Apr 172014
The unseen costs of your 9-5 job

The unseen costs of your 9-5 job

Sure, owning a car is expensive and if you want it to last it needs maintenance. But there are more cost effective ways of doing it than relying on the official agents. I think that will be the last visit to the dealer for routine maintenance. In future it will be either my own labour or that of a trusted independent workshop.Isuzu 195000km

One of the keys to validating the ER-Plan is a proper understanding of which expenses are a necessity for your chosen lifestyle and which are really just there because of the way life is at present.

That brings me to a niggling thought that  just won’t leave me lately. The Isuzu, while filling a future ER dream of 4×4 touring off the beaten path, is currently not put to that use and is expensive overkill for the present home-to-office commute. Expensive to maintain, expensive to fuel up. In a sense this is tantamount to ‘pre-purchasing the RV or the golf club membership’ prior to retirement. Maybe not the way to go, especially with a machine that has a very good chance of wearing out / failing before there’s ever the time to realise that travel goal ? Yet, now that it’s done, does it make sense to sell it and get something else? I’m not so sure.

Gut-feel tells me it’s always cheaper to keep and maintain the vehicle you currently own rather than giving in to the temptation to get something different. Besides, I still hold to the belief that an old 70’s gas guzzler is greener than a new hybrid because the hole for the former has already bee dug in the earth. I’ll need to follow this up with a detailed xls calc [such an engineer I’m told], but I think I know what the outcome will be. Deep down it’s just this irrational emotional urge to buy a ‘new’ car and it’s the tricky bits looking for rationalisations to justify this.

Our present life and future vision is what it is, what we’ve chosen it to be. Take the yacht as a similar example, or even Glencairn. It’s also ‘pre-paying the future’ dream. Is it the wisest strategy? In terms of some of the ER-thought out there it’s ridiculous. Rather used the value in the boat to bring your ER-date closer. On the other hand, I am me if I’m making any sense here. I’m human and just like all humans everywhere, I have irrational personal quirks when viewed against the popular ‘science’ of ER’ing.

The yacht is a big part of me, my lifestyle, the way I want to live. For me, what purpose is served to spend the next 5 years without Ocean Blue in my life? It’s not a sacrifice I choose to make and I believe that where I am now is the best balance for me between my interests and my need to pump the stash to step off. When I do step off then I want no debt on Glencairn and so we’re compelled to get it behind us now, using the space in the current mortgage facility to access ‘cheap’ money.

Easily rationalised for the sweet little boat and the dream pad by the sea but requiring a bit more mental gymnastics to apply to the Isuzu me’thinks.

Anyhow, in terms of road transport, my current philosophy is “if it aint broke then don’t fix it”. While it’s reliable and not emotionally draining I’ll stick with and be happy with what I have – ‘Suzi and ZR7 – here’s to many more miles together.

Feb 162014

The key to planning a semi-retirement is realism. Be realistic on what you actually need, realistic on what you can earn.

And then there are a series of unknowns anyway. Life is a little complex. The pic doesn’t take into account all variables, all spends, all timeline changes.

Retirement Planning 1


How does one account for semi-earning semi-retirement years vs full-on retirement some years later? Bottom line is, no matter how much one plans and schemes, the future is ultimately unknown and unpredictable. The best guarantee is a frugal and simple lifestyle!

Best thing to do at this stage of life is to kill all debt and increase the RA’s as much as humanly possible – for as long as possible.

R2200 to put a rudder on the kayak. Is it really worth it? R4500 for a set of rims for the Isuzu. Seriously? Are you willing to take that amount out of annual retirement savings? A new ‘old’ car. You’ve got to be kidding me right?

The numbers don’t lie. If you want to step off you have to sacrifice a little more than you currently are !

Feb 162014

A new car. Doesn’t have to be a new ‘new’ car, a new ‘old’ car will do. Again and again I battle the urge. There’s an A4 cabriolet. I want it. There’s a Jimny. I want it. A drop-top mini. I want it.

Best thing to do is stay out of the kitchen because I can’t seem to handle the heat.

It’s too soon says Sands. She’s right. Another 2 years and we’ll find Caz something small, cool and reliable. But now, it’s too soon.

R120k. That can buy something cool. It can also bring the debt under the 1Bar level. It can also buy quite a few trips down to the beach, as well as a gazillion hamburgers. And when you don’t have the cash under the mattress and you have no absolute need other than ‘want it’,  it it is really stupid. I would rather live in my beach-house, walk, run, ride and sail and have the time to enjoy these all rather than have a new toy.

