Partner/Rivalry on Quest of Personal Finance

Okay, I’ve been studying too long and want to take a break and scribble something on my blog. I have been reading many personal finance blogs lately, and I came across a post from Make Love, Not Debt:

A few weeks ago I was out having a few drinks with few coworkers during happy hour. One of my coworkers (CW1) noted that in a few weeks he will have been at the company for six months. Another coworker (CW2) remaked that he was then eligible to participate in the company retirement plan. Both of these coworkers are my age, maybe a little younger. The conversation went a little like this…

CW1: Hey, I’ll be at the company for six months in a few weeks!

CW2: Yeah dude, you’ll be eligible for our 401k. (but we have a SIMPLE IRA…or am I just being nitpicky?)

CW1: Yeah that’s cool.

Him: Yeah, I was thinking of rolling over my SIMPLE IRA to a Traditional IRA because I don’t like our investment options. I won’t be eligible to do that until May, though.

(blank stares)

CW2: Yeah, my boyfriend works at Morningstar, so he handles all of that stuff for me.

CW1: I don’t have a clue when it comes to that stuff.

CW2: Yeah. You guys watch Battlestar Galactica?

Sigh.

Although I haven’t begun my real professional career YET (being 2 months shy of graduation), I look around my peers, where a majority are older and/or full-time employees, and somehow I feel similar to the author here… Unfortunately I’ve heard more about young people not wanting to contribute to 401k because of how it reduces their paychecks, and NO young people who wants talk about personal finance and investment, etc around me.

As the title suggests, I would love to have a partner or even a rival to help push and/or encourage each other in learning these personal finance matters. But where can I find them? Makes sense? Oh well, it’s so late, I don’t care anymore.

That being said, I’ve been using a lot of excel for a class lately, and for fun I came up with a very rough, simplistic, interactive model to look at the growth of asset/net worth/whatever to put things in perspective a bit, with an initial asset that grows at a constant annual rate along w/ an annual contribution to the asset that grows by a separate constant amount. It actually makes future looks kind of hopeful. :P

excel_future.jpg

Feel free to download the excel file and play with it, modify it. It’d be great if someone comes up with something interesting or a much more realistic model and send it back to me :)

Alright, back to study, ciao.

Originally posted 2006-11-07 04:13:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Dealing with heart breaks and disappointment – Detachment, Surrendering, and Letting Go

Last time I talked about not hoping. Couple weeks ago I talked about not limiting yourself with predefined principles. I will tie them together into the topic of detachment, surrendering, and letting go.

There is a pattern of human behavior that has existed for eon. This pattern, this behavior model got built into us, carved into our minds since birth through family, through friends, through commercials, through culture, through society. Everything around us tells us to work hard for what we want, and as part of the package is the expectation of certain beneficial outcome, or perhaps some notable achievement. Sure it feels great when we get what we want. Quite often, we don’t. And when that happens, we get angry, depressed, frustrated, disappointed, worrisome, jealous… naturally.

Or is it? Or is it naturally because that is what we are programmed to think?

Natural or not, that is besides the point. Certainly now, we can agree that there are so much burden that comes with expectation because we are attached to an outcome.

What is expectation? It is none other than a thought of certain outcome. The thought comes from certain aspect of our ego. The certain outcome provides significance and effects that enhance some aspects of our ego. Say you are a father, you expect your wife or children to obey or at least behave in ways that acknowledge your authoritative figure in the family. Say you are a senior, or maybe a genius programmer, you expect yourself to create a new software design that is a breakthrough and will dominate the market share. Say you are a CEO, you expect your decision to bring unprecedented profit for your company. Anyways, you get the point.

It is this expectation, this hope, this thought of wishing for good outcome that causes much suffering. It is the inability to let go of thoughts of a future that is good for yourself — your ego. Selfish? Yes. Attachment is selfish and causes suffering, but detachment is also selfish because you want peace for yourself. Selfish is okay. Just that between being selfish and in pain, and being selfish and in peace, the choice is obvious, eh?

So, on the other side of attachment is detachment which can offer us peace and joy. Yes, accomplishment, achievement, milestones… they offer moments of happiness, excitement, feeling of being proud of yourself, but how long do they last. We know they do not last forever.

People keep on chasing and chasing because they are attached. Along that path, they suffer. They desire endlessly for the next best thing that will fulfill expectations and hopes, which then make them happy. They dread and feel pain when the next best thing never comes. Such is the suffering of attachment.

