Hero in You

Having studied how Buddhism and chanting could help calming our minds in the last few months, I came to realize most of the goals I had in life had been exclusively for mine and my family’s benefit. Today I turned on some music to relax a bit and heard the song by Mariah Cary, Hero. Tears started to stream down my face; so much lost time, so self-centered goals in life, I was ashamed of not even thinking that helping anyone else could be my thing.

We say God created man in His image. And/or we all have Buddha within us. Somehow, between our childhood when we feel everyone should be equal, to when you look back your own path, realizing that you let so many opportunities go by to make a difference, do good, and fulfill our life purpose. Between all the ROI/Cap Rate and other metrics we use, we forget that what matters in life may not be measured by these metrics.  We look for others to be the heroes helping others, and we hide behind to care for our own livelihood. In the end, we are the heroes we seek. Just be a little braver, care a little more. We can change the world in a small part.

And it is certainly easy to think we want to care and be kind, but to really do some good it will take real action.  I am setting aside $500 to help homeless people, by donating to a non-profit group called ShelterSuit.  Each suit cost $60 and I would like to do a matching donation (receiving a $30 donation, match $30 to get one suit).  With the matched donation of $960 we can buy 16 suits to help 16 individuals from cold/rain.  Not a big number, but please help so more homeless folks can benefit.  ShelterSuit founder ( a young Dutch designer Bas Timmer) also calls for a one night Sleep Out.  See more details at https://sheltersuit.com/about-us/.   Please like, comment or follow, Thanks!

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Ageism

The United States is a country of legal equality, a model many other countries in the world would like to copy. Of course, we on the inside knows that there are many forms of discrimination and that had garnered lots of voice of activists, most notably the BLM movement, along with the LGBT movement.   I sincerely support our getting to a better version of equality through peaceful and unrelenting sharing of understanding with all.

With that, I do want to discuss another form that is not getting so much attention but is real nonetheless.   Particularly in California, we are not supposed to discriminate on any basis, when it comes to housing and employment.  We are all supposed to be blind to color, gender, race, national origin, sex, sexual preference, age, income source, etc. like literally anything.  Ageism does not get much lime light, but when you feel it you feel it.  Like when I look for a job, I can feel it.  It is always very subtle, and basically can’t really prove it, but it’s hard to shake that feeling.  And recently, I spoke to a friend who is in his 50s and he says he was looking for a job and he felt ageism and after a couple of months trying, he quit looking for work.  It seems the job market is looking for the 30s and 40s mainly.  We either pick up an entrepreneurial path or the retired/investor path.  Oh well life goes on and we still have the best political system in the world.  But as many have said it before, freedom is not free and equality still needs to be earned.  Please comment, like or follow!  Thanks!

We love our system, but it still has room for improvements
Photo source: Wikipedia

Recreational Hikes

In deed, during the lock down or stay at home in the past year, gyms/clubs closed, restaurants closed, most other entertainment venues closed, bars/gathering places closed, no/very little travel, so even if you had money, there weren’t many places for people to go to. Gyms had to be brought back in home, and on-line fitness classes saw a huge increase in popularity as (I hope) all of us tried to stay fit physically. But of course, we are all feeling semi-depressed since we can only have very limited contact to the outside world.

So for some, like myself, taking hikes became a way to be social and get out of the house and hopefully out of the madness for a short while to reset. My brother-in-law has been coming to meet with us once a week on weekends to go hiking and afterwards dinner at home. I am happy to say that in Northern California (Bay Area), we see weather where almost all year round hiking is possible. We are surrounding by plenty of hill & mountain ranges to have many great hiking trails. It does feel good to be on the trail to enjoy better air and sometimes we don’t even need the mask if the trail is free of other hikers. A good 2 – 4 hours spent in hiking and getting there/back gives us good appetite for the dinner, whatever we happen to cook. It is usually a therapeutic experience and helps to reset our mind. It is a bit pathetic that this is the only activity we can come up with that is still safe, gets us out the house, and good exercise while resetting our psyche. I could just refer to these hikes as recreational. And while these hikes are great, I look forward to one day we can start engaging in other activities as being fun and recreational. What are some of your activities you look forward to once Covid subsides? Please comment, like or follow. Thanks

Happy Lunar New Year!

Today is the start of The Year of Ox.  It has been said that last year, the Year of Rat, was going to be a particularly bad year.  And somehow, many things happened.  Now that is behind us, let us look forward to the new. 

