Lord of the Mattresses

BedIt is kind of embarrassing to admit, but in the year after getting married we owned six mattresses.  If that is not bad enough, they were all Cal Kings.  The average price of these beasts was $1,000 but fortunately didn’t drop 6 Gs into the mattress.  I’m not one to take advantage of the system, but picking a mattress is tough work and I’ll share my story to help make a better next purchase.

Our mattress saga

Costco had a sale on mattresses so I bought a Luxury Plush firmness one which was Mattress #1.  It worked for a little bit but then we found it ultra soft.  So we put the mattress on top of my dad’s truck and returned it to Costco.  Finding it so soft we jumped to Extra Firm, big mistake.  That one was too hard, which is funny now if you recall the picture of my piece of foam on wood in Taiwan.  Back through the exit of Costco where everyone stares at you because the receipt checker has to stop the outflows of people so your double-wide cart can fit through.  On the first trip, they sent me back out to wrap it in plastic. The following two times I knew to wrap it up first.  Next, Costco’s Firm and final chance was delivered to our house and we liked Mattress #3. Continue reading →

Free Money without Robbing the Bank

HSBC OfferI have collected bank bonuses in the past and did so for two this summer, what I didn’t realize is just how much free money was available for the taking.  So I decided to see if I could take advantage of two more and end the year with $1,550 in bonuses.  The money is free, but it will be taxed as interest.

So far I have opened a Chase account which provided me with $200.  They also provide $150 to open a checking, but I had one already.  A Bank of the West account gave me $600.  This was a mail offer I received, so be on the lookout. The other ones which I am trying to complete are Citibank which should give us $400 if we maintain $15,000 for 30 days and an HSBC one for $350.  This article will walk you through the HSBC one so you can collect your $350 as well.

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This entry was posted in Earn.

Financial Traps

High Interest Credit CardThere are many ways you can fall into financial trouble, but you can always pull yourself back up, so never give up.  Today I was paying a credit card bill and was surprised to see the following picture.

Credit cards

I am currently in the middle of a process to rack up a ton of credit card points, but it’s not going as well as planned, but more on that another day.  I am spending a ton on the card and on when making a payment today I saw the how long you could be in credit card debt.  My bill was around $18,000, but the credit card company being so ‘nice’ offered to let my pay it off over 27 years!  The price of this would end up costing me an additional $28,000.  If I paid over 3 years I would only pay an additional $5,000, but of course I paid the bill in full and always have.  Getting in debt on a credit card is a trap because the interest rates are usually around 20% and this costs you a ton in the long run.  If you are in the situation try to stop using your card and refinance to a lower rate.

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Winning the Lottery, Taiwanese Style

Lottery TicketsFortunately, in the past ten years there has been a lot of good personal finance information put online, but you will still see tons of articles written about what you should do if you win the lottery even though it is extremely uncommon.  When the lottery gets to hundreds of millions you will see tons of articles on along this thread, but let’s discuss where the lottery and gambling play into your finances.  Being addicted to gambling is a serious problem and will really hurt your finances, so if you are going to do it I’d set up some boundaries.  For me, I will only buy a lottery ticket if the prize is over $500 million.  I know the expected value is negative, but I am playing for the same reason everyone else does, because wouldn’t it be cool to get instantly rich?  As for gambling, I only play roulette in Singapore because instead of 0 to 36 with 00 they have 0 to 36.  It may not seem like a big difference, but it makes your money last longer until you are ruined but the odds are still against you.  I will only spend $50 and I rarely go to Singapore so this isn’t a huge expense on my finances.  Be careful with betting because it can cause huge problems. Continue reading →

This entry was posted in Debt.

Millennial Rite of Passage – Moving Back Home

NeighborhoodThis year we have heard a lot about how a high percentage of millennials still live with their parents.  Much of this is attributed to people getting married and having children later.  It is easier to live with your parents if you are not bringing your spouse or kids.  When I graduated college without a job the first thing I did was move back home for nearly two years.  It sure saved me a bunch of money and allowed me to eliminate my student loans in a few years.  Well guess what, we are back from China and living with my parents.  It is a transition period so that is OK right?  I’m curious what you guys think is the appropriate amount of time to live with your parents.

