The best experiences aren’t usually the most comfortable
I love a good holiday, doesn’t everyone? Traveling is the drug of choice for my wife and I, and between our work and pleasure trips we sure do get around. Last year I went to 10 different countries, while my wife went to 9.
Half of my trips, and two thirds of my wife’s were for work, but if you’re thinking that means we didn’t have to skimp on costs you’d be wrong.
Unlike my suit wearing friends who seem to have bottomless expense accounts, I get given a daily sum of money depending on the city I’m going to. If I spend more than that it comes out of my own pocket, but if I manage to live on just a portion, the rest stays in my bank account, and I get to add it to my regular investments at month end.
I do pretty well too, I’ve never used more than half my allowance, and thanks to all the travel hacking I try to do I often spend less than 25%.
For private trips travel hacking is a must. We always aim to maximize enjoyment for the minimum costs. We don’t hold back on experiences, for example we happily paid R1600 each to climb the Villarica Volcano, but wouldn’t dream of spending that amount on a hotel room.
Sharing is caring, so here’s a great big list of travel hacks we use regularly.
It’s budget reconciliation time
For far too long I’ve been spending with wanton abandon and not even caring enough to add up the numbers. How could I be setting such a terrible example to all the millions of readers who don’t make their way to my blog. This is going to to change. Starting from now there will be an annual post where I air the dirty laundry of my multitude of credit card receipts.
So now to go and break tradition with seemingly every other blog post I read lately, I’ll actually get straight to the point and just pop the numbers out. None of this read my life story before you get to the delicious recipe, or navigate past all the annoying subscription popups before I actually get to see a number on the page. No, just no!
My spending is right here:
Welcome to 2018, it’s a new year with new opportunities. Sadly Donald Trump is still the president of the USA, and in South Africa, we still have President Gupta at the helm but hopefully that will all change soon.
When looking ahead to a new year I always like to consider what I learnt in the last, so here are my top 7 money lessons from last year:
Once upon a time there were two boys living in the vibrant city of Johannesburg. The boys were best friends, and did everything together.
Unlike the last time I compared two very similar people these two boys were similar in practically every way. They were both sporty, very smart and both just obtained tech degrees. There was just one difference, Chris absolutely loved cars, while Mike thought they were only fun on his PlayStation.
Now this story is going to have a lot of numbers in it, and as it takes place over a working lifetime, we need to deal with the inflation problem. There are two ways to do this.
- The hard way, which means you have to constantly convert back and forth between today’s money and the inflated money. This is a lot of work, and you often end up with numbers which can’t be understood; or
- The easy way, to simply take inflation out of the picture. This means you don’t count it in price increases over time, but you also don’t count it in investment returns. It makes the calculations much easier for me, and should make the numbers more meaningful for you. A complete win win for once!
On to the story.
Like many people nearing the end of their working career, Andre and Lisa can’t wait to travel the world when they retire next year. Unlike most though, they won’t be enjoying any pensioner discounts along the way. That’s because Andre will be just 46 years old, and Lisa practically a teenager at 36!
When most people hear this they generally assume that the couple have either inherited money, got a BEE deal, or lived a totally dull life and never left the house so they wouldn’t spend any money. But this couple have had none of that luck, and as you’ll see a little further on and in the slideshow at the bottom of this post, they most definitely haven’t spent their time sitting at home eating beans and rice by candlelight.
Of course I had plenty of questions for them, and thankfully Andre was kind enough to answer, and boy did he answer well.
You’ll want to read this interview!
I’d like to make sure I can pay the most amount of taxes possible. I love knowing that I’m partly responsible for paying for weddings, buying coal mines and financing a really interesting news channel with completely unbiased views. It’s the best.
Said nobody ever.
Personally I’d recommend government, they never go to jail
This is not going to be a cheerful topic. We’re in a recession at the moment and there’s very little laughter around. The (no.) 1 person who is laughing isn’t helping cheer us up either. The mood in the country is miserable, David Shapiro from Sasfin Securities says the country is at the lowest level he’s ever seen. There are posts all over the forum complaining about how poor the JSE’s performance has been this year:
“This is a bad bad year…”
“Wow, ArcelorMittal @ R5 level and Lonmin @ R10 Level, Nice ANC nice …”
“It’s mind boggling. Almost as if there’s a committee somewhere who try come up with the most damaging own goals around.”
“Pretty damn sad that an inflation ETF is in the top 6 of the investor challenge. This must be the worst year so far for the challenge.”
“Zuma, Gigaba, PP Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Zwane are competing on who can destroy the SA markets the most. SA market up 1,9% since January while the emerging market index is up 17%”
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.