Why I decided to lose weight and the Ectoendomorph body type

So, I have a body type that’s quite unique… it’s called a Ectoendomorph. Is that even a word?

If you recall from phy-ed, “experts” like to classify bodies into 3 types, Ecto, Endos and Meso morphs.

Ectomorphs are the skinny lanky tall creatures that can’t seem to gain a pound of fat but also have an equally hard time gaining any muscle.

Endomorphs seem to be the exact opposite. They are usually short and stalky has quite an inclination to gain fat as well as muscle but have a hard time getting cut. They resemble a pear with fat accumulation arounds the hips, stomach, lower back and thighs.

Mesomorphs are human unicorns and are the sexiest beasts around. Able to shed fat and gain muscle quite easily, these people tend to resemble the images of Greek gods.

According to Dr. Google these are the only body types. Unfortunately, the world isn’t quite that simple, Google. Enter the Ectoendomorph.

I am what you call a hybrid of two body types. I have a hard time gaining muscle anywhere but thanks to my hideous genetics I accumulate and have a hard time getting rid of belly and lower back fat. I also have a higher propensity to accumulate visceral fat and the many medical complications that come with that.

I’m lucky that I keep reasonably fit… or so I thought. I’ve been struggling with a pain in my lower abdomen. It feels like a sharp pain pushing against my intestines. Not a fun feeling. I was going to the gym 4 times a week doing Olympic lifting so I thought I was covered. Granted I wasn’t watching what I ate.

Month on month my stomach and visceral fat kept getting larger (damn you Indian curries!) and the pain kept getting worse. GPs said it would pass but it never did (don’t get me started on how useless GPs are) … I took matters in my own hands.

I started tracking my calories using my fitness pal and set obtainable goals. I was competing at the 85 kg weight class during my competitions but I knew that wasn’t my natural weight so I made the choice to go down in weight class, 77kg … to my coaches dismay.

My Fitness Pal …. Check

Weight Goal… Check

Strategy to get there…. Where do I start?

Less is more

Calories in – Calories out = Weight Loss or Gain – It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to go Paleo or go to a naturopath and eat moss off a log to get shredded – All those fancy diets and fads are just convoluted ways to achieve the same thing, a calorie deficit.

I assumed I had a higher than average muscle composition from my prolonged “hypertrophy” training (I’ve been trying to only gain muscle by whatever means necessary all my life). Not the most effective approach but it did give me a good benchmark.

My fitness pal uses an algorithm to calculate an average resting metabolic rate so keep that in mind when you try and hit your calorie targets. For me, I knew I didn’t want to lose weight too fast and that I had higher muscle mass than the average Joe which required a higher calorie maintenance (or resting metabolic rate) than what fitness pal suggested so I set my goal to “maintain current weight” and I knew I would start to lose weight… and I did 4 kgs so far and the pain in my side is finally gone!

Macros

Carbs, Protein, Fats – It all boils down to how your body reacts to these three. From the many sources I’ve read, the optimal splits between these three depends on the person. Mesomorphs tend to get away with eating pretty much anything (if they hit their protein requirements). Ectos and Endos are the ones that need to be a bit more strategic. I noticed that my body reacted poorly to a low carb high fat diet so I turned to a high protein balanced approach. Hitting my calorie deficit I set my macro split goal to 20/50/20 carb, protein, fat split. It was the worst decision of my life.

The Big Mistake

My life of chicken breast and canned tuna grinded my diet to a halt in about 2 weeks. My stomach couldn’t process the amount of protein I was consuming and I became quite ill. Turns out by reducing other macros I was also depleting my already diminishing digestive enzyme supply my body had in stock. Without a way to digest the protein my body started building up stockpiles in my small intestine. Carbs and fats would pass through no problem but if anything resembled protein entered my system my body would immediately reject it. I’m still recovering, although now armed with some digestive enzyme supplements to assist in the protein backlog. I’ve been reintroducing protein slowly. The enzymes seem to be working… for now.

I’m switching my diet back to how it was originally 30/40/30 which was working great before. Some people can do a 20/50/20 carb, protein, fat split – I wasn’t one of them. It took a lot of mistakes like this one to realise what works for my body. I’m not suggesting going as far as I did but do play around with your diet and pay attention to what it reacts positively to. It will make your experience a lot nicer.

So what’s a good split for you? If you are cutting properly and only doing low rep strength training to do just enough to preserve your muscle, then to compliment that you will need to consume about 2x your bodyweight in kgs in protein. Go to my fitness pal and get your % for protein to allow for at least that much protein and you can play around with the carb/fat split and adjust it to what works best for your body and activity level. For example, I was 85kgs so my protein requirement was 170g of protein. Anything more than that is excessive and unnecessary.

