Jan 272014
 

It amazes me how much panic and anguish arises in people without any logic or concrete fact to back it up. Absolutely mind-befuddling!

The corporate vehicle and travel allowance policy is undergoing a cost-cutting revamp. The rumor mill is alive and well and there are tales of horrendous liberties being taken by the powers-that-be.

So – I’m under no illusion were the focus lies. It’s an exercise in improving the company’s bottom cost line. They have no philanthropic ideal to give their loved team members the best deal possible. It may well be that it turns into a huge personal bone of contention, another nail in the coffin and the final straw. But, until it is, it isn’t. And until the facts are made known by official decree, the old regime stands.

So yes, tomorrow may bring concern. The changes and potential freedom-limiting clauses may be too much to stomach. But for now, just be aware of it coming, be on the lookout for it. Do your homework on the current situation. Know your current deal so that it’s quick and easy to compare with the new when it emerges.

But for heaven’s sake, until it’s published, chill dudes. Just Chill!

Jan 222014
 

There is a lot of good kit out there these days! And a lot of exciting activities and adventures to be had.

Adventure Biking

Adventure Driving

Some choose the route of trying to cram as much of everything into life, ticking items off a to-do list. Others ‘specialise’ and focus on a few core activities. And some just never get past the arm-chair stage. And then there are the Joneses. You know, the guys who always have to have the best kit in the group and who want everyone to know it. They generally compensate for their inadequencies with cash.

In a time-scarce world of work and 2-week holiday’s a year, it’s easy to fall for the trap of advertising. That picture of a fully kitted 4×4 in the Namib, the GS1200 on a dusty track in the outback, the top-spec MTB climbing a forest trail…..you desperately want to be there, to do that and so the temptation is to buy the kit, to get ready, to be prepared. Then, maybe, just maybe, you get to be there – maybe just once or twice. But then, for the rest of life, the kit goes into storage gathering dust.

For me the key is to focus on the few activities and adventures that are really important .. important to me. The yacht, while not new, flashy or lavishly kitted out is seaworthy. The 4×4 truck is not decked out with all the gear but is capable. The MTB and shoes are old but still serviceable and the ZR7, while not top of the range, is still a blast to ride and a traffic-killer. And without time all of this is enough.

Top priority in life is to now engineer some time !

Nov 162013
 

I can feel the SNAP coming ! And I seem powerless to stop it. Hope I can get off the hamster wheel gracefully and in time !?

Work, work, work. The pressure is endless. Insanity. The world works all the time to fund their lifestyles and toys, spending the majority of time away from family, friends and the things that they say are important to them. Working for the man, easing the pain by shopping and a miserable 4wk’s of leave a year, a 4 week peek [if you’re lucky] of how life is truly meant to be.

There is no way to work yourself out of work. The only way is to quit, to walk away, to make a clean break …. !

The breaking point between what was and what is to be doesn’t happen on it’s own. Lets hope it happens because of a PLAN rather than a SNAP.

 

Nov 092013
 

We, since 1 November 2013, have a peninsular street address. It’s been quite hard because since the offer was made end September, I’ve still not gotten to see the place [will have to wait for December holidays for that]

To ease the pain of Sandy zooting back and forth between here and there while keep the fort, I’ve been doing crazy things like listening to  [what I thought was] KFM, looking at daily Simonstown wind forecasts and furthering my discoveries of online blogs about simple green living, frugality, anything pretty much to do with living large on a small income. After all, the income earning future is grey but the life we want is down there.

Some interesting reading from today has been: TravellingGreener,  Tiny House Talk & Not Buying Anything.

The latter blog had an rant about consumerisim that I enjoyed, pretty much agreeing with the sentiment “I’m a citizen, not a consumer”.

That got me thinking though. It’s easy to be a “consumer” if you’re not careful and I’m not refering to the mainstream use of the word here. By sitting on the couch all day reading sailing blogs rather than sailing, you become a “consumer”, consuming tales of other’s experiences and adventure rather than being an active participant in life.

It’s a trite, cliche that tomorrow may never come. For some who work toward the dream and finally, 20 years later, through simple living and controlled spending and saving finally break free and “live the life” – I guess they are very happy that tomorrow actually did come. Tomorrow was actually there for them. For many others, tomorrow literally does not come.

