044: The Mustachian Path to FIRE (aka ‘Shaidah’s Way’)

In this episode, previous panellist and co-host Shaidah returns to the show—this time in her very own interview! We talk about her Mustachian tendencies (aka Shaidah’s Way), beekeeping, side hustles, frugality and real estate.

Shaidah and her husband show us the power of the basic tenets of FI and how intentionality and creativity can go a long way on the path to FIRE.

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Money Mechanic
Hello, listeners. Welcome to Explore FI Canada, where we sit at the roundtable with Canadians, and share their thoughts, ideas and personal journeys to financial independence.

Thanks to Matt McKeever for sponsoring Explore FI Canada. Matt is a Canadian investor, CPA, entrepreneur, and real estate expert who achieved FIRE at age 31. Do us a favour and check out his YouTube channel by searching Matt McKeever or using the link in our show notes.

Here we are, again, Explore FI Canada Money Mechanic with you and my good friend Chrissy.

Chrissy
Hello, how are you doing today?

Money Mechanic
You know what? I was a procrastinator today. I took the dogs out for a hike, which was fantastic. Because we did have a break. I’ve had a lot of rain over here and I’m out and then I come back in, you know, did a few things on the computer. And I was all very motivated to rake up my leaves. And then it sort of started raining again. So I was like, Oh, well, I may as well procrastinate that job for later.

Chrissy
Yeah, it was bright and sunny this morning. And that took a turn for the worse.

Money Mechanic
So do you have your kids raking up your leaves in the backyard?

Chrissy
We haven’t yet we need to get to that.

Money Mechanic
I just sink in like little cloth feet for my dogs. I can kind of drag around.

Chrissy
I’m sure they’d love that!

Money Mechanic
To their tails or something! A little harness a little harness for their waist.

Chrissy
That’s be cute.

Money Mechanic
Come on. We’re always looking for side hustles I could rent my dogs with like rake harnesses.

Chrissy
Exactly. Sell the jacket. Sell the vest.

Money Mechanic
Right on. We do have a guest with us this afternoon on the show. And it is Shaidah and you are you’ve been on the show before Welcome back. And this time, the show is all about you.

Shaidah
I’m so excited and nervous. So bear with me.

Chrissy
In case anyone wants to hear Shaidah in her previous appearances. It was episodes 27 and 34.

Money Mechanic
And I’m like nervous every show Shaidah, so don’t worry.

Shaidah
Okay, so to help the nerves I know this is the show we’re drinking on right. So I do have an apple cider here with me. What are you guys drinking?

Money Mechanic
Nice. It’s funny, you mentioned that I should go get apple cider as well. Because there is one thing that we have in common. And usually, you know, I talk about drinking on the other podcast I participate in but I made apple cider recently as well. Did you make your apple cider out of your own apples, Shaidah?

Shaidah
Okay, I did not make it and I have to give credit where credit is due because my husband does all the brewing. So he made apple cider but not out of our apples. There’s a lot of apple trees where I live. And we’ve gone and asked people if they’re going to collect all their apples. And if they say please have some I have way too many. They’re up for grabs. And we know where there’s a bunch of apple trees on city land. So we were harvesting apples, there’s still quite a few apple trees. So we’re going to probably go out and pick a few more apples tonight and maybe make a dessert again. And yeah, enjoying apple cider from free apples.

Money Mechanic
Did he build his own apple press, because that’s always one of the hurdles for some people, they want to make apple cider with all the fresh apples because there’s a ton around here that are available that don’t get picked as well. But where’d you get the press?

Shaidah
Okay, so we’ve done this three times, he made something called The Mangler and Mangler 2.0. Okay, which is a round piece of wood like a trunk of a tree, the size of like a good, a nice, thick, maybe six inches diameter, and it’s got nails sticking out, not nails screw head sticking out, and it rotates around like a funnel, it’s in a funnel, and then you put the apples in and it chips away at the apples. And then we take that and we put it in the homemade press, which would squeeze out the juice. So we did this, and then this Mangler 2.0 we have to put the screw heads and even so they’re shorter, so it would chip away less and less. And we borrowed a friend’s press once in the summertime for apples as well. And that didn’t make that much of a difference because we had to run the apples through the food processor and grate the apples and then squeeze it out which brought out a lot more clear juice, just a different look of the juice. Now we picked up a juicer at a garage sale that juices whole apples and we just put it right through. And that’s what we use. The last couple times we’ve been making a lot of apple cider, nice and pear cider because we picked up a lot of pears as well.

Chrissy
So no more Mangler.

Shaidah
Well, the Mangler 3.0 will have to come out and we’ll see how that goes.

Chrissy
Okay.

Money Mechanic
Well, I’ll admit that our apple apple cider making is far less labor intensive than that because we just look for the SunRype 100% apple juice was on sale for $1 a litre and you know, like 12 or maybe 20 of those go into our jug with some yeast and off it goes a few weeks later, there’s cider.

Shaidah
So President’s Choice makes this really good apple cider in the fridge section that’s like four liters for around four bucks when it’s on sale. And it’s I think it might be organic, maybe not it’s but it’s made out of fresh apples, no other ingredients other than apples in it and that makes really good cider too. So that’s what we used to use previously.

Money Mechanic
So I guess this is a good sort of start to this whole show because, you know, Chrissy and I both really I think you do an excellent job in a lot of ways in your lifestyle with your husband about being Mustachian. And I think we miss about talking. We don’t talk about that enough on this show about the Mustachian choices you can make in your lifestyle. So there you go collecting apples making your own apple cider, awesome. Chrissy, what do you think?

