I typically like to write an article with a specific theme. This article is an exception. Lately my mind seems to be going 300 km/hr. I can’t pinpoint the exact root cause, it’s probably due a combination of many things, like work, gloomy rainy Vancouver weather, lack of sleep at home due to Baby T2.0 screaming at night (from teething?), Baby T1.0’s 3-year-old countless insane temper tantrum, and etc.

So instead of a creative or sarcastic title… I’ll leave you with… STUFF and a bunch of unrelated topics in one article.

Finding your balance on the quest for financial independence

If you have been following this blog for a while, you are aware that Mrs. T and I are aiming to have our passive income exceeding our expenses in about 9 years. To do this, we are saving money and use this money to invest in passive income generating sources, like dividend paying stocks.

By now you probably have heard that income has nothing to do with how quickly you can achieve financial independence. Rather, it’s how much money you are spending. I recently came across The Early Retirement Grid, which gives a good visual representation of this idea.

The grid shows how many years it will take to reach financial independence based on your current annual income and spending. Upon a closer look, it is easy to realize the power lies within the gap between your income and spending – the more money you make and the less money you spend, the quicker you can become financial independent. For example, if you earn $70,000 a year and spend $40,000 a year, it will take you 20.6 years to achieve financial independence. But if you earn the same amount but only spend $20,000 a year, it will only take 8.1 years.

Therefore, when two people having the same level of annual income, it is safe to assume the individual that spends less per year will achieve financial independence faster.

It’s simple math.

It’s a no brainer.

While trying to be as frugal and earning as much money as possible sounds great. It is not always possible to do.

Why? Because your earning power may be maxed out at your current job. Because you only have so much free time per day to side hustle. Because you may live in a higher cost of living place. Because you may already be as cost optimized as you can.

It’s unfair to compare savings rate and investing methods between two people, especially when they live in different places, have different lifestyles, have different income, and have different priorities. For example, someone working and living in New York will have very different income and expenses than someone working and living in Bangkok.

What works for you may not work for me. And what works for me may not work for you.

The key, therefore, is to find the right balance for you, while on the quest for financial independence.

And that is exactly why it is called personal finance…. because it is personal.

How much you earn and how much you save is very personal.

My finance is different than yours. Your finance is different than mine.

Everyone has different lifestyle and a lifestyle that works for them.

Take us for example, Our ~$48,000 all-in annual expenses may seem very high to some people but may seem extremely low to others. We can probably spend more money each year to have more luxuries; we can probably save more money each year by cutting back on travels and dining out. But we are happy with our spending and savings rate – we have found the right balance for us. Yes we still eat out occasionally, but we usually end up eating at cheaper places. We are perfectly happy going to an authentic Japanese ramen place and spend $30 for the entire family. To some people, this wouldn’t even be counted as dining out.

I have eaten at some fancy restaurants for business, especially when taking customers out. It’s not unusual to $100 or more per person at these business dinners. Yes the foods were delicious and the wines were good. But eating at fancy places is not who I am. I seek for comfort food, ethnic food, or hearty food. I would rather go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and explore than a fancy high-end restaurant.

That is my balance in life…what’s yours?

Death of a high school friend

I have written a couple times on the passing of co-workers. The first passing made me reflected on life and the second passing made me want to live life without regrets. Last Sunday I found out a high school friend of mine died from a bicycle accident at 33 years old. A car hit the group of bikers he was part of and he died at the scene. I was shocked when I found out on Facebook. The two of us were in jazz bands and jazz combos throughout high school. The high school music program was really good so we were fortunate to go to many different Canadian and US cities for music festivals. In grade 12 we had a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity to tour in Cuba for a week, playing in jazz clubs and many different Cuban arts schools.


(local newspaper story from high school)

At first I didn’t know what to think about this tragic death, given that he is a year younger than me. A few days later, the US election happened and I was stunned by the election result.

Then it hit me.

Rather than focusing on the bad news, I should be thankful instead. I should be thankful that I am still here to feel anger, disappointment, and grief. I should be thankful that I am still here to be able to make simple frugal choices to help the environment,

Therefore, I am thankful that I am still here to love, to connect with people, and to help people. I am thankful that I am still here to laugh with my kids and to create memories with Mrs. T.

Too often we take tomorrow for granted. We think tomorrow will always come. We think we can procrastinate until tomorrow.

So we put off the things that we need to do until tomorrow.

