Sunday, April 12, 2015

Your $, spent on dumb stuff, killing retirement

What with retirement thoughts percolating through my brain (I'm glad my manager doesn't read my blog) I've been thinking about money lately. From conversation with other people, they think about money a lot too. Mostly as in not having enough of it.

But really, the problem is that they spend too much of it on illusions. I was musing about ranting about that a bit, but I've spent the entire afternoon reading Mr Money Mustache. You can find his blog here. He says everything I'd have said about money, better, in more detail, and with much more personal experience involved. Seriously. When you're done reading my blog scroll back up and visit him. You'll be glad you did.

I've already grasped the essence of his method. Spend less money, then invest it. No, really spend less. People think they are doing well to save 10% of their income. That means you're going to be working a long time before you can retire. If you save half, or more, you can work a lot less before you can retire. On two normal incomes, he and his wife retired at 30. And no, they aren't living in a mud house in the boonies.

As I acerbically commented on another blog about finding the time to run, give up watching cable TV. It's a waste of time, and costs money. I've never had a cable package so I don't even know what they cost, but friends tell me you're doing well if you're spending only $100 a month on it. 1200 a year. After 30 years of modest returns you'd have nearly $60,000. Put that $100 a month in the market with a 7% rate of return, compounded yearly, for that same 30 years, and you'd have $117,000.

Maybe you think that's a reasonable price for watching The Simpsons, or Game of Thrones, and way too many commercials. Network TV turns your brains to tapioca. Have I ever told you that I sincerely believe there are brain sucking apace aliens that like tapioca flavoured brains, and have thus put themselves and their minions in charge of television network programming. They'll start the harvest any time, I'm sure. I can't wait to see the average IQ going up sharply.

There's a website that does the same calculations based on buying a Starbucks "tasty" artificial ingredients beverage that might or might not taste something like coffee. I don't even know what that beverage costs, but you can do that math too. Let's just say $5 per beverage, averaging one a day. $1800 a year. More than the cable package! Buy real coffee instead.

Let's go for something bigger. Cars. In rough terms a car costs you $10,000 a year, every year. That adds up quicker, but I'll let you do the math, because you won't believe the amount over a working lifetime if I just tell you. Hint, you'll probably need 6 figures. I'm glad to see that someone else thinks that most of the vehicles I see around me on the road are completely impractical for the intended purpose, and are a foolish use of money. And if it was borrowed money, is strong evidence of actual insanity.

My question has been, do I want to afford that, and more and more, the answer is no. I buy what I actually need, to do the things I'm actually doing. Things I actually enjoy doing. I don't enjoy shopping. It's a painful experience to get through it to pick the thing I've decided to get. I cannot imagine shopping for pleasure. Going to a store, being around people that are in my way, in traffic there and back, looking at (usually) cheap shit made in China by near-slave labour that I don't want to buy is a close approximation of hell for me.

In any case, I've been having fun reading his blog. He's a Canadian, BTW, if that makes a difference, and some of my Boulder buddies might have met him. Small town, he rides his bike a lot. It's possible. Which reminds me, I should be riding my bike a lot more, for as long as I'm going to work. I've added him to my blog roll, though right now you have to click the show all button to see him, he last posted about a week ago.

I probably shouldn't burble too much about how much I've enjoyed this week off. Two outside bike rides, several swims, several runs. Several industrial strength cat cuddles. A few afternoon naps. Some writing in the lodge. Running the BBQ. Generally relaxing. I'm feeling awesome. Let's see how long that lasts. One week off work has put about 70 emails in my inbox. Considering I rarely have more than a couple unread items at a time, and never more than a dozen in my inbox, this is an unacceptable state of affairs.

Swam this morning with Michelle, working on stretching out after the bike ride yesterday. I probably swam 400 m very slowly before I began to feel like normal in the water. Chatted with Katie a bit, though I was surprised to see her back from vacation. Then to a book club meeting (The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins). Everybody liked it. It was pretty good, but you have to pay attention when you read it, and I found it a bit confusing. Napped. I could get to like this not working lifestyle.

The photo of the aftermath from Saturday's ride didn't show up until after I had hit the publish button. Here's Celina, wearing one of the booties Michelle gave me. Yes, I know I'm going to cat hell for another eternity.


  1. So true, except shopping. I wish I didn't like it so much, I could have retired by now!
    I hate cars. They are so expensive, depreciating asset yet we are so reliant on them. I'm not sure we could ever go down to one car. Well we could but it would involve a huge lifestyle change that we don't want. Living downtown doesn't appeal to us but living in the burbs doesn't anymore either.

    I'll be thinking twice about those Starbucks coffees! I treat myself once and awhile but often I just decide to save my $5 and make coffee at home or the office. Unless we are out of cream and then we have a problem!

  2. Brilliant post, Keith! Thank you! Gonna share it, and think even harder about what I can actually "afford" (not two houses, I'm pretty sure).


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