Plans for a Completely Different Life!

Have you ever thought about your current lifestyle and mentally compared it to a completely different approach?

Example, let`s say you currently live in New England, in a suburb of Boston.  You work every day downtown and spend your weekends four wheeling, hunting and fishing in the mountains of New Hampshire where you have a cottage.  In late winter you take an all-inclusive vacation for a week in the Dominican Republic.  That gives you a picture of the current, now the change.

You sell everything, the house in the suburbs, the cottage in the mountains, the four wheelers, the truck you pull them with, quit the job and use your retirement savings to rent an apartment in the city centre of a small city along the Mediterranean coast of Spain.  You don’t work regularly but rather explore the wine country of Spain and often travel to most of western Europe by train to sight see and learn about ancient cultures.

What do you think? Quite a change?  These are the type of life changes that people don’t often think of.  When I listen to people talk of retirement, they mostly think of not working but having enough retirement income to continue to live the exact same life that they are now.  Getting up every day to have the free time to relax and enjoy life where they have always lived and honestly that does sound great.  On the other hand, there are options and really no reason to not consider them if you are looking for a different experience.

The World Awaits.

Sometimes our junk mail is not always junk.  A few weeks back, I received an email in my gmail account that looked interesting.  It was for a website where you can research where in the entire world you might choose to live if you want.  The website allows you to choose a number of options that would fit your lifestyle such as your monthly income, the crime and pollution rates of places you might live, and then allows you to search the world for places that fit your criteria.

The link to the website is HERE – give it a try and let you imagination run free.  It is fun just to look!  How about Brunei? Or maybe Bern ?  Or maybe Prague is more your style?  Maybe you like South America more, so try Santiago.

I think you can see how this is fun to do and encourages you to open your mind to the possibilities.

Give it a try and let your mind roam if not roaming yourself.

 

 

Elections and Freedom

Freedom – What does it really mean and what is it worth to you?

Democracy was invented long ago in ancient Greece and it certainly was not perfect as it automatically excluded half of the population from participation because they were female or slaves.  All that being said, most of the world thinks of democracy as a pretty good approach to freedom for citizens but as in all things, not everyone agrees.

The header picture is of a piece of the skyline of the largest city in a country that most of the world considers a beacon of freedom in the world.  Toronto has become a legitimate “big” city with a population of over 6 million in the greater Toronto area.  I arrived yesterday and was able to take a train from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Union Station – real big city stuff, finally!  Toronto has 20% of the population of the entire country of Canada which might be a little unusual for many world countries but urbanization has impacted Canada as it has the world over.

Freedom in Canada

As I walked around in Toronto last night, passing in front of another failed Trump business, I got to thinking about what Canadians take for granted, their freedom.  I found it interesting that in the last two weeks, Donald J. Trump has had this business go into bankruptcy (one of many of his businesses that have done so) and also be elected to the position of President of the United States.  It was a weird thing to think about.  But as I was walking around in Toronto, seeing how young the population is here I realized that Mr. Trump would not have a chance of getting elected here – these young people value their freedom too much to vote for a man like Mr. Trump – are American cities different?

Freedom in Canada might not be viewed in the same way by Americans.  When Americans speak of freedom, they often think of amendments to their constitution like the first amendment (which we have in Canada without an amendment) related to freedom of speech, and their second amendment, the right to bear arms.  To them, the ability to carry guns is a sign of their freedom, but in Canada there are definitely restrictions on guns – does that hurt the freedom of Canadians?

Canada has a document called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that clearly spells out what the government of Canada considers to be freedom for Canadians.  In the document, we find paragraph 15 (1) which states:  “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”  I thought about this paragraph as I walked around Toronto, a true multicultural city.  All of the people in Toronto, and in Canada for that matter, have this protection under the law in their country.  Does this protection exist now in the United States?  From the rhetoric in the election campaign from the candidate that won the election, I would have to say that freedom for many Americans no longer exists within their own country!

Freedom from Violence

As I walk around Toronto, I am comforted by the fact that I feel free as a result of knowing that no one on the street can legally be carrying a gun, unlike in the US.  I do not have to worry about someone pulling a gun to protect themselves and therefore shooting me as collateral damage.  In Canada we don’t think that the ability to carry guns around in an urban environment adds to our freedom but that it actually takes away our freedom to feel safe.  We don’t want to carry guns in urban environments and therefore we don’t allow it.

In rural areas there may be a need to carry a weapon to protect yourself from wolves or a bear and in those situations many Canadians choose to arm themselves, just in case, but not against fellow citizens.

I would argue that freedom from violence from guns adds significantly to freedom in our cities and many Americans which whom I study during courses tell me that they feel very safe in Canadian cities.  An added benefit to Canadians is the fact that police in urban environments do not have to expect a gun in every situation and therefore do not often shoot people in self- defense or imagined self- defence.