Chrissy
I would love that. This is something I talk with Shaidah about all the time and she and her husband continually impress me with how much they do on their own. They cook they DIY, pretty much anything they can do. And if they don’t know how, they learn how to do it, and they take it on. So it’s quite a story to share with everyone and I’m excited, we can finally do that today.

Shaidah
I’m trying to convince my husband that we should buy a piece of property and build our home on it. But he’s not convinced yet, but I’m working on it. So maybe in the next five years, that’ll be something I can share about DIY, like your whole home from beginning to end.

Chrissy
Awesome. Now, before we get into your story, I how about we go back a bit. And if you can tell us a bit more of your background, what you do and how you came to be so frugal.

Shaidah
Oh, where do I start? Like how back far back do I go?

Money Mechanic
Well, we’ve only got 45 minutes.

Shaidah
Yeah, exactly.

My parents came to Canada as refugees with nothing. So I grew up very, very poor. So that probably has a lot to do with it. Yeah. And they even had a business that went bankrupt when I was growing up. And I’m the third child. So I was the accident or the mistake that my sisters always like to remind me, so I wasn’t supposed to be around when you know, when my parents were at their brokest. And grew up without much and hand me downs. And yeah, no, that’s probably had a lot to do with my upbringing and where money has played into my life with the frugality and the scarcity mindset. But my husband grew up in a middle-class family where you know, both parents were working in great jobs and always going out to eat always eating M&M’s meals.

Chrissy
So a little bit of a different background from him. But he also has the same mentality about money and saving money. And so when you met, were you both on the same page with money and spending? Or were you a little bit different in the way you handled your finances?

Shaidah
Well, when we met, we were both students. So you know, how students are really, really cheap. And you know, if we want to go out on a date, I’d go through the paper to find two for one coupons for dinner and, you know, go see a movie, but sneak into another movie afterwards, that sort of thing. So that’s kind of what we did.

Money Mechanic
With your own homemade apple cider in your back pocket, I’m sure.

Shaidah
Well, oh, in university, we actually tried buying cooking wine, you know, the stuff that salted cooking?

Chrissy
Oh no!

Shaidah
That’s like only a couple dollars a litre. And we tried to extract the salt out so then that we could actually use that as alcohol.

Chrissy
Oh my gosh.

Shaidah
Hey, you have to try!

Chrissy
The creativity started early in your relationship, clearly.

Shaidah
Yes. Well, my husband, his dad is also someone who brews a lot, makes a lot of wine and has always been making homemade wine. So that’s he picked that up from him as well.

Chrissy
Very cool. Okay, so tell us a bit about your career and why you’re working towards FI.

Shaidah
Well, I work for the municipal government here in the Lower Mainland. And I’m kind of sick of working in a cubicle and working for the man. So I’m just not, I’m not as excited about being at work anymore. So I want to do something else with my time, I want to have control of my own time and do things I love doing. So that’s where I’m not sure how much I want to share about where I work or what I do.

Chrissy
That’s okay. You just tell us what you’re comfortable telling us. And so, you mentioned also that this part of your FI journey started because you wanted a dog?

Shaidah
Yes, yeah, that’s true. I’ve always wanted a dog. And that’s something even my husband has known that about me. And we agreed that you know, one day when we retire, we’d have a acreage and have dogs and goats. And, you know, I thought, Okay, how can I make this happen sooner. And so I had around that time switched jobs, and I didn’t like where I’ve my new job. And I was actually working at a municipality, where you live Chrissy and hated it so much. That’s when I started… and this was in 2010. I googled how to retire early. And the first thing is like play the stock market, which to me, I still didn’t I don’t understand that because it’s like gambling the way they say play the stock market. It’s like playing slot machines. So the other option was real estate. And I’m like, oh, real estate, I own a house. My parents had rentals. My sister has rentals that that can be done that is possible and learn more about that. And that’s where I got started in real estate and looking at how to retire early.

Money Mechanic
They also mentioned that you kind of drifted away from that FI path from where you originally found it and then kind of came back to the forefront for you in the last few years. Along that way, did you, it sounds like you’ve developed a lot of techniques around the house and things like that. I’m kind of trying to prod you into, I want to hear about more about this beekeeping stuff. We talked a bit about that before and all those kind of like Mustachian things that you’re doing that are part of the the journey to get to that acreage.

Shaidah
Yes, well, okay, so I don’t really relate myself with Mustachian because I didn’t know about that term until probably like two years ago. It’s just normal living I didn’t know about Mustachianism or being frugal or do it yourself was was that the type of term to be called Mustachianism. So it’s just normal to me. You know what I mean? Like, it’s hard to say I’m Mustachianism when I never even heard of knew that term.

Money Mechanic
I totally relate to that. Because I think you know, I’ve was very much a do it yourselfer and growing up with a single mom, I was forced to sort of learn and do everything. And I didn’t know I was Mustachian until I read Mr. Money Mustache’s blog and was like, Oh, that’s kind of what I am already doing. So I totally relate to what you’re saying there.

Shaidah
Yeah, and somebody at my husband’s work. I think it was around 2014 you’re talking about this a while back 2014 someone came up to him and said hey, you should read this blog Mr. Money Mustache, you’re just like him and so he tells me this and I go look this up and I’m like this ugly blog it’s like what is this? He’s talking about normal stuff like people yeah, this is obvious do brew your own beer and ride your bike. This is… why is somebody blogging about this? And then ignored it for the next five years.

