Category Archives: thoughts

Heros

Follow up to my last post, the people I admire the most are usually startup founders or business people. And then creators of open source softwares.

This weekend, I also met my engineer turned entrepreneur friend and saw Jobs movie. It seems I know what I should do.

I want a business that gives a lot of freedom, especially freedom to be with my kids. If I can involve kids in the business, it would be even better. Would love low stress business but it is not a requirement.

A few of businesses that I considered but not ideal are:

  1. REALTOR – Love meeting new people, driving and exploring but it takes too much time away from kids. Maybe when they are older.
  2. Photography – Love it as a hobby but again too much time away from kids. Scalability might be an issue.

This brings me to what I am considering right now:

  1. Software startup – Of course, this is what I do all day. A SaaS maybe the easiest option for me. Or I could look into gamedev. Harder but something different from the day-job and my kids may find it interesting. The biggest con is that I have done this before and whenever I put in 10+ hours programming each day, I would get burned out. Also hard to get kids involved.
  2. Sell stuff online – I have considered e-commerce many times. There are many things that are fun to sell. Unique toys and gadgets, plants, robotic kits, etc. My kids can not only enjoy but maybe even help with some aspects. This maybe scalable too.

My friend really inspired me to think deeply about e-commerce.

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A small in a big field

What you should do with your life

“What should you do with your life”, this the question I almost ask myself daily. I am still not sure what should be my long-term goals.

I have gone back and forth between pursuing my hobbies as a career, focusing on corporate career, and starting businesses.

Recently, I learned a simple question that can provide you insights into your deeper aspirations. The question is:

Who are your heros?

Ask yourself who are your heros, who do you feel inspired by, who do you read about, and who were your heros when you were a child.

What inspires you about these heros? Is it their character, accomplishments, personality, career, work, or something else?

Answers to these questions may give you some insights in what kind of person you want to be and what you want to do.

Why Midlife Crisis?

I am not sure if women experience midlife crisis but I know several men who have experienced or are still in middle of midlife crisis. I have a theory that every 20 years, men need a big change.

Usually, there is a big change in 20s, people are moving out of their parents’ homes, going to college or starting their careers.

And when people turn 60, they are getting ready to retire. Downsize their homes.

But at 40, there is no change. Usually, same career, if not same job. Kids and mortgage payments keep one from taking risks.

Perhaps that’s why we see so many men experience midlife crisis. Lucky ones just buy a sports car; unlucky one may divorce, lose their family or even worse.

I have started to think of 40 as being second life. I didn’t get to choose my first life. I didn’t had a lot of freedom or resources. Some choices were made for me and I made a lot of mistakes.

But now I can take my current hand, and play it wiser.

Don't buy the house

We just recently bought a beautiful single family home. Before this, we lived in a townhouse. And before townhouse, I have lived in apartments. Buying a townhouse was a big step but buying single family home is a whole new beast.

First, buying a house is probably a sound financial decision. There are plenty of articles and research that shows people who own homes are financially better off.

But very few people talk about negatives of homeownership. And I think because lack of that information, a lot of people make incorrect decisions and end up regretting their home purchase. I did. I had huge buyer’s remorse the day we moved into our new home. I am still getting over it.

Here are some of the reason to not buy a house.

Feeling Trapped

Some people love their “Forever Home.” Perhaps that works if you buy your dream home in your favorite city. The home we bought while great is not our dream home, especially mine. So when I hear forever home or 30 years of payments, I feel really trapped. I don’t even have words to describe the feeling.

Yes you can sell the it, perhaps even make profit. But transaction costs are high and if you bought the home right now, it seems prices are going down. So selling may end up costing you more than usual.

Filling up the space

People like to fill up empty spaces even when they try to not. We lived in our townhouse for 9 years. We accumulated so much stuff. We realized that only during the move. Things that we will never use and have almost zero sentimental value.

When I lived in smaller space, I could not own so many things. So I regularly donated or sold stuff. That not only was financially better choice but also good for environment.

Now we have even bigger space and I can only imagine how much more stuff will end up keeping for no reason whatsoever.

Yard work with no real benefits

People talk about how they want their kids to go play in backyard. But here is the truth, among my friends, only time they use their backyard is when they have a party. Maybe occasionally on weekends they will hit up their backyard with their family. But 6 days out of 7, backyard is just a chore.

Our townhouse had no backyard, but I took my son to parks after school quite often, more than, I say, my friends’ kids went to their backyards. Going to parks is also more social.

