Dreaming of Retiring Early?

Retirement OutlookThrough the years I have always wanted to work on my own terms work, when I want, go on vacation when I feel like it and only take on projects that I really enjoy doing. Also I like to have flexibility like working at a stretch for days on end on projects that I enjoy, taking a break when I’m done and simply starting the next project whenever I like. I’m sure many of you would love to have the same life but think that this is just not possible and that you will never be able to achieve such a dream. I was one of them too.

 

One of the main reasons that I thought, it will not be possible for me to work and still earn a solid income to meet my needs is because I always thought that I need at least $5000 in after tax income in order to be able to maintain the lifestyle that I want. This is in fact correct. In order for me to continue with my current lifestyle or the lifestyle of acquiring stuff, outsourcing much of the day to day, care needs like food preparation, house cleaning and child raring, $5000 is a bare minimum and even with that amount it will still not be possible for me to meet all my obligations. So, like everyone else, I too felt that there was no way around it rather than to continue to work in a predictable job with a predictable income and hope that nothing changes because even the slightest change in circumstances could be catastrophic.

 

But then as I continued to change my view about consumerism and began to understand how consumerism was actually causing me to be a slave to my job, I began to see that I could still maintain a high standard of living, but one that even though it may not result in similar expenses like the ones that I have, would still be very enriching and extremely fulfilling. So, as I began to explore this idea more in depth it began to occur to me that frugal living is what would help me the most. By this I don’t mean that I should be cheap with my choices, but rather that I should try my best to reduce wastage wherever possible.

 

Mr Money Mustache has been preaching this same thing for eons. According to him, much of our problems with money could be easily dissipated by optimising the way we live and reducing waste. Furthermore, from everything that I have read and understood from what he has said and many others continue to say, by being able to control your housing, transport and food costs, you will almost certainly be able to reduce your financial needs without really reducing your standard of living. Now, this is something very difficult for me to digest. First of all how can I reduce my housing expenses without downsizing? And, if I downsize, doesn’t that mean that I will be in fact reducing my standard of living? How can I live without a second car? It is impossible, how would my husband drive himself to work and how would I be able to take the kids around to their myriad of extra curricular activities?

 

On the surface, when I first thought of everything they seemed to be paradoxical in nature. There was simply no way out. However as I continued to think about it, I began to realise that in fact much of what I think of as living standards was a house, a car, a specific neighbourhood, etc, that we had chosen to live in and live with in order to impress our friends in the misguided belief that it will make us feel happy and fulfilled. While the house is nice and the cars are nice and all the many extra curricular activities for the kids make us feel like awesome parents, in reality they are hollow. And not only are they hollow but they also seem to be sucking the life out of us and keeps us tied to our never ending need to earn money in inflexible jobs to continue to service our debts.

 

So, the bottom line then is that I should weed out all the unwanted wasteful spending from my monthly expenses, and trim costs wherever possible. In the short term not only will this help me to pay down my debt with the surplus but it will also make me feel better as I become more resourceful and find true meaning and joy and not false happiness that is based on ‘stuff’. Furthermore and most importantly to my point about working only on projects that I enjoy and in a flexible manner, this would also help me to achieve my dream of early retirement much sooner than otherwise expected.

Grocery Shopping – August 11th, 2015

 

Items 11-Aug
Bananas $3.43
Milk $3.97
Nutella $10.98
Noodles $4.79
Total $23.17
Points 0

While I did manage to get a good deal on the Nutella (1.45kg or 2 jars of 725g each), I forgot to present my PC Points Rewards card and therefore lost out on saving more points on the Bananas that I purchased. Hmmmm……the travails of being a hurry and not paying enough attention.

If Everyone Adapted A Frugal Living Attitude, Wouldn’t It Damage The Canadian Economy?

Can we all be frugal?Over the years as my addiction to stuff went on and on, I used to tell myself that by being an ultra consumerist shopping, and through shopping and shopping, I was in fact helping the economy. I always told myself that I needed to be a consumer in order to help the economy create jobs, which kept companies in business, which in turn helped me to earn an income and increase my standard of living. I believed that it was in fact my duty and it was only the constant cycle consumption which could help me live a better life. I also thought that Frugal Living was heretical to our capitalist society. But, I still had this nagging feeling that something in that argument was not right. This was because I knew that the environment was at a disadvantage. Yet I kept on believing that there was no way to stop consuming and the best we could do was to consume more environmentally friendly products.

