In the beginning

I don’t like budgets, strict rules, and lists to live by. These are all attempts at building maps to navigate the terrain. They’re recipes when I want to know the ingredients. I want to know the fundamental, underlying building blocks of life. I want to understand how the world works.

I don’t want the map, I don’t want the recipe. I want to make my own.  

I started this blog a couple of years ago but soon fell into writing the same generalized information everyone else was writing. Make your coffee at home, and do your best each month to save 70%, 50%,30%…, ok fine 15% is OK, put money in a generic ETF on the stock market and wait 10, 15, or 30 years. I soon recognized an alarming difference between what I was doing in real life and what I was writing.

So I stopped.  

If it was easy everyone would do it

I’m not interested in doing the same thing everyone else does. There are plenty of maps for that already. They take you down the interstate, to a couple of nights at the Super 8. Let’s go off-road. Let’s go on an adventure, to boldly go and boldly do what no one else around us will. We’re making our own road, with potholes and sticky situations. With a summit insight, a sunrise to watch -with those brave enough to meet us there.  

I drove up, but that’s not the only way to see this view

Are you the type of person that wants to sing out loud with the window down? Do you feel an urge to ante up, no matter the cards you’re dealt? Does everything in you scream to open a conversation with whoever is beside you? Do you want to truly live? Then this blog is just the thing for you.

For your whole life, you’ve played the game of Go Fish. You know the rules well, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. If these are the only rules you know you can try and work the odds slightly in your favor, try to understand the psychology of your opponents, or count the cards to get some advantage. But no matter what you do, you feel like the rules of the game limit you.  

What if you understood the fundamentals though, that it’s the cards that are the building blocks of the game. The four suits and 52 cards. Then all of a sudden you can use the rules to play a different game. A game that favors your strengths, and the cards you’re holding. 

An Ace In Your Pocket

In about 2 years I saved and earned enough to pay off my mortgage. This required reinventing the rules, going off the beaten path, and understanding the fundamental rules. So I could clearly see the problems, and devise a solution for each obstacle. It meant learning the advanced techniques fund managers use, to reduce risk and increase returns. It meant using the tax code in the same manner the 1% does, while earning a single average wage and raising a family of 4. It meant a year of sacrifice, seeing where the bottom of the puddle of spending we wade through each day truly was. And most importantly it meant learning Kaizen, good change, continual unending improvement, of self and every process needed to accomplish my goal -and have the goal have meaning. 

Spending. 

Unending improvement (Kaizen). 

Investing 

Taxes 

SUIT. These were the 4 suits, the main subjects that I dug down to discover the fundamentals. To be able to discern the rules to play a new game. Each one needs the others to work as a system, to be a full deck. I aim to lay out the cards I have used, the ones I have discarded, and the ones I created(what are the possibilities if there are 53 cards in your deck?) Don’t let the cynics tell you what can’t be done. Amaze them with what can be done.

What’s Next?

What section do you want to work on? Let me know the cards you’re missing, and the ones you’re holding. Do you get anxious thinking about phoning the bank to set up an investing account, or do you already have some investments? Is your spending out of control? Would your spending be out of control if you didn’t have all this debt holding you back? Do you hand your taxes over to your friend to do each year, and always wonder if you’re leaving money at the table? Let me know what you want to read about in the next post in the comments, and any tips you have for me to make this blog better for you.

Your homework is to calculate your annual expenses. Try to be accurate within a few grand. Then times that number by 25. Write that down and save it.
Next, remove all the payments you won't have when you retire, like a mortgage, car loan, etc., and calculate your annual expenses like that. Multiply that by 25 like last time. Write that down and note the difference between the two numbers. We will use this in a future post.

Window Replacement Part 2. Plus 5 free nights in hotel.

Cardinal glass is one of the main glass unit manufacturers. They are quite interesting. They use a LEAN manufacturing system, which is worth a look into. I’ve been reading through “Out of the Crisis” which is a fundamental book in the LEAN management world. Most books on Toyota are good as well. A series of posts could be written on this alone. But typically companies that employ LEAN have exceptional reliability and quality.

From what I’ve been able to tell there are only a few glass unit manufacturers and the window companies make a vinyl/wood/fiberglass frame to insert the window units into. So, many will use their own names to market the same window units, or technologies that the window unit manufacturers use. There’s a good video showing Cardinal’s manufacturing on this webpage.

So in researching window replacement you want to find out who makes the glass. Then you can take a look at their frames in any store that has a display. You can quickly tell that they make the frame material in long lengths and cut to fit your window size. Then the corners are welded.

The best seals come from casement style windows. This is because the windows press into the seal. But this comes with an obvious trade off in reliability. The require somewhat complicated crank and hinge systems. these moving parts are the most likely spots to fail in a window with good glass units.

The solution is to go to a simpler system, like slider units. This requires you to give up some air sealing efficiency in trade for increased reliability. I feel this is a good trade off, as you only want to change out windows every 20 years if possible, due to the labour involved. Of course, there are also environmental gains in purchasing something that will last. If you have to toss out the unit in 5 – 10 years you’re not helping anyone.

