Dec 262016

South Africa at Christmas time is a dead-zone. Total shutdown. Zero interest. Things may revive during the first week of January but don’t count on it.

So what happens when the main pipe between the turbo and the intercooler gives out in the middle of the Karoo?

Getting a tow might not be impossible. Getting a replacement might take a bit of time.

Having a bit of ductape, a webbing strap and a little ingenuity…!? Well that will get you home 900km later.

Makeshift turbo repairs

Being self-sufficient isn’t always about the money. It’s about freedom. It’s about safety. It’s about personal satisfaction. It’s about keeping going when the rest of the woolly masses are either out of action, too expensive or incapable.

In the context of a roadside breakdown the world is pretty much organised to assist. For a fee. That same kind of breakdown at sea? Well you had better be able to fix it yourself or jury-rig a solution because nobody is coming to help you out there.

Not everything is fixable.

The more complex the systems the less likely it is that you will be able to fix them on your own. Tinkering and fixing also don’t just magically start the first time you have a breakdown. It’s a skill that requires nurturing, a muscle that must be exercised, a mental attitude that needs cultivation. As a result there is some value gained by living with your stuff, by getting to know it, by learning to fix it instead of scrapping it at the first sign of trouble.

Old cars are a pain. They break down. But after they breakdown in a certain fashion several times, as long as you have been paying attention, you learn how to fix them. Yes, perhaps it is easier to just buy a new one with a warrantee and a service plan. Perhaps. But that takes resources and time perhaps better spent on other endeavours?

The trick to all of this is having redundancy.

If the car breaks you want to have breathing space while you source the parts or find the most cost effective repair shop. A trusty motorcycle waiting in the wings allows mobility while all this is happening. Or a bicycle.

At sea, on the sailboat? Build redundancy into your systems. Keep everything as simple as possible. Know how to repair everything on board yourself. And I mean everything. Have a plan if the rudder breaks, if the hull springs a leak, if the mains’l tears straight through.

And in daily life, cultivate the ability to diagnose and repair by practice. Don’t delegate repairs to others by default and before you know how or what needs doing yourself. If you do that then at the very least you’ll know to keep the reapairman honest and above-board while forking over your hard-earned cash. Out at sea that habit just might save your life.

Take personal control of your finances, your tax returns, your life, everything you can. Reject the nanny-state and remain accountable to yourself. There’s power and freedom there.

Aug 162015

I was browsing my ‘friends’ facebook page a while back and stumbled on this photo of George’s [name changed to protect another member of the Woolly Masses] new toys. If I quickly add that lot up – R1M for the vehicles and another R2-3M for the home. That’s huge, way more than I wish to finance and pay back. And that doesn’t include Wifey’s car, the kiddies education fund and normal daily living.

George's very expensive toys

George’s very expensive toys

Now, to be fair, George has been way more motivated than I to climb the corporate career ladder. At this stage of the game, while he’s probably around 10 years younger than I am, I’m guessing he earns at least R500k more a year than I do. But, and here’s the thing……just looking at this picture he’s living a very, very expensive lifestyle. Gut-feel …. he’s spending more than he can afford and will be on the corporate treadmill for the rest of his life.

I can hear you now .. “What an Asshole. Who does he think he is ranting on poor George? He owns a yacht, several cars, a house on the hill. Besides, he has no idea who George really is and how he’s managed to finance his life. He could be way off base!”

You know what, you’re right. I may very well be wrong about George. This I’ll concede. That said, I’m pretty certain that the scenario recounted above is not an unusual middle-class scenario. So yes, it may not be George, but is sure as heck 90% of all the working stiffs we see each day driving the hourly rush to the office and back.

So where am I going with this monologue you ask? Well I’ll enlighten you.

George has spent a huge amount of money on liabilities. Toys that may give him pleasure for sure, but ultimately all are detracting from living a life of freedom, both time and financial. With the money he’s spent on these, he could have invested the million and he would be earning R4k per month forever. Right now though, he’s just paying out money each month for the pleasure of ‘enjoying’ these machines – fuel, maintenance, licensing, insurance.

I’m in a very different space in life at the moment. That R4k a month would [and will] come in very handy thank you. It’s part of the plan to quit this unsatisfying consumer work-and-spend lifestyle. No more toys of that caliber or cost for me.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m still buying toys, but my toys currently are all geared toward supporting my future and wished for lifestyle. They’re paid for in cash and provide utility….

Useful toys!

Useful toys!

Not as cool as two new bikes and a Prado you may say. Well, I hear you but I don’t care. My toys are useful, they don’t leave me paying off debt and can actually be put to use saving [and even making] me additional income!

Different focus in life, neither more right than the other. Neither is the one true way. But I can honestly say that I’m in a space in life where I’m happy with where I am and where I’m going. I hope that’s also true of George.

Jul 222015

Trade-in values: 1995 Alfa 145 – R50,000; 2002 BMW Z3 3.0l Roadster – R40,000

Against a brand new Fiat Panda 1.2

Those are the best values I’ll get for my two aging vehicles but suddenly the Panda is R10k more with paint and on-road fees and it’s R10k less than really needed for the BMW, which means suddenly what was an excellent deal – a new car for another R50k – has now become a R70k spend which doesn’t feel as good.

Right now they are all running. Right now there are other bills and education fees to pay. Right now spending another R70k just doesn’t feel right.

So, no matter how good the R90k trade for both vehicles is [indeed perhaps a never-to-be-repeated offer?] it’s just not money we’re going to spend on an other car right now.

Hope it’s a good decision :-/

And the lessons relearned – liabilities are yours forever! No matter how good the story, how great the sales pitch, they always think they smell blood in the water and, with a pretty, friendly smile, thrust the knife and give a twist for good measure. Be very, very careful what you commit resources to in life. Liabilities, once yours, remain yours forever…..unless you are willing to give them away. What was that about “You’re only as free as the stuff you’re able to walk away from”?

May 022015

For better or worse we’ve chosen the old car route and so, as the Alfa’s door panel covering starts to disintegrate we have some decisions to make. Either we sink to the level of the surrounding masses and drive a crappy looking car or else we do something. Yip, you guessed it – we’ve decided to rather do something.

As with most things in life nothing is straight forward and in separating the panels we’ve ended up creating more work for ourselves. Somehow the fabric insert panel was “riveted” to the main panel during the manufacturing process. Now we have two distinct pieces on our hands and will need to devise a plan to join them again when this is all over and done.

Material Inserts parting from the doors

Material Inserts parting from the doors

The Starboard door is barely hanging in there

The Starboard door is barely hanging in there

The port door panel removed

The port door panel removed

Some funky new red "leather"

Some funky new red “leather”

The port door setting under pressure

The port door setting under pressure

Perhaps the starboard door should be done in Green leather ??

Finally, after plugging away over a period of a few weeks the job is done!

The starboard door - red after all

The starboard door – red after all