Jun 292017
 

According to Chelsea Fagan, founder of the Financial Diet, transportation is one of the biggest unseen costs in people’s lives. Americans on average spend about “9% to 25% of their monthly budget” on transportation. That’s a pretty large portion of one’s take home pay. 😮 The surprising thing is, most people can easily cut their transportation costs down by half, according to Chelsea. In today’s post I’ll write about my new vehicle, and how I plan to save money with it. 🙂

Recent Purchase: Used Scooter

Motor scooters are like motorcycles; they can sit up to 2 people. Here in Vancouver, Canada, all you need to ride one is a helmet and a regular class 5 driver’s license which most people have already.

I started to look into buying a scooter after I drove to a restaurant last month and had trouble finding a parking spot. But I saw a scooter that sat comfortably in a small space between two cars on the road. So then I did some research and calculations, and realized that I wanted to get a scooter for economic reasons.

So earlier this month, after checking out some used scooters on craigslist I ended up buying a 2009 50cc Derbi scooter for $1,400 including tax and registration. It only has about 2,250 KM on it. It’s really enjoyable to ride and easy to control.

Here’s a photo of my new ride in Batman’s favorite color. 🙂

Cost of Owning a Scooter

Like I mentioned, I bought the scooter for $1,400 tax included, which is much more affordable than a car or even a motorcycle. The seller accepted e-transfer and the transaction went smoothly. Now let’s talk about the ongoing costs of operating it. Spoiler: It’s cheap. 🙂

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Jun 012017
 

Dating can be expensive. All those dinners and movies can add up over time. According to a Match.com survey of 5,500 singles in the U.S., the average unmarried American spent about $1,600 on their dating life in 2016. That’s about $133 per month. When broken down by gender, men spent $150 per month on average, while women spent $120 per month.

I recently dated a girl who expected me to spend $400 a month on her. That’s a bit much for me, and is part of the reason we are no longer seeing each other. I didn’t know if an appropriate dating budget exists, so I decided to create a poll on Twitter. Here is what I found out. 🙂

It appears 8 out of 16 people think $100 is a good monthly amount to spend on dating. 4 out of 16 thought $250 is appropriate, and the remaining 4 voters thought $400 is the right amount. Overall my poll seems to more or less reflect the results of the Match survey.

But instead of using dollar a figure, maybe a better way to determine a dating budget is to use a person’s income. For example, 5% of take home income should go towards dating. So if someone makes $3,000 a month, his dating budget would be $150/month. Or maybe each relationship is different. If we really connect with someone special then perhaps we are more willing to shower them with money, time, attention, and other resources because they are worth it.

There are no universal rules when it comes to money and dating. But it’s probably a good idea to keep your standards reasonable. According to a Chase Blueprint Valentine’s Day survey, men on average expect $230 worth of Valentine’s day presents. But women are less greedy, only expecting to receive $196 worth of gifts. However, everyone is bound to be disappointed, because on average women only plan to spend $71 and men $98 on their Valentine’s day date, lol. 🙂

If you’re single, how much do you spend on dating? What about if you’re in a relationship; how much do you spend on dates per month with your significant other?

 

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Random Useless Fact:

The division symbol (÷) is just a blank fraction. You replace the dots with the actual numbers.

Mar 272017
 

In a World of Abundance

Over the last couple of weeks I have indulged in many pleasant gastronomic experiences around the city. Below are some pictures of events I attended and the food I enjoyed. And here’s the kicker. 😀 Everything was free!

food events mostly found through eventbrite

 

Free Food is Everywhere 

Why would companies hold events to give away food to the public? Usually it’s because they have something to sell. Most of the presentations I attend are sponsored by financial companies that want to push their investment products. I was given wine, bread, and cheese at a Raymond James event. Private market company Pinnacle served pasta and pizza at a fancy Italian restaurant. Yum. 🙂

Even technology companies such as Realm, which develops mobile apps, gave away pizza and t-shirts. So I got a free meal that evening, and free clothing. Yay! Whenever I wear my new Realm t-shirt I’m essentially giving them free publicity.

