Categories
Life Work

Do you Live to Work?

Are you really free? If you’re like most middle-aged people, you’re probably living a life to serve the system.

Everyone starts with 24 hours:

  • 8 hours for sleep
  • 1 hour for showering, breakfast, etc. in the morning
  • 1 hour commute
  • 8-9 hours at work
  • 1 hour commute
  • 1 hour meal prep, eating, cleaning
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 1 hour kids homework

What does that leave you? 1-2 hours of ‘freedom’. Yeah, your best hours to invest in yourself can begin after you’ve fully drained all your mental and physical energy.

Do you have hopes and dreams? Save them for between the hours of 10:00pm and 11:00pm.

You’ll notice I’m leaving out laundry, groceries, repairing the back stairs, mowing the lawn, dry-cleaning, picking up pencil crayons for your kid’s art project, and so on. That’s where your weekends go. And if you’re like many people, those obligatory social gatherings – after work drinks, in-law’s birthday party – might as well be minor forms of work too.

The time each of us have to actually do what we want is minimal. If you’re like me, you have to find enjoyment in the daily chores.

The funny thing is, most jobs don’t require 8-9 hours. How much of your day is wasted? This has become especially apparent when we started working from home. This new setup is amazing! I can get my work and daily errands done much faster than before.

But the system doesn’t like it. The system wants us indebted with minimal free time. This keeps us dependent on our employers for money. Moreover, with little spare time we blindly purchase short-lived dopamine hits – retail therapy, objects of desire – benefiting our employers. The house always wins.

Yeah, that’s it…your pusher wants you to happily return every penny he provides you so you’re totally dependent. It keeps you coming back for more, despite hating every minute of it.

Ever have a boss suggest you buy a bigger house or upgrade to a new car? Perhaps after they just gave you a raise? They certainly don’t want you using that extra money to pay down your debts to achieve financial freedom. If they’re to shape your behaviour they need you financially subservient. Highly mortgaged people with families to care for make the best indentured servants employees.

God forbid you smoke a little ganga when not on the clock and your employer tests. That stuff stays in your system for a while – doesn’t matter how good you are at your job. Even your free time is co-opted by the system.

In the end, you’re just an anonymous cog in a machine. Those people at work that call each other family will fall off the face of the earth as soon as they retire/quit/fired/die. Although turnover is a pain in the ass, in the long run everyone is replaceable. We’re all just worker drones.

So don’t give your life to work. Because work will happily take it. Break free by striving to become debt free while owning income-producing assets. Only then can you live life on your terms.

Categories
Gardening & Food Life Self Sufficiency

5 Reasons I Grow Vegetables

For most of my life I’ve relied on the ‘system’ for my basic needs, food being the most fundamental. Going to the grocery store is convenient, fast and easy. The selection is enormous and for most people living in developed countries grocery store food is quite affordable.

The system works and has worked for decades. So why would anyone go through the time and effort to grow their own food?

Spring 2021 I made my third attempt (my first serious attempt, however) to grow vegetables in my small urban backyard. I am growing tomatoes, peppers, squash, basil, jalapenos and ‘the happy plant’ from seed. So far, things are going much better than I expected. In fact, I think I might end up with more than I can handle. I’ll probably need to learn how to preserve food, but I’ll cross that bridge later.

I’m not the only one who started taking gardening seriously this year. Working at home has turned us all into renovators, decorators, gardeners, etc. as we focus on the homestead in which we are spending more time. Moreover, the pandemic has opened our eyes to the vulnerabilities of the ‘system’ upon which we rely.

There are 5 main reasons why I believe it is important that all of us should start growing our own vegetables:

Increase Self Sufficiency and Food Security

Although we rarely give it a second thought, it’s flabbergasting that we completely outsource our most essential need to others. Considering society is only 3 missed meals from anarchy, it only makes sense to reduce dependence on others for our food.

For most urban (and even rural) gardeners, it’s unlikely you can grow 100% of your own food requirements. However, replacing some portion of groceey purchases with home-grown vegetables helps increase self sufficiency in the event of a disruption to the industrial food supply chain.

Learning to grow food takes time, and it’s not something you want to figure out during a crisis. So developing the skills now (when you don’t need them to survive) is good practice for any future failures.

This goes beyond the individual household. If everyone in a community had the skill to grow some of their own food, it would alleviate pressure on the industrial food system. Some say that this community skill helped people survive the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.

Immigrant families in Canada and the United States have carried the tradition of growing food because of what they and their ancestors have witnessed in their home countries. Gardening is an essential skill.

Reduce Consumption of Pesticides and Herbicides

Industrial-scale food production isn’t possible without massive use of chemicals to kill bugs, eradicate weeds and feed plants. While the food we buy from the grocery store is generally safe, it’s still exposed to unwanted residues.

When you grow your own vegetables, you can cut out unwanted inputs. At a household scale, it’s far easier to manage pests and weeds by hand or other less harmful methods. (For example, many use a mixture of dish-soap and water as a safer alternative to pesticides.) You’re never going to win 100% of the battles, but once you accept that a portion of your crop will inevitably be lost to pests you can enjoy the remainder with less worry about what you’re ingesting.

Quality and Taste

Most varieties of vegetables grown on industrial-scale farms are bred to survive mass production, as opposed to taste. They are picked before ripening and shipped over long distances, often stored in fridges or freezers. As a result, many vegetables bought in the grocery store are of mediocre quality. Sure, they look nice (because that’s what ultimately sells the produce) but they lack flavor.

