Asian Secret #2: Geo Arbitrage

If you are American, have you ever bought medicine in Canada because it was cheaper than back home? During the housing crash, which kicked off the great recession of 2008-2009, did you buy property at bargain basement prices? The goal in these scenarios is to take advantage of disparities between markets (in different geographical locations), which is the meaning of arbitrage. This strategy is used in financial markets everyday and can be expanded into more aspects of our lives.

Companies have been taking advantage of lower labor costs in developing countries for many years and it is becoming more common for individuals to do it too. Health and Medical Tourism is a booming industry, growing particularly fast in India. According to a report from McKinsey and Co, medical tourism in India will grow to USD 2 billion by 2012. [*] And in 2007, over 750,000 Americans spent $2.1 billion on cheaper medical treatments overseas. Medical travel is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 20%-25%. By 2017, close to 23 million Americans will travel overseas for medical treatment. [*]

Although medical tourism is becoming more and more common, its not the only way to take advantage of price differentials around the world. Increasingly, you can improve your life by getting other people to do tasks that are not worth your time. Some great reading on how to do this can be found in Tim FerrisFour Hour Work Week and A.J. Jacob’s My Life as an Experiment, in which the authors organize clever ways to outsource as many parts of their lives as possible, including “…e-mails, phone calls, shopping, arguments with [his] wife and reading bedtime stories to [his]son.

How do you shovel tasks off your plate in order to free up time?

Please let us know in a comment below.

Outsource Asian Cooking with Craigslist

Indian Dishes

Too busy to cook? Don’t like to cook? Don’t really know how to cook?! Well, kiss those days of pop-tart breakfasts and hot-pocket dinners good bye! You are going to get a crash course on how to organize properly prepared meals for yourself and family that are healthy and very reasonably priced. Don’t fret, no one will be stepping foot inside your kitchen. If this sounds good, read on…

A leader in personal outsourcing (or at least collecting these good ideas), Tim Ferris, quoted a reader of his who successfully setup a $5 per meal system. After simply posting his requirements on Craigslist, he could enjoy Indian/Asian vegetarian meals every day! Imagine the time savings involved. No grocery shopping, no setup, no excess clean up. And no one steps foot in his kitchen.

Still not buying it? To understand how costly it might be; simply calculate what you spend on “real meals” everyday (not sandwiches or garden salads). Figure out how much you spend at the grocery store for these meals and divide by the number of real meals you make. Then, decide whether having delicious meals prepared by others is the right choice – from my experience, it always is! The only effort required will be going to your new chef’s home and picking up your meals. Freezing meals for later use is also a great idea.

Simple cooking for myself is never as good as real authentic cooking. But the above method can be used for any variety: Japanese, Korean, Thai, Italian, Spanish, etc. Have fun!

Give it a try and let us know how your experience went!

Are you Outsourcing your Kitchen?

Outsourcing our Insides

Whenever eating, we should always consider where it was prepared. Look in your kitchen and imagine all the missing ingredients that are in half the food you eat on a daily basis. Anytime you eat something that could be advertised on TV or is sold in a jar/box/wrapper, you can be sure that part of this snack was developed in a laboratory far, far away. Companies are using substances that you would never cook with and would never expose your family to under any circumstance. But, we still buy these products… why is that?

The witty TV commercials and catchy slogans? The FDA seal of approval? The brand awareness of large corporations like Frito-Lays? Each one of these reasons has major flaws and need to be questioned by consumers locally and, increasingly, abroad:

#1 If you believe something because it is on TV, then you are already making a huge mistake. Food on TV is a big No-No and just means that money has been spent to market it because the “benefits” of the product wouldn’t be accepted by consumers otherwise.

#2 The FDA has approved products that are known to cause heart attacks in a percentage of those who consume them.[*Fox News, 2010] And, in order to stay legal, most TV advertised super-drugs often list severe side effects. At the same time we are aware that well-paid lobbyists are twisting the arm of federal agencies to approve ingredients and drugs. Yet, we still believe that FDA approvals are some kind of safe, hand shake from God.

#3 The “food” comes from well-branded companies that make “products that people want”, but at the same time we don’t know why we crave their products so much. (Marlboro makes products like this too…) The flavors find a way to make our taste buds dance! But what is going on back in the kitchen? We don’t know exactly… we just accept it and carry on with our lives.

Prepared food is convenient. We don’t have time to cook. Or we simply don’t care to cook regularly… This is the state of our food choices today. Instead of cleverly hiring a chef, we outsource our kitchen in hopes of squeezing out that last drop of efficiency from our day. We marvel at our productiveness and the short term gain which comes from it.

But rather than asking ourselves if we can do it, we should be asking ourselves should we do it?

Tim Ferris

Although I already spent $22 on his book, Tim Ferris still deserves a link to his Four Hour Work Week blog. The title is striking, but you’ll still probably work about 20 hours per week until you find your magic mix of auto-income mechanisms! His blog is one of my favorites for personal outsourcing and he gets loads of content from his followers…  Even if you don’t get down to 4 hours per week, you should attempt to use a lot of time-saving techniques and maximize your everyday! Good luck and enjoy life more.