There are people who truly enjoy yard work, I see it in my new neighborhood. But most of them are old and retired. Yard work is great if you are bored and have plenty of free time. If you got kids and a job, then you don’t have time for yard work.

So you end up hiring someone else to maintain the yard that you will not really use.

Pool for friends

What about a pool? Unless you are an avid swimmer, pool is another expense and a chore. Its only value is entertaining your friends.

I love water and spent countless days in our old community pool, made new friends there, exercised or just relaxed in there. Pool was so close to our townhouse that I used to say that it was our private pool.

Now we have our own real private pool. It was my idea to get a house with a pool. It was a huge mistake.

This private pool is not big enough for swimming. It is boring to chill in there by myself.

Only thing is that this pool would be great for parties. Very expensive parties.

Less Socialization

My wife wanted a bigger house because she wanted to entertain bigger parties. Be more social. We just moved in here, so maybe we will have more parties.

But when I lived in smaller spaces, I was forced to go out. We met our friends outside, discovered new places, enjoyed “outdoors” life a lot more. Many times it felt like we were on vacation.

In this bigger space, our mortgage payment has increased significantly. We cannot afford to go out to restaurants regularly now.

Not only that but also there are more chores to do, so on Sunday instead of meeting up with friends, we are doing chores. So we are not even going to free places as much.

What about the kids

One of the argument for single family home is that it is good for kids. They have more space to run around. But there are millions of kids who grow up in apartments or smaller spaces and they seems to be just fine.

Maybe it is better for kids to go to parks and variety of different places regularly instead of staying in the confines of their property boundaries.

Maybe parents are so busy doing additional chores in a bigger space that they have no time to take their kids to anywhere. So they appreciate bigger space for their kids because it allows them to do all the additional chores.

But it is a good financially, right?

That’s what common wisdom and data says. But still wondering if it really is with additional expenses. What if you just invested all that extra expenses & interest portion of your payments in your 401K.

Just to give you an idea for how much extra monthly expenses are:

Expense Townhouse Single Family Home
HOA $278 $55
Insurance $100 $350
Water $60 $350
Power $50(Winter) – $150 (Summer) $300 (during summer)
Mowing service $0 $120
Yard landscaping $0 ?? (Still looking, mowing service doesn’t trim bushes or trees)
Pest Control $0 (didn’t need it) $20
Pool service $0 $200
Gas $20 (Summer)- $65 (Winter) $65 (Summer, probably pool heater?)
—————– —————————- ——–
Total $580 $1405

That extra $900 a month invested at 6% return rate would have yielded over $500,000 in profits over 30 years.

It gets more complex with interest payments, inflation, and home appreciation.

Please note this is not a financial advice. Just an alternate viewpoint.

10 Years Goals

There is a saying that we overestimate how much we can do in days but underestimate how much we can achieve in years.

Nothing makes a father as proud and happy as his children. My biggest guiding principle for my long term goals is to provide Ayden and Zayn an environment where they can grow to be happy and successful. Also it is important to realize that I cannot make anyone happy or successful. Only thing I can do is create an environment for them to grow in.

My next guiding principle is to seek simplicity. I love playing with all new gadgets and technologies but all their complexities leave me overwhelmed and anxious sometimes. I dream about using pen and paper to earn my living. Going some place remote and just writing, listening to limited offline music, and reading.

I have always wanted to start writing seriously and make this my career. But I have read how so many writers barely make any money. So I never pursue it seriously. On other hand, I need to teach my kids to take risks and pursue their dreams.

So my goal is to write and learn to write. I want to earn majority of my living as a writer by the time I am 50.

Digital Minimalism

Recently, I read a blog post, “My awakening moment about how smartphones fragment our attention span”, well, actually, skimmed through it.

It made me realize that I have same problem, it has been a long time since I read a book. Even when listening to audiobooks, I am doing something else and rarely truly enjoy them.

Also I start so many projects and then abandon them once I have to fill in details and do grunt work. It is a lot of excitement to setup a new project but to finish something is tedious and boring.

I haven’t read the books mentioned in the above blog post yet. I might but I really liked the idea of digital minimalism. Once I was a minimalist. Other than some furniture, everything else I owned would had fit in a backpack & a small suitcase for clothes.

So going forward, I am going to minimize my digital and social media usage. I already barely carry phone on me when inside the home. And when I do it is mostly because I want to be ready to take photos and videos of my kids. I will try to use GoPro as my default camera.

Also other main use of phone for me is audiobooks. But usually I am playing with my kids while listening to audiobooks and barely understand anything. Might as well 100% focus on kids and read books when I am truly free.

As for my side projects, I