What Money Is For – 2019 Edition

I have made a conscious effort to continue making my life easier and simpler. And sometimes it will take money to start the process. Not always but sometimes. Here is my update of some recent changes I have made.

Paying For Parking

I have to pay for parking at one of the grocery stores which is in the downtown area. The beauty of this location is that it is closer to my home. It also has underground parking which is great when it rains and I have to load my groceries. The problem is you have to pay for parking. And paying for parking really irks me.

Particularly if you have to buy groceries every week. This could easily add up.

For 2019 I have decided that I am going to use money to make this easier. I refuse to drive double the distance to the other location which has free parking. And no underground cover.

Eventually I will foray into Costco home delivery when it becomes more ubiquitous.

Minimized My Lawn

I finally used crushed gravel to cover the grass in my yard. I used to push lawnmower the front, sides as well as the back portions of my yard. We used crushed gravel to cover 75% of the grass last summer.

It is a joy to mow the small patch of grass we still have in the back. The rest of the yard now takes ZERO maintenance.

Some folks like paying people to regularly maintain their landscape. I chose to minimize the tasks which took up the most time. Like lawn mowing.

My Home Gym

My home gym really kicked into high gear last year. It is ridiculously easy to head down to my basement and train. I even set up my bike on a bike stand so that I can perform some high intensity workouts.

There is zero ability to make excuses that would stick. There is no travel time. No waiting for others to finish on the equipment that I want to use. I used to have to wait for the squat rack regularly in my old gym. Plus I can now wear whatever I want and no one is around to distract me. Like people wanting to talk while I am in the middle of a lift.

It is blissful to have a home gym.

Trying To Optimize Credit Cards

I would not say that I credit card hack. I really only have two credit cards. The Costco MasterCard will only be used until they allow Visa.

I have a corporate Visa card which earns travel points. I try to attain most of my points through this card. My personal Visa is a no fee cash back card.

For years I tried to collect more points on my travel Visa card. But then I noticed that I was not very efficient at translating this into value for the trip. I would still pay way too much for taxes to redeem my points.

All in all I was having difficulty “hacking“ with just one card. This made it very apparent that travel hacking with credit cards would not be my cup of tea. I do not do well with processes that force me to think about things at the front end and the back end.

So in 2019 I refuse to optimize which credit card I would purchase anything with. I will purchase corporate expenses with my corporate Visa card and personal expenses with my personal Visa card.

No more transferring funds back-and-forth between the accounts. This was getting rather confusing for myself as well as my accountants. I don’t think any of this moves the needle for me so I am giving this up.

Simplify Investing

I’ve given much thought to my investing. When I review my original plans in 2018, I thought that I would invest monthly. Then I thought perhaps quarterly.

And finally it became apparent that I was able to invest in January for my TFSA as well as my RRSP. I could front load my investments and then don’t have to think about it for a year.

It keeps getting simpler.

I have given up believing that any of it matters. As I’ve said many times, I like to plan with the end in mind. I often think of what I would do if money was no object. And then just start living life that way.

Recently I have given serious thought to using the asset allocation ETF VGRO for all my accounts.

That is, I would hold just one ETF.

VGRO is a tool. It is how I wield it that will make the difference.

I do not fret much about gaining the lowest basis point for taxes. Nor do I obsess over what is the so-called best fund.

As far as I am concerned, NO ONE knows what will happen with the market so why fret about it?

These ETFs are PRODUCTS. It is your PLAN that is more important.

We all have access to the same products. It is how you utilize the products within your plan that will make the difference.

Think of a baking analogy. Everyone uses the same ingredients of flour, sugar, butter, etc. But no one will argue that a more proficient baker will produce a better cake than a novice.

Personal finance may be very similar.

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