May 192015
 

Life is like a box of chocolates ‚Äď full of nuts! ūüėõ They’re also similar in that we never know what we’re going to get. Life gave me a tax refund this year so I decided to put the money to good use and invest it in chocolate. I believe the cocoa industry will continue to grow and I don’t want to miss out on all the potential gains.¬†ūüôā

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Produced from the tropical cacao tree people have been cultivating cocoa for at least 3,000 years. It’s one of the oldest, sustainable food we know of. Dating back to circa 1,100 BC the Aztecs were the first to use it by making cocoa into a beverage. Over time cocoa products have become an important part of the world’s social fabric. ūüėČ

The Global Cocoa Market¬†🍫

Generations of confectionery marketing experts worked hard to integrate chocolate into as many parts of our lives as possible. We eat chocolate at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other events. It’s also customary to buy chocolate on Valentines, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and other holidays. It can be a part of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, appetizers, and desserts. Globally about $100 billion worth of chocolate is eaten every year. It¬†has even made it into the hospitality industry, especially in fancy hotels and restaurants where guests are offered complimentary chocolate.

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May 102015
 

Some folks believe earning a higher income is a valid excuse to submit to lifestyle inflation. But I don’t think lifestyle should necessarily be tied to active income because job security is a fickle pickle.¬†However¬†with a strong framework of growing passive income, a little lifestyle inflation is not only acceptable, but I would even recommend it because YOLO. ūüėÄ Due to the recent tailwinds of increasing investment gains and asset prices it appears I’m ahead of schedule by 1 year to reach financial freedom¬†by my 35th birthday. Since my ultimate goal is to live a balanced, resourceful, and meaningful life, I have decided to succumb to lifestyle inflation and increase my expenses.

Changes to my budget:

ItemOld Monthly BudgetNew Monthly Budget
Grocery$100$150
Eating Out$25$50
Internet + Phone + Entertainment$75$100

Overall I’m now spending $100 per month more than I was back in 2010. This is not a major change to the way I spend money, but it allows me to enjoy the present a little bit more while not sacrificing too much of my financial security in retirement.¬†The way I conduct my budget is I set an expected target, such as my $150/month for groceries. The target is more of a guideline than a strict limitation. Sometimes I spend less, other times I spend more depending on what I buy and how often I eat out.

Here are my thoughts behind the 3 categories.

  • Grocery: Since food inflation has been higher than the average consumer price index over the years I’ve decided to increase my grocery bill to $150 per month. Some people might think $150 is not enough, but it all depends on where you shop. A few years ago I blogged about buying some staple foods from Safeway for about $17.¬†That’s enough produce to¬†last me for probably 1 or 2 days. Then I walked half a block down the street to another grocery store and purchased the same food for literally 1/3 of the cost. I’ve uploaded pictures with receipts for proof. The economics of this situation needs explaining
    Since it’s been 3 years since writing that article, I think the same basket of goods would probably cost about $20 at a Safeway or equivalent big box store today due to the ever increasing price of food. How much can the same $20 buy at one of the smaller independent stores I go to? Well I recently went to a small grocer to find out. 15-05-persia-food-groceryIt’s called Persia Foods located in North Vancouver¬†if anyone is curious. Below is¬†a picture of everything I bought. It actually came out to $21.07 but you get the idea. There is enough produce here to last me for an entire week. (click image to enlarge.) ¬†15-05-persia-foods-grocery-receiptI’ve also blogged before where I get cheap meat, other sources of protein, and grains. Last month I bought nearly¬†4¬†lbs of ribs in a West Vancouver supermarket for less than¬†$8, and it took me several days to eat through¬†it all. 15-05-lifestyle-inflation-food-ribs-osakaThe point is it’s¬†perfectly reasonable to eat well on¬†$35¬†per week for an individual adult, which works out to $150 per month. Of course if people are buying all their groceries from Safeway then they can expect to pay $300/month or more for essentially the same diet. But that’s their choice. ūüėõ
  • Eating Out: By increasing my restaurant budget to $50/month I can spend more time to¬†socialize with friends. ūüôā
  • Internet + Phone + Entertainment: A couple of things happened here over the last year. I finally upgraded to a smart phone earlier this year. No more flip phone for me lol. So¬†I upgraded my cellular package to include a data plan. I also subscribed to Netflix which is¬†an additional $9/month. So¬†I’m paying $25 more for telecom services now than before.

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May 012015
 
cooking steak with Liquid

The history of cheese is full of holes, but it’s interesting in its own whey. And a grate way to use cheese is of course on pizza. ūüôā Welcome to this edition of cooking with Liquid. ūüėÄ

DIY pizza is always fun, especially when you have guests over. So today I’d like to share how to create your own 12 inch pizza in about 15 minutes, for only¬†$4. The secret¬†is to buy a pizza kit that comes with a crust and tomato paste¬†so we don’t have to make our own dough and sauce from scratch. ūüôā If you don’t know where to buy a pizza kit I’ll leave some details about that later in the post.

