Bye, '16.02 Jan 2017
’16 marks the second year I resolved to use Wally (the personal finance app) daily. What came back at the end of the year surprised me a lot, and I think it’s worth sharing.
House is the single thing throughout the year that most troubled me. I got into pretty bad arguments with my landlord(s), ranging from ”why would you come into my house when I go on trips” to “can I at least put some adhesive on the wall to hang my paintings?”. Admittedly I’m a nutcase when it comes to owning a space that I comfortably settle in; but…
Apart from the emotionally taxing rants that I shared on a monthly basis, I was determined to keep this cost as low as possible. I read somewhere it might/could account up to 25% one’s after-tax income, and the ideal range is 12% - 18%, so year-start I set out to contain this to 10% (insert parrot laugh); partly because I would spend the majority of my time in Asia (where housing
is was expected to be cheap and/but progressively horrible the more developed a country you live in; say, Malaysia is worse than Singapore, and Singapore is worse than Vietnam, etc), and partly because I have friends across continents and would like to see to how consecutive couchcampings play out.
Turns out I’m such a noob though.
I ended up spending 25% after-tax income on housing and all things related (that include moving-in/out, furnitures and bills). The one-month stay in a serviced apartment in Berlin was particularly pricey, but I ate up for I was there for an extremely crucial task (couldn’t afford to be distracted by any shenanigan; one month later I moved out to a friend’s place and ended up fighting landlords again mehhehe).
Social causes, despite my year-start resolution to contribute 2.35% my income to, concluded the year at 1.95% my total expenses. Mind the word choices. This is a huge disappointment, to which I can’t make any excuse, and am keen to remedy in ’17. I spent the whole year juggling websites and reports, and could have donated much more by forming a task-force that would build a finance/transparency infrastructure for a local charity. I’m still mid-way judging the immediacy of this contribution, ironically because most charities I reached out to rejected upfront the need for such a thing (Viet Nam, oh Viet Nam). And then a few months back, a celebrity in Viet Nam spent a part of the $1M he got from his fanbase to this particular technological piece. Duh.
FYI here’s the list of causes I’ve been donating to:
- VietPride Scholarship
Health care is another fun thing to talk about. I remember vividly having insurances on all my trips, a private health insurance during my stay in Viet Nam, yet despite such, I still logged $400 towards health payments last year. Diving deep into those logs, I noticed a brief stint in Berlin, Germany during which scheduling a doctor’s appointment took weeks, and I resorted to #DongXuanMarkt healthcare (read: handing out prescription medicines without … prescription). Well, speaking of travel nuisances.
Gadgets kept on playing a big part in my life, again, despite my initial resolution to keep my belongings lean. Brands that I gave up heart and soul and cash to include: Xiaomi (their Bluetooth speaker is top notch, guys!), Filco (one of those #SantaIHaveBeenGoodThisYear self-rewarding moments), Moleskine, Jaybird. Communication is also pricey; I paid a total of $300 for SIM cards and top-ups.
The only thing that didn’t surprise me along these sheets is my travel expenses. I’m not going to quote any number here, because it hurts. I don’t project much traveling in 2017, apart from a few trips to see my favorite collective of humans on Earth (at Vero).
I thought I paid handsomely for books, but in reality they accounted for only a minor chunk. That’s surprising, and tells a lot about myself and my choices (duh). A few good ones I picked out last year:
- The Establishment by Owen Jones
- Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
- Red Notice by Bill Browder
- I reread Elon Musk and The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
- All Chris Stewart books, guys, seriously
- Berlin, Imagine a city by MacLean, Rory
’16 is also enlightening in a sense that I adopted principles that enabled me an easy-led life. They’re, by no means, not controversial and took time, effort, friendships/bossships to solder on.
I started out with “everyone’s entitled to their opinions” and ended up “not really, bruv”.
Two things that I deem sure (and mean) parts of living: wars, and arguments.
Work wise, I learnt gladly autonomy comes at a hard price (cough mental health) but it’s for the best. I managed to put containers to some good use, starting by dockerizing more services at work and wrapping up the year shaving off ~$4000 off a part of Vero’s infrastructure bill. Chatops is surprisingly easy with this new herd of tools in 2016 (thanks to containers, again) and surprisingly crucial to operations (both human’s and system’s). There’s a lot more, and they’ll come gradually in their respective blogposts.
I started helping out local teams and companies in my idle time, too. The transfer of knowledge is tough; sometimes I just wish humans were capable of ingesting (and making out) knowledge unlimitedly. An argument one usually puts up to me is knowledge is general and system is specific, to that I say you cannot afford to be in the unknown.
Oh, also, I also raged war against PMs and SWEs who have no idea what they’re talking about except a few bullet points they absorbed reading Internet articles (ie: microservices, Docker). Yeah, I’m mean.
Reading through this a stranger might take me eccentric. Admittedly I a bit am. Here’s an important point though: I’m fully aware of my wrongdoings and I’m faceless. That’s hard, bruv. Not everyone’s capable of doing that.