school and the occasional way-too-early Christmas-themed items for sale in stores, yet it can be one of the better months of the year in terms of weather.  Combined with the slowing of the summer tourist crowds, it can often sneak up as one of the most enjoyable months of the year.  At least that is the case in British Columbia, where I grew up.  Here in Mexico, ‘muggy and buggy’ is the word during September.

Something Good – Stayed within budget, and some time with family and friends.

So, when I left work this month it seemed like the perfect time of year to spend some time closer to home enjoying the late summer with friends and family.  I knew it would be a relatively expensive month, as two weeks in Canada can eat up a lot more cash than two weeks in Mexico.

I went to Victoria for a music festival, and saw a whole bunch of friends.  I lived there for years before moving south, but haven’t visited in almost 10 months.  In theory, I could go anytime I want when I am off, but it is always a relatively expensive time, in addition to the extra cost of flights.  Also, I enjoy my home in Mexico a ton and am continuing to focus on building a life here, which means spending time with my new friend here too.  If you will recall, I spend half of my time in the middle of nowhere in Northern Canada working with just 5 other people nowhere near any kind of town whatsoever.  Any time free from work that I spend anywhere else tends to really cut into my ability to connect to my people here in the Baja.

The point is, we can’t have it all.  We all must make sacrifices – large and small – along the way in order to get to where we want to be.  Financially free.

That said, I did manage to (just, sorta) stay within the budget this month.

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Having spent just over $1,460 CAD, I met my goal of $1,500 for spending for the month.  And what is better is that it appears that despite my current annual deficit of $2,646.92, I am on track to finish each month in the last quarter of the year within budget, which will not only help to reduce that number but should also provide some encouraging momentum heading into the new year.  After all, it may be my last year on the job.

Something Bad – A bigger purchase.

But that’s not the whole story.  You see, I spent some time in my hometown with my family for the week too, and that was great as well.

The ‘bad’ part was the shopping I did while there.  Although I had been planning for a year or two now to purchase a Mountain bike to be able to prepare for XTerra Off-road Triathlons in the future, pulling the trigger makes all the difference in the bank account.

In any case, I finally found my new steed.  The purchase timing was driven mostly by being in civilization for more than a few hours, allowing me the time to browse, try, ponder, and purchase.  I bought an entry-level Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Trail Bike.  It was still very expensive, in and around about 2 months’ budget, but shopping at the end of the season allowed me to save about 15% off the sticker price.

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I am not including this in the budget breakdown of The Resolution, as this purchase has been part of the plan for a while and a key part of my vision for how to spend my time in the future.  The point of The Resolution, of course, is to work learn more about my everyday spending habits with the aim of having my passive income meet those needs, in order to leave work with confidence that the basics should more or less always be covered.

Something Learned – Costa Rica nearly carbon neutral while growing the economy

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In a month where we have received even more stern warnings about the ongoing and looming effects of climate change from the IPCC, it turns out that Costa Rica is near carbon neutral already, and plans to be the first country to reach net zero.  The power sector is already decarbonized and deforestation has been halted.  What remains is to decarbonize the transportation sector.

Most importantly, Costa Rica has managed to demonstrate that the idea that environmental protection must come at the cost of economic growth is largely a myth, by making investments in Natural Capital and stopping deforestation all while growing the economy and the population of the country.  In fact, Costa Ricans would suggest that it is at your own financial peril that you fail to invest in these things.

So, what can we do to most immediately and starkly reduce our own impacts?  Well, this can be a complicated and overwhelming question, but in the name of simplicity the quick-and-easy answer is to eat less red meat (or, better yet, no meat) and to fly less (or, better yet, not fly at all).

Not flying often is hardly an option for me right now, but I do hope to greatly reduce the amount I fly once I have left work.  I have already reduced my red-meat intake, particularly while not at work, and have been inspired by friends to try more and more plant-based recipes.  After many years of hearing about the health and environmental impacts of the modern meat and dairy industry, I finally had something get through to me earlier this year that forced me to truly stop and think about my eating habits.

In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari describes the emotional needs of animals, and the ways in which our current meat industry fails to provide them.  He points out that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will look at the modern meat industry in the same way we look at the now abolished slave-trade, of which the corporations were once available on the London Stock Exchange for middle-class investors and the pre-FIRE early retirees to buy and hold.  Personally, instead of going fully vegan, I am hoping to eat less meat overall and to select more ethically-sourced meat and animal products.  That is, up until the synthetic meat industry takes off (now there’s something I could feel good investing in).

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