Every Spending is an Investment

We all like to spend money. Let’s admit it. It’s such an enjoyable experience to fork over the green paper for the things that we have always wanted, whatever it may be. Sometimes with saliva dripping out.

If I know when exactly I’m gonna die, I’ll probably time it exactly when to quit my job with enough savings, then use that money optimally on the remaining days, and then make sure to spend the last dime I have on the last day of my life. Heck, a better idea would be to take out the largest permitted amount of loan when death is around the corner (one that will cancel upon death).

Unfortunatley we don’t know when we will die. Rather sad.

Precisely because of that, the fever is ignited around personal finance blogsphere to talk about saving, budget, and retirement. From those topics, frugality is often talked about, a term for which I define as finding ways to spend money efficiently. A side effect could be the fact that some of us may become borderline-cheap, or worse yet, plain-cheap. So cheap that once it took me forever to decide to buy a simple blender.

It is important to find a way to balance between spending and saving. One helpful way of thinking is to treat every spending like an investment. In fact, I’d take out the word “like” and say that every spending is an investment.

There are so many parameters involved in life – happiness, comfort, convenience, family, stress-level, health, financial security… The list goes on and on and they are all inter-related, which makes finding a balance extra important. Now imagine that in each unit of time, each of those parameter becomes an individual stock. Now we have a stock market. We can pick which stocks and whether to invest short-term or long-term. You decide!

As such, I’d say I’ll splurge on Starbucks at lunch sometimes, despite I do have a mini-coffee-machine in office. And yes, I did read about the latte effect, and in fact, way too many times because everyone talks about it on their blogs. Currently, I switch in between Starbucks and making my own coffee. Why? I work hard to make money, and I’m ready to spend it to enjoy a Starbucks specialty drink for few moments working in the office and also for convenience because I can be quite lazy (to make my own coffee). This is short-term investing.

And then there are other things that I splurge on too, like furnitures because I prefer to be comfortable at home. And did I mention I like gadgets? These things are middle-term investing because I will enjoy these things for couple years at least. I always try to get the best quality with respect to pricing of course.

I consistently contribute to 401k, “spend” money to my high yield saving’s account, “spend” money to my Vanguard account (for index funds), “spend” money to my brokerage account (for individual stocks). These are long-term investing.

I don’t keep a budget because I like to keep it simple, though I’m sure it’s useful to a lot of people. I use software to track my accounts and expenses, and by doing so, I hold myself to follow the rule to spend less than I earn. Numbers don’t lie.

So essentially, you can spend less or earn more.
Or perhaps, spend less now in order to earn more for future!
Or perhaps, spend the same and work hard to earn more for now and future!
Or perhaps, earn more to spend more now!
Ahhhh, so many combinations…

What ever you decide to do, you are investing in SOMETHING whenever money is flowing out your pocket, whether you are conscious about what that SOMETHING is or not, like people splurging on fashion trends to compare and feel good about themselves. Not suggested but many people do it.

With this post, I can modify the said rule to something like spend less than what you earn while investing in both now and future evenly. To do so evenly, you will need to get your values in life clear, so go read my post on Understand Yourself.


Originally posted 2008-01-15 23:07:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Time end Amazon Prime membership (and how-to)

Today, Amazon announced that they will raise the annual subscription price for Prime membership from $99 to $119, a 20% increase.

After some self-reflection, I have decided that it is no longer worth it to pay the fee. $99 was borderline extravagant for me. Aside from the 2-day shipping, I do not make use of all the other services that come with Prime membership. On top of that, even without 2 days shipping, I remember that many items still have free 3-5 days shipping (correct me if I’m wrong).

Steps to end your annual Amazon prime membership :

  1. Go to Amazon.com
  2. Click on “Your Account” or “Accounts & Lists” near top right
  3. Click on the “Prime – View benefits and payment settings” box toward top right
  4. Click on “End Membership and Benefits” link on the left
  5. Click on “End My Benefits” button
  6. Click on “Continue to Cancel” button
  7. Click on “End on [date]” button

And you are done. Your Prime membership will now expire at the stated date.

To be honest, I am not too fond of the wordings because they purposely word the buttons as if the membership will end right the way. I can only guess their intent where most people will have a psychological block to end membership immediately rather than allowing the membership to expire.

Originally posted 2018-04-26 23:41:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Do You Have What It Takes?

Thanks to my roommate renting the Bluray, I got to watch the Dark Knight again tonight. There is no argument that it is a great movie. I love it. Let along the acting, I enjoy much of the dialogues between Batman and the Joker. Especially the Joker’s, much of his was quite philosophical.

There is actually a lot to be learned from being a hero, despite we often think that it would be fun to have their power.

