Oct 172018
 

Last week I lost nearly $20,000 in net worth. 🙁 Parts of the stock market slipped into correction territory. My Amazon shares lost up to 6.2% on a single day, the worst performance since 2016. The market has recovered a bit this week, but I am still in the red for the month. The recent volatility is a stoic reminder that the market can be fickle, and doesn’t care about how much we pray or like it on Facebook.

Stocks and bond funds move up and down without our control. But the one investment that can not be taken away from us is personal development.  When it comes to building wealth, human capital is more valuable than money in the long run. 🙂

Developing useful knowledge and skills is the best way to maintain a prosperous life. Ideally you want to become so valuable that the company can’t afford to give you the pink slip. 🙂 But even the most stable careers are susceptible to a labor shake-up or restructuring. I was employed by the same company for about 10 years. My position certainly felt safe, until I was suddenly let go earlier this year without any warning.  :/

If anyone is nervous about potentially being laid off, below are 8 suggestions to help you prepare for the unexpected.

  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and resume up to date. Recruiters often use online tools to help them look for potential new hires. 🙂
  • Save up your vacation time and treat it like an insurance policy. Any unused vacation days must be paid out if a worker is laid off in my city. I always try to keep at least 10 working days of vacation stored up. This amounts to 2 weeks worth of extra termination pay. That’s a pretty good parting gift. Yay!
  • Build up some cash liquidity or savings to give yourself time to look for other opportunities. Many experts believe saving enough to withstand 6 months of living expenses is enough. I personally prefer longer. According to my stress test calculations (under the employment risk category) I currently have 36 months.
  • Collect work achievements. I have been periodically saving projects throughout my career to demonstrate my thought process and problem solving skills. I keep these files at home with permission so I can update my resume and show off my skills to future employers.
  • Don’t burn bridges. Be nice to everyone because you never know who can help you get your next job. One coworkers who was laid off the same day I was received a call from the same company a few days later. Apparently they wanted to hire him back. He even got to keep his termination package lol. 🙂 #bonusmoney
  • Practice solving problems. Our productivity is correlated with how many problems we can solve. If we are good at finding solutions to big problems then more people will want to employ us for our skills.
  • Explore new careers options. I worked at an Amazon warehouse making about $14.50 per hour, which is less than half of what I was making at my old job. The experience made me appreciate my old desk job a lot more. I also developed more respect for physical laborers.
  • Create a side income. My part time job kept food on the table while I was looking for another full time job. Other side hustle ideas include giving music lessons, selling t-shirts online, or building up a dividend stock portfolio.

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May 172018
 

It’s natural to be upset about losing one’s job. But sometimes being laid off is not so bad. When my company unexpectedly downsized in February I became unemployed for the first time in 10 years. Actually I was still working part time, so technically I was just under-employed. I didn’t have any other jobs lined up at the time. But instead of feeling worried or sad I was happy. That’s partly because I have the resources to last me years before having to work full time again. But I also had a pretty good feeling that this change in my career was for the better. That’s why I was optimistic in my earlier post about losing my job.

I received a big payout worth more than 3 months of my salary. But I managed to find permanent full time work before 3 months. So from a financial point of view I didn’t lose any money. In fact, my income situation has actually improved because my new job pays more than my old job. Hurray! I can become financially independent a little sooner now. 🙂 Furthermore the job I’m currently at is more fun and rewarding than my old job. I also had fun working temporary at Amazon for awhile. But what I enjoyed the most about this whole situation is taking some time off to relax and experience a small taste of early retirement. 😀

And to add icing on the cake I recently received a letter in the mail from Great West Life, an insurance company, asking what I want to do with my previous job’s matching RRSP fund. I’ve been paying into this retirement program for the last 7 years. I couldn’t access it or use the money in any way while I was employed. Since I couldn’t touch the money, I didn’t think it was worth including in my net worth statements. But now that I’m no longer working there, they have to give me my money, lol. It’s a typical 4% employer matching plan so the sum is not that much compared to the 25% or more I typically save and invest personally, but it’s another benefit to look forward to.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

You know your country is in trouble when the national currency is worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

 

Dec 052016
 

Finding the Appropriate Work-Life Balance

Benjamin Franklin once said that “time is money.” I think he was being metaphorical. Otherwise ATMs would also be called time machines. 😄 But time is certainly like money in many ways. When we have it, we don’t know what to do with it all. And when we don’t, there’s a million things we need it for.  😀

In the corporate world we certainly treat time as money, which is why overtime means more money. 🙂 But finding the proper work/life balance can be challenging for many people. If a new mother wants to stay home to look after her baby for 3 years then she could potentially leave $500,000 or more on the table.

