An American Millennial

Where are you and where are you going?
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TheRedHare
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TheRedHare » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:35 am

Congrats on the new job! You seem to be crushing it with the savings rate too!
This game idea sounds interesting. I've really considered making a few games myself. I've heard of some indie game developers making a living off of games they made themselves. Make a decent game, sell it for $5 or $10 * 1,000 players (conservatively)...that's a whole year's worth of expenses for 1 Jacob lol.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:42 pm

Felipe wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:53 pm
Seems like...
@Felipe Thanks. I should hit 90% working at the public school, and >90% pending finding, committing to, and capitalizing on part-time opportunities. To your first question, I can't think of anyway in which my language/cross-cultural skills have benefited me financially in China. I think they have helped me personally and professionally, but I don't see anyway in which another with the right focus, mindset, and view on spending (e.g. most on this website) would have to spend more. Actually, many on this website would probably find ways to spend even less here. A smaller home in a smaller city where the food is cheaper could cut costs by more than ¥1000/month, with the trade-off being likely a greater degree of culture shock and a smaller expat community. We had this option for September but decided to stay in Shenzhen for now :D.

As for residency, the only thing that comes to mind is a Residence Permit. You get this if you qualify on the right visa. For example, I came here on a single entry Z visa. Once I got here, I was stuck for about 1 month as my company processed my visa and documents to get me a Foreign Experts Certificate and a Residence Permit. This modifies my visa and lets me come and go from China as much as I want in the next year. You don't need this, though. If not seeking employment, it is perfectly legal to apply for the longest duration tourist or business visa you can get, and make border runs every 1-6 months, depending on your visa's duration of stay. AFAIK, that would still qualify you for FEIE, but I'm no tax expert, so I can't advise either way.

Optionally, you could still seek employment on one of these other visas (as many foreigners do), but this is technically "illegal", there's a risk of deportation (however small that risk may be), and you likely won't get any tax documents, if needed.
TheRedHare wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:35 am
Congrats on ....
@TheRedHare Thanks as well. The savings rate will go up and down a bit this summer, depending on what/if we work in August, then should stay high through the public school year. As for the game-making, it is super fun and easy. I took inspiration from another user's journal on here who doesn't seem to be around anymore. I'm using the same program he did, called RPG Maker, to make a game that sold at least 300 copies on Steam at $10 each. I can't wait until the summer session ends to have more time to spend on the game. It has more or less replaced most of my free-time ;).

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:51 pm

iPhone photos from June

1. outside training center
2. outside shāokǎo near apartment
3. outside training center
4. apartment balcony
5. pool hall
6. $1.47 quarter watermelon
7. walk to metro

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TheRedHare
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TheRedHare » Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:39 pm

Nice photos man!
You're in Shenzen right? Isn't there a huge marketplace for electronics there? I've always wanted to go there, I'd be like a kid in a candy shop haha.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:04 pm

Yes, it is called huá qiáng běi. I went there once already for a computer screen and spent $26 on a pretty decent one. We didn't really have enough time to explore more but we will soon!

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TheRedHare
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TheRedHare » Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:41 pm

Damn dude. I would totally send you money (as well as a nice tip) if you got me a screen there, but I can imagine the shipping costs being pretty crap. IDK, something to look into haha. What kind of computer screen did you get? Specs?

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:47 am

I'm not really sure actually. I went there with a price tag in mind, rather than a quality :lol:. I ended up on the top, most out of reach floor in one of the computer malls. It was more like a computer salvage area. Downstairs, there were super hi-resolution touch screen monitors for about ¥500 and up. Mine is just a normal flat-screen high-resolution monitor, maybe 15 inch screen.

As for shipping, there's apparently a place at huá qiáng běi called shippers' alley. I'm not sure that it is too expensive, but I don't know how safe it would be to ship a monitor. We could always try. Apparently there are whole online businesses based around taking orders from abroad, riding the metro down to huá qiáng běi and shipping stuff wholesale. These guys seem to have lost some money experimenting doing just that, you can read about it here.