Freedom from Poverty

I will admit that it is not perfect, but in Canada we have social systems that are designed to protect those in our society who may be having a difficult time financially and as a rule the systems work quite well.  First of all, everyone has the right to health care – income makes no difference.  A homeless person in Canada has the same access t health care as a millionaire (with the exceptions of dental and vision care and certain services that can be purchased like MRIs, etc.).  I am not trying to argue details here, just the fact that the homeless person can walk into the hospital and receive the same health care as anyone.  This does not happen in the United States and therefore Americans are less free as a result.  I find that sad that the richest country in the world does not care enough about their poor people to provide that freedom.

Poverty is not a nice thing, no matter where you live, but Canada provides more protection from poverty and the effects of poverty than the US does.

Freedom from Terrorist Attack

Now, don’t get me wrong here, there are crazy people everywhere and more to the point, there are crazy religious people everywhere.  My argument here is that Canada is much more free from the threat of terrorist attack than the US because normally we don’t make it a habit of arriving in other countries to use our military to “protect” Canadian interests.  Canadians have long believed that we should just leave other people alone to live the life they want to rather than trying to change them.  There are exceptions to that, like when we participated in Afghanistan following the 911 attack of innocents in New York.  We do however resist campaigns like the “weapons -of -mass -destruction bullshit that Bush’s team dreamed up in 2003.

This approach to minding our own business generally results in people believing, rightly, that if they leave us alone to live as we want to, that we will leave them alone – it is a system that works.

All of this improves Canadian freedom from Terrorist attack – the US, not so much.

Freedom as Wealth

I personally think that freedom adds significantly to our wealth.  If I lived in the US, I might actually be considered a Libertarian because I believe we should only put laws in place to improve the freedom of our citizens.  I want to get up in the morning, go to work, and not be burdened by laws that do not improve my freedom.  I do, however, like laws that improve my freedom, such as the law that forces the idiot wanting to drive a car while texting to put away either the phone or the car.  Driving safely improves my freedom.  Knowing that the person driving beside me cannot legally have a gun in the glove box improves my freedom by reducing the threat of violence.  Knowing that my government is not in a foreign country trying to force Canadian values down the throat of people reduces the threat of terrorist attack in my country – I like that freedom.

Trump’s Freedom Grab in America

Like much of the world, we Canadians have watched the US Presidential election campaign there Mr. Trump, a failed businessman and morally bankrupt person in general has promised to reduce the freedom of Americans in many ways, such as making Hispanic feel threatened every day throughout the country, making Black Americans even more afraid of police (and justifiably so), making Muslim Americans afraid for their lives, etc – I could go on and on here, but Trump has received enough free media.  In my view, Donald J. Trump has made a huge freedom grab from Americans for his own benefit and America and the world are much poorer for it.  Americans can look to Canada for true freedom to see what they might strive for.

Summary – Canadian Freedom; it is worth a lot.

I feel that the freedom that Canadians enjoy as a result of the good behavior of our government in the world community is a very valuable commodity and I am proud to be a Canadian as a result.  We do a lot of things right in Canada and as a result increase the wealth of our citizens, me included.  We tend to: mind our own business;  take care of poorer people; provide health care for everyone; help the threatened in the world, such as Syrians who have had their lives destroyed by failed-foreign policy of other countries; provide safe urban environments where people can feel free of the threat of gun violence;  not over-burden our children with public debt to pay for the government’s whims today and just generally try not to mess up the lives of our citizens.  I am proud to be a Canadian and disappointed in our American neighbours (yes, spelled with a “u”).

 

 

 

 

Election Day – We Need New Ways of Getting Information

Well folks, I didn’t really think I would write about the US Presidential election but the past year and a half have been so crazy that I got to the point that I just could not ignore it any longer.

I’ve really not been ignoring the process (who could in a CNN world) but I have not felt the need to comment until recently.  It seems to me that the direction the campaign has taken has created the need for people the world over to wake up and have a look at what is going on.

The Real Start of the Information Age

Back in 2008, just one year and change from the release of the iPhone, Barack Obama used the internet as a very effective tool in his quest for the White House.  The internet approach allowed Mr. Obama to raise huge (later to become yuge) amounts of money from millions of small donors across the country.  Beyond this use, the internet was not yet really seen as news as most people still watched television or read newspapers to educate themselves about what was happening in the world.  Things have changed drastically since 2008.

