Livin’ la Vida Local

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Any place you go to regularly should be within walking distance of your home. Otherwise, you’re being wasteful. Too harsh? Read on. I might just convince you to move.

Remember when I told you all about my home? As awesome as it is already, I forgot to tell you about its OTHER awesome benefit. IT’S CLOSE TO LITERALLY FUCKING EVERYTHING. I’m not kidding! Within a block, here’s the list of everything I’ve got: a Safeway, a Shoppers, a produce store, a pizza joint, an Italian restaurant, two places to get your hair cut, a post office, a neighbourhood pub, an RBC (my bank), a TD (my roommate’s bank), a liquor store, a bakery, a Subway, an AWESOME sushi restaurant, a phở place, a walk-in clinic, numerous dentists, a gas station, and a 7-Eleven. Did I miss anything? Probably! I live next to an urban oasis. If I want beef teriyaki at 4 in the morning, I can make it happen. It’s a goddamn paradise.

The only thing that isn’t close is the liquor store I work at part-time, and even then, it’s 6 KM away and on a bus route. I drive there, but it only costs me $1.20 there and back since my 2008 Corolla sips fuel. It’s actually cheaper than taking the bus since I live so close! Did you know the average Canadian commute costs $7,540/year? That’s the equivalent of 6,283 there-and-back commutes for me! WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ALL COMMUTING SO MUCH?!?

The best part about choosing a great neighbourhood is having an expanded radius of comfort. If you live in the suburbs, your radius of comfort is likely limited to your own home. Every time you need something, you have to leave your bubble. Whoops, forgot the mustard! See you all in half an hour! Choosing to live near places you need is entirely different. With a Safeway across the street, my “fuck, I forgot the mustard” moments are minor inconveniences instead of an ordeal. Also, the pub across the street is practically an extension of my living room! Don’t feel like entertaining 20 people because they might trash my place while drunk? Take ‘em to the pub! It’s insane how much my new place has simplified my life. I don’t even know how much I’m saving by living here instead of deep in the suburbs like I used to, but I’m sure it numbers in the thousands each year. Live close to the places you use. Drive less. Move if you have to.

You’ll have to find a balance though. It’s likely rent will be higher in convenient areas, so you’ll have to do some math to see if it’s worth it. Then again, my ex-girlfriend used to live here for $316.81, so it’s possible to get the best of both worlds. You just have to do your homework. Also, choose jobs that are close to you. Each mile you live from work costs you $795 in commuting expenses per year.

Where do you go most often? Can you live closer? Tell us on our Facebook.

Income vs. Outcome

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Impulse spending used to be a huge problem for me. How else could I explain all the weird crap I own? Why do I have pink Docs? Why did I spend $60 on a “Dreamy Trudeau” sweater? WHY DO I HAVE SIX PLAYSTATIONS?!? I’m slowly learning though. With most of these purchases, I didn’t consider the true Outcome of owning them. By the end of this post, I’ll get you thinking about your Income vs. Outcome too.

I’m lousy with impulse spending because my photography job has largely destroyed any intelligent relationship I had with money. When I landed a photography booking, it’d usually mean at least $2,000 in the bank, so a $400 PS4 wasn’t a big deal. I started a day job again in the past year though, so my relationship with money became healthier. Instead of using my $2,000/day metric for making purchases, I think of my $13.50/hour at the liquor store. (And that’s really more like $12/hour since I bank my raise.) Now, I always consider my Income and the expected Outcome of my purchases. I’ll give you an example. I may be going a little overboard with quantifying unquantifiables, but bear with me.