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TheRedHare
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by TheRedHare » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:27 pm

Hmmm, this is really interesting. The article seems to show a savings of about 75% if they were to buy all of the stuff off of amazon. Shipping is going to be the biggest headache, so I would also go with a professional packing company. I an experiment, I would be interested in getting a laptop from there.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:29 pm

July in review

Accomplishments in July
  • Studied a little bit of Chinese (HSK1 93%, HSK2 92%, HSK3 92% competency)
  • Left training center
  • Found part-time jobs
  • Nearly finished core demo for first game
  • Conserved phone data
  • Kept track of expenses
  • Savings rate: 75.81%

ERE graphs

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75% of our spending was housing and food.

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I earned and saved about the same as last month.

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This graph has a nice slope, but we are currently unemployed.

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The slope could have been greater via a combination of luck and effort, but mostly effort.


ERE predictions
This is a prediction of when I could reach assets of 23x monthly expenses if every month were like this one:
Debt forgiven 2033: ERE Q1 2023
Debt paid off ASAP: ERE Q4 2024


Personal
Exercise: I don’t like the gym and I haven’t tried to running lately after I hurt my knee back in Nevada.

Health: I’m sedentary, eat street food everyday, and live in a (moderately) polluted environment.

Alcohol: I think I drank more because I had less to do, which is potentially a bad sign for ERE.

Cat Sitting: We are looking after a third kitten for some friends until they come back from holiday. His name is Cooper. He found himself a nice upper respiratory infection which tested positive for FCV and is finishing up his medicine treatment this week.

Rock climbing: I plan to build an indoor, free-standing climbing wall when we move into our new place. See here.

Housing: We were supposed to move to our new, relatively spacious apartment on the 31st, but the landlord hadn’t finished cleaning, so we’re moving today. The rent and fees exceed our allowance, so we will pay ¥500-¥750 each per month. The stove-top fan had to be replaced and we will pay half at ¥250 each. Internet start-up fee is ¥200. I’ll have more about the new place in the August update.

Thoughts on ERE: I have started working through a series of ERE epiphanies due in part to this thread. My epiphanies mostly follow the line of thinking as voiced in other journals (see Fish’s thoughts here).


Professional
Training center: Our company and the center were unable to reach an agreement regarding our compensation and overtime hours. Thus, we worked only 3 days there as they asked us to leave on July 5th.

New company: Our new company has that more personal feel and as well has a better reputation among expats. Pay is less, but so are hours, so per hour we earn more than double and we have evenings and weekends available for part-time work.

Switching Visas: The process thus far, where company A is our first agency, and company B is our new agency:

Mutually agreeing to end contract early with company A
Sending a picture of our residence permits to company A
Receiving a virtual copy of our cancel letter from company A
Giving our documents plus virtual cancel letter to company B
Signing a contract with company B
Waiting for company B to tell us to have company A cancel our residence permits

This should wrap up in the next month or two. Behind the scenes there have been a lot of company representatives running back and forth to various agencies and departments, clarifying things, and updating the timeline.

Game-making: I can make a general if/when statement, incorporate pre-generated graphics, find free custom music, and handle minor image manipulation. I have also outlined a plot and have planned and started making enough material for about 1 hour of gameplay.

Part-time: So far, we have found 2-3 opportunities for part-time work without even looking. They all pay about ¥250/class, but are not located conveniently close enough to our new housing.

Online tutoring: We are both using online tutoring until we can ideally replace it with local part-time work. Online tutoring is great during down-time, because we can easily earn $30-$50/night, but when local work pays $30-50/hour, it is not nearly as efficient.


Financial
Savings: With an ERE mindsight, it is near impossible to spend more than I earn in a month where I receive a paycheck. Restaurant owners around here seem to make about ¥5000/month, and we met some lawyers who earn more than ¥20,000/month each. We will probably average in the middle of that range, or towards the high-end if we make an effort. Buying cheap cooked to order street food results in spending of ¥1500/month, housing is less than ¥3000/each, and transportation can be almost entirely avoided by walking or biking. Take a teacher salary of say, ¥13,000/month post-tax, take away the “big 3”, and you’re left with a 65% savings rate.

