How to Live Longer

I watched this really interesting segment on 6o Minutes about people who live long lives (i.e., 90+ years).

There’s this retirement community in Southern California where residents filled out an extensive questionnaire asking about lifestyle. A neurologist discovered the data (going back to 1981) and not only has her team analyzed what they found, they are tracking every single resident who is still alive to determine what is the secret to longevity.

Here are the links to the video clips. It’s a fascinating watch.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the research. The following factors contribute to longer lifespans:
  • 45 minutes of exercise a day. 45 minutes is better than 2 or 3 hours. Doesn’t have to be consecutive and doesn’t have to be taxing. Simple activities like walking or gardening are fine.
  • Consumption of alcohol every day (i.e., 2 glasses of wine, 2 martinis, 2 beers, etc.). Does not matter what kind of alcohol.
  • Consumption of caffeine (the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per day).
  • Being social.
  • Later on in life, it is better to be a little bit overweight than it is to be underweight.

Where am I on the longevity spectrum? I don’t exercise nor do I drink caffeine. I don’t have wine every day, but several times a week I have a glass of wine. I am fairly social. Plus I am underweight vs overweight. MAJOR FAIL. Maybe I’ll live to 70?

How do you line up?

Photo credit

Cars That Go Boom

We got into a car accident on Sunday. As bad of an Asian driver that I am, I was not the one who caused it. A Subaru Forester slammed into a brand new Prius which then hit our Nissan Pathfinder. A 3-car crash. Highway patrol was immediately on the scene, followed by a police officer five minutes later.

The woman who caused the accident looked to be in her 60s and must have had slow reflexes in responding to the traffic. The driver of the Prius was pretty shaken up. Her car had the most damage. Luckily no injuries. Our car had the least amount of damage. We’ll probably need to have our bumper replaced, but that’s it.

Poor baby Franco screamed after we were hit so after the police officer took our statement, we brought Franco to the pediatric ER where they took his vitals and examined him. All clear.

I’ve been making phone calls to insurance, giving recorded statements, searching for a new car seat to buy, and scheduling an appointment to have our car checked out. It’s been a pain.

During this process, I’ve come to the conclusion that All State insurance is one of the best. I don’t have them; I’ve got Geico. Within 24 hours All State (which insured the Prius) had contacted and gotten statements from everyone involved. If I have any questions about anything, I’ll be calling All State and not my own insurance. All State rocks! They are totally on top of things. I might have to make the switch.

Also I’m now a believer in buying a big ass car if you have kids. Before the baby, we used to drive a tiny Honda Civic. That piece of tin foil disguised as a car would not have survived this accident.

Have any of you been in a car accident that caused you to change your insurance provider or car?

Child Care in San Francisco

I believe I read somewhere that San Francisco is now the most expensive city in the United States. Housing is one of the main factors as home prices and rents are sky-rocketing. But now that I’ve researched child care options and put Franco in various situations, I can confirm that paying for child care has to be another reason people are leaving the city in droves for the burbs. I can count on one hand the number of friends we have with kids that still live in the city. It’s very sad. Honestly, while we would love to stay in San Francisco, we are also eyeing properties elsewhere.

Wanted to share my thoughts on child care in San Francisco having gone through the process. It sucks!

Here are the options.

1. Have family (i.e., grandparents) take care of your kid.

Score! If this is a possibility, more power to you. But most people who live in San Francisco weren’t born and raised in the city. They’re transplants. So I don’t know anyone who is in this situation. Lucky me, my mom recently retired so we will be using her a couple days a week.

2. Hire an au pair.

This is another ideal situation (since it’s super cheap), but in order to accommodate an au pair, you need an extra bedroom which doesn’t come easily in SF. You’re essentially looking at a home in the $1.5+ million range to accommodate an au pair.

3. Put your kid in daycare.

You’d think that daycare is a cheap alternative, but not in SF. The cheapest one I could find was $85/day. Most charge by the month which average around $2,000. Even if you find a daycare you like, good luck getting in. Most waitlists are so long that you should get on them as soon as you get engaged. I’m talking pre-pregnancy! And you have to be really persistent because these people don’t answer their phones or emails. Why should they when they have a waitlist that extends to eternity?

What I like about daycares is that they’re regulated. In San Francisco, you can call the Children’s Council and get the 411 on any daycare you’re considering. Guess what? Each daycare I asked about had some kind of violation! They weren’t egregious, but still: a) illegal workers on staff, b) taking care of more kids than their license allowed, c) during a random drop-in, it was discovered that a baby had been in his car seat for several hours. Awful!

