2017: Year in Review

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays once again. And once again, I feel that 2017 has gone by way too fast lol. Perhaps its because I spent most of this year at home and not really going outside and meeting new people and making friends like I did when I lived in Korea..

Highlights
-Saved and invested a lot. Made back all my gambling losses (and then some!) with cryptocurrency this year. The rise of Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies this year has been truly astounding and imo a once in a lifetime event. Doubled my net worth this year.
-Finally made a Korean gf! and one that has lasted so far, the longest out of all my relationships. My previous longest relationship lasted 2 months. This one has been 3 months and counting! Yes it is a long distance relationship. I got to visit her in Korea for Christmas, we unfortunately only got to spend 4 days together, but it was an amazing 4 days and I can’t wait until the next time I see her (which might not be until next May).
-Went back to Korea twice this year, both times to meet a girl…

Lowlights
-I could have made more with crypto-currency. A lot more. But who could have expected Bitcoin to rise up 900%+ this year, or Litecoin to go up 7000% or Ripple to gain 10000%? And so on and so forth.. heck investing in ANY top 10 crypto coin this year could have made you rich. I was too timid at the beginning of the year, didn’t hold long enough, and lost my chance at becoming a millionaire. Oh well.
-Absolute boring-ness this year. Didn’t go out much. Didn’t make many friends. Work was just so-so. I was quietly dying on the inside this whole year.
-Donald Trump. Yeah I hate him. In San Francisco, who doesn’t? I’m no liberal but even as a conservative I can’t stand the guy. Especially when he’s threatening North Korea (and by extension the safe being of South Korea) all the time!
-6 times going back and forth between Canada-US border to get my TN visa processed. 6 times getting harassed at the border and getting treated like a criminal! this is partly the reason why I don’t want to get a new US job.

Summary
2017 is a year that won’t go down as one of my more exciting years. This year was all about making money and saving money. Granted, I did do a lot of that. Due to the great performance of both the stock market and cryptocurrencies, I doubled my net worth this year. I also tried my best not to spend *as* much as last year. 2015 and 2016 I bought countless electronics and gadgets. I think this year I bought one new laptop (Thinkpad TP25), 2 new watches (Frederique Constant Moonphase and Orient Star GMT), and some phones (BlackBerry KeyOne, Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, Google Pixel 2) as well obviously games and stuff but those were the only things I bought at full retail price. Last year was far worse (I bought 3 new laptops in Dec 2016 alone!).

So yeah I know I have to do more. My best friend in SF is my idol; he not only made tons of gains by holding onto his Litecoin / Ripple holdings, but he’s always frugal and never buys anything unless he absolutely needs it. Would be nice to be like that.
Aside from that, not much else has happened this year. San Francisco is becoming a wasteland. More and more homeless people. Higher and higher prices. Less Koreans/Japanese/Taiwanese/Internationals in exchange for the only race that seems interested in staying here which are mainland Chinese. And some mainland Chinese are alright, but its no secret that I don’t get along with the majority of them. I find most of them pretentious, materialistic, and overly ignorant / prideful.

The main purpose of this year really, is to gear up for the monumental changes to my life that will happen next year. I’ve already prepared for it. At a certain point in time next year, I will sell my apartment, leave the USA, and finally after 7 years of living here, and the first time really ever in my life, give myself some freedom, with no obligation to study or work. No more TN visa hassles. Just meet my girlfriend (which I also have big plans for next year, if it all works out with her), travel to different countries, and settle back down in Canada. Big changes are happening next year, and partly the reason why 2017 *had* to be a boring, stable year is because this was a preparation year meant to save up money and gear up for next year. And in that sense, I felt that this year was a success.

updates on my life…

Checking back in again on my monthly status report here.. not much has changed, SF is boring as usual. But there is no shortage of things I have to do.

1) I can’t get a home equity loan due to not being a US permanent resident (strangely I was able to get a mortgage tho?) so I have to rely on making a deposit for my Canadian home using cash instead. I have about $30k CAD in my bank there already so I need roughly $100k CAD ($75k USD) more saved up to get enough deposit for a $600k home in Vancouver. That means I need to save up quite a bit well into next year.