To make the most of this reno I’m paying for it on a new credit card. The Amex Marriot Bonvoy card. After spending $3000 in the next six months you get enough points for 3-7 nights in a Marriot (or any of their chain) hotel. If you stay 4 nights you get the 5th free, which is another nice bonus. There is a $120 annual fee, which is easily covered by the free nights. You also get a free night every year which offsets the cost, if you choose to keep the card the second year.

There are 2 versions of this card, so it’s fairly easy to get a couple weeks of vacation hotels paid for with the sign up bonus. Here’s a referral link if you’d like to support the blog, while getting some extra points for yourself. Once you get the card you can refer a friend (or me) for more points. Later we’ll work on how to get your flight for free, and see if we can’t turn all the renos everyone is doing into a nice vacation for when the world returns to normal.

Edit: Fixed hyperlinks 🙂

Windows

Typically when i mention windows it’s to do with computers, when I’m building a new one and looking for a $1 copy on ebay. But lately i’ve been knees deep in a different windows project. I’m looking to replace virtually all the windows in place. The majority are single pane Pearson style windows and the rest the old aluminum style you often found in trailers. A strange mix, to be sure.

A few things I’ve learned during the set-up phase. First be sure to expose the framing around your windows so you can get proper measurements of the rough openings. Nothing worse than getting the wrong size custom windows. I had a window guy take measurements at first. He quickly went around the outside and measured the frames. But, I found his measurements were far from accurate.

Quite a few of the windows rested right on the sill, and a couple were tight in the frames. So, taking measurements of just the existing windows might leave you with windows very tight fitting, which is not ideal for sealing, installation and insulation purposes. It’s very important to have a nice even gap around the windows that can be air sealed and insulated.

Also, I was amazed at the variations in pricing between vendors. It is definitely worth your time to get 3 or 4 quotes. Many suppliers get their windows out of the U.S. and the exchange rate can drastically affect the final price. The exchange rate has varied drastically over the last few months.

I’ve decided to go with Nail fin windows. Replacement windows are easier and quicker to install. So you’ll often get installers quoting you replacement. However, It’s hard to get a good seal with them as they essentially slide into the existing hole, requiring you to seal the gap. With nail fin you can apply caulking to the nailing fin and ensure your getting a good seal from the start. Then you have to come up with a solution for trim to cover the fin. I’ll cut back my siding with a skilsaw and use smartboard.

Lastly I spent an inordinate amount of time learning about the various ratings and coatings. Every manufacturer has a different spin on the same coatings. These are different amounts of Low-e coating. It’s a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo. Essentially there are 3 levels of coating that go on the inside of the window pane. They are typically referred to as Low e 180, Low e 270, or Low e 366. Or some variation on that theme. the first number refers to how much coating they put on 1, 2 or 3. 3 being the thickest coating. the last 2 numbers simply refer to how much light is allowed through the coating, expressed in percentage. So 80%, 70% or 66% in this example. The more coats the higher R-Value, or insulating value, with a trade off in lower Solar Heat Gain. Solar Heat gain refers to how much heat you can get from the sun shining into your place. This is valuable in northern locales in most instances. In summer of course it’s generally unwanted.

I’ll look into putting up a post about the actual How-To when I finish up.

How I Got $25,000 Back on my Taxes

Tax Season. Quite possibly one of the happiest times of the year for Buy Boss’rs. Buy Bossr’s? Buy Boss’r’s? “B’u’y B’o’s’s’r’s’?” Any high school graduates that can help me with that? 🙂 In return I’ll let you take a look at my taxes.

Back on subject, … the December to March tax season is when we really are able to leverage all the efforts we put forward throughout the year to save money, and live more efficiently.

All the hard work and extra effort we put in at work, with an eye to the future, really pays dividends.

Continue reading “How I Got $25,000 Back on my Taxes”

How to lower your cell phone bill by 80 percent

After cutting my expenses from five percent more than I was making, all the way down to forty percent of my income, there was one rather large bill. I knew I needed to lower my cell phone bill. It was staring me down, taunting me, “Are you enough of a Boss’r to deal with me?”.

One hundred and twelve dollars, every month, without fail, for eternity. Well, I finally had to show my cell phone bill who was really in charge!

This was without a doubt the hardest bill for me to cut. Harder than selling my second and third vehicles, and replacing them with a bike. Harder than making phone calls to my bank to lower my fees. I just hate having to phone help desks and the inevitable 45 minutes of hold music.

I really liked the plan I had and Koodo had been really good to me. This was a real let’s dig down, clench my teeth and pull, kick to the nards kind of determination.

Continue reading “How to lower your cell phone bill by 80 percent”

3 reasons NOT to contribute to your RRSP this year.

Ah, tax season is upon us and like a good little worker B you are likely swarming to top up your RRSP contribution. After all, the ~30% return is nothing to swat at, and deferring your taxes is almost always a good idea. However there are a few excellent reasons you may want to hold off on dropping that hard earned money into the RRSP portion of your Honey Pot.

Continue reading “3 reasons NOT to contribute to your RRSP this year.”