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

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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.

Emergency Preparedness

I haven’t been able to bring myself to adopt a ‘prepper’ lifestyle, but recently with the large number of natural disasters it made me think about how well prepared I would be for one. I’m definitely failing that class. It’s not a huge concern for me, but thinking forward I’d like to be prepared in the future.

Living off the power grid sets you up for success in the event of a disaster. Having your own power source that doesn’t comes from the lines is crucial. Having multiple heat sources in a cold country is hugely important. Fresh water is another hugely important factor.

I haven’t gotten too detailed into my plan, but I will without a doubt recommend the following:

Two or more sources of clean water

  • 365 Gallons of drinkable water
  • Water purification tablets
  • Water Distiller

Food

  • A good stock of perishable foods (say 1 month?)
  • Optional stock of Meals Ready to Eat (MRES). Costco sells a year worth, it’s expensive but it would be a game changer
  • Ways to grow your own food (I think without an emergency this is important)
  • A weapon and ammunition. You may not want to hunt, but it might save your life. Ammunition is tradable in the event currency isn’t of much value

Heating

  • Wood Stove and a winter’s worth of wood
  • Propane heating and a large tank/bunch of tanks

I don’t have a hazmat suit on my shopping list yet, but it’s always worth keeping an open mind. All of the above things you can use day to day anyways, just keep more of it than what would be considered average.

-Mike

 

Retirement Plan & Forever Lists

As part of a FIRE retirement plan, you need to have an idea of total cost. As a minimal apartment dweller, I don’t have all of the things I’ll need for my retirement. While I may not have these items yet, I’ve compiled some starter ‘forever’ lists of what I think I’ll need to meet my needs for my entire life. My retirement plan is comprised of 3 main pieces:

  • A Canadian homestead
  • A Canada-based adventure van
  • A foreign property in a warm climate to hide from winter

I haven’t fleshed out my plan for more foreign property yet, but I have started to think about needs for my adventure van and homestead. A lot of the items listed cross over between the two, so I’ll have a shared, homestead, and van list. Let’s get into it!

Shared Items

  • First Aid Kit – Safety First, folks! [PURCHASED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Fishing Rods – Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. [PURCHASED]
  • ChopsticksThe only utensil you’ll ever need! [PURCHASED]
  • French Press – Always keep good coffee on-hand. [PURCHASED]
  • Hand Coffee Grinder – Don’t waste power grinding coffee. [NEED]
  • Cookware, Silverware, Tableware – Stainless steel will last forever. [PURCHASED]
  • Mattress – Good mattress = Good sleep. Good sleep = Longer Life. [PURCHASED]
  • Fire Extinguisher – Safety First! [NEED] [Needs Upkeep]
  • Butane Stove – Portable stove for indoor, road, and outdoor use. [NEED]
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Smoke Detector – Safety First! [NEED]
  • Water Jug and Pump – Depending on water use, this may not suffice. TBD. [NEED]
  • Wire Rack – For campfire cooking at home and abroad. Incredible [NEED]

Adventure Van Items

  • Dash Cam – Gather video, and cover your ass. [NEED]
  • Car Toolkit – Carjack, Jumper Cables, Pump. [NEED]
  • WiFi Extender – Use wifi from outside a store..keep a lower profile. [NEED]
  • Sleeping Bag – A warm weather sleeping bag that works into fall. [PURCHASED]

Homestead Items

  • General Toolkit – Screwdrivers, Socket Set, etc. [PURCHASED]
  • Canning Pot + Jars – Preserve the fruits of your labour. Literally. [NEED]
  • Hunting Rifle – Hunting offers a great opportunity for food and experience. [NEED]
  • Tiller – Cut time and expand your garden operation. [NEED]
  • Fruit Trees – Start these as early as possible. Pears, Apples, Peaches, etc. [NEED]

What do you have on your forever lists?

-Mike

FIRE: Where is the excitement?!

Okay, so I’m going to humble myself really quick. I don’t know shit about Financial Independence/Early Retirement. I’m new to the idea, and I haven’t even gotten close yet. There is so much passion coming from the people involved in this idea, they study every aspect of how to make the dream the reality. These people are the sensei to my samurai; seriously. These people love the journey and the result.

However, maybe I just don’t see the raw excitement coming from some when they reach financial independence. I guess it’s sort of like winning a race; you’ve reach the end, you feel good but you’re gearing up for the next one. I really hope when I reach FI that I can showcase my passions and really share the experience with anyone who will listen. FI is when you earn true freedom and you really get to own every minute of your life. Yell about it! Tell everyone! Say everything!

I know a lot of the publications I read are tailored to their viewer, but I’d love to hear about how amazing the end result is! Listen to a podcast that makes me want to pickup my keyboard, throw it across the room and go buy motorbike and drive across south america. Maybe finance isn’t emotionally exciting, but it could be, you know?

Maybe I’m just being a dick and ranting. Maybe I’m showing my thrill seeking behaviour. Whatever. Hopefully I can bring some fire to FIRE.

Stay tuned for more heat.

-Mike

Useful Subreddits

I’ve been reading http://www.reddit.com for a long time. Typically I’d waste time reading useless junk. I mean I still do, but I used to, too. All jokes aside, there is a tonne of great resources on Reddit and tonnes of talented people. Find me at /u/torontosurvivalguide

Below are some subreddits that contain a treasure trove of useful information to help make you more self-sufficient:

Business

DIY

Finance

Food

Lifestyle

Philosophy 

Self Sufficiency

Shopping

Travel

I hope you find something you like!

-Mike