An American Millennial

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

Post by Viktor K » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:03 pm

@Felipe First, I got to say your continual support and dialogue is really encouraging. It makes me think I need to be more active in others' journals to give back! Luckily, I was finally able to get the flashcard app back up and running. I tried reinstalling actually already, but that didn't do it. It seems my settings with breaking up the deck and the larger deck size of HSK 4 mean that the app takes forever to load my saved settings. I simply left it open for nearly an hour and let it load. It finally did on the third try.

The YMOYL calculations are helpful, but I'm finding they do miss something that is somewhat unique to my current situation. In one day, I can do 6 classes (4 public, 2 part-time), which turns a nice profit for the day (~$175) for less than 6 hours of class-time. However, my actual "work day" would be from 10:00AM to 9:00PM in some cases. There are these large downtimes working here, like the 2.5 hour lunch time and the time between school gets out and part-time starts. It makes the day somewhat of an endurance race!

Private tutoring in the home would be awesome. It is one of many grey areas here, though, which also adds towards my trepidation to starting that hustle.

@Fish Thanks for contributing, I appreciate the different viewpoint. I'll be thinking about your words for the next few days I'm sure! My initial reaction was a bit dismissive, but that's simply a downside of my personality type, because there's definitely a ring of wisdom in what you say. I think my initial reaction stemmed more from perceiving "creatively unemployed" as having a negative sting to it :lol:.

Scaling vs. not scaling... I can't handle scaling up my work too much right now since, as I mentioned above, the long "word days" require some recovery. I would only really want to add more classes in a row on a particular work day, or develop my own student base for private tutoring. Scaling up directly pushes ahead my ERE date, however. Right now, I'm assuming I won't work in the winter nor the summer, which sort of fits scaling back and enjoying my leisure time that you mentioned. Adding these three months of work into my plans knocks more than a year off my time in the rat-race.

Scaling back at this point, however, would directly pushed back my ERE-date, at least initially. I think the trade-off would be that I could develop/learn some sort of employable skill to use in a potential future, short-lived career. First thing of course to mention, is that I want nothing less than a career. I have a personal revulsion to it, which I can clearly explain how this feeling developed but it would probably bore you all. If I were to seek some career down the road, it would have to increase my annual savings to be the right choice now. This is a lot of hypotheticals, but one thing to consider is that in order to save as much as I plan to with 9 months of work here in China, I would need the equivalent of 12 months, 40 hours/week (at least), with a salary of at least $42,000 in the US. Since I would be scaling back in the present, in order to stay on pace my salary would actually have to be a bit higher, since I would have to make up for savings lost in the present.

I am working on some things, though. I'll be buying climbing wall materials and tools in the next week, which means I'll be able to pick-up routesetting/climbing gym part-times in the future (if I want to and they' exist where I am). I'm working on my game, which, if it sells, I'll be able to make extra money doing something which is super fun for me. I guess I could use that experience to go work for a game studio too, but that's a full-time job making something for someone else, which also repulses me pretty strongly. If you have some suggestions for skills to develop, that may be helpful. I fear most wise suggestions won't be suitable for me, though. I'm so picky. Plus, teaching in the US fits the annual salary I mentioned above, so that's always an option.

I don't want to sell something for someone else, I don't want to make something for someone else, I don't want to help someone with something... I think creating something of my own is the only sort of labor that I actually find tolerable. This pickiness makes it difficult for me to embrace losing income now in order to develop a (potentially) more marketable skill for the future, since most of the marketable skills are things I wouldn't do. This pickiness aside, even if I were to "suck it up" so to speak (not that I feel anyway is obligated to do so), I don't really believe that there's an actual marketable enough skill that I could develop now which would make the tradeoff worthwhile. I'd be happy to entertain ideas on what that skill would be though!

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:46 am

Week 2 of September in review

Updates in week 2 (Changed from accomplishments to updates)
  • Worked 12 hours of part-time which nets roughly $450
  • I’m at 8 part-time classes/week with a 9th and maybe a 10th on the horizon
  • Third week lesson plans are going well
  • School referred me to a part-time only 5 minutes walk away
  • Fixed my flashcard app! HSK proficiency @ 46%
  • Had to pay my half of our apartment’s management fee
  • Made a few purchases too many at restaurants
  • Caught and got over a cold
  • Ordered a tape measure aka climbing wall started
  • Savings rate on track for: 80%
ERE graphs

Image

This mid-month update is an important one, because it shows one of my ongoing monthly costs. We have to pay a monthly management fee. Eventually, I also expect to be paying rent (surplus over our housing allowance) and utilities each month. See below for my thoughts on my non-ERE living situation!