Let’s take the $60 Trudeau sweater. I think it’s hilarious, but it’s still just an item of clothing. I wore it about 10 times in the past year. Every time I wore it, some stranger would make a remark about it and we’d banter on a bit, have a laugh, and go about our day. The sweater is also kind of a dated joke, so I expect that to happen less as time goes on. In three years, I’ll probably wear it 30 times. Since I’m calculating for $12/hour from the liquor store after banking my raise, the sweater is essentially costing me 5 Working Hours. Is wearing that sweater 30 times in three years worth 5 hours of stocking, mopping, and talking about wine? Well, I actually enjoy my day job, so I say yes. The answer would be vastly different if I hated that job, but the key thing to note is I’m comparing my Income to my purchase’s Outcome, and deciding whether it’s worth it or not. Even though the sweater ranks among my dumber purchases, I still think it was worth it!

What about a night of moderate drinking at the pub? I went out last night and blew $40 for four hours of drinking with friends. That’s about 3.3 Working Hours. Wait, 3.3 Working Hours for 4 Drinking Hours? That doesn’t seem worth it. Besides, I drink enough that alcohol isn’t the hilarious roller coaster it used to be, and it’s really just something to do while socializing. I could take the alcohol away and probably still have just as good a time! The Outcome wasn’t worth the Income I was putting into it! Well… fuck.

I encourage you to do this mental exercise every time you’re about to make an impulse purchase. Gonna buy a $500 Apple Watch? Is it worth how much you have to work for it? That’s for you to decide. Shelling out $60 for a fancy dinner? Is it worth 3 or 4 hours of Income? Is the Outcome – two hours of eating great food – worth it in your mind? Maybe you’re buying a BBQ. $400 of Income becomes an Outcome of countless summer days gathering with friends making perfect steak after perfect steak. Sounds good to me! Try to always consider your Income versus your expected Outcome with every major purchase. It’s the only intelligent way to spend money.

Hopefully, you’ll find yourself spending a lot less.

Just One Less

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You don’t need a large coffee. No one does.

I was sitting in front of my computer, staring at the sea of 7-Eleven coffee cups in front of me. Many of them were large. Heck, I’d even bought an extra large. What the fuck was I doing? Half of these still had coffee in them. “I should clean up more often,” I thought to myself. It’s far too often I bring a fresh cup of coffee home, and end up taking a sip of yesterday’s by accident. Ew.

I already know to limit my Starbucks habit to once or twice a month, but a working entrepreneur NEEDS coffee. I figure $1.57 for the large coffee at 7-Eleven isn’t too bad. If I had one every day for an entire year, we’re looking at $573.05. When I calculated that out, I was surprised! That’s not insignificant! If I cut out coffee, I could buy a 50” HDTV every year! Naturally, I busted out the calculator and started looking for ways to save.

The next size down is a medium: $1.31. I’d save 26¢ on every transaction if I simply went down a size. Just one less. Maybe I could have only six cups of coffee in a week. Well, I cheated because I found out the 7-Eleven app gives me every seventh cup of coffee for free. I’m paying for “just one less”. Cool, I save $1.31 every week, and since that cup of coffee is free, I can go nuts and even get an extra large like some sort of Russian czar. $1.31 x 52 = $68.12, so I save $68.12 every year solely due to that app. That’s pretty fucking good. And since I’m saving 26¢ on each of the 313 cups of coffee I actually pay for, I’m looking at an additional savings of $81.38. Just like that, by employing the mentality of “just one less”, I’ve liberated $149.50 per year at the most basic level of daily spending. Now, here’s the crazy part: If you invest that $149.50 every year in US index funds generating an average of 7% each year from the time you’re 35 to 65, YOU GET $15,110.42! Doesn’t seem possible? Math it out yourself.

I even find myself thinking “just one less” when I’m buying only one thing. Do I need it? Can I borrow it? Often, I can do enough mental judo to put the item back on the shelf. This has saved me thousands and kept crap from accumulating in my home. It even helps with household necessities. Do I need to have the most expensive dishwasher, or will the next level down do? Is it really worth an extra $5 to feel like I’m wiping my butt with angels, or can I buy no-name toilet paper? Sometimes, you’ll find you really do want butt angels, but simply by remembering “just one less” every time you make a purchase, you’ll figure out your non-negotiables and be far richer for it.