Apple has recently released the iPhone 7 and the information age is upon us.  The ability to find “information” has been delivered into the hands of all reasonably intelligent people around the world.  Along with the availability of information comes the other side of this ability, the possibility of creating digital media and sharing it globally – this is powerful.  As an example, through the power of the internet, I can write something like I am currently doing and publish it globally at the touch of a button.  I admit that my followers are not numerous, however I have the ability to spread information with almost no resources invested – I am just sitting in my living room and writing – it is that simple.

The power I have just described has now become a big player in many things and has arrived in a big way in the US election campaign.  The ability to share information freely by nearly anyone allows information sharing that has a specifically designed purpose, and often a nefarious purpose, to be done easily and daily – it is the dream of propaganda artists.  We has always suspected that advertising tries to sneak up on us and cause us to buy things that we really don’t need.  This fear is now everywhere – allowing nearly anyone to sneak up on us and deliver information directly to us that will cause us to change our behavior.

Firstly

There are many ways that this power has been used in the US election campaign and in a world where most people do not really use their own judgment about things it is even more powerful.  Take, for example, Donald Trump’s assertion that Mexicans are pouring into the US and are criminals as well as people “who will take your job”.  The actual statistics on this exact situation are the opposite.  The flow of Mexican people from the US back to Mexico is now greater than the number of Mexican people coming to the US.  Also, the rate of crime perpetrated by Mexican illegal immigrants in the US is much lower than the crime rate in the US in general.  These real statistics prove that illegal immigration, although something that should be improved upon, is not really a big concern for Americans.  Trump has used his made-up stats however to create fear in Americans of people who look like they may be from Mexico.  Trump has no fear, he lives in an ivory tower and meets no one who is not hand selected.  His goal however is simply to use that fear to get people to vote for him for a job that he cannot do, simply because he wants to say that he has the biggest job in the world.  Another example of the stories that Trump invents for his purpose is his characterization of inner cities as terrible places that have no hope but for him to fix them.  Of course Trump has never been to what he calls the “inner cities” but that makes no difference to him.  The Trump campaign knows that over 80% of the US population is white and if he can stir up a mistrust of Black folks in White folks he might get more votes.  His thinking is this simple and cynical – he could not care less about the impact as long as it might increase his vote.

Secondly

Once we realize that the power exists to create whatever information we like and share it globally for whatever purpose we might have the creation of information starts to happen in earnest.  I have included an example here to show you.  In this case, teenagers in a tiny village in an Eastern European country who have no interest whatsoever in US politics create fake information for sharing on Facebook because they know it will be shared widely and they can make money from the clicks.  It sounds outrageous but it makes perfect sense – they want to make money, they can easily this way and therefore they do.  This also works for the Trump campaign because they have no concern about what is said as long as it harms the Democrats and increases Trump’s chance of winning.

Thirdly

This brings me to the third piece of this massaging of information that I see in this campaign.  We have all known for years that certain news organizations may favour one political party over another as this often shows itself in the editorial pages.  This, I believe, is perfectly ok for those of us who realize that the editorial pages are the right place for opinion, that way leaving the news reporting as simply that – the news with bias.

During this campaign, part of the misinformation being spread, mostly by the Trump campaign, is that the news media is corrupt at best and part of the “system corruption controlled by the Clinton’s” at worst.  According to the Trump campaign, you should never get your information from the “main-stream media” as they are all controlled by the “system” and are all out to defeat Trump (the only person who can save the US from the corrupt “world order”).  In this way, the Trump campaign encourages people to seek out alternative sources of information that are measured for value as good if they support Trump or are critical of Clinton.  There is no concern about whether the information is true or not – that does not matter to the campaign.

Where do we go from here?

This election will be over in three days and in all likelihood Clinton will win but where does that leave us going forward?  By the time the 2020 US Presidential election comes around the value of creating false information will have been realized and very-much improved.  In 2016 we have crazy websites (like Breitbart News and Eagle Rising) that produce National-Enquirer type information that can quite easily be identified as false by reasonably intelligent people but by 2020 there will be sites that create sophisticated, designed information for nefarious purposes that will be difficult to differentiate from real news.  We are going to need more sophisticated ways of sorting out the bad potatoes if we are going to be assured of good information.

I don’t know where the ability to sort the false information from the good information will come from however I am reminded once again of the importance of professional reporters who seek out real news, often at great expense to themselves.  Often news reporters lose their lives trying to get good information for us in a propaganda world.

I know that going forward I will be much more careful of where I get my information and I hope that all of you will do the same.  We cannot leave control of the world we live in to the intellectually lazy and the charlatans.

 

Link

On Being an Entrepreneur

Last night I went to an information session on starting your own business.  I had multiple reasons to go like just seeing what type of resources are out there to help people with the idea of starting their own business, thinking about the idea for myself, and thinking about how I might help others with their plans.

