Recently, I’ve shared with you, my fine readers, that I’ve lost fourty pounds. And no, I’m not talking about fourty British pounds as in British money (where would I get that kind of money?). I lost 40 lbs of weight by exercising and eating properly. But I’ll be honest; I’m kind of regretting it because being fat is just cheaper. If you’re thinking of losing weight, you might want to reconsider to save your money.
Weight loss costs are surprisingly high!
There’s no secret to losing weight. Just like budgeting your household money, you start regulating the in-take and out-take of your energy in form of food and exercise. You exercise every day, take long walks, and eat properly. Cut out pasta, bread, oatmeal, bananas from your diet and replace all of it with good natural products.
Quick tip: Make sure to wear nice looking clothes when taking walks – I don’t know where you live, but in my hood if you’re wearing shaggy clothes and walk around with no purpose people start calling cops.
But while losing weight makes you thinner and more attractive (if such thing is even possible in my case), you have to keep in mind that losing weight is also expensive and you should be prepared to open up your wallet due to hidden weight loss costs. I am having second thoughts about it and wondering if I made a huge mistake! Good god, it’s cheaper to be fat.
You know what really grinds my gears? It’s the never-ending financial negativity in the media. Especially when it comes to economic and personal finance news since I’m a personal finance blogger (or at least pretending to be). When was the last time you’ve heard a good news story that didn’t involve saving a cat from a tree?
Turn on your TV right now and you’ll quickly learn:
- Middle class is disappearing and unless you’re born rich you will never experience financial security.
- Seniors don’t have money. None of them. They all eat cat food and pinch pennies to make rent.
- There’s absolutely no way for young people today to succeed unless they invent Facebook. And Facebook has already been invented by some Mark guy, so they’re all screwed.
- Investing is basically gambling. Nobody can win at it.
- No one ever gets ahead in life. We all start well, but slowly drift into mediocrity.
- Our parents (grandparents) had everything going for them. We’ll never have what they had.
Basically, it’s the never-ending rain of financial negativity coupled with weather forecasts (also lies for the most part).
Now, I get it. Telling good news doesn’t produce good ratings and keep the viewers glued to the screen. Also, we as humans are wired to pay attention to trouble signals ever since the beginning of times when assuming the worst about rumbling in the bushes meant survival by successfully running away from bears. Optimistic people assuming it’s just the wind went extinct.
Enough with Financial Negativity!
How did we do on our New Year Resolutions?
Last year, I’ve compiled a list of goals and resolutions for 2015 to hit by the end of the year. Some of the goals were financial, and some personal. Now it’s time to revisit them, and find out if we did in fact hit our New Year resolutions this year!
1. Invest 35% of our after tax income + reinvest all dividends – HIT!
This was by far the easiest goal to hit. And not because we were making lots of money. In fact, our income hardly changed year-over-year. It was easy because by now we have a very good budgeting system in place and both of us are used to living on less than we make. Budgeting became second nature to us and saving money is indeed easy once you master it as a habit as opposed to effort.
As a result, we’ve lived on 65% of our income and saved/invested 35% of it. Also, any income that came back to us in a form of dividends or returned capital from previous investments wasn’t touched as well and went straight into investments accounts.
2. Increase our net worth by $100,000 – FAIL!
Our goal for 2015 was to increase our net worth by $100,000 by the end of the year as a combination of money saved and investments appreciation. This was rather ambitious since we’re still fairly new to investing and our incomes are still very much average.
Unfortunately, we didn’t hit it. We fell short around $9,000 as I’ve explained in our annual net worth post. Everything was pointing towards us hitting it, but the market crash at the end of the year and weak Canadian dollar prevented us from hitting it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy about how we did this year, but as far as the goal for 2015 we failed. Close, but no cigar!
New Year Resolutions
Tangerine MasterCard available in preview mode
While I’m not a big fan of chasing latest and greatest credit cards, this particular credit card caught my attention for a few reasons. After looking into benefits of it, I’ve put our names for registration, and recently we’ve received our brand new Tangerine MasterCard in the mail.
I’ve always been cautious about using credit cards
First, I’ve had a bad experience with borrowing too much money for frivolous spending and balance biting me in the ass in the past. While I successfully paid off the debt and never carried the balance for almost 10 years, I’m still a bit nervous about tasting easy money and falling off the wagon like vegetarian sharks in Finding Nemo.
Second, I like keeping our finances as simple as possible to maintain peace of mind. You can certainly collect a lot of airmiles and rewards by churning credit cards with intense competition between credit card companies for new customers. But I like to keep things simple and minimize the number of financial accounts we have to avoid the headache of managing them all.
At the same time, using a credit card is inevitable these days. We do buy a fair amount of products online, book tickets and hotels when traveling, and pay for everyday expenses with it. So, if we must have a credit card, we might as well go with the one that fits our needs and habits.
It’s official – our car is a senior citizen
This year our car turned twenty. While 20 years might not sound like much when talking about humans, twenty years is pretty old when it comes to automobiles. Car years are quite similar to dog years. Usually, cars of this age are either sitting at salvage yards being picked for parts, or being driven by very fragile old ladies that can barely see the road over the steering wheel. Yes, our car is THAT old, yet I’m no old lady and do not live in a salvage yard.
