What would you do if you’re not scared

For the most part folks seek financial independence to have the freedom to choose what they want to do. Life is too short to actually spend most of you’re awaking hours on a cube doing something that doesnt’ make you happy. People that realize this are fortunate and for the most part have a choice – there’s a reason that financial independence do exist and you can read thousands of articles about it. These are ordinary people, work their way through life and prioritize what truly makes them happy.

Last night, I thought of my former co-worker way back when I was still working on a food chain. Let’s name her L. L works as a cook in the fast food restaurant for 40 hours a week. In addition, she also work at another fast food chain for another 40 hours a week. L gets a minimum wage and work her ass off. She can barely speaks english but is probably the most hardworking person I’ve ever met. I can’t imagine being on my feet for 16 hours a day, more so working 80 hours a week. She deserves better, the thing is circumstances are not on her side. Fast forward, 13 years, I volunteered to prepare taxes for people with low income. I have clients supporting families on income that I can’t even imagine having. No matter how frugal they become, it will be very difficult for them to retire early. Actually, it will be very difficult for them to retire at all. After finishing their taxes, I tried to sway them to discuss the possibility of opening up a bond, or really any other form of savings account. We try to discuss other benefits that they can qualify for. Here’s what I found out during this process. First, my clients had a really long day. They probably just got out from work, some of them have their kids with them. If you are not the first in line and it’s the week that W2s were sent out, you better be prepared to wait. Worst, we might not even get to you and you will have to try your luck the next day. For the most part, they try to listen, but I can see that they’re exhausted and want to go back to their families, maybe have a couple of hours of sleep before getting another shift. Secondly, most of them really don’t have any concept of personal finance. Having a savings account is probably the most I’ve seen but no one has ever open any other form of financial products, even a bond or a CD. Lastly, most of them can’t see that their are other choices, that financial independence can happen – most of them do not even have access to computers, how would you actually expect them to read articles about so and so retiring by doing so and so. And believe me this folks don’t eat out, probably the most frugal person you’ll meet, supporting more than 1 family.

There are times I will come home after volunteering, crying on my way home. I was lucky that I found a way.  It could have easily been my life. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about personal finance. I actually learn it from watching sex and the city — you know that episode when Carrie almost lose her home and she has thousand of shoes. She went to an ex boyfriend and he said that you need money to make money. That’s when I open my first Certificate of Deposit at age 17. I then told my parents about it but they never really act on anything. My first day in high school includes me walking to a metal detector. It’s probably the worst school in the city (still is), but I finished. I remember my classmates talking about taking on a full time job in a manufacturing company after high school, after all it was paying $14/hour at the time. I mean score, right? To be honest, I almost took it. After all, the sooner I earn money, the sooner I can help out my family. I only applied to one school, but I got accepted. After all, I did get a straight As, took whatever AP classes that the school offered (1 at the time) and for some reason, got a really high score at SATs. We are so poor that the expected family contribution of my parents are 0. I pack 2 suit case and my parents drop me off. My mom looked at all the other rooms —  gosh everyone has laptops, flat screen tv, mini fridge and playstation. I have none. My room is so bare. My comforter was a hand me down from my grandma, the thickest that I could find at home at the time. My mom insisted on buying me a laptop. I did my research and told her that there’s a 24 hour library and I can use the computer then. I still didn’t win and we went to Best Buy. She open, probably her 20th credit card so she can get an interest free financing for a year. I worked 20 – 30 hours a week while in school in order to give her the money every month and finished the payments in 12 months before we get hit by the interest rate. Until now, I still have that computer and it will never get thrown out. I took student loans. I got accepted to study abroad and took it. Financially, my parents offered to take a parent loan for me without any hesitations. They were so excited when I told them that I got accepted to the study abroad program — I didn’t tell them that it was really not that competitive.

My parents did everything that they can from the information that they have. My father worked 2 jobs until I finished college. They never spend, they can’t. Since I live in a household that don’t spend on anything that do not relate to food, housing or education, my spending habit until now is equally the same. I graduated college, got a job that pays more than I ever imagined. I was never afraid to take risk since I know how it’s like to have the bare minimum. I still go back to that neighborhood, I get the cheapest haircut ($15 + $5 tip), my wedding dress was altered there and heck you can get the cheapest produce on that market. Whenever I go, I find myself surrounded with truly happy people. My hairdresser, even though she can barely speak english, will always compliment my hair. Employees are friendly to each other and for the most part are really friends. Life isn’t all that bad.

I’d say if you really want to do something, do it now. After all, the bare minimum at the lowest point of it isn’t really that bad. I’m very grateful to where I’m at right now, but I don’t regret having the bare minimum.

Puppy Puppy Puppy = $$$

We got a corgi last memorial day weekend. Mr. MJ wants a puppy since he turned 30 and that was 3 years ago. We waited until we got a house with a yard to get a puppy. For some reason he was able to convince me to get one. Growing up, I’m scared of dogs. I still get startled when they start barking, so it’s really surprising even for myself to get a dog.

It all started on a long weekend after doing a lot of house work. I’ve been surfing the internet and found a puppy just south of Seattle. We didn’t have any plans so we decided to drove an hour and a half to “shop” for a puppy. Let me tell you, you don’t just “look” at a puppy, chances are you get one. Some of our friends told me that it took them a while to find one, so I’m not expecting to get it at first look. But then we saw her. She’s calm, a bit shy and very sweet. We can’t leave without her. I knew right away that we’re going to get her, it’s just that we didn’t even carry enough cash with us, knowing that we’re really not going get a puppy! Well, we found a convenient store with an ATM and after 4 withdrawals, we went back and got her.

