The Girl That Glowed With a Thousand Splendid Suns

Being wanted is a feeling that is innate and borne into us as soon as we leave the womb and feel that loving embrace from our mother, someone who truly and unconditionally wants us… most of the time. I have completely forgot what it felt like to be wanted after being stuck in a relationship for almost a decade where our relationship was devoid of emotional connection and I truly believe neither party “wanted” the other. There are tonnes of baggage, disappointments, and sadness that has festered and allowed to stew to create a horrendous cyst that was drained every now and then but always kept growing back because the root was never removed – and I personally did not think it could be. We stayed together for so long because of our daughter but the Universe finally said enough is enough and gave me a sign to move on and my gut has taken me so far in this world so I decided to proceed. This story takes place one month after the separation and is another fulcrum moment in my life that I will always cherish. This happened on Friday and it’s currently early Tuesday morning therefore I wanted to get my feelings down of what I felt before my memories and emotions start to blur and it’s not as poignant. My hope is that I can look back on this post when I’m in a spot where love has left me and I’ve become callous, that it can remind me that there is love out there and it’s the best high you can get. Warning – major cheese ahead, proceed with caution and eyeballs ready to roll backwards.

A Going Away Party at Suki’s Karaoke Bar
A member of our MBA cohort was leaving back to his hometown so we all got together for one last time at this bar which I use to drive past all the time when I worked out in Hillsboro but have never noticed. I walked in around 9:30 PM or so when the party started at 8 because I was busy watching LeBron James try to come back from a 3-0 Finals deficit. I enjoyed the atmosphere because there was a diversity of folks – a group of cosplaying friends, the long-term couples in the back, the college kids in the corner, and the creepy old guy right in front watching the drunken Asian guy sing Amish Paradise. There were eight of us with six being part of the cohort and the other two girls being friends. Things started uneventful as I just went to the bar to catch up by drinking summer shandys… I can’t help it but they’re delicious. After about three of those I was ready to karaoke!!
Focus is Great but Learn to Look Up Once in a While
During this time, I had taken an interest into one of our cohort members and spent the majority of the night talking with her. My plan was, as corny as it sounds, to sing “As Lovers Go” by Dashboard Confessional to explain to her my feelings – I know right, what is this? High school? But the plan was foiled by the DJ not having that song so I settled for some “All You Wanted” by Michelle Branch which is an awesome melody in itself but didn’t quite get the message across, but it was also a super fun song to sing. So after the song, and a few more beers, I went to talk to my cohort member some more and came off way too forward. Like when you take that leap with your crush and you wish you can get back on the ledge but that train has choo-choo’ed away. Anyways, she was not interested. A quick detour in the story but I tried to see if it would work over the weekend by messaging her but she was not having it – I was almost about to buy her an edible arrangement but before I did I googled “when to know when to stop trying to get someone who is not interested” or something like that and found this absolute gem of an article by Love Panky: here is the link. First and foremost, I do not blame her for anything. I completely understand that everyone has their preferences and clearly I was not her type and it was hard for me to understand that at the time but the article helped me overcome that mindset. Anyway, I had spent the entire night focusing on someone who had absolutely no interest in me that I did not notice the stunning girl sitting across the table from me.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
I honestly don’t recall how it happened but we ended up drinking canned Tecate at a table all to ourselves. The alcohol was flowing and we ended starting to get closer and closer then I had flashbacks to middle school of playing the “nervous” game where you would creep your hand up until the other person said they were nervous – we were as nervously close as could be. When the orange musky bar light illuminated her face, the first thing I noticed was that her face was kissed with hundreds of freckles. They were generated randomly yet somehow in all the chaos of genetics, their beauty was undeniable. The first thing that popped into my mind when I first saw those freckles was that it made her face radiantly beautiful and bore the glow of a thousand splendid suns. Now whenever I see another freckled face, hers will always be the golden standard that I would set all else to.
Living in the Moment
It all started with her hair being all frizzy on one side because of the humidity I guess, not sure since I don’t have long girl hair. As soon as I reached up to fix her hair, to her great surprise, I felt a strange surge of warmth that was mixed with desire and acceptance. She asked if I did that to truly fix her hair or if I was just trying to touch her and I replied both, and she whispered that she liked it. I repeated the kind gesture a second time with this time her hand holding my brushing hand and gravity pulled us together in a delicate embrace. It was the first time I kissed a different woman in almost a decade and it was life changing. I cannot speak for her, but for me, it was so eventful for me because I was in a situation where I was currently a state in my life where I was unsure of myself. Was I attractive? How am I going to recover from being in such a long relationship? What if I’m a terrible single person and no one wants to date me? Should I just go back to the safety of my ex and forgive? But her kiss showed me that yes, there is more than one girl in this world. When our eyes entwined, I saw something that I haven’t seen in many, many years… my longing for that person being accepted and then mutually reciprocated. The Universe has a great sense of humor if you haven’t noticed, how do I know? Because for the brief moment that my ears became lucid, I heard some drunk dude signing Mirrors by Justin Timberlake and among many other things, that song will forever remind me of her. It was a beautiful experience in my life because for that brief moment in time, I was utterly and completely lost in her soulful chocolate eyes. I felt like Leo and his wife in Inception where they had already spent a lifetime together in what amounted to just a fraction of time in reality. I didn’t care that the night would eventual end, I didn’t care if there were people staring at us, or that I will probably never see her again after tonight. For once in my life, I was in the moment and not thinking about the next step. I will forever be indebted and grateful to her for giving me an experience that I will cherish it for as long as I need it.
Be Patient, There is Love Out There and It’s Beautiful
In our marketing classes, we saw a TedTalk with Drew Dudley talking about lollipop moments where an insignificant event in your own personal life makes a profound impact on somebody else’s. In his case, it was telling a shy guy to give a lollipop to the girl standing in front of him in line, that small ice breaker led to the two being married several years later. Once again, I can’t speak for her and this might just be another drunken random make-out session in a bar but to me it was an epiphany and a reminder that there are people out there who are interested in you and are more than willing to reciprocate your love. I have nothing but complete admiration for her, I feel as if she was an angel sent down to help lift my spirits and all I can pray for is that I made her feel happy in our short moment together.

How I Cut the Cord and Got Rid of My Cable Bill

My favorite part of Gardetto’s Original Mix is the roasted garlic rye chips and I would only eat those if I could but nope! Gardetto’s makes you buy the entire bag with all the other bull crap and won’t let you pick out those rye chips by themselves. This is exactly how I feel about cable packages. They bundle all this crap together and make you pay for it but you really only want ESPN, TNT, and BeIn Sports!! And it has been this way for decades with no other place to go but just like how Gardetto’s finally got wise and made the Special Request: Roasted Garlic Rye Chips bag, somebody has finally come up with an offering that fits YOUR wants rather than what THE CABLE COMPANY wants and what works best for THEIR contract agreements. Join me on this journey to learn how I cut the cord and custom fitted my TV entertainment to what I wanted and ditched a $170.92 cable bill from Comcast.

