Cutting Down On Meat

I thought it would be a good idea to be vegetarian this year, but then quickly realized it may not be a good idea to some of the folks around me. So instead, I decided to cut down on meat consumption. Of course, I need some hard rules to follow to make this happen. Just saying “cut down on meat” is too ambiguous. I’ve broken it down into separate scenarios as to how I will handle meat consumption.

At home with my parents:

  • OK to eat meat, but in small quantities
  • Consume larger ratio of veggies

Food packaged from mom:

  • Meat is OK to take if she prepared a lot, but do not take a large portion

Eating on my own:

  • No Meat

Eating with my girlfriend:

  • Encourage her to cook less meat and more tofu
  • But it is OK to eat meat if she cooks it
  • Use similar approach as with my parents

Eating out with friends or coworkers:

  • OK to eat meat if there isn’t any vegetarian entrees available, otherwise always order vegetarian
  • Pick fish over meat if available

Items that are OK to consume:

  • Eggs
  • Meat broth, but without meat

Did I miss a scenario? Leave a comment and keep me honest!

Advertisements

How I View My Investments

Investors are not evil. I know sometimes we get a bad rep on the media for being hungry vultures feeding on the less fortunate. For instance, it’s natural for a person to get mad at an investor that makes a low ball offer on a house they bought during a boom. I don’t blame them. If I bought a house for $500,000, but then could only get $250,000 from an investor, I’d be just as frustrated as anyone else.

But there’s another side that gives a better picture. As an investor, if I buy a house and rent it out, in the long run it does much more good than bad. The way I see it, our economy functions based on the flow of cash from one hand to multiple hands. If money doesn’t move, we’re in trouble, and that’s exactly what happened when Americans were strapped for cash starting in 2008.

When I buy a house and before it is rented out, multiple people get paid before I make any cash:

  • Broker on the selling and buying side
  • Bank or seller that can get rid of the troubling asset if it is a foreclosure or short sale
  • Escrow company
  • Title company
  • Mortgage company and/or broker
  • Home Warranty company
  • General contractor
  • Cleaning crew
  • Painters
  • Property Inspector
  • County
  • Insurance
  • plus a few more I might have forgotten

Behind each of these bullet points is a person or multiple people. Some may have a family or kids. When I pay them money, they can in turn spend money or pay their employees, thus shifting the cash from their hands to another hand, and so forth and so on with the next person.

By the time it is rented out, these people get paid on a regular basis when I collect the rent check:

  • Property Manager
  • Any sort of maintenance person (when needed)
  • County
  • Bank
  • Homeowner Association (when applicable)
  • Home Warranty
  • Insurance

When you look at it this way, quite a bit happens just on one property purchase. Money moves from one hand to multiple hands on the initial purchase and at an on-going basis afterwards. If the investment purchase doesn’t happen, none of the bullet points above will happen.

When we have more people that think this way about their investments, my feeling is we can do a lot for the country to bring our economy back to prosperity. Keep it simple – it doesn’t take much except for a bit of courage and conviction to make a difference and also grow our assets. Granted not all investors are like this, but I am. I strongly believe that my actions, combined with others with the same mindset, will contribute to making our economy more competitive in this global environment.

Stories and thoughts from the past

Being 30 is the new 20. Who the hell came up with that? I don’t know. What the hell does it mean? It can mean different things, but there’s no right answer and finding that single right answer isn’t the way to go about it. The way to do it is to know what this means to you.

Yes, I am turning 30 this year. As my birthday approaches, I’ve been spending a lot of time evaluating what I’ve done the last 10 years, starting from my last years in college, to the career path I have chosen, the relationships I have formed, the places I’ve traveled, and the stories I have heard and remember today.

One particular thing I am especially grateful for is the opportunity I had to travel around the world in my early twenties. I traveled a bit for school, a lot for fun, and some more for work.

My travels allowed me to hear stories from people of different backgrounds and experiences outside of America. Lately, I have been trying to figure out some difficult decisions I need to make in my life around my career. Throughout this process, a story I remember hearing from the past sprouted up. The actual details are simplified, but the essence of the story is still here.