Personal
Climbing wall: Well, I’ve started. A measuring tape should be here any day now!

Chinese: After losing my flashcard app for two terrible days, I was finally able to reload my deck. It seems my tagging system I use to condense the 600 words into manageable chunks makes the app take longer (see: hours) to redownload my deck when I’m logged out (shortcoming of the program). On one hand, I lost several days of study which sucks, but on the other hand, in my desperation for handheld language practice, I found that 1 of the 5 alternative Chinese apps I downloaded will actually be really good practice once I’m proficient with HSK 4.

Game-making: I’ve got a lot done in this last week. Sometimes, having your girlfriend complain about how many video games you play can be a good thing! In all seriousness, I think the biggest difference is having a to-do list that I reference whenever I have the itch to work on my game!

Rescue dog: The meat truck dog is off to a forever home this weekend. I’m slow to love animals, and I kept my distance from this dog for the most part seeing as how I never thought it was a good idea to foster it. However, I can admit now that I feel a touch of sadness knowing that it will be off to another home soon.

Mid-Autumn Festival: Our first break is approaching. October 1st-7th is a vacation for us. Most Chinese people go back to the countryside to see their family, where as many foreigners travel to faraway places both in and outside of China. We considered going to the Great Wall, but at ¥1000 one-way, we decided to wait for the downseason. Instead, we are looking to Hong Kong for some excellent hiking opportunities and potentially some camping.


Professional
Kindergarten: This will be my new topic title for this part-time job. This is the part-time work I had in summer, where the manager prepares all the lessons ahead of time, and I just show up and fake my way through the class. Sometimes I feel like such a fraud, but, after explaining this to my manager, she frankly advised me that the bar is set really low for foreign teachers anyway. I’m at 6 classes/week here, 2/trip, with a 7th potentially in the works. We’re also making after-class review videos right now (80 to be exact), which added 4 extra hours this week with many more still to go.

Far-away neighborhood: This school cancelled our Friday classes last week, which set off a sort of chain reaction. The kindergarten’s other foreign teacher bailed on them 3 weeks in a row, so they came to me asking me to pick-up their Friday classes. Earlier last week, I told them I couldn’t, but when this school cancelled, I told them I could. After a short conversation, I agreed to keep those Friday classes through the end of the school year, and updated the far-away neighborhood school. Then I decided that going to this school on Tuesdays would be too much time and effort since it is over an hour away and they want me to prepare two lessons each week. They offered me even more money, but I declined. So this is the last I will be mentioning this part-time.

Public school: Foreign teachers are allowed to get away with a lot more with regards to the dress code than our Chinese counterparts. Shorts and t-shirts aren’t a problem, but, apparently, they draw the line at flip-flops. Oh well, guess it is tennis shoes from here on out.

Nearby school: I let my contact teacher now that I was interested in part-time opportunities in the area, and sure enough she told me yesterday that one of the teacher’s husbands runs a training center within 5 minutes walking distance of me. The wife watched one of my classes at the school, and now we’ll be negotiating Sunday mornings there. They pay ¥400 for 1.5 hours.

Visa: Picking this up tomorrow! Woop! We’ll officially be able to travel outside China without being barred from re-entry. This is pretty clutch timing considering the approaching holiday.


Financial
Paychecks: Shouldn’t see anything more here until October.

Out of the ordinary spending: I ate out several times, drank alcohol 3 nights, had to pay a management fee, paid Netflix, and bought a tape measure. Perhaps the extra work triggered the eating out and the drinking, it is hard to say now, since I feel pretty relaxed currently.

Income: So, I won’t be getting any paychecks until October, but that doesn’t mean I’m not putting in work. Since the kindergarten wants me to make ~80 videos for their 16 lessons, I’m going in on Saturdays and working however long until we all get tired and want to go home. We got maybe 15 or 20 done this week in 4 hours, so we have maybe 2-3 more weeks to go. It doesn’t actually take 4 hours for 20 videos, it’s just that there was a lot of setup time this first time. We’ll probably be more efficient from here on out. Aside from that, I should be working 6-9 classes/week through the end of the school year, which means roughly $230-$340 extra per week.

Roommate: The girlfriend and I have talked a bit about grabbing a roommate. A roommate would be pretty awesome for us financially, that is for sure. We expect to end up paying about ¥1000/month more here than our old location (the difference being that our company doesn’t pay us the housing allowance like the last, rather they just bill us whatever the housing allowance doesn’t cover).