2) My company said I’m performing quite well enough to transition into full time, but while I think being a contractor means I lose out on PTO and stocks, I find the hassle of getting a visa very annoying. It took me 3(!) tries to get my visa last time when I crossed the border. such a hassle… not sure if its worth it.

3) I have to get the insurance company to reimburse me for my rental car accident which I got while driving to the DMV to get my license renewed.. its another big hassle

4) I have to get Walmart to reimburse me for the corporate credit card charges that I filed an expense report for back in January… Citibank keeps calling me, and yes its another hassle.

5) Everytime I take time off work as a contractor it hurts me. But I’ve been having breathing problems recently and had to go see the doctor and again.. its a hassle

6) I cancelled my chase rewards trip which I booked using points because I wanted to transfer the points somewhere else so that I could get a better deal on the trip – it cost me $100 to cancel and the rewards wont be refunded for 2 months. in the meantime I need to book a trip to Korea still so I had to pay that in cash since I’m not going to get the points back in time. So yes.. another hassle

7) I realized that Comcast has been charging me $10 a month to use their modem(!) for 3 years I’ve had to pay that insane fee thats $120 a year. So I have to get a new modem and send theirs back and make sure they dont bill me anymore for that! another hassle

8) I have to get my Google Pixel fixed because I dropped it and cracked the glass on the screen and it interferes with my camera – now you see refractions on the camera so thats another thing to do.

9) I tried transferring some Bitcoin into Bovada to be able to bet on the NBA games that I wanted but it seems that my transfer made it through but they still haven’t deposited that money into my account yet. So thats something else I have to talk to them about to make sure they get my money on time so that I can bet. Another hassle.

10) I have to transfer my webdomain over to a google domain so that I can host my website (this one) on my synology DS instead of using SiteGround so that I can save $100 a year on that.

11) Of course I still have to find a Korean girlfriend to marry, and right now I have only 2 weeks of vacation to go back to Korea. If I can’t find a girl to bring back during that 2 weeks, I’ll have to see who I can find when I move to Vancouver. This is easily the hardest thing to achieve on this list.

In other news.. Bitcoin / Ethereum are at all time highs and I have a little bit of each as hedges. I made back all the money I lost last year from gambling ($8k) with BTC/ETH so that seems great so far! Although I missed opportunities to make more. Stock market is also at all time high so I’m a little wary. I am bullish on TSLA, AMZN, NFLX, NVDA, BABA and FB though. But waiting for good time to get in. Trump’s ongoing antics have been crazy and I think its just a matter of time before he gets impeached. Its been 5 months in and he’s already had a ton of scandals. And finally.. I went on a little bit of a spending / selling spree, sold my Gretsch White Penguin and my old drone and bought my friends Macbook Pro (2016) and the new Phantom 4 Advanced. The camera lens is amazing! see below:

Got the DJI Goggles and DJI Spark working too…

and the Nintendo Switch as well… (was finally able to get my hands on it)

Oh and watch me assemble my guitar in fast time its pretty cool

and a lesson in guitar…

Thoughts on Bitcoin and making money

I’ve been reading about Bitcoin a lot lately. It’s a very interesting concept… its a crypto-currency, its value is only worth as much as how much people are willing to accept it. The more Bitcoin is used, the more value it has and the more accepted it becomes. There are two ways to get Bitcoin: Mine them, or buy it at an exchange. Online Bitcoin exchanges post the currency value which fluctuates day to day, but Mt.Gox seems to be the biggest. Mining them is very interesting.

When you mine Bitcoins, you need a powerful computer that can compute the answer using the bitcoin algorithm to a computer problem. Once you get the answer, a block of bitcoins, depending on difficulty and time, is awarded to you. The more bitcoins that are out there, the higher the difficulty, the higher the difficulty, the less bitcoins you will receive relative to the time the computer spends on the problem.

