January 2020 Net-Worth Update: My Net-worth Increased!

The last four weeks have been some of the most exciting in my life.
With growing hysteria surrounding the coronavirus, staying in China meant facing travel restrictions. As a person who’s chasing financial independence to gain ultimate flexibility, the idea of being “locked-down” in a Chinese city doesn’t seem too appealing.
Therefore, I left China, temporarily. I have every intention of returning once there is a realistic solution to this virus.
I’m not concerned about my health. At least not when I glance at the reported statistics.
However, when I read an article on the news or social media, I walk away thinking this is the beginning of the next zombie apocalypse. I have to stop myself from panic buying water, guns, and bullets.
I could be wrong, but I think we are far from a reenactment of the Walking Dead.
I’m only 26, and I’ve survived several media cycles of deadly viruses; West Nile, Zika, Ebola, Bird Flu, H1N1, SARS, MERS, and now COVID 19. They all seem to come and go with the seasons.
I plan on taking all the precautions I can like washing my hands, not touching my face, and even wearing mask. Other than the mask, I tried to take these precautions before the virus.
Therefore, I’m writing this post from an AirBnb in Chiang Mai, Thailand!
I’ll write another post to sum up my vacation in Thailand, but I have to say that this is a beautiful country! Beautiful beaches, mountains, and elephants are all a $50 plane ticket away.
Net-worth Increase
Thailand is Beautiful!!!!
The food is absolutely amazing!
This post is to update my Net-Worth for January 2020. It’s my pleasure to announce that my Net-Worth increased to $3,660. That’s a $1,068 growth over last month!
Not a bad start to the new decade!
Now, let’s get into the details.

Assets

Investment Accounts

The total balance in my investment accounts is $11,744. This balance increased by $209 in January. The increase stems from $200 I contributed, and low portfolio growth of $9.89.
For the new readers, I have three types of investment accounts; a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and a brokerage account. I contribute most of my money to the Roth IRA because of the long-term tax free growth.
All of my accounts are held with Vanguard, because their funds typically have the lowest fees.
In 2019, I made the mistake of not contributing to my tax advantaged IRAs. I assumed I was ineligible because I didn’t earn a US income. Boy was I wrong! Not only do I earn a US income, but if I did contribute to the IRAs I would’ve saved money on taxes.
I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. In 2020, I will be contributing to my tax advantaged investment accounts first.

Cash

I have $2,575 in cash. That’s $660 more than last month.
I hoard cash when life gets uncertain. When news of the coronavirus broke, “Operation Hoard Cash” began creating the $660 surplus for this month.
I plan to keep my cash accounts growing for the next few weeks, or until this virus subsides.

Debt

Student Loan

My student loan balance is $10,666.19. That is $198 less than last month.
When I first started my journey to financial independence I was very aggressive with paying off my student loans. Paying off my loans has become less of a priority overtime, because I was nervous to about missing out on investing in the stock market. This is typical “FOMO” [Fear Of Missing Out]. Fortunately, as the stock market continues to grow, I don’t regret the decision.
I have two loans remaining; the first with a balance of $10,406, and the second with a balance of $254. My lower balance will be paid off in the next few months giving me even more money to contribute to the largest loan. Both loans have a 6.210% interest, which isn’t terrible.

Credit Card

One of my goals for 2020 is to not pay a dime in credit card interest. I accomplished that in January! My credit card balances were payed off in 2019 and I intend on keeping them that way.

Net-Worth Increased!

