This was a pretty chill month. I didn’t too much as far as going out or exploring or anything. But, then again, why would I? Mostly I enjoy nice hikes, rock-climbing, this sort of thing, but all the nearby wilderness is absolutely spoiled. As well, we’re in the middle of monsoon season and it has pretty much been raining everyday. Forecast is more rain for the next 7 days.
I lost a little money this month. I had a couple recordings that helped stem the blood loss, but, still, no work means little pay. And spending never stops.
This chart is pretty much the same. There’s not much to say about it. I’m still earning in RMB and looking to send that out on a more regular basis starting with that next paycheck that’ll hit on September 15th or somewhere around there.
Alcohol: With me tracking my spending this month and having a lot of time to myself, I was able to really see how much alcohol I’ve been consuming. It’s hard to say if it is more or less than normal for me, but it’s too much for my personal tastes. One of the big things here is that the cheaper beers are the big bottle beers and they’re 600 ml each. So, when you actually calculate out the servings of alcohol per bottle, they come out to between1.44 servings and 1.72 servings of alcohol per bottle (by US 15 ml per serving). I normally buy two of these just on a relaxing night (not every night, but when I do buy them, I usually buy 2) which ends up adding up to a lot of alcohol per week.
My other cat. He was keen on meowing from 4AM-6AM when my girlfriend first left for the US. Thankfully that habit cooled off after a few days and me just dumping every toy he has on the floor every night before bed.
So, I want to cut that down. I don’t think this is going to be very difficult to do. I’ve got school coming up, which is typically a big inhibitor. As well, my girlfriend will be back in a couple days which means less time just sitting around in the apartment by myself bored out of my mind. Anyways, I’ll set a goal for this further down in this post.
This is not my cat. I’ve had him before, though. I’m babysitting this guy for about 3 weeks. Compared to my cats, he’s an angel. Not sure what I did wrong.
Exercise: Not really anything new to talk about here. I’m still hitting a lot of my goals and just constantly trying to perfect my form. Pull-ups are going great and I think I’m going to be adding weight (talk about a lot of infinitives) here in the next month, so that’s kind of exciting. Otherwise, its just the same old thing. I’m starting to hit some plateaus in squat and deadlift. But, after a couple internet searches, I can usually work out a couple form tweaks or assistance work that helps me clear those.
This is not fog. This is pollution. Shenzhen is one of the best cities for air quality in China. This sort of pollution is unusual in the summer but very common in the winter. Luckily, the girlfriend picked us up a couple masks in the US so we’ll have some reprieve from this poison for this last year here.
Diet: The diet was next level improvement this month. I got the crockpot running so much that I actually ended up breaking it and had to get a new one. That screwed up the diet a little bit. As well, if I don’t have my next batch of chili going the day of the last serving of the previous batch, then I usually end up getting some food from a restaurant the next day while the next batch is cooking, since it usually doesn’t finish up until the late evening and I’m just starving until then. So, if I can make sure that I start the next batch the day of the last serving of the previous batch, then that should help knock out a lot of the restaurant spending. The girlfriend will be able to help a lot here as well.
Summer-Fall are my favorite months for fruit here. One of the few things I’m going to miss moving back to the US. Passion fruit, mangosteens, and pomegranates are all pretty good right now.
Best thing about this new diet is that my friggin poops are finally where they should be. I was in heaven while I was in the US as far as my toilet-faring adventures went only to be brought right back to Earth ( specifically China, Earth) when I got back from my vacation. All the raving about the vegan buffet went right out the window after a couple weeks of that and some personal peeping at their kitchen revealed some gross food safety issues that I partly contribute to my terrible bowels. Cooking nearly everything at home this month has cleared everything up, thankfully.
Lots of fiber, lots of protein, lots of healthy fats. I swap out a vegetable or two batch to batch to hit different micronutrients and whatnot. These last about 3 or 4 meals at 800-1100 calories each meal. I can make bigger batches and probably will when the girlfriend gets back, but otherwise they stay in the fridge too long and I start to get tired of them.
