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.