How I Saved $293 in 3 Phone Calls (~1hr)

If you haven’t called your various providers (cell/insurance) lately and harangued them into lowering your bills, you are probably in position to save hundreds of dollars by doing so.

This morning it took me 1 hour and 8 minutes over 3 phone calls to save $293.94. Below I outline the methods used to get my home/auto insurance  and phone bill lowered.

Tires and Phones Save $

My car insurance just renewed with a $1089 annual premium.

I called TD Meloche Monnex and reminded them that I’m a loyal client with no claims and home insurance with them, then asked what they could do for me.

Turns out I qualified for a discount for using winter tires, and was instantly credited 5% for agreeing to participate in their TD MyAdvantage program. This involves downloading an app which tracks my driving behaviour. The app runs in the background and automatically detects driving patterns using GPS and the accelerometer in my phone. I only stand to gain because poor driving won’t increase my premium. However, perfect driving can lower my premium by up to 25% annually (~$250). Both Lia and I need to install the app (since we’re both insured under our policy) for maximum discounts.

All told, this 13 minute phone call resulted in an improved plan (now including 1 at-fault accident forgiven), an instant decrease in premiums by $59 and a potential 20% discount for excellent driving being tracked on the TD MyAdvantage app.

 

“Times are Tough” at the Client Retention Dept

Every 6 months I call my mobile provider (Wind/Freedom) and immediately ask to be forwarded to the client retention department because I’m thinking of cancelling my cell service.

The line I keep repeating all the way to client retention: “Times are tough, my wife and I simply can’t afford to be paying this much on our phone bills.” I also have a quick peek at other providers to see if there are super cheap signup promos happening. If there are, I’ll refer to these during my call with client retention, just to make them see I’m not fucking around.

Lia and I were paying $84.33/month for our two plans. Freedom agreed to help me out by temporarily reducing my bill to $62.84 for 6 months. That’s $128.94 saved (I’ve done this twice now so it’s $257.88 for the year)

Typical time on the phone is 30 minutes per call, which I make every 6 months. It’s in my calendar.

Home Insurance with TD Meloche Monnex

Lia and I were paying $623/year for home insurance. A 25 minute phone call revealed that I was eligible for a 15% loyalty discount. I also lowered my premiums by asking to increase my deductible from $1000 to $2000.

Once the mortgage is paid, we need to tell TD so our insurance drops by an additional 20% – 30%.

There’s also a Security System Discount of $21/year which we don’t qualify for, but you may.

Total call time = 25 mins

Money saved = $106/year

Go Get Some

Do some calling around and get better rates. To inspire yourself and others, please share your successes in the comments at the bottom.

For more ways to pay far less and earn way more, be sure to check out my Holy Shit Moment wherein Ramit Sethi talks about eating chicken wings like an immigrant.

Retirement Progress Report 1

nail figures

I’m currently stuffing my face with a bagel slathered in butter and dunked in baked butternut squash soup. I’m drinking cold homo milk fresh from the fridge. My legs are sore from having just played hours of ultimate frisbee. My mind is silent. It was in programming mode today building this javascript calculator and now it seems happy to be idle. Lia, Isla and I biked to Little Lake and fed the ducks, played, and sang the ABCs dozens of times. Today was damn near exactly what I’d like every day to be.

Thinking about that, I catch myself not appreciating the day for what it was. Recently I’ve caught onto Mustachianism and become infatuated with saving more aggressively for retirement (defined as the point I no longer have to work but for sure will keep working on certain things). This mindset is problematic in that it has me preoccupied thinking about the future more than ever before. This is good if it gets me to invest instead of wasting money on dumb things, it’s bad if it clouds my ability to see the moment I’m in. There’s a lingering fear that if I stop thinking about it, I’ll backslide into old habits and not change my behaviour at all.

Overall I’ve got it pretty good. I enjoy my work, mostly, and I’m already living how I’d like to be living. So why save for retirement at all? Why not just keep doing what I’m doing if it’s enjoyable?

