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 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:34 am

Maybe so, we're probably going to Spain or at least some other country either at the end of next teaching year, or the one after that. China has the same sanitation issues with Japan being a HUGE difference, but it is so expensive.

I've been pretty good with my food spending, and want to track again in April to see where I'm at. I'm throwing a few chicken breasts and potatoes in the crockpot once or twice a week, eating oatmeal, and buying tea eggs (1.5 yuan each) and jiaozi (15 yuan for a big plate) outside of that. That's getting me enough protein. I think if I were to track my diet, I'd be a little nutrient deficient though as we haven't been making as many salads and only eat fruit once or twice/week.

Paid my taxes. Unfortunately if you're from the US it takes a full tax year before you don't get taxed on earnings abroad. So, not only did I get money taken out of my paychecks in China, I also had to send additional taxes in to the US gov. Next year, I should be able to audit to get that back but.. yea, pretty crummy for 2017.

Plugging my earnings into my spreadsheets, I can ERE in 7 years to the same lifestyle I live in China (i.e. any similar country). However, I'd A) prefer to retire sooner and B) have more of the world open. I haven't had any luck getting students yet, mainly due to the advertising restriction thrown by my supervisor.... Not sure where to go from here.

slowtraveler
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:35 am

You shouldn't double pay taxes. Are you taking the foreign tax credit?

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:12 am

Just saw the foreign tax credit, but since I'd have to amend my return and mail it in, I think I'll still wait until next year. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion lets you exclude all income up to $90k or so, so next year I'll erase the income I paid taxes on for 2017 and all the income I earn this year.

Also, still talking with one parent to try to get their student. This mom really likes me as a teacher but is still studying at my old training center. Luckily their studying phonics now and not the Grade 1 Cambridge book so I'm hoping it comes through.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:38 pm

Reviewing my projections going into April, I need to hit a SR of about $26,000 per year. I'm about $10k off from that right now.

I'm considering working hard on codeacademy and then trying to put together a code portfolio by picking up remote volunteer work online.

As for private teaching, I have the one parent who wants me to teach her daughter, but she wants me to do it for ¥150/class instead of the ¥200 I'm asking.

I've also considered signing up for the FSO exam in June. I took it once before and failed out in round 2 likely due to lack of life experience and procrastinating. I'm not sure if I still have the right experience (specifically in the motivation and leadership departments), but it could be worth a shot.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by trailblazer » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:49 pm

You are building a very creative life for yourself. Thanks for sharing.

I was wondering - how do you negotiate with the Chinese parents? Do they speak English, or are your language skills good enough?

I went through the FSO process a number of years ago. I didn’t make it in the end - but I also found myself thinking “this is a pretty structured process - I’m not sure I would have liked working there.” Hopefully not just sour grapes on my part but I found it quite mechanical.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:59 am

From what I've read, the actual job may not be what I would hope, but good pay and benefits for living in a foreign country is pretty much what I do now.

With Chinese parents, I use the WeChat app which has a built in translator. So I message in English if its too much Chinese for me, and then they can translate it using the app. Works the same when they message me in Chinese. If I had a bunch of students, though, I would hire a translator from the local university.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:57 pm

I'm considering an online coding boot camp for either full stack web development or software engineering. There's a boot camp down the street as well for similar prices but I think the language barrier would be a significant issue. I don't want to spend more than $10k and my goal is to find a US job (or remote?) next summer.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:48 am

Does this mean you're feeling over teaching?

Coding is harder than people make it out to be. But it's such a thrill to get code running right. Doing what you want. But it takes many hours of persevering and staring at a screen. I took a year of coding classes at community college and found it helpful. The Stanford youtube lecture series also has some materials. I'd say to start coding and building a portfolio now. Does the bootcamp guarantee a job or have another benefit beyond going to cheaper college classes?

10k is almost enough to finish a university degree if you do community college + in state school, skipping the worthless books (or getting pdf/sharing with friends), get no subsidies for tuition, not counting opportunity cost or housing costs.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:03 am

Well I've never really been passionate about teaching, it has just been a good way to live abroad and save more than I was saving at the grocery store.

