A nifty way to buy that house


“If you want to steal don’t rob a bank…found one”

Mr Simple



In the last little, well forever actually… I’ve been pondering the stupidity of property ownership and mortgage debt.

Now I can understand the first family in the history of the world discovering a plot of land and saying: “This is ours!”.

So they build a little castle on it and live happily. Fast forward a few generations to the next family says: “Nice castle. We should buy that…oh but it is going to take the wealth from our entire life to afford it…boy that really sounds like a swell deal!”.

Its crazy stuff!

We don’t own houses. The banks do. After 30 plus years of paying them we finally get the keys. Then and only then does the house become our home. Problem is that it’s long past time to save for our retirement. Ultimately we lose our house. Sold to pay for the old age care that we need. So what was the point?

Also exactly what is this ownership that we believe we have? This sense of ownership for which we are prepared to waste our adulthood in mundane occupation? In the case of property it is really just some conventions that allow us to alter and amend our homes so long as it is permissible under local planning law. We don’t even have the full freedom to remodel our castle as we see fit. But, we see it as a better deal than having some landlord intruding into our lives whenever they please.

A thought I’ve had recently goes like this:

Sell your mortgage to your retired parents. This gives them a guaranteed income that is safer than the financial planner running off to Seville on their life savings. Instead you pay your parents the equivalent of market rent (a lot lower than mortgage repayment). When they pass they leave their house and your house to you in their will. You do the same for your children by letting them occupy and rent one of the properties. Basically your family takes the step of cutting out the bank completely. That way you get to keep all the wealth and all property within our family and grow it with every generation.

In a normal mortgage arrangement you pay the bank enough to buy two houses because of the cost of money (interest) that they charge you. In this arrangement, since there is no bank, your family would get to concentrate a consolidate a considerable sum of money. Your retired parents would also have a very safe stable income that would carry them into their twilight years.

It beats the alternatives like freedom camping, RV living or being a 90 year old couch surfer! Or maybe it doesn’t. But is sure is a better idea than donating 50% of your salary to the bank every month.

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The lengths we’ll go to for money

“Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men”
Sydney J. Harris

People put their life at risk everyday excavating mines to earn a little money.

Others work in laboratories where they risk exposure to life ending toxins in return for money.

Many work in factories that mame and kill. All for money.

Some prefer the slow route to death absorbing corporate induced boredom. Eeking out a meager existence trading time for money in an office.

Our lives are more precious than all the money in Europe.

It’s long past time we remembered this and reclaimed back our time and our lives.

The hot 100 in review

Today we post our 100th post!

Instead of writing something new we thought it would be good to dredge the past and provide a handy catalogue of the nonsense published to date.

Relax, be idle, enjoy.

Mr & Ms S.

————–

Happiness

Transport

Economic Alternatives

Shoes (and I still haven’t replaced what is left of them)

Electricity

Harm

Wealth

Killing Bills

Mcjobs

Parenting

Musings

Family code

Free stuff

Ugly Big Boxes

The simple man

The simple woman

Suicide

Idleness

Solitude

Eating

Technology

Bricolage

Religion

Secrets

Sharing

Poverty

Flow

and why just sucking it up and leading a sucky life ain’t the right path to tread!

Matter don’t matter


“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

Albert Einstein



We tend to think that matter is what matters in life. With this as our starting point we happily devote a great proportion of our lives to pursuing, owning and storing matter. We call it ‘our stuff’.

As quantum scientists have delved into the building blocks of the universe they have found that the stuff of the world is mostly made of empty space. At the sub atomic level there is lots of empty space and what appears to be a few little bits of matter floating around. Go a few nanometres deeper and those small bits of what looked like matter disappear into even more empty space.

So the question is – if matter isn’t substantial why do we crave the material so much? And why do we spend so much time in the pursuit of material wealth?

The ancient sages new the truth and so they focused their energies on awareness and experience.

In the end if you can’t take it with you, and it possibly doesn’t even exist anyway why should we frame our lives entirely around the accumulation of insubstantial material?