The answer, for me, is about a core principle that I wrote as a note to myself late one night in Hawaii:

Always move toward greater freedom and happiness.

More net worth means more freedom. Debt is the opposite (unless it’s “asset” debt). The happiness part is in my head.

I think of saving for retirement as a very difficult challenge presenting a massive payoff. I played around with this compound interest calculator to figure out where my current rate of saving was going to land me in 14 years. I currently buy $200 of Mutual Funds every month. That puts me at $62,000 by the time I’m 45 years old. Not horrible but not retireable either. Further tinkering with the compound interest calculator indicates that Lia and I will need to sock closer to $20k annually if we’re to hit our retirement goals. It’s just doable on our current income, but we’ll have to be much more intentional about our spending than we’ve ever been before. Sushi once a month instead of once a week. Not buying a bunch of drinks at the bar on a random weeknight. Not buying expensive toys whenever I want.

The only question left is: Which do I value more? Being in a position to retire 20 years early or grabbing sushi/drinks/toys every time I get the urge? I really hope it’s the retirement option.

I’ve heard there’s a lot of power behind making goals public, and providing measurable evidence of one’s progress or lack thereof. And it’s probably true because I’m really second-guessing whether to proceed with this or not. In kicks the Neil Gaiman quote I really love:

The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.

Remembering that quote always makes me man up and take the risk.

So here it is, in black and white for everyone to see: our progress toward retirement. I’ll post an update quarterly, with actual figures. This holds me accountable to at least two other people, Kyle and Tyler, both of whom I know read these blog posts religiously.

And the numbers are…

Rainy Day Savings: $3,436

TFSA: $2,631 

Mortgage: $169,878

Our first priority is to save $20k in a savings account for “rainy day” situations/seriously slow times at Butter/etc. Once this $20k layer of fat is in place we’ll be able to invest in mutual funds with the confidence that we won’t need to sell them prematurely out of a sudden need for cash. For those of you interested in tracking our progress, “rainy day” money is what we’re currently trying to save up.

After that, you’ll be able to track the growth of our mutual fund holdings because they’ll be getting all spillover once the “rainy day” account hits $20k.

I’ll report back on this again in July!

Who the Fuck is Mr. Money Moustache?

I’m currently in love with Mr. Money Moustache. Thanks Daniel Gomez if you’re reading this. Anyone interested in retiring earlier than they ever thought possible and living really well should get their eyes all up in his shit. Here’s an excellent blog post by Mr. Money Moustache to get you started: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/

Lia and I have just reworked our budget in order to divert much more of our cash into indexed mutual funds. Our goal is to live on 40% of what we earn and invest 60%. With this somewhat aggressive model in place we could be in a position to live off the dividends of our investments in 15 years. Now, our lifestyle is also much more frugal than most, but hey, we’re stoked about it! And yes, we did just spend 3 months in Hawaii blowing all of our savings… so maybe this is also a major subconscious backlash to that.

The Genie That Doesn’t Grant Wishes

I was walking on the beach the other day and I tripped over something hard and metallic in the sand. Out popped a genie! The genie said, “Hi there! Before you get too excited, I’ll tell you how this works.”

The genie pulled out a set of cue cards and started reading.

“I am not a normal genie. I don’t grant wishes. What I do is, I put a spell on you that eliminates your ability to fail at one thing of your choosing. There’s no magic other than that. You still have to do all the work to accomplish whatever you set out to do. I just put a spell on you that makes it so you can’t quit.”

He put the cards away, into his pocket or something. I guess he had pants on.

“That doesn’t sound so great,” I said. Then followed with, “Are you sure that’s even magic?”

“That’s why nobody writes stories about me,” said the genie.

“Not true,” I said. “I’m gonna blog about this as soon as I get back to my Airbnb.”

The genie didn’t seem to care that I was going to blog about him. He began talking again.