This can apply to healthy habits as well. “Just one less” doughnut. “Just one less” hour in front of the TV. “Just one less” cigarette. By giving yourself tiny nudges over a long period of time, the compound effect builds into huge gains.

Can you live with less? Prove it, and tell us in the comments.

Veblen Goods and Conspicuous Consumption

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In 1899, an American economist named Thorstein Veblen wrote a book called “The Theory of the Leisure Class”. In it, he describes the phenomenon of Conspicuous Consumption, and explains how trying to earn social status through material goods can make for poor buying decisions. This idea became so prominent that modern economists now refer to luxury items as Veblen goods. Basically, Veblen goods are average items marketed at a high price point to prey on The Rich, and The Rich fall for it every damn time. Demand actually increases as the price increases. Examples include Hermes handbags, any Rolls Royce vehicle, and artwork by Christopher Wool. Seriously, have you seen that guy’s “art”? It makes me angry every time (so I guess he must be doing SOMETHING right).

Now that you know this, you can probably sell your Rolex and start ignoring Michelin stars. The entire luxury goods market is aimed at insecure people who have money, but little faith in their social status. They need to SHOW they have money. Think of it as a tax they pay to impress people. What really boggles my mind is there’s zero financial gain from having luxury goods. I suppose you could theoretically say driving a Maserati Quattroporte when you’re a real estate agent could help land higher-level sales, but by then, YOU’VE ALREADY SPENT $115,825. For the other 99.9% of us, expensive cars are bullshit when you can get from A to B in a decent $4,500 commuter car. You’ll rarely hit 100 MPH on city roads anyway, and if you do, enjoy your traffic tickets. I say it’s lose-lose. Had you invested your $115,825 at 35 and let it sit until 65 at 5%, you’d have HALF A MILLION. One shitty luxury decision can ruin your retirement.

So am I saying you should have ZERO luxury goods? No, not exactly. I’m just saying you should look at a product’s practicality before its brand name. Don’t spend $1,200 on a handbag that does the same job as a 0.1¢ plastic bag. Don’t buy a 1961 Cheval Blanc just because you saw it in a movie when you like Barefoot. Don’t spend $500 at a ritzy restaurant and walk away hungry. There’s spending on things that are worth it, and then there are Veblen goods. I actually smirk a bit when I see people showing off their expensive cars now. In many cases, I know they’re financing them, and I can’t help but picture them stuck in traffic behind a Smart car while cyclists blissfully pass them in the bike lane. Everyone these days seems to own a luxury car, but how many can escape 40 hours a week making someone else rich?

Once you pay that much money for something, you also start to lose leverage when you’re dissatisfied. I dined at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Paris once, and dropped $600+ for the privilege. My fish was unevenly cooked, my sommelier was oddly passive-aggressive, and they deliberately seated me in a corner away from their more opulent clientele. I could’ve complained, but what’s the point? I’m sure their staff regarded me as a commoner anyway, looking to milk an upper class establishment for all they were worth. It’s a different kind of club up there, and it’s not worth trying to get in. I’m still not sure why I tried.

Finally, Veblen goods are particularly dangerous to the faux riche, and I willingly admit I fall into that category. At my current level of Debt, I shouldn’t be buying ANYTHING except basics, but here we are. I have an Apple computer, bottles of $400 Bordeaux in my cellar, and enough PlayStations to run an arcade. That’s why, right now, I pledge to spend only $100/month on material goods. I’ll roll that limit forward if I have any left over, but that means only blowing $600 on material goods between now and Christmas. Bug me and make sure I post updates. With some luck, maybe I can be Rich for real.