The bootcamp does have a money back if you don't find a job. It comes with a few hoops, but they're not really barriers and I think you would only lose the guarantee if you weren't serious about trying to find a job after graduation. The other benefit is that I can learn remotely (considering online bootcamps, not the local one), I'll have a course structure to follow as well as deadlines, potential for mentors depending on the program I choose, and will graduate with a few projects in my portfolio.

Another reason I'm leaning towards an online bootcamp is that it should be more manageable and cheaper here with my 11 hour work week vs. anywhere else.

I'm mostly worried that I could be just as well off gaining access to a curriculum and then follow that using free/cheap resources such as codeacademy and save 8-10k USD. However, while I think that it is certainly possible to self-learn, I don't think that I would succeed as I think I lack the focus and discipline to ever finish a self-taught route.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:57 am

I'm not 100% yet on which route I want to take but committing more and more to seeking a web development job by 2019. Bootcamps vs. self-taught both have their own pros vs. cons. Pros to bootcamp being curriculum, deadline, cash outlay creating more "skin in the game", mentors, help desks, career support. Cons being significant cost, intrinsic back-of-the-mind "is this a scam?" thoughts, potential for buyer's remorse comparing bootcamp a to b to c. Pros for self-taught are no cost (time), focus on what I think is important, flexibility. Cons being require dedication/discipline (concern for me), information disseminated across multiple websites, no support system.

Current goals are to finish CodeAcademy JS that I started a while back then potentially complete the suite of CodeAcademy. After this I'll assess on how well I did with regards to staying on track and decide between a bootcamp or going self-taught and working through FreeCodeCamp. I'm leaning towards the latter. One probelm with CodeAcademy is you have to pay the monthly fee to get access to the projects whereas FreeCodeCamp has those projects for free (everything is free on there).

Unfortunately, the struggle has been staying focused. Working on the computer where I usually play games makes distraction so easy and natural. Wednesday I studied 2 hours but had planned 6 or 7, and then of the 4-6 hours on Thursday and Friday, I didn't even study a single minute.

Today I tried a different approach, scoured the internet for "how to commit to a study schedule", self-discipline, etc. Tried timing a game on a stopwatch. Then when I finished, I set the stopwatch time as a timer and worked on CodeAcademy. This worked really well today. In total I knocked out another couple hours. I'll try this for the next week and if it works, that'll get me to some 30 hours/week.

Working through online courses is only part of it of course. Ideally I'll make a website or two, have a portfolio on github, try a hackathan, stuff like this. My priority right now, though, is identifying a study method that I can commit to so I can prove to myself that this is even something I can do. A lot of self-loathing floating around in my thoughts these days. My spreadsheet schedule is saved under "Change your life," so at least the desire must be there...

On the financial front, my net worth went down over the last month by $500. This was due to high discretionary spending (TaoBao), losses in crypto, as well as a cat illness that cost maybe $300-$400 USD each for me and the girlfriend and still isn't totally remedied. Taxes haven't come out yet either on top of all this.

Chinese veterinary services leave something to be desired. Even if the prognosis and treatment are correct, because of the language and culture differences, there's still a lot of second guessing and doubt. E.G. if an American vet told me "your cat just has an upset stomach, keep an eye on him," I'd be like, "Okay, thanks Doc!" but over here you end up being more like "...Are you sure it isn't ____? Can you please <insert test that you found on petMD>?" I don't know if this doubt is justified (even if it is widespread in foreigner animal rescue WeChat groups) or if it is just prejudice :?

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by slowtraveler » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:53 pm

I've been also playing with this idea to get a second job and learn something fun.

I've started with Grasshopper which was really fast to get through and more of a refresher/intro into JS. Now, I'm playing with the Google's IT Teach Coursera series and having fun with the IT Automation course that teaches Ruby. I'm also thinking of taking a class on building the logic in a computer. Once I finish these series of courses, which Google says get you get job ready from beginner in 8 months, I'll start with FreeCodeCamp to get some interesting projects going until I find paid work.

It seems to pay a hell of a lot better than teaching with a lot more flexibility.

How's your studies coming along?

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:11 pm

I just heard about the IT Automation course on Coursera, sounds real interesting but I think I still need to focus on the basics for a while. But I'm confused, I thought you already did some sort of remote coding deal? Maybe I'm remembering wrong. As for teaching, I think the best deal it can be is taking care of living expenses and allowing some savings (depending on lifestyle), and taking advantage of that mere 10-15 hour work week in some way greater than what I do: play video games all day and night.