One thing I found through the Stay-At-Home period is that turning to studying spirituality, meditation while keeping physical health has helped me in maintaining sanity through all the turmoil.  In addition to my Christian school background, I gained a view into how buddhist look at life, re-incarnation, karma, doing good deeds and living a positive life.  Each day, if you can find that clam within yourself, it will help you become a better person.  A life dedicated to being kind, compassionate and helping others will bring much rewards.  Our 41st President has called for ‘a kinder gentler nation’ in his time, and I think we do need to keep that in mind as we go through our daily life and make our own sphere a better place.  May God be with us and guide us forward.  Please comment, like or follow, Thanks

Happy New Year!
Everything Goes According to Your Wish!
with Auspicious Chants

Happy Life – Yoga/Vegetarian/ Gratitude/Meditation And More…

Granted, happy life is a state of mind, and some say happy wife, happy life.  I am listing out a few things that help me and you can definitely have your own list.  We live in a time when there is quite a bit of anxiety, and that does not help with the state of mind to be happy.  If you find it is hard to get there, there are some smaller, simpler steps.  One is to declutter your space, and a site called becomingminimalist.com gives many helpful guidance.  Once you get started, moving forward in setting up that more peaceful inner space becomes achievable.  Then try any of the yoga, vegetarian, gratitude, meditation, helping others in need, etc.  might begin to bring inner happiness. 

On the subject of happiness, a little buddhist country in the Himalaya between India and China called Bhutan has been said to be the happiest country on earth.  Many philosophical differences to the West exist, but some of the main one seem to be living selflessly, and not in the keeping-up-with-the-Jones.  If in our lives we can achieve just these two, it will probably be an improvement over our materialistic goals.  Of course, I would still advocate FI, but hopefully not in an adverse way of these values.  Let me know what you think, comment, like or follow.  Thx! 

Image result for tiger temple bhutan
Tigers Nest Temple in Bhutan
photo credit: earthtrekkers.com

House Hacking with AirBnB

Back in my college days, I offered to manage a house with 10 rooms and guaranteed the owner a fixed amount of rent, which satisfied his mortgage requirements.  I not only lived there for free, but had money left over to buy cleaning supplies, toilet paper etc for everyone.  Place was right next to SJSU so it worked out for me and house mates really well till my graduation.  

I now rent out a good part of my house on AirBnB and it helps with paying mortgage in this turbulent time, especially while I don’t have a formal job.  If you ever thought house hacking is not possible, there are many ways and scales you can do it at.  For most people, housing costs will always be the highest expense, so some form of house hacking can help you maintain a lower overhead and ease anxiety.  Another common way is to buy a duplex (up to a four-plex), live in one unit and collect rent on the others.  Rules are quite different for the above four-plex (it is considered commercial rather than residential), but for savvy investors, those options are open as well.  And there are those who buy properties to generate rent, hire property managers, and enjoy stress free passive income.

As you can see, house hacking can range in multiple scales, and definitely worth doing.  Simplest way to look at it is ‘live free with OPM.’  Consult with those who have done it before around you and learn how to put your space to work for you.  I welcome your comments and questions.  Thx!

Zenji Net

Zenji (善事)means good deeds in Japanese.  I have been contemplating how I can help others lately.  Being unemployed, I have joined a FB group which supports many who are on unemployment.  I have seen so many folks that are dependent on the UI payment from the CA and Fed government.  It pains me and I really want to reach out and help each person and family in a bad or less than ideal situation.  Of course, I realized that I myself, as one person, there are very limited things I can do to help.  

But I don’t think it is just me, many of us would like to have a place to do good deeds to others, paying our gratitude and good fortune forward.  In budhaist belief, this is one way to build happiness for one’s current and future life.  And in the western thinking, as the golden rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So Zenji Net can be a place where many contributors do good by helping those with less resources, which may not be limited to financial help, but perhaps more on helping with how to see things and learn various topics in arriving at financial prosperity (and Independence), health and happiness.  I think organizing around the concept of doing good deeds everyday can be my contribution, my good deed towards others.  Whether you would like to contribute/help, or you may want to learn about financial independence, health and happiness, I hope you will join us and refer people in your sphere to Zenji net. Let’s help each other to a better world! Thanks!

What is Cashflow?

Let me ask a question.  We all want to be financially independent right?  But how?  Most people will say work hard/get ahead, save and live comfortably.  But is it really so?  To be FI means not to worry about income and doing what you like (with a lifestyle of your own choosing).  What if you don’t have a steady paycheck anymore, can you still sustain your lifestyle?  For how long?  What if you just came out of a messy divorce, or a death/disability in the family?  What about a disease that will take all of your savings to treat?  