Fighting over empty space seems all very weird and stupid really.

Fortune or misfortune? – just how you see things really

“Doing what’s right is no guarantee against misfortune”
William McFee

We have experienced what some might consider a disastrous couple of weeks. Others would look at these circumstances and say it is incredibly good fortune. Life all depends on the perspective you add to the events and capers you get involved in.

First my boss revoked my part-time status. I’m now required to come in 5 days instead of just 3. We don’t really need that extra money and I value that extra time much more than the compensation I’d receive forfeiting it to work. So I see this as an utter disaster. Like I will probably have to quit and find something else. Since I’ve reached a view that all jobs are much of a muchness – same pathetic corporate values, same bureaucracy, same sill team building exercises changing jobs is a bit of a chore. Definitely misfortune.

However, if I were on a low income, with no savings and living in a high cost recessionary environment, getting two more days work per week would be a magnificent windfall. I’d view my circumstance as a godsend, not the soulless prostitution of my spirit or talent.

The other thing that happened was that the shed on our property was broken into and cleaned out. Some would view this as a disaster, but we viewed it as good fortune since the shed was full of stuff that we were looking (unsuccessfully) to re-home following our quarterly decluttering ritual.  Another blessing was that to make room for the decluttered stuff we had to move a few important/expensive things out of the shed first. It also let us know that the crappy single padlock wasn’t really up to the task of securing the stuff we’d like to keep.

Last our neighbourhood was flooded by heavy storms a the start of spring. In the days before many were concerned or frightened about the potential damage that so much rainfall might do. We were a bit excited by the possible rainfall. It would be a great test of the new land drainage system that we had spent a week building.

It worked great and although there was some flooding under our house we came out pretty well compared to our nearest neighbours who has water come through their front door and ruin their carpet. We had discussed the need for better drainage around our house over a year ago. I had time and willingness to put our drainage plan into action. Our neighbours were working to save up to pay for someone else to do it, but they never got around for it.

The trouble with the pay someone later strategy is that there is always something more glamorous to spend money on.

Its just like how you see the world. There are always lots of ways to look at everything. Quite often I force myself to find 2-3 other interpretations before I act. This really helps to me to respond in line with my beliefs and values rather than react blindly to my emotions.

Its not about forcing myself to be falsely positive. It is just a means to cut through the fog of war and understand the landscape better.

Keeping the Holiday Season affordable

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important” 

Arthur Conan Doyle

$2000. It is a lot of money in our world, but not really a lot in terms of household economic costs where we choose to live. Depending where you are reading this from it might be nothing or an annual income for a family of 9 people.

Anyway, today Ms Simple redirected $2000 from one of our investment accounts. This is our annual family Christmas fund. It covers travel, accommodation, celebrations, food, experiences for the kids and presents for everyone.

$2000 might seem like a lot of  money but, to give you an indication of the size of our extended family, if we spent $50 a Christmas gift for every relative we would be up for $4500 on gifts by themselves. We’d also be eating cereal alone for xmas lunch. Peak season travel and accommodation costs could be more than one fifth of our entire annual income. Hoochi Mama. Serenity now!

We have only allocated two grand for everything and it should be ample.

This year we are limiting our holiday to the month of January. I hate short holidays. Three month is more gentlemanly, but virtually impossible if you are still tethered to a corporation for some part of your earnings. On this point I must admit to the ungentlemanly emotion of envy. At this time of year (every year) I become envious of those who are more free of work than I. Let’s face it  office life sux!

So in the spirit of sharing we have a few holiday season tips to have a great holiday on the cheap (please add your tips by clicking the comment bubble under the title of this post!).

Our silly season tips to live large without chucking pennies:

  • Travel off peak. Slightly early or slightly late and you are saving a wad.

  • House swap with family or friends in the city your family lives. Everyone wins and best part is that neither family comes home to a break-in.

  • Don’t be too precious to bunk on the floor if there is a timing issue with your house swap (e.g. you arrive before they depart).
  • Organise a secret Santa. We have a $100 limit and each person only buys for one person. Our total gifting is maximum $200 per family.