Final thoughts

Final thoughts...This was a good test week for working extra part-time hours. The weekend is a bit of a slosh, but then Sunday evening comes and I feel relaxed. I’m making great progress on my game, and I’ve found a good instructional on a climbing wall that will fit our living room. It is almost as if the increase in hours have energized me rather than sap my motivation.

I did, however, notice that my food spending ticked up a bit this week. I ate out 3 or 4 times this week, and a lot of those purchases were just laziness! I’ve gotten wraps late at night and even noodles, while I had a vegetables, rice, and even meat just sitting in the fridge.

I’ve found a part-time that is only 5 minutes from my apartment, but right now they only have a morning class for me. We’ll have to see how that first class goes. As well, it will be interesting to see if they’ll have more classes available.

Overall, this week felt really good. Our house is a bit of a mess, our schedules are a little hectic, but the work is not so tiring and the standards are entirely self-imposed. We’re able to save at a high clip while still having energy for other endeavors (e.g. climbing wall, making a game).

The only downside to this lifestyle is the question of when it will end. For me, I could stay here at least until I reach my ERE goal. My girlfriend, however, is less sure how long she will “last” so to speak. She dreams of traveling to other countries, or finding some other employment outside of teaching. She says at least two years here, but it is hard to say what will happen after that point. Obviously, two years is not enough time for me to reach my goal, and I’m not so eager to embrace lower wagers, or longer hours, or lower savings rates.

Thus, while I am quite satisfied right now in most areas, I do feel a bit of pressure to capitalize on this opportunity as much as possible now. There are not many opportunities for someone like me to save at this clip while maintaining this degree of work-life balance. At the very least, two years at this rate will knock out my student loans, which is better than nothing… but I hope it doesn’t end there.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:58 am

When my new, nearby part-time starts, my average wage there and at the school will be more than 250/hour.

The kindergarten, meanwhile, due to travel times and short breaks between classes, is a mere 120 or so per hour.

I think the best thing to do would be to replace the far away stuff with nearby stuff over time. No reason for me to work twice as long for the same pay.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:41 am

My weekend part-time reading classes at the kindergarten were cancelled. These classes were a hit during summer, but they died down a lot since school started.

They're pretty terrible classes in my opinion. I'm not expected to prepare any material or lesson plan, but when I show up I'm given a book and 1 or 2 relevant toys (at best) and I'm supposed to entertain 2-5 <4 year olds with no English skills for 45 minutes. Sometimes I can't even get the kids to say a single word in English for the whole duration.

Since they've been cancelled, that should be ¥500 off of my weekly earnings. However that, potentially, won't be the case, as I've been offered a 1-on-1 starting at 10:30AM at the kindergarten. As well, the parents have complained that the amazing, super qualified, former school principal, Chinese English teacher (also my boss) is not good enough for their second graders and they are demanding a foreign teacher. Thus, they want me (unqualified, not super enthusiastic, and doesn't really like children) to teach them. However, this class will start at 9:00 AM! This means, because of transportation times and how long it takes me to get ready, I have to (at least) wake up by 7:30AM now on my Saturdays!!!

I don't have to do this. I am not bound by contract, so I can say, "no." I have also already expressed my lack of enthusiasm for waking up this early, so I won't be blind-siding anyone by saying no.

To be honest,
Fish wrote:
Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:26 pm
If I were you, I'd focus on developing another stream of income...
has been ringing in my ears as I consider declining these new early morning classes.

Maybe you, Fish, intended that I develop some sort of software engineer skills or something, which is just a random assumption I made that could be totally off. However, in the last few days, I've thought to myself, "Maybe I should put off these far-away part-time gigs and focus on finding stuff that is nearby, and matches the 'ideal' part-time teaching position for me."

As a side note, every ¥250 that I add to my weekly income translates to 1 month of public school work for every 40 weeks (i.e. 1 school year) that I commit to it. If I retire at my goal (not to be confused with my stretch goal, i.e. as soon as possible) in 2023, then every ¥250 that I add equals roughly 7 months of public school work.

As a second side note, today my girlfriend and I discussed quite eagerly about the option of retiring to a city in Spain, especially considering how the cost of living (with regards to things that we spend money on, at least) is even less than here.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by wolf » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:42 am

Viktor K wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:41 am
As a second side note, today my girlfriend and I discussed quite eagerly about the option of retiring to a city in Spain, especially considering how the cost of living (with regards to things that we spend money on, at least) is even less than here.
I have thought about retiring in Spain, too. At least I want to live there some time, 3-6 months. I have been studying the Spanish language for some years now, but I discovered that it is useless if I don't use (speak) it here in my home country. I went on vacation a few times in Spain. It is very relaxed there, but IMO you have to integrate into society there and socialize in order not to feel lonely. But I guess that won't be problem for you, because now you do fine in a foreign country as well. I guess you know (but just for the protocol :) TravelingTrader retired in Spain and FrugalChicos are planning to do so.
Why do you think about retiring in Spain? Is it only the cost of living there? Or do you also admire other things?