How to Reduce Your Taxes

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2015 was the first time I insured my photo equipment. It was also the year I tallied up how much camera gear I own and what it was worth: $35,807.20! It’s worth considerably less now due to depreciation, but that wasn’t what surprised me. What blew my mind was how much I paid in GST and PST. At 5% GST and 7% PST in British Columbia, I paid an additional $4,296.86 in sales tax! Holy hell!

Taxes are great for a lot of things, and I’m glad to live in Canada where healthcare is free, roads are paved, and anyone can have a high school education. That being said, while I was building my photo business, $4,296.86 left my bank account, providing no direct benefit to me, and that could’ve been easily preventable! I could’ve borrowed equipment, bought used gear, or gotten by on cheaper gear. If sales tax weren’t a thing here, that $4,000+ could’ve bought me another Canon 1D X used!

Sales tax is particularly insidious because once you get used to it, you don’t even think about it anymore. Even BC’s 10% liquor tax is simply accepted on top of the already crazy 5% GST. See that 24-pack of Budweiser advertised for $32.99? It’s actually $37.94 plus $2.40 for the bottle deposit: $40.34! HOW IS SOMETHING WITH AN INVISIBLE 18% MARKUP DEEMED ACCEPTABLE BY ANYONE? You know how 18% automatic gratuities are annoying at restaurants when you have a large party? Every time you buy ANYTHING and have to pay sales tax, you’re forced to “tip” your government. I’m not saying that’s bad; I’m saying it’s something you should at least think about. Aren’t you already paying enough in income tax? You should be doing everything in your power to not pay more!

This March, I spent $696.48 on Alcohol (which is an improvement). $605.63 of that was stuff I was actually able to drink, and $90.85 was sales tax. I could buy a lot of beer for $90.85. Heck, I could BREW a lot of beer. What I hate to admit about this is Alcohol is an entirely unnecessary expense. In buying $605.63 of unnecessary beer, I threw away $90.85 for the luxury! It’s just gone, providing me no benefit! HOW IS THIS OKAY? And what about the four tickets to San Francisco I just bought for me and my friends? The base fare was $595.36 USD, the federal tax was $44.64 USD, and then there’s a bunch of shit like “passenger facility tax” when I don’t even know what that is! Total damage: $752.80 USD, or $1,034.28 CAD. Only $817.97 CAD went towards the flight. The rest is bullshit I have to pay because I had the gall to actually buy something with my money. WHAT ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO USE MONEY FOR?

From now on, tax is not “invisible” to you. When I bought my $6,000 camera and received a bill for $6,720, I should’ve been outraged. Sales tax is a ripoff. Look for ways to avoid sales tax legally. Buy things used. Borrow things, since you don’t own anything anyway. Avoid luxury items. The more expensive something is, the more money goes up in smoke for no good reason. Live frugally, and save your money. You literally get robbed with every in-store transaction.

You Don’t Own Anything

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You’ve probably figured out by now the main way to Get Rich is to Stop Buying Shit. Many of us, myself included, purchase stuff because we want the convenience of services on demand. Think about it: If you OWN something, it’s able to perform a service for you at any time. You’re not really buying the Thing, you’re buying Convenience. You don’t really want “a blender”, you want blended drinks at the touch of a button. You could easily go over to a friend’s place and use their blender, but you don’t. You buy the blender because you don’t want to go next door and bug your buddy. You now OWN the blender. Go, you. Have a kale shake.

BUT WAIT! What if I told you you don’t own the blender at all? Remember, you’re buying Convenience, not the Thing. What if I told you the only time your investment is paying off is when you’re actively using it? Deep down, you know it’s true. The rest of the time, the Thing just takes up space and gets in the way. Let’s crunch some numbers.