A cable bill just like everyone else’s
Yup you read that correctly, $170.92. This was the Xfinity Premier Double Play with DVR and 2 extra boxes and 100 mbs internet. Sure it was pretty great having 200+ channels but when you’re only watching 5 of those, it’s quite a big waste of money! Just thinking about how much myself and other people have spent on unwatched channels just makes me sick, $170.92 * 12 months = $2,051.04 per year!! You can take a pretty solid weekend vacation for $2,000 bucks! That’s a lot of clothes! A lot of drinking! A lot of restaurant time with the people you love! But nope, it’s getting spent on things that are of no use to anyone except for the cable company. Going through my debt-free journey, I’ve learned to be INTENTIONAL with my money and this was clearly a monthly payment that was not.

Step 1: Deciding on what Internet package to get
I could have stayed with Comcast and reduced my package down to just internet but I’ve quit from DirecTV before and if you want to have constant phone calls and letters about why you quit and if you want to upgrade your package then please go this route. I wanted a CLEAN CUT. I considered it a white lie when I told Comcast that I was cancelling because I was moving overseas. This was the best part, they asked if there was someone who could keep using the services I set up or if I knew of someone I could transfer my package to… wtf do you even mean! I HIGHLY recommend telling them the reason for cancelling is that you’re moving overseas because I haven’t received one phone call or letter from Comcast where DirecTV still calls and sends me letters when I have told them repeatedly to fuck off, just like that bad ex.

I decided to go to with Frontier because I had them before so I knew they were reliable and they were also cheap at $40/month for 30 mbs speed. Since I didn’t game anymore and we have a fairly small household, this was the perfect package for me. The worst part? Having to take a fucking day off so that they could hook-up my internet which took 15 minutes because I was a previous customer. Yes, let’s make our CUSTOMERS wait for us to install OUR shit and don’t let them pick a time, just tell them we’re going to be there sometime between 8 FUCKING AM AND 5 MOTHERFUCKING PM… what a joke. WHERE IS GOOGLE FIBER?!?!

SOFTWARE

Step 2: Tailoring YOUR entertainment package
I NEED SPORTS!!! This ultimately led me to have the package that I currently have along with what makes my parents happy as well. Although one sacrifice I had to make was giving up my soccer matches because I couldn’t find a good alternative and I didn’t watch that much anymore anyways. So here is what my subscription/software package entails:

Netflix = $9.99/month
I feel like this is an absolute must for that price. There are not many things that cost $10 that give me as much entertainment value as Netflix. Just think of all the great shows available on there: OITNB, Stranger Things, Marco Polo, Narcos, Master of None, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and so many great movies. This is the bare minimum.

Sling TV = $13.99 (T-Mobile Discount, usually the price is $19.99/month)
This is also a necessity for my situation because it gives me the Big 3 of ESPN, ESPN2, and TNT (for NBA basketball – LeBRON JAMES!!). It also gives me the Travel Channel and CNN which I really don’t care for but my parents love.

Amazon Prime = $99/year or $8.25/month
I mostly got this because of the free 2-day shipping but they also have movies and music available to stream. Not gonna lie but I haven’t watched a Prime movie or show since I’ve gotten it, however, my parent’s like the foreign movies on there so at least someone is using it. Once again, this is essential not necessarily for the entertainment value but that 2 day shipping is unbeatable, freaking LOVE IT!!!

Total Monthly Subscription = $9.99 + 13.99 + 8.25 + $39.99 = $72.22 for a total savings of $98.70!! WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH AN EXTRA $100/MONTH??!!?

HARDWARE

Mohu Leaf 50 = $49.92
If you’re a sports fan, then this is another piece of cutting the cord that you can’t escape. The Mohu Leaf 50 lets you pick up the local channels but why is this important? COLLEGE FOOTCHIE BALL, THE NFL, AND THE NBA FINALS!! WHAT MORE DO I NEED TO SAY? But be sure to check what kind of channels you can expect to pick up with the Leaf – here’s the FCC website. It’s kinda funky because I get ABC, NBC, CBS downstairs but not FOX, however, in my parents room upstairs, they get ALL of the Fantastic Four channels.
Amazon Fire TV = $64.99 (Refurbished)
This Fire TV itself is not that amazing but paired with Amazon Prime and Kodi, the Fire TV has no rival. You can also use the Fire Stick which works just as well but cheaper. I would talk more about Kodi but let’s just say that the first rule of Kodi is that you don’t talk about Kodi. It’s kinda like Pirate Bay but except with streaming, and that’s all I have to say about that. Kodi is what will fill all the gaps in your entertainment needs, believe me.

Total hardware costs = $49.92 + 64.99 = $114.91 => ONE TIME COST TO GET THAT STUPID ASS CABLE COMPANY OUT OF YOUR LIFE!!! Except for the internet… still no solution to that oligopoly. COME ON GOOGLE FIBER!!!

So if you’re like me and so freaking tired of dealing with the cable companies bullshit then cut the cord!! I’m not going to lie, I was afraid at first because what am I going to do without my OPTION of 200 channels?!?! Well It’s been 6 months now and I’ve never been more happy with my entertainment package. I do hear some cries from my mom because the soccer matches are a lot harder to find but everything else is copacetic.

STOP THROWING YOUR MONEY AWAY AT SHIT YOU’LL NEVER USE!!!

CUT THE CORD!!!

What It’s Like Owning Your Dream Car

A Ferrari Enzo? How about a Porsche 911 Turbo? Maybe a Lamborghini Aventador? Perhaps a Lykan HyperSport? NO THANKS!!! My dream car is a Honda S2000 and I have loved every minute that I have owned this wonderful, beautiful, and absolutely kickass car. It was love at first sight when my virgin eyes were forever changed with the most exotic thing I’ve ever seen – a black Honda S2000 with them sweet ass decals and that NOS absolutely decimating poor Jesse’s VW. And of course those iconic words coolly whispered by Johnny “House of Ogedei” Tran, “Too Soon, Junior.”

johnny-tran-s2k

Since that moment in time, I knew that someday I would have the privilege and honor of owning my own Honda S2000 and luckily that day came sooner rather than later. In the year of my quarter-century, the tipping point came when Tiffany got herself a new Honda Fit and I got bit by both the jealously bug and the S2K centipede (why a centipede? well if you’ve ever seen one move, it’s sexy as hell and very intriguing – just like the S). I began the search and found a completely stock one at CarMax with only 45k miles and one previous owner – it was one that I just couldn’t pass up! And to sweeten the deal, it was a free transfer from California! So I got a loan from LightStream and next thing you know my dad was teaching me how to drive a manual transmission in the Lowe’s parking lot! The car has been an absolute orgasm to drive and I’ve learned a few things from not only owning my first car but my DREAM car!

