Throw Your Shit Away

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Can you live with only 100 things? What about dressing yourself with only 33 items for 3 months? Minimalism is in, and experiments like The 100 Thing Challenge and Project 333 are popping up on lifestyle blogs everywhere. These challenges are a bit too extreme for little ol’ stuff-loving me, but I made a few notes and started taking back my space. I now throw out a minimum of one thing a day.

Since my girlfriend moved in, we’ve needed to make more room. There are now three people living in our 1,000 square feet, and just to fit us all comfortably, a lot of shit had to go. In the past month, we’ve thrown out old pillows, workout equipment, countless DVDs, unplayed PS4 games, posters, dishes, multiple boxes of unnecessary documents, and right now, we’re boxing up old glassware we’ll give to a friend. I look in my office closet now, and I see SPACE. I haven’t seen that much space since I moved in! A new addiction was born.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say 1,000 square feet? A realization dawned on me: With all our crap everywhere, we really had about 700 square feet. I made it my mission to reclaim my home, one box and one square foot at a time. I’ve mentioned before you really just rent everything you own. Stuff is only useful when you’re using it, right? Well, why not have someone else store it for you? I didn’t just haul my DVD collection to the dump. I donated everything to my local library. There, it helps enrich my community, and I can take out my old DVDs anytime I want! The PS4 games got traded in at EB and earned me $50 in store credit. Let’s face it: I’m gonna nerd out and get “No Man’s Sky” on Day 1.

There’s an entire industry preying on people overly attached to their shit. You can tell things are bad when companies like Public Storage don’t even put prices on their website. That’s literally the ONLY reason people are on their site! It also turns out 100 square feet of storage can cost more than $150/month! Why would you have SO MUCH SHIT, you need to pay ADDITIONAL RENT just to store it, unused?

There’s also a problem in having so much shit, you need to hire movers and trucks every time you change residences. I’ve done it, and got billed about $800. That was before this blog started. Now, I insist on doing everything without a moving company. Moving my girlfriend in was easy and only required the help of a friend. We owe him dinner. That’s it.

Having too much shit can even limit your moneymaking opportunities! My mom lives alone in the 5-bedroom townhouse my brother and I grew up in, and is limited in her ability to rent rooms to people because our family crap is everywhere. We’ve even been talking about her moving to the 1-bedroom in Surrey her sister owns so she can rent out the ENTIRE townhouse for $2,000+ per month! What’s stopping her? Our piles and piles of useless shit!

My challenge to you is to throw away one thing a day for at least a month, and not immediately fill the space up again with newer, shinier crap. You’ll actually be objectively richer if you have less stuff! Counterintuitive, I know. THROW OUT ONE THING A DAY FOR A MONTH. You’ll thank me, seriously.

Anything you haven’t worn in six months can go. Any piece of entertainment you haven’t looked at in a year can go. Anything you own a better version of can go.

Hell, with everything you’re tossing out, you might even be able to make a few bucks

Happiness is $100/Day

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You’ve probably heard a $75,000 salary is what you need to be Happy. That’s incorrect. $75,000 is what you need to be Happy if you’re silly and spendy. Here’s evidence of someone Happy at $36,000. Hell, here’s evidence of an Entire Family living on $25,330. For the purposes of today’s article though, I’m pinning Happiness at $36,500, or $100/day. Think of each day of Happiness as one unit of Happiness, and each unit is $100.

In an effort to keep myself honest, I have a confession to make: My jobs make me less than $36,500/year. I have other methods of income, and I get a lot of stuff for free, but the cash reality of my situation is I’m very average. To many, I’d be considered poor. My counterargument is I work way less and am arguably happier, and I’m staying afloat, so I’m just fine. Consider this evidence of another person happy on < $36,500. I don’t even feel as though I’m making sacrifices. I eat at restaurants nearly every day, currently have 30 litres of beer in my fridge, see the latest movies, and I travel enough that I can’t even remember all the places I’ve been. I can’t even think of anything else I’d want! I don’t want anything shiny, and a huge house would just mean more shit to clean. Any more travel would be exhausting because I’m a homebody, AND I’VE ALREADY BEEN TO TEN COUNTRIES! The last thing I want is unbridled consumerism. This article makes me sick. Andy has a Lamborghini Huracán and moans about not being able to fit his backpack and textbooks in it. After a certain level of spendiness, you apparently become an idiot!