I’m a massive PlayStation dork. I’ve already mentioned my $5,000 video game habit, and here’s my half-assed attempt to justify it. My roommate and I play together on two screens in our living room. With games like Minecraft and Diablo III, we’ve logged about 200 hours playing together, so 400 man-hours. I’ve also played roughly 400 hours on my own, so we’re looking at 800 man-hours of entertainment. If you look at that from a rental perspective, I’ve “rented” access to PlayStation media at $6.25/man-hour so far. Not great, and probably worse after we account for electricity usage. I’m gonna use good ol’ Ballpark Math and put the total at $7.50/man-hour. This is, so far, a Bad Investment, and if I hadn’t paid $5,000 up front, I certainly wouldn’t rent entertainment today for $7.50/hour. Every man-hour cost me as much as a movie ticket, which could’ve been entertainment for TWO hours. Yikes. This is especially bad because I have access to free entertainment. I could go to the library and read a book instead of chasing PlayStation trophies. Based on this example alone, I’m a huge dumbass!

But what about you? Let’s say you buy a book for $20. Already not the greatest investment because you can just borrow one from a library, but you like the way new books smell so you do it anyway. You finish it in four hours, so $5/hour. You put that book on your shelf like a reading trophy and never pick it up again. In this example, you’re basically renting the book for four hours at $5/hour, and then the book takes up residence in your life until you decide to get rid of it. So is it worth it? Some of you will say, “Yeah, at least I’m not as stupid as Ben and his bajillion PlayStations,” but what I’m HOPING you might say is, “Maybe this is a good argument to not buy things at all and look for low-cost, non-ownership options to meet my temporary needs.” Maybe a bit of inconvenience – in this case, hunting down a copy to borrow from a friend – is good! Maybe this is why you should take public transit instead of buying a car and save yourself shitloads of money! Maybe now, instead of thinking you “own” something, you’ll understand you’re really just renting shit, then storing it at your expense when you’re not using it!

The next time you buy something, I want you to repeat this: “I do not and will never ‘own’ this Thing. This is strictly a temporary Service I am purchasing. I can use it lots to maximize my Investment, but do I need it? Can something else provide this Service for free?”

The Wealthy are willing to overcome a bit of inconvenience on their road to riches. The question is: Are you?

Leave us a note in the comments.

Shiny Things Are Stupid

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I own many shiny things. There’s a long list, but the main items up for debate are my Canon 1D X and my admittedly ridiculous collection of PlayStations (3 PS4s, 2 PS3s and 1 PS2). While the 1D can be written off as a business expense, the gaming expenses are pretty nuts. With all the screens, controllers and games added in, we’re looking at roughly $5,000+ I’ve spent on video games. Crazy, right? Or is it? Let us know in the comments, but let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of today’s post: Why are shiny things dumb, and how can omitting them from your life improve it?

I don’t drive a nice car. I’m actually driving my mom’s shitbox Corolla and don’t tell her this, but putting a few dents in it from time to time isn’t something that worries me. I get basic insurance, and MPG is something that matters to me. I crave efficiency and practicality. On the other side of the spectrum, I see all sorts of ridiculous cars in Richmond, BC where I live: Maseratis, BMWs and miscellaneous other expensive vehicles being driven by 20-year-olds. I admit flaunting wealth can be kinda fun, but when you’re 20 with an N on the back, you just look like an idiot trying to fit in. It’s obvious you didn’t earn the money to buy said vehicle, and it’s obvious you care more about appearance than substance. Don’t be a dipshit.

But wait! What if you’re NOT a dipshit and you still buy a car you can’t afford? I sat down with my friend Mike in the UK and prices are just a wee bit crazier over there. This is the story of his Toyota GT86. In his words:

“Toyota Gt86 list price in U.K is £28000. I pay £460 a month for the car, then i have to pay car tax and insurance plus budget for fuel which has been high in proce over here. around £1.20 per liter. ($2.45)”

UH, WHAT?!? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t £28,000 about $52,723.06 in Canadian dollars? His £460/month payments are like $866.16! That’s like Vancouver rent, just for a tiny room with wheels! He also pays twice what we do for gas: £1.20 is about $2.26. WHAT. My immediate question is whom he’s trying to impress. If it’s women, I’d like to point out financial stability is far sexier in the long run than an overpriced sports car. But hey, I get it; I have toys too. IT’S JUST THAT MINE ARE 10X LESS COSTLY. But wait, it gets worse.