Chrissy
So you came across Mr. Money Mustache quite early probably around the same time I did. It was 2014 and so…

Shaidah
But I didn’t look at it ever again. Look, I spent two minutes and thought, Why is my husband wasting my time by telling me this? And then ignored it from then on.

Chrissy
Okay, so you read his stuff about DIY and living that lifestyle but you didn’t take in I guess his investing message and or nor did you see the Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement I assume.

Shaidah
I think I spent under five minutes that’s what I say. And just was turned off by the the colors and punching in your face and I was like, you know that’s Yeah, it was probably at work when I was busy and didn’t want to be bothered I didn’t understand why people write blogs. Yeah.

Money Mechanic
That’s awesome. First guest ever to like go Yeah, Mr. Money Mustache. Yeah, five minutes, done.

Shaidah
Yeah.

Money Mechanic
Right. So you do ride your bike a lot?

Shaidah
Yes, everywhere I possibly can I do live in Richmond, which is very, very flat. No hills, so it’s easy to get around anywhere by bike.

Money Mechanic
So I guess from now on for the rest of the show. We’ll just call it Shaidah’s way instead of Mustachianism. Doing things Shaidah’s way.

Shaidah
Exactly.

Money Mechanic
Chrissy can go off of that blog for you even though you don’t want to ever have a blog?

Chrissy
Exactly.

Money Mechanic
Okay, well, I have to know before we get too far into real estate investing and all the other interesting stuff. Just tell me a little bit about beekeeping. And the reason I have interest is because we attempted this and failed miserably. So just run me through like what setup you have briefly. Let’s not get too complicated here.

Shaidah
Okay, so you need to take a course in beekeeping. And there’s a lot of online free courses right now that are offered locally. And I highly recommend you do that. So that way you have the background you’re learning how to take care of livestock.

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Shaidah
Okay, you need to have the right equipment. I wouldn’t suggest you know, you’re doing it just for the honey or just to save the environment because bees, you know, they’re taking away pollen and nectar from native pollinators. So you want to do it with intention and just think about why. Why do you want to keep bees? I got into it because our garden wasn’t producing any zucchini. So I was out there with a paintbrush pollinating my zucchini between you got to do it between 6am and noon, while the flowers open with a male flower and female flower and you’re using a paintbrush here and I’m like, why am I doing this? And then I met someone like within a couple days that had just finished her beekeeping certification and I was like, what that’s a thing? People keep bees? And then I looked at it and my husband and I had never done a course together. So we thought okay, well why don’t we sign up and do this? And of course my husband looks at me and says this is one of your another one of your harebrained ideas, why would we want to have bees? What are you thinking? But I convinced him and now he does most of the beekeeping because this past summer he got off work very early to the pandemic and he was doing all our beekeeping while I was finishing up at work and he loves it he can’t imagine life without bees.

Chrissy
Awww.

Shaidah
Yeah so we have a Langstroth all our hives are Langstroth which is a standard setup and works with a lot of equipment. What else do you want to know Money Mechanic?

Money Mechanic
Yeah no that’s all it’s all very interesting. I was just, you, so are you generating revenue from this are you solely keep the money for yourselves?

Shaidah
We sell the honey so about every year we make almost $4K. We’ve been doing this for five years. We make about $4,000 bucks a year selling honey, selling starter colonies, nukes and selling off locally bred queens.

Chrissy
Wow.

Money Mechanic
Nice. Well, we will have to get in touch with you because we had trouble getting a queen over here on the island for last year. And I think one of the problems we had is we use the top bar hive and we didn’t we didn’t treat for mites early enough so that we had problems getting through the winter so… but anyway, yeah, that’s that’s a whole other podcast but I think it is really interesting. And for anybody, and it’s nice because we’re a city lot here and we are allowed to have bees. So it’s nice and for the reasons you mentioned to have them and have them sustainably.

Shaidah
Uh huh.

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Shaidah
And yeah, we’re allowed two colonies in our backyard and we have more than two colonies in our backyard. But I don’t want to say anything in case byl- anyone from our bylaws department is listening. And we have a couple of off-site hives. We have three hives off-site on other people’s property. So we do have options for if all the colonies in our backyard die out over winter, then hopefully some one of our colonies survive off-site.

Money Mechanic
You’re not just a human landlord, you are a bee landlord as well.

Shaidah
Exactly. That’s what we say keeping bees is just like being a landlord. And they pay you in honey.

Chrissy
The best kind of payment.

Shaidah
Exactly.

Chrissy
And your honey is delicious. We went to one of your bee demos and we’re friends so I get some of your honey. And it’s amazing. It tastes so good.

Shaidah
Yeah, I’ve had a lot of people who can’t ever buy store bought honey again, because they’ve tasted real raw, unpasteurized, natural honey that’s not been diluted with syrups. And they realize how different it tastes from grocery store honey.

Money Mechanic
Now this is probably an obvious answer. But has your husband made mead from the honey yet?

Shaidah
Obviously.

Money Mechanic
Mead is delicious! Anybody listening that has never tried mead before, have a look around. Guaranteed they’ll be, we call it a an apiary? Right?

Shaidah
Yep. There’s one actually nearby your place.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, they by Sooke they make mead?

Shaidah
Yeah, we went to that one.

Money Mechanic
It’s delicious.

Shaidah
Yeah, Tugwells, is it?

Money Mechanic
It is Tugwell, yep.

