Happy Tennis Retirement with Zen and Flow

Tennis players retire by 29, 39, or 69...

To do so happily starts with finding a sustainable Zen relationship with your spending and saving habits.

How you feel about money determines if it flows into your life like water or slips away like sand.

Normally, I keep topics mainly around Tennis. Today I am switching gears to talk about the Mindset of Money. Discovering the real Bargains in Life. This may mean pivoting your skills and experience. Perhaps try a more meaningful 2nd career in your next set.

Many are simply grinding it out.

From freshly-minted pros, long-time coaches, to the countless fans globally struggling with debt or unemployment. Double-digit negative GDPs around the world are the new norm. Most businesses are deep into stagnant recovery or cryogenic freeze mode. The people who are worst off are in the OR/ER rooms waiting for ventilators - a microcosm of the greater health of this planet.

Readers can get off this endless runway. Escape the cycle of student debts and borrowing for large mortgages and loans - only to imprison yourself in a job you don't like, buy the things you don't need, in order to impress people you really don't care about.

One man "SlowMo" seems to have figured it out after trying the traditional path (NYTimes).
John lives right here in San Diego.

Defining what is really "Enough"
Enough purpose to get up each morning;
Enough money to go to bed peacefully at night.

With this platform and audience, I hope that I can help reach some of you who are unhappy or struggling during the lockdown. Both tennis professionals and fans alike are affected. Keeping Fit in multiple dimensions: your wallet, your body, but also the health of your mind.

I am going to introduce a very inspiring book and audiobook I found during these difficult times. It is called Happy Money (and you can peek at this short youtube intro).

Blogger Financial Samurai also wrote a great article last week about the mindset: How to Feel Rich even if you Can't Get Rich.

Happy Money - the EQ of Money

This life-changing book I want to share is called:
Happy Money, by Ken Honda

A jolly, round face man - Ken's quiet, disarming demeanor may fool some about his real wealth, but he is definitely a guru on the EQ and IQ of money.

Think of him as the Marie Kondo of Money Flow - instead of tidying up your room, Happy Money seeks to help you tidy up your cash and enjoy the way you feel about what you have.

The goal is to make "happy little millionaires" - with the emphasis on happy - not millionaires.

Thank you, money in. Thank you, money out.

It is all about appreciating and using the money to spark and accept positive energy - in and out. Very much a "wax on, wax off" approach for this gratitude cycle. In fact, he suggests viewing money as a form of Energy.

Sure, it will pay bills and buy food - but more importantly, it is our psychology with money that shapes our mood. It has helped me, and hope that it will help you too! (more below)

Son of Immigrants and Refugees

Growing up with struggling parents who came to escape from war-ravaged Vietnam and desperate poverty in South East Asia, the mindset travels with them to find ends meet. It is the son of a refugee that shares this verse now. I grew up poor with struggling parents who had no choice but to create their own business because their English and high school education was not good enough to be hired for any "normal" white-collar job as 1st-gen immigrants. So I only offer my own perspective. There are hundreds of thousands far worse off than me that have perished.

Countless lives and grandparents who had their retirement dreams ahead of them were dashed in the past couple of recessions. Millenniums never got up to speed in the job market, weighed down by student debt, beaten down with poor job options. Some 65+ retirees never lived to see that day when they could travel to their dream vacation they had saved up their entire life.

The Pixar movie, Up, is the memory that pops up in my head of the old man who lived in the little house with his wife to save up for their dream life while the world kept building around him.

You know someone, and maybe it is you, that strives to make it up there to Paradise Falls.

We owe it to those who were lost or left behind in America, to help get their dream to the peak. Maybe with just a few colorful balloons, we do our part.

But I say to those who have dared and dreamed and toiled before you - even one small person has the chance to lift them up. Guide them with support, and we get there together.

Having bucket lists is not enough - dreams are so fleeting if not pursued with passion and urgency.

We struggle and save our whole life to fulfill that promise - to our children, to a better life for family, to justify our pain of past sacrifices for the promise of a new brighter tomorrow: Annie's song.

2020 shows us that all the preparation in the world can sometimes go right out the window. Well-crafted and planned futures. Only to be stolen by this invisible cloud of virality and fear.

So I urge my reader to consider this idea:

The far worse crime is to have never lived - to never have started/grown/shared something new with the World - in a sheltered existence of timidity

We face the reality of difficult times:

Life is always uncertain.
The Climb is always daunting
Dangers approach us around the corners.

But each day, we must remind ourselves that we are getting one day closer to the Summit. Challenges become experiences that become Storied Legends to the future generations - we just have to keep one step in front of the other, moving forward and remembering: "this too shall pass".

