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2019: Year in Review

Every year, I do a year in review, with highlights and lowlights and a summary so this is my year in review for 2019.

Highlights

-I found a great job at a great company with great co-workers at Kong
-Had a great time in Korea this year, met all my friends again, made a Korean gf
-Went on a nice cruise with my family this year

Lowlights

-Still recovering from all the financial issues I suffered last year mainly losing the majority of my life savings because of the QuadrigaCX crypto exchange collapse
-More difficult to make new friends in Vancouver than I expected

Summary

I don’t have a whole lot of updates for this year, because this year was pretty much a recovery year from the disaster that was last year. Last year took away my San Francisco apartment, my life savings, and most of my best friends away from me. I started out this year with almost no savings, no house, unemployed and with no friends in Vancouver.

The start to this year was really rough. I was told that the exchange that I used last year to transfer my savings over to Canada, QuadrigaCX had gone under with over $215M CAD owing to creditors once the CEO died under mysterious circumstances in India. The rest of this year was basically waiting for updates from the ongoing lawsuit – Ernst&Young being the bankruptcy trustee and Miller Thomson being the lawyers.

So far they are still processing claims, and have been doing so for the last 4 months with no updates to us creditors so far. They have roughly $33M + $12M (the CEO and his widow enriched themselves by purchasing Nova Scotia property so there’s extra assets here) for us but roughly $7M I estimate will be in legal fees paid to EY and MT. After that there’s roughly $38M left in the pot for us creditors, depending on how much people claim. There’s $215M in total claims outstanding but me and several other creditors theorize that at least half of those claims are not real or left on the exchange by money launderers. And then there’s the CRA (Canada’s IRS) waiting to take even more money from us.
So I calculated it and I think roughly we’ll get back anywhere from 15% (worst case scenario) to 40% (best case)  with 25-30% being the most likely percentage we’ll get back. I have no idea how long this process will take but hopefully sometime next year we’ll get it back.

So that being the backdrop, a hammer that was dropped on me at the beginning of the year, you can see the rest of the year takes a backseat to this whole lawsuit thing.
I did manage to luck out finding a great SF company to work for (Kong Inc) that I could work remotely for, and everything about that company I liked better than my previous company. My manager, coworkers, the type of work I was doing etc I learned way more in 6 months than I did in a whole 1.5years at my previous company.
And I did manage to have some time to travel to Korea for a bit and that was a really great experience, much better than last year (God really had it in for me last year), got to meet all my friends again and dated a bunch of girls, etc it really transported me back to the days when I lived there (2015-2016). I also got a chance to go on a cruise with my family (to the Bahamas) which I haven’t traveled with since late 2013 and especially getting to see my brother again is nice since he’s usually busy and very isolated since he lives in Winnipeg.

But once I got back to Vancouver, it became lonely again, and I think it might be just because its hard in general to make friends once you’re out of school but even harder when you work from home and have no co-workers to really talk to. At least in San Francisco I still have one really good friend to hang out with. In Vancouver I didn’t know anyone. I tried going to some language exchange meetups but the people I meet there are always very transient, they change every time so its hard to meet someone stable.
I did get into a relationship with a girl I met in Korea but its long distance and that’s always really difficult to maintain. I hope I can though, because she seems much more stable than my ex gf was, and much more mature (she’s 3 years older than me). On top of that, I don’t really like my landlord and am looking to find a new place to move to next year. He is incredibly strict with his house rules and seems always ready to fine me since he blames me for  everything that happens around the house (I have 6-7 housemates) and raised my rent by $100 because he said I ‘stayed at home too much thus using more electricity’ which is ridiculous. 

So yeah this year is mostly a recovery year, but after the initial shock that happened early this year and lucking out into finding a good company to work for, the rest of the year went reasonably smoothly. Let’s hope that next year will continue to go smoothly and hopefully I’ll have some luck finally with crypto (I still have some reserves but its down a whopping 80% and I missed a good chance to sell it in the summer, hopefully it will go back up next year), and with the lawsuit as well (oh please don’t let that $215M in claims be a real number, hopefully most of those big claims are fake).

