Our tour guide in Stockholm was not Swedish, but Albanian. She stood 5 feet 1 inch tall thanks to three inch heels. As we walked towards Old Town to see the Royal Palace, I often wondered whether she had ever twisted her ankles traversing the uneven cobble stone roads.
Bianca told us she’s a full-time lawyer who enjoys playing tour guide on the weekends as a part-time job. She’s been studying for six years and is getting a second Masters degree in international law. When I asked her how much tuition costs in Sweden, she surprisingly mentioned, “Free!”
“All citizens and EU residents have free tuition if they want to study university here in Stockholm, Sweden,” Bianca went on to say.
I can’t verify the veracity of her statement, however, with law school tuition commonly over $35,000 a year in the US, Bianca clearly has a good deal!
“I love everything about Stockholm! We have 1/3rd parks, 1/3rd water, and 1/3rd land. The government cares about us and you don’t have to work very hard to live a good life. Back home in Albania, the average person only makes 300-350 Euros a month ($390-$450 dollars),” Bianca explained.
I asked Bianca about the local tax rates. She didn’t know for sure, but said she pays about a 32% income tax through the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) employer witholding system. She also pays a 25% VAT tax (consumption tax) on all goods. I was expecting Bianca to highlight a much higher income tax rate since 32% is similar to my effective tax rate, so I was surprised. But then again, our income levels are drastically different as you will discover below.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER Read more…
Part of creating great wealth and happiness is anticipating the future, understanding the future, betting on the future, and adapting to the future. We all know that President Obama will be re-elected to a second term. For those who disagree, put your money where your mouth is and bet me by leaving a comment. I’m open for business until the very last day before the election.
With President Obama in power until 2016, he can be more aggressive with his policy initiatives given he no longer has to compete for another term. If Obama gets his way, taxes will go up for higher income citizens, government spending will go up to help care for our most impoverished, debt will increase, and more people will be saved from the perils of capitalism.
In other words, America will become more like Europe. We just need to be careful not to be Europe in its existing form where too much debt torpedoes our entire economic livelihood. But even if we go overboard, there will always be the Federal Reserves of our greatest nations to help us out. As the world police, they owe us!
Given America is becoming more like Europe, I decided to go to Europe and see for myself what our future might be like. You thought I was just going on a 2.5 week vacation to inject $10,000 into the Eurozone to help save the world didn’t you? Au contraire mon frere. My main purpose was to conduct some front lines investigative reporting to provide readers with unique, real-time insight into how to live and prosper over the next four years!
WHAT AMERICA WILL BE LIKE Read more…
One thing I plan on doing in retirement is find a potential encore career. As a computer and internet junky who has built up a reasonable size blog, a foray into the social media sector seems like a natural extension. I want to make sure that I exhaust all options before I really kick back and harass my father on the golf course a couple times a week.
Applying to positions is so easy now thanks to the internet and LinkedIn. It takes around five minutes per online application and you will get an e-mail confirmation immediately after pressing send. For those who don’t know, Zynga is an online social game maker of Farmville, Words With Friends, and other names that rely predominantly on Facebook’s user platform to make money via ads and virtual goods.
Given I’ve been reminded about Zynga with Mark Pincus’ handsome face all smiling down below in my post, “How The Rich And Powerful Become More Rich And Powerful,” I figured why not shoot them an application despite their horrendous reputation for long work hours and ruthless management.. I didn’t talk to Mark at Marissa’s party, but I did swing by their sweet offices once in the SF Design District.
For most of June and July, Zynga’s stock hovered around $5 a share, a 65% decline from its recent March 2012 high of $14.20. I figured in my ever optimistic self that it was better to get options at $5 than all the poor folks who joined earlier in the year at much higher levels.
And so, between scrubbing my chiseled pecs during bath time earlier this month, I submitted my application. A couple weeks later I got this rejection letter:
TIME TO UNLEASH THE FIST OF FURY! Read more…
In “How Do You Become Rich?“, Finance Fox pens a 1,200 word post on what it takes to reach the promised land. I immediately checked out the post because I’m always fascinated about how others define rich and how others plan to get rich. Eddie’s definition of rich is “having a fortune over $1 million bucks.” $1 million bucks is a good amount of money, but at what age? At 35, that’s pretty darn rich. At 70, not so much.
Eddie then goes on to ask what is the secret of successful rich people? My answer is almost always, PERSEVERANCE. The ability to solider on and not give up even in the worst moments. Every single wealthy person I know has had some tremendous disappointments in their lives, but they don’t stop trying.
The more critics there are, the greater the wealthy person’s fire is to succeed. Read more…
Just like that, 30 days have gone by and my sabbatical is over. I truly enjoyed my time off and have learned a number of things I’d like to share with those who are thinking of taking a sabbatical or are just curious in general.
I haven’t taken more than two consecutive weeks off since the summer after college and I highly encourage everyone to take a sabbatical if they’ve been working for at least five years.
* Free time is joy. The best feeling of being on sabbatical is knowing that nobody is there to tell you what to do. You don’t have to set an alarm clock and you are free to plan your day and week as you see fit.
* There are plenty of people wandering around during the day. It didn’t matter when I went out to do errands, play tennis, go on a hike, or whatever between 7am-5pm, it was always crowded! A bullish sign for the economy no doubt as you read on. Read more…
At the beginning of the year, I discovered that I was not in ideal weight and it pissed me off. At 167-169 pounds, I thought I was doing pretty good for a middle-aged guy standing 5′ 10″ until spending a couple hours of research online for the post. It turns out that based on the majority of reports, I was actually about ~10 pounds overweight, which is a lot since I don’t weight that much to begin with.
With tennis season just three months away at the time, I didn’t want to be out of shape. My teammates were counting on me. In competitive sports there’s the triumvirate mind, body, and skills for winning. The body is the EASIEST thing to optimize, which means during competition against high caliber opponents, they are all in great shape. Having an ideal body weight is standard (ever see an overweight professional tennis player?), and therefore one is able to focus their energy on mental strength and specific skills.
For well over a decade, I had an enormous mental block that I had to overcome. I told myself it was IMPOSSIBLE to get under 160 pounds, even though I was a lean 155 pounds in college. I kept saying there was no way I could break 160 because of work and a slower metabolism. I accepted weight creep and the ideology that people automatically gain 10 pounds every decade.
PLEASE TELL ME ANOTHER EXCUSE Read more…
I stumbled across a very crafty Twitter feed called “GS Elevator Gossip” @GSElevator the other day. The idea behind the Twitter feed is to share with the public random elevator gossip from one of the most hallowed, and vilified investment banks in the world. Given the average compensation for Goldman Sachs employees runs around $300,000-$500,000 a year, it’s safe to say that Goldman Sachs has its fair share of 1 percenters.
Some of the Tweets are quite witty. And others are downright offensive. The key to all good snark is to be witty, a little offensive, and contain a good dose of truth. One of the Tweets that piqued my interest is this one:
“I’m in the top 1% because I want the best for my family. What does that say about the 99%?”
ZING! Let’s discuss the merits of this statement, shall we? I’m assuming that most parents in the 99% won’t be in agreement with the statement. We’ll also touch upon why the 99% is better than the top 1% as well.
WHY THE TOP 1% IS BETTER Read more…