I’m going to end the blog here for now and I’ll keep you guys updated on how I do with my diet. I hope to get bloody shredded by the time my wedding rolls around. Watch this space!

Have you guys had fitness goals you’ve been trying to obtain? Let’s compare notes!

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Getting married. T-minus 3months.

Man, it’s been a while hasn’t it…

Sorry for the big hiatus ladies and gentlemen. I’ve been busy planning my wedding… Scratch that, I’ve been busy watching my fiance plan our wedding. Yes, I probably should be helping out a bit more but since my sense of style is something of an enigma I have been graciously dismissed from pretty much every decision (really hope she doesn’t read my blog haha). Let’s stick to my strengths… Or strength, counting money!!! It’s time to frugal all over this wedding.

It’s 3 months out and we have all the big things under wraps and deposits paid for. Venue, up and coming indie photographer, cake, wedding dress, guest list, flowers and some of the decorations. We’ve even started to put a rough timeline together to see if we’ve missed anything. We did, obviously. Weddings can be confusing at best. If you’re unsure of how to begin planning your wedding give this a go:

Top 3 things to hammer out now

1) Your partner’s involvement – like most things one person will care about this more than the other. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that’s you. Agree on the big things together but make sure to understand that they may not want to know every single detail. Conversely they might want to be part of everything. Just make sure to have the conversation. This will save you countless hours of trying to figure out where their heads at and why they aren’t responding as you would expect.

2) Build an affordable budget – I’ll get into this in more detail in a later blog but this is super important. This is like building the foundation of your house. Get this wrong early on or not do this at all and you’re in for a world of pain… Still not convinced? Let me put this another way. You’re about to spend the rest of your life together, share in your debt, savings, assets, your lives and the children you create together(if you’re into that). Do you really want to start all that in debt? I certainly did not. Do the frugal sensible thing, make a budget and stick to it.

3) Wedding size – this will draw out the sandbox you will play in. If the budget is the foundation then the wedding size are your four walls. Understand, with your partner, how big you want to make this wedding, the bigger you make it the more of a logistical nightmare it becomes and the more expensive and more exposed your budget gets. Nicole and I decided on a small wedding of 36 people and we found a venue that could only hold that many people so if people asked why they weren’t invited ( yes people do that) we would blame it on the venue instead of having that awkward conversation about “not making the cut”.

It’s easy to get lost in everything but if you hammer out these 3 things first I guarantee it will make things down the road a lot clearer. Nicole and I have been engaged for over a year now and we agreed early on that we would spend a around  20-30k on the wedding for 36 lucky guests and that my involvement would be the groomsmen, the budget, transportation, my wedding band and the guestbook, we agreed that Nicole had veto power over what I choose to do. We also calculated how long it would take for us to save up 20-30k which is why we chose to get married a year and a half later. We knew we didn’t want to start this amazing journey together by borrowing money or by relying on our parents. We’ve almost reached our savings goal! More on that later…

Here are a couple of shots of our engagement photos. This came with the wedding photography package. I love a good deal. Photos by Rachel Soh.

Stay tuned for more exciting frugal accountant wedding talk! You only get married once! Or so we hope. If you’re getting married, thinking about proposing or just doing some early planning because you think he might propose because you saw him checking out those rings that one time you both walked out of the mall 2 weeks ago and all your friends have been telling you that it’s a sign and that you should get a head start on planning your perfect dream wedding and by “friends” you really mean the voices in your head that sometimes tell you to do silly things, then tell me about your experiences.

How far are you along? Are you hitting any road blocks? Dr. Frugal is here to help.

Is Property Investment Suicide: Part 2

“Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.

– Warren Buffet

I recently had a conversation with a friend about their investment property. It was the usual exchange up until we started talking about capital gains.

“Jim just used his $200k property gain to buy himself a new boat!” I heard him exclaim. The guy had several properties – and several mortgages.

I was in two minds, I couldn’t deny that $200k was a huge gain but I also could shake that something smelled fishy. I crossed my legs.

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I started wondering “Hold on. Was it actually a gain? How long and how much money did he spend on the house before he sold it?” Why does this even matter? Money is money right? Let me illustrate why knowing how much money you actually gained is important.

The Property Guru

Lets look more closely at Jim.

Jim is an equity property investor and has 4 properties; A1, B3, C4, D5. For the purposes of this example we will focus on the sale of D5.

