In 1974, a man disappeared somewhere in the Siskiyou Mountains, never to be heard of again. He wasn’t a tourist lost in the forests – he’s been living in the region for years. He wasn’t a rookie camper overwhelmed by wilderness – he had written several articles on camping and survivalism, based on his own experience of practising these skills. So what happened to Tom Marshall?
I’ve become quite fed up with writing show notes that had very little value to the listener. So I’ve decided to turn them into full-blown, stand-alone blog posts!
Hence, until this experiment lasts, I am now running a blogcast instead of just a podcast.
Are you as excited about this as I am?
It was a little past midnight on Wednesday and I was sitting in the bathtub. It was the 9th of November, and I was feeling terrible.
I had no idea who the Prime Minister of Romania, the country where I grew up, was.
I had no idea which party was in power in the UK, where I had been living for the past year and a half.
But I had just spent 12 months following the ups and downs of the 2016 US elections, a country that I couldn’t vote in, had no real way of living in in the short and medium-term, and hadn’t even visited.
A 5 point swing in the betting odds (on average more accurate than polls) could make me feel happy, sad, angry, afraid or confident. Something was very, very wrong.
So you’ve followed the advice my previous talk with Jake Desyllas and set up your own basic productivity system. You know that a system like that is not a pedantic badge of honour, but is in fact the best way to add actions to your ideals – to LIVE your values.
You also know the three components of any successful productivity system:
- Capture: Get things out of your head
- Review: Check everything regularly
Organize: Put things in their right place
You probably are in a happy place – so allow me to flame some dissatisfaction.
At this phase, your system can be quite clumsy. That means more effort. More effort is more fragility – will you be able to keep things going when you a hit a lower motivation cycle?
Sometimes people tell me: “Philip, it’s all fine for you, but you can’t do this stuff with a family and car based culture”. That makes a lot of sense to me: in many ways, being a single, young person is the easiest way to keep costs on the low end.
That is why I was very happy to ask Nicola, a listener who called in about his story on how he biked and lived in his tent in backyards to travel Europe to tell me more on how he, as a married man with a child, living in the sometimes less than hospitable of Montreal, Canada, find ways to work towards financial independence.
Housing and transport are the two biggest expenses in a US household, and that is what came up in our discussion too.
Nicola has chosen to live within walking distance of his job, grocery store and daycare. He estimates that he walks about 10 km (6.2 miles) each day, which he finds a pleasurable range. Even in Montreal’s -20 °C (-2 °F) winter days, all it takes is a good jacket.
In the summer, he uses a local bike share, costing him 55 USD/season – this way he doesn’t have to worry about maintenance and security. When he needs some extra range, he’ll use public transport or an occasional car share in the late evenings – a more efficient system than individual car ownership, which sometimes means cars stay idle for 95% of their lifetime.
With these strategies, he manages to meet his transport needs without owning a car, for a fraction of the cost.
Nicola spends about a third of his income on housing, while staying in a central location. His philosophy: he sticks to the old way of looking at space, and thus has a much smaller place than is the standard. Many houses built at the turn of the century that were meant for families with five children or more are now occupied by couples with no children, or one child.
He also rents – he’s seen many renovation costs go out of control, with expensive upgrades in our one area making spilling over into other rooms just to maintain a uniform look.
So far, he’s gotten no comments about his house. 🙂
Nicola Berube is a French language journalist for La Presse in Canada, and is working towards bridging the English and French personal finance worlds, for instance with his interview of Mr. Money Moustache.