There are certain things that I wish I knew before getting a puppy. I want to share this so readers can prepare and learn from my mistakes.

1) Consider a breed that will complement your lifestyle. We both work and know that we want a puppy that doesn’t need a lot of grooming, calm and a bit active. Well, mistake #1 happened. Corgis are soooo cute but they are also very active. I didn’t know that they are herding dogs. Our puppy needs to run a lot. She gets to this “crazy mode” where she will run around our backyard and weave through my planters. Well, that’s about twice a day. We were surprised in the beginning, but watching her on her “crazy mode” is pretty hilarious. We’re also walking a lot more now with her and seeing our neighborhood.

2) Breeder vs rescue. We knew that we want to go to a breeder right away. I have nothing against rescue, but it’s really hard to get a puppy through there. We don’t want to miss puppyhood, so we got a breeder. Look for a breeder that socialize their animals. Our puppy loves people, but scared of barking dogs. She also has worms when we got her. It’s normal for a puppy, even with deworming, but maybe a better breeder would give you a better one.

3) If you go to a breeder, go to a vet right away. We waited for 4 days before going to the vet and find out she has worms.

4) Get the right vet! This is a very costly mistake for us. I chose the vet really close to our neighborhood despite the reviews. I mean there’s so much dogs on our neighborhood that I thought everyone goes there. WRONG! Our puppy got so sick after going there and we have to go to an emergency visit which caused almost half as her. I then went to a vet recommend by a good friend after confirming all the positive reviews. Our puppy and our wallet liked her.

5) Get insurance. I’ll let you know after a year if it is cost effective. Given that she’s a puppy, I want to be prepare for medical cost. If you do get an insurance, get it right away as most of them will not cover any pre-existing condition.

6) Research a good puppy training class. It cost us more but is definitely worth it. She loves it and we learned a lot training her. In less than week after her class she knows how to seat, stay, down and her bed. She’s learning how to high five now 🙂

7) Don’t go overboard at Petco! This is my mistake! I basically spent a LOT in Petco which I end up returning after researching more for DIY. I visited goodwill to get her “bed” which is really just a baby comforter, her blanket, a bucket, food storage and some towels, all for $10. I also frequented Amazon. for supplies such as pee pads, doggy bell, doggy bag and some kong toys. There’s a lot that is one time expense, but is a lot cheaper at Amazon.  It still cost some, but not as much as Petco!

Our running total for her is just a bit more than $2000. A lot of it is for the purchase of her and medical expenses. Writing about the details of this 2K will warrant another post after about a year.

Do you have a pet? What will you recommend to a new pet owners?

Road less travel

We hit the mid year of 2015. This year had been promising so far. Milestones are attained and I could have never asked for anything more. I’m very grateful and feels very privilege to be where I am right now. This year, we managed to buy a house. I don’t consider this a starter home, but our home, where I can see myself building a family. You can say that this is a lifestyle inflation and I will not disagree. This is something that I thought about for a while and decided that I want to spend on this. This purchase makes me happy.

At the same time, I sold my condo. Selling my first property is very personal, but I did it for peace of mind. I’m lucky that I purchased the condo when the market was down and was able to sell it when everyone else seems to want to buy a place. I also got lucky that my former neighborhood changed so much in the last five years. Overall, I have enough to cover for down payment for the new house with a lot more left. I’m really just moving my investment from one real estate to another without touching any of my other investment.

The move made me very conscious of the stuff I own. We more than double the size of our house but I can’t seem to get myself to buy anything. In contrast, I actually start selling my stuff and my goal is to get rid of more. So why did I buy a new place? First, I actually want a house, a yard, a kitchen that can fit more than one person and a place that I can grow into, while staying in the city that I love. This house is perfect, in a great neighborhood and is just about 5 miles from work. I can honestly say that we got a bargain on this house.

When I first started blogging, I wrote about paying off my mortgage within 5 years. Life changed this past year. I got into an accident and all of a sudden, my focus is on getting better.  Health will always be my number 1 priority. I’ve always been financially conscious. I got my own CD when I was 17 and learned more about savings and investment. I have to do this on my own. I grew up in a very loving family but unfortunately, my parents aren’t financially savvy. For some reason, I always have this fear of being poor. Lack of money has always been an issue with my parents and most of their fights are about that. I told myself that I will always have enough. Not a lot but enough.

And so this blog started. I’ve always been different from my peers financially or just my generation in general. I never carried a credit card debt and mortgage is the only outstanding debt I have. I need to get a student loan but it was paid within 5 years. I used to buy stuff, not a lot but enough for me to go to the mall and found all these trinkets and stuff that I’ve used once or maybe twice but will honestly never use again. To that point, I asked myself, what exactly do I need to survive? How can I purposely live my life that I will never worry about lack of money and actually use my precious time for things that makes me happy?

Cute, but I never used it and is a bit small for me. Sold on ebay

I have everything that I want and more. I don’t mind my job but at some point I want to take some time to travel, write, dance and experience life outside of the 9-5 routine. It might not be popular, but I know that this will make me happy.