Travel Smart – One Bagging

In 2013, I took my first trip to Europe and it changed my life. I fell in love with travel of all forms and I haven’t stopped since. During my sedentary days, I spend a lot of time researching travel and hunting for my next great adventure.  My favourite podcast has to be the https://indietravelpodcast.com/ .

From the indie travel podcast, I heard all of the benefits of travelling with a single bag and I have followed through ever since. Currently, I am using a Venturesafe 45L GII and I absolutely love it.

I can use my backpack to haul groceries, as a weekender and, of course, as the best travel pack money can buy. The security features alone are worth the money. You can’t put a price on piece of mind. Seriously, if you’re going to spend money on something, spend it on your mental well being.

You’ll end up washing clothes more often, but travelling with less is amazing. Less things to lose, less stuff to lug around a country, and you always have hands free. The money you save on checked bags will pay off your backpack in no time. Create a list of what you need, now look at that list again and be truthful, you probably don’t need all of it. I’ve travelled for 3 weeks with my bag, and managed easily. I’m leaving for a month at the end of the year, and have no doubt it will work just as well.

If you want to learn more, from more qualified people, my friends at /r/onebagging are a great resource to learn more.

-Mike

Bulk Buying vs Minimal Inventory

A lot of people like to buy in bulk when things are on sale. I’m not entirely onboard with that idea in most cases. After buying my initial base inventory (see previous post) after moving I try to not exceed $100 a month for groceries. This makes bulk buying tricky.

I want to keep as much of my money in investments at all time, not held up in 300 bars of soap. Sales are usually cyclical, and certain things go on sale every 3 months or so. Chances are you can get any food item on sale, so I wouldn’t bulk buy food. Certain things I’ll buy in a larger format, on sale. These items include:

  • Toilet Paper – it never goes bad, and you never want to run out
  • Dental Floss – buy as many yard pack as you can
  • Beer – as much as I dislike the beer store, this keeps my bar bill down

Other than that, I think if you buy as little as possible, more money stays in your pocket. This kind of scrutiny of deals also helps you be a more informed shopper when you start looking at dollar per ml/g/oz of different items to ensure a deal really is a deal.

I find not having bulk, your daily items are replenished more frequently, keeping them fresher. I like fresh and I like money. This buying strategy is easier as a single person, followed by couples, but there are cost advantages for families as well.

-Mike

Staple Groceries

I’ve talked before about the benefits of shopping at discount grocers, making things from scratch, and buying more raw ingredients. Today, I’m going to talk about the food items I need on hand at all times (and why). There will be some overlap, but this is much deeper dive into keeping a cheap, delicious, and healthy source of food available at your fingertips.

I grew up in a household that ate a lot of pasta, so that’s huge for me. Other than that though, my mother and father would cook up all source of hearty Canadian meals. During my travels around the world, and travels around the various restaurants of Toronto, I’ve added all sorts of cuisines to my recipe book; this list reflects that as well.

Happy cooking!

-Mike

Dry Goods

  • Basmati Rice: Everyday, tasty rice
  • Short Grain White Rice: Useful for asian cooking, sushi, and more
  • Dried Penne: Great for red sauces, holds onto meat well
  • Dried Spaghetti: Excellent for red and white sauces
  • Unbleached Flour: Make pizza dough, bake stuff, whatever
  • White Cane Sugar: Baking, pizza dough, coffee, etc
  • Brown Sugar: Useful for baking and cooking, making sauces and richer dishes
  • Black Beans: Beans and Rice (Gallo Pinto) was a favourite from costa rica. Soups and cold salads also benefit.
  • Chickpeas: Great for cold salads, substitute for dried pasta, and more

Spices

  • Iodized Table Salt: Add to boiling water to prevent spillover
  • Sea Salt: Tastes better than standard salt, and comes in various sizes for unique flavours. Sprinkle by hand.
  • Black Peppercorns: Buy a pepper mill that will last you forever. You can get varying grinds, and can use different peppercorns for different dishes. 
  • Bay Leaves: For making pork and chicken stock
  • Chili Powder: I like spicy and it’s useful for making sauces for stir-fry and more

Liquids

  • White Vinegar: Useful for cleaning and so much more
  • Balsamic Vinegar: Oil and balsamic dressing is the healthiest dressing for salad available)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Use for mayo, and cooking
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Excellent for general cooking needs
  • Olive Oil: Healthy, Flexible cooking oil. Keep a small bottle of high quality, and a big bottle of standard extra-virgin olive oil(EVO) on hand.
  • Vegetable Oil: Milder oil for asian meals, frying, and more
  • Coconut Oil: Good for baking, asian food
  • Red Wine: Cooking and consumption. Drink responsibly 🙂
  • White Wine: Cooking and consumption. Drink responsibly 🙂
  • Lemon Juice: Cooking essential
  • Worcestershire sauce: Useful for cooking and essential for making caesars

  • Soy Sauce: Essential for asian cooking and rice dishes.

