How to get stuff for FREE

Photo by Mitch Chubey

When something is free, it can have a hidden cost

First, let’s start with defining the word.

Free without cost or payment

In business, cost is usually a monetary valuation of (1) effort, (2) material, (3) resources, (4) time and utilities consumed, (5) risks incurred, and (6) opportunity forgone in production and delivery of a good or service.

Business Dictionary

Digitalization provides more opportunities to get free stuff. Marketing tools are designed to encourage consumption of unnecessary items.

Rewards apps are created by marketing experts to get consumers to spend more. 

Getting things for ‘free’ is based on defining cost based on a business model using the categories: effort, resources, time, risks and opportunity cost. This article provides three examples of rewards programs that can be beneficial when used effectively.   

Daily Rewards

Effort

  • Considerable effort is required for payout actual work is simple

Resources 

  • A computer

Time

  • Can lose time may be required to respond to questions and not qualify for surveys

Risks

  • No risk to lose money
  • Encouraged to sign up for services that cost money, be wise and don’t take the bait.  
  • Giving out personal information

Opportunity Loss

  • Surveys provide small amount of income not meant to be a job
  • May distract from other activities requiring attention  



Summary

  • Worth the effort can be completed with music, Youtube or Netflix in the background
  • I was skeptical, until I actually received payment
  • Better than other rewards apps because you don’t need to buy anything and payout is cash!
  • Must reach $30 for payout
$30.18 PayPal Pending Dec 21, 2017 Jan 03, 2018


Carrot App

Effort

  • Minimal can get rewards by meeting daily step goals

Resources 

  • Smart phone

Time

  • Very Minimal

Risks

  • None

Opportunity Loss

  • Very short surveys for points, health related encourages positive change

Summary

  • Great app to get rewards
  • Can link to Scene card to get free movies
  • Use my user code when joining! ledaf1760

Social Nature

Recent products

Effort

  • Visit site monthly to receive free products to review

Resources 

  • Computer or smartphone

Time

  • Required review are short and easy to complete

Risks

  • None

Opportunity Loss

  • Can sometimes be hard to find the product in the store

Summary

  • Really great way to try new natural products
  • Pay attention to how you answer the questions when bidding on product to ensure success
  • Worth the time to write a brief review   

Modified Morning Pages

Photo by Mitch Chubey

Small habits become the building blocks of success 

My morning writing routine is a work in progress. I’m using Julia’s Cameron’s concept of morning pages found in the book The Artist’s Way as part of my routine. The concept is simple, when you wake up write the first thing that comes into your mind without editing. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous it seems just write until three pages are done. Nobody is going to read it. I think there’s a part in the book which suggests not going back and reading it.

I adapted the concept of morning pages to suit my specific needs.

I type the pages, even though this is not recommended in the book. I have a specific learning difference that makes writing challenging without a computer. The idea of writing it on paper is supposed to spur more creatively, unfortunately my brain needs to type.

In Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, many of the successful people interviewed for this book have a morning routine that involves a variation of morning pages. One of the Titans explained that he keeps a record on a google document with dates to record the daily events before going to bed. I labelled my morning pages in the google document by date to make it easily searchable to see what I was doing on that day in the years to come. The man interviewed in the book, told an inspiring story about how when his kids ask him about their birthdays he can easily look it up and remember the good experiences with his children.   

My Working To DO List

There are many apps and ways to manage productivity, sometimes it can feel like the management of the to do lists is hindering the process. I like to keep it simple. My working to do list is at the bottom of my morning pages. This way, if I have a ‘productive’ thought while I am completing my morning pages I can jot it down at the bottom of the page. If I want to write about it fine or I can let it go and try to be present writing rather than thinking about the future. The app that I use for to do lists is Google Keep, I find it to be simple and easy to use. The process of ticking things off keeps me motivated. I mainly use this app for grocery shopping and random ideas. It’s useful for grocery shopping because you can untick the item to return it to the list if you need to purchase it again.

Photo by Mitch Chubey

 

My Writing RULES & ROUTINE

  • NO checking EMAIL before writing
  • NO checking PHONE before writing
  • WRITE 3 pages UNEDITED the first things that come into your mind
  • READ something inspirational after writing 
  • WRITE some more or work on a CREATIVE project

Have a morning routine or writing strategy that works? Please share in the comments below.

Do you know your credit score?