It was an interesting session, not in depth at all, but there will be a time for that. I arrived a little early, maybe 15 minutes or so and had a chance to watch the group as it grew.  There was a real mix of people there from young to as old as I! There were 7 of us in the room and most did not talk specifically about the business they wanted to start with the exception of one person who seemed really ready to get going on a service business.

What struck me about the group was the willingness to jump in and start their business without everything being in place – actually not even close to being in place!

Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle! It is walking out the door in the morning and not having a job to go to, yet having to come home later and pay your bills – you have to make that happen – every day!

Over the next month or so, I want to do a series of posts about being an entrepreneur and creating your own wealth. This is exciting stuff – stay tuned!

 

 

The Value of Freedom, Peace and Kindness

Have you ever taken a walk and been struck by the quiet beauty of nature? I mean really moved by it to the point where you have to stop, sit and just soak in the feeling of comfort that quietness, freedom and beauty can bring?

As I read the news every day I see that so many in the world do not have that peace, that comfort that they can look forward to kindness and gentleness in their lives and it makes me sad. I watch the year-long process leading up to the election of the President of the United States and I am disappointed by the lack of kindness in the approach of the contenders for the job that has a very high potential to be a positive force in the world.  I watch the fighting and misery in Syria all driven by the desire to control other people and take their wealth (and happiness) to satisfy ones desire for greatness or wealth or ideology and it makes me sad.

Today is January 30th, 2016, only 30days into a new year and there have already been 971 deaths by guns in the United States. That number scares me – the fact that more than 30 people have died every day since New Year’s day must be telling us something! I ask myself, where in the kindness and peace that should be ours to enjoy in the modern world, and I don’t have an answer. It makes me sad!

The Modern World

I like the term “The Modern World” . I live in that modern world. As an example, I can write my thoughts here and share them with the world. Just that is quite amazing for someone born near the middle of the 20th century. We have come so far, but have we been able to bring more peace and kindness to the world?

I believe that we have, but there are many things happening in the world that bring me grave concern. I want to stick with the modern world theme for a minute though to discuss what I hope it can bring us.

The modern world is a much better term than “The Western World” as it does not make the presumption that “The West” is somehow better. The Modern World does things like separating religion from the administration of communities such as villages, towns, cities, and countries. Just this one example shines a light of possibilities into people’s lives – let me explain.

Let’s use a city as an example. If a city administration can collect a very small amount of money from all of its citizens it can invest that money into a water and sewage system that can provide clean water, and sanitation for all of those people, no matter their belief. This allows people to use their energy for other things. This is a system of sharing and it does not require religion or membership in a certain group to benefit from this sharing activity. This is an example of the modern world.

The modern world also gives us police protection, garbage collection, technology, easy and inexpensive transportation, etc., etc.. It is quite wonderful actually. However, can it help to bring peace and kindness to the world, because, I believe, those things are what make peoples lives more fulfilled?

How Important is Freedom

In the modern world we tend to take freedom for granted. When I woke this morning, because I live in the modern world, there were many things that I could have chosen to do. Clearly, I could have chosen to write in my blog as I am doing, however I could also have chosen many, many other things to do because I live in a country that values freedom and has written that value into a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It may not be perfect, but it creates a great basis for a good life. As an example, I am not allowed to go to my neighbour’s house and interfere with his freedom, just as he is not allowed to interfere with mine – that is valuable.

Most of the world does not have that freedom! I believe that freedom like that is a goal that the global community should be striving for but I am afraid we are not.

The Not So Modern World

I am not a religious person, however I know about religion and I know about it from personal experience as I have participated in religion from most of my life and have studied religions somewhat. I certainly am no expert but I am also nit an idiot either.

Nearly all religions in the world were developed a long time ago, not in the modern world, and therefore carry a number of things that tend to keep the adherents from fully embracing the modern world.

Christianity is an example of this problem. The religion is a little over 2000 years old but for the majority of that time, the adherents of those religions have taken the view that the female gender is somehow inferior to the male gender. This was so prevalent that as societies were built, even coming into the modern world, women were restricted in their rights even after they were given any rights. I know it is ridiculous to have such notions, but that is where we have come from and as a result the burden of our stupidity for thousands of years continues to plague us. Yes, it is getting better in the modern world, albeit slowly, but what of the not so modern world?

It is not too difficult to find the not so modern world if we look around. We have many people living in the world in countries where one person, or one family are “royal” and therefore get to make all of the rules that the other people must live by. This is not modern! The people who consider themselves royal, or are considered to be royal by others are no different than all other people.