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by JeanPaul » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:55 am

I've often said the coast of Spain is the best deal for retirement in the world, in terms of value for first world infrastructure (Taiwan may compare, but lacks a lot of Western familiarity and integration, probably even for someone used to China) - rent is comparable to third world countries. I've spent 18 months of my retirement in Spain, but in downtown Madrid, where rent is much more expensive than, say, Malaga (which also has better weather, and is becoming quite an interesting place with a recent big arts and culture push). And considering prices are so depressed on the coast, one could also lock in very low housing expenses by buying. Eating out is really the only place you lose out vs. Latin America or Southeast Asia, since restaurants are pretty expensive, but groceries are cheap (and include good cheese, olive oil, wine etc, things you won't find in Thailand or even Costa Rica)

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:48 am

MDFIRE2024 wrote:
Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:42 am
Why do you think about retiring in Spain? Is it only the cost of living there? Or do you also admire other things?
The cost of living is of course one criteria, but there are others! For one, we both have studied Spanish either in high school or in college, and I got really comfortable with the language while working at restaurants through high school and college. So the Latin American countries are one of the few foreign-language speaking countries where we would feel comfortable enough. As well, we have this (potentially romanticized) notion that the "pace of life" so to speak there is more laidback, which sounds nice for a retirement. This seems to be reflected in most interviews and writings of Americans who relocate there. And the last thing aside from the cost of living (which seems to be one of the best among the Spanish-speaking countries without sacrificing any quality of life), last night I was surfing the interweb for marijuana legality :lol:. Seriously, though, growing my own marijuana plant in Colorado was one of the most fun and rewarding hobbies I've ever experienced. As well, growing is relatively important from a spending perspective since then you can grow enough material to make butters and oils, which I feel more comfortable, health-wise, consuming than combusting the plant material. Wouldn't you know, growing for personal use is legal in Spain.
JeanPaul wrote:
Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:55 am
I've often said the coast of Spain is the best deal for retirement in the world.....
I'm glad to hear your experience matches what I've found online with regards to the cost of living there. Why did you choose Madrid over a smaller city like Malaga? I'm curious because we've been considering a smaller city over a bigger city in our daydreaming about an ERE in Spain, but in hindsight, we are enjoying Shenzhen (huge city) way more than we did Guixi (tiny, 4-5 square mile city). We like the big city for only a few reasons really. For one, there are more foreigners here so we can find more people who can speak English (Chinese or foreign). As well, the public transportation is very good, and there seems to be more to do as far as hiking, walking around, and sightseeing.

Also to mention the difference in cost between Spain and Asia, I've also found online that things like groceries (14% less than Shenzhen) and rent (75% less than Shenzhen) are supposed to be cheaper in a city like Granada than they are in Shenzhen. The things that are most expensive, e.g. restaurants and consumer goods, are things that we don't really spend much on usually! Restaurants seem like they're going to be much more expensive in Spain than China, but with better access to fresh food and the things you mentioned like cheese, oil, etc., I imagine we'll be even more happy to cook at home. Although, I keep hearing about "tapas culture" and I'm wondering how (or if at all) that will affect the monthly budget...

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by JeanPaul » Sat Sep 23, 2017 11:28 pm

Comparing city sizes in China and Spain is tricky, but my guess is either Granada or Cordoba would still be more international than any city in China besides maybe Shanghai. Spain is the top destination in Europe for Erasmus (exchange students), and there are also grad students, not just drunken 20 year olds! Plus, especially on the coast, there are millions of retirees, especially from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. Also hard to compare transportation, since Spanish cities are so walkable, and such pleasant places to walk, or bikeable at an extreme. Even in Madrid, which has one of the best subway systems in the world, I generally would rely on walking, since it is very compact, and the streets are attractive and almost car-less, besides a few major arteries. The smaller cities still have good public transport, but its true that they lack a subway. The biggest difference will be the sheer volume of activities obviously won't compare to a city like Madrid - concerts, plays, gallery openings, language exchanges, etc. Hell, I went to the opera quite a few times in Madrid (since its 90% off for under 30, 80% under 35). And maybe it would start to feel like you're always running into the same people.