20151001_161229

1. Driving Can Be Fun, Especially If It’s Manual
I’ve always looked at driving as getting from point A to point B although I knew how exhilarating going fast can be as I drive my motorcycle in the summer but those are two completely different categories, it’s like comparing lamb and tuna fish – it just doesn’t make sense. I never thought the acceleration of 1st gear and then shifting into 2nd could put such a fat-ass smile on my face, I literally screamed out-loud because it was that awesome. And then hearing that awesome roar of VTEC when I hit 6.5k RPM, I don’t think I felt that kind of an adrenaline rush since I jumped out of a plane. And the incredible thing is, I still get that feeling every time I drive that freaking car! I also met a great group of people who also enjoyed driving their S2000’s and the group showed me there are fantastic roads to push the limits of your S2K – I highly recommend joining the enthusiast group of your dream car, everyone shares the same love that you do for the vehicle.

20160521_125414

2. It Feels Different When You Have the Title and OWN the Car
This might have to do with me going through my debt-free journey with the car payment. I had the constant battle of should I sell this car so I can get out of debt faster because at the time I could basically sell it and not lose any money. But, I decided to stick through it because I didn’t want to be one of those guys who had to sell their beloved cars because they got in a financial bind and it gave me extra motivation because this was the first car I bought and also my dream baby. I kept and car and cleared my debts and as soon as I got that title the car just started to sound different and handle differently. This is MY CAR, not the banks’, not the lenders’, nobody’s but MINE, MINE, MINE! It was the first major personal asset I had and it felt absolutely incredible to own it outright.

grace-mcqueen

3. You Don’t Give a Shit About What Other People Are Driving
I was a little envious of my peers driving sweet ass cars like BMWs, Audis, Subaru’s, Lexus’, and of course my girlfriend’s brand new Honda Fit! But one thing I learned about this dream car process is the horrors of having a car payment and how many people are throwing away money in a depreciating asset where they can “afford” the payments. I read an article that said the average car payment in the US was $457/month!! That was believable to me since my own car payment was $267/month and my mom’s was $650/month for her 2013 Honda Pilot. So instead of putting that $5,500/year into a Roth IRA, you’re putting it in an “asset” that goes down in value with every single mile driven. I daily a shitty 1999 Toyota Camry and feel completely fine with that because I know I got my queen in my garage and when I look at these new cars, I just feel sorry for the buyers and their monthly car payment.

If you have the opportunity to purchase your dream car, DO IT!!!! But only if you can do it with cash and avoid that car payment! I don’t ever plan on selling my car because it has too much sentimental value tied to it and I don’t foresee myself ever being in a financial pinch where I’m forced to sell it.

VTEC JUST KICKED IN YO!!

How I Got Debt-Free!!!!

I’m not special.

I don’t come from a wealthy family, I didn’t win the lottery, and I don’t have a 6-figure income, nor am I a genius.

I’m your typical Millennial that graduated college with student loans, although I’m in the STEM field with a decent income for a recent graduate. My goal is to help inspire Millennials and other generations that debt is not a way of life, not everyone has debt and there is a plan to help guide you through the process. Below is the story of my financial paradigm shift from a typical American to a Debt-Free believer.

Living Like Everyone Else
The initial point of my debt-free journey occurred a few weeks after my 26th birthday on a February Sunday in 2015. Up to this point, I was extremely comfortable with my life and thought that I was financially secure. I graduated from Oregon State in 2012 with an engineering degree and had a job already lined up at graduation making $56,000/year which is something that was unfathomable to a broke college student like I was. Fast forward to 2015 and here I was saddled with student loan and credit card payments and to my great chagrin, a car payment because I felt that I could “afford” my dream car (a Honda S2000). I also got wrapped up in a bad video game addiction that had been haunting me all my life since I got a Nintendo Gameboy. My life was falling into a rut where I was blinded and falling into a deep, deep hole. I would go to work, go home, play video games, pay bills, sleep, and repeat the process. The video game addiction was starting to interfere with my personal life where I would spend my weekdays when I got off work and more than 20+ hours on the weekends playing games. It also started to seep into my work performance and that’s when I knew that things were starting to get bad.

Dave Ramsey and a Cold Turkey
I’ve always been a fan of personal finance with my interest starting at a young age where I asked my parents at 16 to help me open a Roth IRA so I could see what it was like to purchase stocks and mutual funds. I had a credit card with my mom at 15 and had a checking account along with a savings account therefore I considered myself “financially savvy” for my young age. Now as an emerging adult, the name Dave Ramsey came up a few times through my forays into the personal finance space of the internet but I never really paid him any attention. My coworker introduced me to podcasts and I downloaded a few episodes of the Dave Ramsey Show on my phone but didn’t listen to them – I was too addicted to the Serial podcast! Little did I know, the planets were already aligning to open the gate for my Debt-Free journey.

On a Sunday night in early February after a 16 hour bender of video games (DotA being my drug of choice) I stumbled like a zombie back to my room that I share with Alexis (daughter) and Tiffany (girlfriend) – we sleep on a bunk bed 😀 As I climbed the short ladder to the top bunk, Alexis’ butterfly night light illuminated both of their faces perfectly and flashed an epiphany in my mind. I heard a voice asking me if I loved my video games more than my family and why I couldn’t see the unintentional pain that I was causing them. Rather than spending time with them and putting them to sleep, I was in the other room wasting my life away in an unforgiving virtual realm. My inner eye was finally opened to the potential repercussions of my current path: losing my job, alienating my family, destroying my other relationships, and extinguishing any potential I had in this life. As I lay in bed, I made a vow that I would quit playing video games and I would refocus my energy to better my life. As corny as it sounds, I shook my own hand because I’ve always believed that a man is only as good as his word and that was a principle that I lived on.

