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Chasing Experiences (Not Money)

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Although there are many things that brought me out to the Philippines (for starters, I have a strong preference/affinity to being around warm weather), one thing that I was hoping to be true (from the beginning) was this:

 

Leave behind a world filled with people who are too caught up in whining about “first world” problems…

 

Nothing wrong with that, I been there, done that…

 

For myself, though, after living high off the hog for the bulk of my life… I really just wanted to get back to steady-state, and learn to re-focus my efforts towards actually living life… and obtaining “real happiness”.

 

As a dude who was born and raised in Silicon Valley (and later spent my entire working career there), it’s no secret to most anyone that just being in that mix probably puts you up in the top 10% (if not top 1%) of lucky souls out there in the world… Sure, I worked hard, but was even more fortunate to be in “the right place at the right time”…

 

I made good money, but one thing that I always tried to do was stay grounded with who I was… and what I ultimately wanted out of life.

 

For all my friends and family in the Yay Area reading this, please don’t get offended… You won the fucking lottery being fortunate enough to live where you’re at now, you’ve got it way, way, way better than the majority of people on this planet, and like that frog boiling in hot water, you’re probably a tad bit comfortable (maybe even complacent) at this stage of the game…

 

Although folks chase early FI for a multitude of reasons, I tend to gravitate towards and connect most with the peeps who really value life experiences and who realize full damn and well that in the end, we all end up as dust, anyway…

 

We can’t take none of this material wealth with us, and as cool/fun as it is to make lots of $$$, all dem dollar signs represent a tool, or means to an end, more than anything else…

 

So, despite the fact that 2018 has been a most horrible year for investing (across many asset classes), I’m doing my best not to sweat the technique, and especially right now during the holiday season, I just want to take a step back and remember to appreciate just how lucky I am…

 

Here’s a recent tweet I threw up in reply to something else that kinda hits home right now…

Yes, it’s true… I ain’t being dramatic or painting a fake picture… I know friends in the Philippines who live a very simple existence… yet despite not having much material wealth (relatively speaking, of course), they work their asses off everyday, don’t fucking complain, and still know how to smile and live each day with meaning and purpose…

 

It’s a hard knock life out there, no question, but I so often find that it helps once you put things in perspective… You could say, certainly, I was am shellshocked everytime I’m in Asia, especially when I’m immersing myself in environments where most of the surrounding everyday peeps aren’t swimming in money…

 

You really do learn to, again, filter out the noise and bullshit, and get back to being a human being…

 

Embracing life, the simple things, and ultimately, focusing on the important stuff you’re actually going to remember way down the line after you’ve turned old and grey…

 

This past Thursday, it was a 1 year “friendversary” with two of my favs that I met in Manila last time around…

Just look at how eggcited my bud was to see me when I arrived…

When you’re in good company and having an even better time, ain’t nobody gives a shit what your net worth is, your title/status, etc…

To me, “real wealth” and “real currency” is being able to meet, connect, and build strong bonds with people and relate on a more human level… I want good people in my life who actually care about my well being… NOT the size of my bank account!

Then, all the hardships and tough stuff associated with day-to-day life just becomes that much easier to deal with and manage…

And contrary to popular belief, there’s awesome, genuine people all across the globe… Nobody says you can’t get up off your ass and make a concentrated effort to find it… away from your comfort zone… if need be…

Though, to be perfectly clear before I piss off even more folks back home in the Bay Area, I’m NOT suggesting that there aren’t any down to earth people in Silicon Valley (there certainly are, some of my best friends reside there, not to mention family)… It’s just maybe a bit harder to find “real peeps” because so much of that environment/lifestyle is fixated on the rat race and climbing corporate ladders and even flaunting your “wealth” (material goodies)…

I still got love for the Bay Area, but I also appreciate leaving that scene (from time-to-time) and getting smacked in the face so that I have better appreciation for all my blessings…

Constantly living in a bubble really fucks with your mind and ability to see things clearly… Tunnel vision/myopia, or whatever you wanna call it…

If you aren’t willing to adjust/adapt, you might miss out on something spectacular…

Like I keep emphasizing on many blog posts, thanks to technology and the internet, many places (especially developed global cities) are much more similar than they are different…

 

And never forget, most everyone out there has the same: goals, dreams, aspirations, desires, etc…

 

You aren’t that fucking different from someone “overseas” so stop thinking everyone else is a “foreign alien”…

 

Humble yourself…

 

Anyway…

 

I realize that these type of posts may perhaps not be as popular or enjoyable to read for followers, but I feel these thoughts are important to put out there, nonetheless…

 

Yes, most everyone wants to read “shock and awe” and hear sensationalized (fake) stories about early FI and living it up to the MAX all the time, but you know (if you didn’t already), there are also simple folks out there (like yours truly) who just ain’t into all that razzle dazzle…

 

As someone who nearly destroyed himself working the grind and had a slew of health problems to overcome very early in their 20s, you can say perhaps I appreciate this type of monotonous (uneventful) living more than the average person… But, who knows, maybe you’re reading this and you can relate!?!