Here are the facts and calculations that I did in the background:

  • Jim has just sold D5 for $650,000 which is was worth $450,000 5 yrs ago and has a mortgage at 6% fixed.
  • Jim has tenants helping him pay his mortgage
  • Based on the above, the current value of Jim’s mortgage at the end of Y5 was $460,060 (Interest + Principal Contributions + remaining mortgage balance at Y5)
  • Commissions and other cost to sell were $25,000 (Based on B&T and this article)
  • Let’s assume renovations were required (because you generally won’t get something for nothing. Yes even for property) at a cost of $132,000 (60 sqm at $2200 based on Westpac)

I’ll save you the arithmetic, the gain after interest and fees is $32,940.

So what happened to this $200k gain? Most likely a product of the law of least effort (its easier to deduct $650k from $450k then do the arithmetic above or to keep track of several properties and their respective mortgages). If Jim did buy a boat for 200k it would have been at the detriment of his other investments.

Womp Womp, bad investment decision. 

But is Jim’s situation typical? In a “hot market” you may get away with a quick sell at a marginally higher price, which is what you’re hearing about in the news (as rampant speculators quickly start bidding up prices) however, in most cases you will need to do some sort of improvements/maintenance; especially if you have tenants.

More time passes = more improvements/ maintenance work = higher cash outlay required before sale. For property, time is a double edge sword.

The Property Market

Let’s compare alternative investment vehicles with the average returns of the property market in Auckland as per Barfoot and Thompson.

Why? Because you want to.

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2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Jan $470,000 $526,888 $580,000 $700,000 $760,000 $846,500
Feb $464,000 $525,750 $620,000 $685,000 $738,000 $820,000
Mar $500,000 $575,000 $652,000 $711,000 $798,000 $900,000
Apr $491,250 $566,000 $619,550 $753,500 $820,000
May $504,000 $570,000 $645,000 $750,000 $809,500
Jun $528,900 $590,000 $626,500 $786,000 $839,500
Jul $518,500 $585,000 $645,000 $757,000 $840,000
Aug $505,500 $561,500 $630,000 $755,000 $850,000
Sep $525,000 $599,000 $635,000 $790,000 $850,000
Oct $545,000 $590,000 $655,000 $780,000 $865,000
Nov $560,000 $621,400 $691,500 $795,000 $850,000
Dec $550,500 $629,000 $720,000 $800,000 $840,000
Yearly Average $513,554 $578,295 $643,296 $755,208 $821,667 $855,500
% change 13% 11% 17% 9% 4%

As you can see housing growth rate has decreased since its 2014 peak. Let’s assume the 5 year average is a good indicator 11%. As you’ve learned above this 11% is gross, meaning, that any interest effects, commissions, renovations, legal fees and other fees (like tax on capital gains) haven’t been taken out of this figure.

I’m going assume that none of these costs exist for our comparison because I’m too lazy to mock up example figures and I want to give property the benefit of doubt. Please note that the costs I am ignoring are VERY substantial and should ALWAYS be taken into account when making investment decisions unless you want to end up like Jim.

So let’s look for investment alternatives in a place where all kiwis should be familiar, the Kiwisaver.

The following funds currently outperform the property 5 year average:

  1. The OneAnswer Australasian Share Fund; 13.68%
  2. The OneAnswer Australasian Property Fund; 15.76%
  3. Milford Active Growth Fund; 13.84%
  4. Milford Wholesale Fund; 13.68%
  5. My personal P2P lending account; 18.39%

These are gross figures to make them comparable. If we were to take just last years property growth figure (4%) and compare that against the Kiwi Saver results we can see that almost every single Kiwi Saver fund (irrespective of risk preference) outperformed last years property growth.

Obviously future gains are not indicative of past results but it does show that there are other (easier) options out there that give you the same if not better results.

If property growth continues to slow is it wise to continue to hold your property or put more money into other investment options? Only you can make that call.

The Take Aways:

  1. Don’t believe the media hype about property. As you can see from the March results the average cases are nothing special and with a declining growth rate it will be interesting to see if the hype continues.
  2. Get the full picture – Make sure you understand how much money your investments are making less the costs.
  3. Property is not always the best choice or the easiest to manage.
  4. Make your money work for you not the other way around.

That’s it for now. If you have any questions about anything let me know in the comments below.

Is Property Investment Suicide? Part 1

We’ve all seen the affects real estate has had on our respective economy. With Western economies becoming increasingly reliant on real estate, its becoming all too true that the only thing left of value in this western world is the land that we own.

I recently revisited the idea of buying into real estate after rebutting and denying the effects real estate has had on our economy and its dominance in our everyday lives. In New Zealand especially it seems to be the only topic of discussion:

“Why are we so willing to give up our land?”