Granada and Cordoba are both very nice smaller cities, and don't suffer from big enclaves of retirees, the only drawback being that they are inland and have much more extremely climates - insanely hot in summer and chilly in winter. I actually prefer Cordoba, but most people seem to prefer Granada, and it's true that its natural setting is nice, right next to the tallest mountains in Spain, and an accessible drive to the beach. They are the two best places for the tapas culture in Spain, with it pretty much dead in downtown Madrid, and never existing in Catalonia. Basically, in Barcelona, they'll want you to pay separately for the tapa, which defeats the purpose. In Madrid, they'll still give you a tapa with your drink, but it will be their choice, and likely pretty simple. In Granada, they often have pretty great free tapas, and often you can even choose yourself. And both are good examples of that relaxed Andalusian pace of life, although I felt it more in Cordoba, since its less touristy - and just something about the sun-dappled, twisting cobblestone streets hit me more than Granada, whose old town is darker, hillier, and less central.

Personally, I chose Madrid just because my girlfriend is from the suburbs of Madrid, and her family still lives there. I liked living there a lot, but it wouldn't have been chosen based on my metrics, since the higher cost of living largely just reflects better job opportunities, which were irrelevant.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:22 am

Thanks for getting back to me on that, JeanPaul. I think my idea of an ideal (at least long-term) retirement location would be somewhere with a more moderate climate than what you describe in Granada and Cordoba. Also, being on or near a beach as well as having mountains to hike nearby would be best. At least I still have many years to find that ideal spot, since Granada and Cordoba, as good as I've thought they may be, don't actually sound as ideal as I'd imagined.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by JeanPaul » Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:47 am

Only comparatively worse, I should emphasize - it's really just three unpleasant months in summer in Granada, and not as bad, since it's at an altitude, and dry. Winter is not paradise, but it's not unpleasant - slightly chilly, but fairly sunny and not wet.

Actually Cordoba is quite a bit worse (maybe that's why it's less popular), with four really hot months, and can have weeks of 100-degree weather. It makes up for that a little bit with more moderate winters, but winter is not the problem in either place.

Both are still better than most places in the US outside of California, I'd say, though of course tastes vary a lot.

But yeah, for sheer weather, the Andalusian coast (Malaga, Almeria) is better. Valencia and Alicante also have moderate temperatures, but can get humid in summer. Cadiz is the most moderate of all, and possibly the cheapest, but is on the Atlantic, so water temperature is much cooler, and maybe feels pretty small and provincial. The Canary Islands are paradise (but far!).

Anyway, as you say, you have years and actual visits to figure things out.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:38 am

Thanks! Worst case scenario, I can handle some heat! I lived in Las Vegas for most of 2016, and grew up in Texas. But I'm going to check out these other coastal cities now. I don't care so much to swim in the ocean, I moreso just like walking along the beach, and doing some coastal fishing, so the Atlantic coast is still an option for me.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Fish » Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:46 pm

Viktor K wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:41 am
Maybe you, Fish, intended that I develop some sort of software engineer skills or something, which is just a random assumption I made that could be totally off.
Regarding other streams of income, consider that the game hobby could turn into software engineering or mobile app development. Or the game itself sells and becomes a source of passive income. Becoming fully bilingual can open up future professional opportunities, for example those six-figure nanny jobs in SV. :P And other ones too. Even your climbing wall project might lead to something else if you gain proficiency using tools and building stuff. To me, it seems there's much more serendipity to be had in the long run from pursuing hobbies strategically and aggressively, than spending your free time teaching/tutoring, even if the latter pays 40-50 USD/hour. You'll need to find the balance between debt reduction and serendipity and making sure you don't burn out doing the one and only thing that pays your bills.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:34 pm

It's definitely true, and I've been thinking along the same line as you the last week or so. The part-time work is definitely good financially, but man, it is a bit exhausting. Fridays are the worst, since I finish the public school week, which makes me pretty stoked, but then I'm off to part-time, come home and try to sleep, then wake up early for class on Saturday.

Actually between part-time classes and public school, I have classes all-day Thursday, all-day Friday, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. Effectively, I don't have a day off.

Anyways, I have a break coming up Oct 1st from Sunday to Sunday from both part-time and public school. This will be a good time to evaluate.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:07 am

Sounds like a full time career, can't wait to see your sr this month. Might break 90% soon.

Regarding ymoyl, the 2.5 hour lunch gets added to the time consumed by work since you're too exhausted to do anything else and it's a requirement of your work to come back from the break.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:49 am

September in review

Updates in September
  • Worked a lot of part-time
  • Spent two nights out on the town
  • Cooked more than 75% of meals at home
  • Relatively busy month
  • Savings rate: 70.28%

ERE graphs

Image

I was able to get my food cost back under ¥1000.


