This is the 76th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.
Today’s interview is with Mr. TFR from Ten! Factorial Rocks. I’ve been out of school for a while and when I first saw the exclamation point after the number 10, I was confused. I kinda remembered that it was some math thing, but my brain was temporarily failing. I closed my eyes, blew out the cobwebs from my neurons and it came back to me. In case you don’t remember, Mr. TFR explains it here.
Mr. TFR, I hope your 10!$ dreams come true!
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My website (tenfactorialrocks.com) is based on 4 simple maxims that drive my life and hopefully, many other seekers out there: They are: a) Save Money b) Avoid Traps c) Invest Well and d) Find Meaning (of life, spirit, work, relationships, people….whatever appeals to you). These are captured in my Ten Factors that outline what my website is all about.
Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) was created to chronicle my journey towards retirement while sharing my views on the learning’s, absurdities and pitfalls along the way towards my search for a more meaningful life. Wall Street finance and stock option riches have one thing in common – they never passed through my life!
TFR is not just about financial independence. TFR is also about self- empowerment while getting to financial independence, and our search for a better, meaningful life (of which early retirement is just one milestone). See why I chose this strange name.
Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
I want TFR to be the reliable compass to help anyone navigate the complex, changing and often, confusing world we live in. My topics cover the gamut of modern life, involving money, work, relationships, investing and also, analysis of interesting news.
Truth in writing and objectivity in analysis are my anchors that I hope my readers come to appreciate. I want at least a million readers of my website to have made better decisions in their life journey and live a better and meaningful life!
What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
I started recently but I hope to have 100,000 unique readers for my blog in the short term, going up to 1 million regular readers in a year. Ambitious, I know, but as you said, dream big or not at all!
What post are you most proud of and why?
Every post of mine has originality and research behind it, so it is hard for me to choose. I am giving a bit of a long list (sorry!) of my recent posts for your readers to sample and decide (full list is archived on my website):
- Gold: Relief When You Need It
- House Fever: It’s Global
- A Peek Into a Real 1%er
- What is Enough?
- It Pays Rich Dividends
- Got Risk? Get Over It!
- Not Another Buy vs. Rent Post!
- Are You Biased?
- How To Invest Efficiently
- Money & Relationships: Rules That Work
- Your Job. Your Attitude. Your Independence!
- Work Abroad Before You Retire
- Are You a PAW Yet?
- Invert. Always Invert!
- You cannot shrink your way to FI
- Entrepreneurship Hype – It Will Cost You
- Buy or Rent? Consider Career Cost
- Sensibly Frugal
- Buying vs. Renting: A Capital Tale
Do you enjoy writing?
Absolutely! It is my passion and has been so even during my high school days. I like all kinds of writing, technical, managerial, financial and including poetry! Writing has helped me survive many boring engineering lectures in my younger days and survive inane meetings in the corporate world. Even today, it helps me de-stress from difficult and unpleasant events.
1500 Days is about early retirement. Do you have early retirement dreams? At what age do you think you will retire?
I have always believed Financial Independence is mandatory but early retirement is optional. From the traditional metric of FI being 25 times annual expenses (that is, the famous 4% rule), the TFR household is already there. I am now pushing towards the dream target of $10! (that is, $3.6 million), because I don’t want to even entertain the thought of having to go back to work after retirement. I hope to get there soon.
If blogging isn’t your full time gig, what is?
I am a 45-year-young corporate manager working in a consumer goods company, which keeps sending me around the world! I have a family (including elderly mother) to support but that’s not why I need my job; it is because I am doing (so far) interesting things in my job. Despite some serious personal challenges in my life, I am moving ahead while trying to live a balanced life in this crazy world. I hope blogging becomes my full time gig once I get close to my 10! target.
When you are 90 and look back on your life, what do you hope you have accomplished?
I would want to look back and first remember a life well-lived. Memory would be a blessing at that age. If my son considers his old man’s thoughts captured in Ten Factorial Rocks and benefits from them as his rightful legacy, then one objective of my TFR website would’ve been achieved. On a broader scale, if at least a million people benefit from ideas and thoughts presented on my website and flood my mailbox saying so (assuming I remember my email password then!), I would happily die as a 90-year old.
What is the best money management or investment tool you have come across?
My recommendations are here. For investments, Vanguard would rank way up there. For tracking, Personal Capital would be my choice, I explain why here.
How do you handle people with different views on money, ie spendy people?
I don’t judge people based on their spending habits and views on money. I believe spending is only one part of the equation, the other part is supporting net worth. If I saw someone splurge on a Mercedes S class car, I wouldn’t be able to judge without knowing their net worth. If they belong to top tier of 1%, this may actually be a sensibly frugal purchase. The Mercedes buyer who feels a Lamborghini (that he could really afford) is wasteful may be a frugal person we could learn from.
On the other hand, a woman in Asia splurging on $100 gifts frequently but earning barely $500 is far more spendy (relatively speaking). It is this kind of spending that has caused the American retirement crisis in my opinion. I have drafted an article on that poor household in Asia from my first-hand experience there, which I will post soon. Since the definition of ‘spendy’ is always relative, I try not to judge people based on spending habits.
Handling any type of people is no issue for me. I always enjoy a good conversation with anyone from any country, culture and walk of life. I am proud of my ability to have a meaningful conversation with anyone, from a poor roadside vendor in Asia dressed in rags or a suave CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I try to learn something interesting from both.
Did you grow up with money? How did your money situation growing up influence you?
I grew up in a lower middle class family and did my schooling in modest schools. Every dollar had to be stretched during childhood. I played my first video game in my 10th grade. All my higher education (multiple degrees in engineering and business) were from leading US universities, all paid for by scholarships and fellowships that allowed me to graduate debt-free. Without that kind of education, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Did your parents teach you about money as a kid? How so?
Yes, they taught me to save first, and then spend. Though money was tight, love wasn’t. I am grateful for the personal sacrifices they made to help me get success in life. My parents also taught me the value of sensible frugality and told me to find my own meaning in life (and also planted the spiritual seed in me, which I had kept in cold storage till recently!)
I expanded the savings concept they taught me to include charitable giving as well (which also is a saving in my view, as in ‘saving’ someone’s life, health, dignity and humanity).
What is your favorite style of beer – and what is your favorite beer in that style?
Not much of a beer drinker, but don’t mind sitting down with a cold one if that is the only libation available! Actually, I prefer wine. I enjoy a nice glass of Merlot or Chardonnay occasionally alongside a good meal.
We notice a lot of frugal people are into board games – what is your favorite?
Chess. I used to play chess a lot in my school and college days (won a small championship in grad school) but I don’t get much time these days with my family and work. Trying to get my son interested in chess but he loves the internet games more.
What is the best thing you’ve read lately.
Why Good Things Happen to Good People by Stephen Post.
What do you do for exercise?
Not much of a fitness guy, but I do my 40-minute morning walk and on some days, light yoga and flexing exercises. Being a vegetarian by choice, avoiding lifestyle diseases is more important to me than six-pack abs! Although if there was a ‘factorial’ way to get to six-pack abs, I will do it!
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