Religion plays a large part in many of the countries that allow a few people to tell others how they must live and most of they rules on how to live are based on religion, a religion that was developed before the renaissance, before the dark ages! Let’s go back to the 7th century for a few minutes to look at how people lived. In the 7th century it was a pretty primitive time. There was no rule of law and people had very little freedom because the strongest and cruelest people controlled people’s lives.  During this time a guy named Muhammad was one of these warlords, trying to gain control of the “most” land, people, resources. One of the tools that he used in his quest was a religion that he claimed only he knew about because God (Allah) told him about it. There was no evidence of this, no indication of this religion other than what Muhammad said – everyone had to take his word for it.

This new religion he called Islam and he clearly indicated to everyone that God told him about everything and how all people should live every day. Now, of course because this new approach was developed in the 7th century, many of the customs that were already on place where he lived were built into this “new” religion. Things like women being possessions of men was normal in the Arabian peninsula at that time, so Muhammad said that God said that was right. Also men could trade their female children for riches by selling them to other men as wives even when they were children, so Muhammad said that God claimed that was right too.

Muhammad also claimed that these rules could never be changed because they were the perfect rules given to only him by God and, of course, anyone claiming this to be wrong should be killed. Also, this “religious” law should be the law for all people because it was perfect and would always be perfect, so Islam was born.

We are now 1,400 years later and thousands of people are being killed this year because adherents of Islam believe they must make everyone follow the 7th century rules and be ruled by the Calf!

So back to my theme of the value of freedom, peace and kindness – does Islam under the Calf bring these things? It certainly does not for women, anyone who does not bow down and follow the Calf, any person who might want to choose another religion, even another interpretation of Islam.  Of course this all seems ridiculous to those who live in the modern world, yet millions of people must face this barbarism every day – they are forced to live in the 7th century.

The Movement of People toward Freedom, Peace, and Kindness

For the most part, people don’t like to live in misery and as we see, millions are leaving the seas of the world that try to control their lives – they are seeking something better for themselves and their families – they seek freedom, peace and kindness and are willing to risk death to travel to find it.

Millions of people have left western Asia and northern Africa this year in search of that better life. This movement of people strains our resources globally. How can a tiny country like Greece that is struggling financially to help its own citizens deal with millions of refugees? They cannot and therefore the refugees must move on to other countries where there is hope for a future with freedom, peace and kindness.

Even Germany is now struggling to deal with providing for these people. In addition to the needs of poor people who have risk death to arrive in Germany, sometimes bring their views of the world that they have learned from living in the not-so-modern world. Ideas like women being possessions, or simple deserving respect. These old ideas must be changed, but it will take time and cause difficulty in the interim- let’s hope for a fast learning curve.

Addressing the Cause of The Problem

I have actually studied problem-solving techniques. It is not a simple field of study because you are always dealing with problems (no pun intended). My experience with problems and finding a solution to them has taught me to always consider the “why” of a problem – why does this problem exist? It is important to not just to conclusions about the “why” because if you have not identified the real cause of the problem, your solution will not solve it.

Back to the problem of a lack of freedom, peace and kindness – and the movement of millions of people from areas where they don’t have these things to areas where they hope to have them. My problem solving skills, such as they are, bring me first to consider the question of whether people can have freedom, peace and kindness where they currently live and therefore allow them to stay and not risk death for the hope of finding these things.

So let’s consider that question. Another problem solving technique that I have actually developed on my own is to imagine an extreme case of the problem (I find it sometimes aids in understanding the problem). In the case of what we are considering here an extreme case foes not have to be imagined because we have the extreme case of Syria and Iraq. Thousands die, leave, live in misery, have no freedom, peace or kindness in this area. An extreme case for sure – so let’s think about why the problem exists and compare it to where the problem does not exist.

I will begin with Syria by describing the problems I see ( remember I am not there so I have limited real experience with the misery):

  • The country is in the midst of a civil war.
  • There are multiple opposition groups willing to kill others.
  • There is a current regime that is willing to kill anyone that does not agree with the “royal”.
  • There is an Islamic group trying to create a Caliphate to rule the world with a “royal”.
  • There are multiple countries participating in support of different factions for a multitude of reasons, none of which we can be sure are legitimate.
  • There are a multitude of weapons suppliers pursuing multiple factions for the purpose of advancing their businesses.
  • There is no freedom.
  • There is no peace.
  • There is no kindness.

Now compare this to where I currently live:

  • There is no civil war.
  • There are no groups willing to kill others for control of the lives of people.
  • The government is concerned with providing service and protecting citizens.
  • Religion is not allowed to form a government or control people.
  • There are no other countries in mine trying to change or remove the government.
  • Weapons suppliers don’t really have a market here except for the silly wasteful practice of killing animals.
  • There is freedom.
    There is peace.
  • There is kindness.

As you can see there are multiple differences but how do we change the difficult one into the other – it is complex and will require complex solutions and much more resolve than we have seen.

