Let Other People Pay For Your Stuff!

You might be asking, why would someone else pay for your stuff? Well, the more common term would be ‘buying things used’. When you buy an item used, another person has put up the money for the immediate drop in value. Even selling an item new and in the package, you won’t get retail price for it. Some things you don’t always buy used, but things like clothing, dishes, cookware are easy to visually inspect.

If you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to save a TONNE of money buying used. If you’re a single person, you can probably get by with 1-4 dining sets. Don’t bother with a 16 person plate set unless you host people frequently. Otherwise you’ll find yourself using the same plate over and over again; never making it to the bottom of your pile of plates. That, my friends, is what we call a waste of money.

You stand to save a lot of money on clothing as well. Typically, items you find used at thrift shops are in great shape, sometimes never worn, and they’re higher quality products. An H&M t-shirt never lasts long enough to make it to the thrift store racks. I’ve managed to buy brand new, white, Fruit of the Loom t-shirts that are MADE IN CANADA for $3-5. Where can you buy clothing made in Canada for that price?

Electronics can be hit or miss. Do your due diligence though and you can score a great deal. I recently sold my television because I’m moving. Someone got an amazing panel with little use for $150 less than retail. I got a really good deal on it during boxing, and definitely got my my money’s worth, but they got a steal as far as I’m concerned.

Before you buy anything, ask yourself, can I buy it used?

-Mike

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Ask Your Coworkers How Much They Make!

This is always a touchy subject for people. For some reason, we have been convinced to not talk about our salary. Whoever made this the norm, is a genius social manipulator. What do you have to lose by asking? Nothing. Sure, it might be embarrassing to find out other people make more than you..but it should light a fire under you to change that!

It is equally as important to keep an eye on what the going rate for your skill set is.

  • What is the highest amount people are getting paid?
  • What is the lowest amount people are getting paid?
  • Where are you on this spectrum?
  • Which companies/industries pay the most?

Make a determination to see if a few words with your boss might get you a sweet increase. I’m a saver, but all the saving in the world could be in vain if you’re getting under paid. What is your time worth? What is your pride worth?

Get out there and ask! If you’re low, make a plan to get even or better. Find your worth and get it.

-Mike

The Allure of Luxury

One of the unfortunate side effects of the condo boom in Toronto is the surplus of luxury condos and a shortage of affordable houses. How is this bad? Well, pretty much every new condo built in the last 5 years is a luxury condo. Some are affordable but they come with costs that don’t really become apparent until you really take a step back and look at the condo living situation.

  1. Typically, the clusters of condos have a grocery store at the base of at least one building. Unfortunately, these are typically high end stores with name brand products. No store brand products in these smaller format stores. This means every time you go shopping you’re paying a premium on everything.
  2. These condos have lots of amenities but they’re only worth it if you use them. Too often to people like to talk about all of the awesome features of their building, only to never set foot in them. Additionally, if you own your unit, you’re paying for these everyday regardless.
  3. There are usually a lot of places to eat our nearby which can be tempting for some. I think this is typically a good thing, but some of the most mediocre restaurants I have ever been to are contained in these condo groupings (I’m looking at you, Liberty Village).
  4. This is a tough one. Do you really need this luxury living? A lot of people leave college having spent time living in less than ideal shared housing, and then make a jump right to a luxury condo. Can you spend a few more years sharing a house? How about splitting a modest apartment? There are other options out there.

More and more condos go up everyday, pushing people ever towards living in boxes in fancy towers. Some of us will hopefully continue to resist this urge, creating a need and want for reasonably priced housing without all the bells and whistles.

Canadians are addicted to home ownership, I just hope our thirst to own doesn’t destroy the affordability. Hopefully, we can use a little foresight and look to other countries and stop problems before they get out of control.

-Mike

Travel Photography

If you plan on retiring early, like me, you have to have hobbies. They are part of your retirement ecosystem. Myself, I enjoy photography, an expensive hobby that I’m not very good at. I especially enjoy photos from my travels. Fortunately, these hobbies work out perfectly for a blogger!