It’s a risk, a huge risk, this working today in order to live life tomorrow. Somewhere in there, there’s a balance between living for now and providing for tomorrow that everyone has to find for themselves.

My upbringing would have me believe that tomorrow coming is all that matters, that this life here on earth is a precursor to something better. I find myself struggling to agree with that these days.

The way I’m feeling now I’ve had enough focus on providing for tomorrow. It’s time to start living a little more today.

Nov 092013
 

“I sometimes wonder about the definition of ‘success’. I have an 18yr old son who still pops his head around the corner and says ‘nite dad’. That’ll do for me!”

It’s not that the relationship doesn’t have it’s ups and downs – they all do – but that even after a lifetime we’re still on pretty good terms. I’ve worked with those who’ve sacrificed family on the career ladder. Are they more or less happy? Don’t know. Don’t care. All I know is I’m pretty happy with the way my life has turned out with respect to the balance between ‘career’, earnings, leisure and family.

But life is entering a new phase now. The Jhb-Grindstone is slowly wearing away at us. With the kids finishing up school in the next couple of years, the time is right for a major change – city, job, leisure.

I’m tired of waking up each morning with project challenges buzzing my brain, every day. Tired of manipulative, unhappy customers who act like spoiled toddlers trying to get their way.

“How will we fund life?” remains a huge unanswered question. We could [and probably will] end up selling Highland, leaving a little chunk of cash to earn interest each month. But even a million in the bank these day’s doesn’t get you much more than R5-6k a month. So work it will need to be. But what? I suppose it will end up being another engineering PM job but my dreamy, idealistic side hopes that I’ll supplement interest earned with a little DIY business servicing yachts, homes and friendly people leaving plenty of time for sea, sun and sailing [we all have to dream].

Anyway, the die is cast, we have a street address. Ocean Blue will be heading home soon and how things will work out from there …. we’ll just have to see.

100_1549 cropped

Oct 262013
 

All boats leak….

“There’s always a defect, always a slow drip, somewhere. Every plan, every organization, every venture has a glitch.
The question isn’t, “is this perfect?” The question is, “will this get me there?”
Sometimes we make the mistake of ignoring the big leaks, the ones that thwe’re stumbling down the path and reaten our journey.
More often, though, we’re so busy fixing tiny leaks that we get distracted from the real goal, which is to go somewhere.”

– Seth Godin

“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma and we are willing to work very hard to ge’ t a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

And so the first concrete step in moving Ocean Blue back home is in place. It’s a venture fraught with grey, a misty vision of a distant future, but we’re stumbling down the path and if you take enough small steps in the right direction then sooner or later you wake up and realise you’re there.

Sep 192013
 

Octogenarian

Been thinking a lot lately about “mortality”. Not that I’m afraid I’m about to die tomorrow [although I could] but more a realisation that life is slipping by at an ever accelerating rate.

I don’t want to be 65 and then try – that may be too late. Even though it’s obviously possible, the risk of it not happening increases with passing time.

That’s why we had to jump in the Glencairn deep end. That’s why we have to sever the ties to the Jhb life in the next couple of years.

It’s not that life as it is cannot just continue, it’s that we’ve really had enough and it’s time.

 

 

Sep 182013
 

I’m still [many weeks later] wading my way through “Ascent of Humanity”. At times it’s been a pleasant challenging read. At others it’s been pure challenge. I’ve found myself in agreement with much of his criticism of the current world order but sadly am not finding his suggestions for a new world at all practical. Granted, I haven’t yet finished the read, so there may be more, but the changes he envisages so far all require a collective, societal change from “me, me, me” to “us, us, us”. Frankly I don’t ever see that happening.

The underlying premise – man is not inherently bad, it’s the the way the (money) system is that brings out the bad in him. Drawing on references to primitive, tribal cultures, he argues that after “the collapse” we will all somehow realise the error of our previous ways and return to something akin to the barter system, tribal societal values and a gift economy.

I can’t see that happening!

As a personal philosophy, as a way of life on the fringes, yes it could work. But on a world-wide scale? Man is inherently too greedy, too power-mad, too selfish.

All interesting food for thought. For me, the goal is to live well on the fringes, out of the mainstream [whatever that happens to be at the time]. It’s not about being different for the sake of it. It’s about being conscious of they way you live and the choices you make.