Otherwise I’m just slowly saving up money again trying to afford a place in Vancouver eventually. This process might be considerably faster or slower depending on how much crypto goes up/down next year and how much/when money I get back from the QuadrigaCX lawsuit…

 

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If you won 1 billion in the lottery, what would you do?

Interesting question, I heard that there was a single winner of the $1.6 billion Mega Million lottery today. After taxes and taking the lump sum that’s roughly $600 million dollars. That won’t get you into the $1 billion club but that’s a lot of money.

Now what I would do is actually very similar to what I did a few weeks ago. You see – due to some bad financial losses I had this year and some loans I had to pay back, I was forced to sell my San Francisco apartment. Luckily for me, my SF apartment had appreciated in value about 40% since I bought it back in 2013. So I more than made up for my bad financial losses – I actually came out with an overall profit. So basically I had lump sum of cash after I sold my apartment – not exactly $600 million, more like 0.1% of that ( $600k ish) – but that’s still a lot of cash, and here’s what I did with it:

roughly 2/3rds of it (66%~) – I converted to Canadian dollars to take advantage of the roughly 30%~ gain in Canadian currency you can get right now. Canadian currency is very low right now in comparison to USD so I decided to take advantage of that. Most of that money will be going towards purchasing a residence in Canada (I’m still going to take out a mortgage because Toronto/Vancouver prices aint cheap!)

another 1/6th (16%~) went to an online investment tool I use which is Wealthfront (www.wealthfront.com) which automatically diversifies that money into a pool of stocks/bonds/natural resources/minerals/dividends

another 1/12th (8%~) went to cryptocurrencies (yeah I know cause I’m a millenial and all, and I believe it will recover) but its pretty high risk

the remaining 1/12th (8%~) is sitting in cash to pay off my credit cards right now for my current spending. I am also taking a break to travel a few countries in Asia I didn’t get to travel to before using some of that cash.

If I had a $600m windfall, I don’t think I would use my money that much differently, although I would probably allocate a lower amount to real estate (oh I would buy a few places in Canada/USA/Korea but not that much because it would get hard to manage), I would give away a couple million to my good friends and family, and I would probably shift more money to stocks and dividends so I can generate more passive income off of those. I would also probably travel a bit more and grow my (already admittedly large) computer/phone/guitar collection.

But that’s about it. On the Mazlow hierarchy of needs, Money definitely solves the lower level problems like healthcare, food and survival, but for higher level needs like love and companionship it doesn’t really help solve it. Good relationships are hard to find, and those are priceless in a sense, you can’t really buy a really good friend or the love of your life.. you have to find that yourself. Really, the higher level keys to your happiness in life are not obtainable by any amount of money whether it be $600k or $600m. That’s what I realized, anyways but as far as money is concerned thats how I would use it.

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The 7 year California journey comes to an end

“Time is our most valuable commodity. We can always earn back money, but we can never earn back our time. Stop worrying about the future, and treasure the present. Cherish the people we have around us and the time we spend with them,we don’t know when they might be gone someday.”

So finally my place did sell, (although the buyer came close to backing out for $1000 in repairs) but thankful to at least get 4% over asking for it.

Aside from that, I’ve said all my goodbyes to the few friends I have left in SF, gave away most of my furniture, and gave my company notice. I’m actually a little bit bitter about my company, because I thought I would have been able to work part time remote for them, just like previous co-workers have, and my direct manager thinks I’m valuable enough to keep, but the upper management rejected the request. For whatever reason I don’t know. Half of our team is remote, a lot of them are full time remote, and other than the front end team, which is me and 2 other people, the rest of the engineering team come into the office only twice a week. Front end team comes in 4 days a week, and I haven’t missed any days. I’ve been pretty loyal to my company the past 1.5 years, and they are probably just going to replace me with someone from India who works full time remote anyways. It doesn’t make any sense.