“as part of my contract, i have to have my car serviced by the dealer every year and there are different grades of service. my first was around £180 for oil and filter change basically which should be classed as fucking thef because i could do it myself for 1/4 the price.”

Don’t even get me started.

“year 2 was supposed to cost around £450 at toyota for the more detailed service. i found out i could get it done at any vat registered dealer. my friend has his own garage, he basically charged me for parts and a little labour. It cost me £190”

In short: Fuck you, Toyota.

I may be $22,535.05 in debt, but that was a series of hundreds and hundreds of minor mistakes. Mike made One Big Mistake and fucked his financial future in colossal ways. Luckily, he’s getting rid of it soon, and for good reason. The last time I saw him, a massive hailstorm had just hit Newcastle. His shiny GT86 was suddenly peppered with tiny dents. He lost his shit. Why put so much money into something that only causes you stress? That seems like a shitty investment! But wait, you wanna see numbers, right? Let’s run ‘em: $52,723.06, if I invested it now at 27 averaging 7% interest, IS $689,579.21 BY RETIREMENT AT 65!

Mike, sell the goddamn car. I know you’re reading this. Sell the goddamn car. Your future depends on it.

That’s just one example, but if you’re ever gonna succeed in life, you need to stop being so precious about the shit you like to keep pristine. Your shiny car is bullshit. The $1.2M mansion you’re pulling 70 hours a week for is bullshit. My PlayStation collection is bullshit. None of it matters. If it’ll cause you stress when it’s inevitably compromised in a way that WILL COST YOU EVEN MORE MONEY, it’s a poor investment. However, if it SAVES you money, or GENERATES money, you’re in the clear. That’s why my Canon 1D X isn’t stupid. That camera can make me thousands in a day. That can stay.

Here’s a Compound Interest Calculator. The next time you’re considering a Large Purchase, figure out the Real Cost and how much Money you’d have if you invest it instead. I calculate for 7% because I invest in US index funds. Literally NEVER skip this step. If you follow this advice, you’ll be richer than you ever dreamed.

See you when you’re Retired. Fancy some PlayStation?

A Story of Great Interest

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I owe a stupid amount of money. We’ve talked about this before and things are even more grim now, as I still appear to be spending more than I’m earning. There are a few reasons for this – namely that I keep my business finances entirely separate from my personal finances, and though I’m busier than ever, not a lot of money from my business makes it into my personal chequing account since I reinvest it in advertising. For instance, I’m currently producing my own video ad and that’s running up quite the tab. C’est la vie.

The point is I’m $22,000 in the hole because I’m the Dumb Ben, but this turned into a great opportunity to research interest rates and get debt savvy. I’d also like to point out my $22,000-in-debt is a little different than $22,000-in-debt for someone who still has Rent. I pay something in the neighbourhood of $100 per month as “rent” on my Debt. I’m pretty okay with that, but obviously, if you’re still paying Vancouverite prices on Rent, $22,000-in-debt is a bit of an emergency. Get on that. As an aside, I know I’m a bit of a financial shitshow. For one, if I don’t have Rent, why am I so poor with money management that I have Debt? I’m a mess. Anyway.

There’s always room for improvement in managing your interest rates. I’m sure many of you reading this carry some sort of balance on a 19.99% credit card. This is a huge no-no. Every $1,000 you have to pay interest on costs you $200/year with no added benefit. There are credit lines for a reason, and as you’ll soon see, even other credit cards can help you manage your Debt.