Photo by Mitch Chubey

We hear about credit scores all the time. The higher the points the better the score. I encourage all of my readers to check their credit score. There are many services that charge a small fee for a more ‘detailed’ report, however getting a basic credit score is free. Don’t get lured in by the fees for quick online reports. Simply submit the form and wait for the report to arrive in 2-3 weeks. Check out Equifax Canada or Transunion, scroll past the online options, print and mail the forms. Checking your credit score does not impact the rating. 

Photo by Mitch Chubey

The credit report is based on the past six years. Factors impacting the score include: timely payment history, low debt ratio, credit history, and credit inquires. This month, M$B got offered a $4000 credit card increase. Seeing as I only use my credit card for purchases I can actually afford, I declined the offer. Accepting increases in credit may lower credit scores. It’s also beneficial to keep credit cards you’ve had for a long time, rather than cancelling.

According to the credit bureau websites, there errors can occur with credit scores. When you receive the report you can review to ensure that all of the data is accurate. M$B loves excellence when it comes to credit ratings. 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream of Cohabitation

Cohabit

Word Origins via Late Latin, from Latin co- together + habitāre to live

-Collins English Dictionary

We stopped by Costco for a frugal lunch. The place was packed; we stood against the wall eating hot dogs. An elderly man seated with his wife waved us over. The couple, married for 54 years told us the story about how they met.  “It was when I was in the Navy. I remember exactly what she was wearing.” he said.

His wife explained that her girlfriend tried to get her to meet him for over a year. She wasn’t interested in dating a “drunken sailor”, surprised when he looked better than expected. I joked that they would have been married for 55 years if she’d listened to her friend’s advice.

He asked us, simply when we’re planning to spend money on a wedding. We explained that the plan was for cohabitation this month. I asked: “Do you think it’s a bad idea to live together before marriage?”  

“It’s an individual decision” the wife explained.

Her husband said that the only person he knew that was still married that cohabited prior to marriage was his brother. “It’s hard to say, things were different in our generation.” Then the conversation shifted towards an interesting discussion about finances— they both agreed that a successful relationship depended on talking about how to spend money wisely.

Lessons in Frugality: $25 rule

“I’ve never made a purchase over $25 without consulting my wife. We have friends who will probably never be out of debt” he explained.  There is a tendency to need something new to make life exciting. “As soon as things start to get manageable for some of our friends financially, they go out and purchase a new car or home. It’s embarrassing for them to have to use a different credit when the first one is declined. And it’s embarrassing for us too.” 

When it comes to successful relationships talking about money is important. Living together is about learning to communicate more effectively, to grow and change in love and action. Money determines how time is spent. Conversations about simple changes in spending can lead to massive savings and more time later in life.

I learned a few things from the strangers who generously let us sit at their table. Insights about frugality can happen anywhere. I thought about renaming this frugal rant the $25 rule, my partner asked “Can we change it to the $50 rule? $25 was a lot of money 54 years ago. $25 in 1963 had the same buying power as $198.55 in 2017” Cohabitation and communication, 2018 is going to be a big year.  Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication has been playing in my head for some reason as I write this. Hence, why I decided to call this piece dream of cohabitation. The song is relevant for those interested in lyrical interpretation. 

Purpose Driven Life

Rethinking Debt Repayment

I started this blog in April 2017, with a goal of paying off all of my student debt in a year. Reflecting, I realize that thinking about debt can be counterproductive. I am rethinking the whole concept of ‘debt repayment’.

A common theme of positive motivation is paying attention to thoughts and where we focus our attention.

Purpose Driven

Abundance in all areas of my life is the desired outcome— the question is how to manifest this desire. Not knowing is part of the solution. It means being open to new ideas and possibilities. It doesn’t mean sit back, relax and wait for everything to happen.

When it comes to goal setting the literature support the notion of creating specific plans to achieve desired outcomes.

As someone who is genuinely interested in everything this takes determination and focus.

To execute this plan I started with defining my values. For this process I used a set of values cards.

My top values 

  • Purpose to have meaning and direction in my life
  • Passion  to have deep feelings about ideas, activities, or people
  • Health to be physically and mentally well
  • Acceptance the act of taking or receiving something offered

When making a decision it is easier to act with confidence if you can determine how the choice aligns with your values.

