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Let’s talk about Money

So where does it all come from? How were you able to go abroad right after I graduated from college? Is that even possible? Yes, yes it is.

As soon as I stepped off that United Airlines flight in Newark from China back in 2016, I knew for sure that I was going back abroad in 2018. But how exactly?

It’s the topic that NO ONE likes to discuss. It is as if it’s something secret, something private, something that’s none of your god damn business.

I was listening to a podcast on how a lot of people don’t like to talk to each other about how much money they make or spend. But I personally think if we were more transparent in the amount of money we make or even just sharing our personal experiences on our expenses, then a lot of things would be easier to understanding behind the scenes of how others do it. And it will definitely encourage others to follow suit and possibly pursue new ways to be better about their money and even change their lifestyle because of it.

But aren’t you curious? I know I am. It’s something I always wonder when chatting with people. While living abroad, it is a discussion that I talk about more and more. A lot of people are traveling more and relocating to places for a long period of time, and it comes at a cost. You see people go here, spend money there, or don’t do anything at all. So you sit there and wonder, how are they doing it? Is it from their savings? Are they being supported by a scholarship(s)? Or maybe they have some family members supporting them? Either way, its none of my business, but it’s something I am always curious about. It is something that people of certain backgrounds can do in which they have the privilege of doing which is why you only meet certain types of people when you move to places like Taiwan.

I am here to share with you today on how I did it. For anyone can do it, sorta. Just with a plan, some preparation, diligence, and commitment, you can make it happen. But it all depends how bad you want it. You really have to want it for yourself to make it happen.

Summer 2018, I knew I wanted to go abroad then. No negotiations. I began to save like crazy. When I worked at that awesome tech company two summers ago, I put 40% of my check into my savings. My savings is on a different debit card in which I stashed somewhere in my room to the point where I forgot where I placed it. But then during the school year, I worked a small part-time job in which I received literally chicken scratch from, so I didn’t bother saving that money. But every year from January – February is America’s second most stressful, but happiest time of the year – Tax Season. Depending on where a person has worked and how long they have worked for there and how much they made, a certain amount of money is withheld from their paycheck and that person can get some of their money back. I knew I was getting a lot back so when I got it, I put that to the side as well. Inbetween all of this, I did take a spontaneous trip to Thailand and Singapore in which I spent quite a bit of my savings which was mainly going towards my big move, but we won’t talk about that. In total, I brought a little over ~$4500 USD. NO credit card, just straight ole hard earned cash.

Within the first 3 months, I spent a little over half of it and the other half went straight to tuition ?, rent deposit ?, and visa run ??. I think its ok, but I definitely could have spent less. When you enter a new country and everything is cheap to you and you’re not familiar with the value of items, you can’t help but spend more. And some days, it was just a bit too much.

But you know, that money didn’t last. I calculated the crash and burn would come after a certain time (August) and I was very much so right. I knew that I had to find other ways to support myself and if you know me, you know that I always have a plan.

While traveling South East Asia 2 years ago, my friend introduced me to how she was making ~$2,000 USD a month online teaching English to kids in China. Let me find out. Easy work, lesson plans are given in advance to you, and most importantly, flexible schedule. That sounds like right around my alley. All you need is a computer and a stable wifi connection.

Hello! Where can I sign up?

To be honest, the teaching English part didn’t really attract me so much at first, but I knew that it could be something that I could do temporarily till I find something else. I’ll share more about my personal experiences at another time, but read more about it here if you’re interested.

The amount I receive per month teaching English varies for it depends on how much hours I work in a month. Generally, I make around ~$600 USD a month (more or less), which may not sound like a lot, but living in an Asian country particularly Taiwan, it can go some ways. The cost of living in Taiwan is much lower than the US so I can really stretch that and make it work. I work enough hours to live comfortably, and also enough to still have a life outside of school and work.

I also receive a stipend from the Taiwanese Government (bless them) of $25,000NT which is around $800 USD so I live on about $1,400 per month which is pretty good for Taiwan. Majority of my money goes toward paying for tuition and rent and a little is left over for myself to spend on food and maybe something nice here and there. I generally use a lot too much of it to eat good food, go places (lol where exactly???), and buy expensive things (basic, I know). The amount I live on here, I can spend on rent alone in a nice part of DC. The money I live off of in Taiwan is chicken scratch money back home.

Now you know my secret. From my discussions with other friends at school, some people work at home for a year and save their money to rely on their savings while they are living here in Taiwan. Some others receive money from their parents, maybe a sugar daddy, maybe they inherited some money, possibly stripping on the side, or even working illegally (don’t ask me). Whatever the circumstances may be, they are here one way or another, surviving.

My parents weren’t really big on me coming abroad, to be honest. But they knew they could not stop me. They told me “You can go, but you’re on your own.” Which I knew from the start so the expectations were always there. But they are always here to support me just in case of anything. But as an adult, I want to learn how to be responsible and to rely less on them. Especially knowing that I put myself through this to come to Taiwan. Let’s keep that going, shall we?

I also considered going abroad and teaching English so I can make more, save, and travel, but that didn’t attract me too much. For I didn’t want to do it full time and be stuck doing that all day every day with kids. But with teaching online, I have the flexibility, the hours are not as long, and I can choose my schedule, and still live beyond my means and blend in with the local people at a personal level especially since I am studying Chinese.

So do you believe you can do it too?

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