 

Fast forward a few years into 2015 and I decided to research what would happen if all Canadian en-masse, decided to embrace frugality. Would it be unsustainable? Would we become a third world nation or worse? Would we have to become communists? The answer I found was quite shocking and even disturbing to me, to the point that I decided to deny it and say that it was just a few eccentric people who believed that mass scale frugality could help us retain our capitalistic values.

 

See, I had blindly followed what the mass media and politicians continued to tell us, instead of actually researching what economists had to say. And we can all agree that economists have a better understanding of economy and finance than journalists. According to many economics books and my utmost favourite, Economics Explained, in fact consumers are NOT the engine of growth. Then who are the drivers of an economy? Drum roll please…….it is the savers and investors.

 

As far as I was concerned, this was the final nail in my consumeristic coffin. I was so angry with myself for blindly believing that my insatiable need for ‘stuff’ which also has me in a $150,000 hole of debt, did not help the economy one single bit. Well, yes I did help, but not in a positive manner, but rather in a negative and self defeating manner. Not only did my endless consumption and need for stuff, help destroy the planet, but it also has made me a slave to my debt. It has also reduced my level of self worth and self esteem and handed over the power to the brands I wear, the company I keep and the stuff I own. This in turn has resulted in less time to actually live my life on my terms because all my waking hours are spent working to pay for the stuff I purchased and maintaining all that stuff that I acquired.

 

On the contrary, if over the last 10 years starting in 2005, I had become more frugal, saved over half of my income and invested it, not only would I have helped to save the planet, but I would have become more resourceful, less dependant on stuff to make me feel better, financially independent, and most importantly it would have given me time to live my life on my terms and not as a slave to my stuff and the debt I created to acquire the stuff. Well, they say you shouldn’t ‘cry over split milk’, don’t they?. But it really is hard not to and it was very hard for me not to try to deny the accuracy of what I was reading and become more aware of my pointless lifestyle. Yet, I was so angry with myself that I continued to justify this way of life more and more and went so far as to say to myself that frugality could not work if it happens enmasse, simply because the investments I make with my savings will not yield a high value and thus retiring early, maintaining a high standard of living etc, would just be an elusive dream.

 

Even though I kept telling myself all of these things, as the days passed and I stopped blaming myself too harshly I decided to carry out some further research in to what increased savings and reduced spending would actually do to the Canadian economy. Again, I was surprised to find that lower consumption would require less paid work for all of us and more time to rest relax and enjoy. This in turn would then result in higher levels of productivity as individuals work out of pleasure rather than because they are forced to in order to maintain their lifestyle. So what would we do with the surplus that we have in products and services, well the easiest answer is that we could export it while simultaneously decreasing our need to import. Even though we work less and consume less, it does not mean that companies will be less profitable, it will only result in more creative disruption and this will not be as terrifying to the job market or companies as it is at the current time in our extremely fragile and debt leaden economy. The reason for that is because the loss of a job, will not result in financial ruin for a frugal individual. For a highly productive company creative disruption would not result in bankruptcy but rather new opportunities and markets to exploit.

 

I know that I may not be explaining this like an economist and that my argument sounds simplistic, I know that you will find so many holes in this theory and you are right to do so. But, I also know that the economists and books I read make sense and they are based on tried and tested facts and figures, to which I’m unfortunately doing little justice. Either way I would love to hear from you and learn from you whether you agree with me or not and would welcome comments both positive and negative here. As I told you before, I believe that in order to be frugal and sustain it in the long term I have to feel fulfilled and I can only feel fulfilled if I change my mindset toward frugality and debating with you and reading your comments could only help me further.

 

 

 

Can Frugal Living Be A Reality In Canada?

Frugal Living in CanadaWhen I look at most of the writer and bloggers and all the advice that is available, I have seen that an overwhelming number of experts are living in the US and a majority of the advice being provided is not always best suited for Canada. So when I venture on this journey to find a balance between Frugal Living and Fulfillment, I often wondered and continue to wonder if its possible here in the Great White North. While I believe that it maybe significantly harder for me to live truly frugally, I don’t think it is impossible.