Easy Pizza Recipe 🍕¬†(serves 2 people)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pizza crust and tomato sauce¬†package
  • cheese
  • mushrooms
  • pepperoni/sausage

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Cooking Instructions:

  1. Spread tomato sauce evenly on the pizza crust
  2. Slice toppings and place onto the pizza (you could also grate the cheese instead)
  3. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at¬†400¬įF.

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Eh Voila! It’s done. The¬†medium size pizza is¬†ready to eat. Just slice and serve.¬†🍕

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The best part is you can control the toppings and put anything you want on it. Have fun. ūüôā

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Feb 122015
 
cooking steak with Liquid

In some parts of the world¬†steaks are rare, but if you can find one well done! because today we will learn how to prepare a juicy steak for only $4.¬†Welcome to another edition of cooking with Liquid.¬†ūüôā

For this recipe I’m using a 9.5¬†oz inside round steak which costs $3.57 from MarketPlace IGA, a local grocery chain. I find round cuts are good value for steaks at roughly $13/kg, and can be found¬†in most supermarkets. I’m also using carrots and green beans because they are cheap and abundant across Canada and the U.S. A bundle of 10 carrots is $1.79¬†in Vancouver. That works out to only¬†18 cents each! Green beans¬†cost¬†$1.78 for a large handful and are a good source of potassium and dietary fibre.

Note: This post contains images of meat. I hope I didn’t offend any vegetarian readers. Feel free to stop reading here if you want, but doing so could be a¬†missed steak. ūüėÄ

Easy Steak Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 steak, any size you want (9.5 ounce pictured below)
  • 1 tbsp¬†cooking oil
  • vegetables of your choice
  • salt and pepper, or seasoning of your choice

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Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Then season the veggies and steak, and place them into the pan
  2. After cooking for 3 minutes on one side, turn over the steak and veggies and cook for another 3 minutes
  3. Remove steak from the pan and let it rest on a plate for 2 minutes while the veggies finish cooking

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Eh Voila! ūüėÄ A succulent steak dish¬†cooked to medium-rare in less than 10 minutes. Bon app√©tit! It’s an¬†easy weeknight dinner recipe for busy people who are looking for a frugal, yet somewhat fancy meal.

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Below is the receipt of the ingredients I bought and used for this recipe.

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Jan 112015
 

When the Toronto stock exchange dropped ¬†8% in¬†the first 2 weeks of December I thought 2014 was going to end on a down month. But fortunately confidence came back to the market and investors pushed stocks back up. In the end it¬†was a pretty flat month with minor gains in some sectors. ūüôā¬†Had the TSX stayed down at 8% below November’s close, my net worth would be down $13K right now¬†instead of actually being up by $3,300¬†for the month. Phew. ūüėé

*Side Income:

  • Part-Time Work =¬†$700
  • Dividends =¬†$500
*Discretionary Spending:
  • Fun =¬†$200
  • Debt Interest = $1500

*Net Worth: (MoM)14-11-fiscal-update-net-worth

  • Assets:¬†= $837,400 total¬†(+1,700)
  • Cash = $2,800¬†(+800)
  • Stocks CDN =$87,900 (+500)
  • Stocks US = $53,300 (-500)
  • RRSP = $51,400 (+900)
  • MICs = $15,000¬†(same)
  • Home = $254,000 (same)
  • Farms = $373,000 (same)
  • Debts: =¬†$517,800 total¬†(-1,600)
  • Mortgage = $195,700 (-300)
  • Farm Loans = $203,500 (-400)
  • Margin Loan CDN = $26,900 (-300)
  • Margin Loan US = $25,100 (+700)
  • TD Line of Credit = $30,000 ¬†(-400)
  • CIBC Line of Credit = $10,400¬†(-400)
  • HELOC = $18,200 (same)
  • RRSP Loans = $8,000 (-500)

*Total Net Worth = $319,600 (+1.0%)
All numbers above are in $CDN. Conversion rate used: 1.00 USD = 1.18 CAD

Overall it’s been a terrific year. I’m almost worth¬†$320K now. Yay! Here’s a comparison to last year.

Dec 2014Dec 2013
Assets$837,400$742,500
Debts$517,800$533,600
Net Worth$319,600$208,900

 

So that’s a six figure¬†annual increase. Not too shabby. It’s actually the best year¬†for me so far. ūüėĬ†Most of this wealth surge in¬†2014 was¬†due to the continuing increase of¬†asset prices. About 5 years ago I went on a mission to¬†build up my financial assets. By the beginning of 2014 I had accumulated about $750K of gross assets. Most of that amount is financed by long term bank loans.

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