But jumping to conclusions won’t speed up the process. Neither will countries stating that they are “very concerned” yet doing nothing. Let’s be clear, Syria and Iraq are a mess and people are leaving to save their own lives. Solving the problem will require a very frank discussion with many groups and global leadership will have to get tougher. The questions that will require real answers are things like:

  • Why is Russia there, and why are the Russian planes bombing areas where ISIS not part of the problem – Putin should have to answer this.
  • Why did the US think they could destroy the government structure in Iraq and leave to create a void to be filled by violent self-service Islamist regimes?
  • Why is the UN useless in this situation or any situation. Why does the UN allow “royals” to represent the people of a country that does not democratically elect the leaders – how can they represent the people?
  • Why are governments that do not respect human rights (common sense) allowed to sit at any bargaining table. It is 2016, and time to grow up. If government are bullies they need to be excluded from the world stage and market. A good example is Saudi Arabia – they do not respect human rights and as a result the world market for oil should not purchase a single drop of Saudi oil until they get their church out of people’s lives and respect human rights.

It is Not Difficult to Figure Out

If the things we do in the world bring freedom, respect, peace and kindness then the world will move ahead. If the things we do, don’t bring these things then we need to examine what we are doing and change it.

We need to be kind to each other. We can no longer stick to 7th century customs that do not respect the rights of other people. Is your ancient religion does not negatively affect others you ca go ahead with it however if you think that your deity tells you how other people should live, you are part of a cult and it cannot be allowed. Human rights override you ability to control others.

We must give each other freedom, globally. The rule of law cannot be someone’s religious law – it doesn’t work, likely because it was made up by a 7th century warlord to help him enslave others.

This is not rocket science folks – lets stop making the lives of others miserable and using the simple concepts of freedom, respect, peace and kindness to make our world a better place – please!

 

What does a fancy vehicle cost you?

I am just in the process of buying a new vehicle.  For me it is a bit of a challenge because I like a manual transmission and almost no one offers one anymore, but… I found one I really like.  It is the new Honda HRV.  It is just a small SUV but has lots of space for us and should be easy on gas.

After making the decision, I got to thinking about all of the bigger fancy cars I see around and wondered how much more they would cost than mine – so I did a calculation and it is pretty shocking.

My vehicle costs $360 per month and we put on about 25,000 km per year. I chose a Jeep Grand Cherokee as a comparison. It is not really a fancy vehicle but a full sized SUV that lots of people buy.

I did a calculation from the Jeep website and got a monthly payment of $971 or a difference of $611 per month. Add to that, the extra $170 per month for the fuel to run it and you have $781 per month EXTRA to drive the Jeep.

After that, I used a spreadsheet that I created to calculate how to save using tax-sheltered savings (in Canada that is an RRSP).  Over 10 years, the difference (just the difference between the vehicles) will result in a savings of $149,000 if invested in an RRSP at a 10% return.

Doing the same calculation with a BMW X5, there is a payment of $1413 monthly plus the gas difference of at least $170 there is a monthly difference of $1,223 or $14,676 a year.  Going back to my RRSP saving model shows me a 10year saving  of $231,000 to drive my nice new Honda instead of the X5.  Sure the BMW is nice, but so will my Honda and $231,000 too!

Turnover is the Key for Investment Returns

Think about buying and selling something – let’s say bicycles for example. Now, let’s assume you can make 10% return on the sale – every time. So you buy a bicycle for $100 and sell for $110 making the 10% return. Pretty simple so far and looking at this approach it is easy to see that the more bicycles you buy and sell the more money you will make. This is turnover and is a very important piece of making money – critical actually.

Now, let’s take the bicycle example and pursue it a little further. Let’s say you are able to “turnover” your inventory of one bicycle 5 times in a month; again pretty simple. So you start your business by investing your $100 in one bicycle on the first of the month and sell it on the third for $110 so you are up 10% on your money already.

Let’s continue with this approach by buying another bicycle on the 5th for $100 and sell it on the 7th for $110. Now you are up $20 on the original $100 and you have only had to do the same thing twice. It is also easy to see that you are now up 20% on your original $100. You can also likely see that the amount of money you can make is only limited by the number of times you can buy and sell (turnover) a bicycle.

Again, let’s go further. Let’s assume we are able to “turnover” 10 bicycles by the 25th and therefore we now have $200. If we buy 2 bicycles with the $200 and sell both we make $10 twice or $20 which is now 20% of the original $100.

Now, let us have a look at percentages. Although we are only making $10 on each bike sale or 10%, we can see that we have done it 10 times by the 25th for a total of $100 earned or 100% of the original amount. Starting on the 25th we are “turning over” two bicycles at a time on the 27th and the 29th for another $40. The end result is that by the end of the month we have made $140 of income on the original $100 which is 140% return.