According to my bank, I owe $7,023.58. There’s $5,000 on a 9.68% credit line, $35.75 on a 7.69% RBC RateAdvantage Visa, and $1,987.83 on a 19.99% Visa Infinite Avion. Obviously, I’ll be moving my Avion debt to my super awesome RateAdvantage – get this! – and I’ll be popping into my bank this week to see if I can do the same for my credit line. If that all goes according to plan, my monthly interest payments are $45. Not bad at all for owing $7,000. Still carrying most of your Debt on a 19.99% credit card? Apply for a credit line. Ask about their low interest credit cards and avoid the ones with high annual fees. You could find something as low as my 7.69% RateAdvantage Visa. You won’t know unless you try. (Annual fee: $39.)

So what about the other debt? I also owe $15,511.47 at 5% interest, which hits me for $64.63 every month. Where’d I get such an awesome interest rate, you ask? I’ll tell you: my brother. Somehow, at 22, he has more money than I do. He’s got $50,000 in investments, but they’re silly investments so I’m trying to help him out. Instead of the 1.x% bond he’s currently investing in, which doesn’t even keep up with Canada’s 2% inflation, I offered him 5% with the condition that I pay it all off by July 22, 2018 – my 30th birthday. If I’m short and desperate, I’ll pull from my RRSP. I have $13,000+ in there, and I know that’s not a lot, but I never plan to Retire. I think I’m covered.

In managing your Debt, you have more resources than you realize. There are credit lines, low interest credit cards, even family members who’d love to help you out. The best part about utilizing people like your parents or siblings is it keeps your money in the family. Just make sure you actually pay people back. Done carelessly, this is the kind of shit that can tear a family apart. Not everyone is as awesome as my brother.

Total monthly damage for borrowing $22,535.05: $109.64. I’m not proud of that number, but let’s see what it would be if I were a total idiot borrowing at 19.99%: monthly payments of $375.40. I save $3,189.12/year just by doing a little research and shuffling some debt around creatively.

Is $109.64/month worth it to borrow that amount? I’m actually a Yes on this. Borrowing that money allowed me to buy the Canon 1D X I run my business on. Borrowing that money allowed me to strengthen my relationships and make new ones. Borrowing that money allowed me to have a shitload of fun. There’s no doubt I’ll pay it back before I turn 30 either. I just need to put $800+ toward it every month and now that I know it’s a goal, I’ll do my best not to backslide.

I really picked a shitty time to start this blog though, eh? Sure, let’s talk about saving money during my three slowest and spendiest months of the year! Jesus Christ.

WHY ARE YOU EVEN TAKING ADVICE FROM ME.

Why I Am A Fraud: A Story of Booze and Strippers

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You probably shouldn’t listen to me. By the time you finish reading this, you’ll come to understand I really don’t know much about personal finance, and should be the last person dispensing advice. I mean, I can’t even follow my OWN damn advice. I’m a fraud. Here’s a completely candid look into The Shit I Spend Money On.

Even my least costly expenses are pretty high. In January, I spent $138.03 on Entertainment. There was a movie date, I bought a video game, and I also got tickets to see Basia Bulat this month. There’s also the matter of my Debt. I owe $15,400 at 5% and $4,300 at 9.68%, so $99.47 just disappears out of my account once a month. I also somehow blew $229 on cabs. I still haven’t figured out if that’s more expensive than maintaining my car. I imagine filling up the tank a few times would cost me about $229 anyway and this way, I can drink freely. Drinking’s a big part of my life, in case you hadn’t heard.

Oh, I should probably mention Alcohol. Are you ready for this? Here’s the final figure for January: $1,120.27 on booze. I’m not fucking kidding you. If I keep drinking at this pace, I’ll have blown $13,443.24 by the end of the year! For some stupid goddamn reason, I spent an average of $36.14 on liquor for EVERY DAY of January. I probably need an intervention.

Food came in at $651.08. I ate out a lot, and I know I can save more in this category. $21/day on Food is pretty nuts. I also rolled Coffee into this category. I was once a Starbucks Whore™, but I made sure to buy a coffeemaker, so that’s a step in the right direction.