Retirement account: I have now been invested for one whole month. I go between checking it daily, and then forgetting about it for a week.

Savings opportunities: It would be cheaper and healthier to cook home meals. I could save easier if I cut out various discretionary purchases. We could also easily spend up to ¥1700 less each per month on housing if we down-sized.

Paychecks: We received a full housing and salary check, plus what they messed up last month. I got a deposit from online tutoring, and we got our final month’s partial salary (3 days) and final month’s partial housing allowance (5 days). I also earned a small fee for a one-off lesson at a summer camp.

Hobby income: I am determined to eventually earn something in this category. I think I can make video games, start a game developer website and/or YouTube page, and/or stream on Twitch.


Goals in July
How did I do?
  • Full-body exercise 2/week - fail (0 times)
  • Study Chinese 20 hours - fail (4.5 hours)
  • Savings rate >65% - complete (76.5%)

Goals for August
My past months goals didn’t make me tick. I’m still not sure how important I find setting goals on Day 1 for the next 30-day period. Here I do it anyway for Aug 1st to Aug 31st:
  • Start climbing wall
  • Work on game
  • Study HSK 4
Anyway, that's my update for August. You all provide a lot of great insight and great answers to questions, so if I can help you in anyway with regards to my lifestyle and/or thought processes, please let me know.
Last edited by Viktor K on Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:29 am

Keep up the good work!

How are you sedentary? You walk and bike everywhere. That counts (web of goals). And so does any climbing you manage to sneak in.

I've also tried getting back into weight lifting...more than once. I eventually realized it's not essential for building muscle or being healthy, though it helps. I work out on olympic rings when I get the urge. I notice the weights often take a back seat to other higher priorities. As long as your moving around with some energy for 3 or 4 hours a week, you get most of the benefits.

Instead, you've started building your game which sounds more fun. I'm guessing building the game has more benefits or less costs than working out.

What you're doing seems like something I'd do once I've ER'd. If exploring Taiwan is as fun as I imagine, I'll find my way there too. I did notice the teaching requirement for a Bachelor's. Is this universal or only for the strict by-the-books centers?



*"Rock climbing: I plan to build an indoor, free-standing climbing wall when we move into our new place. See here. "
The here doesn't point to anything.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:12 pm

@Felipe I had it pointing to the URL "thread" as I didn't update it from my word processor. It's fixed now. Thanks for the comments about what I'm doing well. There's just as much I am not doing well, but I still appreciate it. I'm hoping I can start climbing on my own wall by the end of the month. This combines health (just like weight-lifting) and personal interests (unlike weightlifting), and also is financially sound (low-cost upfront, no on-going costs, chance for lower health costs later on). It is also professionally beneficial as setting my own routes is good experience for finding another part-time route-setting job if needed or desired later on.

The game combines personal interests and has potential to benefit financially, and has some (?) professional benefits, but it doesn't do anything for health. If it fails to produce financially, then really it has no upside more than playing computer games and/or running tabletop games.

Travel and local work can be great for post-ERE, but I hope my next several updates show it is equally viable for pre-ERE. Having the right visa documentation is your best strategy, since you have more opportunities and autonomy, as well as less risks. Summer vacations are potentially less conducive, but I think manageable. We'll see if I'm wrong.

Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:53 am

It seems to me like you're genuinely making good progress on multiple goals. We could all improve, nobody is perfect and it's not wrong to stray from the idealized image we paint in our heads. Plus, the wall climbing is aligned in a web of goals, whereas it seems like you only want to lift weights because some part of you feels you should do it.

If the game is free to play on the phone, you can run some ads every so many turns/unit time and get those first pennies flowing within a week. It's also building new skills in the process.

I read on the Visa application page that I have to provide a residence for my application. Do you know if this can be a mailbox? My residences are all going to be short term.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:17 pm

@Felipe That's a great idea about releasing the game on the phone. I hadn't really considered it at all until you mentioned it.