“The first guy that discovered me asked that I put a spell on him so he would stop smoking. POOF! I put the spell on him. From that day forward, no matter how badly he wanted to smoke, my spell prevented him from being able to. It was very uncomfortable for him, and he was miserable for years. You see, he REALLY wanted to smoke. All day and all night his brain was screaming for him to have a cigarette. But the spell is permanent, he’ll never smoke again.”

“Shit eh.” I said, insightfully.

“Yup,” said the genie, crossing his arms and leaning back against a palm tree, which he drifted through.

I waited for him to drift back to my side of the palm tree. Then I said, “Okay let’s say I want a million dollars, and you put a spell on me. What next?”

“Just a sec while I look into the future,” said the genie. “AHA! I see it now… you would stop travelling and stop spending money on anything beyond the basics. You would live as cheaply as possible and put all of your extra money into low-risk, long-term investments earning 8% annually.”

The genie pulled a calculator out of his pants and mashed some keys. Then he said,”You would work as hard as you could in order to earn an extra $30,000/year to invest. After 17 years of this, you’d be a millionaire.”

“Crazy,” I said, trying to picture it all. “I don’t think I’m down to go through with all that.”

“Then don’t ask me to put the million-dollar spell on you,” replied the genie.

A moment passed, then I asked, “So you’re really not much use then, are you? People could do these things without your spells.”

“For sure,” said the genie. “But they generally don’t.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because many of the important things people want in life are really fucking hard to accomplish,” said the genie. “That’s why the other genies are so much more popular than I am. They let you skip the work!”

“Right.” I said. “Know where any of those guys are?”

“Nope,” said the genie.

“Shit.” I said, kicking at the sand.

More time passed and the genie started looking impatient.

“So what’ll it be?” asked the genie. “I’m gonna give you 10 more seconds then I’m outta here.”

“That seems abrupt!” I protested.

“7 seconds,” replied the genie.

“Um,” I said, scrambling for something good to not quit at, “I’d like to… ahhhhh… maybe I could… actually no, how about…”

“Time’s up!” said the genie. And he vanished.

I stayed behind for a considerable time afterwards, wondering what I should have said. But it’s a tough one.

What would YOU do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

 

It’s Like Magic

I recently discovered all of my old journals and sketchbooks from my late teens and twenties, high school through college and into “real life.”

The spooky parts were the bits where I wrote about what I wanted, or where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do in the future. Most, maybe all, of those things have become reality. This isn’t unique to me. I just listened to Debbie Millman’s podcast with Tim Ferriss and she goes into way more detail about it than I do here, so if you’re curious you should listen to the full episode.

It’s as close to believing in baloney like The Secret as I’m willing to go, and the only reason I do believe that writing about your own future is an effective method in realizing your dreams is because that pattern has been revealing itself in my own life.

The exercise goes like this: write down what a typical day looks like for you 10 years from now. Go into crazy detail. Specify everything from what your spouse smells like to how many kids you have and what their hobbies are. Go from waking up to falling asleep at night, and everything in between. Again, as much detail as possible. I’ll do one now so you can read it and maybe do one of your own. I swear, so far whenever I’ve written these, they’ve done way more good than bad. For example, the first time I wrote about wanting to earn $10,000/month passive income I think I was earning $200-$400 passively. That number is now over $2000. Under $8000 to go!

OK here’s my dream day, January 30th 2027:

I wake up fully rested, early. Like, when the sun is just coming up early. The first birds are doing their thing, but not all of them.

My house is quiet. We have land, by the water. I can hear the waves against the shore. There are old trees on the property too, and I can hear the breeze in the branches just outside my bedroom window, which is on the second floor of the house.

Lia’s in bed with me. Maybe some of our kids come running in and jump on us. Maybe two are old enough to do that, and the other one is too small so they had to carry him/her in. The baby’s shat itself and Isla’s 10 so she can do a pretty good job of changing the diaper, which she does. The kids are happy. Lia and I are happy. We’re somewhere warm, or cold, it doesn’t really matter, but we’re together. Is it our house? I don’t know. Maybe it’s somewhere we’re staying for a while. It feels like home, wherever it is.