My net-worth increased to $3,660! It’s a slow start to my journey to financial independence, but I’m moving in the right direction. I’m happy as long as my Net-worth grows every month.
net-worth increase
Continuing to save, pay down debt, and invest will always increase my Net-worth long-term, and that’s all that matters.
Thanks for joining me on my journey to Financial Independence, and I’m very happy that my net-worth increased.
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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Fleeing the Coronavirus

The power of social media is much stronger than many of us realize. We are constantly comparing and sharing our lifestyles, ideas, political views, fashion sense, and even our money beliefs.
These forms of sharing information can have tremendous benefits, but they can also be detrimental to our process of decision making.
For example, we are in the middle of making a decision to leave Shenzhen early in order to avoid potential travel restrictions due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, every time we think we’ve made a decision, we notice a post on social media that makes us reconsider our choice.
Logically, the only variables that should matter in our decision making process should be the number of cases of the virus. The number of cases in our area would tell us our exposure to the virus, and then we can decide from there what steps we need to take.
Unfortunately, life is never this black and white, and solving real-life problems is more of a colorful mosaic. Social media adds to this mosaic by bringing other people’s actions and opinions into the equation.
Don’t get me wrong, leveraging an online community to make decisions can be a powerful tool. We all do it on any app that uses ‘self reported ratings’ systems like yelp (does that still exist), Uber, AirBnB, or Amazon.
But in times of fear and panic it is usually a good idea to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
Constantly gazing into other peoples lives with Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or WeChat , makes it difficult to make smart decisions at times when everyone else is making dumb ones.
If you follow index investing at all, then you know that the best thing that can happen to you as a long term investor is a recession [Given you stay employed through it all]. The problem with social media is that everyone around you is going to be doing the exact opposite and their poor decision is constantly in your face, depending on how much you use the platforms. Therefore investing in a down market almost becomes impossible, and when you do get in it, it’s often too late.

How to Fight Social Media

1. Limit our time on social media

We are all guilty of getting caught in a rabbit hole on Reddit or YouTube. The next time this happens try to just log off of social media. Take some time to reflect without the added pressure of hundreds of other voices.

2. Find the source you value and stick with it (when making big decisions)

In the example of leaving Shenzhen, we’ve been monitoring the spread of the virus using live broadcast reports (in Chinese and English). Instead of focusing on subjective social media, we’ve decided to go by these broadcasts (since we can only hope that the information is the most up-to-date)
The only thing that ‘really matters to us’ in making our decision is the number of diagnosed cases of the virus in our city. Everything else is just noise. The hysteria surrounding other cities and provinces, the opinions and exit strategies of others, and even the occasional advice to just sit tight and let it take its course.

3. Take social media with a grain of salt

Always remember one of the dangers of the internet, at least in America, is that it gives everyone a platform to speak (this is also a HUGE strength). Even those who shouldn’t.
“Opinions are like A**h***s ,everybody has one”. It’s up to us to decide which ones we value and which ones we don’t.

Conclusion

This short post isn’t a demand to eliminate all social media. It is more of a reminder of how powerful it is and how it can affect you, because of how it has affected me over the past few days.
If you have anything you would like to add please feel free to comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

Running In China: Update 3

It’s been an eventful week of news about the coronavirus. Currently, Shenzhen has 31 cases of coronavirus and 0 deaths. The province health department has implemented a mandatory rule that any one in public must wear a surgical mask. I hope this helps stop the spread of the virus. The Chinese New Year holiday has also been extended an additional 3 days. I can only assume this is to limit in unnesscary travel while the
All of this new information is very frightening and has limited me to running only on a treadmill in my apartment building. Even with this little set back I’ve been able to keep up with my daily running routine.
So here is a recap of my week:

1. Miles this Week: 26.2 Miles

My mileage is down 1.7 miles because my Garmin watch measures distances differently on treadmill runs compared to outdoor runs. The outdoor runs are more accurate because they use GPS technology, while the indoor runs use a pedometer (step counter)

2. Number of Runs: 6 Runs

The same number of runs as last week. I switched from running first thing in the morning to running the last thing at night. I can see that it will be harder to keep up with my running schedule if I continue to run at night. It is hard to run after being awake all day. Even if you entire day was spent with low amounts of activity.