Shaidah
Yeah, they have some good meads there. We went there for to check it out when we were camping there a few years back and really nice place. So there’s a few other local apiaries that do make mead, but mead isn’t hard to make. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. Because my husband makes it. And if he listens to this, it’ll be like, why are you telling people it’s not hard to make?

Chrissy
So I want to get a little bit more into the weeds because… I don’t know if you’re comfortable sharing, but in ChooseFI Canada, you do often share how much you and your husband spend per year. And it’s not much, especially since you live in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver. Tell us more about how much you spend, how you keep your expenses so low, and yet you live a very full and satisfying lifestyle.

Shaidah
Yeah, I think our groceries we spend about four to five hundred buks a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. We don’t have a mortgage. So that does help keep costs down right now due to the pandemic. My car has no car insurance. So we’re down to one car right now which previously when we had both cars insured. We’re spending $350 on gas or right now we’re down to 100 bucks on gas a month. Insurance, because insurance in BC is ridiculously expensive. Just one car is around 200 bucks a month. So it’s around $2,000 to $2,500 a month. Like that’s that’s at the high end $2,500 and that’s just our our expenses not including anything rental-related.

Chrissy
Okay, so that’s you spend $2,000 to $2,500 per month.

Shaidah
I’d say closer to $2,000.

Chrissy
Okay, closer to $2,000.

Shaidah
Like that’s not including any traveling or that’s our core expenses to get through life.

Chrissy
That is incredible. So tell us more about your shopping habits. How do you keep your grocery costs down low? I know you mentioned how you stretch your dollar by shopping at discount grocers. Is there anything else that you do that you can share with our listeners so they can cut their food costs and just overall cut their expenses?

Shaidah
We don’t eat out much. I’m not a big fan of eating out. I feel like whenever I go to eat out I’m always disappointed. I don’t know if I choose the wrong thing or or what I choose something on the menu and I think, well I could have made this better. Not to like be all high and mighty. But I really think like this isn’t as good as what I would have done if I made it. Now if it’s something I’ve never tried before or some sort of exotic food then I have to try it at least and before I make it I have to try it in the restaurant but we don’t eat out for groceries we go walking quite a bit so whenever we walk by somewhere like if I’m out for a walk on the weekend and I know butter and eggs are on sale at Shoppers. we’ll stop in and buy butter and eggs because that’s where they’re cheap on the weekends and for walking in a different direction we might stop at FreshCo and pick up a couple of their sale items here or there. And I probably do a Superstore grocery trip once every two months to pick up a lot of the major items: flour, sugar, that sort of stuff but not often. So, yeah, it’s just simple stuff. Stop off at the produce store and get pick up produce or pick up see what they have on their clearance rack because sometimes it’ll just be like giant bag of tomatoes for a buck with like 10 or 15 tomatoes and make fresh pasta sauce with that or bag of mixed fruit like apples and pears and maybe do some crisper desserts you know just trying to see what we can get not the whole brown banana thing but there is a lot of food that is on the clearance rack that you can get that still quite good and for a buck a bag, it’s not bad.

Chrissy
And you use Flashfood too, right?

Shaidah
I don’t.

Chrissy
Oh you don’t!

Shaidah
No I don’t. I’ve only I’ve used it once or twice when it came out and I was I wasn’t too impressed with the little bit of stuff they had on their on the few Superstores I’ve been to and I don’t go to Superstore often enough to actually remember to check Flashfood.

Chrissy
Well, my mother-in-law goes like almost every week and my dad and they get crazy deals because they’re retired and they have time to keep watching the app. And then they run down there when something comes up.

Shaidah
Yeah, and there’s only one Superstore where I live and it’s not convenient to get to because it’s in downtown, and it’s a busy area and parking’s a pain. So I don’t do Superstore often, I’ll usually just pick up a few items here or there and try to work meals around what I can find on sale.

Money Mechanic
Another thing to mention here is that you don’t have any kids. So that changes the food budget a whole lot. I was actually just thinking about this today because my wife had to go away for work this week. So I’m home alone. And I can survive on very simple meals. I mean, I’m doing the I’m doing the sort of what they call it the intermittent fast, where you don’t eat for the 16 hours. So I’m like basically eating two meals a day. And when it’s by myself, you know, I do like a veggie wrap as my lunchtime meal. And then dinner tonight is going to be a veggie curry. So and I enjoy meat. It just happens to be that’s what’s in the fridge. That’s what I can throw together. So I think, you know, I definitely don’t have the smallest food budget, but sometimes I realized that we could do a lot better and eat simpler if we tried to.

Shaidah
Yeah, and I feel the same. Like I really enjoy tenderloin steak like I really, I love buying tenderloin and I would probably eat it for dinner every day. But you know, that would be terrible for the environment. But I bought in and buy a large, like when tenderloin was on sale a couple months ago at Superstore, and they were like 80 bucks for a giant tenderloin. I bought one and cut it into like 10 steaks or 10 or 12 I don’t remember it was like more 16 steaks that were cooked to four bucks a steak, I think. And froze them all and I’m already done all those steaks, but I’m a big fan of good, good quality meat.

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Shaidah
But yet I’m still okay with I have a good stock of lentils. And we’ll try like, there’s these great cauliflower lentil tacos that we make. They’re so good or black beans, sweet potato tacos, they’re also really good. Just being creative and thinking outside the box when searching for different recipes.