I am not sure about residence. I would suggest at least putting where you spent the majority of the last year at. On my visa application, I put where I was living at the time: my mom's house.

One of the best resources for moving abroad, to China at least, is some sort of school or recruiting agency. I would suggest finding a school or agency for help with the initial hurdles, including but not limited to: applications, taxes, rent, phone payments, insurance, and banking.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:05 am

August in review

Accomplishments in August
  • Moved into our new apartment
  • Went for a run
  • Hiked a mountain
  • Worked less than 7 hours/week
  • Neutered our kitten
  • Savings rate: 58.26%
ERE graphs

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I think committing to cooking most of our meals would probably cut our food costs in half.


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This was a low earning summer month, which there will be another one in September, before our first paycheck comes in October.


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This graph makes quitting the training center look like a bad idea, but it was miserable there, and things will pick up once we start getting our public school checks.


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At this point, I have more or less 1 year’s worth of expenses saved.


ERE predictions
This is a prediction of when I could reach assets of 23x monthly expenses if every month were like this one:
Debt forgiven 2033: ERE Q1 2031
Debt paid off ASAP: ERE Q1 2035


Personal
Climbing wall: So far this month, I have not really done anything in the way of building my wall. I have checked drill prices online and they seem to run between 100-500, and visualized what type of wall I want.

Cats: The friends’ kitten was diagnosed with feline calicivirus, and our kitten got neutered this month. Otherwise, all is well.

Dog: My girlfriend has adopted one of the rescues from the dog meat truck rescue. Expenses are all hers, but I still now share my apartment with a third permanent animal. It’s a zoo in here.

New apartment: Our new apartment is 4-5x the size of our last, but it was (and still is a bit) filthy when we moved in.

Exercise: I went for one run which was short but successful. We also did a 10 mile hike in the city.

Health: In the last week, I’ve had the runs and stomach pain almost every day. I ended up going to the pharmacy, but if it continues I’ll be stepping over to the hospital to see what’s going on.

Chinese: I haven’t touched the flashcard app more than a few times this month. At 600 new words, HSK 4 is a huge step, and I’m a bit intimidated.

Diet: The new neighborhood has healthier food options than before, but it is more expensive. The goal is to check out one of the nicer nearby supermarkets for decent quality produce and hopefully start cooking.

Game-making: I am still having a lot of fun making my game. Similar looking titles sell for $1-$5 on Steam.


Professional
Part-time: I’ve finished my summer part-time at the kindergarten. They only have 1 evening class/week for me now. I hope to find another training center for more part-time soon.

Online tutoring: My girlfriend ended up with nearly 7 classes/day on the app. I was a bit more conservative, and haven’t scheduled anything yet for September.

Private tutoring: As a foreigner, you are constantly being approached for private tutoring by complete strangers. At 200-300 per student per hour, there's an opportunity here.

New school: I toured the new school and got my lesson plan today. I’ll need two lesson plans for 17, 40-minute classes each week and no office hours. The school is about 10-15 minute walk from the apartment.


Financial
Paychecks: All I earned this month was a little more than $1000 from part-time and online work, and a security deposit from the old apartment.

Savings: We are practically unemployed in China and still saving...

Recording studio: We each made $340 in 1 day recording English audio for a friend.

Lucky break: Found ¥100 on the sidewalk.

ERE: My initial goal was 7 years, which would be 2023. In order to reach that, I will need upwards of 9 part-time classes each week.


Goals in August
How did I do?
  • Build climbing wall - given thought
  • Finish game demo - getting closer
  • Sart studying HSK 4 - barely
Goals for September
I don’t think setting goals has any real effect on what I do and don’t do in a given month. My motivation comes more from internal conversations than what I write on the 1st of each month.


