Archive for January 2023

Want the Perfect Vacation without Breaking the Bank? Master the Art of Finding the Best Deals on Travel

Traveling is a lot of fun but finding the right deals and finally booking it can be time-consuming and even stressful at times.

There are now literally hundreds of places you can visit, both online and offline, to find a good deal on your next vacation, flight or cruise. So with all these choice at your fingertips, how can you ensure you can find the best deal without losing your sanity? Here are some easy tips that will ensure you are getting the best deal as well as having the perfect vacation.

Start looking at least 3-6 months out

If you have a good idea of what your timeline for travel will be, start searching for your vacation at least 3-6 months before your expected travel dates. For example, if you know you will be off work for 2 weeks in July and would like to visit Europe at that time, you can start searching for flights or vacation packages from as early as January. Some may think that is way too early, but from personal experience, you get better deals and be the first to a lot of things. For example, you may be the first to find out about early schedules, the choice of your seat on a plane, early promotions specials and more. But just because you start 6 months out doesn’t mean you have to book then. Only if you find a deal that is too good to be true should you go ahead and book it. Otherwise, you only have to check the prices for now and keep comparing them every week.  For my latest Vegas trip this past summer , I actually started looking at deals from January. This helped give me an idea of what prices were like and where they would likely be heading as we entered spring. After checking prices on multiple websites on a daily and weekly basis, I finally booked a vacation at a price that beat everything else I had seen.

If in Canada, watch CAD$ fluctuations

With the recent and constant decline of the Canadian dollar came an increase in travel prices, from flights, to hotels and everything else in between. Some vacation companies even announced that they would be increasing their rates due to the declining Canadian dollar. This was like the last warning sign for me before booking. Three days after I booked my vacation, I checked the price for the same package and it had gone up by about 10%, thanks to the declining Canadian dollar. This wouldn’t matter much if you were traveling within the same country (i.e within Canada or within the US). And vise versa, if you were coming traveling from the US to Canada, a strong US dollar will go a long way.

Look at 5 different websites at least and check them at least 2 times a week

There are a ton of travel booking and comparison websites out there and you should check at least couple of these as prices could vary from one to the next

Sign up for price alerts through email

I do this, especially with different cruise lines, and I always get good deals and promotions through emails. Be sure to sign up for these and never miss a deal. Instead of looking for the deals, they will come to you.

Ask local travel agents to match the best price you found

And just because most travel related activities has moved online doesn’t mean there is no room for traditional travel agents, who still have the knowledge and expertise to search, customize and package the best travel deals.

To conclude, finding good deals on vacation packages, flights and cruises can be time-consuming and stressful, but by following some easy tips, it’s possible to have the perfect vacation at the most affordable price possible. As vacations as a whole are not cheap – especially when booking for a full family – it is worth spending the time to find the best deal possible. The effort and time could save you hundreds, even thousands.

One Resolution for 2022 Transformed My Health and Wealth in a Huge Way – Discover How I Kept My Weight in Check and Saved $625 in One Year

Cutting on fast food purchases helped me save a lot of money and lose weight and stay fit at the same time. Best decision I made .

In the beginning of last year, I wrote about a new resolution or ideas for 2022, where it would help me to both lose weight and save money. Win Win. Can’t beat that. For those who didn’t get a chance to read the post last year, the idea behind ‘Junk to Health to Wealth‘ is to cut down on junk food spending and save that money instead. Although I didn’t spend a lot of money on junk food and dinning out in general, I still did it couple of times a week, easily adding up to $25-30 if not more, depending on whether we dined out with the entire family. And that was even before the current inflation which would add an extra 10-15% to the total.

So how did my resolution hold up and how did I do in 2022 and did I carry this into 2023?

Glad to report that I did great! Let us go through some numbers and figures.

With some minor exceptions here and there, I stuck to my intention to only buy fast food once a week, maybe twice if it involves family outings. In other words, I cut junk food purchase to half or less. Meaning half the money and calories saved.

How much is that in terms of health impact?