Freedom is not found in the mainstream. The chance of freedom is better on the fringe, wherever that happens to be….

Sep 012013
 

The underlying myth of the current world economy is that of scarcity. In a zero-sum game, whatever I win needs to come from someone else. Thus, the overriding behaviour to gather and protect ‘what’s mine’ at all costs.

This scarcity mentality extends to other fear-driven sectors. For example – insurance. While some insurance may just be prudent risk management, on the whole, it’s an industry driven by the fear of loss.

Retirement planning is another sector heavily fear-laden. The fear of ‘Will there be enough’ has spawned an entire industry of scare-mongers, preying on that feeling, throwing huge numbers in front of society. The effect is probably twofold: some earnestly and fearfully try and put more away while others, fearing the inevitability and unavoidability of poverty, throw all caution to the wind and just spend it up today.

Assuming the future is exactly the same as the past, I guess you could then, with certainty, put a plan in place, follow it and be certain you will have enough to live out the rest of your days. Anyone notice the faulty assumption there?

Bottom line, no one know exactly what tomorrow will look like. Charles Eisenstein in “The Ascent of Humanity” believes that the current world system is unsustainable and due for total meltdown. In the last decade we’ve had the ‘dotcom bubble’, the financial and housing market crash and an unprecedented rise in the cost of living. He may just be right…!?

Anyway, over-planning for the future at the risk of not living today is short-sighted and just plain stupid. Also, I don’t believe that saving for the future and personal finance fits into a ‘one-size-for-all’ mould. It is ‘personal’ finance after all. The choices you make, the habits you form, the savings vehicles you choose – none may make purely financial sense when analysed on the numbers alone. But, if they don’t resonate with me as an individual then they also don’t hold much appeal.

So, the Peninsular rental, from a pure ‘investment’ perspective is probably not one that may offer the best financial returns in the long run. But that’s not the point. The expected lifestyle and enjoyment returns are never factored into the paper sums and that’s more of what drives us than pure dollars!!

And …. physical land may just be a little more resilient to a financial “bubble-burst-event” than stock-market shares or money in the bank.

 

Aug 312013
 

And so, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is nearly upon us.

It’s close. Oh so close.

What? you may well ask.

Well, being totally debt-free I answer. That’s what.

And so the next question is “How to fund a totally debt-free future ?”

Debt-free is one thing but one still has to eat, pay the state, keep the lights on.

It’s way easier if that’s all you have to pay, but it still requires income.

And tuition, student cars and other unknown spends are lurking in the near future.

The real question is “Could I really take a lower paying job in a different field ?”

The next question is “Would I really want to ?”  I mean, what idiot turns down a decently average salary and purposefully chooses something less? You have to be really unhappy with the present to do that and I don’t think I’m that unhappy ? Am I ?

It’s something I think, or at least dream, of doing. Quitting and starting up a small business of my own that is. But maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all. After all, life is currently good and at least the incoming supercedes the outgoing at present. So maybe it doesn’t make sense to quit for something less but to revel in the knowledge that quitting is actually now possible, if I so choose.

So, back to another question at hand. “Do I delve into the bond to fund a rental [or build such] ?”  R600-800k will buy a decent little townhouse, bringing in at least R4500 to R7500 a month. but it does mean going back to having debt. And debt means “shackled to the cubicle” to a certain extent.

Difference is, I suppose, that the debt can [theoretically] be cancelled at any time by selling up the property and chucking the proceeds back to the bank.

And so the thoughts circulate, filling the days and dreams….

One thing is for sure, we don’t think it prudent to just sit back and revel in the comfort zone for the next 15 years. We need to prepare for the next step in life – LOK [Life After Kids]. While debt-free is the ultimate goal, we need to springboard off our current strengths and for the moment that means readily accessible finance at pre-2007 interest rates. If I was going to quit to sell tomatoes then I would have as soon as the bond dropped to current all-time-lows. No, I can’t just give up the current earnings potential that may be gone in the future. Right now we have to capitalise on those strengths.

And so off to the Peninsular we go, in search of a dual-living rental that will pay some of the bond and also give us a seaside cottage to use at the same time.

It’s going to be hard but hopefully worthwhile in the long run.