The following morning I deleted DotA from my laptop along with the back-up file I had in my external hard drive therefore I had no way of getting the game again without considerable effort. I know I needed something else to latch on now that I didn’t have video games preoccupying my time. That same morning on my drive to work I decided to listen to my downloaded Dave Ramsey episodes and the rest is history…

Battle of the 5 Debts
I put pen to paper and listed my debts from smallest to largest to visualize how big and mean this monster was that I had to vanquish. The evil horde consisted of five demonic debts:
1. Phone Bill – $432 (I bought my mom a new iPhone for Mother’s day on a payment plan)
2. Credit Card – $1,645 (Remaining debt of my vacation to Florida TWO years prior)
3. Student Loans – $15,034 (I received my BS from Oregon State in Construction Engineering Management)
4. Car Loan – $18,968 (My beautiful Grace, a 2005 Honda S2000 with 45k miles)
5. Parent PLUS Loans – $44,052 (My parents sacrificed so much to put me through college therefore I wanted to repay them by taking over the loan payments)

Total = $80,131

The Debt Snowball
Dave Ramsey’s recommendation to getting out of debt is using the “Debt Snowball Method” where you list your debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate and work your way up the ladder. Once you pay off a debt, you use that monthly payment and add it to the snowball so that when you’re on your final debt the snowball resembles an avalanche! The debt-snow ball is a simple equation:

Debt Snowball = Income – Expenses

To increase the rate of paying off debt there is only 2 variables that you can modify, either increasing your income or lowering your expenses. I did as much as I could to change both variables so that I could finish this journey ASAP! I was making too much money to be so broke, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My initial timeline showed me completing the journey in 26 months.

The most important thing I learned about getting debt free is that it’s not your weekend 5k fun run, it is Forrest Gump running across the country!! It requires 100% commitment from you physically, mentally, and spiritually – you will not succeed unless you get “gazelle-intense” and take it seriously.

Increasing Income
I knew I had to increase my income if I wanted to tackle this debt and Dave talks about getting a part-time job with pizza delivery being his go-to job recommendation. I didn’t think being a pizza delivery boy would work for me because A) I had a full-time job and the hours could potentially conflict B) my hours would vary from week to week. Therefore I searched for part-time jobs on Craigslist and found a perfect one! I was going to be a garbage man!

ZipEco (formerly Ecommunity)
The job was from 8-11 PM every day of the week except for Tuesday and Friday nights which basically meant that I would have to skew my work/life balance to the extreme. The other dagger was that it was in Vancouver, WA therefore I had a 40 minute commute each way to get to work. Fortunately, the pay was good and I had a fixed schedule that I could work with.

The apartment complex I was servicing consisted of 188 units and the tenants would leave their trash and recyclables in containers in front of their doors. My job was to carry these items from the door step to a centralized area that included a trash compactor and recycling bins. It was a physically demanding job but I was not scared of doing manual labor because I’ve spent many summers doing those types of jobs. Another odd thing was I never complained or felt angry about doing this job because I was doing the job for a greater purpose. I was “living like no one else so that later I could live like no one else.” That was my life for 12 months, I would work at my day job as an engineer till 4:30 PM, go home to eat and usually take a quick nap, head off to my part-time trash job at 7:00 PM, get home at 11:30 PM and then wake up at 6:00 AM to lather, rinse, and repeat. Adding this part-time job helped me reduce my journey by 9 months!

Additional Income
I did various things to increase my income as much as possible including:
Driving for Uber
Selling Plasma
• Selling everything I could on Craigslist
• Liquidating my stocks ($10,000) and decreasing my savings account from $15,000 to $1,000
• Taking out all the money that I had saved for Alexis’ college fund ($5,500)
• Selling all my silver at a 60% loss (never buying commodities as an investment again!)
• Eliminated my CarMax warranty (I didn’t even know you could do this until Dave mentioned it on his radio show)

Lowering Expenses
The greatest expense reducer I had was being able to live with my parents – if you have this option available then I highly suggest moving in with your parents to help boost your debt-free journey. Of course, make sure everyone is on the same page with a goal in mind of when you’re going to move out and what expenses you’ll be helping with. I am an only child and in the Vietnamese culture it’s not odd that children live with their parents for a prolonged time period – my grandma is currently living with my aunt and has lived with us as well for several years. I don’t pay rent but I do pay utilities to aid my parents in their household expenses and I also promised them I would take on additional expenses once I’m finished with this journey. Living with my parents has been a tremendous boost to me getting debt-free because they gave me support and have helped me cover so many typical expenses that I don’t have to pay for like laundry and groceries. I could not have done this without my parents.

Public Transportation
Another aspect of reducing my expenses was no longer driving to work but taking the public railway and even better my company pays for 50% of the public transportation costs! Another added benefit was now I get to read books instead of sitting in traffic. I usually spent around $20 on gas a week and countless wasted hours but now my commuting cost was $12.5/week which equates to almost $400 a year – this doesn’t include the wear and tear on the vehicle and of course the decreased probability of getting in a traffic accident which is astronomically higher due to Oregonian’s terrible, horrible, no-good driving abilities.

Bringing Lunch from Home
I started to bring my own lunch instead of going to fast-food restaurants. Typically, I was spending around $6 for lunch every day and eating non-healthy foods – the simple math shows that I was spending $30/week or $1,560/year on eating out at lunch. Bringing my own food allowed me to eat healthier and eliminated a big expense that I never really thought about.

No Social Life
A sacrifice I made was that I rarely, if ever, went to any entertainment or social events with friends and family. I didn’t go out to dinner, no movies, and no more nights out to the bars and clubs. This made me miss going away parties, birthday parties, celebratory parties, and all awesome parties in general! I was okay with making this sacrifice because it was only a temporary pause on my social life, I only needed 2 years to complete the journey and then I could enjoy myself without charging a big night out and then paying for it in monthly installments.

Stopping 401(k) Contribution
This cut was probably the moment I knew that I was fully committed to my Debt-Free journey. I loved investing in my 401(k) but I was diluting my goal by spending potential debt money into an investment. I was basically borrowing debt to be able to invest and that was not a smart move. I did a calculation on what I was giving up from my company match by not investing in the 401(k) and it was around $1,500 a year but to get the match I was also “sacrificing” $3,000 of income. I decided that I was diving into this thing 1,000% and changed my contribution to 0% and didn’t look back! Of course, when I get debt-free I will bump my contributions back to 15% as taught in Baby Step 4.

I’M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!
This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It required me to be fully committed to a goal that demanded my body, my mind, my relationships, and every inch of my life. I had to do a complete paradigm shift of my thoughts about money and how I viewed debt. I literally lived like no one else and now I can finally live like no one else. I sacrificed and took every principle Dave offered to help me through this journey. I was able to pay off my $80,000 of debt faster than I imagined and finished in 12 months! It’s really amazing how the universe starts to help you when you’re on this journey. I had money coming in from unexpected places and opportunities opened up that allowed me to get additional income. Break the chains that debt has on you because the borrower is truly a slave to the lender! I hope my story gives you inspiration to start your own debt-free journey because the view is magnificent from the top and when you don’t owe a single penny to anyone!!

