Daughter diaries: Funbrella

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My daughter got an umbrella as a gift for her 5th birthday and she’s been in love with it ever since. There is something about the umbrella that I can’t explain well enough.

Kids associate it more with play than with utility. They can have fun with mundane everyday objects. Tells us we have a lot to learn from kids!

Open it up, lo and behold, you have a tent! Sometimes, it’s a boat that you can sit inside. Be a prankster and rotate it after returning from heavy rain, sprinkling water all over the place. If you are creative enough, the umbrella is a lot of fun!

“Chaththri mane” (umbrella house) is a favorite playtime activity of the kids.  Open up multiple umbrellas, form a closed shelter and play for hours inside. Sometimes they have a fight and one will pickup her / his umbrella and head home. Sometimes, they play ghost inside and try to scare each other. Sometimes, they cook up prank-recipes in giggly tones!

To my daughter and her friends, the umbrella is more of a toy than a utility item. To them, it’s a ‘funbrella’.

PS: Originally, I had no plans to add this image to the photo essay on my kid. I printed a lot of images yesterday and asked her to pick her favorite – she picked this image. That was when I realized how much she likes the umbrella. This image was shot in poor light with my cheap phone, which shouldn’t matter to anyone. It certainly didn’t matter to my daughter!

Daughter diaries: Who will clean the poop?

“Whisky, my name is Whisky!!”, she quipped and started licking the plate.

Our neighbour has a pup dog named Brandy and the tiny fellow has become the attention of all the kids in our area. They swarm around the pup, dote upon it and play with it a lot.

My daughter came to me and said she wanted one too. “Ok”, I said. “What shall we name the pup?”, she asked. “Theirs is Brandy, lets call ours Whisky”, I said.

A 1000 watt bulb flashed on her face. She doesn’t know what brandy and whisky mean, but I guess the name was catchy enough to get her excited. She pretended like a pup, calling herself Whisky and goofed around a bit, until a realisation hit her.

“Who will clean up the poop?”, she worryingly asked me a few moments later.

“Of course, you will!”, I said.

“Then I don’t want a puppy!”, she stated dismissively and went back to playing with Sahil who was lost in his own world of disfiguring another toy!

The ethics of money and business

Ever since 2005, I have really enjoyed studying businesses and have kept my money mostly in publicly listed stocks and since 2011, been interested in building one myself. At the same time, I love and seek inspiration from nature.

I’ve had trouble keeping them together because capitalism and its main cogs – business and finance, seem to be largely working against nature. I find it disturbing and hard to balance.

Several years ago, I owned ITC shares – a friend questioned how I could make money from smoking and tree-chopping (paper). I got out (though my reasons are ambiguous at best).

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Side project: Simple expense tracker for busy people

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I used to track my expenses religiously for 8 years – initially using notepad and Excel, later with GnuCash.

In 2011, when I started my own company, time became a limited commodity. I found it hard to keep track of my expenses. So I devised a simple minimalistic method to track my expenses – one that took just 15 minutes every month.

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Never play the Russian roulette

Charlie Munger often says, “tell me where I’m going to die, so I will never go there”. Avoidance of terminal risk is of great importance to him (and to Warren Buffett).

That is a very important thing to follow in life.

A Russian roulette is one game that is simply not worth playing at any price, even though the odds are in your favor. (There is a 5/6th chance that you will survive and there is a 1/6th chance that you’ll get the bullet, if the chamber is reset every time.)

Any game that can get you killed is just not worth it! Even if there is a good chance that you might survive and win a hefty prize.

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True financial freedom

“I want to be financially free, so I can pursue whatever I want in life”. I hear this statement often.

A friend and I were discussing money and financial freedom, amongst other things in life.

“How much is enough money to be financially free? How do you decide?” I asked my friend.

Is it a fixed number? The ability to not work for money and have enough of it to pay all your bills through your lifetime? Or is it 30 times your annual expense? 50 times? Having a good part of it in inflation beating investments? Or having a business that has good free cashflow and longevity?

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Track your expenses without sweating it out

For several years, I used to track my expenses religiously – partly because of my interest in personal finance and largely because I have an OCD on maintaining data, esp numbers.

From 2003 until 2007, I used excel sheets to manage my accounts. From 2008 onwards, I used Gnucash. Whichever the system or tool, the data is only as good as the data entry. And that can be time consuming! By 2012, I was pressed for time and it no longer made sense for me to track my expenses so religiously. Especially since I had good control over it and roughly knew my numbers. (I realized its way better to spend time on investments than on expenses.)

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12 things I learned from Jorge Paulo Lemann

A few months ago, while reading Buffett’s annual letter, I came across 3G Capital and its principals, mainly Jorge Paulo Lemann, and got curious.

This article on him that made me more curious.

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Now, Buffett is an astute dealmaker. And fantastic at picking partners in business – nearly all his partners are people with outstanding characteristics. Few examples are Charlie Munger, Tom Murphy, Mrs Blumkin, Albert Ueltschi and Ajit Jain. Even the lesser known people like Ted Weschler and Todd Combs are ones I’ve come to admire a lot.

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A decade of investing

I just realized its been exactly 10 years to the day since I first entered the stock market. Being risk averse and skeptical, I equated stock market to casinos and thought I’d never touch it with a long pole. Little did I know that a large part of my own life would be devoted to studying and investing in that very same treacherous market.

The date was May 17, 2004. A senior colleague looked very pale and I came to know that he had lost a lot of money that day in the crash. I was perplexed as to why people invested in risky things such as the stock market and vowed that I would do no such stupid thing.

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