 

One of the many reasons for this belief is that two of my current favourite bloggers Cait and Cassie Howard are both from Canada. Cait has lived in Toronto at many times during her journey to be debt free and Cassie continues to live in Ontario, my own home province. Furthermore, they have both been able to reduce their debt drastically. Another one of my favourite bloggers, Mr. Money Mustache, himself is a fellow Canadian who lived in the great city of Hamilton in the past and continues to provide much insight and advice for us Junior Mustachians who endeavour to follow in his footsteps. So do I think I can really keep this up and see true results sometime in the future? Yes, I do. I do believe that, even though we may not have the same advantages when couponing and saving on every day items like they do in the US, we can still find many ways to be frugal in a very satisfying way. Based on Cait’s own journey of living a more simple and minimalistic life, I also believe that with the right mindset I too will be able to break free from this incessant need for ‘stuff’ and become more minimalistic and resourceful, which in turn will then help me to become more frugal and fulfilled.

I know that even though I may sound overly optimistic, this journey is going to be hard, but as I noted previously in my strategies for living a more frugal and fulfilled life, I am willing to learn from other bloggers, implement whatever strategies I can, modify others and even create my own strategies to meet my goal. But, most importantly I’m going make this fun and I am going to give it my all make Frugal Living in Canada a reality and I am going to retire early.

What are your experiences, trying to achieving Frugal Living in Canada?

Grocery Shopping – August 7th

Grocery Shopping GrapesToday I needed to purchase some essential sewing supplies and decided to go to the nearest Walmart and while I was there I also decided to do some grocery shopping. Here’s my total expenditure before HST was added on.

 

Items Aug 7th
Bagels $3.97
Bread $2.47
Chocolate Milk $4.00
Lemonade $6.00
Milk $3.97
Orange Juice $7.41
Sewing $19.81
Total $47.63
Points 0

Decluttering – Books for Sale on Kijiji

Taking the advice of two of my favourite bloggers Mr. Money Mustache and Cait Flanders, I have started systematically going through my belongings and decluttering in an attempt to be more minimalistic and also to find some additional sources of revenue to pay off my mountain of debt.

 

Today’s decluttering included the inventory and listing of many of my books. I decided to first research each book online at Amazon for their list price so I could have a better understanding of how much money I had blown over the years on books. While I love reading, the worst part of the problem even the academic books that I used when I was doing my MBA was that they have hardly been used or seem almost like as if I had taken them off a shelf at a book store. Case in point, I could have borrowed these books or bought my university books second hand and would still have got through with honours.

 

The grand total for the books at current Amazon.ca prices were $1063. I doubt I would be able to get even as much as 25% on the price for these on Kijiji.

 

As Mr. Mustache continues to preach, I have come to realise that we can all get rich with our public library. Therefore, I too have now made up my mind to take the wise young sage’s suggestion and not buy any new books unless I absolutely cannot find it at the library or get it at a second hand book store.

 

This is the first time that I’m selling books on Kijiji, but it certainly won’t be my last. What do I plan to do with the proceeds from the sale, put a 100% of it toward my existing credit card debt.

 

Do you have a hobby or addiction like me that has cost you $$$ over the years? What do you hope to do about it? Do you think you could realise some money by utilizing or selling your collection on Kijiji?

 

