I seem to apologize around the same time every year about the awkward silence going on around here. Just like every other year, at the height of summer, there is just too much to do out in the real world beyond reading, analyzing, and regurgitating finance stuff online. As time wistfully passes by, I’m becoming more certain of that particularly tricky paradox where “time is more important than money… but money is important as well.” Trying to strike a balance between living life now and saving money for the future can be a tightrope that sways ominously in the wind. However, once you find your groove and your style, living life and saving for the future all seems to fall in place. It takes money to do stuff, but what’s the point of money if you have it and can’t do what you want? Heaven forbid I won’t be doing none of the stuff I did this August when I’m wearing incontinence skivvies and telling your kids to get off my lawn. Excuse my wandering thoughts. Like I said, it’s been awhile since I posted here. This is the warm up. Warm ups involving pretty pictures and some words.
1. Mount Gardner, Bowen Island
We had a day hike up to the top of Bowen Island with some friends to start off August. It took three to four hours of walking and hiking to get to the top from the ferry terminal. The views were incredible from the top. This is looking west towards the Sunshine Coast. If you looked east, you would get a spectacular view of Vancouver.
2. Lightning Lake, Manning Park
The weekend after Bowen Island, we went camping for the first time in a long time. The stretch of good weather was still going strong so Manning Park was the obvious candidate. Lightening Lake is a picturesque and serene lake (due to no motors on the lake). Would highly recommend renting a kayak or canoe and paddling around the lake.
3. Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
We had a friend doing the Ironman in Idaho, so we decided to pack up the car and drive the 7 hours to Coeur D’Alene to meet up for an extended weekend to watch and hang out. These friends live over in Manitoba so we don’t get to really see them much, so Idaho seemed to be a good compromise between our respective home provinces.
Ironman is insane. I wouldn’t survive the first event, which is like a bizillion km swim. The picture above is at 6am right when the Ironman was about to start. I was exhausted just from watching the event all day…
4. Garibaldi Provincial Park
After coming home from Idaho, turnaround was quick as we went on an overnight backpacking trip up to Garibaldi Provincial Park with a couple friends. With 20-30kg packs, we hiked a distance of 7km with around 900m of elevation – from the parking lot to Taylor Meadows campsite took us about 2.5 hours. From there, once we set up camp and had some food, we embarked on getting to the top of Panorama Ridge, which around another 5km hike with 400m more elevation. The photo above is halfway from Taylor Meadows to Panorama Ridge, with the ridge being the black, snow-covered mountain in the background.
From the top of Panorama Ridge, you can see the Black Tusk looming in the background. We didn’t have time this trip to tackle the tusk.
A look at Garibaldi Lake and the snowcapped mountains and glaciers to the left. It’s a long, at times torturous hike all the way to top, but I couldn’t recommend it enough. You could probably tackle this in a day with light daypacks, with one way time running you around 4-5 hours from parking lot to the top, depending on how quickly you move.
5. Salt Spring Island
In all my years living in British Columbia, I had never been to any of the smaller Gulf Islands nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland. We decided to take our bikes and do a 6 day tour of Salt Spring Island. We went super minimal with the small rear bike rack bag and small backpacks for the whole trip, and we still brought a few things we barely used.
Everyone said the island was super hilly, but I brushed it off thinking they would be small, cute rolling hills. Nope. There were hills to bike up that made me want to cry for a spin class. At the bottom of one of these hills, we stayed at a super hippy organic farm that happened to have canoes to take out onto the water.
At the top of one of these tear-inducing hills was Mount Erskine. We had to walk our bikes half way up this +400m high hill.
From the North-end of the island, we made our way the southern tip, where Ruckle Provincial Park is located. We finished off the trip near this end and revelled in the hills we had to endure and conquer to finish up our trip.
We hopped on a couple ferries to get back home and that about wraps up August 2016. As you can see, with so much going on, writing was not a priority item over the past month or so.
August 2016 was an expensive month: from the accommodations to driving to a lot of new equipment we bought, it added up to an anomalously high total. I would not have been making it onto frugalista-minimalista-of-the-month award anywhere online anytime soon for those sins.
Yet, it comes back to what I was rambling on about before all the pictures: the paradox between living now and saving to live later. It’s an inherently and fiercely personal equation you need to figure out for yourself. If you gave no shits about hiking, camping, biking, etc – basically everything I just described – of course your calculations would be different on how you allocate time and money for now and later. Ultimately, as long as you are honest with yourself on what it is you want out of life, now and in the future, you can comfortably live the paradox of living now and saving for the future.
For example, we could turn into the next Trent Hamm, spending absolutely no money, saving something insane like 90% of our take home income, count squares of tissue paper being used, and ration toothpaste. Yeah, we could do it, but that would fly in the face of what it is we want out of life, it definitely has nothing to do with anything like that. Sure, maybe we could “retire” early in our 30s… and what? Again, you – yes, you – need to honestly come to a conclusion of what it is you want out of life. From there, the answer on how to live and what to do will flow. If someone honestly wanted to live like Trent Hamm, I’d say all the power to them for doing exactly what it is that they want to be doing. From their vantage point, what you and I might think is insanely stupid, makes as much crystal-clear sense as our own dreams, hopes, and aspirations.
Make sense? Figure out what you want in life, what you truly want, and things will flow from there.
What do we want? To see and experience as much of this miraculously beautiful world without compromising our balance sheet. If I were to use an analogy of the capital structure of a well-run business to explain this:
For years, we have been building a fortress balance sheet. From net income (net take-home pay after taxes and deductions), roughly 55% of that has been paid out as a “dividend” to fund CAPEX (rent, food, vacations, toys, gifts, books, education, etc) and the other 45% has flown into Current Assets and Long Term Assets on the Balance Sheet (RRSP, TFSA, HISA, etc). The Balance Sheet has grown formidably, where a market downturn (lose of jobs, bad health, etc) won’t make us insolvent. The buffer would give us at least a year of time, or more depending on how we tweak CAPEX in this sort of situation, to right the ship. There is no leverage employed on the balance sheet nor is there any long term debt. This retention and payout ratio has allowed us fulfill the dual mission of the business, which is to grow revenues (*insert* whatever it is you want from life; for us to experience as much of this world as possible) while continuously strengthening the balance sheet.
I think I may have butchered the analogy as I probably should have used the cash flow statement and balance sheet, as opposed to the income statement and the balance sheet, but I think it might have made it a little more complicated as not as many people know how the cash flow statement works. For those of you in-tune to reading financial statements, just replace the income statement items with cash flow items: operating cash flow for net income, dividend as a deduction from operating cash flow for capex, etc etc.
Well, I’ve been rambling on for awhile now. Hopefully, at the very least, you got the pretty pictures out of all of this.