I've made more progress, but not as much as I planned. I have one more section on CodeAcademy's Intro to JavaScript. I keep getting distracted by video games, which compounds when I don't get enough sleep. I've been tossing around the idea of uninstalling all games from my computer. I watch TV with my girlfriend too, but that's usually only when I'm too tired to do anything else. Without any games, I can imagine my days becoming something more like: teach, buy groceries, cook, exercise, eat, study until focus wanes, take melatonin, and fall asleep watching an episode of TV in bed with the girlfriend. In many ways, I think my video game habit is holding me back both personally (lack of sleep, antisocially vegging in front of TV), professionally (not broadening skillset, tired at work), and financially (no new skills = no new money, opportunity cost of playing games).

I remember when I was younger and I was super ambitious. My parents instilled in me this work ethic that led to good grades, performance in sports, social life, etc. But somewhere around and just before high school graduation, I sort of stopped caring. I remember a high school counselor senior year telling me that as long as I didn't fail any classes, I would still graduate summa. Cue a senior year of barely passing tests and partying all night. That was sort of a turning point and since then I feel like I've lost a lot of drive. I remember willingly suffering for my future and not understanding others that didn't have the same dedication.

I think I've also let a series of failures affect my confidence in my ability to achieve goals and now I'm more afraid of failure. One example was right out of college joining a commission only insurance sales job. They encouraged us to spend our first month stipend on a new wardrobe of suits and ties to match our Mercedes-driving, veteran cohorts, which I promptly did believing that in 1 or 2 years of scraping by I would be living big. Six months later with only a few hundred dollars in commission earned, I bottomed out with no money to pay rent and some $1500 on my credit card, found a subletter off of Craigslist and moved in with my mom.

My goal now is to finish the CodeAcademy course I started, and then switch over to FreeCodeCamp. If I still can't bring myself to choose opening the web browser and work through exercises, build websites, and study my notes, then I'm going to uninstall the games.

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Bankai
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Bankai » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:26 am

You want to make doing things that are good for you as easy as possible as things that are bad for you as hard as possible. In your case this means uninstalling all games from your computer. You might even want to go a step further and get rid of all the CDs with games (if you have any) or disable/lock password to Stream or any other platform you're using. Then, when in the moment of weakness you want to go back to games, you'll have to spend significant amount of time and effort before it's possible, giving yourself time to come to senses.

You can do the opposite with the online course you're doing. Allocate some time for it, preferably in the morning when your energy/will/motivation are the highest. Tell your partner you gonna spend this time learning. Make sure you have everything you need in place the night before. This way you will have made all the decisions in advance, eliminated all possible excuses and all you'll need to do is just switch your computer on and start the course.

Starting small is also a good idea. Like, really small. So small that you can't fail. I.e. rather than doing 4 hours of course a day, start with 15 minutes. Or 5 minutes if 15 is too much. Make this a habit and then scale up when you build confidence.

James Clear at https://jamesclear.com writes a lot more about this.

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Viktor K
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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:11 pm

Well the last few days have gone pretty well. I got rid of all my games (~24 games) except for one that I don't really like. Now when I want to be distracted, I look up at that game and I'm just like, "..ugh, I'd rather study."

This has definitely made a difference as well, because at least during the first few days I would have this back-of-the-mind desire to play something real strategic and grand-scale, but then I remembered that that game was gone with the rest.

I've also been going to bed before midnight, which is good.

I've also started reaching out to some friends and acquaintances and let them know of my intentions to transition to web development. One even has his own side-company and mentioned throwing me a project once I'd learned JavaScript. That's really kind of him, but I also don't think I'll be ready for that any time soon.

I've got about 14 slides left on CodeAcademy's Intro to JavaScript. I've managed to write going on 70 pages of notes for it, which are great for reviewing during my gap periods. It is really dry stuff remaining, basically showing me easier ways to do GET and POST requests. Once finished, I want to switch to FreeCodeCamp. My girlfriend is doing pretty well working through Flatiron School's Boot Camp Prep.