When you grow your own vegetables, you can go from farm-to-table within minutes. This means you can pick your vegetables when they are ready for eating, as opposed to when they are ready for transport and storage. Also, because your vegetables don’t need to be bred to survive the food distribution supply chain, you can use varieties that are bred for flavor.

Mental and Physical Health

Aside from the nutritional and security benefits, gardening can help improve your mental and physical health. Getting outside, moving, lifting and so on beats watching Netflix on the couch. Moreover, research has shown that being in nature can help people de-stress.

I particularly find gardening fulfilling. It is the most fulfilling activity I do. It is a rare opportunity to see something go from nothing to something valuable, entirely dependent on my effort. I have full control (mostly) and the more I put in the more I get out. You simply don’t get that from most day jobs, where your efforts are often lost in bureaucratic noise.

Gardening is the antidote to corporate life.

Community

Most successful harvests result in an overabundance of food. While it’s important to learn how to store a harvest over long periods (e.g. canning, drying), donating a surplus of vegetables is a great way to connect with others in your community.

Give baskets of tomatoes to your friends, family and neighbors. It might encourage others to start their own gardens or find other ways to become more self-sufficient.

This benefits everyone.

Categories
Uncategorized

Quick update on DumbWealth

I’ve been doing some housekeeping. I’ve moved the website to a new host because my previous host was jacking up prices.

I’ve done my best to keep the same look and feel. It’s amazing how much time it takes to do what appears like nothing to the outside world.

To do the move, I had to import all archived posts to the new host. For the most part it worked. Except many images imploded. I’d love to source and re-upload the missing images, but am I realistically going to do that?

I’ll pick away at it over time, but I’d rather produce new content. It’s a shame, but I suppose it’s better than losing everything.

I still have to plug in the subscription feature and a few other widgets. But the core is up and running.

You’ll also notice I’ve changed the tagline to “where money meets late stage capitalism”. I’ll still write about wealth accumulation, passive income and careers, but I think I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t dive into the intersection of money and late stage capitalism.

What is late stage capitalism?

At it’s extreme, late stage capitalism characterized by collapse. Many things are culminating that will affect our ability to build and keep wealth – climate change, resource scarcity, massive debts, slowing rate of technological progress, polarization of ideologies, wealth disparities, military overreach and so on. In such a world wealth goes far beyond just money. So expect to see articles on permaculture, urban farming, community and useful skills.

Stay tuned…

Categories
Investing Master Class

Valuation in Four Lessons: Aswath Damodaran

Aswath Damodaran (born 23 September 1957), is a Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University (Kerschner Family Chair in Finance Education), where he teaches corporate finance and equity valuation.

Known as “Dean of Valuation” due to his expertise in that subject, Damodaran is best known as author of several widely used academic and practitioner texts on Valuation, Corporate Finance and Investment Management; he is widely quoted on the subject of valuation, with “a great reputation as a teacher and authority”. He has written several books on equity valuation, as well as on corporate finance and investments. He is widely published in leading journals of finance, including The Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, The Journal of Finance, The Journal of Financial Economics and the Review of Financial Studies. He is also known as being a resource on valuation and analysis to investment banks on Wall Street.

Categories
Work

The Great Resignation is Upon Us

It’s happening.

People have had it and they’re dropping their jobs like a bad habit. 18 months of downsizing, ill treatment and growing workloads have finally tipped the scale. 18 months of working from home and people have learned there’s a better life to be had. 18 months of watching your coworkers get sick and die because Scrooge McDuck didn’t provide paid sick days.

People are saying: “Fuck it!”

The chart below shows the huge increase in the level of quits in the worst hit sectors in the United States: manufacturing, leisure & hospitality and accommodation & food services. I’d expect to see a similar trend in Canada. These were the front-line workers. The war heroes who were cheered as they put their families’ health on the line, only to get shit on in the end.

People have realized it’s not worth staying loyal to an employer that pays garbage, doesn’t care and treats staff as disposable.

Moreover, people built cash piles over the past year as they sat home twiddling their thumbs. Now that the economy is roaring, people are confident enough to make moves.

Of course, now that people are quitting suddenly companies are scrambling. Positions are unfillable.

Just over the past week alone I’ve witnessed 2 top employees quit and 2 offers fall apart. Companies are getting more short-staffed by the day.

Still, I think the brunt of the departures are in the sectors shown in the chart above. While the business services sector is turning over quicker than normal, many of these workers were well supported (and still are) during the pandemic. Many white-collar employers are baking work-life flexibility into their DNA. For example, Sun Life Financial just announced a permanent flex work arrangement (i.e. WFH if you want to). Manulife has been flexible for years. Other big Canadian employers are doing the same.

Nevertheless, white collar employers are feeling the pressure. They’re just doing a better job at proactively mitigating their risk. Despite how hard they’re trying, these companies are still facing new competition. This is particularly true for companies with head offices in Toronto, as big tech firms open offices in the city adding new competition for talent.

Bottom line: it’s an employees market. Regardless of where you work, now might be a good time to ask for a raise.

Categories
Master Class

The Psychology of Human Misjudgement – Charlie Munger Full Speech

Charles Thomas Munger is an American billionaire investor, businessman, former real estate attorney, architectural designer, and philanthropist. He is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett; Buffett has described Munger as his closest partner and right-hand man.

The following is audio of the often referred to speech by Charlie Munger on the psychology of human misjudgement given to an audience at Harvard University circa Jun 1995. Mr. Munger speaks about the framework for decision making and the factors contributing to misjudgements.