Our car has a lot of history
Our car (and before me and my wife met – my car) has been places. It saw things. If it could talk, it would tell you stories like a Vietnam vet after you buy him a drink. It would tell you stories of empty highways, horrors of finding parking in Vancouver, breakdowns in the middle of nowhere, and police chases. I’d take the police chases stories with a grain of salt, but the rest is legit.
It has traveled far and wide. Our noble servant went as far as Winnipeg once, crossed the Canadian Rockies on the way to Calgary, and took us to Tofino on Vancouver Island. But for the most part it is our reliable way of getting to work day in and day out.
In case you haven’t noticed
I happen to be a financial nerd. When normal people go to Costco to buy some shampoo, they usually pick whatever brand they prefer or whichever smells better. I, on the other hand, start instantly calculating the amount shampoo units that can be acquired per dollar thus finding the best deal. Not really because I want to save money, but I want to compare things in financial terms as opposed to brands. Heck, I’ve calculated how much money I’ve spent on cigarettes back when I used to smoke and how much it cost me overall. I’ve even calculated return on investing into a shaver and shaving my hair as opposed to getting my hair cut every month (13,940%, risk free).
So, with our 5-year mortgage term coming to an end and going through a process of refinancing, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t calculate what was more beneficial to us – renting for 5 years or putting money down on our own home.
Rent vs. Own is one of those topics people will never get tired of discussing. Just like movie buffs keep arguing whether or not Han Solo shot first and truck enthusiasts keep knocking Ford against Chevy, people interested in personal finance will never get tired of discussing buying your own place vs. renting.
But discussing things in general ain’t no fun. It’s also quite pointless because everything depends on your own situation. So, I’ve actually crunched some real measurable numbers using these five years as an example to figure out whether or not we’ve lost money on our home purchase.
Saving money can be classy
I’ve mentioned multiple times that investing a part of our income became a priority for our family. This year, our goal is to invest at least 30% of our working income towards future. You know, the good old “pay yourself first” principle that nobody really understands at first.
At the same time, we don’t make a lot of money. We’re still young, still lacking education and fancy titles, and our paychecks are much lower than we’d like them to be. But hey, it’s not just how much you make. It’s also how much you spend! And this is where saving money comes into play.
We enjoy saving money on things – especially when we can put these savings to work by investing it or spending on something we truly enjoy, like traveling. I don’t advocate living like monks and eating cat food just for the sake of saving money. But if you can save money without comprising anything and direct the savings towards something meaningful, saving money can be a beautiful thing.
When I was much younger …
… I used to go camping almost every week with my friends. Growing up in Soviet Union (and later Russia) our camping trips were quite different from what kids these days do – we had no luxury of driving to a camping spot and bringing every item imaginable to use while we were there. Instead we were limited to what we could fit into our backpacks, and camped like little Spartans – no electricity, no running water, and total reliance on yourself.
We would cook our food from scratch with fish we caught, collect firewood and build our own fire, and sometimes even make our own shelter. So, you might say we were used to getting by with what we had instead of bringing everything and anything from home.
Naturally, just like every camper I’ve always packed my Swiss army knife when packing the day before. Swiss army knifes are ingenious because you’re basically carrying a dozen of tools with you that come in handy when the situation calls for it. Big blade is great for cutting down small branches. Small sharp blade is great for gutting fish. Little saw might not see action every day, but it can really help you out on occasion. Scissors are great when patching your tent. Can opener is quite awesome for opening cans, naturally. Some of these tools you’d use several times a day, and some hardly ever. But boy, that Swiss army knife helped on so many occasions.
Swiss army knife of personal finance
Why would I start off by talking about my swiss army knife and what does it have to do with main topic of this blog – personal finance? Everything.
You can’t predict what will happen with you tomorrow. Life can go seventeen different ways from Sunday, and you have to be prepared for it. Being prepared financially for life’s turns takes a number of steps which over the years I’ve identified and implemented in my life. Hopefully, by sharing them with you, I can help somebody to be prepared financially for tomorrow.
Here’s our Swiss army knife of personal finance:
Prepare for financial disaster
My first update on DREAM Savings Account:
As I’ve announced last week, I’ve decided to open up a savings account specifically for saving money towards them silly dreams of mine. The idea behind it is to remove guilt from spending money on them knowing it’s extra money, and has nothing to do with our work income and it’s not being borrowed.Continue Reading
What in the world is a DREAM Savings Account?
Updated: Click here to read the latest update on my DREAM Savings Account balance
So, I’ve been thinking (good start, eh?). Few weeks ago, I’ve sat down and came up with a list of things I’d like to accomplish. Cool kids these days call it “bucket list” and put things like “travel to 100 countries” or “eating world’s largest burrito!” on it .
Some of my goals and dreams are somewhat silly such as “driving an army tank” or “meeting Kevin Smith“. But other goals are very practical and I view them more like milestones as opposed to “dreams” – for example, starting my own online business that in turn will allow me to pay for my future kids post secondary education or become a silent investor in a business.Continue Reading