Micro suites are becoming the latest rage in urban development. Even in our small city of 200,000 people, micro suite living is becoming a reality and a choice for those looking for hamster-sized accommodations. There’s a number of micro suites projects completed with more to come:
Worman Developments - http://worman.ca/micro-suites
Cambridge House - http://cambridgehousekelowna.com
The Flats - http://www.landmark-properties.ca/properties/the-flats/
The Sole - http://soleklo.com
Let’s discuss this rather amusing trend in home building.
Ten years ago I’ve started my own business
As some of you might now, I am self employed. It’s a weird thing to say because it always needs more explaining - self employment these days can mean a variety of things. You can be self employed by pimping yourself out to larger companies as a consultant, you can be a self-employed sales person, or even a blogger/Youtuber/Instagrammer. Or you can run white powder type of goods across the border.
In my case it’s neither one of those scenarios though I heard profit margins in the last one are very appealing. Life expectancy is much shorter though and there is always a chance of ending up in jail with unwanted sexual advances of some guy named Chuck.
In my case, I run a contracting company. It’s a very traditional and boring but at the same time real business that makes things happen for our clients. This isn’t a sexy startup, it’s nothing flashy or cutting edge. Sometimes it’d downright dirty. But it has a number of customers, and it puts food on our table and pays bills for a number of people that work for me.
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