Need a loan to ‘live it up’? It costs more than you think

The following article was published in today’s edition of the Bermuda Sun

So, perhaps you’re a young Bermudian, you’ve got a decent job and you’re thinking to yourself that it may be time to take out a loan to buy a fancy new car or a nice sporty bike.
This is exactly the situation I find myself in and it’s a hard to decide whether I should spend money now based on future earnings, or should I be a bit more frugal and only purchase within my means.
In grappling with the answer to this question, I thought I’d share a story about the last few years and my own money management experiences.
A few years ago I was working summers trying to pay for my schooling while abroad in the winters.
At that time, a friend of mine liked to ridicule me for my frugality. See, every summer, I used to work a day job building my experience and a night/weekend job as a bouncer.
He seemed to think it was ridiculous that I would give up my weekends as opposed to going out to party like he and many other friends did.
The basis of my commitment to saving money was paying for as much as my schooling as I could, so I could hopefully stay out of debt in the long term.
Looking back on it, was it a good decision to make and if I was presented with the choice again, would I still make it? To determine the answer to this question, I’ll use some pretty basic numbers to figure out whether or not it was worthwhile.
I used to work at least two nights a weekend for about five hours a night, and a rate of $20 an hour. Most party nights, I was working, so I rarely spent much money going out. By contrast, my friend was known to spend at least $30-40 a night, if not more.
So, every weekend, I would be busy working and would make about $200. Sometimes I would go out after work to a bar open later, but I always kept myself to a budget of $20 and rarely went out often.
From this we could roughly assume that I walked away from each weekend with $180. By contrast, my friend would have walked away from each weekend having spent $70-80, if not more.
Each summer I worked for approximately four months at four weekends a month, so let’s guesstimate that I worked 16 weekends overall. If you were to compare my friend’s scenario to my own, each summer, he would spend $1,120 ($70 x 16), and I would make $2,880 ($180 x 16).
My savings, of course, were used to support the costs of my schooling rather than taking on debt to cover the extra costs. If I had listened to my friend’s advice and instead lived the high life, it could be speculated that I would have had to take on $4,000 in debt each year if I had combined his lifestyle with my lack of earnings.
Even at the 0 per cent interest rate students can often get, I would have needed to borrow $12,000 over those three years in order to ‘live it up’.
Let’s speculate on the consequences of living the high life. Once out of school, let’s assume that my expenses were high enough that I needed to take on that part time job to pay off that $12,000 borrowed.
So, we’ll use that same bouncing job, paying $180 a weekend, and assume a low and reasonable interest rate of five per cent that kicks in once I’ve finished school.
Do you realize that if I had borrowed that money, it would have taken me 78 months working weekends to pay off the borrowed $12,000?
That’s six and a half full years or 19.5 summers. Three summers ‘living it up’ would have amounted to nearly 20 of not being able to. So today, I’ve got limited debt, I don’t have to work weekends anymore and I get to go out and live it up when I want to. My friend? Well now I have a hard time convincing him to go out because he’s now realized the value of saving. So, when other friends ridicule me for not taking on debt to ride around on a high end bike, or cruise around in a tricked out car, I smile.
My $1,500 car may be of little more value then the convenience of grabbing groceries or lugging around my kiteboarding gear.
Sure, it’ll likely scare away more women then it’ll attract and may not be the kind of luxury most people would rather, but at least I can smile in knowing that I’ve realized the value of staying out of debt.
For while many of my friends may be living it up in grand proportions now, I may well manage to live it up, on a slightly smaller scale, for a lifetime.

Who said Bermuda’s boring in the winter?

The following article was published in today’s edition of the Bermuda Sun

 

Gazing off into the distance, a large kite breaks the sky as it’s pilot rides at the helm of a board not that much different then a wakeboard. Swiftly maneuvering around a wave, the rider arcs his kite high into the sky as he is launched to a height reminiscent of picking coconuts. Pulling hard on the steering bar controlling his kite, he flips his body in a motion similar to an inverted back flip, then gracefully touches down. As his board once again rides along the water, he resumes his jaunt, skirting in and amongst the waves, making it look easy.

Think Bermuda is boring in the winter? Think again. While many complain as the air grows cool and the nightlife slows to a scene of haunting semblance, those with a thirst for adrenaline wake to a winter of extreme fun, riding the waves, making the most of the ideal wind conditions that Bermuda’s winters bring.

Back on the beach, you grasp a bar and do a final check of the straps to your harness, your safety release and the lines leading to your kite. The wind blows across your face as you turn to look along the lines down to your colleague, who steadies the kite as it hangs in wait. The quick jerk of a wind gust causes you to steady your stance before you flash a thumbs up signal to indicate your readiness. Pulling on the bar, you arc the kite up into the sky just as you are caught by another gust that lifts your feet an inch or two from the sand. As your feet once again touch the ground, you plant them deeply as you steady yourself to ensure control of the kite before proceeding.

