You what’s really sad and depressing?
No, it’s not the fact that less than a month away people down south will have to choose between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I actually don’t care much for politicians except for times when they’re handing out free sandwiches in my general vicinity. Rest of the time they’re fairly useless in improving lives of general population, so why bother pay attention to them.
No, what’s really sad and depressing is rising real estate prices in Canada.
Even though prices seem to be stabilizing and in some places going down, real estate prices in Canada are still outrageously high. Average price of a detached house in Vancouver after a major sell-off is sitting at cool $1.5M. Oh my, what a bargain! Not really.
Doesn’t get much cheaper if you pick Toronto - average detached house will set you back roughly $1.3M. Calgary? Around one million. Kelowna, BC where we call home - about $700,000. Yes, much cheaper than Vancouver where we lived for a bit, but keep in mind that incomes around here are much lower as well.
You know what really grinds my gears?
It’s when people start accusing me of having OCD while I think it’s just tidiness and punctuality. And it doesn’t have to be something related to financial matters. Lately, people have been accusing me of having OCD over silliest things.
It usually goes along these lines:
- Hey, how come your car is so clean and tidy?
- Cause I clean it regularly. And keep it tidy.
- Whoa, it’s like you have OCD or something.
And in financial matters it’s even worse:
- Darn, my bank charged me interest again because I was late with my Visa payment. I have worst luck ever with money. Don’t you hate when it happens to you?
- No, I pay all of my bills on time.
- Dude, you must be suffering from OCD.
Real estate is sizzling hot these days.
You know it’s a hot topic when you go to Starbucks on the corner hoping to get some coffee in peace and quiet but end up listening to people having conversation how investing in real estate is a sure way to make money. Then on the front page of Financial Post you’ll see an article how prices of real estate in Vancouver are more expensive than London and Hong Kong combined. On TV you’ll see yet another real estate investing show. Your cab driver will inform you he’s thinking about investing into rentals. Your friends will ponder about becoming real estate moguls while consuming copious amounts of pizza on Friday night.
Seems like everybody is talking about it, prices are going nowhere but up, and today is your last chance to buy it; otherwise you risk spending the rest of your pointless life in misery while paying rent. Paying rent is now a synonym for throwing your money away because you simply pay someone else’s mortgage and have nothing to show for it at the end of the month.
But what everybody fails to mention while praising real estate as an excellent investment opportunity is that owning your own home is not for everybody. You can go on living your life without having your name on the property title. In fact, some people should be prohibited from even thinking about buying real estate yet thanks to the media frenzy they go down this road and in most cases it ends very badly.
Recently, I’ve shared with you, my fine readers, that I’ve lost fourty pounds. And no, I’m not talking about fourty British pounds as in British money (where would I get that kind of money?). I lost 40 lbs of weight by exercising and eating properly. But I’ll be honest; I’m kind of regretting it because being fat is just cheaper. If you’re thinking of losing weight, you might want to reconsider to save your money.
Weight loss costs are surprisingly high!
There’s no secret to losing weight. Just like budgeting your household money, you start regulating the in-take and out-take of your energy in form of food and exercise. You exercise every day, take long walks, and eat properly. Cut out pasta, bread, oatmeal, bananas from your diet and replace all of it with good natural products.
Quick tip: Make sure to wear nice looking clothes when taking walks – I don’t know where you live, but in my hood if you’re wearing shaggy clothes and walk around with no purpose people start calling cops.
But while losing weight makes you thinner and more attractive (if such thing is even possible in my case), you have to keep in mind that losing weight is also expensive and you should be prepared to open up your wallet due to hidden weight loss costs. I am having second thoughts about it and wondering if I made a huge mistake! Good god, it’s cheaper to be fat.
You know what really grinds my gears? It’s the never-ending financial negativity in the media. Especially when it comes to economic and personal finance news since I’m a personal finance blogger (or at least pretending to be). When was the last time you’ve heard a good news story that didn’t involve saving a cat from a tree?
Turn on your TV right now and you’ll quickly learn:
- Middle class is disappearing and unless you’re born rich you will never experience financial security.
- Seniors don’t have money. None of them. They all eat cat food and pinch pennies to make rent.
- There’s absolutely no way for young people today to succeed unless they invent Facebook. And Facebook has already been invented by some Mark guy, so they’re all screwed.
- Investing is basically gambling. Nobody can win at it.
- No one ever gets ahead in life. We all start well, but slowly drift into mediocrity.
- Our parents (grandparents) had everything going for them. We’ll never have what they had.
Basically, it’s the never-ending rain of financial negativity coupled with weather forecasts (also lies for the most part).
Now, I get it. Telling good news doesn’t produce good ratings and keep the viewers glued to the screen. Also, we as humans are wired to pay attention to trouble signals ever since the beginning of times when assuming the worst about rumbling in the bushes meant survival by successfully running away from bears. Optimistic people assuming it’s just the wind went extinct.