There were two quotes I kept repeating as I went through this journey:

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn

“Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else” – Dave Ramsey

I sacrificed a year of my life for an eternity of freedom and I would make the exchange again EVERY TIME.

Transferring a Title of Property from a Person to an LLC

Working in the construction industry has allowed me to meet a lot of individuals and fellow coworkers who own rental properties because they’re in the real estate industry every day whether its commercial or residential therefore it’s a perfect synergy. I always thought that rental property was something that only rich people have but I came to see that was not the case, however, the majority of them still had mortgages on the property. This is how I found out that some people created an LLC and transferred the title over to the company to protect their own personal assets. I then discussed the topic with my parents and this is also something they wanted to do to their commercial property and asked me if I would help them. Of course I said yes and it was an awesome learning experience setting up the LLC, writing the quit claim deed and then getting it recorded with the county clerk. Here is my post about the process but it’s tailored to Oregon/Multnomah County so you might have to just exchange the websites for your own state and county.

Step 1: Verify with your Mortgage Lender
I found out through my research that there are some mortgage lenders who have a “due clause” written into the mortgage contract that if the title changes hands then they have a right to demand that the full mortgage amount becomes due. Therefore, it is imperative that you check with your mortgage lender that they’ll allow you to transfer the title from your name to an LLC before you do any of the steps below.

Step 2: Creating an LLC
In Oregon, they have an electronic filing system to register your company therefore it makes things a lot easier – it took me less than an hour. You register your company through the Oregon Secretary of State and follow the prompts. During the process, they’ll also make you sign up with the IRS and get an Employer Identification Number for tax purposes. Once you complete the process, you’ll get a confirmation from the SoS with your “Articles of Organization” and can print out a “Certificate of Existence” to display on your company’s premises – I believe the total cost was $60. Here’s my LLC’s CoE and this along with the AoO will be important documents in the next step.

SCAN0001Step 3: Business Checking Account
The next part is to create a checking account under the name of your business. This will help uphold the “Corporate Veil” where there is no mingling between your finances and the company’s. Any monetary transaction for the property needs to go through this account and that includes rent, improvements, salary (if you decide to pay yourself or someone else), misc. expenses, etc. The majority of banks and credit unions have a business checking option and you should shop around for which best fits the needs of your LLC.

Step 4: Transferring the Title with a Quit Claim Deed
Using a Quit Claim Deed, you’ll be able to transfer the title of the property from you to the LLC. There are specific requirements from your county’s recording office on how these need to be drafted and what information is required. These are the recording requirements for Multnomah County in Oregon:

recording_standardsYou can draft the Quit Claim Deed yourself or look up the public deeds at the Recorder’s office and create a similar one – this is what I did. It’s all public information and the county had a nice option where you can just search for Quit Claim Deeds – all you have to do is pay a few dollars to get it printed. Here are some examples that I copied for my own Quit Claim Deed:
SCAN0002SCAN0003
SCAN0010

SCAN0004It’s very important that you include all the information required by the Recorder or this could mess up your documentation. Luckily, the clerks are very helpful and they helped me a lot through this whole process. Also, if you’re trying to minimize costs then you can limit it to a single page like the first example because each page was a $5 cost and that can add up quickly.

After you get all your documents completed, you just submit them to the Recorder to enter into the public domain and the transfer is complete! The property is no longer under your name but the LLC and if someone decides to sue you then only the assets in the LLC are at risk. I believe this is a very important tool that everyone who owns rental property should look in to. The overall cost of the process was $180 for me and didn’t include my time but it was a great learning experience so I enjoyed every minute of it. If you don’t want to spend the time then you can have a lawyer complete this for you but I guarantee there won’t be one who will complete if for less than $200. If you can find a lawyer who will do this for $200 then message me and I’ll PAY YOU to get it done!

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Disclaimer: This is for general information purposes only. I recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice.

Why I want to get an MBA

I’ve always wanted an MBA since my days in high school because I thought it distinguished yourself from others but now that an MBA degree is no longer as “sexy” as it was before my reasoning have definitely changed. One of my goals was to get accepted into a top 10 business school, MIT being my focus, but the reasoning behind it was a little naive and selfish. Part of me just wanted to go through because it was MIT!! And also a top 10 which the big Wall Street companies love, apparently. As I’ve gain more knowledge I can see that the opportunity costs are not worth it and now that I have a family, do I want to sacrifice 2 years of watching my daughter grow up to chase a goal that was built on a weak foundation? Also, the end game would most likely result in an increase in my salary but also, most likely, a substantial increase in my hours. With my certain circumstances, I’ve found a perfect solution in pursuing a part-time MBA at Portland State University. This will allow me to stay with my family and also continue working for Turner at the same time, who happens to have a tuition reimbursement program. But the question still remains as to WHY I want to get an MBA and HOW it will benefit my company and my career. It’s also good to write things down so this is my thought process and reasoning behind those prompts.

Knowledge
Here at Turner we don’t sell a product or tangible assets, what we sell is the knowledge, abilities, experiences, and skills of PEOPLE. Therefore if you can improve your staff then you’re only increasing your potential for profitability and ability to sell work. There are a lot of things you can learn on the job and from training but there is also a tremendous amount to learn through course work and interaction with professors and fellow peers in an academic environment. I want to take the holistic approach and add the regiment of academic study to my lessons on business behavior and how a business is ran. By learning about strategies and business theories, I believe I can apply this to my company to find ways we can innovate and improve our processes. The data has shown that construction grows a lot slower than other industries and gaining further knowledge of other sectors and businesses can only help to set my company apart. I believe the knowledge I gain through a graduate business education will give me more perspective and tools to increase the profitability and potential of my company.

Business Relationships
One of the biggest part of business is building relationships and strengthening them because it’s always more fun to do business with someone you know and like and gives you ability to brace and plan if you’re going to do business with someone you might not like so much. From my short time in the construction industry, I quickly found that eventually everybody will know everybody – it’s a small world and there are only a few big players. Being a business class will give me the opportunity to create business relationships with people outside of the construction industry and most likely we’ll be in upper management at our respective companies over the dozen years. Who would you trust building your $40 million office building? Someone who you studied with for countless hours and shared beers with or just some general contractor off the streets? When at business school I’m going to try and create as many relationships as I can because it’ll make the experience more enjoyable and memorable along with providing with a great sound board for the future.