So in 2011, Bitcoins were dirt cheap because not many people knew about them, and people were using their home computers and GPUs to mine them. Now though, more people know about Bitcoins, and the value of a Bitcoin currently is around $135. And specialized computers called ASICs are being developed to mine them. These manufacturers like Butterfly Labs and Cointerra are building computers designed specifically for Bitcoin mining, with up to 2 Terahashes per second.

So how much money would you make buying one of these machines, and start using them Jan 2014 (since they ship in fall 2013)? Well, the thing is with Bitcoin, its very volatile. How much its worth depends on how much people trust it. And the advantage of time. If someone had started investing in Bitcoin last year for example, when it was around $20, they would have made a lot of return, since now its $135 and it was even as high as $260 at one point. Therefore people who started mining earlier, even at the beginning of this year, would have alot of advantage and would have made alot of money. But now though, its kind of late to start. There’s comparison charts all over the web like this one.

The thing is, once these 500+ GH/s ASICs start shipping, the difficulty is going to increase massively, and its going to be much harder to get a return on investment. So, I would not invest in a miner now for that reason. At the beginning of this year, probably. But not now. But it might be worthwhile to purchase bitcoin currency now. If you think people will continue to accept Bitcoin at the rate it is now, then its worthwhile to purchase some, even at $135 a piece. The reason is because once more and more people start mining, each individual Bitcoin is going to be harder to get, making the supply of Bitcoin ever lower (actually the total circulation is capped at 21 million). Thus, because of lower supply and holding demand constant or higher, you can expect the value of Bitcoin to be higher in the future.

This brings me to a talk about money. I’m not the kind of person to care too much about money. Last year, I had $200,000 cash in the bank from my parents to help me finance my house, and in addition to my Intrade earnings, I could’ve used that money on various investments, but I chose to be a good son and not risk that money anywhere. If I had heard about Bitcoin back then and invested in it, at $20/bitcoin in Dec 2012, and $200k, that would be worth over $1.3m today. Or I could’ve invested in stocks/options like TSLA/PCLN/LNKD/NFLX/QIHU which have had monstrous returns this year. Anyways, the point is there’s always opportunities to make money, and I’m not really concerned about it too much. As long as I keep steady on my current job and do reasonable investments on properties and stocks, then I have a reasonably good chance of becoming a millionaire in the near future (take a look at this page).

In fact I have two stock option strategies to share: the first is called Straddle. Straddling a stock basically means you are betting that the stock will move in either direction. So you buy both a put and a call option on the same stock. If the stock moves in either direction, you hope that the return is higher than the premium you paid for both the put and the call. And that’s it.. pretty low risk option strategy.

The second is called Naked Put. Some people may say this is a high risk option strategy because you are uncovered, but the payoff graph is the exact same as a Covered Call, and its even better than that: With a naked put, you can be in a win-win. If you see a stock you really like, but the price is too high, sell a put contract on it, at the strike price you would like to buy it at. You get the premium for the put no matter what; and if the stock does go down to that price, you are obligated to purchase it; but that’s what you would have wanted anyway!! So I see naked puts as a win-win strategy.

Anyways, there always opportunities to make money, and so I’m not too worried if I miss out on some of them; I realize there is always more in the future. Did you bet on Obama winning the election on Intrade last year? Did you invest in Bitcoin in 2011? Did you invest in any stock in 2009? Did you invest in Shanghai/Seoul properties in the 1990s? Did you invest in the US housing market in 2010? Did you buy AAPL stock in 1990s? Did you buy call options on TSLA at the beginning of this year? Working part time on IT consulting? Buying iPhones in US and selling them in China for a markup? Stocking up on gold in 2008? How about writing a book about how to make money? How about selling an app in the App Store that links you to your book about how to make money? All of these could’ve net you a massive profit. But point is, its always about timing, and available capital. Its hard to estimate timing, but as long as you take the risk, there is always opportunity to make money and get rich. And the more money you have, the more money you can afford to risk, and thus the more you can make. That’s what I’ve learned through all my financial knowledge.

Videos:
I uploaded some videos recently, including reviews of the Ouya and Wikipad and cover of Bruno Mars:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcGnw03UZaw

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjDkSEL4Zwg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrXoTleC344