The Big 24

I would like to thank all the friends and family who reminded me of getting old… I mean, for wishing me happy birthday today. I got a very unexpected call from an old friend too, it’s great!

I was asked somewhere along if it feels any different to be a year older… not really :P It is not like I can, or anyone for this matter. How can anyone possibly change and metamorphose himself within a day?? There’s even a saying that goes like this, “it is easier to move a mountain than changing yourself (personality)”.

Relating this to personal development and personal finance, that is exactly why we should not wait for these “special days” to set our goals, like birthday, new year day (aka. new year resolution), or even more generic like “summer”. We have to start as soon as we can and make it a continuous process just because sheer difficulties involved, that we have to learn new habits.

For me, I am aware and have been rolling in actions and the only difference of turning 24 is none but persist and continue to learn. We have to remember that we may not have tomorrow. If we want to start something, it needs to be start now. One we got started we cannot cease to push ourselves. Do not give up for even if we may not reach our goal, we are moving forward, which is why we must aim high. As I like to quote, “tomorrow’s myself” needs to be better than “today’s myself”.

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.

Speculation on Paying Off Car Debt

One way that will help speed up the prcoess of saving and accumulating wealth is by paying off debt. Usually we have debt that are at interest rate higher than our saving or even investment account and as a result, we’re losing money that way (+inflation, +tax). Right now, my car loan is the only thing besides the student loan, which is at 4.25%. So my plan to “deal with” my car loan.

Sometimes this is not the easiest thing to do but realizing the benefits of how it’ll help to accumulate MORE wealth in the future really helps. As I’ve mentioned, my car, a Scion tC, was bought with a loan when I was still in school, at a rate of 6.15%. There is 12k remaining to be paid off, and I have made up my mind to pay it off this month. Ouch to my saving account! But like I said, realizing how I can save more in the future without the monthly payment and paying the loan interest helps. Another way to think about it is that I “automatically” make a 6.15% return of the 12k after-tax.

I know some may say that 6.15% rate is pretty low, and that I can have an investment account with a higher rate of return than 6.15% (remember, we have to calculate the return rate after tax here). And that is true and very do-able. However, one more thing we have to realize is that paying off debt not only has its monetary motivation. It also provides a joyous, positive sense of feeling to be freed of debt, and I can already picture the great feeling. Life is not just about money after all. Soon I can really call my car – my own :)

Tears’ Shed and We Must Create the Meaning of Life

Today was the funeral service for our friends. I didn’t know what to expect from how I was going to act before then. I was calm to a certain point but next thing I know, tears were coming out unstoppably as the service went on. I am still not quite sure what exactly it was but I understand it’s a combination of things.

Of course there was the initial sadness of losing a friend(M), especially one whom has a very kind heart and joyful personalities. I am not a person who goes around calling people kind. In fact, I’m pretty critical about it. It was through interaction and conversation that I realized how M is so thoughtful and really think about the thoughts and feelings of people on “the other side”. Something I consider as true kindness. The next thing really contributes is that the church where the service was held is the place where M and I were together groomsmen for our good friend(V) just a few months ago. It was also during that time that I got to know M even better. As the service went on, I was watching the parents…their expression – pain, sadness, helplessness – having to say goodbye to their only son. Then the last thing that broke the barrier, was V, who had to make special endeavor to come due to important personal affairs, rushed into the service later and was completely lost in tears on his knees… (as M and V were such great friend since college who reunited in the area after some career changes) Together with V and other friends, I just couldn’t help it any more.

Despite all that happening…life continues to move on and earth contines to spin. I still went to work after the service. All that’s happened only serves as reminder and reinforcement on my believes of the things I need to do. As we see here, life does not wait for us. If there is one less kind person like M in this world, then we need to fill that void with our own. We shall continue to strive for the people who have gone and make the world a better place for the ones to come. As such, we all have to be strong for the people who need us. We cannot hesitate on things that should be done now. Strive to be better and becoming stronger is the only option. I don’t believe in after-life, which is good because that leaves no room to be complacent now and f we are make things better, that means we have to act now.

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