Plus, its not even about money. I’m asking for my salary to be cut in half here. So apparently they are willing to pay me full time salary just to be able to come into the office (where I don’t really talk to anyone anyways), rather than pay me part time and have me be remote. It’s unfair and it doesn’t make any sense to me.

In other news, crypto is still having the blues, and I’m still 90% down so its highly unlikely I’ll get anything more than 50% of my money back even if it recovers. ICOs have lost me at least $25k and Masternode scam coins have lost me another $25k. So that’s $50k (a years worth of savings) lost in scammy coins right there, neither of which will ever recover. At this point, I’m not sure what I will do. I will probably take most of the proceeds from my apartment sale as a downpayment for a future Canadian home (most likely in Vancouver), and invest the rest in Wealthfront. No more crypto currency / gambling for me. It’s way too risky. Can’t believe I lost 90% of my savings ($150k turned into $15k). Lesson learned, I guess.

I’ll definitely miss California/San Francisco, and I’ll definitely miss my apartment as I had many good memories there with my friends. I think more than just missing the scenery though, is missing the moments I shared with my friends and other people. That’s what I kind of regret. I regret not taking more pictures / videos with my friends, I regret not saving any of my Kakao chats from 2012/2013 (they were erased when I switched from my iPhone 4S to 5S in late 2013), because 2012-2014 were probably the best times of my life. 7 years of California memories, 2011-2018. I had so much fun meeting people (especially from San Francisco ESL group meetup), and traveling to places, just wish I had some way of remembering it better. I rarely took pictures/video back then compared to now. I never even took a selfie until I first went to Korea in Sept 2013. That was the first time I took selfies with anyone. As I grow older, I realize more and more that time really is the most valuable resource, and it’s not the scenery or the environment or the atmosphere I should cherish, but the people I shared it with.

As for where I’ll go next, I’ll probably head to Korea for a few months, meet all my Korean friends, and then go back to Canada. My grandpa is becoming senile, and my grandma has really bad dementia now, so this might be my last time seeing them, unfortunately. Of course, I also want to see my parents + my brother who I only see once a year. Sometimes I wish time would pass by slower, or even stop. I don’t really want to get older, I’m 30 already and felt like I wasted all of my 29 year old life and half of my 30 year old life due to my savings being annihilated and I haven’t really got anything from this year at all. I originally planned to take a trip to Singapore/Bangkok/HK/Shanghai/Osaka and go to Seoul/Busan early but that all changed because of crypto.
I’m glad I could hang out with Tony, my best friend here more, but everything has to come to an end. Since my work doesn’t want me remote, I’ll probably have to find a job in either Vancouver or Seattle but most likely I’ll try for Seattle first since the pay is much higher for engineers there, but its not guaranteed because this would be my 6th TN Visa, and knowing Trump and my horrible experiences applying for a TN last year, it’s probably not going to be easy to get another Visa again. If not, I’ll probably just have to settle working in Vancouver for roughly half the salary. Or maybe I’ll think about teaching programming in Korea, who knows… I need some time to think, and this would be the first time I’m unemployed since I graduated (I also haven’t taken any PTO this year since my company gives so little), so I need a well-deserved break from work for a while.

As for a gf or wife, I don’t know. (this is at a time when most of my friends are in stable long term relationships and/or married now). At the beginning of the year, I had a gf who was beautiful and sweet to me, and I thought I was going to marry her. Later on in the year, I found out that she was kind of crazy, and definitely not the type of girl to marry. We’ve been broken up for over 4 months now. I don’t know if I can find another Korean girl, because I can’t think of any good way aside from remote work (which I don’t want to do unless its on my own hours this time) to live in Korea long term again. Will I find a Korean girl in Vancouver or Seattle who isn’t a student and who is interested in me and won’t leave in the long term? Who knows. It’s all uncertainty in my life at this point, but I hope I find some answers soon.