Here we are again, a little over a year since my first post on Freedom 33 last August. And what do you know – it has been my least productive and most expensive month yet! I won’t dwell on it – I was on a trip and have been working on some other personal projects a little more. Let’s just chalk it up to a good healthy summer break. But I am back! And as you can see, I spent a lot in August!
You know what they say, ‘what gets measured gets managed’. I started this blog last August when I got fed up with failing to meet the savings goals I had in mind, and decided to take a closer look and, well, get my shit together.
It started with spending, and I remain largely focused on that. I realize that I am earning a lot. It may not be as much as Ramit followers think they need to earn in order to live lavishly guilt-free with no consideration for anything but their…guilt…but I do consider myself to be very fortunate by virtually all measures. I suppose if I could find a way to start earning hundreds of thousands per year or more, perhaps my savings of an extra $30 here and there would be less relevant, as Ramit claims, but that wouldn’t consider the value of the habits and perspectives we’re developing by exercising our frugality muscles regularly, whether we’re financially independent or not. Remember, it’s not just about you, it’s about the planet and the rest of the people on it.
When it comes to consuming, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.
Everywhere we look we can find conflict in the world. Nuclear threats, civil wars and international trade conflicts come to mind on a geopolitical scale, but we also see it in our day-to-day lives. It can apply to your stand-off with your roommate over who is going to be the first to scrub the bathroom or your relationship with your coworkers, spouse or another member of your family.
In all of these cases, objectively, it seems that both sides would be much better off if they could just find a way to cooperate. And, in fact, they would. However, each party is averse to being the one to cave first, at risk of being ‘the sucker’, even if it means a worse overall outcome for everyone. In this way, we end up not cooperating even when it is in our mutual benefit to do so.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma
“The Prisoner’s Dilemma”, is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory. I recently listened to a great episode of the NPR podcast Planet Money, in which they featured Robert Axelrod, a career mediator and political scientist who eventually became a Professor at the University of Michigan during the height of the Cold War. For this reason, he took a particular interest in this experiment that has roots in the 1950s.
Things haven’t been so easy of late. I mean, nothing is really bad, by any stretch.
But that’s just it – it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you have it objectively, it is up to you to frame your perspective in such a way that allows you to see your situation in a positive light.
So no, nothing bad has happened, and nothing has really changed. It’s just that it turns out that having a goal and achieving that goal are not the same thing. Things ‘come up’, all the time. I could only imagine what it must be like for people with a more complicated life than mine, like those raising a family.
It’s hard to meet your budgeting and savings goals. It’s hard to meet your blogging goals. It’s hard to meet all your goals. That’s why it must become a habit – something we just simply do without too much thought to it, allowing consistent action over time to be the real change maker. Continue reading “Who’s Really Going to Lift That Heavy-Ass Weight?”
I think one of the things that most potential retirees struggle with – or at least ponder a lot – is what to do with one’s self once they’ve gained an additional 40+ hours/week to fill? Luckily for me, I am able to ‘practice’ retirement pretty often, as a result of my unique work schedule, as I have discussed before here.
When I started on this journey in 2016, my intention was to purchase my home in Mexico with cash and to have my basic cost of living covered by the rental income earned from that home. From there, I would be free to explore new and interesting things as I please, some of which would inevitably earn me money, but the pressure to earn for the sake of paying my bills would be largely absent.
My Dad is incredibly punctual. I don’t travel with him often as I am not interested in waiting in the airport 4 hours before my flight. But, as should be expected, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Usually.
However, I am also a firm believer in the notion of ‘better late than never’. Mostly because it is really convenient, when you are late. As I am here.
What you’re thinking about, you’re becoming.
Mohamed Ali once said this in an intimate interview. It may be my favorite quote ever. Simple enough to feel like you’ve known it all along, yet profound enough to shake you to your core.
But the mindset behind this quote from The Greatest was hardly a new notion at the time, nor is it yet completely forgotten nowadays. For example, in the brief literary essay As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (1902) – about a 30 minute read – the foreword opens with this encapsulating verse:
Mind is the Master power that molds
And Man is Mind, and evermore he
The tool of Thought, and, shaping
what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a
He thinks in secret, and it comes to
Environment is but his looking-glass.
After a long wait since my first installation of this series on the real cost of car ownership, I am here to add this to the mix. I guess you could see it as supplemental to that post, since fuel economy and car ownership are inextricably linked.
Now, you may be wondering why I think that you give any hoots about what my gas mileage is when you’re vehicle is not the same? Well, although I will get funky with a little bit of basic arithmetic and algebra, like most of my posts the point is the message – the mindset – rather than the details. For me, gathering some data on something – some real, hard, data that I myself went and got on my own – that has a monumental impact on my ability to incorporate real change into my life around that thing around which I am gathering data.
Zen is a fascinating notion. Often seen as some sort of illusive state, rather than what it really is, a practice. Much like happiness and bitterness, Zen is a choice. A choice to live your life and to view events in a certain way that will maximize the amount of inner peace you experience. There is no magic involved. Theteachings of the stoics are much the same: make the choice to make a practice of viewing life and all that happens with a certain lens and, eventually, that shall be the lens through which you happen to find yourself experiencing life. It is to your benefit to choose a positive lens, and to train yourself to scrupulously distinguish between that within your control and that outside of your control.
As I have noted in the past, one of the main motivations behind this blog is to continue to remind myself of my goals and the things I’ve learned that I believe will help me. And now seems like a timely occasion to remind myself of some of the simple and foundational pieces of a life well lived. A life of Zen.
It really comes down to the small and simple things that we do consistently.
Well, folks. The tracking continues. May has passed us by and I continue to chase my elusive goal of spending just $1,250 CAD per month for an entire year. As we come up on the half-way mark of the year, I still haven’t managed to meet my goal once. And, despite hopes coming into the month that May would be different, I fell short once again, although not from far.