Money Mechanic
I like what you mentioned there about buying the giant piece of meat and dividing it up and have a couple things I want to add to that is, first of all, we bought ourselves one of those vacuum packers a few years ago and main reason we bought it is because we do our own smoked salmon every year. But it’s also great when you can batch shop for when if you are a meat eater of chickens on sale or steaks on sale, you get the real savings, you package up it’s going to stay fresh, you’re going to freeze it if you’ve got the storage space, the batch shopping can save a lot of money. You know, if I find a great deal on especially canned items, you know, like coconut milk, we do Thai curries and things like that. I’ll buy 12 cans and if I buy all of them, I’ll get a raincheck you know, like if you’re saving $1.50 a can and you’re buying you know 10 of them. All that kind of batch shopping really adds up. So it sounds like you’ve kind of got that dialed in as part of your shopping as well.

Shaidah
Definitely like I have a shelf with at least 12 cans of coconut milk at least 12 cans of diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. And you know my freezer is full of lots of pieces of meat that we cut up and have it ready to go for dinner anytime for like dinner plus a another day’s leftovers so we’re prepared to cook in large quantities as well. So we’re not cooking every night.

Chrissy
Yeah, I feel like a freezer is a life hack really to be able to save on groceries because there’s no way to store enough meat or even leftover dinners. Unless you have an extra freezer. It’s pretty tough with the built in freezer on your fridge.

Shaidah
Yeah. Oh, and let me tell you about our freezer. Okay, it’s one of those stand up giant freezers. We had a chest freezer, but my husband hates digging through stuff in it. Yeah. So his work has. He works in a lab. So his work, their are lab freezers which have to maintain a certain temperature they died and they had to go out and buy these emergency full stand up freezers. But the thing about home freezers is they don’t keep a consistent temperature all the time. So when you’re keeping samples lab samples in the freezer, it doesn’t allow them to be kept maintained at the right temperature. So they had this freezer just as like a month long time this giant stand up freezer for about a month while they’re waiting for their new freezer to come in. So he brought home this freezer that they were just going to recycle. So I have this giant one. So that’s one month old and that stores all our food and guess what it’s full of vacuum packed bags of dried hops.

Money Mechanic
Nice! I’m comin’ to visit. We’re making beer!

Shaidah
Yes, because that’s what we use our vacuum sealer for for the dehydrated hops to be frozen and ready to go when he’s making beer

Money Mechanic
Side hustles coming out everywhere over there.

Chrissy
I know! I know! I was gonna say, you and your husband just always surprise me. It’s not just DIY or doing things from scratch. Like, you’re literally from scratch right down to the hops for the beer you make and down to the bees for the honey. It’s amazing.

Shaidah
Yeah, we even had our neighbor, she had tons of grapes, just two or three houses over and we’re talking to her. And she’s like, you know, I’ve always wanted to try making wine with grapes or try wine made out of my homemade grapes. My husband’s like, Oh, well, we have a fruit press. Why don’t we pick your grapes, we’ve done white wine with fresh grapes. So that we picked before let’s do red wine with fresh grapes. So we made a batch of wine out of out of her grapes gave her half the wine. And yeah, it should be good in about a year because you gotta age wine. But she was very excited about that, too. So yeah, we do make fresh wine from fresh grapes.

Chrissy
Yeah, my husband and I have sampled your alcohol. And it’s amazing. Delicious. And I don’t even drink and I liked it.

Money Mechanic
It’s awesome. Okay, well, we can keep talking about booze. But that’s for another podcast.

Shaidah
That’s for the FI Garage, right?

Money Mechanic
That’s for the FI Garage. Yeah, I’m getting thirsty over here. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about the, you know, the end game for your FIRE journey? And what sort of plans do you have? How is that shaping up for you?

Shaidah
So my house is for sale, part of a land assembly where I live. And it would be hopefully picked up by a developer. So there’s 10 properties in a row, it’s an a, on a busy road. And hopefully, if it gets picked up by a developer, we will then quit our jobs and live the good life, move over to Vancouver Island and buy a little hobby farm have goats, dogs, the whole nine yards. Chickens, bees, and live there and be superduper happy. But until that happens, we’re still living here waiting for that to happen. And you know, keeping our fingers crossed, we get information from our realtor regularly saying Oh, somebody is interested or somebody’s not interested. So the plan is to eventually move to the island and have some acreage and have a hobby farm.

Money Mechanic
So simply selling your house. And basically, it sounds like a bit of geo arbitrage is going to meet your FI number requirement so you told me?

Shaidah
Yes.

Money Mechanic
Awesome.

Shaidah
Yeah, that would that would be it. Yeah, we just need our house to sell. So if there’s any developers out there who want to buy a nice development site in the nice part of Richmond, please let me know.

Money Mechanic
Well, you never know there might be some people interested in that. Yeah. So that means to me then that you’re both still working in regular jobs. And you’ll just sort of continue to do so. Do you feel that you have like the golden handcuffs at all, if because of pensions with your job, or you just kind of happy to keep doing it? And when the time’s right off you go?

Shaidah
Well, I don’t feel the golden handcuffs like, I have to stay because of the pension. But we both have pensions. And we figure when our real estate—we do have rentals—so when our real estate income gets to cover our costs, and then some. So we have enough as a buffer, then we would also… if our house doesn’t sell, we would also probably retire early. But I don’t think… my husband has issues with the idea of retiring early and staying where we are, he needs a big change. Like he needs to retire early and move to the island. Or if we’re staying here he would continue working because he needs to have the new adventure with early retirement because he thinks he’ll get bored if he doesn’t have a new adventure.