Title Author Amazon Price
The Sheikh’s Disobedient Bride Jane Porter $3.50
The Italian’s Blackmailed Mistress Jaqueline Baird $4.13
His Royal Love Child Lucy Monroe $3.50
The High Society Wife Helen Bianchin $4.97
Once Upon a Prince Holly Jacobs $5.00
His Convenient Marriage Sara Cravan $4.17
The King’s Bride Sharon Kendrick $3.50
For Duty’s Sake Lucy Monroe $5.47
The Millionaire Boss’s Reluctant Mistress Kate Hardy $3.67
A Bride for Kolovsky Carol Marinelli $4.93
Wife: Bought and Paid for Jacqueline Baird $6.32
In the Billionaire’s Bed Sara Wood $3.67
The Lawyer’s Contract Marriage Amanda Browning $3.96
Wife Agaist her Will Sara Cravan $4.19
Open Secret Janice Kay Ohinson $5.18
Honeymoon Proposal Hannah Bernard $5.03
How to Get Married Margot Early $4.86
The Virgin’s Lover Philippa Gregory $14.74
A Perfect Stranger Danielle Steel $8.99
Summer’s End Danielle Steel $11.99
Leap of Faith Danielle Steel $8.99
The Promise Danielle Steel $8.99
Bittersweet Danielle Steel $10.29
Who Took My Money Robert T Kiyosaki $19.95
The ABC’s of Real Estate Investing Ken McElroy $15.12
Cashflow Quadruant Robert T Kiyosaki $9.99
Guide to Becoming Rich Robert T Kiyosaki $33.00
Guide to Investing Robert T Kiyosaki $16.90
Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T Kiyosaki $14.96
Start Late Finish Rich David Bach $14.99
Who Moved My Cheese? (Hard Cover) Spencer Johnson $16.36
Beyond the Secret Dr. Lisa Love $15.79
Outliers Malcolm Gladwell $9.99
Blink Malcolm Gladwell $13.99
The First Rule of Ten hendricks Lindsay $11.00
The New Conceptual Selling Robert B Miller $14.58
Its Not About the Money Bob Proctor $9.99
The Art of Acting Stella Adler $24.21
The Montessori Method Maria Montessori $15.61
Montessori from the Start Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen $11.04
Teaching Montessori in the Home Elizabeth G. Hainstock $13.78
Montessori: The Absorbent Mind Maria Montessori $16.51
The Secret of Childhood Maria Montessori $9.49
The Discovery of the Child Maria Montessori $9.49
Compensation (2nd Ed) Kanungo/Mendonca $172.00
Stratgic Human Resources Management (2nd Ed) Belcout McBey $38.40
Management of Occupational Health and Safety (2nd Ed) kelloway Montgomery $50.00
Recruitment and Selection in Canada (3rd Ed) Caton, Wiesner, Hackett, Methot $40.00
Canadian Industrial Relations (10th Ed) Kehoe Archer $45.00
Between Public and Private Jurkowski and Eaton $36.98
Canada and the New World Order Wesson $69.99
Managing Performance through Training and Dev Saks and Haccoun $39.00
Strategy, Process, Content, Contex (2nd Edition) de Wit and Meyer $66.40
Digital Photography for Dummies $15.77
The Shack Young $12.76
The DaVinci Hoax Olson/Miesel $20.02
Total $1,063.10

 

Grocery Shopping – July 31st

Cheese

Items July 31st
Apples $4.98
Bagels $2.98
Bananas $3.21
Bread $1.00
Cabbage $1.66
Candy $4.00
Cheese $4.99
Chicken $4.42
Chocolate Milk $3.00
Freeze Pops $5.98
Grapes $1.98
Milk $11.91
Mushrooms $4.00
Noodles $1.28
Orange Juice $7.96
Sausages $4.00
Tylenol $6.99
Total $74.34
Points 1000

 

While I managed to stay just under my weekly budget of $75, I was also able to earn $1.00 in points. This brings my grand total of money spent on groceries for the month of July to $408.37 and total points earned to 32,800 or $32.80, which I could use toward future grocery purchases. As a part of my Frugal Living budget I want to eventually bring down my grocery purchases to $300 for our family of 4.

In future posts I will discuss some of the ways that I have and hope to use to further reduce the amount that I spend on groceries. In the Edible Frugality Page, I also hope to share some of my meal ideas, plans and recipes and track how and what we eat and how we manage on a such a seemingly small grocery budget.

Grocery Shopping – July 24th, 2015

Grocery Shopping Peaches

Items July 24th
Apples $4.98
Baguettes $2.00
Bananas $5.47
Beans (Red Kidney) $2.74
Beans (Green) $1.70
Bread $1.00
Carrots $2.97
Cauliflower $1.47
Chick Peas $3.99
Chillies $2.47
Cilantro $0.99
Eggs $3.98
Egg Plant $2.24
Grapes $3.96
Ground Beef $10.00
Milk $15.88
Onions $1.97
Onions (Red) $2.97
Potatoes $4.48
Rice $4.39
Sausages $10.35
Spices $6.76
Tomato $3.52
Tomato Paste $1.18
Training Diapers $14.99
Total $116.45
Points 20000

 

Today I went way over my recently created limit of keeping groceries below $75. My only consolation here was that I did accumulate 20,000 rewards points with my PC Plus Rewards card, which I can use to save $20 on future groceries.