Consider an American who starts working at age 22 and then takes a 3 year break from her career, where her salary is $50,000. According to this marketwatch article, “that 3 year break would cost her roughly $506,000 due to a combination of lost wages ($150,000 over those three years), lost retirement and Social Security contributions ($158,000 over the life of her career, assuming she retires at 66) and lost future wage growth ($198,000).”

Studies show a household with at least 1 stay-at-home parent is the ideal environment to raise children in. Many parents also feel their kids are better off if their first 5 years are spent close to their mothers. But on the other hand, $500,000 is a lot of money to pass up. 😕 Often people face the difficult decision between making more money or spending more time with their children.

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May 162016
 

The Enemy of Success is Delusion

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Author and public speaker Steve Siebold has helped many people with their careers. His clients include Fortune 500 companies and his books are considered by many to be the gold standard in the field of psychological performance training. One important distinction that Steve notices between the middle class and the wealthy is in how they think.

“The average person believes they are far more competent at what they do for a living than they actually are. Many people believe they are overworked and underpaid, but this is rarely true. In a free market economy we are normally getting paid very close to what we’re worth.” ~Steve

I happen to agree. An employer probably wont pay someone $30/hour if the labor is only worth $20/hour. Workers are replaceable. If a company consistently overpays its employees then it won’t stay in business for very long, assuming all other market conditions being equal. The employee can make the same choice. If a pharmacist is being paid $20/hour but believes he is worth $30/hour then he is free to offer his professional services to another company. Since the labor market is based on supply and demand, it’s important to consider both sides when thinking about compensation.

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Apr 012016
 

Quitting my Job

There comes a day in everyone’s life where they have to throw in the towel. After holding down 2 jobs for the past 8 years I felt it was time for me to quit. I’m simply getting too old for the workplace. And after analyzing my financial situation I realized that I do indeed have the means right now to leave the rat race and live solely off my investments forever!

So I quit my part-time job in early March. And then a couple weeks ago I handed in my letter of resignation to my full-time employer. The company tried to keep me because I’m rather good at my job. Much like a carpenter, I’m always able to nail my work. My manager even offered me a 30% raise if I stay, but I politely declined.

Yesterday was officially my last day at work so I’m finally free from the grind! From now on I can enjoy life to the fullest on my own terms. 🙂 Woot!

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Enjoy unlimited free time for the rest of my life? Yeah, I think I could get use to this.

But one obstacle that can stand in the way of true freedom is debt. 🙁 To obtain real financial security I knew I had to get rid of all my debt. So I decided to make some major changes to my balance sheet.

Selling the Farmland

I bought a farm in 2012 for $150,000. And then bought another farm for $172,500 in the following year, for a combined purchase price of $322,500.

Well I recently sold both my farms for $550,000 to a single buyer. Yay! This $200,000+ capital appreciation is due to the strong demand in this area. According to an official Farm Credit Canada report, farmland values in Saskatchewan have increased 83% on average from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2014. Amazeballs!

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We don’t have the official numbers for 2015 yet. But according to another FCC report, “increases could be as high as 9%, with some upside to reach higher.”

Although I was able to sell my farms for a total price of $550,000, I had to pay $20,000 in agent and legal fees, pay off the remaining $195,000 of farm loans to the bank, and set aside another $35,000 for capital gains tax.

So in the end I only ended up with $300,000. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. 😉

No More Debt

As shown in my most recent net worth update I had roughly $300K of non-farm debt last month, including a mortgage, LOCs, etc. Well over the last week I used the net proceeds from selling the farmland to pay off the balance of all my remaining loans so now I’m completely debt free! 😀

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New Balance Sheet

So with the farmland and debts gone, here’s what my new net worth looks like.

Assets: Total = $530,000
Cash: $7,000
Primary Residence: $263,000
Non Registered Investments: $200,000
RRSP/RRIF: $60,000

Liabilities: None 🙂

Net Worth = $530,000

It’s such a relief to finally be debt free! 😀 My balance sheet looks a lot cleaner without all those pesky liabilities. Debt is evil. I will never go into debt ever again! Debtors are losers.

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