Chrissy
That’s funny he would say that because he experienced a little bit of semi retirement at the beginning of the pandemic, didn’t he? Because he had a lot more time at home.

Shaidah
Exactly. And now he’s saying since it’s winter, and the cold weather and the shorter days, and he’s really bummed out that you know, can’t do anything, it’s always dark out. You know, it’s raining all the time. And yeah, he’s one of those people that needs to always be in the sunshine.

Chrissy
Most of us I think.

Shaidah
Yeah.

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Chrissy
So I’m going to put you a bit on the spot. So you have real estate and you started investing in index ETFs in the last year or so. This is a difficult question for most people to answer. How do you know when you’re FI when you have that combination of investments? Are you basing it on the cash flow from your real estate and then predicting, or if you can take 4% from your investments to add to that, that’s when you’re FI?

Shaidah
Before I knew about the 4% rule, I used to base it on my pension. So if I were 20 years, and that would be when I the age of 45, my pension would be valued at $2,000… $2,500 a month, when I turn 55. Okay, so I used to look at it as, okay, I just have to work to 45. And then $2,500 a month is enough to cover our cost at 55. And then we need to figure out how we’re going to have enough income between 45 and 55 to cover our costs. Which is what we were thinking for real estate. And that was before we were thinking we’d be selling our house and moving somewhere else. And before we had bought all our rentals, now we’re looking at, okay, well, we have our rentals, and if we can increase cash flow, to cover our costs, and then some, so that way, there’s enough to cover maintenance, major maintenance items on our rentals, then we’d be okay to call ourselves FI or okay to retire early. So we’re actually looking at refinancing a few of our rentals, increasing the amortization and seeing if maybe one of us me could pull the trigger, early 2021. So that’s something we’re talking about, we’re not sure if we’re going to do it or not, or that we’re thinking if I can increase cash flow significantly through refinancing, then maybe I might either go down to part time or may quit and move on to something else, just not exactly sure what it could be that at the same time that I’m working on refinancing our rentals, maybe our house will sell, so because we get different information every few days that, oh, someone new is interested, or we’re going to get a new offer. And the last offer we got, we were super excited about and was really played up quite a bit. And it was 50% of asking value. So so you know, we’ve tried not to get hopes up on that. But there is that as well. Like, if we can sell our house, then we don’t need to worry about bringing in an income beyond real estate, you know, the house would be enough to cover us because we would be downsizing.

Chrissy
And the decision for you… YOU to be the one who switches to part time. Is that because you’re the more unhappy one at your job or what are the other considerations?

Shaidah
God I hope nobody from my work is listening, but yes.

Chrissy
Okay.

Shaidah
Yes, I think my husband is tired of listening to me whine and complain about it.

Money Mechanic
Chrissy, you know, the new thing is Spouse FI, guys.

Chrissy
It’s true. It’s a nice life.

Money Mechanic
So listening to your story there and your sort of plans. It all kind of makes sense to me. One of the things that as a you know, I really feel that all of us are pretty poor at predicting our future selves and our future income. Do you have any kind of expectation? Or have you thought about what you might earn in your… once you guys make the big jump to your hobby farm? Let’s call it chances are highly productive people like you guys are and you’re entrepreneurial already. What sort of income do you think you’re going to be bringing in and compared to your costs? Does that influence your sort of FI decision because it sounds like you’d be able to make a little bit of money?

Shaidah
I definitely think we can make money with when we retire early living off our hobby farm. I do have some ideas on that. Assuming we had no real estate I think we could make money through selling eggs on the side of the road like having a little stand selling eggs selling honey, selling cut flowers. We have friends who have a normal city-size lot and they make about $5,000 on bouquets every summer just selling cut flowers on Facebook Marketplace.

Chrissy
Wow.

Shaidah
And that’s what they do. And they’re retired couple. And they do this every year. And they usually they this is what they do. And they love going to Disney World. They’re very… or Disneyland… they’re very sad that they can’t do it this year. But that’s how they pay for Disneyland every year. And they’ve told me they’ll teach me everything I need to know about how to be you know, do the cut flowers, how to grow the dahlias and how to make the bouquets and they they’re always teaching us stuff and we have a colony of bees at their place too. So there’s that there’s income from honey, you know, we could also maybe watch dogs or rent out our goat if somebody needs to have their lawn mowed.

Chrissy
That’s so cute. Love it.

Shaidah
Yeah, I do have a list of all the things we could do with our land even put a tiny house on there. We really want to have an Airbnb because we think that’d be so much fun to host people, travelers from around and get to know people and do bee demos and maybe if they’re interested in trying good home-brewed beer or mead and doing that. That’s that’s part of what we want to do as well. So I’m sure we could make enough to cover our costs and that would be bonus beyond the real estate income.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s what I’m just kind of sitting here in the back of my head going, you guys are so Coast FI and you don’t even know it!

Shaidah
Yeah, the numbers would be Coast FIRE right now not including our pension. The numbers are Coast FI. But it’s just I don’t trust the market. And I don’t trust that I need, like, you know, you say the 4% assumption, but I want to see income coming in. I don’t wanna have to draw on my cash investments.

Money Mechanic
Mm hmm.

Shaidah
Right, that worries me.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, I think a lot of people are like that within the community, right, as they want that, you know, if they’ve, if they’ve worked really hard to get 25x, they don’t want to touch the 25. Yeah, they just want to have the x. So it’s…

Shaidah
Yeah.