Final thoughts...This was an interesting month. There was very little stress, but I’ll definitely need to increase income soon. If I take on 9 part-time classes per week, that will bring my income to +$35,000/year on less than 21 hours/week of work during the school year.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:45 am

iPhone photos from July and August

1. Transformer outside a dog meat survivor charity event
2. The kitten we're babysitting, with a cameo by our cat.
3. Entrance to Tanglangshan park
4. Our fearless leader at the peak
5. Hike down the backside of Tanglangshan
6. Specially shaped rice for Chinese Valentine's Day
7. The girlfriend enjoying the all you can eat and drink hotpot (¥68)
8. On the way home from part-time work at a kindergarten
9. The girlfriend and view of Shenzhen halfway up Tanglangshan
10. The recording studio
11. An intersection on one of Shenzhen's many rainy days
12. Shenzhen from the top of Tanglangshan
13. A part of the pedestrian street outside our new apartment
14. The view from Shenzhen North metro station
15. The top of the dam at Meilin Reservoir
16. Wise words on a Chinese sign translated to English
17. Chinese professionals lounging outside a Starbucks


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Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:04 pm

Sounds like you're still kicking ass even while "nearly unemployed" and having a good life. 50+% savings rate is enough but our high ambitions around here can cloud that fact. Sweet pics though, quality of life looks nice.

Congrats on the game progress. Let me know when I can sit through an ad to play it.

I love that nature sign. I feel China is becoming more eco technic than USA. I'll have to visit when I can make sense of a tourist visa application. Are you saying I can dress in a nice shirt and slacks, hang out in the park, and people will approach me offering to pay me money to speak English as their tutor? Sounds like a fun side gig.

On goals-
I've also noticed goals don't impact me as much as my internal motivation and perception of what is possible/rewarding. I used to have a weekly and monthly review+plan but now I just note my accomplishments, learnings, and all that every 3 or 6 months. There's so many passions I have, I can't predict when a new opportunity or realization will take time away from a lower value focus I previously had. That isn't a bad thing either.

Ie-Your game has more $ potential than the wall and you're still earning by teaching in some way.

Can you do a half level (300 new words) instead of the full 600?

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:55 am

@Felipe Haha, yep, expectations are certainly high around here. Which makes my expectations high too! Sometimes I'll hear someone say something... like the other night a friend said her Chinese cellphone was cheap at ¥1500, and I'll think, "What?! That's more than 10% of my salary. And on a phone of all things!" ERE is so engrained in my/our thought processes by now that I actually feel somewhat embarrassed posting a month like August, even though the everyday financial advisor would probably tell me, "Hey man, remember to live a little!"

I will definitely be posting a link on here when the demo is finished at least. I hope to have it played by a popular tester on YouTube, if I'm confident in it. I think also it would be best to set up a website when my demo is ready (it would probably be better to do it now, even, but: busy), that way I can net potential ad revenue. When the game is finished and (hopefully) on Steam, I really want to try and convert it to iPhone/Android and have banner ads, but I haven't even started down that rabbit hole.

People do approach foreigners for tutoring jobs quite often, especially if you show any degree of Chinese competency. If you're like me, though, you'll be intimidated by the idea of having people rely on you as a sole offerer of English lessons. At least at a school, they can vent to my bosses if they've a problem with my teaching. Thus, I plan to create a stock of plug-and-play lessons for the same age as I'm teaching at the public school before I accept any bids for private tutoring. And then, I'll only accept students that are of the same age as my public school students until I'm ready to expand.

I feel the same about goals. But then C40 comes along with his chart of goals for the year and I'm just in awe.

What I started to do in August but didn't commit to, as far as studying new words, is break my flashcards into groups of 20. I made my first group, but then never studied them. HSK 1 was real easy and manageable and it was 100 words, so maybe I'll try 6 decks of 100, and see how that goes.

As always, great to hear from you Felipe, thanks for reading.