4. Hire a nanny.

This is the most popular option. Most people I know use nannies. You can hire a nanny to care for your kid one-on-one which will cost anywhere between $17-22/hour. Or you can be part of a nanny share, where two families/2 kids will split the hourly share rate averaging between $22-26/hour. That’s a lot of money. We were part of a nanny share, where we paid $11/hour for a minimum of 50 hours a week. That means even if we only needed the nanny for 4 days out of the week (say we took a vacation day), we still would have to pay $550/week. On top of that, nannies in SF have standard contracts granting them 2 weeks paid vacation, 1 week paid sick leave, and again minimum hours worked. That’s good money for some nannies who aren’t educated and English isn’t their first language! I say that just as a data point because while background is important, what you’re really looking for is someone who will love your child. I could care less if they’re fresh off the boat.

I do love the personalized attention that kids get from nannies, but I’ve heard several nanny horror stories. If you ever catch me in person, we’ve got one that will blow your mind! Not something that I can really discuss here as that one went to court! But I hear from stay-at-home friends how nannies will just be gabbing away at the park, not paying any attention to the kids, or how they’ll take a picture of the kid to send to the parent, then neglect them. Ugh, so sad.

5. Stay home.

This is probably the ideal scenario. Personally, I am no stay-at-home parent. Major props to people who are, but I am not domestic. I’m not crafty. I don’t cook. I spent the better part of my adult life nuking Lean Cuisines for lunch and dinner. I’m not cut out to spend all day, every day tending to a slobbery infant. I joke with Dean that he should be the stay-at-home dad, but he’s not up for the challenge either.

Would love to hear stories from my readers. Please comment below!

photo credit: merwing✿little dear via photopin cc

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Franco is almost 6 months old. He is down to one 3am feeding in the middle of the night, which is great, but means Dean and I are still totally sleep-deprived. Falling back one hour didn’t garner an extra hour of sleep in this household! We also recently finished seven late nights of watching the SF Giants finally win the world series, culminating with a celebratory parade on Halloween. We are transitioning Franco out of a nanny share situation. And we are engaged in writing offers in the hopes of buying a new home, which is complete madness in this competitive real estate market. So yeah, we’ve been super busy. For the Veterans Day holiday next week, we are seriously considering sleeping in!

I’ll leave you with some family pictures we took last month around our beautiful urban neighborhood, Glen Park, San Francisco. Franco is 5 months old here.

After the photographer took the picture with the shadow of the street signs, she said regrettably, “Sorry this one looks like a cross.”

I laughed, “That’s ok! We’re religious!”

Retirement: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Today I want to talk about my parents. They are currently in Taipei, traveling all over Asia, enjoying the retired life.

My mom and I can spend hours talking about finances, budgets, retirement…all things related to money and wealth. I’ve always said that if I had inherited my mom’s exact brain, with my ambition, I could have ruled the world. She’s a genius when it comes to numbers, whereas I’ve had to work really hard to develop my analytical skills.

Before they went on vacation, we were talking about money as we usually do. And I was bemoaning the rat race of living in San Francisco. I will save that post for another day. I waxed on about how getting ahead in life was all about the big wins: significant raises, large bonuses, side businesses to provide additional income, and real estate investments.

She laughed and shook her head. She completely disagreed. She listed examples of people who have great jobs and appear wealthy, yet are nowhere near retirement. My parents, in contrast, are squarely middle class. My dad was in the navy, worked for the post office, and retired a while ago. My mom is an accountant who is now retired at age 66. She could have retired sooner, but liked her job so she kept at it. Another thing about my mom is that she could have climbed the corporate ladder, but refused. Even though she was a working mom, family came first. She didn’t want the burden of long hours or the stress of managing people and instead was always home at a reasonable hour to be with me and my sister.

Considering my parents’ poor immigrant background, their massive savings as they enjoy retirement together is extremely impressive. So how did they do it? If you ask my mom, she says it’s simple. They rarely ate out. Both my parents packed their lunch for work every day. I don’t think they’ve ever set foot inside a Starbucks. They never paid full price for anything. They’re not flashy people so they weren’t spending money on stupid stuff like fancy clothes or cars. They scrimped so that we could go on vacation, get braces, have piano lessons, and go to private Catholic school from first grade through senior year of high school. And even though they never made a ton of money, they consistently give to a handful of charities.

As I see my parents tagged in Facebook photos, tracking them from Tokyo to Taipei, then on to Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore, I am filled with pride at how deserving they are of these memories and experiences. But also I wanted to point out that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur or someone with a high-paying job or win the lottery to retire and enjoy your twilight years. My parents did it. Dean and I are determined to do it too. And of course, we’d love for all of you to join us. Let’s cruise around the world together!

Destination? Retirement.