“Sell the milk not the cow!”

“Foreigners are stealing our land and our jobs”

“Housing prices and rent are on the rise AGAIN”

“McDonalds needs to bring back the McRibb” – ok that’s one of mine but still relevant… to my stomach.

Many people I’ve spoken to have had some kind of interaction with real estate from the millennial trying to buy their first house or a property guru making their 7th property investment. The number of interactions involving real estate is mind boggling. But you aren’t here to hear me rant about people. You’re here because you want to know what my title is all about.

What I am hoping to communicate to all of you is that property is a GREAT investment … for a small % of you. For the rest of you there are probably better investment opportunities that you should probably consider.

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What?

Some house keeping. I had to make some assumptions in my analysis for the below. I assumed that the mortgage rate and any alternative investments are the same, 6% per year and that everything is compounded yearly. I assumed rent was $470 per week (pretty high but its what I pay) and that the value of the property was $600k with a 20% down ($120k) – probably the price of the property I’m renting based on my recent searches on TradeMe.

Let’s get into it. There are a couple of types of people to consider:

The Home Maker

These are individuals that don’t see property as an investment vehicle but as the next stage in life. These individuals typically buy to live, only own one property and take out that 30 year mortgage to also allow them to enjoy life while also being able to pay for their home.

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At the end of 30 years they’ve just paid $1.034M for your $600k home.

There’s no point doing a what if analysis for these people because they aren’t in it to invest they value the security of having a home if things turn for the worst and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The Property Newb

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Young professionals that hear something on the news or have went to a couple of seminars about property investing. Fresh to the game they have a vague idea of mortgages, interest capital gains and investing but nothing too in depth or any practical experience. They’ve rationalised that they want to invest and property seems simple enough. Buy, maybe rent or sell at a good time. Property newbs don’t have enough capital to own several properties so they typically put all their eggs into one property and might have also asked for parent consignment on the mortgage. They opt for a 30 year mortgage, perhaps even an interest only mortgage so they can maintain their quality of life while owning a piece of the action.

Scenario 1: The interest only mortgage payers

You’ve paid 20% down ($120k) and are only paying the interest portion. You are building 0 equity and lets assume you rent your property out ($470/week) to help with the interest payments. Your goal is to sell at a gain. Your mission, unbeknownst to you, will be to sell at a large enough gain to make all that interest back plus a little bit extra to say that you came out on top. Let’s take things one at a time – how much do I need to sell my property for to breakeven with my interest payments?

This is what you want:

Required gain on sale = ∑ of all interest payments

Let’s say you hold it for 2 years and then sell:

Your property needs to sell for $608,720. Easy!

No one to rent your interest only property?

Your property needs to sell for $657,600. Again, doable.

Here’s a graph of how much you need to sell your property for the longer you hold the property for no rental income.

Property 1

Obviously the longer you hold your property for the higher your property price will need to be to make up for all that money you shelled out in interest. Keep in mind that you still haven’t made any money just broke even.

Scenario 2: Fixed rate mortgages

Same numbers but you’ve opted to gain some ground on the bank and increase your share of the house. You will need to contribute more; the principal portion.

Let’s begin with the ability to rent your house to cover part of your mortgage payments and a sale at the end of 2 years.

Your property needs to sell for $608,012 if you have rental income and $669,180 if you don’t.

Property 2

Again, you haven’t made any money just broke even with your investment. The difference between interest only and fixed rate is the compounding principal payments you’ve been paying.

I’ve just painted a pretty rosy picture in favour of buying into this property debacle but as with all epic novels the Hero of the story is about to run into some trouble. Stay tuned for the next blog to find out what happens when we want to actually make money off our investment and when we pit property against other investment options available. I’ll also cover off our third type of investor the “Property Guru”.

What do you think about investing in property? Is it for everyone? Is it worth the hassle? Any good/bad stories? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you have any questions about the calculations or about other investment options available in NZ let me know. I’m always happy to help.

Again if you liked the blog please like the blog below! Thanks!

 

 

 

Experience NZ: Waiheke’s Stonyridge Winery

Last blog I went on to explain, in general, what there was to do on Waiheke aside from going to the winery but lets not kid around, wines are the main attraction. The tour we went on was Taste of Waiheke which was a REALLY amazing tour (and very expensive – but definitely worth it). We got a dedicated driver who was super awesome at her job and catered to our ever need and explained everything about the island (including the local gossip).

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The first stop was Stonyridge Winery where we were greeted promptly on decent from the bus with a glass of a cold white. Stonyridge isn’t known for its white wine so I’ll leave the name out.