FI definition is affected by culture, housing price, and many other factors. In general though, learning about how money works, recognizing what makes positive and negative cashflow, and getting into investments early enough to generate positive cashflow would probably do the trick. Robert Kiyosaki puts it simply that any financial arrangement that puts money in your pocket is positive cashflow and any that takes money out is negative cashflow.  

So cashflow in real estate is a very specific concept where your investment property generates some gross income, and taking out the operating expenses and loan payments, what’s left is the cashflow.  Basically, that is your disposable cash to do whatever you like with, and imagine that you are receiving $5,000 or 10 or 20K/months and no mortgage to worry about. What kind of life will you lead?   And what if you learned how to use OPM so you do not have to save up all the cash to get into REI?

Real estate investing has the potential to bring you to that state sooner than you think.  Many multi millionaires are produced each year with REI.  I am on this journey and would welcome your joining.  But first, there are lots of financial education we need for ourselves.  Our school system did not prepare us for what is needed to be generating passive income and cashflow.

Gratitude + Yogi + Vegetarianism = Beautiful Life!

That has been my tagline on my WeChat account for a while now, and at the beginning of 2021, I still feel the same way.  I am grateful for the life we have, albeit somewhat restrictive and frustrating.  What is comforting is that we, my wife and I, are both healthy and vibrant!  A large part of keeping sanity is the regular yoga/HIIT/exercise and being vegetarian (or small meat intake).  

I can always wallow in the fact that I am currently unemployed, and there is no steady income, and we are in a pandemic with nowhere to go and hard to find a job.  But instead of rushing through life of materialism and never ending rat race, we now have a chance to contemplate how precious life is and a modified lifestyle can still give us the peace of mind.  I have learned/expanded on my urban farm life by raising more animals, coming to realize that we are all connected, and that life is amazing.  When I used to commute to work everyday in the past, my biggest wish was to be able to stay home with my loved ones and still not worry about money.  Now at least half of it is true and the other half will just work itself out.  

I would always tell anyone that whatever age you start and stay with yoga, your body/appearance will stay at that age.  This is ture so I applaud young people for starting early and also it is always not too late to start.  My trigger time came when one day I bent down to tie my shoelace and I could not reach it.  It is then I realized that to live a good life, I must be willing to put in some work.  It was a process, but after so many years results speak for itself.  Shoot for 3 sessions/week where you sweat buckets and you will be on your way to the best health in your life.  If you find yourself wanting to change your lifestyle for the better, wanting to find motivations to be on this path, please reach out to me since I am never too busy to chat with you.

Photos are taken almost 4 years ago; You can do it too!

Introduction

Hi this is Michael Chu, and thanks for joining me.  I was reminded recently that people have common goals: becoming financially independent so they can do whatever they want in life (and many have wanted to make it a better world), companionship (since no one to share is not a fun life) and healthy, energetic body & mind.  It’s a befitting reminder to start off in 2021, since those happen to be my personal goals in life as well, and I will address my blogs on these common themes.  Won’t you join me?

So who is Michael? I came from a middle class family who fled communist China and settled in Taiwan, and due to my mom’s work, traveled to Kuwait and Japan before 12.  An opportunity to come to the United States came up and of course I took that chance to change my life.  Got through college at SJSU and started working in the Silicon Valley high tech industry, and worked hard to advance.  Being creative in business solutions and love to work with people, I moved from corporate finance into SW engineering and finally marketing & biz dev.  

Taiwan is a beautiful island, people are generally nice and has lots of great produce. Temperature is mild to hot and air is moist. And home to most advanced semiconductor production in the world.

I saw an opportunity to start my own business and that was a great experience.  Took a long time to take shape but Triteck helped Seiko successfully sell into the largest account in the US and then took Toshiba to establish China market entry.  I had a lot of fun while the contract with the sellers lasted.  Then it was time to contemplate what to do next and I definitely wanted to go into the new tech (AI, autonomous driving, green energy, etc.)  and I joined an AI company for almost a couple of years when COVID hit and in a large round of layoff, I am back on my own again.  

Real estate is my passion, my pastime used to be going to all the open houses in the area and I had a few rental properties.  So I will be spending more time now to help myself and my like-minded friends to use real estate investing to achieve financial independence.  For that reason, I would like to be known as the cashflow realtor.  More to come….