My friend told me of a story about his uncle when he lived in Vietnam. The uncle was poor and had very little cash to try and start any kind of reasonable business. His lack of capital made it hard to improve his family’s economic situation. One day, he found a rice factory that sold bags of rice on consignment for 30 days. Each bag sold for $30, but in the retail market the rice could only sell for $25 max because of stiff competition (the consignment option may have had something to do with this), but nonetheless it is easy to sell because rice is a common staple among the Vietnamese. He decides to pick up 100 bags, which gives him a debt of $3000.

As expected, he sold all 100 bags in one week at $25 a bag. He now has $2500 in cash but $3000 in debt. However, he decides to buy dry fish that sells for $10 a piece from the distributor, but can retail for $15. This distributor does not offer a consignment option. Dry fish is a popular item to eat with rice as well as for a snack. He takes all $2500 and buys fish at $10/piece. Within two weeks he sells all the fish for $15/piece. Now he has  $3750 in cash, and still one week to spare before he has to pay back the debt on the rice he bought at the beginning of the consignment period. He pays back the $3000 and now has $750 in cash, debt-free. He now takes that $750 to buy other wholesale items that he knows will retail for more on the market.

This story is simple, but yet very powerful. There are many themes to take from this story. The beauty of it is that this story has many key elements that serve as good lessons in life. Some elements that stood out to me are:

  1. The power of knowledge
  2. The power of time
  3. The power of cash flow management

Now, for me, the elements most useful are #2 and #3 (although all three work together hand in hand). These two elements are helping me solve a problem that I am currently struggling with in my life. But as I took these elements into careful consideration, the answer started to jump out at me. The reason is because this story made me change the way I think. I remember school taught me to stay conservative and not take big risks like the uncle did in this story. But what one must think of is, what does a person stand to lose if he or she doesn’t take the same kind of action that this uncle did with the rice?

It’s something to think about and really spend time pondering. Remember, these types of stories don’t need to make sense now – in some shape or form it will make much more sense in the future.

Being 30 is the 20 – to me, this means that life is still and always will be an adventure. It doesn’t end when we finish college and start our career. Life can still have much meaning and satisfaction if we make decisions that gravitate towards that.

Simplicity

“In JKD, one does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum. It is the halfway cultivation that leads to ornamentation. Jeet Kune-Do is basically a sophisticated fighting style stripped to its essentials.”

Source

I don’t practice martial arts. There was a point in the past where I trained with my college roommate, but that was short lived. In his quote, Bruce Lee is describing one of the fundamental philosophies behind Jeet Kune-Do, but he is actually touching on a more fundemental aspect of the mind.

Sophistication comes from simplicity. Sophistication doesn’t need to be complicated. I believe in this, but I didn’t quite know how to put it words until reading this quote from Bruce Lee. It came partially from my habit of being lazy. But it’s not lazy-ness in the bad sense – I still have goals I want and will achieve, but I always prefaced it by thinking to myself – what’s the most quickest, efficient, and sustainable way of getting there? What’s the least complicated way of doing this? What’s the minimum amount I need to do in order to achieve the desired results? Complicating things only complicates your life, so why bother?

During my day to day activities outside of work, this is a fairly powerful state of mind. Not long ago, I realized several things:

  1. I could do more with less
  2. I could be happy with less
  3. Having more only made things complicated
  4. Doing or having fewer things of quality makes a bigger impact than have more quantity of lesser quality (the latter results in #3)

Simplifying aspects of my life lead to more self-awareness; which forced me to look more closely at myself. Whether it be my thoughts, actions, habits, etc…, simplifying my life allowed me to focus on the process of continuing growth.

Obviously I wouldn’t know if this is what Bruce Lee had intended to communicate, but I can say for certain that his JKD is meant to help an individual understand themselves more and help them grow, which ultimately will allow a human being to truly express him/herself. The body follows the mind, so it only makes sense to start at the mind.