 

God, I really do hope somebody out there is reading this and can appreciate the angle I’m coming from…

 

You know, I still vividly remember when I moved out to Orange County back in 2011 and was working my ass off everyday as an engineer… Back then, when I first took on the new gig, I attempted cooking for myself for a good, oh I dunno, 2-3 weeks, before I conceded defeat and threw in the towel…

 

I was just way, way, way too exhausted after a day’s work to want to: go grocery shopping, prep, cook, clean…

 

F that…

 

But when you’re in early FI (and I’m sure this is super common), one of the hobbies that I’m not surprised people gravitate towards is cooking your own meals…

 

Fast-forward to the here and now, although I’m still hopping around apartment units a lot and I don’t have my own personal residence yet, you can say the concept of home cooking is a little bit more challenging, but I mean, I’m still trying to have fun with it… and actually do it…

 

I can’t cook for shit, but hey, it’s still fun and a really cool “life experience” I’ve always wanted to mess around with…

 

Sinigang na baboy.

Sinigang na baboy with chop suey.

Lots of chop suey lately… in an attempt to eat more veggies.

I like it saucy…

And with some spice…

Sisig made with: liempo (pork belly), chicken liver, and bagnet (super crunchy pork).

Damn is it crunchy!

And for those really lazy days…

Further…

In a country where you can go out into the province and get a haircut for less than $1 USD (more around ~$0.80 USD), I’m pleased to report back that you can indeed feel like a million bucks… even if you’re not worth a million bucks…

Guys, the perpetual quest towards trying to locate: meaning, purpose, and importantly, happiness, is probably a never-ending journey…

 

I can’t say it’s easy and I’m not gonna bullshit you and tell you that early FI is the most amazing thing ever and only filled with endless joy…

 

It’s NOT!

 

But like almost everything worth having in life, you gotta put in the effort…

 

I’ve stumbled, fallen on my face, and made a total ass of myself on many occasions in my search for happiness, but I really meant it when I said in a previous post that the life experiences I’ve had in the past year are worth more to me than what I experienced during the ten years of my working career.

 

1 > 10

 

For that, I’m most thankful.

 

Early FI is all about trying to maximize time and actually getting out there, living life…

 

2018 has been an especially tough year for making money via many asset classes out there (gold, silver, cryptos, even general equities aren’t doing so hot lately, etc.), but life is still worth living.

 

For me, when in doubt, get back to basics…

 

Chasing experiences ftw!

 

Fight On!

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • taipan20No Gravatar December 15, 2018, 7:38 pm

    After you meet you future wife there, she’ll bring you back here to the Bay. Mark my words.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 15, 2018, 9:36 pm

      Taipan,

      Since I have close friends and family living in the Bay Area, I will probably always have a good reason to come back here… often or even longer-term.

      Having said that, the future is unknown and I have no idea how you can insinuate that I or my future wife will want to settle in the Bay Area… “Mark my words” is a pretty bold declaration that is surprising for me to read b/c the truth of the matter is I’ve met lots of ppl out here in my travels and not everyone is enamored and wants to move out to California, United States, or whatever…

      Some folks are perfectly happy to stay and continue living in their country of origin, as shocking as that may seem…

    • PonNo Gravatar December 15, 2018, 11:58 pm

      Son, this is why you are in the Bay Area.

      • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 16, 2018, 3:04 am

        I’m sure it happens, if it does so be it… won’t have any regrets and will still always be grateful for these experiences.

