Last time I wrote a review was in 2018, about 2017. Or maybe I wrote something elsewhere, maybe on Twitter? It was hard to write something freely even with my mother language.
The last week of 2020 was a happy time. The company I worked for (Morningstar) made a decision to let everyone take off this entire week. I kept telling myself unlike before, a break does not really mean a break to me. As a developer I know the feeling of overly relaxed and then find it hard to get back to work — when you pick up the left over programming work, only to find it written so badly and could have a completely rewrite. Right now I am thinking more like a PM, so when a project is not physically going, I still can think about it, and there is no way to re-submit a WIP project. But nevertheless, the past week was a happy one. Sleep late at night to read or watch movies, then wake up quite late, a long missed luxury. Have lunch and prepare to go skating, then have dinner when come back from the Warren Park Ice Rink. I prefer simple and repetitive days like this. In 2016 when my parents came over, I also took a long leave. During that time, the daily schedule was just swimming with dad. Even though we lack the skill in either activities, it is good to kill time together.
Unfortunately JY does not share the same view. Either swimming or skating, it usually takes effort to persuade him to get out of door. Why kids cannot see that the best way to spend time is to work out some activities? In 2020 he got his wish granted, as the pool (Welles) was closed for an entire year. And the skating program (McFetridge) halted and only briefly resumed for two (or three) half sessions — during which the coaches hastily granted level-ups. JY now officially caught up with me in the FS1 level, which neither he or I was ready to admit. His skating was so bad! I would not let him upgrade with that! Well, maybe kids have better chance to improve later. I am an old guy. I can easily forget how to tilt, and I still trip and fall every time I try to do a cross over. It is good thing to fail, but if I cannot master the alpha move after 4 or 5 years (I stuck at alpha for 1y and FS1 for 2 years), should I give up?
One cannot master too many things. Yet there are too many things to explore in one's lifetime. Compared to this anxiety, it feels so foolish when I was a young person, try to make myself less weird. When you recognized your views are shallow and meaningless, and when you started saying anything you are so illiterate. If I can go back in time, I would tell my younger self to not to worry about this and that, to focus on academics and to keep doing what I did well.
Still too naive and self-centric. When I chat to college friends, I find it rather hard to imagine what they would think about me, and how would I keep the chat going. This feeling will never go away: before, it was just ignorant, now it was impolite either join the chat or not. Only one thing is certain, that I still would very much join the chat, as other social intercourse, however awkward it is. I miss them very much, so nothing can stop the awkwardness from going.
Back to 2020. The year is a good one for people who have a job. As an article mentioned, whoever still keeps a job will gain from enforced savings. There basically has no way to spend a lot of money other than life's essentials. Thus saving accounts swelled and stock market bloated. The $1.2k deposit sits in people's account for quite a long time, as shown by the average account balance. There was not even a way to invest the money, so the account balance only subdued recently. How many people still do not have a bank account? The lowest fee is $12/mo I believe. I cannot remember how I managed to save and build my retirement account balance over the years, but in 2013-15 such cost cannot be ignored. That period maybe lasted for even longer, but it is quite easy to forget the hard days. It was a choice though. I remembered I just followed the books and calculations, and cut all possible spending. I also opted to buy a small condo and saved the rest (but also purchased the car, a bad investment!) Had I not chosen to build up the savings, I would not be so confident in 2020. When in March the market dropped and wiped the savings to 50% of last year's value, I did not feel that bad as the remaining balance was still something. Now even more people are like me, see the 401k and IRA account gained a lot in 2020 and feels safe about the future. I am really happy about that, as sufficient savings means prosperity in a longer term down the road, maybe benefit my kid. Who cares if market dropped another 50% next year? It will come back, as naturally people want to live in a better world. (As a naive person I choose not to see the fierce competition how to re-allocate wealth or how the resource is being depleted, or just unfortunate RMD in bear markets.)
In 2020 what I was doing
— Drum class. Thanks to Mr. John, his dumbest student was able to keep this going.
— Duolingo. Just to maintain the streak, currently 600+ days. Worked on Korean and gave up all the rest, since Korean is a unique language and some colleagues are Korean. The place I live has some Korean shops, too.
What I started
— Reading (Basic Program). Bought a lot of books since summer. I find it quite easy to start a new habit like buying books, read or not. Almost half or more of the books on Kindle were purchased after joining the program.
— Playing games on Stadia. This is $10/mo and I also spent a lot on games. The games are usually played once or twice, not more than 1h, and I have never finished even 5% of a single game — except for party games. Nevertheless, I like the game lineups.
— Talk and plan more in work
— Read WSJ
What I gave up
— Tap dancing. That's a bit unfortunate, as I have lost the muscle memory. There is the DVD but dancing is better in the studio..
— Some meaningless memberships I never benefited from. Right now my education comes from ACM's magazine, Safari books online, CFAI materials. It is unlikely to find comparable resources than those.
In 2020 what I was spending
I wanted to present the 2020 special occasion but totally have no idea how. Just a breakdown then
— Traveling is none, nil, I would expect this to increase a lot in 2021, when pandemic ends. I'd go to everywhere before I die.
— Not eating outside food, but first quarter still had a spending of $1k. Based on the price information (LZ happened to work for Chowbus and saw some recent price adjustments of 20%), when pandemic ends and we all get back to office, spending would be $1.5k quarterly
— Grocery spending increased 17%. When pandemic ends we are not going to buy that much food, but I don't think much can be saved here, based on the trend of past years.
— Spending on Home/Office/Electronics increased. There were some large spending like standing desk and luxury chair or huge work monitors. Hopefully will go back to merely regular phone upgrade schedule.
— Spending on Child/Education reduced, Entertainment/Hobbies/Dues/Subscriptions varied but total did not change much.
— Giving increased slightly.
— Got to buy something for parents. Still would like to do more, like my sister and in-law do. We live in a very selfish life that we basically abandoned our parents at home in China. We escaped many burdens, but cannot avoid it from now on.
I saw a pattern that spending increases 12% annually, mostly driven by the Education category, i.e. non-essential time killing activities; then the total spending in 2020 reduced to 2016 level. I did not get a merit based wage change in 2020/4, nor is the job function change resulted any wage adjustment so far. I cannot imagine when total spending bounces back, how I would manage it.