May I offer you a contentment pictogram coin and a scoop of clear, sweet water from the contentment well in the shape of coin for the Year of Monkey in 2016! Happy (Chinese) New Year!
Today we have two more days of the Year of Lamb. This morning there was a terrible earthquake in Southern Taiwan, buidlings collapsed and many were affected. On average every Taiwanese investor lost about USD20,000 in the Year of Lamb.
2015 had been a very difficult year for Taiwan corporations and retail investors. Exports tumbled for months, stock prices of some many decades old blue-chip companies plunged because of a new pension law requiring them to set aside huge amount for pension of employees (these companies have many retired or about to retire babyboomers) and yesterday the most profitable financial conglomerate announced their investment disputes with Delta Lloyd, a Dutch insurance company, that has lost about 60% of its market value this year. Not to mention China’s stock market phenomenal rallies, junk bond and foreign currency depreciation problems (70% of Taiwanese fund investors bought junk bond funds, in particular pensioners were advised to buy junk bonds in South African Rand to jack up their fixed income with 13% annual payouts.The rand has been plummeting drasticly with recent changes of finance ministers.)
People in US may have very different stories and probably have reaped lots of profits from stock markets and the most thriving economy around the world.
All the emerging markets in Asia, South America, Africa , Russia and even rich Arab countries are in dire conditions. Europe and Japan may be hopeful, but who knows? Anything can happen any time to turn things around.
Though I try very hard to keep up with world business news on the internet or with Barron’s, Bloomberg and even DW TV, not to mention BBC or CNN, Financial Times or Wall Street Journal, it is not much use because all news are outdated when compared to market changing from moment to moment. Many countries in Europe have negative interest rates. I have thrown up my hands on what to do on my finance and tell myself I have enough as long as my spending is within my means.The best personal finance condition is to have just enough to live and not to have to wring the brain to decide about investments with markets going up and down.
For almost a whole year my electric bill was zero because I used less than last year and the drop of oil prices, now I pay US$2-3 a month.My water bill is about US$5 monthly because any water used for washing would be used to flush the toilet etc. My grocery and transportation expenses run around US$75 to 120 per month. That is minimalist living but still a very good life compared to many living below One US dollar a day.
The library is my office for writing, research and other work. I use their computers and databases for free, the MIS department and young librarians help me resolve any computer glitches. I managed to self-publish two ebooks at Amazon around Thanksgiving and hoped to donate all revenues to a French father’s nursing home project for the aging mentally challenged in East Taiwan. I am ashamed to say that I have not donated a single penny yet because of my unsuccessful marketing efforts or maybe the lack of interests on the subject matter, my writing is just not good enough or it just takes time. If anyone would care to share or comment about how I can improve, I would be most grateful.I have never done any facebook or twitter until this Thanksgiving.
Kazuo Inaomori, the Japanese billionaire priest, is my hero and model. I have read all his books that I can get hold of and try to live by his advice to recognize when one has received enough and to do the right thing. I feel very blessed that I have received enough and really enjoy learning so much every day from all the resources and help I have received around me.
I hope I am doing the right thing sharing in writing what I have learnt about Chuang Tzu’s wisdom on conflicts and loss and Su Shih’s contentment and happy life despite his poverty and loss of loved ones in exile due to injustice. My new year resolution is to learn how to share more effectively with those interested or have the need to know about how to be free and easy amidst conflicts, loss, stress or dislocation.
Happy New Year! May you have true wisdom to do the right thing in 2016. Freeasy Peace to you!