Bad Timing Versus Priorities

Bad timing.
They want the right timing to take action.
They wait and wait and wait.
Meanwhile, they stand still and do nothing.
Maybe they talk about it.
Maybe they think about it.
But otherwise, they do nothing.
Seconds go by, minutes go by, hours, days, weeks, months go by…
They wait and wait and get more and more complacent.
All the while, still telling themselves it’s not the right time yet.
Years passed by and they seem to have forgotten what exactly was that they wanted to do.
Then maybe one day, they realize suddenly as if struck by lightning…
“Oh, I haven’t accomplish anything…”
Or maybe they wont’ realize…
Too comfortable to notice, too comfortable to care.
Or maybe they are too comfortable to make changes anymore…
They continue to wait for the right timing.
There is always tomorrow.
There is always more time.

Aren’t we all familiar with the scenario above looking at the people around us?
Sadly, that’s the majority of the population.
Maybe you are one of them.

I’m 24 now.
Maybe it’s safe for me to say that?
Maybe I can just sit back and relax and do nothing for awhile?

I chose the difference.

I encountered the death of a near-age friend earlier this year. One day I was still chatting with him and then couple days later he’s gone. No sign. No prologue. He just left. I was speechless when I got the news. There is no words to describe.

I took that to the heart. It is not that I am afraid of death. It is actually about facing death. Chinese people avoid talking about death, and I hate it. Death lets me find and identify the things are meaningful to me, the things that I genuinely want to do. Those things are a part of my character. Without them, I am not the person I am. They are my priorities. If I don’t act in accord to my set of priorities each moment, I may not live to the next day to do them. It is precisely facing death that lets us to be not of it because we will start to do the things that define us in the best of our ability everyday. Things like caring for my family, being kind and compassionate to people, always trying to learn, becoming financially stable and independent, playing piano, trainingly myself mentally and physically, doing what I can for the world (You can laugh at me but I’m serious and sincere about it)… I have no regret if I am to die. It is doing with the end in mind. I also believe this helps to put us at ease and let us find that inner peace.

I do still relax and have fun. Sometimes I get tired and slack off, but I remain conscious and mindful of my priorities. Your priorities are your character, and there is no bad timing to act in your character. I am not suggesting to act rashly and bully ahead because there are moments, quite often actually, that require patience depending on situation. It is about consistently making the choice to move forward and contribute to those priorities, despite hectic schedule, despite fatigue, despite difficulty, despite bad timing. It is about making choice proactively to move forward with regards to what you truly want to do and the person you want to be, while staring death straight in the eyes.

So I urge you…
If you are still waiting for the right time…
Stop talking.
Stop thinking.
Stop reading.
Stop finding excuses.
Do something already.

Originally posted 2007-11-30 22:39:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

My Personal Finance Decluttering – Bye Bye Student Loan

Following my recent mortgage refinance, I also bit my teeth and paid off the student loan debt that I carried since I graduated in 2006.

I had to “bite my teeth” because of the amount of savings I’m giving up to get rid of these debt, especially on top of the chunk of saving I put away in the refinance process. My rationale…

For the longest time, because the student loan is sitting at a low 3.5% rate, I considered it as cheap money and was going to pay it down slowly over the year.

However, even as I was paying it slowly monthly, I was putting in 20-30 bucks extra each payment to help dwindle the loan amount down faster. As a result, I saw the amount sitting around $3000.

There is a story about a philosophy teacher that talks about how we can see our life as a bottle with the important things as large stone pieces we put in it and the trivial stuff as small pieces of sand.

Because the loan is sitting at just $3000, and by principle, it’s “cheap money” and money is better in your own pocket… I decided that keeping this loan is like having more pieces of sand than necessary. For my peace of mind and not having to keep track of it anymore, I made the jump to pay it off.

As a result, my only real loan left is my mortgage (because I’m paying off my credit cards monthly). Perhaps I’m simply risk-averse or financially conservative, but in this day and age where employment is not quite guaranteed and work environment unstable, it is important to reduce debt to provide yourself the flexibility and option to consider other opportunities. In short, the less fixed cost in your cash flow, the better.

Plus, the less things the mind has to keep track of, the less chance of making mistakes that may cost money. Therefore, being thoughtful in minimizing debt and reduce debt cannot be stressed enough because of how easily costs can snowball!

At any rate, I can forget making that student loan payment each month now, and that gives me more space in the mind… which by itself, is priceless.

Originally posted 2013-01-04 23:42:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Enjoying the Present and Saving for Later

There is the argument that we should lay it down and stop worrying so much about the future in order to live it up “now.”

However, when people say that, they often say it in the effect that enjoying the present and saving for later are mutually exclusive. Sometimes people are full of crap. Let me correct myself, sometimes is incorrect, it should be often time.

I believe you can do both. It is a matter of juggling and making choices. You may have to make sacrifice and compromise here and there in the now in order to make progress with both. It comes down to knowing yourself and deciding the important things in your life. People need to spend time to think about these — what do you know about yourself and the important things in your life?

