Note: This post is the last in a four part series. Here are links to the previous posts in the series: part 1, part 2, part 3.
Great news for busy people! Being literate on personal finance and developing good money habits doesn’t require a lot of time. Just one book is more than enough (for example, the two at the top of my list below) and the main principles could easily be summarized in a concise blog post.
It will probably come as no surprise that I’m not a fan of the “pics for Facebook” mode of travel in which the main objective of a journey seems to be getting lots of selfies to show off on social media. If we go to Angkor Wat and do nothing more than take a succession of photos of our own face, are we really seeing and experiencing Angkor Wat?
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
The high point of my two weeks in Iceland this July was the Laugavegur and Fimmvorduhals Treks, which are connected and done continuously over 4-6 days. Beginning with the raw, desolate beauty of Landmannalaugar in the highlands of western Iceland, traveling through the deep, rugged, verdant canyons of Thorsmork and ending near the southern coast at Skogar, the trek is included in many “best in the world” lists on the internet. It could easily be the most incredible natural beauty I’ve seen in my life, and that’s saying a lot, because I do like to get out and see the world! In addition to the unforgettable scenery, I met a lot of wonderful people on the trail and in the mountain huts we stayed at each night.
This is the third post in a four part series. You can find the first here and the second here.
Are you looking forward to retirement? Would you like to spend all of your time as you like rather than just nights, weekends and holidays? What if you could do that sooner than you previously thought? With this series on personal finance and especially with this post with “math” in the title, some readers may feel that the blog has strayed from its more philosophical orientation (“Life is a journey. What are smart ways to travel?”). In the end though I see this series as fundamentally about how we use our time. Getting our financial house in order is simply a way to spend more of our time in this world on what we care about most. So the personal finance I’m advocating is one with a distinctly spiritual dimension – What makes life most worth living? How can we do more of that?
I haven’t been able to post in the blog for a while because my June and July travels in the US and Iceland were just too busy and eventful. My motivation for the blog is as high as ever though and now that I’m back to regular life in Bangkok I look forward to resuming regular posts.
The two weeks I spent in Iceland were so rich in amazing scenery that I’ll probably do at least 3-4 posts from that trip, especially of the extended trek and day hikes I did there. I need more time to go over the thousands of photos I took on that trip and select only the very best for the blog. For now, here are my best photos from Pokhara, which is a gateway for many treks in Nepal, including the one I did in April.
This is the second post in a four part series. You can find the first post here.
Near the end of my time in Saigon a friend asked me to visit her English class to talk to her students and give them a chance to practice with a native speaker. When she introduced me to the class she told the students that I wrote a blog “about meditation,” a comment which left me with a mix of amusement and embarrassment. Is my enthusiasm in recommending meditation really that over the top!?
One of the things I like about this series on time and money is that it’s about something I’m equally evangelical about but which I’ve barely touched in this blog – personal finance and more generally being smart about money. (By the way, the “>” in the title is the math symbol for “greater than”, not an arrow, and the title of this series is my assertion that, in the context of a human life, time and our ability to control how we spend it is vastly more important than money.)
In late April I walked alone into the Himalayas for a five day trek with nothing but a small day pack on my back. Does this seem scary? If so I completely understand. I don’t think I’m particularly courageous and plenty of fears crossed my mind as I thought about and planned the trek. Without a guide, maybe I’d get lost in the mountains and never be found. Maybe I’d be buried in an avalanche. Or die in a heavy snowstorm. Or maybe there would be another deadly earthquake, like the one that hit Nepal in 2015. All these things have in fact killed plenty of trekkers in Nepal. But it’s also worth noting that there were about 6,000 pedestrian fatalities last year in the United States and yet we still keeping crossing the street.
The high point of my recent travels in Nepal was a five day trek I did in the Annapurna region of the Himalayas. The third day of the trek was particularly memorable, both for beautiful scenery and for an extremely awkward social interaction.