It’s been a while since the last post. Personally I’ve been through a lot of pain, growing pains mostly. I was struggling with myself and the different thoughts and questions that keep on popping up in my head: who I am and what I am here for. I’m atheist, I can’t rely on a “God” person to come and show me the meaning of life. May be 42 is the answer (on a sad note, Douglas Adam passed away in 2000 so we won’t have his answer to the “42″ question either). Life sometimes is a puzzle that each person has to go through and find his or her own calling.
What’s been troubled me the most is … money. Truth is, I am always fond of money. The thought of making it and having it sit in my pocket (or bank accounts) make my eyes popped wide open and my adrenaline rushing to head. I’m not too crazy about spending my money though, except on books, investments, and the occasional travelings. For as long as I remember, I have always had the entrepreneurship spirit in me. I remembered when I was young, probably 2nd grade, my grandmom was in the PTA (should be GpTA - Grandparents Teacher Association). It was the end of the school year and the school would reward students with good academic standings with gifts. I was among those students, and my Grandmom was in charge of preparing the gifts for my class. The PTA bought tons of blank notebooks, probably because notebooks would make the most practical gifts at the time, besides they were cheap. Each pack of notebooks would come with the a bundle of paper labels (not even sticker labels — it was that long ago, say 18 years at least). I collected all the labels and had myself a decent amount of them. My next brilliant idea was to make a market of high-demand for cheap notebook labels. I managed to sell some of the inventory for a grand sum of 1500$ VND (roughly 7-10 US cents, depends on the exchange rate). That was my first venture, ever. It was a successfuly, considered the inventory was free and how cheaply I sold the labels.
In the next few years, since the entrepreneur blood was always bugging me, I started selling or trading stuff whenever I could. I once sold exam prep notes which I typed and financed the printing cost myself from my weekly allowance. However, in the end only I found myself giving away the print-outs to my friends for I felt that the *need* something to study better. Not all businesses are profitable (a.k.a. execution matters). Later I began to doodle, drawing Dragonball-Z characters and coloring them. My only customer was the neighbor kid. He bought my drawings for a total sum of 50,000$VND (~ $3 dollars). I was proud and kept the money to myself without telling anyone. Later on, it turned out that the little kid stole his parent’s money. Luckily for me I didn’t have to pay the money back. Not all clients are paying with clean, legal money.
It’s always fun remembering about the childhood time when I was one little boy. But my point is that I’ve always been money-oriented, e.g., always finding a way to make money. I understood vaguely that money is powerful, and I really do enjoying making it. I am just never big into spending, except my last 2 years of college when I found out about the plastic and spent my way on reckless forex and other investment services.
Money is important, evil, necessary, constrained, and liberating at the same time. Without money it would be hard to maintain my comfortable lifestyle. It is so evil that everybody are trying to win it over from the next person, only to find most of them failed and enslaved to the Money god. Money puts up this constraint that everyone has to work towards every single day to make enough so that they can put food on the table, or spend recklessly on the luxuries and self-indulgence, trying to justify why they are working so hard. Yet, enough money is a total liberation from this 9-5, 365-day cycle, and allows one to pursue anything his or her heart’s desire.
I found myself struggling with money. Financially I’m doing much better than me 2 years ago. No more credit card debts, even with a spotty credit history due to the many late payments after graduation when I was without a job. I am paying my car in cash. I helped my mom pay down a portion of the loan she had taken out for my education. I did a lot of things with my paychecks, most of which were beneficial (e.g., no wasteful spending on shopping and compulsive buying). Still, I feel I am still lacking something. My entrepreneur spirit tells me that there’s gotta be more to life than a 9-5 job with a regular fat paycheck. No matter how fat the checks are, they won’t never be enough.
I want to be retired when I’m 30. I still have less than 6 more years to achieve this, financially. I have lots of plans for investments, my own startups. Nonetheless, I increasingly find myself trapped in the 24-hour race between my fulltime job, my part time job, my freelance gig, and my own startup. On a regular basis I work for 10 to 12 hours a day. I found myself got burnt out, my health (especially my eyes) not as good as before. But I know I have to keep moving on. Still, each step forward is a step of self-reliance and self-struggle. Reading other people’s personal finance blogs, I feel the urge that one day, I will be able to share my story as well.
I don’t want to turn my blog into a personal finance blog, away from my root of geekery. But I do want to have a more candid conversation about money. I want to see the light, the liberation that money can bring at the end of the dark and winding tunnel. After working on my own startups many hours into the night, I realized that I won’t have enough courage and commitment if I don’t take my time and reflect what I am experiencing, internally and externally. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing — working too much for my own good may end up costing me more emotionally and physically. I still have tons on interesting things to write and share with the world so I might as well stop once in a while and tell my story. Head down coding may make me rich one day, but I won’t be as rich if I don’t enjoy life and give some back.
My goals for the blog are to
- Revise and Upgrade WordPress to the newest version with my own design and template.
- Start monetizing my Blog more. For example, my small question about Primerica turns out to be hugely successful. Since my goal is to be financially independent, I want to capture similar opportunities to make money.
- Write more high quality technical articles about different technologies that I’ve been using. It’s been amazing working with Ruby on Rails and AJAX so it’s time to share.
- Make my personal finance more public so that I can see it as a goal to achieve my financial dream. I will write more about the different investments as well as my portfolio gets bigger. It will be a shame for me to share my nest egg now (probably it’s only a quail egg, not the typical grade-A supermarket one) , but soon things will definitely change for the better.
- Share my own story about life.