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As usual the décor was fantastic and the views, stunning.

One of the girls (she was from Canada!) walked us through their olive trees which they initially grew for aesthetics and to give it a Mediterranean feel but over time started pressing their own olive oil to compliment their wines.

She then walked us over to the vines which were “caged” off to protect the berries from birds. Neglecting to net off their vines or even doing it too late could result in their entire harvest being picked off in a matter of weeks.

You will also notice that each row has a rose plant planted at the front. She explained that roses are very sensitive to disease and if the rose plant begins to show signs of deterioration they will have time to make the necessary precautions to protect their vines. Very smart stuff!

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Its not a wine tour if you don’t take the cliché wine on a barrel picture.

They let us try the red next, I believe it was the Larose which is their mid tier wine. It was a Bordeaux style red wine – Cab Sav dominant. It was quite a bold wine but very smooth. A glass of this will set you back 16 dollars, their most expensive vintage the Luna Negra goes for 18 a glass.

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This is where they served us our light lunch as well. I was too hungry to take any pictures so you’ll need to just accept that it was really delicious and move on.

We got to walk around the vineyard on our own. It was really quite amazing and facing a Stonyridge (go figure).

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That was it for this vineyard. It was beautiful as all of them are on the island. It was the start of our trip and we were excited to go on to the next stop which was an olive garden surprisingly. More on that next week!

What is the most beautiful winery you’ve been to? How does this stack up?

As usually, please remember to like the post if you liked it and comments, hate, love below!

Experience NZ: Waiheke Vineyard Edition

Ok, your visual cue for the day: An Island of award winning vineyards.

Vineyards, Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf, near Auckland, New Zealand

Nicole and I recently went on a pretty amazing wine tour courtesy of Lucy Lu and Taz Yin. Shout Out. With that said we had already been on other wine tours and private adventures on Waiheke so I decided to make this into a series giving each vineyard the respect it deserved. We’ll get into those soon but first, a little about Waiheke.

Proximity

Locals have touted about being able to get that “Island Feel” with just a hop on and off a ferry. The ferry ride itself is only 40 minutes and will put you under about $36 return. The differences between the city and the island are vast.

So where is Waiheke exactly?

map

Density

There are around 30 wineries scattered across the island ranging from your small quaint vineyards to your high distributing luxurious ones. Each have their own style and personalities. Luckily the tour Nicole and I went on took us to the smaller wineries which we haven’t been to.

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If vineyards don’t float your boat there are various nature walks, beaches, restaurants and bird watching opportunities to tickle everybody’s fancy.

Getting there and around

Like I said above, you can take a 40 min ferry ride over. Currently, only Fullers operates ferries to and from Waiheke. If you’re after Devonport, Fullers takes you there as well. If you are a tourist, make sure you buy your tickets ahead of time (at least hour before if possible) and make sure you line up at least 30-40 min before during high season or you’ll end up taking the later ferry.

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Be prepared like these two happy individuals.

If you have an AT Hop card you don’t need to buy a ticket just line up for the ferry and tag on with one of the machines. The attendant scanning tickets will show you where.

If you’re looking to drive around town you should book a car in advance. There are only a handful of venders so book early. We used this company before. They do require a credit card to put down a deposit on the car in case you wreck it. There are also scooter options and bicycles.

There is also public transportation available on the Island which take the AT Hop card. If you don’t have one of these cards they do take cash, bring spare change. Another option is doing the off and on buses but they aren’t worth it. They come just as frequently as the public busses and are so much pricier – they are good if you plan on hopping on and off quite a few times. I’ll leave you guys to do the math.

I’ll end things here to add to the anticipation of my upcoming entries. What I will leave you with are 3 things you need to do on Waiheke.

  1. Visit at least all the wineries
  2. Go on a hike around the coast and around the rolling hills at the “bottom end” of Waiheke
  3. Try Waiheke Oysters – You can try these at the Oyster Inn (Where we’re getting married!) or visit the actual Oyster Farm

Up next Stonyridge Winery!

Comments, likes Hate below!

Experience NZ: Pararaha Valley Tramp

Shout out to the Mauger Family for taking me on this epic tramp.

Imagine you’re back in time before the time of British settlers. You’re an indigenous person maneuvering past trees, foliage and marsh; following the stream in hopes it will lead you to your next adventure. You traverse the dangerous foothills and fallen logs, jump down mighty waterfalls and swing off of enormous ancient trees. As you venture deeper into the woods you notice mighty towers of stone flank you, fallen trees and logs laid across your path as if to mock your ability to pass.

