Saturday, November 13, 2010

Retirement planning...

How does one decide when the right time is to consider changes in your lifestyle directed towards achieving some level of relaxed independence from regular work and income? Unless you're a lottery winner or one of the lucky ones with a guaranteed income pension plan, it's not an easy thing to decide. For many Canadians the 9 to 5 job is the only way to survive while maintaining a reasonable standard of living for you and your family. But as you get closer to those "senior" years, you start to think about the tradeoffs and whether you're getting the best value for those many hours invested working to earn that paycheque.

Another important factor that will often come into this calculation is the issue of health. If, like myself, you've had a brush with a major health concern, you find that priorities begin to shift. You quickly realize that the end of the road is coming into view and you wonder whether the road you're on is the one you really want to choose. There are all those other side streets passing you by on the journey and all it takes to turn onto one of them is will power.

Well, let me tell you, change is not easy. I think most of us realize this. It's also extremely hard to imagine how it's possible to switch from a regular income lifestyle to one with little or no regular income. So how does one go about it? Well, I don't have the answer to that question yet. But I can tell you a bit about how my wife and I are going to at least attempt to get the process started.

We're thinking (or hoping?) this will be a process that unwinds over a period of two or three years. Our current situation is that we have two properties, our home and our cottage in the country. The plan is to find a way to combine the two properties into one in order to both reduce expenses and to eliminate the cost in time and effort required to maintain both properties. There are three initial steps to this starting portion of the plan:
  1. Sell the cottage in order to obtain capital for step 2.
  2. Purchase a new home that has the properties and expenses that we fell are right for us for the forseeable future.
  3. Slowly move and adjust to the new home and eventually sell our current house.
 The hope in this initial part of the plan is that we end up in a situation where we're living in a place that we're very happy with and our expenses are reduced to a reasonable level. Naturally it's also preferrable if there is some leftover capital from the sale of the two properties to add to the retirement fund. If we achieve this then the likely next steps are to reduce the workload to part-time or to switch jobs completely to something local and more appropriate to a relaxed slower pace of life.

The recent world financial situation has affected many of us by reducing the funds available for retirement. This has no doubt affected the retirement plans of thousands if not millions of people. We're hoping that a slow but well thought out transition plan will help us to achieve our retirement goals. So, barring a lucky lottery win, all this plan requires a great deal of patience and a lesser amount of will-power than what would be required for a more drastic lifestyle change. So think about where you want to be 5 to 10 years down the road and then come up with a plan to get you there. If you don't start soon you'll find that another 10 years has gone by and you're still stuck on the road you didn't want to be on.

Cheers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Real-estate prices in Canada - somewhat insane

I recently read a news article in a major Toronto newspaper about real-estate prices in Canada and how they're somewhat inflated and due for some correction. The article went on to give some rather bizarre and technical reasons for current high real-estate prices. When I read this I thought - you must be nuts - a classic case of over analysis and academic pontificating. Why are prices high? Just look at how many real-estate agents are out there churning the market. It's unbelievable, the number of agents and properties for sale. How can this many agents make a living unless the prices remain as high as possible in order to support the commissions paying these people. It's in the agents best interest to push prices as high as possible and to get as many properties listed as possible.

As population pressures continue it's possible that real-estate will continue to see inflationary price pressure. But let's not fool ourselves - if you've watched the market as I have you can only conclude that the prices are not sustainable. Artificial pressure from agents looking to keep the goose laying the golden eggs can only last so long.

Most mutable commercial - Ford Fiesta

Every now and then there's a commercial on TV that makes you just jump for the remote to hit the MUTE button. Well we have a current favourite "most mutable commercial" - It's the recent Ford Fiesta commercial with the most obnoxious music that just irritates you beyond comprehension. HIT THAT MUTE BUTTON - FAST.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bell Canada ExpressVu loyalty department tells blatant lies...

Wow, these big companies just get worse and worse. They just don't give a damn. We had another recent episode with Bell trying to get a receiver activated. They wanted to charge us more money to get a new smart card for this perfectly good receiver. We complained to their loyalty department and spoke with someone who claimed his name was Oscar and he even gave us his employee number. He said he would credit our account for the amount of the card and send the card to us. Well two weeks later we call to find out why the card has not arrived and they have no record of it whatsoever. Even the employee number he gave us was invalid.