Anyway, we get up and shower. The bathroom is connected to the bedroom, I know that’s important to Lia and now that I think of it I like it too. The whole family doesn’t shower. Actually I don’t even think I shower. Nobody showers, we just get up and brush our teeth and do our thing, there’s a breeze coming in so it can’t be winter at this point, wherever we are.

Big breakfast gets made. Isla and her younger bro/sis help but mainly I do the cooking. Lia makes a smoothie or a salad or something. The food I make is fucking terrible for you but delicious. I’ve gotten pretty decent at cooking all kinds of things over the past 10 years. I’ve even figured out how the FUCK to make sourdough god damn bread. Fuck.

Isla says “FUCK” when she burns herself on something hot and nobody cares about the swearing.

Things feel easy, calm, peaceful. Real chilled out. There will be higher-energy stuff because that’s in our blood. But for the morning, things are calm.

Family breakfast, no fucking phones. There’s a mini gong and the baby smashes it with something hard and we all hold hands and feel gratitude for whatever until it finishes ringing. Might take a minute. This isn’t religious, it’s just presence and coming together in a token way as a family.

We eat. Food’s great. Kids pack it in like animals. Lia’s smoothie isn’t just greens and water, it tastes good. Dates or something. But we’ve hit that balance between my version of a smoothie (which would include ice cream) and hers (which often smells like a fresh cut lawn).

Off to activities. Do we exist in some kind of permanent vacation? Not in a conventional way. It’s like a ninja-in-the-mountains kind of training. Like when Bruce Wayne becomes a part of the League of Shadows before becoming Batman. We’re all studying different, or the same, things and that sometimes influences our location for a while. If we all want to learn to surf, as an obvious example, we would need to be in a place like Nosara Costa Rica for several months. Or roadtripping along a coast, preferably with waves that wouldn’t drown my god damn children (or me). Soooooo not Hawaii.

This sounds like we live in a trailer, which we very well may.

Late morning, the kids are studying something or another or we’re surfing or have just finished surfing or hiking or doing something we’ve never done before. Safe to say there’s a good deal of variety in our lives at this point. Lia’s a yoga pro by now, of course. Nobody doubted that for even a second.

I think I’m much better at web design than I currently am – like scary good, and “Full Stack” so capable of building full-on god damn anything I want. With databases and users and automatic two-step verification and payment processing. I know how to do all kinds of shit, and I have clients that love it and pay me to do it from wherever I am.

I am the ninja in the mountain.

What else….

Lunch time – again we maybe get food somewhere or eat something simple. I don’t want my family to get too extravagant. I’d like to be able to feed us but I’m also horny about efficiency. When I cook, there are leftovers (which taste damn good) and nobody complains about eating it for a day or three after the fact. I make good money but I don’t spend it like an asshole. In fact, a decent amount of it gets invested, donated, used for travel in a modest way.

The kids are awesome. I’m reminded of that every so often. Not every time I look at them or my brain would burn out, but a couple times a day let’s say. They piss me off too but I like that about them, they challenge things. They’re not pussies. They speak back and fight me the best they can and I usually win but sometimes they do and that’s the best moment of all, because it means they’re learning and they’re independent. They’re learning how to use their tools, and they’re pumped about it. Lia and I reward their efforts profusely. Our kids are really starting to turn into gritty little bastards, and it’s awesome. Sure, they’re weak sometimes too, and that’s OK – so am I and so is Lia and we show them that it’s OK to be vulnerable. These aren’t machines. They’re kids, but you get where I’m going with this.

Lunch is done and we’re driving, why not? I know I woke up in a house but I think I was confused. I’m probably in a kick ass trailer. We own a property or a couple properties but Lia AirBnBs them when we’re away.

I think we’re driving somewhere none of us have been before. It isn’t sketchy, it’s safe. There’s no real stress about this trip.