Image

Living expenses were nearly cut in half.


Image

This is what it looks like if you only work a bit of online tutoring and two classes/week (noting how paychecks are monthly here).


Image

See above!


ERE predictions
I’m going to come up with a better way to measure this since it doesn’t make much sense in months like this. As well, my living cost is subsidized by my employer right now, so it doesn't make much sense anyway since my living costs will likely rise when I ERE.


Personal
Climbing wall: I’ve gotten my tape measure and made some initial measurements. I’m also pretty sure the design I want. Now, I’m trying to decide between either going it my own, or waiting for my carpenter buddy to get back from vacation because he said he would help me then.

Health: I’ve never been overweight in my life, but even skinny people have weight issues. I would say right now I am at my least healthy I have ever been. The climbing wall will make a big difference, as well eating healthy and making our own meals has helped a great deal.

Appearances: My wardrobe is starting to suffer lots of wear and tear. I sewed up a pair of shorts last week that had a crotch hole, but they’re still too long and thick for how hot it is here. I think clothing will be a good portion of the next month’s spending.

Happiness: In general, I am relatively satisfied with my life at this point. Work-life balance is a little stressed with the extra over-time, but they treat me really well and I would feel pretty crummy cutting back on them. As well, I have a 1 week holiday right now, and 3 months off next year so it may be worth it to work extra now with such long recovery periods each year.

Family: One thing some people don’t consider is how moving abroad affects your family life. I can guarantee if something happened to my nuclear family, I would instantly regret being so far away. On the flip side, I think it is dangerous to live your life in fear of future regrets. My great-grandfather passed away this month. His death came shortly after an uncle’s sudden death earlier this year.


Professional
Part-time: If all things stay the same, I’m at 8 classes per week after the holiday. That’s a lot, and leaves me with no day off.


Financial
Paychecks: Since I’m writing this a day late, I’ve already received ¥6250 from one of my part-times for work in September. Of course, that won’t be represented in this month’s savings rate or the graphs above, since all I got this month was a part-time check from the summer and my last one for a while from online tutoring.

Opportunity cost: Again, if you look at the graphs, Asia seems like a mistake, given that I’m some $4,000 USD behind where I would be had I stayed in the US. That being said, as I expect to put away more than $2,000 each month over the next 3 months, I think the graphs will soon show a different story.

ERE projections: According to my slightly more than back of the napkin estimates, continuing at this rate for the next 4-5 years would see me ERE somewhere like Spain.


Final thoughts

Final thoughts… Last month I was enjoying the low-stress of a summer off. This month, I was spread much more thin as I ramped up my part-time work and started public school. Still, even with this first day off for mid-Autumn festival, I already feel recharged. Thus, I imagine the 3 months off each year I get will make a lot of the hard-work now worth it. Maybe I’ll adjust my schedule to get Saturday off each week if it becomes too much, but otherwise I think I can persevere in the short-term between each long holiday.

slowtraveler
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:05 am

Every large change has a certain friction associated with it and requires resources to adjust. I think you're still getting the hang of life there to build ere. You essentially changed careers. Other people go deeper into debt often to do this and you've made it profitable from the start. Also, you seemed miserable in the states and wanted to get out. Wouldn't you have been living with family back in the states to count the 4k?

I was going to congratulate you for hitting a new high. Guess we all see things from different perspectives.

Interesting point about weight. I'm currently eating once a day, twice on date days, to lose fat. That and a daily morning workout to stay strong.

I agree about family. They are the main thing I genuinely miss from the states.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:39 am

October in review

What's up everyone? I didn't post much in October and it wasn't because I was too busy. I think this last month has been the best for me since moving to China. Stress is at an all-time low and I hit a new record-high net worth. Check it out below to see what happened and I hope all is going well for you all wherever you are in the world :D

Updates in October
  • Quit my part-time job
  • Started a new part-time job that is a 5 min walk from my apartment
  • Ate out almost every meal
  • Caught a cold
  • Had a 1 week vacation for mid-Autumn festival
  • Savings rate: 84.62%

ERE graphs

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I gave little thought to spending levels after a superfluous mid-Autumn festival week.


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Highest saving month to date.


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I found my IRA wasn’t included in my net worth graph, which means I’m roughly $2,000 better off than I thought!


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I had an opportunity to transfer money home but it would have cost 500RMB, plus whatever would be charged by my US bank. I’m waiting until either I have more money to send (the fee isn’t percentage based) or I find another method.


Personal
Climbing wall: I’ve pretty much scrapped this idea.