Sauces

  • Ketchup: French’s made from Leamington tomatoes in Canada.
  • Yellow Mustard: Make this from dry mustard powder
  • Mayonnaise: Make this from scratch, use apple cider vinegar for Japanese style mayo
  • BBQ Sauce: Make your own from scratch to taste. 

Canned Goods

  • Skipjack Tuna: Sustainable tuna, easy tuna with mayo meal

Produce

  • Tomatoes: Salad, Sandwich topping, etc
  • Lettuce: Salad is a super fast and healthy meal
  • Onions: Cooking staple
  • Garlic: Cooking staple. Also used to make aioli and garlic olive oil
  • Potatoes: Versatile food, keeps very well, calorie dense, cheap

Cold

  • Eggs: Simple breakfast, cooking staple

 

Chinatown: Produce Paradise

I. Love. Chinatown. Everything from the shopping to the food is excellent. My favourite thing about Chinatown, is it’s cheap fruit and vegetable markets. Chinatown is the BEST place to buy fruits and vegetables in the city without relying on farmer’s markets. Do yourself a favour and try shopping here once, you’ll leave with bags of vegetables for less than $20. I’m always satisfied with my hauls.

A hidden benefit of shopping here, besides the price, is how local all of the produce is. Part of the reason the prices are so low here, is that all of the markets share a distribution system. Two or 3 stores can be serviced by one truck, which keeps transport costs low. One truck heads to the produce distribution centre and drops it all at a central location downtown.

These stores try to buy as much Ontario produce as possible, as a benefit to their bottom line. This means fresher local produce, grown in some of the best soil in the world. I regularly buy onions, carrots, potatoes and more from that were grown in my hometown. At typical grocers in the suburbs, you get California carrots, despite there being a a huge carrot farm 1k down the road. This to me, is absolutely insane and such a massive waste of resources. Buying local benefits the economy, and the buyer.

– Mike

Useful Resources

I’ve been keeping a list of useful resources that I use regularly to work on my early retirement planning, being more environmentally conscious, frugal, make better investments, and more! Check them out below.

-Mike

Buy/Sell/Trade

Food cost saving

Investing Advice

Financial Independence

Other

Review Your Paid Services Regularly

Currently, I only have two paid services: phone, and internet. Every 6 months or so, I shop around a bit and see what going rates with other companies are. Sometimes you can find better service for the same money, or the same service for less money.

Recently, I moved from Freedom Mobile to Public Mobile after a trip to Montreal. Freedom doesn’t have a network in Quebec which was problematic. Public Mobile is on the Telus network, and they had a great deal to move over from Freedom. I was paying about $54/month for 8GB of Data, Unlimited Text/Calling, and 1GB of Data/month in the USA.

I’m now paying $120/3-month period for 4GB of Data, Unlimited Text/Calling per month. They even offer a bonus to hookup your credit card, giving you $2 off per month. This brings me down to $38/month. The switch saves me $16/month, or $192/year. I like the concept of having extra money not leaving my account. Assuming I have a phone for the next 50 years at the same price, I’ll have saved myself $10,000 over my life, not including interest on that money. Sweet! Getting a better deal on my Internet is the next step.

Do your wallet a favour and shop around.

-Mike

Eliminating Legacy

Legacy

  1. denoting software or hardware that has been superseded but is difficult to replace because of its wide use.
  2. an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Today the universe aligned, and both definitions of legacy entered my life. Normally, they would have passed me by but because I was listening to the Aussie Firebug podcast with the Mad Fientist thinking about FI, I had two realizations.

The first realization was code related. I was building an interpreter to compile a legacy templating language into JavaScript and was failing horribly. I was thinking to myself:

” Why the hell are we supporting this? This is literally 15 versions and 3 years behind, the language itself is super outdated, and our new build system doesn’t support it…wait, wait a minute. The new application will be using React so we can convert these to JavaScript once and wait until they are rebuilt in the new format. Problem solved, the better way.”

When it comes to being minimalist, optimizing your finances, and working towards financial independence; eliminate your legacy baggage. Sell off equipment for old hobbies, sell or give away unused furniture, and collapse investment funds into better funds. Myself, I’m migrating my HISA to EQ Bank to get a better return on my emergency fund. It will lower my TFSA limit for the year, but it will bounce back next year. Additionally, I’ll be getting a new credit card to get better rewards return on my spending. I eliminated legacy to move closer to my goal.

Finally, for the other meaning of legacy, why does someone leave a legacy? The only legacy I’m concerned with leaving is a positive impact on the world. Maybe I’m simple like that, but I think leaving things better than when you started is one of the most valuable things you can do in your life. Don’t get me wrong, if I have children and have money left over, I won’t be upset about it. If I hedge and invest well, and work hard, I don’t mind if I’m net $0 when the end comes. Financial Independence is an asset that provides freedom.

-Mike