The Human Brain’s quirkiness

Affirmative action, compounding, Financial Independence, Human Brain

Dr. Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler recently released their new book The Future is Faster Than you Think. Being a voracious reader I have been devouring this book as well. We will keep the details of the book out of this post.

This book is part of a trilogy. Their earlier books Abundance and BOLD were amazing and really make you think that we are living in a world which is much better and safer than what our forefathers ever got. If you have not read these books, I would highly recommend you reading them first before you read this one, because it will give you a context to this book. I read their books also when I am feeling low. These books show you that the world is moving in the right direction and human beings have an ability to bounce back and always pivot to a higher level in life.

What I wanted to share from this new book, The Future is Faster Than you Think, was content of two paras which the authors used and which has stuck to me.

They talk about the medial prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain which gets activated when we think of ourselves. As per them it gets deactivated when we think of others. Surprisingly whenever we think of our future selves it gets deactivated. And the further you project into the future, the more it switches off. Which is why people are not able to save for their retirement because for your brain (medial prefrontal cortex) the person who will benefit from the tough choices you make today is different from you. Now you see the quirkiness even within our own brain. What is supposed to actually get functional when you have to think about yourself, switches off, when you project yourself into the future

The other issue is that our brain does not have the capability to think in exponential and global terms. Due to this anything which is depicted by an exponential equation is difficult for the brain to comprehend.

Which brings me to my fascination with compounding. Compounding in its very nature is exponential in nature. And therefore even though I keep talking about compounding in almost every post, I still find most people read what I write but don’t take action.

Coupled with what I have written earlier about habits, I think that is one of the key reasons why more people are not financially free. They sell time for money and because their brains don’t comprehend compounding they don’t let money work for them.

I once read money is a good “servant” and a bad “master”. So if you can make money work for you by using the laws of compounding, you can aspire for a Future which is much bigger and better than your past.

Till next time then

Carpe Diem!!!

Law of compounding – for real life improvement

Affirmative action, compounding, Human Brain

I read – maybe 10 years back – Delivering Happiness by the CEO of Zappos – Tony Hsieh. I don’t quite remember everything in the book except that it was the journey of Zappos. However there is one statement from the book which Hsieh makes, which has remained with me since then, if you can improve even 1% everyday, imagine the improvement you will have at the end of the year – 367%. However inspite of having read it and also put it on a board where I could see it everyday, I have not improved 3670% in the last 10 years. The idea is simple I understand it but I still don’t go about achieving it.

The Japanese have a incremental improvement method called Kaizen which is about bringing about small incremental improvements continuously resulting in massive improvements over a period of time.

Both seem to be very simple concepts but we don’t end up following them. If you have been following my blog for sometime you would have noticed that as I am getting more experienced at writing things I am also questioning things about how I can be improving myself. Right now I am working on improving my reading capabilities. I have an agenda to read at least 3 books every week, consistently over the next few months, inspite of all the extended working hours we are having due to the lockdown. I want to check if I can improve my reading, which means I gather more knowledge, which then I try to put into action and therefore improve myself on a regular basis.

Yesterday however I was watching a YouTube video of Dan Sullivan of Strategic coach and he explained a very simple concept because of which I may not be achieving our goals for real life improvement. His logic is that there are no impossible goals, there are only impossible timelines. And because we give impossible timelines to ourselves, we end up messing up on achieving our goals. In case you are interested you can watch the video here.

As per him if we were to give ourselves long enough timelines, then our brain will not put barriers. The timelines he talks about doing a 10X is 25 years and breaks it down into quarters. So in 25 years there will be 100 quarters. If we were to use our compounding equation S=P*(1+r/100)^n. So if we put P=X and S=10X and “n” =100 then “r” turns out to be just 2.5% growth per quarter.

Is it feasible to improve 2.5% per quarter or less than 1% per month. Should be possible. If we were to break down our improvement points into clear bite sized goals then 1% per month should be very feasible and 10X in 10 years should also be feasible.

The reason this compounding works is because as a human being when you improve the first time, the next improvement is over the previous improvement and this cycle can continue forever. This is exactly how compounding works on your money and this how compounding works in real life as well. However our brain is conditioned to think in terms of linear activities. It is just not capable of comprehending non-linear equations like compounding and therefore whether it comes to money or self improvement our brain plays games with us.

Its one of those laws which are universal in nature and should apply to me as well. If I can improve by more than 1% every month in different areas of my life, based on the knowledge I acquire by reading the books and taking action, I should be able to grow. Let me see how this goes. Just to share the progress in the last 3weeks I have been able to complete 8 books. All non fiction books. These include Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk, Bold by Peter Diamandis, Attackers Advantage by Ram Charan, Triggers By Marshall Goldsmith etc. All these books are quite dense, as you will see in the picture, but I am trying to keep to my target.

Let me know if you also see Compounding in other areas of your life. I will be very interested in hearing your story.

Till next time.

Carpe Diem!!!

Pay taxes, still go for your dreams

Financial Independence

Death and Taxes are the only things which are certain in life.

There is nothing much which I can suggest on the first item – though if you are interested, it will be worth your while to look at Dr. Peter Diamandis and others on what they are doing for enhancing the quality and longevity of human beings.  If you subscribe to his Abundance newsletter it will give you insights into the kind of amazing work that’s going on in the areas of robotics, DNA research etc.