Changing Gears

Changing gears now to look at investments instead of bicycles I want you to continue to think of it in the same way. Don’t make it complicated when it is not. You will only be buying investments instead of bicycles. And there are things that make the buying and selling easier for investments rather than bicycles. There are also some things that can make it more difficult too so we should look at that also.

What is easier for investments

If we think back to our example of buying and selling bicycles we must ask ourselves where we can buy the bicycles and more importantly, where will we sell the bicycles! When it comes to buying and selling things, both the supply of our products and the market for them is critical or we are out of business. In the investment world however this is not an issue at all. We need not spend any time looking for supply or market because both are readily available all the time. That has to make it easier! Imagine being in the bicycle business and knowing that there is an unlimited supply of bicycles available and an unlimited market for your bicycles. Your only concern then would be ensuring you make the 10% return on each “turnover”.

Now you can begin to see why it is easier to buy and sell investments than products – no supply issues or market issues. This is also why stock traders build systems to buy and sell stocks using computers that can create “turnover” by the thousands with a little gain each time, thus making a fortune.

Another advantage of stock investing is that you can buy “partial bicycles” so that you can increase your investment as you make returns. More on this later.

What can be more difficult for investments

By now you may be thinking that it is simple to make money in the market – hmmm, not so much! The problem that we must manage, the only one left, is the return we make on each “turnover”.

For our bicycle example we were talking about a 10% return on each transaction, then repeating the transaction multiple times. Again, this sounds simple but may not be so in the stock market. Don’t get me wrong, good returns per transaction can be found but care must be taken.

As an example here, let’s imagine that you have bought stock in a car company – great company and you expect that based on your analysis that the stock will increase in value by 5% over the next month. You then read that the company has been cheating on environmental standards testing and the value of the stock drops by 30%! Don’t think it cannot happen – it just did! So care must be taken and you need to have an appetite for risk to do well.

Let’s look at what can be done

Now that we have looked at what is easier and what can go wrong, let’s have a look at what might be possible to achieve and at competing investment approaches, like banks.

I just looked up the rates for GIC (guaranteed investment certificates) at the Royal Bank. They are paying 0.75% in year 1 and 1.25% in year 2 of a two year GIC. I should go back and put an exclamation point on that last sentence – the bank will pay you $20 in interest if you let them use your $1,000 for two years!!

So now that we know that the competing investments are paying almost nothing, let’s look at what we might achieve in the stock market. The bank pays about 1% per year (and remember that inflation is running nearer to 2%) – can we do better? Let me give you some examples.

– Royal bank stock on September 29, 2015 was up 1.3%! In one day. That is the same bank that proposes to pay you 1% per year.

-. Imperial oil stock on September 29, 2015 was up 1.6%, again in one day!

– Suncor Energy stock on September 29, 2015 was up 2.6% in one day.

As you can see there are lots of opportunities to generate a better return than banks will give you. As a good example, if you can make the 1.3% return on a bank stock just once per month, you will have a 15% return for the year -15 times what the bank will pay you. At a 15% return you will double your money in 5 years – not in the 100 years at the bank’s interest rate.

Partial bicycles

I mentioned earlier that with investments you can buy “partial bicycles “. Let me explain what I mean by that. In the example we discussed where we were buying and selling bicycles, it wasn’t until the 25th of the month that we had made enough money to be able to buy 2 bicycles at a time and therefore speed up the rate at which we were making money by using all of our money each time we invested. When we are looking at investments it is easier to use all of our money each time we make an investment. The example I will use here is an investment in a company called Silver Wheaton. (Silver Wheaton is a silver streaming company which means they buy the silver by-products from other mines. For example, a gold mining company likely finds some silver when they are mining gold but may not be as interested in the silver as a main product and might choose to sell it to Silver Wheaton.) I will explain silver streaming in more detail in my next post in a couple of days.

The price of Silver Wheaton (slw) was $15.87 per share yesterday – think of this as the price of a bicycle. Now imagine that you have enough money to buy 100 shares of slw or about $1,600. So you decide to buy slw on the 1st of the month for $1,587. After about a week, let’s say the price of slw is now $16.52 and you decide to sell your shares for a gain of $65 or a gain of 4.1%. This will give you $1652 to invest which you decide to invest in Royal Bank stock for $72 per share. With this amount, you can buy 20 shares for $1,440 so you can see that you have again used most of you nest egg to invest. After a month, the bank stock has recovered to $76 and you again decide to sell for $1,520 so now you have a total of $1,732. In the month, there has been talk of the Fed (Federal Reserve Bank ) raising interest rates (which pushed up the value of the bank stock) thus the slw stock you had purchased a month ago has gone down to $14.80 a share. Your sense is that the Fed will not raise the rate and also that slw is worth more than $14.80 so you use your $1732 to buy 117 shares. A week later the Fed announces that it is too early to raise rates and your slw stock immediately climbs back to $17.56 per share and you sell. Now you have $2,054 after only 2 months of investing (or trading) for a gain of 29% in 2 months.