Public Speaking
Without a doubt, if you want to be a big shot at a company then you will need to be a veteran and expert in public speaking. For example, the general manager at my business unit is an amazing public speaker. He never has unnecessary pauses, flows eloquently, uses his hand gestures perfectly with the words, and speaks crisply, cleanly, and very coherently. Every time he speaks I take mental notes to what he does and how he does. I’m sure other people can relate to when you see and hear an excellent speaker talk in front of a large audience – it’s truly a skill that one must master and practice over many hours. Pursuing an MBA will give me many opportunities to practice public speaking whether it’s in large or small groups and will be invaluable experience in my future business career.

Exploring Other Business Industries
My undergraduate degree focused on construction and civil construction and I never really had a chance to learn about other business industries. The MBA’s curriculum will give me a taste into other business industries like finance, private equity, business logistics, global business, product manufacturing, and so many more. I’m very happy being in the construction industry however I would love to delve into finance and private equity a little bit further. I’ve always loved all aspects of business and I think the education will make me more well-rounded by giving me a glimpse of how other industries handle processes/procedures and perhaps I can translate those into the construction industry. I’ve heard many people get an MBA to switch careers but that is not one of the focuses on why I’m getting an MBA – I just want to see what else is out there and if anything else sparks my interest.

These things are what I’m striving for when I go to pursue my MBA – my plan is to apply to PSU before the February deadline and then begin taking my first classes in September 2016. This will also include studying and taking the GMAT which will be difficult with my the current schedule I’m on trying to get debt free but if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way! I also plan on discussing my goal with my supervisor and upper management this week to get their buy-in for the tuition reimbursement program. The plan actually flows quite smoothly as I’ll just be done with getting debt-free as I enter business school.

Stopping your 401(k) contribution with Company Match to get Debt Free

When I first heard about Dave Ramsey’s baby steps there were a few things that I struggled to grasp like his notion that you want to use any excess cash you have to pay off debt so that all you have in your emergency account is $1,000. The second thing was to hold off on ALL retirement investing until you are debt free. However, if you can’t pay off all your debts in 2 years then you should contribute enough to get at least the company match. I’ve read multiple conflicting views on this where some people say the idea is ludicrous and you should still invest up to the company match while trying to pay off debt because it’s a guaranteed return and free money. It’s a generic answer but I believe it is this: it depends – personal finance is PERSONAL therefore it all depends on your situation and how comfortable you are with your current financial condition.

I did a lot of research on Google and there were good arguments from both sides however I decided to run the numbers for my situation and my conclusion also depended on my current financial standing as I mentioned above. Below is a spreadsheet I used to calculate the amount I would be investing in my 401(k), the company match, and how that plays into my goal of getting debt free.

401k company match401(k) contributions are pre-tax therefore it makes the calculations for your contribution amount and company match a lot easier. As you can see from above, my annual salary is $63k and if I invested 5% of that (just enough to get the company match) I would be putting $3,154 into my 401(k) while the company would match with $1,577. The company match also varies because some companies might give you the full 5% of salary while others might be less – my company matches 50% of the 5% from years 0-4 and increases as you gain more seniority in the company.

I am losing $1,577 of free money every year by not investing 5% in my 401(k) – I suggest everyone do this calculation so that you have a concrete number that you can visualize. To be honest, I thought it was a lot more than this so I was little shocked when I saw it was only $1,500 bucks. The other big part of this equation is that I’ll also be giving up $3,154 of income (this $$ be lower due to taxes) that I could use to pay off my debt. Ultimately, my decision to stop ALL retirement investing came to 3 factors:

1. The company match was “minimal”
If it was $5,000 then this would be a different story but it was only $1,500! The amount was not substantial enough to dilute my goal of getting debt free!

2. I plan on getting debt-free within 2 years
My goal was to be debt-free by January 2017 and my current schedule shows me being a few months ahead of that. I’m also an avid saver therefore I had no fears of increasing my retirements savings once I’m debt-free.

3. I’m young and already have a decent amount in my retirement accounts.
This is probably the biggest reason because I’m 26 and I have $72k in my IRA and 401k. From my research, I know that amount is years ahead of my peers therefore I was comfortable of where I stood in regards to retirement savings.

I had a lot of trouble deciding on stopping my 401k contribution but at the end of the day I lived by this quote for my debt-free journey:

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

I didn’t want to dilute my focus by one atom therefore I stopped my 401k contribution and never looked back. The best way to decide is to do the calculation I did above for your situation and take into the factors that I considered like your age, what’s currently in your retirement savings, and what is the company match policy for your 401k.

Good luck!

My Battle with a Twitter Troll

I grew up in the internet age therefore I know all about trolls and trash talking on the internet. An internet troll is someone who lurks around the internet behind their veil of “anonymity” and makes senseless arguments and comments about hot-button issues just to entice a response from others – basically your virtual bully except much, much, much more dumb. Well, I happened to attract one after I wrote my blog post about what it was like driving for Uber in PDX. I’ve dealt with internet trolls through my gaming experiences but never on websites/Twitter/Facebook therefore I didn’t REALLY know that people went out of their way to make comments about others. From what I can gather, the troll was a cabbie who didn’t like Uber encroaching on their “time-tested” industry of taxi cab drivers. I don’t even know why I engaged in the pointless banter but it just goes to show you that the internet is full of idiots with opinions and you know what they say about opinions, “An opinion is like an asshole, everybody has one and it usually stinks.” The same guy also goes on to make comments on my blog but I didn’t publish them because I love freedom of speech as much as the next person but I see no point in publishing his pointless comments. Also, he’s a Ducks fan so that kinda explains a lot 🙂

It all started with me posting my blog on Twitter to garner traffic.
1 - Tweet about blogThen the wild troll appeared.
2 - 2nd call-outI tried to take the high road and thank him for talking about my blog. He also posted earlier about coming to do my job for a few hours like what I was doing to his.
3 - Free market!!And then a 3rd player jumps in and starts talking about cab driving being time-tested and we take a trip back to the future.