You, of course, have come this far; you press on. The number and size of fallen trees seem to grow the higher and deeper you go. The stone walls seem to laugh at your futility as the sun beats down on your shoulders. You feel heavy but hopeful. You reach the top. As you look across you see a clearing… not of land but of water. Great meters of open water barred by stone ledges that you must climb. It seems endless…

Yea, the hike was just like that. Badass right? This tramp literally had every obstacle that nature could have thrown at us. Marsh, rivers, rocks, trees, climbing, enormous pools of water. It was insanity but oh so cool and all jam packed into one entire day of excitement.

Anna’s going to kill me for sharing this but as always here is a map of where we went:

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Piha is the region with the best hikes and tramps. It is also most likely the most scenic place in Auckland. In the summer time this place is packed with Aucklanders and tourists. But not everyone knows about Pararaha Valley. Lucky for us.

The hike was different than what I was expecting. Instead of hiking up a mountain or across land we started by descending into the marsh… but not before I captured the views

The signage was a bit confusing but we found our way to a little hut (it wasnt a hut) where we were meant to wait for Anna’s dad – he was our guide but he had to wait for another member. Needless to say no one knew where they were going. The views were stunning though.

When Anna’s dad showed up that’s when the fun really began. First thing he did was take us into the stream. We had to jump to either carefully jump across slippery rocks or just walk through the stream like a boss. I chose to be a boss.

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The beginning wasn’t too bad I just thought we were going to jump a couple of rocks maybe climb a few stone walls and swim across a pool of water. It was like that except so much more fun.img_3067

When we went it was quite cloudy and a little cold which made it quite difficult to swim through the great pools of water. But I can only imagine how glorious the pools of water would have been if it was really sunny. Here are some pictures of Anna and the gang sliding down the rock water slide.

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Unfortunately, I cant find the pic of me sliding down but if there was a picture you would have seen me slide a little to the left of where everyone else landed at the bottom and into a hole. It was like a child slipping through the middle of a toilet seat.

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Heres a video of gav “almost” falling into that same hole. Quality is a bit crappy. Apologies.

In addition to water slides the tramp also provided us cliff diving which all but Anna, her dad and his friend were too afraid to do. Heres the video (again very short and low quality – sorry)

As we progressed further through the pools of water we came across the abyss. A huge pool of water that you actually had to swim across and then trying to pull yourself out on the other side leveraging off a slippery rock ledge. Heres a picture of the gang waving by the smaller friendlier pool and a picture of us swimming across the abyss.

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Pretty epic eh? There was a larger waterfall that came afterwards that I couldn’t get a picture of but was pretty tall. There was also a ledge and a piece of climbing rope left on that tree that reached out across the other larger pool of water. It could have been 20m high. Clearly some maniacs used this to swing themselves into the pool of water. I didnt chance it. Cause I’m a chicken shit.

Heres a picture of us coming through the canyon and the fallen logs that had got stuck after the valley was drained.

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Something out of a novel. Huckleberry Fin got nothing on this.

Well there you have it folks. Pararaha Valley was probably the most action packed hike I’ve had in a while. The most epic part was when Anna’s dad had to rock climb over the largest pool of water then up a water fall. We found an easier way up on a narrow ridge above and watched as he got stuck. He had no footing to progress further and he positioned himself too far from the lower one to go back. Luckily he found a small rock on the side which he leveraged to rock himself back on the right path. It was pretty lucky. Shame I didnt get a picture of it. I also couldn’t capture when he dived INTO a waterfall. That man is a legend. Anna, if you’re reading this; when I grow up I want to be …your dad? Yeah, as I typed that it seemed wrong but I also laughed so I’m not editing that out. #writersbenefit

We spent nearly 8 hours in the valley. None of us were prepared to stay that long. I only brought a couple of cookies and there were some bananas that other people brought but needless to say we were all starving. I hit McDs shortly after. What did I order? Fillet O Fish and a 1/2 pounder of some fancy burger. Oh, and COMBO. #obesity

If you liked the post, remember to like the post (below). If you didn’t, send me a harshly worded statement below and I will cuss you out shortly.

Have you been anywhere cool? Seen a place that “had it all”? Interested to hear your thoughts. Comments below. I swear ill be nice.

Confessions: Millennials and Career Apathy

I’ve recently discovered that I was part of what people are calling the “millennial problem”. FYI: if you were born between 1982 – 2002 you are a millennial.

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Personally I hate being labelled (another millennial problem – God damn free thinking hipsters!) however, I have to admit that I do catch myself drinking the millennial cool aid from time to time, complaining that I don’t feel like I’m making a difference.

