Travel Canada in a Camper

Quick Rant: I talk a lot about alternate lifestyles. Some of these lifestyles may seem strange but in the year 2017, a lot seems strange. With climate change, dwindling resources, and uncertain political climates, we need some drastic changes in the world to help get back on track and survive as a species. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it doesn’t seem too farfetched does it?

Not too long ago I discovered /r/vandwelling while being SUPER productive one day. Despite not spending my time usefully that day, I really discovered something I’d like to do. With a homestead as a frugal home base and a warm weather getaway property, living costs might cut into my travel budget. Enter an adventure van.

North America is a massive place, and I’ll certainly never see ALL of it. A van will help me get around to a lot of it, and do so on a budget. Never needing accommodation, having a place to cook, and keeping the amenities of home; these are all advantages of an adventure van.

There may come a day when I don’t need the van anymore, so I can pass it onto the next. The value from retrofitting a $5000/$6000 van will pay itself off in no time! RVs are hugely expensive and guzzle gas; I’m looking for a smaller platform. If I fall in-love with living in a van, I could always upgrade as well. An adventure van seems like a great way to test the waters of a different lifestyle. Check out the stories available on the web, instagram, reddit, and more. If van life isn’t for you, it’s certainly an interesting look into a different type of life.

I’ll continue to write about different lifestyles, with the hopes of people looking at alternatives. You never know how you might find happiness, try something new!

-Mike

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Canadian Pension Plan

I recently stumbled upon this excellent tool from the Canadian government that you can use to determine your retirement income. A lot of the data you’ll need may require some digging to find but it should give you a pretty clear picture of what your current situation and future situation will look like.

I came upon this will trying to figure out how much CPP I will receive in early retirement and it’s entirely dependent on how many years you have been earning and how much you earned each year. I can’t recall what I was earning before starting my career, so I can only assume I’ve been hitting the top target for 4 years. That means I’ll need to work another 16 years in order to receive 50% of the maximum monthly payment. It’s not a lot, but every dollar counts.

How do Canada’s social programs factor into your retirement?

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

Food Budget: Reimagined

Up until recently, I was trying to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible. Tweaking what I was buying, when I was buying it, and how much I was buying to tweak every cent. I realized that I was missing the mark a little bit and here’s why.

I was dedicating a fair amount of money to eating out. Eating out with friends is a social thing that I really enjoy, but I was definitely due for a restructuring of how I eat out with friends. Previously I’d spend a certain amount a month, eating at wherever I felt like. When this money ran out, I’d randomly crave sushi, Korean BBQ, and Japanese Ramen. Darn, I’m out of funds..I guess I’ll wait until next month.

The way I approach this now, is I make my social meals target things that I can’t make at home. I’ve reduced my eating out budget, and increased the enjoyment I get from it. The money I saved has been put into my food budget for greater flexibility. This flexibility has increased my recipe repertoire, allowed me to purchase bulk items on sale, and nickel and dime myself less when shopping.

Having more monthly spending for groceries also means I can have friends over for dinner more often, and share a homemade meal that always leaves other full and impressed. I’ve fulfilled my social needs, my love for cooking, my thirst for a better budget, and I’ve paid away less of my money in tips. Servers play an important role, but tipping has changed a lot in the last 30 years to make up for stagnating wages. Don’t get me wrong, I always leave a good tip and so should you. Now I just do it less often.

Think about the way your life works and align your budget to it; it will make you happier!

-Mike

The Economy of You

An economy is essentially a byproduct of monetary transactions. Money comes in, money is spent on services. Money is lent, money is spent, money is paid back with interest. These are the fundamental parts of the system.

Investing relies on the economy and we hope the economy grows in a healthy way. However, every investor should be prepared to weather a storm. Unfortunately, due to extreme amounts of lending and not paying back these loans in the western world, things are getting pretty scary out there. Is a crash imminent? I can’t say. What I can tell you is, by keeping your personal economy strong you can be prepared for this.

Lately, I’ve cut spending on items that don’t produce value. I’m spending more on investments, saving more liquid cash, and seeking novel ways to grow my money. If everyone were to do this, the economy would slow. The few FIRE minded people out there can benefit if they jump on this opportunity while the economy is strong; your money will go further when it’s not.

It may sound like I’m not enjoying the fruits of my labour, but I am:

  • Getting more enjoyment out of the things that I have
  • Finding joy and new experiences in starting businesses
  • Focusing on internal growth. (Go to your local library and get a book. Do it now!)

I really enjoy seeing my net worth increase and learning, so this is easy work for me. If it’s not your cup of tea, I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can grow your own way.

Look at your personal economy and see how you can make it stronger, more robust, and be prepared to weather any storm. When the downpour starts, you’ll be happy knowing you came prepared and can hit it full on.

-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

 

 

Don’t Sweat Your Past

Now, I certainly didn’t start off on a bad foot on my way to financial independence. I finished school and gained meaningful employment at 23 years old with about $5000 in the bank. This was thanks to generous investing in my education by my parents, and 40+ hour weeks for years during college. Additionally, I’ve been working since I was 13 years old in one capacity or another.

I’ve spent some money along the way: $60,000+ on travel, $15,000+ on some university that I dropped out of, 10s of thousands on partying and expensive food. All of these things taught me lessons and were a lot of fun, so I can’t feel too bad about it. Now I travel on better budgets, invest time teaching myself, party without over consuming, and cook amazing food myself.

You can enjoy life in so many ways without spending excessive amounts of money, which was a lesson I had to learn. I’m glad I figured it out when I did. Sure, if I had an extra $100,000 to invest I’d be miles ahead. In reality, I am already miles ahead of where I would have been had I not found this lifestyle. Many of the most important lessons in life are hard learned, so I consider myself lucky.

Forget about your past and focus on the future while making sure you take in everything along the way.

-Mike