February 27, 2017

Feeling rich and poor, simultaneously

Rich or poor: how much do you need? What would it take for you to feel rich? Specifically money rich? Joe at Retire by 40 asked.

I feel rich and poor at the same time. A very strange feeling, that. I told Joe that we’re at this weird crossroads of nearly being there, for us, and then having the rug pulled out from under us with the house thing. It wouldn’t matter in another COLA but it matters a great deal here.

About 80% of our assets are invested in real estate and the stock market, intentionally. That was a long term plan I developed based on the assumption that we would pay off this mortgage in approximately 7 years. During that time, we’d go on to save at least half the same amount of cash that we do each year now, and invest that cash. At the end of 7 years, I’d legitimately feel wealthy, if all went according to that outline.

Ignoring those categories of assets, as I do in covering a contingency of this size, we’re not near the shouting distance of the neighborhood of rich.

It would be shortsighted to sell off our budding portfolio or rental property and I’m not prepared to toss either of those to the winds. It would require a far bigger catastrophe for me to be willing to liquidate our long-term assets.

On the other hand, a couple weeks ago, I started the conversation with our lender. Apparently he thinks we’re great borrowers and is totally competent as well because after 4 days, he approved our loan for a vast sum. (This is in stark contrast to our refinancing with SoFi that took almost six months. I’m at least a little bitter that I wasted all that time, now!) I don’t even like to think the number, but it’s real: $800,000.

Even with that large a loan, we’re still priced out of most homes in this area. Even smaller places, and more rundown places, than what we have now are running more than $1M. I’m just not willing to take on more debt than that.

Pardon me as I shudder in the corner for a while.

Safe to say, where we are right now? Weird. I also don’t like our financial stability to be dependent on “as long as nothing else goes wrong” because in my experience, that’s an open invitation to my old friend Murphy to come kick me in the ribs.

:: How much do you need to feel rich? Are you on a steady trajectory to that point or is it more of a waltz:   

Swagbucks Birthday: SB Local

Swagbucks is having a birthday celebration so they’re offering another shot at a bonus for using their new app: SB Local app for iOS and Android. Starting on Feb 24 through Monday, 2/27:

1. Download the Swagbucks Local app. You can create your Swagbucks account if you’re a new user.
2. Sign in with your Swagbucks account.
3. Link your first debit/credit cards to your Swagbucks Local app and get an instant 100 SB.
4. Use your linked card to pay a participating location. If you spend $20 or more before Tuesday, February 28th, you’ll get a 300 SB bonus! That bonus will be paid 5pm PST on February 28th.

As 9th Birthday bonus, in addition to the 300 SB, you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of eleven prizes worth up to 9000 SB. Finally, if you’re signing up for Swagbucks for the first time using my link, that means you’ll get another 300 SB bonus.

Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join Swagbucks and earn. I track my earnings here.

SB Local fine print:
After paying with your linked card, you will see the transaction show up in your Swagbucks Local Activity ledger. Your SB earned will be calculated on the transaction amount before taxes and tip. Swagbucks Local is currently supported in the following metropolitan areas: San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Ventura County, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington DC, Phoenix, Houston, Denver, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale and Chicago. You’ll get the 100 SB bonus for linking your first card even if you don’t live in one of the cities listed above so that’s a nice salve.

February 26, 2017

Swagbucks: Birthday Swago

February 27th is Swagbucks’s birthday and they want to give us presents. I quite like this!

You can play Swago all day and for each square you fill in, you get a spin on their big birthday prize wheel. You can earn up to 2500 points with each spin!

Then submit your patterns to get even more spins and more chances to win big points.

Click here to sign up and get started. If you’re not a Swagbucks user already, you can sign up through my link. If you earn 300 SB before March 1st, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB.

Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join Swagbucks and earn. I track my earnings here.

February 23, 2017

Just a little (link) love: Thor in the world edition



I work from home. This is me but jammies and eating all day is not a problem. *snort*

Penny moved home after college, that made sense. In my family, going away for college wasn’t normal, forget moving out on your own.

This was a big kick in the pants that I can’t relax on the money front – we got our estate plan set up and I rested on my laurels for a bit. Then I started researching better priced life insurance policies, and rested a little more. It’s time to research long term disability policies!

When did you realize that money could buy your freedom? Ms. Montana talks about her flash point, and I shared mine too. 


Someday, we will do remote travel and it will be glorious! Or we’ll enjoy photos because I’m old, tired, and ouchy 🙂 Whatever.

Morgan Jenkins has a wonderful piece in the New Yorker reviving the legacy of Jessie Fauset


We die from white ignorance. We die from white refusal.” I can’t properly sum up the power of this piece. Please just read it. 

Why does the US still allow girls -children- be married off with parental consent whether or not they want to be married, as young as age 12???

If you’re inclined to help immigration services helping other people, see this listing.

This Captain Awkward post is a perfect example of why I told coworkers nothing about my personal life for years. They didn’t know ANYTHING about me and that’s just how I like it.

Yay…we’re getting a servant!

February 22, 2017

Being realistic and knowing thyself

I tend to equate my value as a person to what I can do for others or what I’ve achieved. I’m frequently guilty of fighting against being overwhelmed by things that I cannot control by taking on the burdens of others to distract myself.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
– T.S. Eliot.

Sitting with my own problems, not solving them because they’re complex and take time, is hard. Having chronic pain and fatigue is isolating. Losing connections with others, by way of service, is another level of isolating.

It’s no surprise that my worst days are those days when I feel like I’m not doing anything. Days when I can barely sit up in bed, days when I should be working during JuggerBaby’s naps but if I do, I pass clean out halfway through the afternoon. In those moments, I get a stab of insecurity, forgetting the lessons we learned in chronic pain classes: these are moments, and they pass.

I do an awful lot on a day to day basis even if I’m not launching a massive year-long, or month-long, challenge with a billion readers following along. It’s ok that I didn’t manage to start a business or 10x my salary this year. 


living in pain. Sometimes teeth-gritting, excruciating, hold your breath til it passes but grey out, pain.
writing for this blog three times a week.
working a traditional full time office job, at least 40 hours a week.
co-raising a rambunctious toddler and co-running a household.
nursing Seamus and managing his medications and special diet.
managing my own medications and diet.

I also struggle to remember, while I’m kicking myself for not being capable of cooking dinner every night as I do when my brain is functions and I have four halfway decent limbs, that PiC remembers I’m not superhuman. He easily stepped into my shoes to head up planning and preparing dinner without a word from me. He admits that he misses my cooking but that’s the extent of it. So I shouldn’t feel guilty.

It feels to me like I really need to be spending less time on things of pleasure or leisure (as I write this post at 12:30 am), and spend that time on income replacing activity instead. Maybe that’s where the guilt comes from.

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2017. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red