Technical school: I guess its technically not a university, even though “university” is in the name. Its more of a trade-school, but whatever. I got my schedule earlier this month. I work 8AM-12PM except on Tuesdays where I only have the last two morning classes which are something like 10AM-12PM. So that’s pretty awesome, it’s basically the schedule I was hoping for and the only reason I agreed to the position. It should be pretty easy. As well, I start on September 10th and teach for 14 weeks. The length of the semester is normal, but the freshmen that I teach do military training for 3 weeks each semester (or maybe just the Spring semester), but this year they put that training at the very end of the semester. Which means I will be on winter vacation from December 21st to February 25th. That’s pretty friggin awesome and I’m super stoked about that.
I worked with substitutes this month for my 2 recordings since my girlfriend is gone. This shot is of the studio in my building complex that we usually record at. Unfortunately, we missed out on a ¥2100 recording later this month since my girlfriend wasn’t here and I couldn’t find a replacement. This recording lasted nearly all day and ended up paying more than ¥3000.
Web development: The easiest thing to do here would be to post the URL for my website since I’ve been posting updates there about 2/week, with a lot more posts in the last couple weeks than the first couple weeks. However, there’s little incentive to do that since the website isn’t really monetized in anyway at this point and it has links to my Facebook and LinkedIn and stuff and everyone here seems pretty personal information risk adverse so I think I’ll just hold off for now.
At the same time, posting some 3,000 words/post 2/week for the last month means I don’t have a lot of energy to go through what I’ve been working on, so I’ll just throw it down in bullet-form.
- Finished SQL courses
- Did some code challenges
- Started making this ab workout generator web app (nearly finished)
Recording number two was at one of the downtown studios that is a little cheaper for the company. ¥1200 for 2PM-6PM.
After that, it’s not 100% yet, but I’m probably going to use PHP to do a lot more on my website like setup a legit contact form and make some sort of custom CMS because right now I’m coding most of every page by hand and/or copying and pasting from previous pages which eats up a lot of time. After that, I’ll probably feel pretty good with regards to databases, PHP, and SQL and I’ll start looking at some of the front-end JS frameworks/libraries that I haven’t got to like React.
Expense tracking: I finally started tracking expenses again. I found an app that is just manual entry, which is what I need since I don’t have online banking (or, if I do, it’s in Chinese). It’s called Expense, and it’s working really well for me so I would recommend it to anyone else who is happy just typing in the numbers after each purchase. Here’s the damage from this month:
Several things to note here. First, rent won’t ever change so that’ll be static. This new apartment does cut our rent basically in half which is great and makes me feel like I actually belong on this forum for once.
Health was a couple one-offs. First, I went to some European dentist that was recommended to me over a year ago and, not only was I satisfied with the cleaning, but I was happy that I didn’t have any cavities since I think it’s been over a year or maybe even two since I’ve been to the dentist last. Second, I had a cyst removed off the shin. To be honest, this probably wasn’t necessary. I mean, I haven’t got the biopsy back yet but the doctor said it was a cyst, the surgeon said it was a cyst, and my own internet research said it was a cyst, but it could always be cancer, right? I’ll get the biopsy report back next week to confirm but this was likely a paranoia expense.
One-offs like this won’t (I hope) spring up too often.
Groceries are probably what they’ll be next month, too. I basically walk to this supermarket across the street, pick up a little bag of one of any of the 6 or 7 types of beans they have there, a little bag of brown rice (these bags are each about 250 grams and cost 2-5 yuan each), and then 3 or 4 vegetables with the intent of changing up the vegetables batch to batch. That’s basically my staple food. I throw that in the crockpot with some oil and seasonings. I also eat a lot of oatmeal, and a lot of fruit. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal again to keep an eye on my calories (for lifting) as well as my macros and micros and that’s been a huge help in eating healthy and cooking at home. Other things I buy in this category pretty much fall into the spices and/or cooking liquids category (vinegar, oil, soy sauce). As well I ordered some powdered milk from New Zealand which saves something like 75% versus buying from the store and I trust it a lot more.
The visa/passport stuff is just money that I had to pay to get my visa finalized, but the school is going to reimburse me for that so it doesn’t really count towards spending long-term and shouldn’t show up again.