Money Mechanic
But it’s almost, yeah. I mean, it is a conservative way to look at it, we don’t need to go into that whole discussion about the 4%. But no, that’s fantastic. And that’s what I’m getting from us that you’ve got this plan is like the real estate. And maybe we should talk a little bit about that. But you’ve got that cash flow coming in. And you’re gonna be able to back it up with some, you know, passion projects that may generate a little bit of income, but you don’t necessarily have to have them generate income.

Shaidah
Exactly, which is why we don’t count on those. Those are ideas that we could have, but we don’t know, they may not work, or maybe there’ll be a pandemic and nobody wants to eat honey, or maybe you know, nobody wants to have cut flowers anymore, because everybody has developed an allergy to flowers, you know, you can’t count on these things. So I know these are stupid things. But we just want to assume that those may not make money in anything we would make would be a bonus.

Chrissy
Yeah. And that’s a great position to be in. So I think that’s a fantastic plan.

Money Mechanic
So Chrissy, as far as Shaidah’s real estate go, I we’re all in sort of a high cost of living area. And yet, for the last 10 years, she has been able to build up this awesome portfolio of real estate. How did she do it?

Shaidah
Are you asking Chrissy or are you asking me?

Money Mechanic
I told you we make this up as we go along.

Chrissy
Let’s turn it to Shaidah. I have very little real estate investment knowledge. I know you have five rentals—you’ve told us that.

Shaidah
Yeah, yeah, I have five rentals.

Chrissy
Five doors, right?

Shaidah
No, six doors.

Chrissy
Oh, six doors? Okay, okay,

Shaidah
The first one we bought in 2010. And that one we bought, since it’s our training wheels investment. We bought it with a partner. So we bought it with my husband’s brother. My idea was we need to buy real estate so I can retire early. Who can we get to sucker into invest with us? And his brother’s like why would anyone rent? And he’s his brother lives in Hamilton, Ontario. So he bought a farm for like, $50,000 that year. So why he’s like, why would anyone pay money to rent a place when you can buy land with a house on it for 50K? What, this is ridiculous. He didn’t understand it. But you know, we convinced him the numbers. And you know, the cash flow wasn’t much starting out. But we were able to buy a townhouse in Surrey, British Columbia. So that townhouse, I don’t know, if you want me to go into numbers on this.

Money Mechanic
You don’t have to go too deep. No, I mean, we’ll get we’ll get way off track with that. I think really, the main goal is here is for the people that are on their FI journey, whether they want to make the choice to go into real estate or not. So your experiences by making those choices over the years.

Shaidah
So my experiences have been good. So far, no major issues with tenants, getting money for the down payment has been the hardest, because the first one you save up money. And then for the next that was in 2010. For the next five years, we didn’t realize you could actually use equity in your house, which is how we bought the next one in 2016. So save up money for the first one. And then for the next four, we used equity from our home to buy the next four. And they’ve all been good experiences so far. That doesn’t mean I’m an excellent landlord. It just means that you know, we one, we screen our tenants really well. But you just never know… it still, anything could happen. I don’t want people to think this is like easy or that there might not be downsides to this. It’s just I haven’t had any really major downsides yet.

Money Mechanic
So with the five rentals, how much time does it take you? I mean, you’ve properly managed them yourself for you and your husband. So I’m inexperienced in that side of it, too. And I think a lot of people would find that overwhelming. What systems do you have in place to make it run efficiently and easy, as easy as possible for both of you?

Shaidah
So the first rental was really easy. We had a tenant in there for eight years. And all we had to do was like replace an appliance get a guy in to replace the hot water tank. It was so easy and boring that we almost thought we don’t want to buy more real estate. This is too boring. It’s not exciting. You know, we thought being property moguls would be really exciting. And this is super boring. So we almost didn’t buy more property. But then we decided okay, well property values were going up and we wanted to continue with investing and managing property. We thought okay, let’s buy somewhere we eventually want to live. So we bought a second property in Sechelt that we do… we manage all our properties on our own. And our second property in Sechelt, it does have two doors and… for systems, it’s just us doing it we’re like, other than not having kids. We’re ma and pa investors, right like ma and pa investors, no kids. I don’t really no like what other systems we would have, we have one email address where all our tenants send us inquiries to. And we try to encourage them not to text. So email us if there’s any issues and we try, we turn things around. Because everything can be done online, like you need a hot water tank, you contact a plumber in the area you need. If there’s branches overhanging a roof because of a windstorm, then you contact a guy to trim the branches right away, right? We try to encourage our tenants to let us know. So that way we can provide a quality product for them. And they are our eyes and ears on the house.

Money Mechanic
Nice. Yeah.

Shaidah
Right? So we don’t want, we don’t want them to feel that we’re not there. Like we are very approachable and reachable. And we want them to know that they can contact us and we will be on top of any issue that arises.

Chrissy
You’re a very compassionate landlord, too. I know, you’ve told me throughout this pandemic, how you’ve had some changeovers, and you do a lot to work with your tenants to try to keep them in place. And you’re very fair to them. And I think that goes a long way to making them feel comfortable with you and why they tend to stay long-term, which makes it low-maintenance.

