November 2018 Reflection: Minimalism & Trip to Chicago

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Hi Everyone,

The purpose of these reflections is to give me the opportunity to share more of myself with you. It will allow us to learn more from each other and grow together.

I take my daily journal entries and reflect upon common themes in my life, both good and bad. These reflections will be released at the end of each month in a single post to make them easy to digest.

At this time, these posts will likely include my fitness progress, side-hustles, career, things I have learned and all the good people in my life.

Personal Development

I finished 3 books this month! These are all popular titles in the personal development and finance field, so here they are with a short blurb from yours truly.

Essentialism: Live Like a Minimalist by James Lathom

My younger brother is a minimalist at heart. We always joked that if there was an emergency, he could throw all his valuables in a single back bag and be on his way. Myself, on the other hand, would have to pack up my entire room. I am seeing the allure of living with only essentials and things that provide you with daily value. Aspiring to adopt a minimalist or “value-ist” mindset will not only help me declutter my physical living area but also free up some mental space.

While this book has useful tips on achieving this, it spent more time than I cared for explaining the relationship between essentialism and minimalism. Instead, I have started with another book about minimalism that is less about theory and more about application. Overall, it more enjoyable to read and easy to digest. I’m only 25% of the way through, but if you’d like to join me, it’s titled, Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason

The Richest Man In Babylon is a classic, but I didn’t get much out of it, so it will stay off my recommendation list as well. It talks about basic personal finance principles, like paying yourself first by saving at least 10% of your income (I personally think you need to save much more than that), investing, the power of compounding interest and living below your means. Definitely nothing new, but if you enjoy reading about finance in Shakespearean language, feel free to pick it up. Personally, I would much rather re-read The Simple Path To Wealth by Jim Collins.

Design Your Future by Dominick Quartuccio

I saved the best for last. Within this book, there are many useful exercises and stories that helped me self-evaluate my current goals and determine how they align with how I want to build my life. I think it can be generalized to everyone. I highly recommend it for those who feel like they can be living a better life than they are now and are determined to begin taking action.

One of my favorite quotes goes:

Life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change – Jim Rohn

This quote simply motivates me to take action, but I would like to point out, change doesn’t need to be drastic. After all, many small changes, together, can lead to a large effect.

I am still working on some big changes, but I have noticed how all the small ones help me become a healthier, stronger and smarter version of myself. One of the first changes I made this year was buying a 64 oz bottle to keep cold water readily available. Many times, when leaving my home, I would forget my wallet before I forget this water bottle.

Of course, I have done many more incremental things that have added great value to my life, but I will save that running list for another a blog post.

For now, check out Design Your Future if you wish to propel yourself towards a life you cannot wait to live.

Money Moves

For those that invest in the stock market, it was hard to ignore recent market declines in the last couple of months. The S&P 500 went from 9.4% growth since the beginning of the year to go below 0% a couple times. As of November 29th, it is back up to 2.4%.

I remember coming home one day and telling my wife about our depreciating assets. She just said, “buy more”. She reminded me of our financial plan to invest at regular intervals regardless of market performance. Within time, our portfolio began recovering with the market. Even if markets continued to decline, I believe we would have stayed the course and continued buying at our regular intervals. It is true that you cannot time the market. As we plan to keep this money invested for decades, any decline in value is just temporary. One of the best ways to think of market declines is written on The article talks about looking at your “losses” as a loan, I highly recommend the short read.

Our Trip to Chicago

As you may know, we held off going anywhere for our 2nd year wedding anniversary last month because we knew we were planning to go to Chicago for a professional course my wife wanted to attend. Regardless of market declines, we were still going to have our fun on this trip. During the first two days, she attended her class leaving me with the opportunity to get some stuff done!

With the city being too cold and wintry to explore, I decided to stay in to exercise, find some quiet space to reflect and finished reading some books. As boring as it might sound, it was quite relaxing and I would do it all over again if I had the chance.

After she finished her course, we spent the remaining days exploring together. Thankfully, it stopped snowing by the 2nd half of the trip. We visited the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower), which is the tallest building in Chicago. We rode the elevators to the 103rd floor to stand in glass boxes that protruded from the building. I can’t describe to you how scary it was when you are looking down at your feet and you realize the only thing stopping you from the 1,300 ft fall is the clear 1.5-inch bulletproof glass!

Next, we explored the beautiful sights in and around Millennial Park. Despite it being under 40 degrees and windy, touring the city was the best part followed by digging into Chicago’s iconic deep dish pizza. I enjoyed the Chicago and would like to go back, only when it isn’t freezing.

For more pictures and a breakdown of the cost of our trip, check out my Instagram page.


For the last 4 years, I have been working 48 – 56 hours a week to pay off my massive student loan debt. Even though I accomplished this goal a couple years ago, I couldn’t help myself but continue working as much as I did. This was the first month where I decided to spend less time in the clinic and more time at home. Now, I have kept my hours to roughly 46 per week. I’ll be making a few hundred dollars less per month, but it’s completely worth it now that I can make it home in time to have dinner with my wife.

Final Thoughts

We came home from Chicago 2 weeks ago, yet it felt like two months ago! I think that is because I feel that I am accomplishing so much each day. I am learning as much as I can to build the life I want for myself and my family. If you want to do the same, I highly recommend reading Design Your Future by Dominick Quartuccio.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you after Christmas!

4 thoughts on “November 2018 Reflection: Minimalism & Trip to Chicago”

  1. Thanks for sharing Mr. Flexcents! The Chicago trip sounded fun despite the snow. Hope you and Mrs. Flexcents have another adventure soon.

    Glad to hear that you’re cutting back work hours to spend more time at home. Very wholesome choice :)

    Great synopsis on the books! I’ll definitely check a couple of them out. Can’t wait wait to hear from you after Christmas!


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