Is it some natural tendency for large corporations to become more and more arrogant and careless? Capitalism really is not working these days. Perhaps the activists are right.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Google images new interface...

Is it just me or does the new google images interface really suck!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Futility?

I thought of something today (surprise!!). When considering what you've acheived over any given period of time you have to realize that the amount that you can get done is finite. However, the amount that you don't get done is really infinite. So, percentage wise, the total acheivement always evaluates to zero!

Sounds like the perfect logical excuse for a life of total leisure. ;^)

Cheers.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Update...

Wow, another two months with no blogging. Well, at least readers here don't have to wade through tons of drivel. So, what's been happinging? As mentioned before, the new puppy has been occupying a lot of our time. Here's a fairly recent picture of Keiko.


In the picture she's about five months old, but now she's just over 6 months. She's turned out to be a very calm and gentle dog and we're very happy with her.

Bought a new laptop recently. Got a Gateway with an i3 processor. Runs Windows 7 which is a big improvement over XP (so far). Still have to get around to installing Linux for dual boot. I reserved some space on the 500Gb hard drive just for this.

Heather will be participating in the 2nd annual Barrie Spring Art Tour and we've been planning and preparing for this. The website is pretty well done with all the info so check it out at: www.barriespringarttour.ca.

Sam reports that she has had a paper accepted at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention taking place in Scotland this summer. So she's been planning a trip to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, I believe. Other than that she's working away at her Master's thesis.

We're planning a trip to Western Canada this spring to visit some old friends and travel in the mountains. Haven't been out there for many years so it will be great to see the Rockies once again and even better to catch up with some folks we haven't seen for god knows how long.

Also been house shopping a bit. Looking to merge home + cottage into one property for a long term simplification. It's starting to be a burden to own two properties and try to keep up with maintenance and improvements on both. We're not sure if we'll be able to find the ideal new place so one alternative we're considering is to purchase a property and build a new house from scratch. This will be a lot of work but it might be worth it. Anyway the jury is still out on that issue so we'll have to wait and see what happens.

That's all for now. Cheers to all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Microsoft Automatic Updates Wreak Havoc Again

This time my wife got nailed by Microsoft's arrogant obnoxious and irritating habit of forcing security updates down our throats. Several hours of work in Excel were lost because she was away from her computer for a short time and Microsoft decided to reboot her machine without permission. SCUMBAGS!!!

Man does that piss you off or what!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

GMAC Finance - Stole our money.

Ok, we recently had the pleasure of paying off the final balance of our car loan with GMAC Financial Services. However, two days after paying off the balance in full, the scumbags go ahead and take another full monthly payment from our bank account. I'VE BEEN ROBBED!! Of course you call them and they say they'll give the money back, but it takes 10 to 15 days. Grrr.

These big corporations are so quick to take your money but when it comes to giving it back, it's like pulling teeth. So today I called and complained that the money still has not been refunded. They're saying one more week. Man I'm pissed off.

I'm willing to bet that they do this to thousands of customers all the time and they're making a LOT of money robbing peoples banks accounts and getting away with it.

If you have an auto loan with these guys, do you self a favour. As soon as it's paid off, put a stop payment on your bank account. You'll save yourself a lot of frustration and stop these scumbags. (Of course this means the banks make more money with stop payment fees. Us regular Joe's get stiffed left, right and centre.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Websites hacked - I feel violated

Well I found out yesterday that most of the websites I maintain on a shared hosting account were hacked and some illegal code was added to the end of almost every main page. It turned out that most of my ftp accounts had been somehow used to download, modify and upload the web pages.

The code that was illegally added was a frame reference to the "tryads.biz" domain which is registered to some low-life named "Egor Torberg" in St. Petersburg, Russia. This guys hacked into our ftp accounts from the IP address: 205.234.132.12 which resolves to "tuscon.servershost.net". Either this dickhead is in the US or he's hopping through a server in Tuscon to avoid tracebacks.

The fact that this low-life somehow found out the account id's for all of my ftp accounts, and possibly the passwords as well, makes me rather concerned about the security of my account information at my hosting provider. I've already made them aware of this but I think I'll have to emphasize my concerns. I'm worried about my email account integrity now as well.

Watch out for these Internet scumbags and shut them out whenever possible.