In terms of calories saved and how that translates into better weight management, the math is rather simple and clear: assuming I cut 1.5 fast food purchases a week, each having an average of 1100 calories (for a combo) , that works out to 1650 calories a week , multiplied by 52 weeks in a year, and we get just over 85k calories saved a year. With each pound having 3500 calories, that means I saved myself close to 24.5 lbs.!

What about the financial gains?

Using the numbers above and assuming the average combo meal is $8, and with 1.5 combos eliminated a week, multiplied by 52 weeks a year, comes up to about $625 saved! That is pretty significant savings, especially when you couple it with the above health gains. And I rolled this saved money into a saving account and from there I used it to purchase dividend paying stocks.

Making one effective decision can have a positive ripple effect on multiple aspects of your life. I have found this to be true through my own kexperience in 2022, and have continued to apply this principle in 2023. Through 3 weeks of January, I have made two fast food purchases so far, which is in line with my goal and even better.

Being Selfish and Strict about this Habit will Guarantee you a very Wealthy Future and Financial Stability.

Always, pay yourself first!
Always, pay yourself first!

PYF: the greatest and most underrated acronym on your road to financial riches and freedom.

Pay Yourself First, darn it!

If you pay yourself first , you don’t feel the pain. You get it out of the way and you can then focus on spending, enjoying and using your money to helping others. No guilt. The reverse could lead to guilt and ‘what ifs’.

First, you need to automate it so that the money is being redirected to a saving or investment account before you even see it. This removes friction and any pain points. It takes minutes to set up , but the future rewards will be massive and may help you live on passive income way before your official retirement age.

How much should you contribute? This will vary from person to person, but the more the better, assuming you have room to cover your living expenses and other needs. And while 10-25% is ideal, anything is better than nothing. For example, if you make $1250 bi-weekly and can only afford to set aside $50 a paycheck, that is still better than not putting anything at all. Overtime, as you cut expenses, increase your income or both, you need to increase this amount.

Imagine if you you pay yourself last. First, there will likely be no money left and will feel like a burden to save. Furthermore, if you have to rely on manually saving money, you are adding friction to the whole process which just complicates things. When it comes to wealth accumulation, automating things and reducing friction goes a long way. On the other hand, adding friction to negative habits you want to break is a the right way to go. For example, make it harder to spend money. That is adding friction to the process.

Think about it: we already automate bill payments , why not automate PYF? there are consequences (interest penalty) to not paying your bills on time but no visible or immediate consequence to you not paying yourself by saving money. We need to mentally change that so that paying yourself first and automating it is just as important as automating your bills to avoid interest charges. Set it and forget! Before you know it, and after compounding has done its magic, you will look at your savings and all the investments statements and you will not only be happy you paid yourself first, you will be amazed at how magically the money grew. As Einstein remarked, compounding is the eighth wonder of the world. If Einstein can fetch for it, then you can surely trust it.

And if that is not enough, I will leave you with one last quote, from none other than our generation’s foremost financial genius, the one and only Warren Buffet: “Do not save what is left after spending; instead spend what is left after saving.”

To invest or not to invest in Cryptocurrency: Is it time you considered Bitcoin and other digital currencies?

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin have become increasingly popular investment options for investors in the last few years. While some see them as a high-risk gamble, others may see them differently, as a potential opportunity for significant returns. So, should you consider cryptocurrency and Bitcoin when investing or as a way of diversifying your investment?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that investing in cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is a highly volatile and risky venture. The value of these assets can fluctuate wildly in a short amount of time, and there is no guarantee that you will see a return on your investments. It’s important to only invest money that you can afford to lose and to thoroughly research any cryptocurrency before investing. For example, while cryptocurrency is risky in general, there are some currencies that claim to be more stable and known than others. This is what is colloquially known as Stablecoins: these are cryptocurrencies that claim to be backed by fiat currencies—dollars, pounds etc.

That being said, some experts believe that cryptocurrency and Bitcoin can be a valuable addition to a diversified investment portfolio. Cryptocurrencies operate independently of central banks, meaning they are not subject to the same monetary policies and inflation risks as traditional currencies. Furthermore, Bitcoin is starting to get some adoption as a digital payment method, which could theoretically lead to increased demand and value over time. But so far, that has been slow to take off.