An added bonus of writing this blog, is a need for content. I enjoy getting out and shooting photos but I can get lazy and spend too much time on other things. Now I NEED to go out and snag a few photos a week, which has helped self regulate my photography sessions. I always enjoy the sessions and find that self managing myself in this way is super useful. Kill two birds with one stone.

Finding a way to build your hobbies into your life before retirement will help you plan better. You may not enjoy a hobby after a while, you might take it really seriously. Knowing what you like before retirement will help you plan ahead. You can’t always be sure, but it’s vital to try!

Hopefully I’ll continue to enjoy my hobbies, and maybe even profit from them one day. You never know!

-Mike

FI/RE-Friendly Job Hunting

I am very focused on reaching FI in less than 15 years. That involves a lot of sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. If you don’t like your job, change it, even if it means taking a small hit to your finances. If you do change jobs, and you do take a financial hit, make sure the benefits out weight the negatives. Here are some things I like to ask a prospective employer:

Preface: So I’ve gotten to a point in my career where the type of work that is available for me has become quite specific due to my skillset. This means when I look for a new job, my decisions almost completely lies in what the company culture has to offer, and what benefits the company offers. Here are the questions I usually ask that end up adding the most weight to my decisions.

How big is your company? I want to know how many people I’ll get to work with and learn from. Small group places allow you to meet the other members of your proposed team. Larger groups increase the likelihood that you’ll make long-term friends. This all depends on the general culture of the company, however.
What is the career growth path of your company? Do you stay as a [job]? or do you become a [job manager]? is there room to become at [job vp]? Companies that are excited to tell you about the growth room tend to be growing and like to promote within!
How do you reward tenure? Sometimes not moving from job to job can stifle your growth both personally, experience-wise, and salary-wise. However, some companies who treat individuals as a valuable cog in the large machine, offer incentives to keep people growing. This can include bonus time off, milestone rewards (5 years, 10 years), salary reevaluation, conferences, and more. This is a huge deal breaker for me usually, as I like to become invested in my employer.
How much time off do you offer? The more the better. Period. Can you bank vacation days? Can you get paid out for vacation days? Are they generally more flexible around your needs? Do they track or limit sick days? This is a huge question for myself as I like to travel. If you don’t, you can always use a day at home to play catchup. Think about it!
What do you guys do for fun around the office? I go to the office to work. However, sometimes it’s nice to get up and take a breather, have an after work event, or a holiday-related event. A fun work environment is always a good thing.
How do you celebrate victories together? If the company ever takes you out for lunch, dinner, or drinks, you can definitely consider that a bonus. I’ve received gift cards, days off, and been able to attend some excellent team parties when deadlines are reach. These are the best days at work, and the more the better. Booze isn’t really a huge benefit honestly, but it’s a nice treat.
Let me know what you think. Anything else you really look for in a company?
-Mike

Learn Useful Skills

If you’re into homesteading, DIY, and reducing your costs before and during retirement, it pays to be handy. General skills with tools like tape measures, levels, chalk lines, saws, drills are all simple things to learn well and let you do things yourself without having to pay someone else.

For myself, who might sit on the slightly extreme side of DIY, I’m planning on picking up some more specialized skills. I may even be able to make money offering these skills to others further down the road, but the intent is to make myself very self sufficient. The list of skills I have going so far:

  • Welding
  • Sewing
  • Basic Car Mechanics

In addition to DIY skills, you should also consider what your physical fitness has going for it. Being active is important but there are some skills that could save your or a loved one’s life. These include:

  • Being able to run a mile without stopping. The faster the better, but the fact that you can get somewhere on foot fast is huge. An accident while hiking? Get to a road. Need to run from something? Self explanatory.
  • Being able to swim 100m. I would actually say more than this. If you can rescue someone from the water, make it to shore from a sinking boat, you’re way ahead of so many people. After the sinking of the cruise ship off of Italy where a lot of people died, could I have swam 500m to shore? Hell no. I’d be sunk.
  • Being able to drive manual. Manual cars are more efficient on gas and generally less expensive. Less people can drive manual cars so you can get a better deal buying used.