Human minds adapt easily to any situation. Get used to living on less and you’ll be happy living on less. I’ve turned it into a game. Since I work only 30 hours a week (but don’t need to), I have plenty of time to brainstorm ways to save money. That’s one of the reasons this blog exists! On the flip side, get used to spending like a maniac and no amount of Hugo Boss tees or Gucci bags will be enough to satisfy you. Once you raise the bar for what makes you Happy, you’ll be miserable the moment you have to eat at Olive Garden instead of Le Crocodile. Is that any way to live?

Now you know that $36,500 is your Happiness Number, here’s what you should do if you make more: INVEST. Occasional splurging is fine, but don’t make a habit of it. Your goal is now to reach your Retirement Number, which is your Annual Expenses times 25. Once you reach that, you should be able to reliably make 5% each year from your investments, and withdraw 4% to finance your lifestyle. Your nest egg keeps growing, and you’ll have enough to live on FOREVER. After that, you’ll learn that Happiness isn’t tied to Money after $100/day. You’ll realize Happiness is actually more like “Money + Time + Freedom”. Come to think of it, that may be why I’m super stoked about life, even as a poor kid. Most of my work hours are optional, which translates to Time and Freedom whenever I want. Huh.

A final note: You can keep “investing” after you reach your Retirement Number. Invest in nonmaterial things that bring you joy. Donate to a charity you care about, put money back into your community, give young entrepreneurs a leg up. You don’t need a Lamborghini Huracán, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t know how to drive it anyway. Andy certainly doesn’t. He can’t even figure out what to do with his laundry.

What do you think? Can YOU get by on $100/day?

Optimizing Your Lifestyle for Maximum Cash Flow

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You can ALWAYS make an extra buck. Craigslist has no shortage of odd jobs, and I’ve already talked about having a 10-to-2. However, what most people don’t realize is we’re living in a massive pool of abundance and there are more ways to make money than you think. Even now, after weeks of relentless optimizing, I’m still finding ways to cash in.

I make cash on trash all the time. Old iPhones can trade in for $400+ in some stores, and there are always Craigslist postings. I have tons of junk lying around too, and I’m always selling stuff off. For instance, who wants my Rock Band 1, 2 and 3 (PS3), Rock Band 4 (PS4), and all my attachments including guitars, drums and mic? Make me an offer. I want that stuff gone now, and that cash would look damn fine in my mutual funds. This isn’t limited to your obvious stuff either. Are your folks getting rid of unused furniture? Do you have collections of comic books or Magic cards from your childhood? With some light digging, I unearthed my entire “Y: The Last Man” collection signed by Pia Guerra. I wonder how much that’s worth. What used to be important to you probably isn’t that vital now. Get rid of your shit.

My girlfriend and I are also exploring Airbnb. We discovered I have an aunt who’s an absentee homeowner in Surrey. It’s a one-bedroom in a nice neighbourhood. Close to a mall, restaurants nearby, a block from transit. We’re thinking about taking in guests for $60/night. We’ll also have a listing for our place in Richmond. If we get a booking for Richmond, we’ll stay in Surrey. If we get bookings in Surrey AND Richmond, we’ll crash at my mother’s place in New Westminster. Instant hundreds per month. If you can handle living with an extra person as a roommate, it’s even steadier. I live with my girlfriend and a roommate, and they pay rent to me. I literally make money living at home. I have negative rent.

I also hire housecleaners. I know I should just man up and do it myself but every three months, I shell out $120 to get my place hotel-clean. This isn’t a company, but friends of mine who happen to need an extra buck. In a brilliant twist, giving people work means they’re more willing to help you out too! People I’ve hired have given me photography work on multiple occasions. Obviously, you can be the housecleaner too. My friends clean the whole place in three hours. That’s $40/hour. Offer to clean at your friends’ places. Trust me, they’ll always appreciate the help.