I haven't had a chance to try waking up and studying yet since I usually get up with just enough time to brush my teeth, put on clothes, and walk to school. I would try tomorrow, but it is a dreaded, soul-sucking weekend workday. In China, whenever there's a "holiday", you have to work on the weekend to "make up" for it. I'm going to do it Sunday, though. Go to bed early again on Saturday, get up with coffee and oatmeal a quick microwave session away, and log in to (probably, by then) FreeCodeCamp.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:18 pm

Oh, on another note, exercise is still going strong. We've started doing the BBB accessory work for 5-3-1, as well as incorporating pull exercises on our bench press and overhead press days. What's more, we've started using randomabs.com to generate a core exercise at the end of each gym day. So that's abs 4x/week, pull exercises 2x/week, and 50 reps at 50% of each main exercise 1/week, in addition to the normal 5-3-1 we've been doing.

Suffice to say, my whole body hurts right now. Especially my lats.

I also have an interview in a couple hours at the local university. My girlfriend has already got a job offer from them, and mentioned me . It looks like less pay, but there's potential for a better schedule, although it isn't guaranteed. For her, it will probably be more of a teaching adults vs. teaching children decision than a financial/professional consideration. For me, I'm leaning towards turning it down, assuming the interview goes well. Without any sort of guarantee that you'll get the ideal mornings only, Monday-Thursday schedule, I'm not sure I'd trade my current school for the university.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:08 am

I finished CodeAcademy's Intro to JavaScript. Also seems like one of my buds is doing headhunting or something since he wants to get me a job in the US as a web dev.

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Re: An American Millennial

Post by Viktor K » Tue May 08, 2018 11:02 am

Mid-May 2018

Accidentally edited over this entry when trying to post my June update :(
Last edited by Viktor K on Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:36 am, edited 3 times in total.

slowtraveler
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Re: Viktor K's Journal

Post by slowtraveler » Tue May 08, 2018 12:51 pm

You're doing awesome. I have faith in you too. Some months, net worth stalls. Considering that you paid off taxes due, I don't think it's so clear that it's actually dipped since you previously owed taxes you hadn't yet paid, causing the net worth to appear higher than if the taxes had been paid immediately. I've found great value in maximizing tax efficiency. Just saying, there's no need to double pay taxes or pay taxes beyond FICA on the first 100 something k. https://www.irs.gov/publications/p54

Not sure how I missed all your updates these last few weeks. I work from my computer but not doing coding or anything of that sort. My situation isn't replicable and likely to end in 3-10 years so looking to transition. I've stalled on mine as current work, travel, taxes, credit card hacking, and family took the majority of my focus after the first week of classes. Still hoping to get back in there but once things slow down some.

Seriously though, you're handling your health and making great progress on transitioning your work. You've got time to prepare for when the current job is done and you've even been preparing for the next step. Looks like serendipity to me.

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Re: Viktor K's Journal

Post by snow_leopard » Tue May 08, 2018 1:03 pm

@ViktorK - Nice job on cranking through the web dev stuff! I am taking Codecademy's React course to gain some new skills. It's difficult to focus on these things with work, life, and other distractions, so you're not alone. I try to do an hour or so every couple days.

Keep chippin' away! It'll pay off.

If you are interested, I would also suggest reading up on Agile methodology, that's how most places plan and execute projects. Some familiarity would come in handy in an interview.

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Viktor K
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Re: Viktor K's Journal

Post by Viktor K » Tue May 08, 2018 11:23 pm

@slowtraveler Thanks for the encouragement! Admittedly I'm not the best with taxes, that's definitely an area I need/want to improve on in the future, but I'll probably wait until I relocate before doing so. You're definitely "hacking" living abroad more than I am, if you add web development to that, you're going to be unstoppable.

@snow_leopard I knew I had saw a free React course somewhere that I wanted to circle back to, but thought it was on FCC until I checked a week ago and found it was only "coming soon". Once I finish FCC's JS stuff, I want to dive into React as well. I've been sending a lot of questions to my buddy who's been web developing since college and starting his own side-company now. React was one of the first things he emphasized. Agile methodology is also on my agenda as well as things like version control, two things I don't know anything about yet :lol:. I'm hoping that with a portfolio and personal website, a decent grasp on the basics, some job knowledge and perhaps even a blog or YouTube channel to show my passion/set me apart, the job search will be fruitful.

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