However coming back to taxes….this is the time of the year (April – July) in most countries when taxes have to be filed.

For service class people the biggest challenge is that the government takes away its “pound of flesh” even before we get the salary in our hands.  Depending on the tax brackets, generally the income tax rates are around 25-35% in most countries.  So for every $100  that you earn, the government has a right on $35 before you.  Which means the harder you work, the more your try to earn, the more you end up paying to the government.

Unlike a business person who is allowed a lot of expenses as tax deductible.  The employer has to deduct tax at source before paying the employee.  That’s kind of unfair for the employee.  Being an employee myself I completely sympathise with all my salaried brethren.

Having said that, we also have to take cognisance of the fact, that all the roads, hospitals, defence services that the government provides.  If we have to ensure prosperity and safety for all the people of the country then paying taxes is mandatory.  One of the big challenges for countries like India through history have been poor compliance to paying taxes.  That has resulted in us still being a poor country.

So we should ALWAYS ensure we pay taxes which are due.

For the employed the government in India does give avenues to do a tax deduction to plan for long term capital appreciation.  One of the things in this is the NPS( National Pension Scheme) in India. ( In the US I believe there are 401K plans) . Not only can you contribute about 10% of your basic income and get tax exemption, you can in addition contribute another Rs50000/-.  The biggest advantage of this scheme is that there is a very low management charge and you can decide to also invest a certain percentage in equity because of which you get the benefits of tax exemption as well as capital appreciation in the long term.

There is another avenue which you should look at exploiting and do good as well. The government wants you to help organisations which are doing good for the society.  When you showcase that you have contributed to a good cause you can also get a tax exemption.  Now that’s such a good idea….you do a good cause and the government supports you in doing good by giving you tax exemption.

There are many such things which the governments in India, US etc. give to help the salaried class reduce the tax liability.  I would sincerely suggest that you’ll take professional advice from a CA or CFA on how to bring down your tax liability as per what is legal.  But do not shy from giving taxes.

Now when you get the tax deduction, the money saved should be put into a bucket to help you achieve your dreams.  Over the long term these amounts aggregate to a very large  corpus to help you get closer to your dreams without breaking the bank.

Last time I had spoken of how I had gone about trying to achieve things from my bucket list.  You too can, by utilising the avenues given by the government, reduce your tax liability and then let that money compound.

Every person should have a bucket list to look forward to in life.  That’s what makes life interesting.  Let finances not stop you from living your life.  Plan things, use compounding to your advantage and take benefits given by the government to have life.

Till next time.

Carpe Diem!!!

Are you covered to live past 90 years

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

I had gone to Lucknow ( capital of the state of UP in India) last week for celebrating the Golden Anniversary of one of my in-laws.  In their house they have a decent size lawn and also a lot of pots and trees in the garden.

While sitting in the garden, having my coffee I noticed an old man mowing the lawn with a manual lawn mower.  Since you don’t get to see a manual lawn mower too often these days I got talking with my in-laws about it.

That’s when my in-laws mentioned that the gardener was in his 90s and peddled down on a bicycle about 17 km everyday to come to their house and do the gardening. He does gardening in about 5 lawns in the vicinity and spends an hour at each location. He earns about 5000-7000 INR every month- about USD 900 /annum.

The positives from the interaction were that he was so healthy and fit even at 90.  He was able to move large pots around even though I would never be able to lift those plots.  I felt extremely happy to see a 90 year old, so healthy and independent.   I did not get an opportunity to talk to him because I got caught up in some other engagements there.

However it got me thinking, would he want to do this activity if he had the financial freedom. Was he working because he had to earn his daily bread or what were his circumstances at home which pushed him to travel 365 days on a bicycle to earn such a meagre amount.

When I visited Canada in 2017 in one of the department store I saw ladies at the cash counters who in my opinion were more than 70 years working on the basic minimum wage only because they did not have any savings to last them their remaining life. Yesterday I met one of my old colleagues who is now settled in the USA and he mentioned that the official retirement age in the US is now 67.5 years.  So as countries are ageing they are trying to increase the official working age.  But for countries like India where the population is still very young, the increase in retirement age from 58-60 in most cases is still afar cry.

Globally the average age of the people is increasing with better nutrition and medical support. If Dr. Peter Diamandis is to be believed in the next decade the breakthroughs in science will help people live well over a hundred years.  However the working life of an individual is only about 30-40 years while they will have to support themselves without an active income for the next 30 odd years.

Just with pure saving instruments its not feasible to beat inflation and grow your money.  You need to be investing money on a regular basis from a very young age so that the you can get the benefits of compounding.  If you will notice Warren Buffet’s dramatic growth in wealth has been after he crossed the age of 60 because the compounding equation is an exponential equation and as the number of years goes up the impact on your investment is dramatic.  He started investing in his early teens, so close to 70 years of compounding has made one of the richest men on the planet.  At around the same age our gardener is still trying to earn USD 900/- per annum because he did not make investments.

Compounding is such a simple equation that grade 7 students are taught in school mathematics.  However our teachers are not able to show the implications of that equation because what is simple is not always easy to comprehend and most people inspite of knowing it don’t apply it ever.

I would strongly recommend everyone to read the book “The Compoound Effect” by Darren Hardy to see the benefits of compounding in all walks of life.

Use this simple equation to make your life easy for the long run and be secure to live well beyond 90 years.

Carpe Diem!!!