Monthly Archives: January 2015

Barbados – amazing place!

I just wanted to make a quick post about the island of Barbados!  We went there for a week this month and I cannot say enough good things about it.  As you probably know this post about “enjoying” your wealth.

Barbados is at 13 degrees of latitude so you can count of warm weather all year.  In January the normal high temperature is 29 degrees – everyday! From January to Junish is only showers now and then – very little rain.  We had a little more rain than expected when we were there but it was only more frequent showers for a couple of days, but overall it was great.

The Ocean

In my opinion the island of Barbados sits in the Atlantic Ocean but it seems that the Bajans say that the island sits directly between the Atlantic and the Caribbean.  The east coast of Barbados faces the Atlantic for sure as you can see from the following picture from the photo taken from the Roundhouse restaurant in Bathsheba.  This coast is favoured by surfers who cannot resist the consistent waves here.

On the west coast of Barbados the water is much calmer in what the Bajans say is the Caribbean.  This coast is sheltered from the steady wind from the Atlantic and is therefore the centre of the upscale hotels on the island.  Upscale is an understatement for places like Sandy Lane on the west coast but I have to say it is really beautiful on the beach as can be seen in this photo.  This calm beach is never possible on the east coast.

On the south coast of Barbados where the Atlantic and the Caribbean come together the beaches are beautiful but there are some waves and it is a great place to learn to surf (I know from experience).  Surfers point, in this photo is such a beautiful place and Zed’s Surfing Adventures right at the point is the perfect place to learn to surf (thanks Jacob).  If you want to try surfing, check out Zed’s – you will not be disappointed.

The south coast is also a great place to stay for a week if you like a little more excitement and want to walk to restaurants and bars.  The area around St. Laurence Gap on the south coast is great and the hotels are reasonably priced.   This is a map of the area to give you an idea of hotels and restaurants there.

Things to do

There are so many things to do in Barbados and I won’t get into all of that, but I wanted to tell you about Oistin’s Fish Fry on Friday nights.  We read that this is a “must do” but that is such an understatement.  This is an amazing event that is just what Bajans do on Friday night.  The atmosphere is alive – the food and drink is amazing and you cannot miss this.  It is worth going to Barbados on Friday and leaving on Saturday just to do this.

The Best – the People (Bajans)

We travel often – we go to lots of places and we live in Canada where people are polite and nice – but no place we have ever been compares to Barbados and the Bajans.  The people on this island made the trip for us.  It is not really something you can explain well without actually experiencing what these folks are like.  Everyone is very reserved but so friendly and helpful – you really cannot understand unless you see it.  Everyone is like that and according to Jacob Layson at Zed’s surfing adventures the Bajans pride themselves on being that friendly and making everyone’s visit to the island – you have to go just to see these amazing people.

Rum Punch

What can I say – rum punch is delicious.  Go to Cutter’s Deli in Crane Beach for their Very Special Rum Punch (VSRP) – worth the trip.

 

 

Why do we not Learn Financial Things in School?

Why Can We not Learn about Financial Things in School?

Water – remember that stuff – the stuff that we use everyday? It comes out of our taps, we swim in it, we sail on it, wash the car with it, etc., etc. It is very useful stuff and we cannot live without it – actually we are mostly made of it. Did we learn about it in school – did we learn how to use it properly, how to care for it, and how to make sure that we leave lots of perfect water for our children and all of those who will follow us?

Of course we didn’t learn any of that stuff – we learned that water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. We learned how much it weighs, how to determine the temperature at which it boils, or freezes. Learning how to use it – wow – who would think about that??

This thought process hit me when I started to think about why we don’t learn about money or anything financial and I realized that there are many things that we don’t learn about that we need everyday – like water; and money!

Money – More of an essential ingredient that we imagine

Now I don’t want to try to make such a strong statement that we need money like we need water because that is certainly not the case, yet money works to make things happen in our lives and without knowing how to find, keep, and enjoy our wealth we will likely have a harder time in life. Just to give you a couple of examples to get you warmed up. Not to discourage you, but you will likely need somewhere near a million dollars – yes $1,000,000 just to pay for a place to live if you live in the western world. You will also likely need in the vicinity of another $1,000,000 just to feed yourself. So now you are up to $2 M just for room and board – do you think it is a good idea to start out in life without a good knowledge about financial things?

So I asked myself what would be useful to know about financial stuff – the things that would be important enough for us to take some time away from learning about which parts of which country get the most rain, etc., and the list of things that are more useful about finances can get quite long – let’s have a look:

  • What will it cost for our housing cost – rent, mortgage, etc. – whatever approach we take
  • What about food – we will definitely need to eat, yet we don’t learn that
  • What amount of money people are earning that live a certain lifestyle – it would be nice to know the cost of a certain lifestyle we might like to try.

–          How much money do people make doing different jobs – our money has to come from somewhere.

If we get some teaching about things like this in our school years, we will be able to start out our life a little on our own with a bit of a clue. Sadly though, we don’t get any of pieces of information given to us, we therefore start life in trouble already.

Cost of living

So let’s have a look first at the cost of living – honestly people have no idea about this and that is part of what gets people into financial trouble in the first place and I think is one of the major causes of children living with their parents long after they are children.

So, how do we figure out what the cost of living is? Well, like everything else these days, our first step could be to “Google it”. And as is often the case, there is a website that provides us information on that – it is as close as our computer screens (which of course are not free yet nearly everyone has one or more). The site I found first was something called http://www.numbeo.com which will let us find the cost of living in any country (or most I assume).

I live in Canada and therefore will look at this from a Canadian point of view. The Numbeo site allows you to look at data at a fairly detailed level so you can likely choose your own city or someplace nearby to determine some numbers. Of course there are other websites that we can look at to help us get a better sense of specific items in our costs of living – let’s have a look for Canada.