Health: I ate pretty much entirely from restaurants, so simple carbs, little veggies, and little protein. I did start running and felt great, but then caught a cold which persisted likely due to some high levels of pollution in the last week.

Happiness: This was really a great month. I think cutting back on my part-time hours made a huge difference in my happiness and stress levels. I have 10 weeks before our 6 week, paid winter holiday and I feel completely rejuvenated and capable of coasting to that point.

Girlfriend: We’ve been dating now 3 years as of this month, which is pretty rad. I feel bad for her though. She doesn’t find teaching as natural as I do, which isn’t so bad since the work is easy enough, but actually the worst part is that her school situation isn’t as good as mine. First, her school is 2-3 times as far as mine, so she bikes there every day. Secondly, her school doesn’t have TAs staffed in her class, which means the 50-60 Chinese students are crazy and hardly listen to her. While I have perfected my yelling-at-Chinese-students-in-Chinese this last month, she doesn’t feel nearly as confident in doing so. On top of that, while she is scaling back now, in October she was coming home and doing 3-4 hours of online tutoring each night. It’s no surprise that she complains she’s tired all the time. Poor girl. Fortunately, scaling back has seemed to make a big difference for her (no surprise there) and every week it seems her classes get a little bit more respectful. I’m hoping, though, that next year she can either transfer into my school, or find some work that is more suitable to her.


Professional
Part-time: Right after the holiday I quit my part-time job. I decided to do so due to a combination of factors. First, I had very little material prepared for a 1 hour class, which made me feel like a fraud teacher. Second, I spent 2 hours between commuting and a built-in break between classes each day, which is a lot of time to sacrifice for a couple hours of pay. And, lastly, I would simply dread the second half of each week.

Part-time 2: I accepted a new part-time offer and have been extremely satisfied so far. This time, realizing that I would never run out of options for part-time work, I made sure I was as picky and upfront as I could be from the get-go about what I would and would not accept. This school provides so much teaching material that I don’t even have to prepare before I go to class. They listened to me completely with regards to what times and how often I wanted to teach. And they are only the easiest 5 minute walk down the street from my apartment, which is even closer than my public school. I have 1 class on Sunday morning and one immediately after school on Tuesdays. I do not feel even an ounce of stress either day. Plus, my students at this part-time come from my public school, which means, due to my reputation at the public school, my two classes filled up on the very first day. Moreover, since they're the same age as I'm used to teaching, I don't really have to adapt my teaching style or go out of my comfort zone, which I did have to do at the old position. Basically, I've got 20 special students now from the public school that I get to see twice/week. I could go on and on about how much more satisfied I am with this position than any before. As much as I enjoy it, I'm being very firm that I am not looking for more classes anytime soon. I spread myself too thin before, and I won't be doing that again. Two's enough ;)


Financial
Paychecks: I got the ¥6250 from my old part-time, ¥150 for a one-time demo at my new part-time, ¥1750 for a recording gig, ¥9335 for my first month’s public school salary minus rent and bills, and a whopping $22 from a couple random online classes in September.

Spending: I spent pretty freely this month. In addition to high food costs, I also spent roughly 150 USD online. That got me a few things. First, I got a new computer case, a can of air, 6 fans, and some fan splitters which have dropped my PC temperatures under load by 10-30 C, depending on if I have the font plate on or off. We bought some plastic chicken wire to fence our balcony so our cats can enjoy it now that temperatures are cooling off and we can leave that balcony door open to get some air circulating. We got new bedding since our apartment has two beds and we’ve been sleeping on the smaller one all this time. Lastly, I got an electric shaver for the beard, as the Chinese razors irritate my face just like any other razor does, but also seem to rust and dull faster than any I’ve used before. All of this plus a few smaller purchases made up the total for the highest discretionary spending in some time.


Final thoughts

Final thoughts… It is no surprise that taking a week off from my crazy schedule of 8 part-time classes/week made that first Thursday back a no-go. I can’t even describe how little worth it that hard work in September seems in hindsight. These last 3 weeks with just the 2 part-time classes down the street has been amazing. I don’t even have to try to make it through my 17 public school classes (same lesson every class), and my 2 part-time classes are even easier. This new schedule, after this month, will cost me $500/month. At this point, I don’t intend to worry about making up that difference any time soon. I also realize how stubborn I am and probably come off to a lot of you. I'm not sure how often it has happened, but I know at least a few times in this very journal one of you has introduced an idea (for example, cutting back on part-time work) that I initially rejected and then a month later adopted. Sorry for that! I appreciate and hope for your continued suggestions and support, and wish you all the best! :D

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Fish
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Fish » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:27 am

Kudos on the swapping out the part-time job with a better one. Great work there! And I’m glad to hear it’s working out so far.