So we don’t say “I love you” to our love ones.

So we don’t challenge ourselves to become better human beings.

Because there is always tomorrow.

Then it’s too late. The END.

I am not in it for the money and fame

I came across a quote while reading a book yesterday…

The salaried employee spends everything he earns. The entrepreneur earns everything he spends.

If someone starts a business to make money, it won’t work. If you start the same business, in the same place, to be useful to people, it will prosper.

Although I enjoy my work very much, I am constantly being reminded that working for myself is the way to go. That’s why I am pursuing my photography business; that’s why Mrs. T and I are pursuing our cookbook business.

Then there’s this little blog of mine….

I created this blog as a way to share my thoughts and ideas. I wanted to chronicling my quest for joyful life and financial independence. The blog was created so I can connect with other like minded people. I am amazed and delighted every time I see a comment on this blog, receive a reader’s email with encouraging words, or have an interesting conversation on Twitter.

I didn’t create this blog so it can be the top 10 personal finance blog in the world, so it can have 100,000 or lower Alexa rating, or to have thousands of Twitter followers.

I didn’t create this blog to make money and monetary gain is never and will never be the focus of this blog.

I created this blog so I can share knowledge. If money comes as part of the process, great. If not, it’s not end of the world.

Here’s to a more creative title next time!

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18 thoughts on “Stuff”

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of a life too young. I wish I knew you in a real life Tawcan, you’re a very reflective person who’s aware of yourself and your surroundings. I wish everyone in the world could be like that 🙂

    I’m proud to be a reader of your blog when you say that you didn’t create it to make money, when so many others seem to be so.

    We didn’t start the blog to make money either (and it isn’t making a lot of money 🙂 ), when you shift your focus it makes it much easier to write about whatEVER you want. So that’s what the freedom allows us to do.


  2. Tawcan,
    Thanks for the link to my early retirement grid 🙂 I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that ‘It’s simple math. It’s a no brainer.’ I also love how you pointed out that everyone has their own financial situation. That’s one of the hardest things to remember in personal finance. Everyone finds value in different activities and experiences, so there’s no formula set in stone that works for everyone. Everyone spends their earned money based on what they find value in, and that’s wonderful. I am also deeply sorry about your friend as well. I’m glad you can use this blog as a way to share your positive message and your spirit of gratitude with the masses though, keep up the amazing work.

  3. The salaried employee spends everything he earns. The entrepreneur earns everything he spends.

    If someone starts a business to make money, it won’t work. If you start the same business, in the same place, to be useful to people, it will prosper.

    I really like the quote and I think for myself it can be tweaked a little. The smart salaried employee knows everything he earns and spends. If you start a business about making money, you soon will realize it’s not really about that.

    Hope the day is better as it is what you make it my friend (told to me this morning by my wife)!

  4. Oh boy, so sorry to hear of your loss! Especially so young with so much more life to live, that’s horribly sad. I lost a childhood friend in my teens due to a freak accident, I still think of him quite frequently today. Hard to get over those things!

  5. Tawcan you wrote a great article. I suggest you print it out and carry it in your wallet for those bad days which are sure to come. Staying grounded and focusing on what really matters your family and friends is key.

  6. Great post, Tawcan. Sorry to hear about your classmate and fellow musician friend. I hear too many stories of bike accidents and its just horrible.

    Great post on the FI and the grid. Thanks for sharing

  7. That’s some delicious looking ramen Tawcan!

    I’m not getting a lot of sleep myself these days — Tako Jr #2 has been sick and doesn’t sleep very well at night anymore. So I feel your pain….or your tiredness rather.

    I’m glad I don’t need to head to work anymore after nights like last night…

    Sorry to hear about your friend.

  8. That sucks about your friend. Mrs. Done by Forty always holds her breath every time I go out for a ride, and it’s a good reminder that you need to be careful with all the bad drivers out there. Ain’t no protection on a bike.

    I’m lukewarm on entrepreneurship when looking at the actual numbers most business owners bring in, the added hours, the risk, but to each his own. I’m a big proponent of the salaried job, with benefits and structured work time, but that’s just me. All paths lead to Rome, and maybe to FI, too.

    • There are so many bad drivers out there, definitely need to be careful out there.

      The way I see it, salary jobs are safer and more comfortable. It’s a bit harder to get on the less secure and less comfortable side of work aka entrepreneurship.


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