Do you know what the toughest part of being a hero is? The toughest part of being a hero is his power. Quoting Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Power is a gift and a curse because with great power, he has a lot more options including many that are not available for normal humans. A hero has to make choices that normal people don’t have to and cannot make either because they lack the abilities or they possess not the same perception. Also, power puts someone at a higher place to have an opportunity to look at the world differently, so there is a choice for him to see or denies what he sees. Put together with the fact that his choices will influence exponentially more people versus one that you or me will make. Boy, so many things to consider and he just has to make the best choice he could. Things may or may not turn out okay, and there are times he must sacrifice something or somebody to do “good”. What a tough job being a hero. Certainly glad neither you nor I is a superhero.

But if we take a minute to think, we normal people aren’t so different.

To get something done, to accomplish a goal, to make a change, you first observe and then you must make the choices for it to happen, many of which maybe simple but not easy. They may not sound conventional to you. They may not feel right. They may make people who are your friends and family dislike you.

As you are growing, as you learn more and obtain more knowledge and wider perspective, which is the equivalent of “gaining power”, you will need make the choices that you couldn’t have made before the growth. As you have outgrown your environment and your peers, if you so desire to become better, you likely need to make more choices that maybe against “common sense”, against “standards”, against “traditions”, against “pervasive believes”. Sometimes, that will lead you out of the crowd and you end up being by yourself.

Imagine you want to buckle down financially, save up, clear some debt, or simply get rich. Perhaps it would be the case that you need to cut back on social outings, or not buy things that others have that you want, or drop a hobby or two, or sell somethings they thought are so important. How easily do you think people can make up their mind to do so? Who would want to do that?

Same applies to health. For example, if you have always been couch potatoes, or going out every night with your best buddies, do you think you can choose to do otherwise? Maybe head to the gym instead? Maybe cook at home? Maybe read up on fitness and nutrition (beyond the marketing crap)? Even though it means you will end up being by yourself?

Would a so-called normal person chooses to be chased after like a fugitive by the people he chooses to protect like Batman did? Would a so-called normal person chooses to bring chaos to break the social norms like the Joker did?

Do you have what it takes to kick old sets of habits? Do you have what it takes to perhaps be different than your family, friends, and peers? Do you have what it takes to make the tough choices, like Batman did? Do you have what it takes to choose “uncommon sense”, like the Joker did? Do you have what it takes to wield your own power? Do you have what it takes to be who you want to be, who you are inside?

I want to get this out of my system before bed, so now… time for bed, peace!

Originally posted 2008-12-12 01:40:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Our Ultimate Goal – Happiness

We talk about personal development (PD). We talk about personal finance (PF). Bunch more people talk about both topics out there. In our journey to both of these paths, I’d like to lay down the ultimate goal that is not to be overlooked and ever forgotten.

That ultimate goal is happiness.

The reason I feel it is important to remind ourselves is that sometimes I see people lose themselves in their zealous attempt to be successful in either or both of the PD and PF paths.

I have a friend who is very much into health/fitness, and she consistently go to the gym 3/4 times a week. However, there are times I feel that she’s too tired from work or sick to go, and she will force herself to go. I understand it’s a very positive thing that she has that drives. I also go to gym and exercise (play basketball) consistently myself and force myself alike, but I’d like to point out that we need to be careful not to push ourselves to the point of burning out and get hurt in the end. As long as we’re keeping up with the routines frequently, it is OK to take a break if we feel we should.

On the financial side, I am reminding myself of the ultimate goal to keep myself from becoming cheap vs. frugal…haha. We have to understand that we have to save for the future but at the same time, we may not live to see tomorrow, and hence, it is OK to spend money on things that will make ourselves happy. Just remember to spend under your means.

One last thing I’d like to point out, especially being in the Silicon Valley Bay Area, that people get so focused into their work that they forget to take care of themselves. Yes, our career is important. Yes, we need to work hard to become successful. However, we cannot forget to do things that will make us happy. Gym/Exercise is important because health is important and we will not be happy if we’re sick. Having hobbies is important because work may not be always enjoyable and hobbies will give us something to look forward to.

We don’t live to go to gym or to exercise. We do those because they give us health, make us look better :), or are hobbies that we enjoy. So in turn, they’ll make us happy.

We don’t live to save money. Wealth lets us buy things we like, buy convenience in lifestyle, take trips to places we’d like to see, etc. In other words, it lets us live a better life, and we save for retirement because we also want to live a better life later, but it’s important to remember the present.

Remember to do things you like and make your happy. Happiness for ourselves and people around us is the ultimate goal.

Originally posted 2007-04-07 11:06:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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