I definitely cant say that I was brought up with an over privileged or coddled life. My parents are Chinese who bought into “western” ideals. What came of that was a combination of anglo-sino ideas on how to raise a child. I became a product of these very different worlds; not quite tiger mom-ed yet not quite over privileged Asian-Caucasian.

Ginger Asian anyone?

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That’s not me by the way… could be what my kid will look like though. Sucker.

What I do find I have in common with the millennial phenomenon is having been sold/ bought into the “millennial dream”. Kanye put it best.

Good morning
Look at the valedictorian scared of the future
While I hop in the Delorean
Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student
Some people graduate, but we still stupid
They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around
Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus
Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness
After all of that, you receive this

The Asian equation to success was painted for us like this: Listen in school + Get good grades + graduate + get a high paying job = Your life is sorted. And maybe you can have multiple wives.

Ok maybe that was my thing.

It was a bit of Asian over privilege-ness in a way. You still had to work hard which taught resilience but as with other attempts to quantify success/happiness you’re left with a big black hole that you just aren’t ready for which makes you question whether or not you had it all wrong from the start.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.”

I’ve been mulling about this decision for a long time, before I came to New Zealand and, I think, even before landing in Korea to be honest. I found myself becoming extremely apathetic to the hum and drum of Corporate life.

Initially I thought it was accounting. It’s always the problem isn’t it?

I thought, hey, I make really good money but I really don’t like what I do I don’t feel like I’m contributing the way that makes me feel engaged or energised about life… but that doesn’t matter does it? It did to me.

I spent my life searching for something to fill that void, sports, parties, clubs etc. I didn’t want to let go of what I had – what I had accomplished for my career.

It took me 5 years to finally listen to that voice in my head “Just do it”. 

I dropped everything, my life, my friends, my career, and left to teach English in Korea. I stopped chasing two very different dreams. One that had been engrained into my head since I could form coherent sentences and the other I was slowly starting to discover.

This journey was an experiment to see if teaching was more my thing and to see what the world had to offer. Plus, I loved kids (or so I thought) and I loved being a camp counsellor when I was a teen, probably one of the fondest memories of my teen life.

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The truth? You cant handle the truth.

Unfortunately, teaching was even more mundane than accounting. I felt defeated. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought, perhaps, I was being “over privileged”.

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I’m still not sure if I am.

I decided (and was kind of forced) to suck it up and go back to corporate life (at least I would be making decent money). The feeling of apathy would go away eventually…right?

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Wrong. The one thing I am going to stress is that if you don’t fix something that is making you feel like crap it wont just go away no matter how many Mrs. Higgins cookies you decide to shove in your mouth (true story).

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Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into becoming a financial adviser in New Zealand. I think it marries two of my passions; money and advice. There are many issues with switching careers especially if you’re as anal as I am about money. There are also definitely more risks involved now that I have to plan for my wedding. Needless to say I’m a bit risk adverse at the moment.

However, if life has taught me anything, you need to hit rock bottom before you get to sour above the clouds.

I was having a chat with a friend of a friend who was in the same career that I was looking to change into. She made me realise/recall a couple of things 1) I seem to always underdress 2) Just do it.

Number 2 resonated with me as it reminded me of how I started my journey to Korea and the result of that adventure (not the teaching bit but meeting my to be wife). I’m hoping to find similar happiness in this next change. It may not come in the form of that dream career that my mind has orchestrated for me but hopefully something equally as awesome. Ill keep you guys posted.

The Frugal Accountant’s Top 3 Take Aways

  1. Don’t be complacent – The Law of Least Effort affects everyone and its probably the number 1 reason for career apathy. If you’re unhappy, whether with your career or relationships, move on.
  2. Listen to yourself – There is a little voice inside your head that dictates how you feel. Its called your subconscious. It knows more about you and what you like then you could possible know. Try to discover its secrets.
  3. Try new things – You will never solve what you don’t understand and you will never understand what you don’t experience.

Bottom line: Life is an iterative process. Its like entering a dark room, being point in the correct direction (sometimes even that’s taken from you) and asking you to shoot a target with vague feedback after each shot. You could give up and become a nihilist or you could keep shooting until you hit something.

I plan to keep shooting.

Have you ever had career apathy? What did you do about it? Comment below!

Experience NZ: What’s so great about glamping?

So in my last blog I wrote about Hokianga and the awesome sand dunes of Opononi/Omapere. In this blog ill give you a glimpse into what the heck glamping is and why its pretty much camping for the pampered. I’ll also share with you our experience of Bayle’s/Rapiro Beach as well as the great Kauri forests.

noun: glamping
  1. a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.
    “glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature—without foregoing any of life’s luxuries”
So now that were all up to date on the terminology lets dig into where we went!