I don’t think we own the trailer. I think we’ve rented it, because we’re going to leave it in some town in Sweden and get in a rented sailboat and sail somewhere cool. Lia and I have heard about these islands where people sail and camp throughout them. Maybe we’re there. Maybe we know some Swedish and that’s what the kids were studying before lunch.

I check in with the office and things are normal, I have a bit of work to get through and it takes me an hour or so. Nothing crazy. All of my clients are very cool people, they know who I am and what my life is like. They’re cool with it.

We set sail, maybe we catch a fish or something and maybe by then I know how to clean and cook a fish. That’s dinner.

The kids are documenting these things. They already have developed little followings of their own. They get the value in connecting with their own online audiences and communities and they also earn modest incomes of their own and I probably don’t really understand it fully because I’m 41 and the social side of the internet has long left me behind. I just don’t have time for that shit.

Evening is closing in, the sun is setting. The water is glass. Maybe I do some sketching or watercolour painting or writing. Lia and I have some alone time. The kids have friends I guess, they’re hanging out with them for a bit. Things get steamy on our boat, BOW CHICKA WOW WOW.

Everyone is together before bed. We hang out on the boat and watch the stars. Lia still almost shits herself every time she sees a shooting star. The kids have inherited that from her so actually all of them almost or actually shit themselves as a result of shooting stars. We heat up some hot chocolate, Lia puts cheese in hers. Isla crushes cherry tomatoes into hers. The other kids are normal, they just drink it plain like I do.

We pack into our small sleeping quarters, chat a bit, then one by one we pass out. The kids talk in their sleep but I can’t hear it over Lia’s epic snoring.

Not Being A Professional

I caught myself not doing things because I wasn’t going to take it through to the point where I’d be able to make money doing it. The thought would be something like, “I feel like playing guitar right now” then another thought would say “Well, why? Are you going to play professionally? Are you going to be a musician?” and then I’d say “no” and not play.

The same thing was happening with art. I’d studied art in school in the belief that I’d end up creating art professionally. When that didn’t happen, I stopped making art. The “Why do this if it won’t pay me money?” question was silently cock-blocking my creativity.

But really, not getting paid for something is a very good thing. It means nobody gets to have any god damn say in what you’re doing. The moment you sell your shit, you are accountable to the person buying it. What lovely freedom resides in not having to give a fuck about anyone else but yourself when you do the things you love doing.

Here is a drawing that I loved doing:

life drawing 1

It’s good to be a professional when making money, building strong relationships, and delivering on whatever you said you’d do.

I think it’s bad to be a professional when exploring yourself creatively. I think creativity is a place for immaturity and childishness where no promises are made or kept, no consequences or expectations exist, and above all you get to do whatever the fuck you want to do.

Here’s another set of drawings that felt god damn awesome:

I don’t know about y’all – but I feel really good when I make stuff. Writing, snow forts, decks, bread, it doesn’t matter. The making seems to matter more than what I make. And by that logic, when I stop is irrelevant. I don’t have any pressure to finish what I’m doing. There’s no need to do a “good job”. There’s just the need to be “doing”.

I don’t know if creation is inherently important for all humans, but I suspect it is. Maybe it’s like eating and shitting. We take so much in, but what comes out?

I’ve deleted Clash of Clans and Pokemon and Chess from my phone. Those games were fun in the moment, but the moment they ended I had nothing to show for my time and energy. I’ve replaced time on my phone with time with dough or a pencil or a saw in my hand. The stuff I make accumulates. It’s real. It would be awesome to leave behind a lifetime of sketchbooks, pottery, songs, stories, photos. Every hour spend watching Netflix is an hour I could have also been painting. And ya, down time is important too. Shutting down the creative machine is, for me at least, necessary in order for the batteries to recharge. But it’s always harder to power it back up again, which is why it’s that much more necessary.

In the cardboardy wisdom of @dankosaurus:

The start of many things to #make. #cardboard #typography #sansserif #letter

A post shared by DANKO (@dankosaurus) on

 

Would You Trade 10 Years of Life for $1.8 Million?