3. Miles this Month: 94.3 Miles

The month isn’t even over and I’ve already ran 3.5 more miles than December 2019. Overall more miles is a good thing, because its getting me conditioned for 26.2 miles.
Overall my running goal of finishing a marathon is getting closer to be completed. I apologize for this being a short post this week, but not too much changed on the running front.
If you are a runner and have ANY advice that will help me out, or if you would like to know more about what its like to run in China, please comment below. Thank you for reading this post.

Fasting, Viruses, & Cabin Fever: Escaping the Coronavirus

When news of the coronavirus broke in China, my girlfriend and I were in the middle of a religious fast for the new year. The fast consisted of commitment to no social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and no streaming: YouTube, Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu etc.
Unfortunately, precautions to survive the coronavirus include another list of commitments. The list includes: minimum exposure to humans, religiously wearing surgical mask, avoiding large crowds, and spending 98.7% of our day in the apartment.
The combination of avoiding the coronavirus and fasting has created cabin fever beyond measure. This blog post is going to be about how we’ve been spending our time in the apartment.

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Pros and Cons of Getting a Teaching Certificate in China

Teaching English in China has been an amazing and life changing experience thus far. So much so that I’m thinking of alternative ways that I can make this experience last next 5 – 10 years.
After speaking with people who’ve been in the International Education Industry for quite some time, I realized that the most opportunities are awarded to the teachers that have teacher licenses. In other words they are qualified to teach in the U.S. Public schools (Or the equivalent in Canada or the United Kingdom).
For someone who doesn’t have the teaching license it isn’t cheap, in dollars or time, to acquire.
Therefore, this article is weighing the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of going through the process of getting a teaching certification to teach abroad in international schools.

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My Plan to Survive the Coronavirus

I usually don’t respond to news headlines to often, if I did I probably would have moved back home 12 months ago. However when I got wind of a deadly virus that could be affecting my area and, more importantly, my health, ‘my ears perked up’.
So much is still unknown about this ‘coronavirus’ and its severity, that I prefer to err on the side of caution.
Therefore, this article is a summary of my plan to avoid this virus at all cost.

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Learning Mandarin and Teaching English

I moved to China to experience a new culture, new people, and a new way of thinking. When I arrived, I experienced all of those things and I picked up a few more. Unexpectedly I was fascinated by another piece of the culture as well… the new language.
Since taking on the challenge of learning mandarin, it’s been a difficult and exciting part of my time here. We’ve been taking lesson for almost 8 months now and I think I’ve reached a plateau. The problem with this plateau is that I know what I have to do to get out of it. I just need to practice more than I do now.

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A Story About the Credit Mix

Our China Friend

On our first day in China, in the Shanghai airport, we met our very first “China friend”.
As a remote employee, he moved to China to learn Mandarin and to explore more of the country. Over the first few weeks in China we shared similar interest and “survival tips” in a new country. Fast forward 15 months, and we still hangout out with Mike regularly.
Last night, we had dinner with Mike and caught up on everything from our future travel plans to our most interesting interactions with people in China. This went on for about an hour until Mike said “Hey did I ever tell you how I got declined for 2 credit cards?”. My ears perked up.

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Running in a Mega-City: Shenzhen

Today I ran the longest I’ve ever run in my life. I completed an 8-mile long run and I enjoyed every minute of it. I never thought I would be saying those words.
It wasn’t always this way. I just started running consistently 4 months ago, and it was a process to build the habit of running.

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A Random Day In China

Today was a random day in China. Saturdays are supposed to be my days off from work, but they’ve evolved into days of endless running around and meetings. So basically… another day of work… with no pay.
We are also fasting! I’ve been trying my best to avoid streaming any video content on any platform [Netflix, YouTube, Disney Plus, etc. ]. I’m sad to say that in today’s world this is a huge struggle for me, but I seen great results. I think part of the reason I’ve been able to keep up with this Daily Blog is because I haven’t been distracted by streaming.
This post is a recap of our random day in China with a few pictures [I know that everyone loves pictures]. I hope you enjoy.

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