 

Cost item Monthly Annually
Housing $1,300 $15,600
Food 583 7,000
Transportation 600 7,200
Utilities, etc. 400 4,800
Savings 300 3,600
Totals $3,183 $38,200

 

Ok – so here is a simple table that I have created with some information that is based in Canadian historical costs. This is not in full detail of all the costs you might have to deal with in a month or a year, but will give you a idea. We find a total of $3,183 for a month is what will be needed to live that lifestyle and this is of course “after-tax dollars” meaning that it is your net amount after taxes have been deducted from your paycheque. If we look at the Numbeo website we will see that the average “after tax” month income in Canada is $3,047 so we are in the ballpark of what a typical Canadian budget might look like.

Analysis of budget table

If we stop here for a while and have a look at the numbers in the table, we will see a number of things that will further help us plan what we want from our life. Firstly, since the numbers are “after tax” we will have to determine how much the gross salary will be to produce this. Of course tax calculations are a little complex, but this would likely be in the ballpark of a $50,000 salary. If we divide this a little further, we will find that we would need about $24 per hour for a 40 hour week to generate the $50,000 salary.

So far we are learning a little!

Let’s go further. You will see in the table that there are no expenses for entertainment, Christmas presents, smartphones, new skates, etc., etc.. If we think about that budget with the missing “fun” things we start to get a sense of how we might be unhappy with a budget like this. That being said, we can then think about how we might change it to make it more fun, or more interesting. As an example, if we wanted to have perhaps $300 a month for entertainment, presents, etc., we would have to either reduce our costs somewhere else in the budget to free that money or alternatively make an extra $300 a month after tax – likely in the ballpark of $400 a month before tax.

Summary

We have seen that we would need around $25 an hour for a 40 hour week in Canada to live an “average” lifestyle. We can also see that a 10% increase in the cost of living other than savings will result in having no savings – this is certainly an issue and is something that is affecting many, if not most, Canadians.

Another thing we learned from this analysis is that if we make $55,000 a year to cover this cost of living, that will be $2,200,000 over 40 years, which is in the ballpark of what I had suggested earlier in this post would be the cost of room and board for your life. As you can see, none of this is exact, or even accurate for your own life, but will give you an idea of things. As an example, you can’t live this lifestyle if you plan to work 20 hours a week at the mall making $10 an hour – life will take more planning than that. You could also work as a doctor in Canada and make in the ballpark of $80 an hour for 40 hours a week and thus an annual salary of $165,000 – now that would change the budget!

What else?

One of the things that I have not talked about here is what happens with the other time in our lives. We talked here about 40 years of working to support the budget but there are other times in our lives. The early part of our lives, when we are children, is a time when we don’t have to worry about these numbers – our parents generally take care of that time. The other important time though is the time that we are not working when we are older. Our society tends to call this time “retirement” but for me that terminology is too much centred on working (as in we are now done working). I think for me I will think of that time as “freedom at last” rather than retirement. My point here however is to simple say that there are likely another 15 to 30 years of time that we will want to be doing fun stuff and we will not have a monthly salary from work to support that budget – we will need another approach to have month for that time. I will talk about that in a later post – it certainly is important.

 

 

 

Enjoying your wealth by travelling

Today’s post is just to describe the header photo today.  This photo was taken in Sint Maarten overlooking the airport.  As you can see we had an amazing view for the week.  Our villa was located in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten.  Amazing weather, amazing food and just such a relaxing place to vacation.  Try it – you will love it!

The World’s Highest Tides!

I just saw a show on television that stated that the highest tides in the world are in Alaska.  I don’t like to tell people that they are wrong… but in this case – the information is wrong!

The highest tides in the world are in Canada, specifically in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  You can see a link to an reliable source on this here.

Three Reasons I like Google

The “Google search” was launched in 1997 – it may seem that it has been around forever but that is not the case.  We all have become quite used to the internet and the services that come to us as a result so it may seem that it was always this way.

I was thinking today about how difficult it used to be to learn things, to think of something and then realize that to find our more about it you would have to dedicate time to going to a library or some other approach to research the subject, just to learn a little more.  Once the internet came about, lots of that information became available through the tiny window our computers give us into the internet – everything is connected!

Google is one of the ways be can step through that window into the internet and immediately arrive at a tourist info booth to the internet.  I wanted to explain with this post the three reasons I choose to use Google rather than other search engines.

The first point I wanted to make is how easy Google is to use.  I have stated to take note that every time I “Google search” something I get amazing information delivered almost instantaneously.  I do realize that we all take this for granted now and have for 18 years now however if you think about researching your question in the old way the result of the browser search will still amaze you.  Google delivers the search results quickly and I find that the Google approach to completing the search and delivering the result seldom results in my having to bother even going to the second page of search results – the prioritizing of results by Google is very effective in delivering the best results on the first page of the search result.

My second reason for liking Google is the amount of information and specific products that they deliver to us all for free!  An example is Google Streeview.  Every time I visit somewhere now, I first go to Streetview on Google maps and look at the destination.  To think that Google has gone to the effort to drive on practically every road and street in the world and recorded it all and made it available to everyone for free is pretty amazing.   If you want to get an idea of where you would park on Rodeo Drive in LA, you can simply drive down the street and look for where the parking garages are.  Like I said – this is delivered to your computer for free and will very much reduce your stress level when visiting LA – amazing!

My third reason for liking Google – that I just recently discovered – is the Google motto “Don’t be evil”.  That is cool and something that the entire world needs to take to heart.  If we all made that our motto (which it should be automatically) the world would be a conpletely different place.

Having Google deliver all of these services for free is a good example of some of things we have at our fingertips that can help us find, keep and enjoy our wealth!