        I don’t even know what I’m gonna have for breakfast tomorrow though so no way I can say for certain what the future holds. 😉

  • taipan20No Gravatar December 16, 2018, 7:44 am

    All love Jay. I said that because it’s what happened to me, as well as 90%+ of all expats I met during my 5 years in China that found their significant others (not Bay Area per se, but back to near home). Philippines may not be China but the post you wrote above could literally be the same the story in China. You’ll have a lot more self discovery as your time abroad increases. I was in no hurry to move back (with the same exact thought process and views as you at this time in your journey) until my wife laid out the facts of why it would be better to live and raise a family in the Bay Area. You’ll see. 😉 in the meantime enjoy your time there, and the discovery. A special time in your life for sure.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 16, 2018, 8:30 am

      All good, and I appreciate hearing stories, especially from someone who has “been there and done that.”

      Definitely try my best to be open minded, and I probably misinterpreted what you were trying to say there since I’ve been scoffed at too many times for doing what I’m doing now…

      And when it comes to having kids and raising a family, I can totally understand the decision to make the Bay Area home since it offers so much…

      Just for myself, I really have no clue if that’s gonna be in my cards in the future, so I guess that’s another reason I think it’s premature for me to try and draw any conclusions at this time…

      I guess in many ways I post what I do b/c I just want others to see that there are other options out there and sometimes preconceived notions and thoughts one might have about a certain place/location can totally differ from an actual experience once you get out there and see for yourself.

      And that is for sure part of the allure and excitement that is the early FI/post FI journey. 🙂

  • Taipan20No Gravatar December 16, 2018, 8:08 am

    Also since I’ve got my crystal ball out and on a roll with bold predictions (and will screenshot both the above comment and this one for future reference) I’m also going to call this the start of the next bear market. S&P 500 saw death cross in the last week, which when coupled with TMC/GDP of >100% is accurate in predicting bear markets about half the time going back 25 years. That plus this being the longest bull market in history and actual TMC/GDP being ~130% (2nd highest in history to only the dot com bubble) makes me pretty confident.

    Of course I could also be proven wrong… but feeling pretty good I’ll get at least 1 of 2 here.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 16, 2018, 8:32 am

      Sounds like a very reasonable prediction/call to make at this time.

      I’ve been calling for S&P 500 bear market since 2015, so I’ve been way, way off with my guess lol

  • Syson97No Gravatar December 17, 2018, 4:25 pm

    Taipan20 has a good point. Also, your points are very valid.
    I’m in my fifties & migrated to YYZ from MNL & I foresee retirement similar to yours ( 1/2 in YYZ & 1/2 in DVO).
    Anyway, I’m in vaca MNL now with friends n families. As always, festive mood.
    Take care Jay, as always!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 21, 2018, 9:46 pm

      Sounds like a great plan Syson!

      50/50 split sounds like the perfect compromise in my eyes.

      Cheers!

  • KevinNo Gravatar December 21, 2018, 1:34 pm

    Hey Jay, I love this post. I’m from NYC and had a similar experience when I went to visit family in Colombia. I’m curious about what the locals/new friends your meeting in the Philippines feel about the fact that they have to work so hard and yet your retired? Just curious about their reaction to this or even if you bring it up. Not taking away from how hard you have worked to put yourself in this position. Just curious about how they see you, or if this is something that is not even an issue?

    I know for me it was weird even talking about my job in Colombia. I earn so much more money then my family there, that the money topic made me a bit uncomfortable. Especially when I see their standard of living. It made me feel almost embarrassed/ashamed to talk about.

    Just curious, thanks!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar December 21, 2018, 9:51 pm

      Kevin,

      To be perfectly honest, my gut feeling tells me it’s not really an issue if you meet the right people, but naturally there are gonna be lots of folks who raise their eyebrows and are quick to judge… or look at you differently.

      It’s a game of filtering (like always) but I trust my gut and try to surround myself with people who seem the most genuine to me, and who accept my friendship as it is without agendas, strings, expectations, etc.

      Probably easier said than done and it takes some luck, but seriously my own experience has been that I tend more times than not to attract/find/gravitate myself towards ppl who are genuinely good caring people who I trust really care about me, and vice versa.

      Sure, the topic of money is bound to come up but the best moments are typically when we are laughing our asses off talking about random nonsense. And that’s kinda always been what I wanted out of this life.

      I just do my best to try and assimilate, fit in, and not be a total snob/asshole 😉

      P.S. To anyone reading this, I find if you genuinely put in an effort to learn the language/food/culture of the locals, they will like and respect you 100000x more than if you come in demanding the locals cater to your foreign needs/expectations.

      Cheers!

      • KevinNo Gravatar December 26, 2018, 10:14 am

        That’s awesome! Thanks for the response Jay!

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