Shaidah
Yes, we did try to work with our tenants. And but when the pandemic started, we did contact all of them before, before things got really bad and said, Hey, just want to make sure you know, what’s it going to be like for making the next rent payment? Are you guys working? Is everything okay? Please let us know, if there’s going to be any issues and tried to be ahead of it before, you know, things got too crazy. And we had, we were fortunate that all our tenants have been able to pay rent throughout the whole pandemic. But we also try to make sure they know that you know we are we’re people, we’re not a big company, we’ve got to make mortgage payments. And we also got to make sure they have a place to live that safe and comfortable. So they don’t have to worry if we can afford to replace the washing machine or if the dishwasher breaks because they know we’re going to be right on top of those things. So they, I think they realize that, okay, we’re we’re not a big corporation, we’re just people and we’re trying to work with them to provide provide them with the product that they want.

Money Mechanic
So do you have an exit strategy for real estate? You have five, or sorry, six doors now. And you said you mentioned earlier you want to build up the cash flow? Does that look like having more properties or changing the existing financing to extract more monthly cash flow from them? And maybe I’m asking too many questions at once here. But do you do see yourself divesting of them eventually, as well?

Shaidah
I would like to buy more rentals. But I think I have agreed with my husband that we’ll hold off for a while and wait till we buy or build maybe build our forever home with an Airbnb. As for increasing cash flow, it would be through refinancing our current properties and increasing cash flow by increasing amortization.

Money Mechanic
Mm hmm. Okay, yep.

Chrissy
Now, I’m just curious. Are all of your properties, do all of them still have a mortgage? And what about your your house? Do you have mortgages on every property? Or is anything paid off?

Shaidah
Our primary residence is paid off, everything else has a mortgage.

Money Mechanic
Okay. Hence, when the developer walks along and buys it, she’s FIRE Chrissy. That’s awesome.

Shaidah
Exactly. Yeah.

Chrissy
Well, I’m excited for you. I have been with you in your journey since we met through ChooseFI Canada, was it two years ago now?

Shaidah
It was two years ago. Yeah.

Chrissy
Yeah. It’s pretty cool to hear how you’ve progressed and how you, to hear that you’re getting closer and closer. It’s too bad, the pandemic kind of threw a wrench in things as far as property development. But hopefully, that’ll sort out in the next year or so.

Shaidah
Yeah. But I think maybe it’s a good thing. Because now like a townhouse development right next door has started selling, they just finished construction they’ve started selling and Phase One is that 75% sold out. And now developers are going Oh, so people are buying in a pandemic. And people don’t want to live in condos and want to move into townhouses and have their own space. And condos aren’t selling because of all the insurance issues as well. So that could bring in a developer right now now that they see how a product on my street like just next door is doing that might bring in developers very soon. So at least that’s what our agent has told us. You never know.

Money Mechanic
Well, I totally love that you have a perfect combination of Shaidah’s Way, aka Mustachianism for other people… that you know, combines your affordable cost of living in a high cost of living city and you do so many things yourself. I really respect that. So pretty neat. And you’ve got a great, like mini real estate empire already started. So kudos to you and to be able to look towards FIRE within the next few years is absolutely fantastic. So that’s a huge congrats from me.

Shaidah
Thank you.

Money Mechanic
Yeah, it was lovely having you on the show. It’s about time. We got to hear your story.

Shaidah
Yeah, it’s been over a year since we’ve been talking about this, right?

Money Mechanic
Yeah.

Chrissy
Thank you. It was nice to finally have you on for your own interview. You’ve been on twice with us where you were a co-host or a guest with a panel so it’s nice to have you just one on one with us.

Money Mechanic
Anything you’d like to share with the listeners before we sign off? I know you’re not a blogger, but you know by the sounds of it. If you’re out painting your zucchini flowers, maybe you should have like a TikTok or a YouTube going.

Shaidah
Okay, one I don’t know what TikTok is.

Money Mechanic
Apparently it’s where everybody gets financial advice now, which is a little bit frightening to me. Maybe I’m showing my age.

Shaidah
See, that’s me showing my age too. I’m like, what? TikTok is what? People are doing what? As I was at the ferry terminal, and I walk in and there’s these girls dancing to music in the bathroom with the camera up and I asked them, what are you guys doing? They’re like, uh, we’re TikTokking. I’m like, huh?

Money Mechanic
Okay, well, I’ll date myself too, because like I refuse to use like a well, Wealthsimple Trade, which is now there. Apparently, a beta version is going to be on the desktop, but I refuse to use any kind of trading platform that I have to use my phone for. Like I’m old school, I want to be able to do it on my laptop. I feel like I need to have like a spreadsheet open and another page. Even though I’m an admitted spreadsheet failure. I still need to be able to look at my computer.

Shaidah
Okay, I don’t even have a phone. So that is that is dating me.

Money Mechanic
How did you slip this in under the radar? No Public Mobile for you.

Shaidah
I do have a SIM card in my iPad, but I don’t have a phone because I don’t want to talk to people.

Money Mechanic
That’s funny. Well, Chrissy, anything else you want to talk about here with Shaidah before we let her go?

Chrissy
No, I’m so happy that we can finally talk about the bees and all her real estate pursuits, because I think it’s info that our listeners will really enjoy hearing because you and your husband are just a regular everyday couple working away and working towards FI. You haven’t done anything extraordinary. Although to some people, they may think your lifestyle is extraordinary because of all that you do on your own. But it’s proof that you can do it. You don’t have to have super high income and you don’t have to do anything crazy to get to FI at a relatively young age.

Shaidah
Mm hmm. Yeah, I think if we can do it, not that we’ve done it yet, but we’re almost there. And if we can do it, anybody can

Money Mechanic
For sure. Right on.

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