And you know the story of our lives?

When we are young, we are to study hard in school and expect good grades. When that happens, the parents and children feel good about themselves. However, that does not last, which leads to the next thing…

When we finish one level of school, we expect to get in a better higher-level school — star high school and Ivy League univeristy — because of the previous diligence and good grades. When that happens, the parents and children are happy and excited again. However, that will not last either, which leads to the next thing…

When we finally finished studying hard in the academia and received the degrees, we are expected, again, to study hard to “win” interviews in order to land a wonderful or a “dream” job. Once that happens, we feel proud and excited again. But darn it, that does not last very long either, which leads to the next thing…

Now that we have a stable job/career, we are expected to get in a relationship (or already into one). Sometimes we expect to get “swept off our feet” by meeting one person, which could be cool. Either way, when things go well in the relationship, we are happy and we feel bliss, but certainly that does not last forever because no relationship sails smoothly always. There will be conflicts along the way. That leads to the next thing…

Ok, this paragraph is not quite a next thing, but if we are not in a relationship or do not care for one, then we expect ourselves to accomplish something, do something extraordinary career-wise probably. It is about either getting rich or famous. When that happens, we again feel the rush of happiness and excitement in life. Unfortunately, that will also be ephemeral. Once those feelings end, we expect ourselves to accomplish something more, to feel happy again, to feel alive again. Meanwhile, we expect ourselves to do this next thing…

Now that we have succeeded, dated enough… or not… we are to pick a person, someone who is perfect or complimentary enough to marry as partner for life. Then we get married. And we are happy and excited because we are finally hitched. But only momentarily, again! And by now, we are all thinking, “When does it end!?!? What’s next? What do we do?” Well, I think at this point, people either get divorced or have kids and get stuck. And the children and parents together start the cycle all over again (just go back a couple paragraphs back…). And at each step, when what is expected does not happen, we suffer.

Of course, there are people and couples who learn the wisdom of living in the moment and live joyfully together for a long long time. Notice I used the word “joyfully”, not “happily” because they are different. Happiness is an emotion that does not last forever. Joy comes from being aware, having peace in order to see things as they are, having the curiosity to observe, and appreciating the wonder and amazing qualities of each moment.

Returning to the topic of suffering caused by attachment and expectation. I am not saying to do nothing with your life. I am not saying that the stuffs that happen in life I describe above are bad.

Well then, what am I saying?

First of all, I think that given this life, we have responsibility to do as much as we can with this life because this is all we have. To do so, we have to master ourselves. Be our own master. But it is quite difficult to be a master of yourself when you are suffering.

The attachment to our hopes and expectations cause most of the suffering in our life. We expect this and we expect that, and we suffer when we do not get this and that. So logically, let us play without attachment. Let us play the game of life with detachment. And doing so allows us to exploit our full potentials.

Surrender yourself to your thoughts and expectations. Be aware and know that they are there. Sure they exist in your head. Just realize that they are there, fully feel what you feel each moment, and then let go. We are only human after all to have thoughts and emotions and desires. And we have learned for years to expect and hope for this and that. Be okay and surrender to your thoughts and emotions, expectations and hopes. They are merely that, and you choose your actions.

On the other hand, please remember to be okay with being happy when you are…

Surrendering and letting go are not passive. Rather, they are not the opposite of giving up because you must allow yourself to be fully aware in each moment in order to see your thoughts and feel the emotions, to sense your mind and body. As such, you make the conscious choice to observe yourself most nakedly, both the good and the bad. Giving up is allowing yourself to be ignorant, to succumb and be dictated by your thoughts and emotions, to not be responsible for yourself.

And perhaps stop doing things out of expectations. Make your own decision. Let go of the outcome. Then you will do your best.

Just be careful not to get attached to the outcomes of detachment, it is another form of attachment that will cause you suffering.

Originally posted 2008-09-03 19:35:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Importance of Personal Finance

I struggled if I want to start this category here, feeling it will get too cluttered up with too many topics going on at the same time. However, I came to the conclusion that it is important to share about this part of my life also, just as important as joy, thoughts, singing… Well, I do not intend to blog so much about it like the guys doing at My Money Blog or PF Blog, nor do I have the knowledge and experience as many other people already blogging about their finance for a long time but I have to start somewhere :P I intend to share whatever I find interesting and useful from stuffs I read, and here’s a start.

