Welcome to My Personal Finance Blog

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my blog!

This is my very first blog post and the first of many blog posts I am hoping to share with you. I plan to provide a wealth of information on the topics of personal finance to help you increase your personal wealth by maximizing your take-home income, minimize your taxes, and help you and your future generations to build better financial foundations.

Personal finance is such an important part of our lives that our knowledge (or lack thereof) would make significant differences in our ability to gain financial independence and secure the financial future for our children.

To share a little bit about myself, before becoming a real estate agent, I spent the past several years of my young career in finance on Wall Street on both the buy-side and sell-side equity research roles, primarily covering Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and financial stocks. I am passionate about investing, personal finance, and family. My parents had instilled me the value of hard work but I have accumulated an entrepreneurial spirit as I grew up and received education in the US.

I have been living in the US for 20 years and am part of the 1.5 generation of immigrants (people who arrive in the US as children). I graduated from globally ranked undergraduate, graduate, and business schools, and excelled academically in Mathematics, Economics, and Finance. This special background provides me with a unique perspective in personal finance.

One of my hobbies has been reading, learning about personal finance and executing on my personal finance strategies. I have been passionately sharing these topics with friends, and I am excited to share all of these with a bigger audience starting this year! I hope my postings are helpful to you. Looking back on my own experience, if I had known what I know now, I would have saved thousands of dollars – and a whole lot of hassle!

As a starting point, below are the topics I plan to share with you. I will try to keep each blog post short and sweet. Stay tuned…

General Topics

  • The value of budgeting and tracking your asset values over time
  • Strategies for improving your credit score
  • Get organized for your tax return

Retirement account strategies

  • How to choose retirement accounts (pre-tax vs post-tax)
  • 401k and how to set contribution rate through the year
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Backdoor Roth IRA
  • How to choose providers

Kids and Family

  • Dependent care FSA
  • 529 accounts (tax deductible) and transferability; my top picks
  • Gift taxes
  • HSAs (stealth IRA) / FSAs
  • How to find a great physician / dentist
  • Moving and relocating

Your Home

  • How to find your perfect home: the home buying process
  • Condo vs single-family homes
  • New construction vs older homes
  • Commonly required documents for pre-approval
  • Fixed rate vs adjustable rate mortgage
  • How to choose a lender and shop for rates
  • How to choose a real estate agent
  • How to find a good attorney
  • Contingencies and sweeten the offer
  • How to “shop” for title insurance
  • How to check your closing statement for accuracy
  • Home selling process
  • Opportunity cost and other considerations
  • Real estate tax strategies
  • Refinance your mortgage

Investing / finance

  • Active investing vs passive investing
  • Alternative investments
  • Bank accounts and account bonuses
  • Online savings account
  • Asset allocation
  • Employer trading restrictions and other considerations
  • Your tax return: CPA or TurboTax

Small Business

  • Retirement savings, such as solo 401K and SEP IRA
  • Tax deduction from expenses and mileage

Insurance

  • Life insurance: term vs whole life
  • Home owner’s insurance and CLUE report
  • Auto insurance and claims

Credit Cards: Maximize your rebates and points

  • Individual accounts
  • Business accounts (and how to apply for one)
  • Best travel cards

Travel Tips

  • Hotel points and airline points
  • Use points to convert to air tickets
  • Convert to a no-fee card after initial one year
  • Best bank (debit) card for travel; converting to foreign currencies

Charitable Giving

  • Donating cash
  • Donating things
  • Donating stocks/bonds/mutual funds
  • Donor directed accounts

Unemployment Insurance

  • How to file and check for eligibilities
  • How to contact customer service
  • Severance: timing matters

Shopping and rebates

  • How to shop for a car
  • How to shop for furniture
  • How to shop for iPads and phones on Black Friday!
  • The best retailers
  • Rebates and online shopping (little things can add up)

Travel Logs

  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Honolulu and Big Island, Hawaii
  • Machu Picchu, Lima and Cusco, Peru
  • Paris, France
  • London and Oxford, UK
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Hong Kong and Macao, China
  • Madrid and Barcelona, Spain
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Athens and the Greek Islands, Greece
  • Montreal, Canada

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