 

Would you trade 10 years of life for 1.8 million dollars?

Just for fun, let’s make an upfront decision to either take the cash or not. I’ll admit that my first answer was “YES, GIMME THE MONEY” before I sat down and really thought about it. What’s your answer?

Got it? Ok, let’s move on and try to figure this out for real.

A standard method of creating a relationship between money and time is to follow this line of reasoning:

“Well, I make $30/hour at work, so one hour of my life is worth $30.”

Using $30/hour as a starting point, let’s assume that you’re awake and conscious for 16 hours/day, which means that each of those waking hours is worth $30. So each day of your life is worth $480. Let’s make it easy and call it $500. Each day of your life = $500.

Would you trade a day of life in exchange for $500?

Would I? Maybe! Probably yes.

What if we stretch the timeline to cover 10 years? $500/day x 365 days in a year x 10 years = $1,825,000.

Would I take $1.8 million and give 10 years away? Ooooh, things just got tricky. $1.8 million is a shitload of cash! I could do great things with that much money. I could quit working and just surf and travel, I’d only work when and if I felt like it. That much cash would give me so much freedom!

Before YOU take the cash though, let’s take a closer look at the fine print:

The sacrificial years come from your WORKING life, not your retired life. You’re not getting the $1.8 million and dying at age 70 instead of age 80. You’re skipping FORWARD 10 years, then getting the cash, then still dying at age 80.

In other words, we’re trading our youth for the money. Why the fine print? Because that’s exactly how it works in reality. We trade our days for cash during the best years of our lives, and we have access to the bulk of our money in retirement.

So for me, Lia and I would skip to age 40. Our daughter would skip from 1 to 11 years old, and we’d get paid a bunch of money to do it.

Does the deal sound a little shittier? It should! It definitely makes it harder to say yes to the money.

The problem with how we compare our time to money is we’re short-sighted. We think we have all the time in the world, but we don’t. And while we’re trading our time for money, we’re trading our best years first.

 

Not convinced? Let’s say I made the timeline longer. If I were to skip to age 80 at $500/day I’d be trading the next 50 years of my life for $9.1 million. Would I take that deal? Fuck. No.

The key concept: money becomes LESS valuable and time becomes more valuable as we get closer to death. 

And the added kicker is we can always die at any moment. We don’t think it’s true, but it is. People die all the time. I could die today, you could die tomorrow, and both of us WILL die someday.

We’re all gonna die!

We don’t have a choice about that. But we do have some choice over what we spend our time doing before we go tits up. Let’s spend our time like champions, and make the choices necessary to be happy now AND happy later.

How in the fuck do I do that???

A basic tactic I’ve stolen from Chris Guillebeau is to write down 4 sentences before I go to bed, answering these 4 basic questions:

1: What didn’t I like doing today?

2: How can I do less of it tomorrow?

3: What did I like doing today?

4: How can I do more of it tomorrow?

Answering these 4 questions every night has revealed that I tend to automatically just do shit at work that I don’t really enjoy. These are things that I should either minimize or eliminate entirely. By writing them down after the fact, I gradually become more aware of the bad parts of my day, and I become more active in minimizing them.

Answering these questions every night has also revealed that I enjoy doing other things, like going on small outings with Lia and Isla, working on side projects, and playing organized sports. These are things which I should be doing more of every day. Seeing it all in writing every night is a useful check-in with myself to see if I’m on a good path or not, and forces me to think about how I can make small changes in order to create days that add up to be pretty damn enjoyable.

Love you all. Thanks for reading.

 

The Book that Cost Me $61,202.95

Okay, flashy title, I know. But it’s true. This god damn book will cost me $61,202.95 over the next 51 years, paying $100/month. Here’s how I justified the expenditure:

We all know at least one person (or maybe we ARE that person) who is always worrying about not having enough money. Here are a couple facts to keep in your back pocket which will end the pity party with a hefty bitch-slapping of real life:

If you earn more than $52,000 USD per year, you belong to the richest 1% on the planet.