And when you think, you need to think beyond the limit of their “norms”, and these norms include years of experience performing the same patterns of action, cultural background, religion, familial influence, peer pressure… And this is where real learning needs to take place. Being aware in everyday experience. Observing the world and the people around them. Seeing the cause and effect. Reading lots of books.

Back to the topic of enjoying the present and saving for later… I think people misconceive consciously or subconsciously that saving connotes pain and suffering. This is due to the consumeristic nature of our society. They got conditioned by advertising and then by power of the peers to have the if-you-don’t-spend-money-to-get-things-now-you-are-not-having-a-good-time mentality. Or the oh-woe-be-me-if-I-don’t-own-these-certain-things mentality. I did say “conditioned”, but people themselves have partial responsibility that they allow themselves be conditioned. They follow instructions because it is easier. Once again, people are not thinking critically for themselves.

And why does enjoying the present now usually mean you have to spend a butt load of money anyways? Yes, trips may cost quite a bit but you are not doing trips everyday I assume. There are many simple things to appreciate. There are a multitude of activities with minimal costs that provide enjoyable experience. People overlook those things. They lack awareness in life. Are you always looking for things to buy to feel excited? Do you often feel bored when you are not doing something? Do you have to have “this” (things or experience) to feel satisfied? I think those are all symptoms of the same — lack of awareness.

And we can also talk about people succumbing to the idea of standard of living. As age progresses, people have adopted so many what used to be luxurious and extravagant things into requirements as the “supposed” standard of living. What is this standard of living anyways? And what is normal? Perhaps they need to be more abnormal and start creating their own version of standard of living, instead of letting themselves fall into this bucket of people deemed normal. They are letting this normal defines them. And note, I am not saying you cannot having normal things and act the norm, just that you are to think for yourself and make the choice to do so. You align your decisions with your priorities in life. You define your normal.

I dare say that most people who have or had debt problems fall into one of the last 3 conditions. You may think the causes should be more complicated than those, and that would be fine. But I prefer to break things down to their bottom lines. I will leave the analysis of the complex human nature to the experts, or the “experts”, and I will continue to keep things simple. Though remember, simple does not mean easy.

Originally posted 2008-08-16 01:31:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We Own Things? Things Own Us?

I saw a commercial on TV tonight advertising storage and warehouse space. It begins with a lady entering her garage from the house but her car is not in her plain sight, instead… you guessed it! She sees a crap load of household utilities, furnitures, etc. Simply a load of crap. She then beeps the car with the unlock remote, and it shows the car completely buried under all the junks. Since it is a storage commercial, it inescapably concludes with her showing a happy face as she is loading them junks into a rented storage.

You know what I think when I see that?

I see the result and disaster created from materialism. It reminds me of an old saying that goes something like the things we own end up owning us. How true!

Remember I talked about the nice and uplifting feeling from my Memorial weekend clean-up? It did take me awhile to learn and realize. I used to think maybe keeping those things around, there will be use for them somday, just MAYBE. But then I have come to learn that having all those things creates clutters that annoy and stress me out unconsciously. Why? I would attribute it to the loss of space, which leads to the feeling of being confined and closed in. On top of that, I have to figure out what to do with a lot of these items! Often time all the items we keep just do not have a real purpose and do nothing but take up space beyond the initial excitement after the purchase.

So we have to figure out what to do with them. Or they could just be around taking up living space. On top of that, we need to repair and maintain both items that get used and those that don’t. As all these tasks cost us time and effort, we are becoming the servants of materials. Materials that we made the choice to buy.

Thus, here are the few things I propose for us to do:

  • Throw out or sell (craigslist/ebay/amazon…) unused, unnecessary items in the house – first step to fixing cluttered status quo. Do with cleaning.
  • Consistently keep our space clean and organized – again, this keeps the mind clear and thus allows for thinking clearly.
  • Have discipline when making purchases – understand if the item is needed, if it has its usage in daily living, and/or if it will be frequently used. If you must buy, buy things that offer lasting, long-term happiness, comfort, or higher standard of living.
  • Keep it simple – do we really need all these furnitures, fancy electronics, Persian rugs, gadgets after all?
  • Find peace and happiness within self – do not fall for “retail therapy” to fulfill these two purposes. Ask yourself, “Does it really make me happy long-term if I buy this?” or if it will just be a few seconds of joy right after purchasing, which begs the question if it’s worth it for dropping all those cash. Lasting peace and happiness are only to be found within.

Not only will these tips save you money from unnecessary expense. You won’t have to pay for these storage space too. Yay! Either way, it doesn’t hurt for you to think about the points above when you want to buy something.

On a last thought, I really wonder how in the world can someone accumulate so much stuff as to run out of space? Wouldn’t they realize how much space is left, then either clean up or control what more they buy? Oh well…

Originally posted 2007-06-20 11:35:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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