  • Share regular event costs (i.e. Christmas Day dinner). It’s better to spend $50 every year than to have to find several thousand when it is your year to host the masses.

  • Have a very small house in a quiet city. That way you never win the Christmas venue anchor.

  • Give love, listening and caring rather than electronics, vouchers or apparel.

  • Make a punch or eggnog (and rocketfuel it up) to reduce the beverage costs.

  • Support family plans for cook outs at the beach over family dinners in restaurants.
  • Buy fuel vouchers during the year to reduce seasonal spikes in petrol costs.

  • Organise programmed entertainment for the family. As much as you can. I’ve found the free stuff is massively more fun for the little uns (and gives the bigguns more time to talk and drink). It takes more effort planning though. An example is a giant family picnic and game of cricket at a reserve instead of a family trip to the local theme park. The kids in the family will love seeing (and recall for years after) old people trying to play sport. It will be more memorable for them than their uncle or grandmother waiting for them to finish the devil’s dipper roller coaster ride.

  • Do some charity over the holiday season. Its a feel good eye opener for everyone and really puts life back into perspective.

In truth we could have a blast with a $200.00 holiday season, but we value our time with our family above everything else. If it cost $10,000 we happily drop the dosh to be with the big crew.

What are your tips for keeping things affordable over the holidays?

Diary of a CEO

Dear diary,

On Monday I called into the office at 10 am. I was ushered straight into a meeting. Because of my phenomenal chairing skills a group of highly agreeable people, who all like to stay out of knowing any of the detail, were able to come together and agree to make more money for our company. Our courage to take on a considerable risk will result in stellar half yearly results. There is of course some risk of calamity for the company as the position matures over the next 18 months but, when we weighed the risks it was the right thing to do. In the months immediately after the results we expect the entire Senior Executive Team to be head hunted by other companies looking for talented executives like us. All in all a fabulous result that few others would have had the vision or courage to achieve and a darn good thing I won’t be holding the baby two years from now.

After my triumph at the meeting I dictated a few letters to my assistant and then went to a business lunch to celebrate. My luncheon chums were a group of gentlemen that I went to school with. They are all in similar positions to me now. An exciting and invigorating set of companions.

Annoyingly I was interrupted by a call about a crisis at the office. I made it quite clear who was responsible for resolving the issue. I also left the caller in no doubt about the potential career consequences for him of not having his group fixing things quietly and quickly.

In the afternoon I had a round of golf with the Chairman of the Board. We talked about business, but mostly about other things. I found him having a better set of clubs than me an utter distraction and I had a poor score as a result. This is very unusual as I am exceptionally talented golfer. Had I not become an executive then there is little doubt that I would be on the professional scene. As I changed back into my Yves Saint-Laurent suit I texted my assistant and asked her to spend the remainder of the day researching a better set of clubs for me to use in future.

Later I had dinner in the city with of my two group managers. They both owe me greatly for appointing them to their positions and so their grovelling pleased me greatly. Tonight they babbled about the problems that such small men have in their work. Seeking my approval for this or my blessing for that. I have risen to my position because of my superior decision making skills and my exceptional nose for risk. Few have skills and talents so refined as mine and I am completely underpaid when you consider what I bring to this company.

On the way home I glanced at memos and briefings that my assistant had prepared for me for the next day. Some entirely trivial matters that were too tiresome to warrant more than a glance.

The rest of the week was much the same except for Friday.

At 11 am on Friday I received my pay cheque. It totalled $997,377.  As I have already mentioned – a paltry compensation given my exemplary qualifications, uncommon skills and extensive social contact networks. Once this cheque was safely deposited in my bank account I promptly resigned. Later I will sell my complimentary stock options and pocket something like another $40 million. Best I unload them within the next year though eh!

It was a long first week in my new job and seeing as I was now a millionaire with more than enough money to live on for the rest of my life there is certainly no need to waste a a second week of my life.

[For the few that haven’t guessed – this is a purely fictional account! :)]