3 - MillenialsNext thing I know we’re talking about the generational battle against Millennials. I stole a joke from Key and Peele for my response.
4 - Going back in historyFinally, he asking if I drive for Lyft as well and how long I’ve wanted to be a cabbie then brags about how much he makes. This was our final interaction for the day and ends my idiotic rhetoric with dumb internet trolls.
5 - The Final BattleP.S. He then proceeds to post comments on my blog that I chose not to publish. Just goes to show you what people will say when they’re hiding behind their computer screen. FYI, @travisk is the CEO of Uber.
6 - Blog comments

Khang’s Review: Being a Driver for Uber in PDX

I remember my first time pretending to be a taxi cab driver was in GTA III where you could
steal a taxicab and then complete side quests by shuffling clients to where they want to go and get honestly paid for it. I actually tried to obey traffic signals, drive at the correct speed limit, and avoid running over the occasional prostitute – it was actually fun driving people around! Fast forward a decade and here I am doing it in person and getting paid real money for it! For those that have been living like the Flinstones, Uber is an app that hails itself as “Your Own Personal Driver” and gives the user the ability to call a “cab” from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. I actually first heard of Uber on the Dave Ramsey Show and decided to check it out as a way to make additional income however it was banned in Portland until only a month ago. I have 3 nights and 19 trips under my belt so far and I always gets constantly asked what it’s like driving for Uber therefore I figured I would write a post about it! It is a fairly new thing in Portland however people have been embracing it around the globe and all my riders LOVE Uber. My favorite part is that it helps keep drunk people off the road – 95% of the people I’ve driven have been slightly to severely intoxicated and I’m very glad they decided to take an Uber ride rather than getting behind the wheel. Let’s get started!

Becoming an Uber Driver

The application process is fairly straight forward and what you would expect from a company founded and ran by Millennials – we don’t have time for bullshit and fluff, we like things simple and to the point. From the Uber login page you select that you want to register as a driver and then fill out your typical personal information along with adding your vehicle. The following are required documents you need to upload:

1. Vehicle Insurance
You must be one of the “named insured” on the policy or Uber will not accept your document.

2. Vehicle Registration
Your vehicle has to be 2005 or newer with 4 doors.

3. Vehicle Inspection Form
The inspection form can be completed on your own time at a participating mechanic – Uber has locations on their website and the cost is around $20. They also host free vehicle inspection events and that’s where I got mine however it was in Vancouver and I had to wait 1 hour for it to get completed but I heard the wait was 2-3 hours at the Portland one!!

Here is a screen shot of the Uber Driver home page:
Uber HomescreenUber will also run a background check and you can request to be cc’d on the documents (which I did) to see what the cops are saying about you! The check includes driving history along with a criminal scan. They’ll also put a small deposit into your checking account to validate it for direct deposit – mine was a $0.01 deposit. The background check will take 5-7 business days while the document review usually takes 24 hours. The whole process itself took 3 weeks for me with the most difficult part being getting the vehicle inspection completed around my work schedule. Once Uber checks that you’re all good to go they’ll send you a link to download the Uber Partner app and activate your account.

Here is a screen shot of the Uber Partner app vs the regular Uber app:

Uber App

Using the Uber Partner App

The app is extremely straightforward, any dummy can use it! This is what it’ll look like when you first log-in:

Online Screen

Then you just click “Go Online” and you are officially an Uber Driver! As you drive around to more populated areas you’ll get a “fare” and will have 15 seconds to accept or decline the fare. The screen will give you the location of the person, estimated time to get to their location, and the rating they’ve received from other Uber drivers – it does not provide you with where the person wants to go or what the fare estimate is. There is also no decline button, you just have to wait till the 15 seconds has ended however clicking anywhere on your screen means you’ve accepted the ride. Here is what it looks like when you’re “online”:

Being Online

Once you go off-line, there is an options menu in the left hand corner that provides you with other pages that includes your trip history, waybill, invite a friend code, help, settings, and a sign-out button. The waybill is basically a detailed history of your last trip that includes your fare, your passenger, where you picked them up, where you dropped them off, and insurance information.

Profile Page

The trip history is the fun part out of all these buttons! It lists all the rides you have completed and shows the route you’ve taken to complete the ride along with the fare that you earned. Clicking on each map will give you additional details like exact pick up and drop-off, duration, distance, and total fare.

Trip History

Trip Details

When you’re done driving for the night/day, just click “Go Offline” and you back to being a regular citizen.

Actually “Driving” for Uber

Once you accept your first fair they’ll provide you with a location for your rider and give you the option to navigate to their location. Once you click on the navigate button it’ll switch you over to Google Maps and give you directions to their location. Uber also requires that you have a hands-free mount and will reimburse you up to $10 for the device. Furthermore, if you don’t have a smartphone to run the app, you can rent a iPhone from Uber for $10/month but the phone is locked where the only thing you can do is run the Uber app.

Once you get to the designated location you’ll click “Arrived” and your rider will be notified of your arrival. There is also a number provided for you to text/call your rider to let them know where they can find you or to check in on them if you don’t see them. The number isn’t their personal number but acts like an escrow account where you call the generic number and it’ll relay the message to them kinda like Craigslist’s anonymous system. Once you see your client, be sure to ask “Can I please get your name?” to ensure that it’s the correct person you’re suppose to pick-up. I actually had a guy try to steal some other dude’s Uber. The guy said “Are you my Uber?” and started opening the door and I said, “What’s your name?” and he responded with “Uhhhh, Joel?” so I go, “Sorry buddy, maybe next time, good-bye bitch!” but without the bitch part.

The most important part of the ride is making sure you click begin trip when your passengers get in the car and end trip when the ride is complete – this is how you get PAID after all! Once you end the ride, you’ll be given the opportunity to rate your rider from 1 to 5 stars and they’ll have the ability to do the same for you. The rating is actually quite important as you I’ve heard you need to maintain above a 4.7 or else Uber will deactivate your account.

Getting Paid!!

Of course the most frequent question is “How much do you get paid?!?!”

The Rate: $1.50 Base fare + $0.30 per minute plus $1.55 per mile

Uber also has additional incentives like where they’ll guarantee you’ll make $25/hr during busy times but you’ll have to meet certain requirements like a minimum of 2 trips and a 90% acceptance rate. Here’s what I mean:

Uber Guarantee

The work week ends on Monday at 4 AM Pacific Time and you’ll get paid on Thursday. Your pay stubs are easily accessible online and they are very clear and concise. At the end of the day, Uber takes 20% of your fares. Here’s one of my pay statements:

Weekly Summary

Driving for Uber has been a very fun experience so far and I’ve learned a lot more about the surrounding Portland area. It’s also greatly increased my knowledge of the streets and roads and fastest ways to get on a highway. I have no complaints so far and it truly is a perfect part-time job; wear whatever you want, work whenever you want, and the work itself is relaxing and stress-free. If you’re interested in becoming an Uber driver, don’t hesitate to contact me and use my referral code!!!

