An Ode to Retiring Rich

Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels

I have seen senior citizens in India struggling 5-10 years post-retirement because they didn’t have enough savings. Their financial freedom is ultimately compromised as they become dependent on their children.

One example is my own father.

My dad was the only earning member of the entire family. My mother derived her happiness by not involving herself in financial matters. Numbers made her anxious, and she was fine letting dad make all the financial decisions. He enjoyed a plush job in the Middle East, and we had a wonderfully privileged life. I am eternally grateful for everything that he has provided for us. I went to the best of schools/universities and worked for a bit in the Middle East. Then we all decided to pack our bags and head back to India after dad’s retirement – a much-needed rest for him after 30+ years of service.

Everything went on fine until the 5th year of my dad’s retirement. His anxiety was apparent; he was concerned whether his corpus would last his entire lifespan. I had already started working by then, and I started pitching in. Slowly his mental health deteriorated. It may have been due to a combination of stress and disappointment in his financial matters and his physical health issues. The doctors were unable to help him. My dad, who was an active, cheeky, energetic man, turned silent, desolate, and serious. Since I stayed near my parents, I was a witness to all that they went through concerning their finance. My dad wanted to resume work in his mid-60s, despite his physical limitations, no thanks to his depleting retirement corpus.

I am unsure what went wrong because I never discussed it with my dad. He’s no more (he passed away a couple of years back). When I look at his bank balance, I have so many questions. The most glaring one was – “Where did all the money go?” Then there are others “Did he not save?” “Maybe he saved, but it was not enough for inflation?” “Did he make any bad investment choices?” “Did he not invest in the right retirement schemes?” “Would it have helped if he had invested in some equity, mutual fund, or pension scheme?” My dad had only invested in Fixed Deposits.

You learn by observing the people around you. It was only after I saw my dad’s financial condition that I became aggressive with my own savings and investments. I have no idea whether my plan will work for me in the long run, but I can try. I do not have many lifestyle demands, and I am a minimalist, so that helps.

In the quest to achieve financial independence, I have been reading a lot of personal finance books. My initial few reads were meant for the American audience and they did not help me much. I wanted to read books specific to India. That’s how I first landed upon Monika Halan’s Let’s Talk Money. This has to be my favorite Indian personal finance book so far. Everything is explained clearly and concisely. I have re-read it a couple of times in the hope that her words would sync in deep and become second nature for me. She offers instructions on how to invest for each age group.

The next book that is good for Indians looking into learning personal finance is PV Subramanyam’s Retire Rich. He is a Chartered Accountant who gives some good, solid, no-nonsense advice on how you can carry about your investments. His policy is investing in yourself first, before anything else. Keep aside some money for your retirement and invest in other people and things only after that.

A non-Indian book that greatly impacted me was “The Psychology of Money.” My favorite quotes from the book are also listed on this blog.

Retiring rich is undoubtedly a priority for me. Keep in mind that the word “rich” is subjective. I want to retire “rich” enough for my own needs, but that amount might not be “rich” enough for you. So the first step is to calculate your retirement corpus based on your annual expenses. There are enough online retirement calculators to help you out. If you are in your 20s, start saving/investing now. I am in my 30s now, and my only regret is that I did not start sooner.

An Ode to Self Driving Cars – Because, Let’s Face It, Some Of Us Hate Driving

Photo by riciardus on Pexels

I can’t wait for driverless cars.

I know it might not happen while I am still alive, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming.

I hate driving, especially in traffic. I have given up on driving altogether in the city I live in – because the place is not exactly a driver’s paradise with its bumper-to-bumper traffic and the lack of parking space.

My location is equipped with good public transportation – I am able to catch an Uber or an autorickshaw the moment I step out of my house. So at the most, I take my car out maybe once every month.

I would like a driverless car for the following reasons though:

  • I can let my car take all the headache (or should I say bumperache?) of finding a parking slot. Or I can order it to go right back home, if there are no parking slots available anywhere.
  • Heck, I wouldn’t even need to own a car if there are driverless robocabs hovering nearby. This is what Zoox has in mind – not to sell robo cars but to offer them as taxis.
  • My elderly mom could go on a solo trip without depending on anyone.
  • People with disabilities would be able to travel on their own.
  • People who hate driving can avoid driving! Whaaaat? You thought everyone liked driving? Tsk tsk.

Change is difficult, I know. And scary. History is a key witness to such skepticism and cynicism evoked by changing circumstances. Every new discovery or invention is met with stubborn resistance. For example, the automatic elevator. Did you know elevators used to be manually lifted before? When the automatic elevators were invented, many were adamant about not using those strange machines. Too dangerous, they said. Sounds familiar? Now we know how that story ended. 

It is the story of many automated machines. Some still face flak even if they are widely in use.

Let’s take the case of automatic transmission cars. They are everywhere now. Many prefer to drive an automatic instead of a manual – it makes life easier. No stress of shifting gears, you just need to concentrate on the road. Yet, there was, and still is, a lot of resistance towards teaching new drivers how to drive using an automatic car. I know many new drivers who would prefer to learn in an automatic because they have no intention of driving a manual transmission car in the future. Once you start driving an automatic, there’s no going back. For two reasons – 1) You become accustomed to driving an automatic. 2) You end up forgetting how to drive a manual. So what was the need of teaching such drivers how to drive a manual, anyway? Many learn driving with only one intention – that of traveling from Point A to Point B; not to learn the intricacies and technicalities involved with changing gears. But as mentioned before, change is difficult. When there are alternative automated solutions, we still tend to prefer the conventional methods.