In conclusion, whether or not to consider cryptocurrency and Bitcoin when investing ultimately depends on your risk tolerance, investment goals and basically how much faith and trust you have this is or will be a viable investment option. If you’re willing to take on the potential risks and are comfortable with the volatility of these assets, they could be a good addition to a diversified portfolio. However, it’s essential to approach cryptocurrency investments with caution and to thoroughly research any potential investment opportunities. It is also important to note that, unlike all the hyperboles you may ready online from those who like to hype cryptocurrency, you are highly unlike to become a millionaire overnight from owning these digital currencies.

Have one main SMART financial goal for 2023 and stick to it no matter what

For 2022, I set two goals in mind, one health related while the other was about money. In fact the second one was a mix of both:

Health: to do 10 push-ups a day, and increase it by 1 with each new month, so by December I was doing 22 push-ups a day. I stuck to this for the most part and rarely skipped any days. In fact, for Dec 31, 2022, I made sure to do 25 pushups to end the year on a great note and declare this goal a great success. Not only that, but having turned this into a routine and daily habit, I plan to continue to do this for the new year.

Wealth: I decided to skip most junk food purchases other than once a week (possibly twice at max) and put all the saved money into a piggy bank or an emergency fund. This alone helped me save close to $600.

Notice how both goals were easily defined and measured? In other words, I could easily know whether I succeeded or failed. My goals weren’t ‘to do pushups’ or ‘eat less junk food outside’ since these are not easily measured or able to compare to the alternative.

With 2022 now behind us and a new year to work with, if you haven’t already set a resolution or goal, no worries, you still have time. What matters is that you have a good goal, define it well, and stick to it no matter what. That is, you need to set clear SMART goals, with clearly defined OKRs. As some of you may know, SMART when it comes to goal settings stands for:

  • Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
  • Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose
  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.

With that in mind, here are some ideas to get you started with goal setting for the new year:

-Objective (goal) : save $5,000
Key Results (metrics that will help you get there): save around $199-200 from every paycheck (assuming you get paid biweekly) . If possible, you can save some from your salary and the rest to come from other sources.

-Objective (goal) : Reduce your total debt by 50%
Key Results (metrics that will help you get there): Start by ensuring you are not putting any more debt that you can’t cover immediately. Next, depending on your balance, you need to determine what 50% of that is, and then work backwards. For example, if your balance is $10K, then you know that 50% of that is $5K, so you need to come up with a plan to pay that off in 12 months. You can make it even simpler by deciding how much of that will come from your salary. Let us assume you dedicate $150 bi-weekly to tackle this amount, that works out to $3900 a year, meaning you need to come up with the balance of $1100 from other means, be it from your savings, work bonus, take on an extra side gig etc.

-Objective (goal) : Reduce amount spent on dining out to just $100 a month
Key Results (metrics that will help you get there): Simplify this by setting this $100 amount on the side at the beginning of each month and stick to it. If you blow through it all within the first week, well too bad, that would be something you have to live with. And believe me, it will feel good when it is the end of the month and you managed to only spend what you agreed to.

-Objective (goal) : Drive less to save on gas
Key Results: Start by making note of any unnecessary trip that you take and eliminate or reduce it. For example, if you go to multiple grocery stores that are more than 5 KM apart from each other, try combining them into one trip to one or max of two stores. If your commute to work is a long one, speak to your manager about working from home at least 1-2 days a week. While the amount of mileage we drive differs from person to person, one way to determine this in order to set a specific goal is to measure what your annual mileage is and then divide it by 12, assuming you keep track of this. I personally do, so it makes it easy for me to play with the numbers. For example, let us assume your monthly mileage is 1200 KM. You can decide to slash that by 7%, which means driving around 85km less a month. The number may not seem a lot, but annualized, the savings will be more significant, especially for those who drive a lot more than our example. This is savings not only in terms of fuel mileage, it is also savings on your overall car mileage and all the wear and tear that comes with that.

While the examples we gave above are mostly money related, you can take the same approach and set other goals related to your health or other areas of your life. To recap, you need to clearly define your goal and ensure it adheres to the SMART goal settings approach. Once you have that mapped out, then try sticking to your goals no matter what.