And yet the desire still burns strong!?? A constant battle. I hope I don’t WILL NOT give in.

The ultimate reason, the reason I will not cave is the non-negotiable need to finally break these golden handcuffs, this corporate crap. 2018 was a date penciled in, although that may be too optimistic. 55 [or 2024] is the dream date, the year to cash in the RA’s, provident funds and life-savings and finally make the move. It’s already a stretch and buying another expensive toy at this stage of the game is going to threaten that big time.

No, I’ll stick with the plan thank you. Kill the debt, pump the RA’s and savings, survive the next decade and live life well [be happy, exercise, eat healthily, minimise stress and conflict] while we do it!

Remember: Freedom, Integrity, Tranquility ! Never cave in to Wooly Masses thinking and pressure. Never.

Feb 082014


If you aren’t happy with what you already have then what makes you think you will be happy with more?


It’s a beautiful False  Bay day!

Time to strap on the Nikes and hit the pavement.


That was a hard run, I’m tired.

Breakfast at Olympia Cafe with Sands. What a treat.

A snooze on the couch.

A trip to the beach to mourn the lack of a sailboat here.

Beautiful False Bay day !!

PS – I think there are two things necessary to live here – a sailboat and a motorcycle !!


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 !

Dec 292013

The average middle-class South African just doesn’t get it – at least not the one’s I know.

I have a work colleague, from a previous life, who reinforces this view.

A Facebook post I wrote: “Providing your own manual labour on a renovation sure saves you money but it’s a two edged sword. You end up with a greater emotional attachment which makes it that much harder to turn the place over to unknown tenants.

Solicited the following reply: “What I have learnt is only fix the things that will get u decent tenants and keep the property value. It is always tempting to fix it like u would want it if u were living there but thats the difference between an investment and a home

Firstly that’s missing the point. I didn’t say we poured ourselves into the building to make it a home. The labour I’m referring to has been purely painting, fixing holes, repairing what we can of what is falling off. None of it has been “to make it our home”.

Secondly, a house is not the most effective investment. There are better ways to make money. But as I’ve said before many times, you need to find some method of growing your money that works for you personally.

And thirdly, no matter what the world may think, we haven’t done to badly for ourselves doing things our way. I don’t see any of the “upwardly mobile” money grabbing MBA types and ‘business affectionados” living the way we want to live. And we literally are in a position to zero the debt and have a very nice lump sum to invest today if we so wish. I don’t see them being in a position to do that with their expensive new cars, nice comfortable and expensive houses in the most popular areas.

So, thanks for the advice but you’ll excuse us for doing things our way – like we always have and like we always will.


Dec 252013

A gentle SE’ly cools the day as Christmas 2013 draws to a close. And what a beautiful day it has been.

A morning walk on Noordhoek with the pups – beautiful to see Rusty charging around like a hyper-active toddler.

A small late Christmas lunch – lovely to not have eaten too much and feel bloated by the end of the day.

A visit with Sandy’s family – wonderful to see Granpa holding hands with his girl at 95.

I’m a happy man at the moment!

 Noordhoek, Christmas, 2013


Dec 022013

Our home in Johannesburg has bulged over the years, bursting at the seams with stuff. You wouldn’t think so when you visit. The scene is always calm and ordered, everything in it’s place. But don’t open a cupboard – you’ll die in the avalanche of stuff.

It’s not that we’re not conscious of it, wish that it weren’t so. It’s just that that’s the way things seem to turn out….

The garage is the same. In the renovation, I acquired tools, tools that were useful at the time but are no longer regularly used. It’s a two-edged sword, this stuff thing. If one is careful and picky with what you acquire, sure to evaluate use, purpose and requirement before making a purchase, making sure that the ‘stuff’ is useful.

But the stuff grows never-the-less.

Having the ‘right’ stuff is useful. To give you an example – I lost my tender last weekend. Needed to go and collect it from a friendly soul that phoned it in. Needed a trailer and line to transport it back home for repairs. Cool thing was I had all the ‘stuff’ required, to collect and return, by myself, without having to organise anyone else to help. Having all that kind of stuff is useful, necessary even.

So I’m not against having [useful] ‘stuff’. But then there’s the useless ‘stuff’ … ! Stay away from that at all costs.

The appealing thing about Glencairn is that there are no cupboards. No garage. No big areas to store ‘stuff’. No cupboards means that everything must either have it’s place in the boss’s design or else it can not live there.

There is a real chance of simplicity there…..as long as we can avoid building a garage and installing cupboards !