Finally, do you have anything you can rent out? I do. I have a strong network of professional photographers who rent equipment from me. Cameras, lights, backdrops, etc. I rent my gear out for less than rental houses do, but still make $100+ for each camera rental. The Canon 1D X I own can go for $275/day at a rental house! I charge $150. It’s a win for everyone.

If I went bonkers and utilized ALL these sources of income, I’d be up $1,000+ every month! Do you have trash you can turn into cash? Do you have an extra room you can turn into a cash cow? Do you like the idea of making $40/hour for something ANYBODY can do? If you’re motivated to make money, you can ALWAYS do it. Stop marathoning “Breaking Bad” for the sixth time, get off your ass, and turn Making Money into a game.

What are YOU missing? Tell us in the comments.

Hate Your 9-to-5? Start a 10-to-2!

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I was hungry in 2007. I had just given up on my childhood dream of becoming a film director, and I held a diploma in Motion Picture Production that I knew would never be useful. I’d just wasted two years, and all I had was an entry-level DSLR and no plan. I knew I needed to make money, and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna do it in a Burger King. Even at 19, I thought I was too good for that shit. I was a typical millennial, full of pride and not enough shame. I was on my way to being a fuckup.

One night, I opened Craigslist. At this point, I’d been a casual photographer for seven months and was halfway through Project 365. I always had my camera on me, and took at least one picture a day that year as a sort of visual journal. I thought to myself, “What the hell, I’ll try and make some money as a photographer. Everyone else seems to be doing it.” I was naïve, but Craigslist was the ultimate equalizer. Browsing through the postings, I discovered a couple: Sarah and Russell. They were eloping in Vancouver and needed a shooter on the cheap. I had no experience and asked for $60. They said yes.

From 2010 to 2013, I had bills to pay and had a day job in a high-end liquor store. By then, I was making equal amounts in both jobs. The only difference was my liquor store took up 40 hours a week – the proverbial 9-to-5 – and my photography was relegated to 10 PM and into the night, or what I called my “10-to-2”. A mental shift happened when I was fired in 2013. If I was making the same amount of money in 20 hours a week doing photography, what was stopping me from utilizing my other 40 hours doing the same thing and making even MORE money? Maybe I could even have time to myself! Holy shit. So I started doing that, and it all began with my 10-to-2.

This isn’t a new idea. Gary Vaynerchuk talks about working on your passion from 7 PM to 2 AM in his book “Crush It!”, but I don’t know how sustainable that is. Four hours a night after a leisurely dinner was what produced the best results for me, and I’m a night owl, so 10-to-2 was what stuck. Some people, in dire need of money, might suggest taking on a SECOND full-time job similar to their 9-to-5. I’m here to tell you that’s a great way to kill your dreams. 80 hours a week? Faced with that, I’d rather swan dive into a wood chipper. 80 hours a week at jobs you’re not passionate about WILL kill you. I used to do 40 hours at my regular job and 20 at my passion, so 60 hours a week. That was tough. Within three years though, I’d moved to 20 hours at a liquor store job I don’t financially need and 8 hours at photography. Hell, throw in the 2 hours I put in every week writing for this blog for an even 30! Where some people grind out 80 hours a week wanting to die, I work way less and work for fun! And the bills all get paid!

You don’t even need to do it for the money. I fully advocate that ANYONE should have a “10-to-2”, whatever the hours. If you follow your passion and have even an iota of business sense, you CAN make money, but that’s not the point. What matters is you’re finally realizing the potential inside you to do something you actually care about. Write that novel. Fix up that old car. Learn to code. Start that personal finance blog. You’ll even be happier at your day job, knowing you can work FOR YOURSELF later in the day! It’s exhilarating.

In the movie of your life, what would you like to see? Is your narrative arc really as a photocopy jockey, or do you see yourself building a startup in your basement that will take over the world? Do you want to make someone else rich, or do you want to strive for greater and eclipse your boss? The decision is yours. What will YOU do tonight?