The Boston Baked Bean Lessons

“Oh my word…these are the best Boston baked beans I’ve ever had.” I said to my wife the other evening.  She agreed and that is when I learned a few interesting lessons all in one day.

The first lesson was the more obvious one by using a slow cooker you can make your own Boston baked beans for the fraction of the price of retail.  How much cheaper is it?  Well I only had one recent receipt to compare to but from that I know we normally buy beans from my chili recipe for $1.37 for a 398mL can.  Cost of beans to make six cups (or 1500 mL) was about $2 plus the other ingredients which lets be generous an assume another $0.75 for those.  So in total the homemade version cost about $0.18/100mL while the store version was $0.34/100mL.  So just about half the price and it tastes much better, so good bye beans from a can I will be making my own in the future.

The second lesson from the beans was a little bit more interesting.  I was under the impression that making your own beans from scratch was difficult or something.  In fact the recipe goes something like this: take 2.5 cups of beans add in half an onion and five cups of water.  Turn slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours.  Now the hard part: add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt and pepper and let cook for another 30 minutes.  Eat.

Obviously making the beans is very, very easy to do and I have to say I don’t know where I got that impression that making your own was difficult.  Yet that was my second lesson: don’t assume something is hard until after you have tried it.  Your life is going to be full of assumptions and impressions that under even a mild amount of examination will be proved false.  Perhaps my favorite one is: I would love to retire early, but I can’t.  I call bullshit on that one.

Retiring early is easy to do.  Cut back your spending on crap you don’t need, boost your savings and put more of your cash on things you love to do in the mean time.  Then get creative with your expenses and find a method that works you.  It might involve moving to a more affordable smaller city or town, getting used to living on a little bit less and creating a more realistic picture of what you want to do with your extra time in retirement (less golf and more hobbies that actually don’t cost you anything).  You can do all of that, but often people choose not to.  We hide under reasons like: I have to be close to my family (Why? Because right now you only see them once a month anyway and then complain about it), or perhaps I have to keep this job (Why? Just because they haven’t got to making cuts to your department yet doesn’t mean that job will be there for long).

In the end we often assume we can’t do things for reasons that really don’t matter that much if at all.  You have to get in the habit of questioning your assumptions about your life since once you do that you can realize just about anything is possible depending on how much work you want to put into it.

So how about you?  What assumption have you faced and realized it wasn’t true? Or do you make your own beans or buy them in a can?

6 thoughts on “The Boston Baked Bean Lessons”

  1. You forgot to mention all the money you will save on laxatives by eating the beans 🙂

    We made pulled pork this weekend for the family get together. 7 hours in slow cooker, pull the pork, add BBQ sauce, cook for another hour, and then its done and delicious. mmmmmmmm….

  2. Right now, I’m doing yard work (not complicated) and minor home repairs. I had a leaking hose feeding from a water pipe to my humidifier. I postponed fixing it for a few weeks, knowing that I had no idea how to fix it. I wasted water and money, but I didn’t overestimate the difficulty. It took multiple trips to Rona and Home Depot and took most of the day. I got water everywhere. What I underestimated, however, was the feeling of satisfaction once I fixed it myself for under $20. And now I know something about self-tapping saddle valved and Ander-Ligne compression connectors.

  3. For years I assumed that I needed some huge amount of savings in order to retire. I assumed that standard line about needing 75% of your income. I put aside money regularly but secretly “knew” that it would never be enough. Saving that much was too hard, or actually impossible. Then I stopped and did my own calculations and stopped relying on standard financial “wisdom”. At the moment we live on 55-60% of our income for our daily basics (mortgage, utilities, insurance, groceries and gas). Most of the time the rest goes to RRSPs and extra mortgage payments. When we are planning a trip or need to replace a car or roof we just stop making the weekly transfer of the unspent funds and let it accumulate for x weeks/months and make the purchase with cash.

    If we don’t need 75% of our income to live now, why would we need it in retirement? When we’re retired we won’t have RRSP contributions, mortgage payments, kids to feed/clothe/educate etc. Yes we intend to travel, but we do that now. We also intend to save our entire final two working year’s income into a separate Travel Budget. That way our RRSPs don’t have to generate enough to cover the major travelling we’ll likely do in the first few years of retirement.

    Now that we have a much clearer picture of what our expenses will be in retirement (less a small pension, CPP, OAS) it turns out we need FAR less than the giant sums recommended. Now we’re on track to retiring in our mid/late 50s and it doesn’t seem so hard after all.

  4. JMK,

    So true that people believe they need 70 to 75% of their income to retire. The real range is closer to 30 to 60%, with a lot of people being ok at 40% or 50%.


  5. I imported my last couple of bags of pinto beans on a trip down south. Paid about 1/3 of what they cost here in Canada. 🙂 I have noticed on this last trip that inflation has hit the US, at least at the grocery store. The prices are becoming more comparable to ours. Interesting how that’s just happened in the last year.

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