Yes it’ll all be revealed soon, but first a story.
In 2009 I had a work trip to Rome. Happily I have a very good friend George who lives in Rome, and I usually stay with him when I’m there. He’s also a keen cyclist like myself, and has a few bikes we use to explore the ancient city using pedal power. I love it.
On this evening, I was due to meet a number of colleagues on their first trip to the city. As I’d been there quite a few times before I offered to show them around, and we agreed to meet that night at the Colosseum metro station. Yes, literally across the road from that great monument is a rather dingy underground station.
As George lived a couple of kilometers away, I decided to cycle in, but just before I could leave another good friend I hadn’t seen in a while arrived, so I had to stay a while and catch up. Eventually I left with only 5 minutes to do 3 kilometers. “Easy” I said while flexing my quadriceps, grabbing the bike and hitting the road.
Happy Easter, don’t let the bad fish eat all your chocolate
If you’re thinking that title sounds familiar you’d be right. Once upon a time I wrote an article based on real people called “Your car doesn’t cost you R5800 p/m it costs you a million dollars you fool“. One of those people was my wife, the other, someone I worked with. This didn’t have a good outcome. In the first case, even though I mentioned how both my wife and her Mini had rather sexy rear ends, she wasn’t happy at being used as an example, and promptly let me know that.
In the second case my use of pseudonyms for said colleague’s name was insufficient considering there was no use of a pseudocar in the blog post. The very next day after it was published I had an email in my inbox saying “Nice article” with a link to what I wrote. I felt anything but nice, especially due to the fact that the fast car loving colleague was a person I quite liked, and wasn’t actually remotely a fool, he was simply an Audi nut.
Thanks to that experience, I’ve learnt my lesson on using family and friends as examples. It’s not worth the risk of upsetting a friend or sleeping on the couch. That’s why this post isn’t about a family member. It’s almost certainly also not about a friend. Maybe. Let’s just say it’s about a fictional character named Art. And no Art isn’t short for Arthur, Bartholomew or Stuart. In fact he doesn’t even have a name, he’s completely made up. In the same way that criticism of the president is completely racist…
Now fictional Art is quite astute financially. He’s avoided the trap of buying a house far bigger than he needs. He’s actually even avoided the trap of buying a house, and rents instead. Art has also never bought a new car. In fact, he only recently replaced his completely worn out first car with another boring used Japanese sedan.
These things along with a number of other frugal habits passed on from his parents has resulted in Art being able to save quite a lot. Around R10000 a month lately. Thanks to that he’s recently crossed the R1 million milestone in his investment accounts at the relatively young age of 29 and a bit years, something he is rightly very proud of. What’s even more impressive is that Art achieved all that, while swimming upstream. Not just any stream, but a piranha infested one.
My wife is very persuasive. Somehow she managed to overturn my one foreign holiday per year policy this year. Actually she’s done it two years in a row. Last year we had our fantastic bike trip through 5 European countries, and then a few months later we were off to Mozambique for her sisters wedding.
For the last two weeks we’ve been traveling through Chile and Argentina, and we’ve already booked our return flights to go to Portugal and Spain in September. Fortunately we don’t really throw much money away on other luxuries, otherwise we’d be totally broke. Plus, with my recent shock realisation that my imported dress collecting better half did in fact out-save me last year, I thought I’d better not argue.
Yes that’s the question folks. What does the average (middle class) South African spend the most money on?
Their house? No but it’s a good guess. Houses are expensive, but this expense can cost you more than your house.
Beer? Boerewors? Biltong? No it’s not one of the 3 B’s either.
The wife? Hopefully not…
Speed up your time to financial independence by simply making more money, what a revolutionary idea!
No I’m not here to sell you on some crazy pyramid scheme, in fact I’m going to recommend you completely forget anything related to pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing (MLM) exists, because well researched evidence points to the fact that 99% of participants involved in MLMs lose money. Even if you don’t you’re almost certainly going to annoy your family, and alienate your friends, just don’t do it. Starting one can be very profitable though if you don’t mind the risk of jail time, like this smart lady who managed to convince thousands of people to buy a cheese making kit earning her €145 million…
No, none of that rubbish, just an honest way to earn a few extra Rand so that you have more to save and invest. But first I’ll start off with a statement. It’s far easier to save more than it is to make more. That’s why whenever someone asks how they can get their finances in order, I always recommend they look at the burn side of their budget rather than the earn. It’s something you have complete control over, and in most cases is filled with excess, waste and debt repayments. There’s bound to be some low hanging fruit, so most people can find money to save somewhere. My wife did that last year, and though I still can’t figure out how, she managed to out-save me without even trying. We figured this out weeks ago, and I still get almost daily reminders…
But sometimes trimming the budget isn’t enough to get ahead, and you just need to earn more.
1) You’re bad at maths because you bought a new car
Quite a few of my friends read my blog. Some of them like Wendy* are even on board with the whole save enough to retire really young idea, but maths isn’t her forte as the following conversation should show:
Wendy: Can you believe Bill* just bought that big BMW*. So stupid, he makes less than I do. What do you think it cost?
Patrick: Well it was about 2 years old, so it’s probably worth around R300 000.
Wendy: R300 000! I’d never spend that on a used car. I’d much rather get a new one for that price. What an idiot.
Patrick: Well the minute you drove out of the showroom in a new R300k car you’d lose R60 000. After one year of owning it your total loss would be around R90 000. After a year of owning his used car, Bill would only lose R30 000.
Conversations like that often have a lot of uncomfortable silence following them, especially when Ms want to be frugal bought a brand new (though much cheaper) Kia a few months back.
*Names and even cars have been changed. I’ve learnt my lesson on using even relatively similar examples before.