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Viktor K
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Weekly

Post by Viktor K » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:36 pm

Week 1 of September in review

Accomplishments in week 1
  • Reached out to private schools for demo lessons
  • Added 6 of goal 9 part-time classes/week (¥1600/¥2250)
  • Prepared every meal at home
  • Worked less than 15 hours
  • Condensed HSK 4 into 100 word manageable chunks (32% proficiency)
  • Savings rate on track for: 85%
ERE graphs

Image

Cooking my own meals is definitely cheaper per nutrient. Most of this projected food expense for September is led by ¥37 spent on 1000 mL of olive oil and 500 mL of balsamic vinegar. If you take that out, I’m projected to spend <¥750 on food this month.

For my projections, I take the total spent in each category, divide by the number of days passed (7 in this case), and then multiply by the number of days in the month (30 for September).


Personal
Climbing wall: I can get all of my supplies online, now I just need to narrow in on what exactly I need. I have to admit, I’m fairly intimidated about this project, which has a lot to do with my not starting on it yet.

Pets: Our friends are back in Shenzhen and picked up their kitten. It seems like less of a zoo here now. My girlfriend is going to make posters for the dog to hopefully find a forever home.

Diet: My diet is basically oatmeal, eggs, and a banana in the morning, chicken breast, steamed brown rice, and salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, apple with olive oil and balsamic) throughout the day. This averages under ¥30/day. Sometimes, I’ll buy a piece of fruit or two.

Exercise: In the first week of September I have yet to exercise.

Health: I am definitely feeling better making my own food. Your preferred diet aside, my new diet is more nutritious and safer than when I was eating out for every meal.

Chinese: I broke the intimidating 600 word HSK 4 level into 6, 100 word chunks. One good thing about riding the metro to part-time work is that I use the long metro rides to study my Chinese.

Game-making: I have a manageable to-do list for what needs to be done before releasing a demo, but I have hardly worked on it this first week of September. I think I am more focused on increasing my part-time work and adjusting to my new school schedule.

Alcohol: The low alcohol projection is because I made a huge effort to cutback before school started. I ended up with a terrible headache and (potentially unrelated) stomach issues for about a week. Now I grab a couple beers on Friday, unless there’s some social scenario in which case I guiltlessly imbibe.


Professional
Part-time: I have 4 classes this week at the kindergarten from this summer (¥250/class), and 2 classes this Saturday evening for ¥300/class at a newly founded kindergarten. I have a demo on Friday for an established school that may turn into up to 2 classes/day at ¥250/hour.

Online tutoring: I hope to fully replace the online courses with part-time work. They're a nice fallback and convenient, but less per hour and can be unreliable. For example, I had 8 slots open this week and only received 2 classes.

Lesson planning: My first week of lessons has gone extremely well so far. The school kindly provided us with a copy of the student’s English textbook that their Chinese English teachers use. This makes it easy enough to pair up my oral lessons with what they’re already studying.

New school: I’m satisfied so far with the new school. I have total leeway in dress and lesson planning, the canteen is decent enough and free, and the school is a 15 minute walk from my apartment. I've even been going home during my 3 hour lunch break after eating at the canteen. Most days start at 9:25AM (I wake up at 8:15), and end before 4:00PM. On Friday, I finish at 11:45 AM.


Financial
Paychecks: ¥2250 came in from part-time work in August, and I’m waiting on about ¥3400 from online tutoring.

Savings: Depending on when our rent/utilities bill comes in (our new apartment is slightly over our housing allowance), and when part-time money comes in, this month could be closer than the last. Otherwise, with 1 school suggesting paying weekly, my savings rate could be the highest yet.

ERE: In my last update, I said that I need 9, weekly part-time classes. However, part-time gigs vary in compensation. I need to average ¥2250/week for 10 months/year. This week, with online tutoring and part-time, I'll have earned ¥1730 by Saturday. Just a little more than ¥500/week to go and I'll be on track to a debt-free ERE in 2023!

Debt: I have north of ¥25000 yuan in my Chinese account, but I want to wait for my October paycheck before sending money home. The plan is to start sending monthly chunks to savings, and paying down my student loan.


