Welcome 2017! Yesterday I wrapped up 3 weeks of leave today and headed back to work. I never used to be able to take time off at year so it's nice to finally be able to. I travel and work a lot throughout the year so I really cherish this time to unwind and catch up at home.
I got to take care of a few big things that were on my to do list for far too long. The first one has been bothering me forever. You know that huge box of really important papers that everyone has but secretly you really have no idea what is actually in there? It's OK, we all have one. I actually cleaned my out! There were so many papers that didn't matter that were just taking up space and making it hard to find something when I need it. 95% of the papers are gone! I can actually find important papers when I need them now.
Another thing I have wanted to do for a long was rework my investments to leverage some of the new technology platforms that exist. I have never had the time to sit down and do it properly and these things take time to set up. I spent a ton of time researching many different options. I read so many blog posts, watched so many videos and listened to so many podcasts. My wife at one point said I had become obsessed with this. I think by the end of week one she was very tired of hearing about this and had to listen to me talk about it for two more weeks.
I spent so much time researching this that I think it's worth mentioning the outcome here in case it is useful for you. I actually thought of starting a casual financial blog on investing after all my research. The MBA version of ShootTokyo. I thought it could be fun to have a blog on investing experiments and sharing different outcomes vs the thesis.
I never use affiliate links on here as I am not a big fan of them. Mostly because of the deceptive ways they are used by many blogs. This time I'm going to make an exception and use them for a couple of reasons. I am now actively using these platforms for my investments. These affiliate links give benefits to both you and me through better yields or reduced fees so using an affiliate link is better than a non-affiliate link in this case.
The ones I settled on that are really good for me; Betterment, Peer Street, Realty Shares, and Upstart. I also learned about the ability to move your IRA to a Self Directed IRA which you can invest in so much more than just stocks, bonds and mutual funds. I had no idea this was possible. I suggest Googling Self Directed IRA if you have an IRA or 401K. You will thank me. I also discovered TransferWise as a cost effective way to transfer money via Tokyo Cheapo.
I won't go into the details of these platforms here and why I choose them here as this isn't a financial blog and I'm not a financial advisor. Please do your own due diligence if these are interesting to you. Anyways, feel free to check them out for yourself and I'm happy to take specific questions via my Contact Me page. I would also love to hear about your experiences with these platforms if you are already using them so please share.
I also caught up on a million other little things that home that had been piling up. It's a big relief to be start the year with all of these things off my plate so I can focus on the year ahead.
Today's Configuration: Leica MP with a Summilux 35mm and 50mm f/1.4 on Portra 400 film
The one thing I love about Japan is how you can just stumble on things that were right near you all along but you never realized. I took a different road to Haneda Airport on my last trip and less than 2 kilometers from my house I passed Okusawa Shrine. I never took this road before and woolah a cool new temple near my house to photograph.
My new favorite Starbucks, which is one of their concept stores called Coffee and Neighborhood, is just a few blocks from here. I got there every weekend but just never passed this shrine before as I approach Starbucks from a different side.
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Starbucks. I am however completely open to it. If you work for Starbucks I accept payment in the form of Americano coupons.
I'm so happy that Paul Smith opened a store in Roppongi a few blocks from my office which is great as their shops in Omotesando are a hassle to get to from my office.
They plastered Roppongi Station with advertising so it was hard to miss. I love their clothes but they just aren't cut for my body type. I do love their socks and scarfs. I have a kickass set of dinosaur socks and many Paul Smith striped socks.
This is their biggest store globally in terms of square footage. It's massive. Like I said I don't wear their cloths but love their backpacks and leather goods. I have a wallet, business card case, case for the millions of membership cards you have to carry in Japan for every doctors office or point card you have, and a cool badge holder for the office. I wish they made camera straps...
I walked around a different part of Shinjuku and Yotsuya that I haven't been to in a long time. I love how different areas in Tokyo can have such different feelings to them.
Back in Toritsu Daigaku (near Jiyugaoka)...
Back to my Interesting People series from my last post. My next installment is @wiz. First of all you have to be pretty interesting to get that as your Twitter handle but you are definitely interesting when the only thing in your bio is cryto-anarchist .
I ended up sitting next to him while grabbing a cheeseburger one Sunday while working. We struck up a conversation. We asked the typical 'what do you do in Tokyo' and then got into a long discussion on Bitcoin which is seems to be an expert at. This is something I have always wanted to better understand. It's one of those things that was just confusing enough to me to scare me off. He was kind and patient enough to explain it all to me and really help me to understand it; what it is, how to buy it, how to use it, and how to safety store it.
He sold me my first few coins at around $780 a coin. Since then Bitcoin has jumped up to $1,130 a coin and settled down around $850. It's very volatile which makes it super fun to watch and learn about.
We have become friends since although I do think he looks a bit like Dr Evil and I fully expect at the end of the world, or at least the next financial collapse, he will be sitting behind a keyboard with a smirk on his face and likely a lot of Bitcoin.
Here are a few FAQs on Bitcoin:
Q: What is Bitcoin?
A: Watch this.
Q: How can I get Bitcoin?
A: Go here.
See easy! In honor of this experiment I have created a new shop especially for shoppers who want to pay with Bitcoin or Ethereum.
The new Neighborhood and Coffee Starbucks. It's a very nice atmosphere compared to a typical Starbucks. They even have beer and wine.
Next in my Interesting People series: Nathan. He is a Banker from Indonesia via Singapore on this way to Kuala Lumpur. We try to catch up every time he comes to Tokyo or when I am in Singapore. I was lucky enough to catch up Nathan and his wife for lunch at the same Cheeseburger place I met wiz. Nathan and I bound over photography and a lot of other things but his antique watch collection is really starting to impress me. Another area I know nothing about but have interest in. Hopefully my Bitcoins appreciate enough I can get myself one.
A tired me. 2016 was a long year...
(photo credit: Mayumi Powell)
Part of my year end errand running sent me to Nakameguro, my old stomping ground, where I lived for my five of my first eight years in Japan. That day I won the bureaucracy trifecta with trips to the Meguro-ku Ward Office, Japan Social Security Office and Tokyo Metropolitan Office to renew my drivers license. The three visits when surprisingly smooth and frustration free which is rare in those places.
Mitsui Building in Shinjuku. Level 9 and Level 55 were my first offices in Japan.
I hope everyone got some rest at year end. Looking forward to a great 2017.
Thanks for stopping by today.