Abundance as an outcome will be easier to achieve if I am doing things for the right reason. Action based out of fear of financial insecurity does not align with my values. The opposite of fear is acceptance. Acceptance is an action. The tricky part is knowing when to drive forward with passion and when to sit back and analyze the situation. In the book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Tim Ferriss quotes author and entrepreneur… 

If you think hard about one’s life, most people spend most of their time on defence, in reactive mode, in playing with the cards they got instead of moving to a different table with different cards.

Seth Godin

I am currently reading all of the inspiring information in Tools of Titans

What stands out is how successful people learn from others who are doing more in life. Successful people do not sit around and discuss all of the problems of the world that cannot be changed. It’s easier to sit at the same table and complain about the world. Positive change occurs when you accept what can be changed. You can sit at a different table with purpose driven individuals.

Healthy Habits

How hard is it to change a habit?

I am fascinated by habits. Our ability to change the repetitive nature of behaviours by simple actions is astonishing. One habits that I was reluctant to change was my news consumption. I loved waking up and learning about what was happening in the world. I really didn’t think that I truly wanted to change this habit.

Reluctantly, I spoke up about it in my Think and Grow Rich Study group. I planted the seed for change in my mind. Speaking about the change lead to a plan for action.

I started listening to positive motivation in the morning instead of the news. A total shift in my thinking occurred with the change of one simple habit.

I also want to exercise more. I thought about incorporating the stairs into my routine at work. I work on the 11th floor with two sets of stairs between floors. The key to changing a habit is to do the action as soon as the thought comes into your mind. Mel Robbins describes this as The 5 Second Rule explaining that motivation is never going to appear later. To change take action right away, the monkey brain likes to stay comfortable and resists doing anything different.   

If I gave myself more than 5 seconds to think about taking the stairs—my inner dialogue would go something like this: “I’m already walking around for 12 hours at work—I will be too tired”.

At first it was difficult, particularly when the elevator arrived in the lobby. I did it anyways. Now walking up the stairs is a fun part of my routine. I feel better and have more energy at work. Simple small things lead to big changes over time.

WorkAway: FREE Education


Workaway is a unique way to live and learn. I discovered the organization in America where high living costs and tuition fees encourage excessive consumer debt. Workaway is an international organization that connects volunteers with hosts in over 155 countries available for an annual fee of $32 US per year. While volunteering, accommodation and often food is included.

Volunteers are required to work for a few hours a day and often find paying jobs in host cities. The skills and experiences learned in placements are comparable to co-op placements found in costly universities.

Madame Isabelle’s House in New Orleans is one of many hostels in Southern America staffed entirely by Workaway volunteers. “Each day we get to connect with new people from all over the world, it’s amazing” explains Jake, dressed in business attire. He just returned home from his other job at a local art gallery. 

There was something different about the volunteers, a genuine satisfaction with life. “Why would I go into debt for university when I can gain valuable work and life experience?” stated another Workaway volunteer who also traded stocks and wrote music in his spare time. He explained that Workaway taught him many skills not found in traditional education. “Like the other day, I learned how to repair a door. ” It doesn’t make sense to be chained to debt for decades, with no guarantee of a job they explained.

Technology is changing how we live and work. Workaway is an example of how technology can be used to connect people for mutual benefit.

The day before I left the hostel, the owner was preparing for vacation and briefing the young workawayer to ensure that operations continued smoothly. There was a sense of shared trust between staff and the owner. The goal: to ensure guests enjoyed their experience. Flexibility and the ability to learn new skills is more valuable than formal education. When it comes to preparing for the future Workaway is providing more than labour and free accommodation; it’s contributing to practical education.

Book Review: The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life

“Whatever you give your attention to, is the thing that governs your life”
-Emmet Fox
Photo by Mitch Chubey
Emmet Fox (July 30, 1886 – August 13, 1951) was a spiritual writer and leader in Church of Divine Science movement founded in 1888. The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life offers a way of understanding God, Jesus and the Bible that is open and accessible to all. He focuses on what Jesus was saying, rather than doctrine or traditions. The author writes very clearly to explain key points. Fox outlines a formula for what he calls 'Scientific prayer' as means to put thought into practical action. He explains that there is no justified anger or resentment, as it keeps the person from enjoying the present moment. Fox suggests when negative thoughts or feelings arise the solution is to replace it with prayer. He states “wisdom is the perfect blending of intelligence and love.” The author argues that if time is spent engaging in prayer rather than the accumulation of material wealth, prosperity will follow. Reading this book with an open mind in conjunction with the bible can be quite transformative regardless of religious beliefs. After reading this book I am further analyzing the connection between wealth and spiritual health.