Final thoughts

Final thoughts...I could benefit by writing in my journal more frequently in the short-term. For one, my frugality and focus wanes as the month goes on. The monthly update brings me back into focus, but the 30-31 days in between are too far spread out. As well, I’m not only in a new country, I’ve also just changed employment, housing, and districts. All of these changes mean right now is a dangerous time for developing poor spending habits. At this time, it is even more important that I review more frequently to maintain my focus. Thus, at least for September (if not longer), I will update bimonthly or more to help maintain focus and avoid falling into poor spending habit traps while I adjust to this new scenario.

Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:19 pm

Glad to see that life is sweet and your ere plan is working out there. It sounds like you're getting the groove and making progress on multiple fronts.

Congrats on finally picking up a pan and cooking. Did the stomach bug inspire it? I sometimes dream of $1 pad thais but health is important once settled in.

I may be missing something but I don't see any transportation expenses in your projections.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:47 pm

@Felipe True, I haven't had any metro costs yet this month but I will have to top off this week. I'm not sure, but I think one school is less than 10 yuan round trip, the other two are about 15 yuan round trip. So per week, that's maybe 50 yuan per week!

One downside to the progress I've made already is that the two new schools I'm looking at are both super far from where I am. Ideally, I would be able to find something near me, but I don't want to wait.

As for cooking, the stomach bug combined with my August review both inspired it. My food cost was just getting higher and higher, and, in China, most restrooms don't come with soap. It would seem that a good amount of people think a simple rinse is sufficient, which includes your local food handler.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:05 am

Week 2 of September in review

Accomplishments in week 2
  • Completed the last demo for the schools on my radar
  • Promise of 8 part-time classes per week
  • Second week of lessons are going well
  • HSK 4 (600 new words) is at (42% proficiency)
  • Savings rate on track for: 83%
ERE graphs

Image

As Felipe alluded to, I did have to top-off my metro card. This ¥100 should last half the month at least. I expect eventually to make ~4 metro trips/week at ¥10 or less round-trip each.


Personal
Climbing wall: I’m considering a different, less complicated design, which I think I’d actually be quite capable of accomplishing.

Chinese: I have 170 of the 600 word HSK 4 down and continue to make progress. Once I get confident with a certain stack, I add another 25-50 cards to it.

Game-making: After about a 1-week hiatus, I’ve made some more progress. A lot of it is just fine-tuning for the demo.

Party: I went to a house party with my girlfriend and a friend from college. I think the cons outweigh the pros of partying at this point.


Professional
New part-time: I’m scheduled for two classes each on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning.

Quit part-time: I dropped one school on Saturday. I would have had to leave the home at 2:00PM on a Saturday, and get back after 9:00PM for a mere ¥600, which I didn’t find worth it.

Online tutoring: I’m online tutoring free this week and it feels pretty good.

New school: Every day is a breeze.

Visa: There was a bit of a scare. We had to wait behind the other foreign teachers to turn in our passports for our final residence permit. Our boss had to wait for the bureau’s boss and they disappeared in the office for about half an hour while we waited. Turns out, our boss had to help explain to the bureau’s boss the new, more complicated, and ever-changing process of cancelling a permit with one company and renewing with another.


Financial
Paychecks: I got just under $600 from online tutoring. That and ¥2250 from part-time last month is all I expect to receive until October.

Spending: I bought a smoothie (¥14), spent too much on alcohol for and a taxi to go to a party (¥42) and McDonald’s after the party (¥31), and got ripped off on noodles out (¥14). Otherwise, the rest of the purchases seemed appropriate.

Banking: Our new company pays through a different bank, so we have to go open another account next week. I will probably transfer the money from the existing Chinese bank account to the new one and close the existing one. I don’t see any benefit to having two accounts open here.

ERE Predictions: I had my “Spending in ERE” variable set very low. When I adjusted it back up, I realized I’m more on track for a 2024/2025 date than the desired 2023. There are still many ways to reach my goal on time, so I’m not too worried right now.