As intro…

At the age of 23, I realized how important it is these days to know how to manage our own finance. Thanks to encouragement from a family member, I have started to monitor, control, and learn more and more about the topic since around when I graduate from undergrad. My interest is definitely enhanced by my situation of having to afford school and living independently. Now closer to my graduation, with the haunt of student loan and car loan, and seeing the insecure retirement future from a normal corporate career and a financially struggling goverment, it is ever more important to take control, learn how to take care of my money, how to spend less of it, and make more of it. To do so, I am learning from other people blogging about it, from other online resources, and from books on personal finance and investment. Piggy needs financial freedom to have a good life :)

As a reminder to myself, my current goal is to rid myself of those pesty loans and to accumulate enough to buy a place called my own in recent future.

To start out with, here are two reward cards that I use frequently these days. Neither of them has annual fees:

  • Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card for College StudentsThis is probably the best card for a college student. Earn 5 points from restaurants, bookstores (and guess what, Amazon is considered bookstore), record/rental stores, and theathers. This equates to 5% cash back if you get their $100 giftcards or even a higher % if you wait for promotions. It also earn points for paying on time each month and having good GPA twice a year .
  • Citi Dividend CardEarn 2% cash back at gas station, grocery, and pharmacy. Earn 1% on all other purchases.

For more details on the cards, click on the links. You can combine the mtvU card with a Citi checking and e-saving accounts that earns Thank You points for using services, like direct deposits, online bill pay, etc.

Originally posted 2006-10-30 22:56:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Fallacy of Law

Getting Straight to the point, I find much naivete and fallacy for us to believe so much in the fact that law shall protect us.

In just about all of our current events, it is demonstrated that where whenever something had gone wrong in our society, we exclaim the need for new law and regulation.

Belief in Law Leads to Evil Act?

That is to say, law stands for the last defense line of morals and virtues. Our set of laws is not the definition of justice. Law should have been the last resort as defensive mechanism against harmful behaviors within a community.

Instead, we had made it the first and ultimate weapon against each other. We made law the definition of what is good and bad.

So here we have it, a majority of corporates and businessmen are always treading the fine line of law, to cleverly [and wickedly?] steal and rob from others and each other. Financial goals are defined first, THEN lawyers, accountants and what not are hired to find loopholes to circumvent law… for the glory of financial success and economic growth.

As long as we “don’t break the law”, we are good human beings, right? Riiiiiiight…

Belief in Law vs. Belief in Virtue

Mind you, I am not blaming anyone. I am not saying we need to do without law. It is clear that some form of law is necessary for a stable society. I am making observation on a cultural trend.

It is easy to observe that common people have more morals and virtues demonstrated through their everyday conduct and kindness than the law can ever defined. All results in our behaviors ultimately fall back on the integrity and responsibility of the person making the decision.

True virtue needs not to be enforced. This is especially if you had chosen to believe in goodness in the human heart and positivity because it is already meant implicitly that we are utlimately evil if we have to be forced to be good. Thus, putting our ultimate belief in law is basically a pessimistic outlook and very insecure attitude with ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Law on Top of Law on Top of Law

The greatest fallacy in our great belief in law is that more laws can always be written.

Nature is of infinite possibility. Human nature belongs to the same source and thus is immensely creative. Our creativity cannot be denied and that means we can always act differently than what we previously known to do, even within the constraint social and cultural paradigm.

This is as opposed to the fact that law is written to prevent a known act from happening again. Law prevents only a subset of infinite possiblt patterns. Consequently, using law to prevent “bad action” from happening will always fail. Or if one believe that law will ultimately triumphs, one is really believing that humans have no creativity what so ever.

Additionally, to the amount of law that is written, to the degree that we will be unable to act and move without filling all sorts paper and forms. It is already happening. We are completely bogged down with our legal and democratic system!

Leave Law Alone… Find Intention

There you have it. My views with law as I see it now. Law is necessary in a community setting but no system can ever be perfect. I believe the ultimate result of our action, and if we genuinely desire to improve things from how they are, will always lie in the most original and most basic intention that drives that action.

If we want better results than we are seeing today, forget changing laws, forget changing policy, forget implementing new system. Find our intention first. Sounds easy but simple thing is always the hardest.

So, what are the intentions that drive our society?

Originally posted 2010-06-24 23:39:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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