If you earn at least $28,000 (that’s the typical income for working individuals in the United States), you’re in the richest 5% of the world’s population.

Even someone living below the US poverty line, earning just $11,000 per year is still richer than 85% of people in the world.

There are 1.2 billion people in the world who earn $1.5o per day or less. Do they survive on $1.50 per day? Not really. They die regularly. People in this income bracket have a pathetic life expectancy of only 56 years, compared to our mighty 81 year Canadian life expectancy.

How should we feel about this? We should feel really fucking lucky. We should wake up every day and scream for joy. If you’re having trouble feeling grateful for things in your day to day life, hopefully this post will help you be grateful for your lunch, your shirt, your parents, and your bed.

If your feelings end there, fine. Just by being more grateful and less of a cunt, you’re make a positive difference in the world. Go get ’em tiger.

If you’re still reading, maybe you’re a little pissed off and wondering, “What should we DO to fix this fucking shit?” Well, we shouldn’t give our spare change to that cocksucker outside the LCBO. Unless he sucks our cocks for the change. Assuming he’s mentally sound enough to string together a semi-coherent sentence, that motherfucker has access to all the social support he needs. Even the crazy ones have people hunting for them in vans when it gets cold, to try to keep them from freezing to death by offering blankets and an optional ride to an albeit packed and shitty homeless shelter. But it’s still shelter, and there’s still food, even if it’s shitty food. I’m not saying the bum has a good life, but I am saying he doesn’t deserve our charity dollars above what we already pay in tax to keep our not-so-shitty social support systems running.

What we should do with our spare change is send it to those poor disease-ridden fucks starving and shitting themselves to death in horrible places without a god damn hope in hell.

We should send those guys a little bit of money, regularly. And because we’re lazy cunts, we don’t even have to think about it. There are people out there who love to think about this shit all day and will take our money and stick it where it counts most.

One such organization is GiveWell (UPDATE: For Canadians, Charity Science is a better option for tax reasons). They highlight charities that are thoroughly vetted, evidence-backed, and underfunded. They find charities that are powerfully effective in helping the ultra-poor, by turning pennies into fucking miracles, but are not all that sexy from a marketing standpoint (AHEM! Breast cancer, child cancer, cancer cancer… these orgs don’t need your charity bucks, send that cash to the Malaria-ridden sub-Saharan Africans instead).

So what did Ryan Lowe do (other than refer to himself in third-person)?

Like ripping off a band-aid, he clicked on the GiveWell link and then the Donate button, afraid he was going to chicken out the entire time. Then he entered $100 next to the line that says: Grants to recommended charities at GiveWell’s discretion. Ryan likes not having to research shit, and he trusts that GiveWell is going to do a better job allocating his money than he could possibly do himself.

He then picked Every Month for how often he makes his donation.

He entered his name, addy, and credit card info, and typed his daughter’s name as the person he’s dedicating the donation on behalf of. That made him feel all good inside. Like the world is gonna be a slightly better place for his little girl to grow up in.

Then he held his breath and clicked the Donate button.

Here’s Ryan’s confirmation email if you think I’m full of shit:

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 8.02.58 PM

 

Ryan has always felt like a little bit of a cunt for not doing more to help those who have fucking nothing. Now Ryan feels a whole lot better about himself, and probably won’t miss that hundred bucks anyway… especially now that he’s decided to only have one beer at a time.


Back to First Person and Some Math:

Stats at the beginning of this post were stolen from this book. It cost $2.95. If I live to the average Canadian age of 81 I will make 612 more monthly donations of $100. That adds up to $61,200, plus the book price for the total $61,202.95. Hopefully our fucking dollar evens out a little to make this whole process more bearable. But if it doesn’t, fuck it. I lucked out by being born in Canada and I know what it’s like to shit myself for days on end, and I don’t like it. If that’s how people out there are dying, I’ll gladly part with $100/month to help make it stop.