Final thoughts

Final thoughts...The coming weeks will determine how comfortable I am with my new part-times. Some of the negatives are travel time and working on the weekends. I get off from public school before noon on Fridays, which was a nice way to start the weekend. Now, with the new part-time schedule, my weekends are reduced to Saturday evening and Sunday. Travel time is another negative. As always, there is the opportunity cost of traveling one and a half to two hours round-trip, as well as the additional cost of metro fare. Then there is the cost to personal time where I could be relaxing, spending time with my girlfriend, or toying around with my game. Financially, the current arrangement meets my goal. Thus, the current situation is best described as efficient, but not ideal.

Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:18 pm

Sweet progress on the Chinese. I've started playing with memrise and learned a few phrases.

You're very aware of your numbers, which is awesome and let's you do some math. You seem conflicted about part time work. Have you done a ymoyl style analaysis to see $/hr from it? Maybe it earns less than appears when accounting for everything but it appears great on the surface so some part of your gut can feel it's more energy than it's worth (I could be very wrong, simply an idea).

$/hr= (all $ earned from specific part time work-all fin costs (metro, lunch out b/c tired instead home cooked, taxes, permits, etc.))/(sum all hours transport, work, negotiating, selling/marketing service, etc.)

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Viktor K
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Location: China

Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:55 pm

@Felipe Wouldn't you know, my preferred Chinese flash card app logged me out, requiring I re download the decks. This has happened before, but this time, my decks are failing to reload.

As for YMOYL calculations of wage per hour, I've always considered this. Using the specific formula you posted, my per hour at this center is something like 110/hour. The question then is, what does YMOYL say is the next step after this analysis?

My next step has always been to improve the current wage/hour. There are a few ideas/steps I can take to accomplish this.

First, I can find closer part-time work. There are 8 kindergartens within walking distance of my apartment. I tried to approach the nearest, but was turned away at the door by a security guard. He told me they didn't have or need foreign teachers. Hard to say if that is true or not. The next step would be to print out a dozen resumes, and make a weekend or evening out of biking around to all the ones in my vicinity.

Second, I could try and negotiate a higher wage, or longer hours. A higher wage has an obvious effect. Longer hours also would go to improve my wage per hour by increasing my hours worked per travel hour. These are both difficult at my current center. I'm taking over for a foreign teacher that left at the last minute, so there may be enough desperation to raise my wage. However, on the flip side, I am working with my least favorite age group in a style that I'm also least comfortable with. Thus, I would be negotiating for more when I personally feel ineffective.

Lastly, I could try and recruit students for private tutoring out of my own home. This is easily the most lucrative and has the highest potential out of all the options above. I would feel most comfortable starting this after writing up at least a basic business plan as it is rather large undertaking to do well. For an example of the upside: I currently earn 250/class, but in my own private tutoring I could charge 250/student/class.

Also, I've been wondering how your hiking/plans are going Felipe. Your last journal post was a bit of a cliffhanger!

Felipe
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Felipe » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:43 am

A reinstall will probably do the trick. Which app do you use?

I think those are some good starting points. Rejection is a part of selling, 7 left.

With ymoyl you can then track expenses in terms of hours of life cost and later reflect on whether it was worth it.

Private tutoring is more than twice others including for transport. This sounds like a good side hustle to build up. I'm guessing students don't want private tutoring during regular school hours but after so you'll be free from your main work once it's closer.

Life has been good but busy. I'll make a post later this month.

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Fish
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Fish » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:26 pm

If I were you, I'd focus on developing another stream of income (or learning an employable skill in another field) over scaling up work hours in the present. You view yourself as pursuing ERE by working as an English teacher in China, but I see it differently. The narrative that I construct as I read your journal is that you're "creatively unemployed," living a life of adventure in your YOLO twenties during a transitional period in your life. Is it accurate? I don't know. It's an opinion from some random internet stranger who has never met you, and my careerist bias is definitely showing. The point I want to make is that with the "creatively unemployed" narrative, it makes sense to cut back on the extra gigs and enjoy more of your leisure time, while working towards some definite goals that will give you more options and increase the market value of your labor in the long run. Anyway, very pleased to read about all the positive life changes and your adventures over the last six months. I look forward to reading more as your life story continues to unfold!

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