Enough with Financial Negativity!
How did we do on our New Year Resolutions?
Last year, I’ve compiled a list of goals and resolutions for 2015 to hit by the end of the year. Some of the goals were financial, and some personal. Now it’s time to revisit them, and find out if we did in fact hit our New Year resolutions this year!
1. Invest 35% of our after tax income + reinvest all dividends - HIT!
This was by far the easiest goal to hit. And not because we were making lots of money. In fact, our income hardly changed year-over-year. It was easy because by now we have a very good budgeting system in place and both of us are used to living on less than we make. Budgeting became second nature to us and saving money is indeed easy once you master it as a habit as opposed to effort.
As a result, we’ve lived on 65% of our income and saved/invested 35% of it. Also, any income that came back to us in a form of dividends or returned capital from previous investments wasn’t touched as well and went straight into investments accounts.
2. Increase our net worth by $100,000 - FAIL!
Our goal for 2015 was to increase our net worth by $100,000 by the end of the year as a combination of money saved and investments appreciation. This was rather ambitious since we’re still fairly new to investing and our incomes are still very much average.
Unfortunately, we didn’t hit it. We fell short around $9,000 as I’ve explained in our annual net worth post. Everything was pointing towards us hitting it, but the market crash at the end of the year and weak Canadian dollar prevented us from hitting it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still happy about how we did this year, but as far as the goal for 2015 we failed. Close, but no cigar!
New Year Resolutions
Net Worth Update - 2015
Following example of many personal finance bloggers, I publish our annual net worth update every year. Given my utter laziness and nature of some of our investments, I only do it once a year and don’t see a point of doing it more often. For the most part, I only check our investment balances once a year and don’t sweat monthly changes.
The main reasons for publishing net worth update is keeping us on track and somewhat accountable for our actions. For example, I am very opposed to having consumer debt, and I’d like to show that we put our money where our mouth is by not having any.
Only major items are included in our calculations. I know some people put everything under the moon in their net worth update including value of coin collections, car values, insurance policies, and spouse’s jewelry. This sounds like way too much work (see my comment on my utter laziness), and these numbers would not be significant anyway. Value of our car almost doubles every time I fill it up with gas, and the only coin collection I have is the spare change stash for an occasional secret trip to Burger King.
Net Worth Update
So, apparently we have a new Prime Minister of Canada.
From what I’ve gathered on Facebook, he’s a young, good-looking fella (just like me) who is smart enough to win elections (so NOT like me) and brave enough to steer an entire country into The Great Unknown. Oh, poor guy. Before this we had another gentleman running this country who was into sweaters and had a somewhat creepy smile.
Apparently, the election thing happened and the old guy is out, and the new guy is in. Despite what people were saying, the sky hasn’t fallen and everything is EXACTLY the same as it was before. I still have to go to work, pay bills, be nice to my wife, buy groceries, take out garbage, be nice to my wife, fill the car with gas, shovel my driveway, and be nice to my wife. Don’t see much difference.
Aren’t we awesome, Mr. Trudeau?
But people who were rooting for the old guy are now saying the country is going to hell in a handbasket. People who were rooting for the new guy proclaim how our future is bright and awesome. Apparently there will be puppies and rainbows for everybody too.
I on the other hand missed the whole thing because I was probably preoccupied with things that actually matter. Or muffins.
Anytime somebody starts talking to me about politics, my eyes glaze a little and I go find my happy place inside of my head. Here I am at Dunkin Donuts. Or perhaps I’m on a beach in Florida with my wife. Who happens to be Natalie Portman for this particular fantasy. Basically, I’m anywhere BUT in a conversation about prime ministers, parliament, election promises, and lobbying.
Tangerine MasterCard available in preview mode
While I’m not a big fan of chasing latest and greatest credit cards, this particular credit card caught my attention for a few reasons. After looking into benefits of it, I’ve put our names for registration, and recently we’ve received our brand new Tangerine MasterCard in the mail.
I’ve always been cautious about using credit cards
First, I’ve had a bad experience with borrowing too much money for frivolous spending and balance biting me in the ass in the past. While I successfully paid off the debt and never carried the balance for almost 10 years, I’m still a bit nervous about tasting easy money and falling off the wagon like vegetarian sharks in Finding Nemo.
Second, I like keeping our finances as simple as possible to maintain peace of mind. You can certainly collect a lot of airmiles and rewards by churning credit cards with intense competition between credit card companies for new customers. But I like to keep things simple and minimize the number of financial accounts we have to avoid the headache of managing them all.
At the same time, using a credit card is inevitable these days. We do buy a fair amount of products online, book tickets and hotels when traveling, and pay for everyday expenses with it. So, if we must have a credit card, we might as well go with the one that fits our needs and habits.