Running sideways down the beach, you lean against the pull of the kite for a moment, reach down to curl your fingers around the handle of your board and step towards the water. You reach the waves as they crash against your body and fight the challenge of overcoming the incoming surf, all while being pulled further into the water by the kite that hangs in the sky above you. Sliding your feet into the board, you lay back and exhale as your mind clears and your heart races. Arcing the kite towards the water you feel a quick pull as you steer the board first downwind to gather speed, then gracefully turning upwind as you catch an edge and begin to ride atop the water.

Jutting in, out and through the waves, your knees bounce as you leap off the top of a wave for a small jump into the air. You swing the kite down towards the water as you swiftly gather more speed. Arcing your kite towards the sky for a larger jump you feel a sudden gust flick your ears as you realize you have mere hundredths of a second before being yanked into the sky. The gust quickly pulls your kite and combined with the momentum of it’s arc upwards, you’re suddenly hauled from your board and flying meters above the water. Losing your focus, you drop from the sky as you plunge deep into the water. Your head submerged, your first thought is to scramble to regain control of the kite or risk it crashing and costing yourself a week or two of missed kiting.

Still underwater, you quickly grasp and pull on the bar. Without being able to look, the tension on the lines tells you that your kite hangs above you and you’re quick to steady it as your head bobs to the surface. A smile breaks your face from ear to ear as you lean back to catch your breath. Floating for a moment, you realize that those who have kited for years may make it look effortless, but the heart pounding in your chest and your heavy breaths tell you that perhaps this sport isn’t as easy as you originally thought it might be. Swimming sideways for a moment you reach back to grasp your board and swing it around to slide your feet in again.

Rising up from the water, you once again jut among the waves. A smile again breaks your face as the realization hits you that dull winters are definitely going to be a thing of the past. Now that you’ve discovered the sport of Kiteboarding.

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A bit of a break

Over the last couple weeks I havn’t been contributing to my blog site as much as I would have liked.  There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of things to write about but between negotiating a move to a new job, soon moving to a new place and the couple side projects I’ve got on the go.

 

So we’ve seen a great wrath of topics come forth over the past couple weeks.  From having witnessed one of Bermuda’s largest schools close due to mold problems known about for months, the election of a new Premier, hushed supposed charity funding scandals from our new ‘first lady’ equivalent, the yearly throne speech and of course, Rugby week, it certainly hasn’t been to slow as of late on this tiny little rock.

 

Let’s start with Cedarbridge shall we?  Is anyone else shocked at the complacency of Bermudians for accepting that this known issue could go unresolved and unaddressed until now?   Should it really come as a surprise that the words proactive and government can’t successfully be used in the same sentance, especially when ‘education’ is thrown into the mix?  I think history speaks for itself in that regards.

 

So we’ve got a new Premier who seems to have worked hard to cast himself as a ‘man of action’.  I’m still not really certain what to think with regards to if he’ll actually achieve much more then his predecessors, though time certainly will tell.  I can certainly admit that Dr. Brown is a much better PR man then our former ‘master of spin’ Premier, whose only spin could be likened to those which involve an enflamed plane plummeting from the sky. 

 

What can be said of Dr. Brown thus far?  Well I know that the fast ferry’s were originally instigated by the UBP, so for people to stake claim on this one is a bit of a grey area.  I’m still waiting on the improvement GPS is supposed to have on the taxis.  I’ve realised it’s nothing more then a digital replacement for a radio, nothing really new there.  I would have liked mapping (you’d be surprised how difficult it is for taxi drivers to figure out which tribe road you’re referring to), or in the least, some auto routing technology for shared rides, but alas.

 

So how about those discount airlines?  Well I’m not even certain these are good for Bermuda.  When I worked in tourism it was clear that Bermuda can’t compete on price, so dicount airlines simply targets the wrong tourist market – Bermudians looking to go abroad or have friends visit.  Besides this, nobody seems to be able to tell me what it actually cost us to get the airlines to come here.  Are we subsudizing them?  If so, how much?

 

We could jump right on the supposed Music Festival scandal, though, considering the coincidental timing of the letter with the election of our new Premier, I am not surprised that the BIU decided to distance itself from it.

 

There is alot that can be said about the Throne Speech, which might be surprising, because despite it’s length, there wasn’t a whole lot said.  There were quite a few ‘what will be done’ but few ‘hows’.  Judging by the track record of promises made in past throne speeches, it is hard to discern how this one will be different.  Unfortunately that commentary will have to wait for another post, so I suppose we’ll see what comes of all this change.

Do you see the light?

One thing I’ve really noticed lately is the lack of adequate lighting in Bermy. A great many streetlights are out or blinking. Even in the areas where light is provided, it is far from abundant.

Who wants to walk through town, or down dark streets where light is poor?

All I can ask is where is the light

Departure

One of the things about living in Bermuda is that the transient nature of the expats that compose our workforce means there is always turnover in our friendships and lives.

Working in many of the business sector means you get to make great friends who may not be here for long. Much of our workforce tends to come seasonally, for short term or longer term contracts. This means you get to know a lot of people who are only temporary.
It’s an odd position to be in, watching many people you develop relationships with move on.

It’s almost like being in highschool or university when it ends and everyone goes their separate ways, just in slow motion.

I suppose that’s just what life in Bermuda is like.