The companies try to raise awareness for their brands, sell their services, or recruit people into their community. That’s why they host these events. I can ramble on. But enough teasing. Let me reveal how you can get free food!

Search and Execute

There are 3 steps that anyone in the developed world can use to acquire free food.

Step 1: Live in or near an urban area.
Step 2: Sign up with event management organizers.
Step 3: Search and register for upcoming local events using filters such as “free” and “food.”

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Mar 092017
 

A Car Buying Formula 

Someone once said that an old car is like virginity. Once you’ve had it for over 25 years it’s kind of hard to get rid of because nobody else wants it either. 😄 But I’m not here to give relationship advice. This is a personal finance blog after all. So in today’s post we’ll discuss one of the most common questions people face; how much is appropriate to spend on a car? For most people I would recommend the following formula.

0.01s(5h+2i) = Price to pay for a vehicle

s = Monthly household spending (before accounting for the potential vehicle.)
h
 = Number of expected hours the car will spend on the road per person per month.
i = Monthly cost of the auto insurance.

For example, I live pretty close to work so I only spend about 20 hours on the road each month. My car insurance costs $100/month, and my monthly household spending is roughly $2,500. When these numbers are plugged into the formula we see that I should spend about $7,500 if I were looking to buy a car today.

0.01 x $2500 x (5 x 20 hrs + 2 x $100) = $7,500

Let’s look at another example. Susan and Bob are looking to buy a vehicle. It will be used primarily for Susan to drive to work, but will also be used for shopping / recreational activities for both of them. They estimate the car will be on the road for 50 hours per month. They will be in the car together for 10% of that time. Their monthly spending is $3,200. Insurance for the car is expected to cost $150/month for the type of vehicle they are looking for. Using these numbers we discover they should budget in the range of $18,400 for a car.

0.01 x $3200 x (5 x 55 hrs + 2 x $150) = $18,400

Even though the car spends 50 hours on the road, we are using 55 hours in the formula. This is because two people are expected to use the car simultaneously 10% of the time so during those times the hourly rate of utility is doubled.

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Aug 292016
 

Being Mindful With Spending

Mindful spending is when we only buy something that will create a net benefit to our well being, in proportion to its relative cost. The idea here is to spend money with purpose! 😀 This will reduce waste, maximize economic utility, and give us the most bang for our buck, so-to-speak. 🙂

16-08-mindful-spending

In practice, all we need to remember are 3 simple questions when contemplating a new purchase.

  1. Why do I want this?
  2. What are the positive and negative effects this product or service will have on me, whether they be physical, practical, emotional, or spiritual?
  3. Assuming the answer to #2 has a net positive benefit, how much am I willing to pay for this?

That’s pretty much it. We can use this simple application every time we want to buy food, furniture, cars, investments, a swedish massage, real estate, and even an education. This literally works for anything that has monetary value.

Let’s take a look at how we might answer those 3 questions in real life cases below: Since mindful spending is based on individual preferences I will only be using myself in the following examples as I can’t speak for anyone else.

  • Should I buy a Nikon D5 camera?
    1) I want to take pretty photos just for fun.
    2) Helps me learn to become a better photographer. Fun to play with a new camera.
    3) $100 because I’ll probably take the camera out with me a few times, get bored with it, and never use it again.
    So in this case, I would not buy the camera since it costs thousands of dollars.
  • Should I go back to school?
    1) To increase my earning potential.
    2) Spend 2 to 4 years in full-time education. Estimated income out of school is 5% to 10% higher than now. Loss of income during time in school.
    3) (-$70,000) because after accounting for both benefits and opportunity costs of going back to school, I would lose $70,000 in the long run.
    So in this case, it’s not worth it at all. Even if I received full scholarship to attend art school for free I still wouldn’t do it.
  • Should I subscribe to Netflix?
    1) I enjoy watching its original programming.
    2) Provides entertainment value. On demand and no commercials. Uses up a lot of my limited internet bandwidth.
    3) $40/month, because for the enjoyment I get out of the service I would gladly pay $2 per hour of view time, and I watch at least 20 hours of Netflix a month.
    So in this case, I would and actually do have a Netflix subscription already since it’s only $10/month, which is cheaper than what I’m willing to pay for.

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