Affordable Housing Crisis

 

Affordable Housing Crisis. Photo by Cameron Dennis

The affordable housing crisis continues to make headlines, particularly in Vancouver. Stephanie IP, Vancouver Sun states: “A one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver now goes for the median asking price of about $2,120, a five-per-cent jump from last month and a 15.8-per-cent jump over October 2016. Meanwhile, a two-bedroom apartment is $3,200 a month, a 1.3-per-cent increase from September and a 14.3-per-cent increase from October last year.”

M$B must confess that I didn’t vote in the municipal by-election; I didn’t know it was happening. Voting for municipal changes is obviously central to changing policy. I need more education in municipal politics.

Anyways, back to debt repayment talk…

Sometimes, it’s hard to accept where I am at. I want to be writing about financial freedom and independence.

I still have 6k left on my student loans. The past year ‘Pay Day’ is a reallocation of money to debt.

I forget that I live in the most expensive city in Canada. It’s easy to focus on the debt I still have—when in reality I’ve paid off 34K.

The cost of university was minimal, it was the cost of living and not working that really added up. People with debt justify it as normal. I had a doctor who I’ve known since I was young ask me: “Do you have a 10-year plan for paying off your student loans?” If a ten year plan to pay off student loans is the norm, I am doing well. 

The reality is at a certain point the cost to debt ratio may force people to move or become homeless.

Vancouver is beautiful.

Affordable Housing Crisis. Photo by Cameron Dennis

This article about the two elderly women living in a Van brought is heartbreaking. Yet, it is also inspiring that the proud lady shared her story to bring awareness to the affordable housing crisis in Vancouver. A period of ill health or caregiving responsibilities could easily push an average person into western poverty. This week, I’ve been thinking about about money—with a recurring thought that people live off of a few dollars a day in many parts of the world. This thought inspired me! I made my own bread this week! It was so easy and delicious. I could take advice from my frugal friend and move to the suburbs— apparently “New West is going to be the next Main Street.”

Financial freedom is not necessarily about being ‘rich’. There are many individuals with high incomes who have no disposable money. It’s about changing our relationship with money.

Time is the most important asset. 

The Asian Factor

Photo by Mitch Chubey

Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada of the Asian Development bank provided an economic update for SFU Beedie School of Business. The use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to fund Asia’s growing infrastructure needs was outlined as a means to fund future projects. The questions raised by attendees emphasized how much is unknown when it comes to forecasting future growth, even when there is ‘good’ economic outlook. There are many unpredictable factors and legal complexities.

NAFTA is trending in the media with Trump talk of scrapping the agreement. The majority of articles focus on how the USA and Canada will always be partners or “good friends”. The multicultural demographic of Canada, leads to the question: Why is there so much focus on America?

Because it’s interesting, it captivates our attention. I can hear the exact tone Trump uses when he says “NAFTA.” The media repeats it over and over again– like bird carrying a message in Game of Thrones— “NAFTA, NAFTA, NAFTA…”

Photo by Mitch Chubey

Why not focus on diversifying our trading partners?

Canada is working on an updated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, it’s just not as exciting. Canada currently exports 76.2% to the US. China is the second top trading partner at 4.1%. The graphs can be found on the Asian Pacific foundation of Canada website.

Asia is the economy of the future

Asian Pacific Foundation of Canada

As the global economy shifts towards an Asian centre, perhaps the abolishment of NAFTA would give Canada an opportunity to continue to expand trade with Asian nations. The province of British Columbia is leading the country in developing trade relations with Asia with 38% of exports.

Global Affairs Canada is calling for submissions from stakeholders for a new Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP-11”) the deadline for the consultation period is October 30, 2017. Forecasts about economies can feel like fortune-telling; there is no way to predict exactly what will happen based on logic. The impact of technological innovation particularly in robotics will continue to shift outcomes in unpredictable ways. China even has a new hospital robot (still in trial phase) intended to transport items with improved infection control. The ‘Made in China Plan 2025’ aims to expand the already thriving robotics industry to promote innovation and economic growth. What is Canada’s Plan?