Restaurants, however, are room for change. These pretty much all hit in the beginning of the month before I finally had enough with friggin diarrhea and constipation (have you ever had both at the same time? It’s a thing). As well, in the middle of the month, I broke my crockpot so I ended up having to hit the streets again and I only went for the A-rated restaurants nearby which meant spending a little more than normal per restaurant meal. So, the goal here for next month is to at least cut this in half. And then we’ll cut it in half again if needed in October.
Disaster. Especially for a wanna-be ERE-er.
Alcohol I talked about above. Half of this came in one night. It was the last couple nights that my buddy from college was going to be in China, presumably until ever, since he’s moving to the US after being here for something like 3 or 4 years. Bars are expensive. This month, I’m going to aim to cut this in 1/3 and then potentially look at further reducing it in October.
So that’s two financial goals out of the way, let’s look down for anything else here… And I don’t have to go far. Transportation was ¥50 to refill my metro/bus card which should last forever and the other ¥250 was just being lazy and taking taxis, as well as a couple late night taxis on the above mentioned nights out (buses and the metro stop running a little after 11:00PM). I want to cut this expense by 2/3 as well.
Shopping will probably be pretty static. This is things that I don’t necessarily need but that I buy. All of this this month was for my D&D game, which is all wrapped up now. Each week it cost something like ¥30 to reserve the room at the internet cafe that we played at and then I bought a couple things like dice and markers and stationary. From here on this will probably be things like clothes and, I don’t know, just whatever it is and I’m not going to worry about it unless some sort of crazy shopping habit takes over.
Ate this to-go food from a fish restaurant few times after the crockpot broke. This costs ¥50-¥100. Between here and sushi (the only nearby places with A ratings), I probably spent nearly ¥300 while waiting for the new crockpot to come in.
The rest of this isn’t too important. Utilities are just water and electricity. We take cold showers here and only run the water to rinse off. I think I mentioned this already, but our cold water costs twice as much here because its a business building or something, and the hot water is then 4x more than that already doubled price. So cold showers it is. Electricity is also double, but we spend less since the apartment is so small. And internet hasn’t been added yet but it isn’t too expensive either. And it shouldn’t be because its the slowest I’ve had since dial-up.
Home is things for the apartment like laundry sticks that you use to hang the clothes up on the drying racks, soap, stuff like that. And drinks is anytime that I go and get something stupid like a coffee or a bubble tea.
So next month’s financial goals are:
- < ¥325 on restaurants
- < ¥115 on alcohol
- < ¥100 on transportation
When it isn’t polluted, it’s raining. It’s rained basically every day. This is the view from the 7th floor of the local hospital. That tree-covered mountain is a small hiking park. It’s not trashed like some of the trails here, but it’s only maybe 3 miles of trails. Oh, and by trails, I mean paved paths with stairs, like every other “trail” in this city.
I guess to be thorough I should look at these goals from last month. I was obsessed with my lack of progress on these at the beginning of the month to the point that I set them as my desktop background and made sure to at least get through the August specific ones. Then, with writing on my own website, I sort of found my own voice and guide as to what I need to work on. Let’s take a look anyway at what I did do:
- Finish Codecademy’s SQL: Table Transformation
- Upload 10-15 more code challenges to my website by the end of August
- Post 3-5 more articles to my website by the end of August
- Make a web app for doing ab exercises (so close to finished we’re going to count it here)
- Anything dealing with Upwork
- Finish Codecademy's Introduction to jQuery
- Finish Codecademy's SQL: Analyzing Business Metrics (SQL so easy)
- Finish Level 1 of my game (waste of time and won’t ever be happy with the finished product)
So, there’s a lot of difficulties living here in China and there’s a lot that I don’t like about it. However, this next year is going to be so good for me. My schedule is ridiculous, with half-days, each class only once/week, and a 2 month winter vacation. I have so much time to improve myself. So, there’s definitely a trade-off, and I am absolutely looking forward to moving back to the US and working for a few years as a web developer, but I think I’m where I’m supposed to be right now and I can’t have any regrets about it.