Human beings in general are terrible drivers, even if most believe otherwise. It is impossible to get a 360-degree view of our surroundings, something a machine can do effortlessly, so we cannot really blame ourselves for our mishaps. We end up speeding when we are not supposed to, we drink and drive when we are not supposed to, we get distracted easily by the smallest of things, we make clumsy mistakes that can cost lives, and yet… we have trouble trusting machines.

Self driving cars have a long way to go before they become available to the public. Preparations are in full swing – like in the case of Waymo (Google’s self driving car), which was recently tested on urban terrains.

If driverless cars are approved, I would be first in line – provided it is affordable. Did I say affordable? If only wishes were horses. Till then, I will make do with ogling small, cute cars.

An Ode to Microsoft Edge’s Immersive Reader

I am not sure how many people actually know of this sleek user-friendly tool on Microsoft Edge. It is called the Immersive Reader. Staying true to its name, it is a great tool for readers to indulge in.

Take a look at this article with distracting elements (navbar, widgets, ads).

Article without immersive reader enabled

Now, click on the Immersive Reader option next to your URL bar.

Click to enable

And, voila! You can now read the article peacefully.

Immersive Reader Enabled

I feel this is great for reading long articles. It has a very Kindle-like experience to it. You can increase the font size using the “Text Preferences” tool. You can change the theme as well. There are many options which I have not yet explored. As a reader, I want to focus just on the article, with the freedom to increase its font size if need be. This tool offers all that and more.

You can also use the “Read Aloud” feature if you want the article to be read out to you. The voice is as natural as it can get, not sounding robotic.

The Immersive Reader is still in its early stages. It does not always render the correct page, and you have to wait till the page loads completely to see the icon. But so far, I am extremely pleased.

If you do not see the Immersive Reader icon on Microsoft Edge:

  • Make sure you are viewing an article and not the home page
  • Wait till the page loads completely
  • If you still do not see the icon, use read:// before the URL. For example if the URL is 𝚑𝚝𝚝𝚙𝚜://𝚠𝚠𝚠.𝚖𝚜𝚗.𝚌𝚘𝚖/𝚎𝚗-𝚒𝚗/𝚗𝚎𝚠𝚜/𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛/𝚌𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚕-𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚖-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-𝚏𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍-𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚜-𝚒𝚗-𝚋𝚒𝚑𝚊𝚛-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚜𝚎𝚎𝚔𝚜-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎/ then use 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚍://𝚑𝚝𝚝𝚙𝚜://𝚠𝚠𝚠.𝚖𝚜𝚗.𝚌𝚘𝚖/𝚎𝚗-𝚒𝚗/𝚗𝚎𝚠𝚜/𝚘𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛/𝚌𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚕-𝚝𝚎𝚊𝚖-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-𝚏𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍-𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚜-𝚒𝚗-𝚋𝚒𝚑𝚊𝚛-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚜𝚎𝚎𝚔𝚜-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎/ to launch the article in the Immersive Reader.

An Ode to Reading Without Eye Strain

Kindle and Hot Chocolate
Kindle Love. Photo by Adrienne Andersen on Pexels

It goes without saying that our screen time has doubled (maybe even tripled) after COVID-19 induced lockdowns and quarantines. All that time indoors has made us reach for our devices. So it is not surprising when studies indicate our eye problems have worsened in the last one year or so.

For someone who is working in the field of Information Technology, spending a lot of time staring at the screen is nothing new.

But there is another problem – I love reading.

Physical copies are expensive, and there was a storage problem at home, so I had resorted to using the Kindle app. It was highly convenient. I loved it. But then the eye strain began. Dryness and a heavy feeling above my eyelid. I knew this was happening because of all the phone reading, because when I stopped, the discomfort would subside.

I realized it was time to finally invest in a Kindle.

For someone who loved reading so much, why didn’t I pick up a popular e-reader like the Kindle sooner?

  • I am frugal. I don’t buy something unless I am absolutely convinced that it would add some kind of value to my life. The reason why I wasn’t convinced is the next point.
  • I never knew Kindle was anti-glare & easy-on-the-eyes. All I heard from fellow readers was about its space-efficiency. Yes, storage was a problem at home, but that was not a serious concern for me, which leads us to the third point.
  • I was ignorant. I did not know the benefits of using a Kindle. I did not bother looking too much into it, because a) it wasn’t cheap b) mentioned in the next point.
  • I was truly happy with my Kindle app. Everything a Kindle could do, my Kindle app was able to do perfectly. The app could even highlight in colors, something the Kindle device could not do. So why even bother?

I am sure there are more, but these are the reasons at the top of my head.

A couple of days back, I finally succumbed and got this Kindle.

In just a day, my eye strain considerably reduced. I do not feel any heaviness or pain. I think I even shed a few happy tears over how relaxed my eyes feel now.

A few reasons why I got the Kindle Oasis.

  • I initially thought of getting the basic model. But through some research, I realized it is best to invest in an e-reader that offers at least 300 ppi resolution (for sharp text). The basic Kindle model has 167 ppi.
  • I thought of going for the Paperwhite next. This model generally has the best reviews. It was a close call, but what made me finally get the Oasis was the a) warm, adjustable light b) the page buttons c) a fantastic Amazon Prime Day sale!

I find the warm light really helpful & relaxing for night time reading. The page buttons are okay, but I would have been fine even without them. That said, if there wasn’t a sale going on, I would have gone for the Paperwhite.

An investment for the eyes. That’s how I would prefer to look at it.