UPDATE:

GiveWell donations are NOT tax-deductible in Canada. However, Canadians can set up regular contributions through Charity Science and 100% of the donations go through to the Charities. Also we don’t get boned on the US dollar being so high.

I have cancelled my GiveWell contribution and set up a Charity Science contribution (for $100 CAD/month), which will be buying mosquito nets to cover children while they sleep so mosquitoes don’t give them god damn malaria.

Here’s the nice card they send when you donate:

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How to Cock Block Your Own Stress

Probably the most personally satisfying discovery I’ve made this year is the Stop Loss technique, courtesy of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. A “Stop Loss” order is an investing mechanism that allows a person to sell her stocks if their value drops to a specific price established beforehand, thereby preventing further soul-crushing losses.

The example in the book is an investor putting a -5% Stop Loss order on every stock he purchases. So if the stock drops by 5%, it’s sold immediately. This automatically guards the investor against total devastation, and is something I should have done years ago when I purchased $1000 of Zynga stocks, like an asshole, on a whim.

At the time, Zynga was making some really addictive smartphone games, so I was hopeful for the company’s future. I bought at $14/share and within a few weeks the stocks were valued at $3/share. Steve Jobs basically said “We’re not supporting Flash technology anymore” and Zynga was fucked. Their whole company was Flash based. So when I eventually sold my Zynga stocks I had lost $800. A Stop Loss order could have automatically ditched my stocks as soon as they dropped to $13.30/share and limited my losses to $50.

Now, if I buy stocks, I set a -5% stop loss order immediately. Then, if the stock goes up, I change the stop loss to 0% + $20 (the cost of the buy and sell transactions). This way I never lose more than 5%, and if I’m patient (and a little lucky) I can also set up a position where I can’t lose any money at all.

Stop Loss is sexy for investing, but it’s MUCH more valuable in cock blocking day-to-day stress.

Here’s how that works:

As soon as a problem presents itself, I decide beforehand how much of my own personal happiness I’m willing to lose while trying to sort it out. The shocking thing is: if I decide ahead of time how much stress something is worth, I realize NOTHING is really worth very much stress. It’s much harder to get full-blown-scream-cry-into-a-pillow stressed when I’ve already decided how emotionally invested I’m willing to get.

Here’s a real life example where I didn’t do a very good job of it:

My email recently stopped working. Client emails weren’t coming through, and my hosting provider (eHost) fucked me around for a full WEEK without fixing anything. I spent hours on the phone to outsourced fuck-parrots in India who just kept repeating, “Well sir, it seems there is no email here.” Yes, I got really fucking stressed out. This is probably what triggered the search for a way to stop feeling like a tightly wound ball of shit.

I found peace by making a decision: “I’m going to switch hosts. Any emails I missed, people will either follow up again or think I’m a dick and take their business elsewhere.”

The stop loss comes in with consciously deciding not to care anymore about the lost emails, the damage to my reputation, or anything else even vaguely related to the problem. The stop loss order sounded like this in my head, “I’ve already stressed out too much about this, so I’m done. Anything else that happens relating to this will either sort itself out or not, and I don’t care either way. I’m not willing to feel any worse about this than I already do.”

It felt good. I started to feel better and better, and eventually I felt awesome again. God damn eHost was out of my life, and the problem, though I was still dealing with it (because it takes a while for a new email with a new provider to take effect), no longer bothered me.

A trigger had switched in my brain.

This type of thinking comes up in a podcast between Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins on Achievement Versus Fulfillment. Tony says he uses a “90 second rule” to deal with problems as they come up. It’s simple – he faces the problem, feels it fully for 90 seconds (stress, anger, sadness, whatever), then decides on a solution on the spot. The decision represents the end of worrying. It’s done. Time to move on.

Problems often feel like they’re important and should be worried about. It feels like the right thing to do. But I would argue that the right thing to do is to strategically set a mental “Stop Giving a Fuck” point which, once reached, triggers a solid and satisfying “I don’t give a flying fuck” response.

What is your take on this? Comments are open… now.