F6R4X

5 Important Life Lessons I learned from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

D2 CoversOne of the fondest memories of my childhood is playing Diablo II and the expansion pack Lord of Destruction. I’m sure anybody who has played any MMO can relate and say they’ve made great friends through the game and you truly get lost in that wonderful world. I played this fantastic game starting from 5th grade all the way up to 10th grade and stopped after that, however, there are people still playing the game! The game consists of choosing a hero class and then leveling them up by killing monsters through five different “Acts” and ultimately defeating the 3 Prime Evils of Mephisto, Diablo, and Baal in Acts III, IV, and V, respectively. You get better items and skills as you progress up your levels (maximum is 99) and once you “finish” the game then you’re free to go back to any Acts and kill more monsters. It seems repetitive and I truly don’t understand why I did thousands of cow levels, Baal runs, and Magic Finding quests but I loved every minute of it. People might say that playing video games is a waste of time but I feel that if you enjoy the time you’re spending on anything then it’s not a waste of time FOR YOU. It might not be the most productive thing you could be doing but you have a limited amount of time on this earth so you might as well enjoy it! Of course this mind set changes tremendously when you grow up and have that horrible disease called responsibilities. The game also taught me many great lessons that I’ve applied to my everyday life and helped shape who I am today – I thought I would share my experience for shits and giggles.

Lesson #1 – If you want to be GREAT at something, you need to put in the TIME

I spent a considerable amount of time playing D2 which I will go into further detail in Lesson #5. Let’s just say that if I used that time to read the dictionary instead then I would be able to recite the entire English language either starting from A and going to Z or from Z and going to A. I SPENT A LOT OF TIME PLAYING DIABLO 2! With all the effort and time I put it, it definitely showed in my account, items, knowledge, and characters that I had. By the time I quit the game, I was quite wealthy in this virtual world. I was rich enough to get any item in the game and was giving away items that people would literally jump up and down IRL if they found it during Magic Finding. To compare it to real life, I wasn’t rich as a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates but more like an Elon Musk or Mark Cuban. However, I started playing the game like everyone else: a level 1 hero with the default items. I put in the time to become great by learning about the game, the mechanics, how to trade, how to barter, how to maximize Magic Finding, and the relationship between players. As the saying goes, “There is no shortcut to any place worth going”. If you want to be great at something, then put in the time and you’ll see the fruits of your labor.

Lesson #2 – NEVER give your password to ANYONE

D2 Login

In this age of technology, this might be more important than ever. I learned the hard way not to entrust your password to anyone. This happened perhaps during 7th grade and I had multiple accounts however my main account was the one I entrusted to a friend. He wanted to see what my characters had and play on my account for a little bit. Being the nice guy that I was, I said sure go ahead since I had other accounts I could play on. I trusted him but the problem was that he then told my password to his other friend who I barely knew. Next thing I know, that dude changed the password on my account and would not give it back to me. It was extremely infuriating and it still boils my blood when I think of that interaction. If that guy is reading this and you know who you are, YOU’RE A PIECE OF SHIT! I wish that you never plug in any USB device the right way on your first try and always have to flip it AND that you always feel like sneezing but never get the satisfaction of being able to sneeze! Never give your password to anyone, I don’t care if it’s your mom or if you’re telling it to your cat! DON’T GIVE YOUR PASSWORD TO ANYONE!!

Lesson #3 – There is ALWAYS a way to make MONEY doing something you LOVE

I first found out about people selling Diablo items on eBay shortly after I started playing and finding it was impossible to trade for an Ume’s Lament with my measly items and wanted to buy it from someone. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about buying something on eBay or even how bank accounts worked. Fast forward to freshmen year of high school and I was now quite rich in Diablo 2 and had a large surplus of items that people would actually PAY for. Logically, I researched how to sell items on eBay and had my dad/mom help me set up the account and I learned a lot about the financial world through this small endeavor. I also learned how to market my product and make an appealing website for potential buyers – the name of my store was Khangaldinho’s Arsenal haha… blame it on my youth for that goofy name 🙂 The first item I ever sold was a 160/60 armor that was very similar to the image below for $12!! That’s a lot of money IMO for a VIRTUAL item and to a 14 year old who has never made a dime.
DuskShroudI sold over 100 items on eBay and made enough money to buy my own soccer cleats! I will never forget the feeling I got when I was able to buy those shoes with MY OWN MONEY! THAT I EARNED ALL BY MYSELF! They were golden Nike Mercurial Vapors and I still have those shoes to this day. I learned that there is always a way to make money with something, you just have to be creative about it or sell it in a way nobody has thought of before.

Lesson #4 – Plan and gather as much information as you can before proceeding with any endeavor.

D2 CharactersThis is a lesson I learned from wanting to play different hero classes and didn’t want to trudge through finding/trading items as I leveled up. I was lucky to be in a position where I could fully furnish any character I wanted with just a few days of trading. For every new character I created, I did extensive research on what the best items, builds, skill sets, and attribute allocations were. I searched forums, talked to players in-game, and ultimately modified the build according to my own knowledge of the game. Therefore, as soon as my character was created and “rushed” I was able to hit the ground running and didn’t waste time learning how the character worked, I already had everything planned and figured out from the start. This lesson has transcended to my everyday life where I do extensive research and calculations before I begin any time consuming task or something that has any risk aspect.

Lesson #5 – Video games can be EXTREMELY ADDICTING

As I mentioned, I spent a lot of time playing Diablo 2. For example, in the summer time I would wake up around 9 AM and start playing Diablo with bathroom and food breaks in between and play up until 2 AM and then wake up again at 9 AM to repeat the pattern for the next 3 months. I didn’t know what “addicted” meant as a kid because I was having so much fun playing and I had a lot of friends that played as well. I mean I went to soccer practice and tournaments and played with my friends outside like a normal kid but the majority of my time was definitely spent playing Diablo. It got so bad that my dad actually took out my Diablo 2 disk and SNAPPED IT IN HALF! I got a little addicted to other games as well like Star Craft and DotA but nothing was comparable to the time I spent playing D2. Be very careful of getting attached to video games and be cognizant of how much time you’re spending on these things – you can very, very easily get lost in the virtual realm. I would relate it to being at a casino, you sit down for a few games at the start of the night and next thing you know it’s 5 AM! This is the reason I never played Diablo III after being a die hard D2 fan – I knew I couldn’t handle it.

As silly as it sounds, Diablo 2 shaped me into the person I am today – for better or worse. Either way, I would never hesitate to take the Soul Stone and penetrate it into my head again!

Here is a photo of where I spent a lot of time in Tristram – in the COW LEVEL!!
The_Cow_KingPhoto sources:
(Photos 1,2,4) Blizzard Entertainment
(Photo 3) http://wiki.theamazonbasin.com/images/thumb/9/92/The_Cow_King.png/384px-The_Cow_King.png
(Photo 5) http://i42.tinypic.com/nqu0p3.png