How long is it OK to live with your parents after college?

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Friends All Around the World

New FriendsOne super cool thing about studying Chinese in Taiwan was that I was in class with people from all around the world.  I have been friendly enough to befriend some of them and now have a list of places I can go visit.  In Utrecht, Vienna, Cape Town, Moscow, Seoul, or Kyoto I can visit a friend.

You may not think this is a money saving idea, but you’d be wrong.  First, having friends is valuable and you can’t put a price on friendship.  But why this could save you money is on travelling.  I have travelled to Sao Paulo and was able to stay at a friend’s apartment.  This saved money and time as I was located closer to my other friends who were kind enough to take me around the city.

I think my next stop will be Vienna, maybe as soon as December if my new friends are available.  Having our airline miles crest a half-million I think I can figure out a way to fly there for free and hopefully get an affordable hotel.

Local insight

Why you should make friends all over the world is because you will get to learn more about other’s cultures.  Taking a vacation is great but you will not get to learn as much as speaking with a local.  I know more about Russia and Austria than I did before and if I were to visit I could get a more local perspective rather than leaving thinking the food was OK and the museums expensive.


One day I’d like to have children and I hope they want to learn other languages otherwise I’ll have to force it on them.  If they are learning French then it would be excellent to send them to France to visit someone I already know, or even have a penpal, or whatever freaky future equivalent exists then, to communicate with.  Thinking way ahead here, but this would be cool.


It is nice to see your friends especially when you can host them or visit them in a foreign land  It is not easy to make international friends, but going to a language program sure was helpful.  Getting to know people from all over broadens your ideas so go find some new friends.

China, Giving Tainan a Run for the Money

Yanji Mountain ConstructionChina is massive and like America, there are many parts, cultures, and costs of living.  We are living in Yanji, a third-tier city which is small with a population of 400,000 but still big enough to have almost everything you could buy and be served with an airport and high-speed rail.  It is north of Beijing which means it will get a really cold winter, but right now the weather is very enjoyable.


Just like Taiwan, if you can search locally you can get a much better deal on housing than booking beforehand.  We booked beforehand so it cost us about $100 a week to stay.  However, now that I can read Chinese I looked on the internet and found some places for $120 a month.  I believe most rents are paid on a yearly basis.  As for purchasing an apartment, I found they start from $50,000.


CharThere is street food, but it is not as ubiquitous as in Taiwan, so cooking is more common.  Things are still cheap enough that we haven’t been persuaded to cook yet.  You can get a bowl of noodles for $2 and we shared a Korean BBQ meal for $10-$15 total.  Char is a famous food around here which is meat on skewers and lots of dishes contain lamb.

Chinese food was harder to come by in this area, but we were about to get in when we took a weekend trip to Shenyang.

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America as Portrayed in On Paradise Drive

On Paradise DriveI just completed reading On Paradise Drive by David Brooks which describes American culture and how we live.  I found it a great read and wanted to share some of the things I learned from reading it.  I’ll quote the book and then share my thoughts.

On consuming

  • American’s spend $40 billion on lawn care each year, more than the total tax revenues of the federal government in India.

This is ludicrous.  Americans are quite the consumer and this statistic really shows how wealthy the typical American is, not just the 1%.

  • They have become too concerned with small and vulgar pleasures, pointless one-upsmanship, and easy values.  They have become at once too permissive and too narrow, too self-indulgent and too timid.  Their lives are distracted by a buzz of trivial images by relentless hurry instead of genuine contemplation, information rather than wisdom, and a profusion of superficial choices.

Life doesn’t have to be a game show where we are quizzed on reality shows and how expensive our car was.  Take time to form your own opinion, develop a personality, and be content.

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