My craziest expense was a $158.48 dinner date. I figure it was worth it, because she’s my girlfriend now. Funniest expense? $10 to see strippers. That was one hell of a bachelor party. I also made the wise financial decision to NOT get a $50 lap dance. Not today, nerdy Polish girl who looks vaguely like Taylor Swift. I know the only thing you want in my pants is my money, and you’re not getting it.

Total damage: $3,363.26. Total earnings (during January, so a slow month): $2,394.21. Keep in mind this is money I’m barely working for. This money just kind of happens to me with my lazy shifts at the liquor store. I also had two wedding consultations in January that would’ve resulted in $5,000+ had I landed both jobs. Had I simply been luckier, my earnings would’ve been $8,000, which could explain why I blew $1,120.27 on goddamn alcohol. Smart Ben reckons he can eat for three months on that amount!

Maybe I’ll learn. I most likely won’t though. I took my girlfriend out last night and racked up a bill of $456.73. Yes, I’m crazy, but so was the 1962 Amarone we drank.

I’m really not frugal. You shouldn’t listen to me. It’s honestly a wonder I’m not homeless.

Check out the entire January 2016 breakdown here.

You Have A Drinking Problem

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I have a confession to make: I like craft beer, and that makes me stupid. Let me explain.

That’s not to say craft beer itself is stupid. I fully appreciate the care and craftsmanship craft brewers put into a well-balanced ale, but if you’re reading this, I’m gonna assume you’re working towards financial independence (hereafter referred to as “FI”). Craft beer is insanely expensive in BC. Look at this beer list. Let’s assume you have a basic understanding of how numbers work and avoid the $8.25 pint, but still like the idea of a “bold yet balanced Imperial white IPA hopped with Magnum, Centennial, and Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand” because you have a beard. That’s $7. Not the most expensive thing on the menu, but not the cheapest. Let’s roll with that.

Alcohol in BC comes with a sneaky liquor tax of 15%. Holy shit, we’re already at $8.05. And guess what, you’re not a jerk, so you tip your server 15% too. Suddenly, your 20-ounce pint is a whopping $9.26! WHAT IN THE LITERAL FUCK? Can I remind you that the base ingredients are about a buck? I don’t know about you, but it takes me about 15 minutes to down a pint. I’m paying $0.62/minute, which is like me paying my beer a wage of $37.20/hour to be in me. If that doesn’t make your head spin, you need to go back to school and learn math. Liking craft beer is stupid.

Don’t drink beer? You still have a drinking problem if you’ve ever bought a $5 latte or a $2.50 bottle of pop. The problem gets exponentially worse if this is a regular occurrence. After applying some Mustachian math, we find that even buying a single $5 latte every week over 10 years costs you $3,760! Your $9.26 beer? An absolutely stupid $6,963.52! Do the math. I’ll wait. And if you’re the type to buy a $9.26 beer every fucking day… I can’t even. Go away.

Here’s a new set of rules to live by:

1) You are NEVER allowed to buy any sort of beverage that costs more than 33% of the food you’re eating it with. Sitting down for an extravagant $15 meal? Your drink budget is $5. Live with it.

2) The next time you’re thirsty, DRINK WATER. This can be a fun mind game after a while. See how long you can keep this up before you indulge in the luxury of a goddamn Montrachet or something.

3) STOP drinking at restaurants and bars. You know that MGD your server just brought to the table? It’s less than $2 if you buy it at the liquor store and drink it at home like an unstupid human being. At a bar, you’re paying 4x more. Don’t be an idiot. We have lots of those already.

Again, I’m a lucky sonofabitch. A pint of Lousy Lager at the bar across the street from me is only $5 after tax and tip. Even then, every time I slam one of those back, I understand I’m being ridiculous and spendy. Unless you’ve already hit FI, you really shouldn’t be spending more than $5/day on drinks.

Remember: water is free and comes out of taps here. You have no idea how lucky you already are.