Also, I see you finally had the sense to drop the climbing wall project. In my opinion, the best part of such extravagances is the conceptual design, not so much the build or the thrill of using it for 2 weeks before you realize that the real fun was in the design and thinking about it.

Some questions for you:
1. Have not heard anything about the game-making project in the last 2 monthly updates. Is that still a goal?

2. How would you handle a potential situation where the GF gets homesick or tired of teaching? Is it preventable? This strikes me as the least stable part of your lifestyle design.

3. What are your plans for the upcoming 6-week vacation?

CS
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by CS » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:12 pm

I think rejecting a suggestion - then adopting it later is pretty normal behavior. It takes time, it seems, for ideas to sink in.

I would like to hear more about your yelling in chinese at Chinese students technique. What, exactly, do you say to them (in Chinese)?

Thanks for sharing your adventures.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:21 am

@Fish You're right I haven't posted about the game but it is still on. Actually that was another purchase under my shopping category that I forgot to mention. I bought the full version of the engine I've been using when it finally went on sale. I've got my game play pretty much locked down, and I'm feeling pretty confident about using the program. Thus, I've now started writing a legitimate script. I'm about 30 pages in on that and I have probably 250+ to go. Then it will be just copy and pasting into the program for the most part.

The idea of my girlfriend wanting to jump ship has come up at home, but it isn't really a huge concern at the moment. If she wanted to leave, I would ultimately go with her. For the most part, neither of us is interested in returning to the US at this time due to a variety of factors including the current political environment, terrorism/crime, having to work an extra 25-30 hours more/week than we do now with less vacation time, and less savings opportunities. Fortunately, she is on board with the ERE idea and spends about the same way I do, so if we were to tire of China then we would consider the financial potential in any new place we would travel to. Thus, we've considered something like Spain as a destination after China since we could still make our financial goals happen.

As for the 6 week vacation, we don't have any plans yet. Some family was supposed to visit for part of it but that got pushed back to this summer. We were supposed to travel over the last holiday, but got cold feet at the cost of making it up to the Great Wall. At the very least, we would like to get some hiking in at some nearby mountains, see Hong Kong, and maybe do some nature sightseeing in a nearby province. A lot of foreigners here jump over to the other southeast Asian countries during the holiday, but I imagine that eats up quite a bit of savings.

@CS
Most of my classes are really good, it has only been recently that I've noticed that my more lenient TAs not stepping in as often as their stricter counterparts has led to the gradual degradation of student obedience in certain classes. For the most part, I can simply tell them to sit down (座好,zuò hǎo)sternly like I've seen my Chinese counterparts do. I've only had one class where I had to do more. In that one, I stopped the class about 1/3 through, had them take out their English books, and we chorused the first 20 pages of the book word for word for about 15-20 minutes. As there was some 3 minutes left in class and I was extremely bored of doing this, I had them put their books away at the end and talked to them sternly. It went something like this (I don't think its necessary for me to type this out in Chinese, but I can after if you want):

Can you sit well? Can you or can't you? Can you be quiet? You can? Then why when I come to class are you not quiet? Why don't you sit well? Do you think reading from the book is fun? Do you? No? I don't either. Do you like playing games? Listening to music? Watching movies? Then you have to be quiet. You have to sit well.

That lasted about 3 minutes to the end of the class. Actually, for the most part I'm super lenient and my Chinese classes are always a little rowdy. For the native teachers, the students sit perfectly with their arms crossed and mouths closed, backs straight. That was the first time I've actually demanded my class behave in that way. When I started questioning them, they were all just sitting relaxed as normal. By the end of it you wouldn't have been able to tell my class from any native teacher's class, and it was probably more orderly than many.

Another reason why I don't worry about it too much is that given the tonal nature of the language, it is all too easy to get a tone wrong and have the kids in pieces laughing at your pronunciation instead of respectfully obeying. That 3-4 minutes was probably the most nervous I've ever been in a classroom as I figured as soon as I said one word wrong, stumbled over a sentence, or used the wrong grammar, I was going to lose all that respect I had managed to claim at the end of class. Fortunately, nobody laughed or stepped out of line and their home room teacher patiently waited outside for me to finish my last couple thoughts before entering the class. I'm not sure if this was either because it was, as I felt, the most perfect 3-4 minutes of Chinese I've spoken in my life, or because the kids were simply too devastated that their normally happy-go-lucky foreign teacher was being so stern and wearing such a disappointed/angry expression.

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