Origin Story

Tennis-Bargains.com was founded around the last great recession just over a decade ago. Times were tough then too, just as they have been before in this country. With many out of work, the economy in shambles - tennis was on the verge of uncertain collapse or starvation.

I realized that over the last decade, even this one website has helped many. In the past, I measured success by how many thousands of tennis ball cans sold, thousands of hours of tennis instruction shared, and thousands of US Open fan memories made possible every year...but even in this lost year of tennis, I make it count by keeping my true fans happy - that is lasting Wealth.

This very website is evidence that great things can be borne during a pivot year.
Indeed the sport itself endured - yes, even thrived in the darkest hours of the last Great Recession.
We all take a collective deep dive in 2020 holding our breathe underneath dark waters, but America has and will once again resurface stronger.

There is Hope ahead, as there was in 2008-2009.
Out of any period of darkness, you can still find a gem of light

With all that I can do to support folks in saving extra dough and exercise more - I feel it still does not address the larger epidemic that now looms against society today. I write this piece in hopes to address this larger problem of 2020 and hope it brings you (even just one reader) some peace of mind.

The Donut King (2020) is a perfect movie encapsulation of my own Asian-American latchkey kid childhood with constantly working immigrant entrepreneur parents. I believe old-fashion Grit and determination with healthy portions of hard work will still override talent and money in almost any generation. I have found that steadiness and consistency will always win out over risky shots over the long run - in tennis and in life.

The idea of "Having Enough"

With relationships past and present, we seek to build up good connections - ones at the core which are tied to truly kindred spirits. Linked to help each other grow.

It is also about quickly spotting the "transactional" friends - ones that will trade with you and accept money for goods and services. Beware of how they behave when their "free lunch" is over. The nice words and token acts might be a scam to lower your guard.

It is easy to get anyone to ride with you in the Limo, but it is more telling to see who is willing to ride with you on the Bus. I want to credit that quote to Oprah.

In tennis, they are happy to partake in your free drinks, hospitality, and private tennis courts - but they quickly scurry away like cockroaches when the cake is gone and there are signs of trouble on the horizon. There is too much FOMO and living the YOLO lifestyle these days. Hopping from one extravagant event or life-forgetting binge to another. The hedonic treadmill for some doesn't stop until it crashes.

Attraction to shallow intoxication from life in the form of substance addiction. Fortunately, this lifestyle has never appealed to me as an introvert - I guess I am an exception when you look on TV. In fact, the nature of marketing and being in sales online, one would think requires a very extroverted and gregarious personality. Ironically, I do not in fact possess these traits.

Grow Rich (with Peace of Mind), by Napolean Hill, is the variation of the popular title I recommend.

The concept of having "enough" is one that almost everyone I know struggles to identify. We get caught in the excesses of consumerism - trying to buy our way into Happiness. It does work, it doesn't last. We try to get higher-paying salaries to keep up with the Joneses - only to discover higher maintenance costs with our upgraded homes or cars, with bigger toys and possessions.

Right along with our spouses and children, we get spun into this vicious loop. Kids will come home and feel cheated because they didn't get a new cell phone as nice as their friends. Human nature puts us in this mode by default, if we aren't careful, it is a slippery slope down ahead.

Experiences and self-discovery

Lasting, memorable, positive experiences. Possessions and toys have that nice new-car smell, but it fades too quick. Objects by nature break and disintegrate over time. You pay to repair or replace them constantly otherwise you feel huge loss aversion for suddenly being without that gift that gave you the highest high.

Experiences, learning, growing in a new or old path - is the much more sustainable route. I urge travel (when it is safe again) not to simply displace distances and traverse oceans. But instead, seek the culture, the history, the stories.

JCtennis.com - my tennis travel blog
It is what we learn and can convey to the Future World that makes our travel valuable and limitless in the possibility for the next exploration. Seeking the next Summit this way is a journey, not a destination.

You cannot buy your way into Adventure

Owning a new Tesla did not and will not give you a rich life. You simply inherit another shiny box with 4 wheels - now zipping around in a much nicer electric box with bulletproof windows. Similarly, the GoPro does not come with built-in skydiving and scuba-diving. That 4K drone does not automatically transport you to the beautiful sunset or perfect waterfall. You gotta get out there!

Life's precious moments are not included in the price of admission.

Money is just one type of fuel


Get out there and find your heart's true Passion, my friend.


Live for what makes you, not what others want to make of you.

Real Adventure starts once your planning ends.

Stay safe, be happy, live well.

- JC

PS: For more help to start making your retirement map, with some humor and fun -
How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free
: (Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor)

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