If you had put you $1,587 in the bank it would be worth $1,589.64 now instead of the $2,054 that you have.

Summary

I hope I have given you something to think about by writing this post. My goal was to show you that you have options on building your wealth and to make you aware that there is also a big risk to your future wealth if you avoid risk and invest with the bank.

I have made the investment approach look easy too, so keep that in mind as it is also very possible to lose on you investment decisions as Volkswagen shareholders have just seen.

Remember though that turnover is a very important piece of investing and building wealth.  Give it a careful try.

The Extra Money – Where your wealth will come from.

Thinking about wealth, we must think about what we have – what is actually ours to keep. I read a newspaper piece this week about the North American saving rate and it is not good; it is less than 5%. The wealth we can actually keep must come from that 5% therefore most of us don’t have much wealth.  In addition, our banks want us to invest that money with them at basically zero rate of return thus we would have to save for 20 years to have even one year’s worth of our income!

If we look deeper into the 5% we can see that the 5% is not what most of us save because the big savers, the rich folks are averaged into that percentage. I would guess that for most working folks in North America are saving less than 2% and are therefore one paycheque from broke.  Once again, think about having to save for 50 years to have only saved a single year’s worth of income.  There has to be a better way – and there is!

When I started to think about writing this post, I did some research and began to realize that in our society we don’t speak that much about wealth but rather about income. We seemed to be obsessed with how much salary people make rather than wealth as if the two are specifically linked which they are not. They could be linked but in reality it seems to be possible to spend more than you earn even when you earn lots.

So now you can see why I wanted to write this post – I have just explained my thought process – I want to talk about wealth rather than income and look at where wealth comes from. As I have explained in the past, I am not trying to explain complex investing ideas using derivatives to increase your investment results but only basic concepts of wealth and the good life it can bring for the majority of folks.

In order to create wealth (that we can keep) we need to save some of the income we make, no matter how much we make. I will use an example here that is not too extravagant – let us say someone making $14 an hour – not huge money but not minimum wage either. Now that amount per hour turns out to be $29,000 per year. This amount likely leaves the person with $2,000 a month after tax and guess what – you can live on that and save money too.

Let us now assume that this person has decided that she wants some wealth in the future and plans a saving rate of 20% of her income or $400 a month (actually only 16% before tax). She will of course only have $1,600 a month left to live on but that is her plan – let’s see how it works out.

Now $400 a month is quite a lot when you are living on $1,600 and a good budget will be required to get there but after 4 months she has an entire month’s salary saved, and after a year three months salary. That $5,000 nest egg is actually quite a lot if managed as an investment and she continues to save at the same rate. Investment returns and passing time will take care of generating wealth for her. For example, I have calculated a return of 4% per month on her increasing wealth (I built a little spreadsheet model to do that), which will result in $140,000 for her after 5 years. Additionally, her investment income begins to exceed her other income at the end of year 3!

I do realize that some will scoff at my suggested rate of return on investments at 4% monthly and I understand that point of view. That rate of return is not easy to achieve but not impossible either. We have all been conditioned into accepting bank rates of return on our investments which is designed to make banks rich and not us. Accepting bank rates of return guarantees poverty while saving on a salary – don’t accept it. Banks will use risk of losing your money as the threat to have you accept their rate which guarantees your giving up your life of earning to have a pittance at the end. I want you to do better – finance independence is the goal.

To summarize, you need to save to start your nest egg – we all do! Getting that nest egg started moves you in the right direction – toward wealth and financial independence. Turning that nest egg into wealth will only require two more ingredients; your rate of return and the passage of time. As we all know, the passage of time happens automatically so you are left with only having to manage your rate of return. I also encourage you to not accept the bank’s rate of return as it will make you poor. You can do better, much better and I will write another post right away to illustrate how it can be done!

So the road to wealth is simple – a saving plan to start a nest egg and a proper rate of return – time takes care of the rest and we are all given exactly the same amount of time! Let’s do this!

Take the first step and use a budget to get saving on a nest egg to start with.  It doesn’t matter how small but at least something so you can look at the amount and think “That is mine”!  Adjust your wasted spending into saving.  Once you have your nest egg, come back to my next post and we can talk about how to generate the rate of return that will turn that nest egg into your financial independence.  In that post, I will explain where good returns can be found and how your can use “turnover” to really ramp up your returns and your rate of building financial independence.