Highfield Forest Retreat on the Kauri Coast

We left Auckland for a 2.5 hr. journey to this magical glamping site that we were given paper directions to follow. No Google maps addy? Wha?! Nicole was driving and I needed a coffee. Yea, you saw that right. Its hard work navigating/supervising.

We stopped off for a bit in Dargaville which is the largest town in the region and is the kumera (sweet potato in Maori) capital of New Zealand. The city is pretty tiny and there’s not much to see aside from the kumera farms so we quickly left to find this secluded secretive glamping spot.

After several minutes of slow driving across gravel roads we finally found it. Our first experience glamping. Highfield Forest Retreat.

 The place had a “tent” above, a small kitchen/living room area, a shower, toilet and a outside tub where you can bath with Epsom salts at night surrounded by candle lights (and bugs). The place was surrounded by flatland and owned by a couple of farmers. It was secluded and very private.

 

The kitchen itself had an old school fridge that did not require electricity. All that was required was a huge block of ice that you put in the top compartment which circulates the cold air around the “unit”. It was a glorified cooler. Wish I took a photo of it.
Here are some more photos of the place and surrounding areas:

On the last night while we were snuggled in bed we heard a weird noise coming from outside the tent. It started quite but started getting louder and louder. Something was approaching our tent. The sound was quite terrifying as the noise crescendo-ed into a loud shriek until finally we heard a jump and a smothering of another animal then silence.

Time stood still for what seemed like eternity. The vibrant night sounds of the birds and animals ceased. The ruffling of the leaves and wind went quiet. We could feel our chests pumping with anxiety. What on earth was that?! Finally we heard the noise again, it was drifting farther and farther away from the tent. We sighed in relief and went to bed.

 

Later, when we were home, we tried to figure out what in the world that noise was. What creature could have made such a terrifying sound? What presence could silence an entire forest full of birds, animals and bugs?!?

 

 

 

 

The answer?

 

 

 

 

A mothef^%&ing kiwi. The most terrifying animal in NZ.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

So how much is this place going to set you back? We payed $260 per night for the luxury.
Can I charge my iphone? Listen, even though its glamping there’s still a bit camping involved. Everything in the house is powered by solar or battery and has no electrical sockets to charge anything (including my laptop *shakes fits*)
Where can I get more information? here for the same glamping site and here for the general glamping site.
What else was there to do around there? Well that’s a great question… Please see below.

Largest Kauri Trees in the Country

I mean when  I say massive trees it doesn’t invoke the same shock and awe as let’s say the Jurassic Park like feel of Milford Sound or the pristine waters near Queenstown, at least, that’s what I thought.

Waipua Forest is a 15 minute drive from Kaihu which was also on the way to the Hokianga Region where we did our sand dune surfing into the ocean.

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 Tane Mahuta is the largest Kauri tree in NZ , in the forest that Tane is located in are the “Four Sisters” as well as 2nd and seventh largest Kauri Tree in the country. I often wondered how and why anyone would take the time to rank trees by size and if they measured every single tree in the country. Could there be a larger tree that remains undiscovered? Who cares.
By virtue of our trip we ended up in the vicinity of the 2nd, 7th and 4 sisters Kauri trees first (Tane gets his own little entrance further along the trip). It was a nice brisk walk and each tree had its own little sign telling you where to go.
and after that brisk walk…

Its actually more impressive in real life… tried to get a shot beside the trees but it makes it look even smaller. I’m talking about the tree not my…

Here are some more trees:

Next up was Tane whom we had to drive another 5 min for. He got his own area surrounded by what I’m calling his tree like “bitches and hoes” and was by far the busiest of the two locations.

I actually thought Tane was a bit of a waste of time. Not only did you have to climb over a crap ton of tourists but you also had to clean your feet again (must be done at the beginning and end of all hikes to avoid Kauri Dieback disease affecting the mighty Kauri trees). I also thought Te Matua was larger by sheer height but I guess since Tane was thicker he gets to be number one (all about dat giiiirth).

Guise, that’s it for my glamping adventure. I post an entry about various topics each week on Weds and would like to know what you guys want to hear more about. If you liked the post or any of my posts please remember to push that like button below. THANKS GUISEEEEE! What enormous trees have you seen recently? Have you ever experienced glamping in the wild? What cool amenities did you get? More importantly how much was it? Have you ever heard a kiwi before?!

Comments, love hate, questions and likes below.

 

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