Top 5 Mistakes Which Made Me Money Wise Today


There’s Chinese folktale. There is temple on a mountain so high that people believe it reaches the heaven. In the temple, sits the statue of a Buddha, which took 100 years to build, and towering at 50 feet stature. The 10s of 1000s of steps leading up to the temple where people worship and pray to Buddha is made of the same time of stone.

One day the stone slab worshipers step on to arrive at the temple said to the Buddha, “we are from the same mountain, we are the same stone. Why do people worship you and step on me day in and day out?”

Buddha answers, “Perhaps you won’t want to be where I am today if you knew how many slashes and chisels I had endured to become a statue from the stone that I once was.”

I find this story so beautiful. Perhaps our entire life is a transformation from a raw stone from the mountain into a statue. Or perhaps, we simply become the slabs of stone which become steps of ladders leading people somewhere amazing.

Would you rather be a statue or a slab? I think both have its merits and functionalities.


This series of posts is titled “My Costly Mistakes, Your Free Lessons.” I am 100% transparent here sharing with you my mistakes. I hope that you don’t suffer what I had to go through and that you succeed with more ease, grace, and fewer trials and tribulations J


Mistake #1

I did not value my time.

  1. Anyone close to me knew about my epic fail of working 7 jobs at once while double majoring at UC Berkeley and writing my Junior thesis in Organic Chemistry Synthesis. My then principle investigator tried to talk me out of my madness, “Don’t worry about your parents’ credit card debt right now. Focus on school and research. Once you graduate, I’ll get a job to pay off your parents debt much faster than your odd jobs right now.” I did not listen, to my own detriment.
  2. History repeats itself. I was tutoring and making $60/hr, so I worked like a dog, some days 14 hours/day + 3 hour commute. I missed precious time I could spend with my kid before medical school started. I should have increased my hourly rate and work fewer hours rather than working myself to death. (I learned that lesson later, now charging $388/hr and limiting my tutoring hours to 26 a year.)
  3. For a few months when Mini was 2, I would collect alumni and plastic bottles to get $0.50 each from the recycling centers.

Mistake #2

I did not value my health.

  1. Since I was 17, I slept no more than 4 hours a night. It worked well in medical school, because I was single mom with 2 jobs. Everyone was amazed at how much I could do, research, volunteer, scholarship applications, 2 jobs, my kid, all the while ranking top 10 in my medical school class. There was no secret. I worked hard and I had 20 hours/day to work… I was killing myself in the vicious cycle of rewards, incredible productivity, and taking on more challenges progressively. After 15 years of sleep deprivation, I finally sought help, pretty much forced by my PD to do so. I am so grateful that she saw that I was an extreme workaholic dangerous to self and others. I am now sleeping 6-8 hours daily and it’s the best investment ever. Sleep. Health.
  2. I spend so much time working and learning about how to manage money that I saved no time for exercise. I did not exercise regularly for a decade. Until recently (June 2016), I started and have been on track for a 30 day yoga challenge with Adrienne. I make conscious efforts to leave the PACS at work and run up and down 7 flights of stairs a few times a day.

Mistake #3

I did not value my mind.

  1. I consume junk TV shows.
  2. I waste time on Facebook. Learning how happy, successful my friends are, and wishing I were them.
  3. I concern myself with the people who makes negative comments on my life/ my effort to reach out with my blog.
  4. I live vicariously through realty TV shows.

Mistake #4

I did not know the time value of money.

  1. I’ve worked and pay taxes since I was 16 in the US. I should have put my $ to work then in ROTH IRA. I waited until I was 30, that was the first time I put my money to work.
  2. I had money sitting in bank accounts bearing less than inflation rate (2-3%) interest rather than investing it.

Mistake #5

I did not know/use the power of corporations.

I thought being employed as W2 worker and get defined (selected by my employer) benefits and health insurance coverage is the better than being my own boss. At 32, I finally learned the power of corporations. Business make money, spend it in investment/buying assets, then pay taxes on what’s left. Employees, make money, pay taxes, and spend what’s left. Without knowledge in tax codes and appropriate deductions, self-employment seems costly, the tax rate is much higher than that of an employee. But if you have a good accountant or just follow TurboTax, you could keep much more of your income being your own boss.

Plus, as an employee, you are trading your time for money. As your own boss, you likely will trade your employee’s time for money and using your assets to make you money even when you vacation.

I’ll be sharing more mistakes in the next post. I hope these are helpful. If you don’t avoid my mistakes and you practice mindful financial practice, you will be much more successful and faster than I am.


This series of posts is titled “My Costly Mistakes, Your Free Lessons.” I am 100% transparent here sharing with you my mistakes. I hope that you don’t suffer what I had to go through and that you succeed with more ease, grace, and fewer trials and tribulations J

My Million Dollar Mistakes, Your Free Lessons
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6 thoughts on “My Million Dollar Mistakes, Your Free Lessons

  • November 20, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    You did better than me with the IRA. I have been working since 15 and only started investing in an IRA when I was 33. Plus both my wife and I pulled out money from our small 401Ks in our 20s at a penalty rate.

    I see the dangers of working all the time in my brother currently. He is a surgeon and is busy working on 2 side businesses and becoming very involved in the community. All of this with 3 young girls at home. When asked why he does it, he says it is to make a difference, but I wonder if he will look back and wonder about the time lost with his kids.

  • November 19, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing. Working for earned income may be necessary, but it is expensive. It is expensive because you trade your time for highly taxed income. I realized that later than I wish I had, but creating tax efficient passive income helped to free up my time. I’m glad to hear that you are living a more balanced life and placing more value on your time.

  • November 18, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    My body has some sort of clock. Whenever I start working too much — without being intrinsically motivated — I tend to get frustrated. Keeping track of this level of frustration helps me remain sane. That said, there are many things I would like to accomplish that I can’t and trying to keep myself “sane” has made loose on opportunities that when I look back now I think were tremendous and perhaps I should have hustled it out. I envy you for being able to do so much with so little sleep. You are growing more wise by the day and I am sure the sky is the limit for you. If only I knew you in person. Your life is an inspiration.

  • November 18, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Question about Mistake #5. How are you using the power of corporations? If I am a W2 physician, apart of a group of W2 physicians, can I become an LLC(sCorp) and not loose the benefits, i.e. group health insurance, profit sharing 401(k), ownership in the group including the realestate?

  • November 18, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Loved this! Than you for sharing your mistakes, which of course made you who you are today. We should embrace our mistakes more because they teach us valuable lessons.
    I love that you shared that you wish you spent less time on Facebook wishing you had other people’s successes, when I would totally be envious of you looking from the outside in!! But that’s what everyone does on Facebook regardless if you are “successful” or not. I’ve definitely learned that comparing myself to others gets me no where and if I want to be happy it starts with looking inside and taking care of myself.

    • December 6, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Extremely saddened and shocked to hear of your passing. Although we never met or communicated, I felt connected to you through your blog and I had only just stumbled upon it a few weeks ago. I hope your family finds peace and healing during this difficult time. I am thinking of Mini today. Rest in peace Dr. Amanda Liu

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