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I Moved To Australia!

working holiday visa australia

I landed in Sydney Australia a few days ago. It feels surreal to even say (type…) those words. It’s real though. I blinked several times and pinched myself to make sure.

I’m on a 462 work and holiday visa that lets me stay here for up to 12 months. Australia is wonderful for offering up this type of visa. You don’t need any employer sponsorship in order to get it. If you’re age 18-30 and have no dependents (kids), then you’re eligible for the visa.

The visa came at a hefty price tag of 440 AUD ($332.73 USD). The cost was way more than the cost of my Thailand visa. My excitement got me over the sticker shock.

Being here in Sydney still feels weird. My mind keeps going back to comparing it to Thailand. The streets here are so clean and there are all sorts of people walking around. There’s English signage all over. It kinda feels like some form of culture shock.

In Thailand, whenever you meet an expat, there was probably a big chance they were in Thailand to teach English. There were a few people you would meet who had sponsorships they were in the minority. The conversations usually started with, “So what school do you teach at?”

Here in Australia, there are all sorts of people from all over the world here on working holiday visas. They’re doing all sorts of jobs: restaurant, bar, office, carpentry, and fruit picking.

When I was in university, my dream getaway always included Australia. The barrier was always flight costs. A round-trip flight to Australia is expensive, holy moly. I would see costs being around $1,700 or $1,800. I couldn’t swing that.

Now, a few years later, I still wouldn’t wanna swing that. I came here on reward miles! My first experience in using it. I got the United Explorer Card last year. The signup bonus offered 30,000 miles, no annual fee for first year, 2X miles on United flights, and some other benefits.

I would put purchases on it and pay the balance in full every month. When it came time to book my ticket, I had enough reward miles to use. I ended up only having to pay $28 for my flight here. You can bet I was super happy when I found that out.

This Australia experience is more on the nerve-wracking side than my Thailand experience. I’m here with just a backpack and duffel bag. Nothing super planned out. A lot of the work and holiday visa (WHV) people get jobs at bars, restaurants, and such.

I’ve gotten set up with my Australian bank account, tax file number, and Aussie phone number. The bank teller was friendly and really interested in learning more about America. He was a final year uni student and said one of his goals had been to study for a semester in America, but he never got to.

We talked about the best spots in Australia and America. The conversation got me more excited about visiting Melbourne (pronounced ‘Melbin’) and going to Rottnest Island to see the smiling Quokkas.

I have a few job leads come up, some with office and one with a restaurant. I’ll update what happens.

All of the flying got me thrown in a loop. My first three days here in Australia, I slept. No kidding. I slept and whenever I wasn’t sleeping, I was in a constant drowsy state that even coffee couldn’t fix.  With the flying and moving around so much I haven’t been able to do consistent blog work for the past two weeks. Makes me sad. Hopefully, a more structured routine will solidify in the coming week or two.  This is a big reason why I could never be a travel blogger, haha :).

I’m gonna work to consistently put out a new blog post every Wednesday morning on American central time. Sydney is 13 hour hours ahead of the central time zone, so I’ll be in my little corner, late at night, scheduling them out. Alllll about that tenacity. 


What have you been up to lately? Any projects or travels? 

The Best Unpaid Internship There Ever Was

From doing this blog, I've learned a lot about how to manage my time and unexpectedly learned more about digital marketing topics. It’s safe to say this little blog has been the best unpaid internship I’ve ever had. No coffee runs required. :)
Old Bagan, Myanmar (when I visited in December 2016)

I first learned about the unruly thing that is known as unpaid internships back when I was in university. My major was in the media department and I quickly learned that many internships in the media industry were, and still are, unpaid.

Usually, companies try to dress it up as something more than it is. The position involves gaining valuable experience! You can build your portfolio and get exposure!

Well, you know what happens when people get a lot of exposure? They die. Just ask the sun.

As part of a university graduation requirement, I had to complete an internship. The one-hour credit cost $300. Factoring in the cost of gas to get to and from an internship and a student would literally be paying several hundreds of dollars just to do an unpaid internship.

It was dumb. I praised the internship gods when I finally got a good-paying internship during my final semester of university. I let out a sigh of relief, thinking unpaid internships were a blip in my past.

Well, how life surprises you! I’ve been working an unpaid internship in addition to my full-time job for the past year and I’ve actually liked it! The unpaid internship? Blogging.

I spent a little time gathering up all the costs I’ve put into this blog over the past year it’s been up.

Hosting

There appears to be two main options when it comes to starting a blog: self-hosted WordPress or Squarespace. I’m on self-hosted WordPress. Lots of people rave about the benefits of it. It is great but the main reason I use it is because I’m familiar with it, haha. I used it a lot during a course I had at university and it just stuck to me. 

For nearly the first year of this blog, I used Bluehost as my web host. There are people who rave about Bluehost and many more people who talk about how crappy it is. Well, I had a 3-year hosting plan back from when I signed up years ago when I started building websites. Maybe I was lucky, but I didn’t have too much trouble with Bluehost during my time with them. 

I switched away since Bluehost didn’t seem like the type of service I could grow with. Siteground was hosting a Black Friday deal and I hopped on it. $66 for one year of hosting!

Plugins and icons and themes

I LOVE Creative Market. Gah, I’m obsessed with browsing the site. They offer six free goods starting on Monday every week. I’ve purchased some icons from the site and also got the Social Warfare plugin, which I love. Total cost for plugins, icons, and WordPress themes came to $92.30.

Software

I rocked the free Mailchimp account for the longest. A couple months ago, I opted for the $10 plan to get the automation feature. Boardbooster is the scheduler tool I use for Pinterest.

Professional Development

Ah, this is always a big expense, isn’t it? Maybe not always. For me, it has been. Mainly because I decided to go to FinCon in September of last year, after unexpectedly winning one of the scholarships for a free pass. Even with the free pass, I still spent quite a bit. It was all worth it though for the bomb-digity people I got to meet. (and I’m sorry, but geez, I do not like the Ally bank cookies. Waaaay too sugary. The people who have gone to FinCon will know what I’m talking about. Almost everyone who goes loves the Ally Bank cookies. 

As for courses and such, on Black Friday 2016, I purchased a bump sale course special and got a bunch of courses from Made Vibrant and Jason Does Stuff for a low as heck price. And I’ve actually gone through two of the courses and put them into practice! Yay for actually using stuff! The cost for professional development came to $966.18 (most of the cost being FinCon).


Altogether, the total cost for running my blog for the first year came to $1,264.48 USD. A lot, yeah. It’s all been worth it, though. While I haven’t made any actual money from the blog itself, I have had opportunities pop up for things. And I love the personal finance blogger community!

I love reading stories about how people learn about money, how their blogs changed their lives, and such. People talk about how the personal finance space can be an echo chamber sometimes (have you read the 1,000,001 articles on emergency funds?). I can see how people say that but for the most part, I love reading people’s unique way they approach their money and how they use it for the life they want. 

From doing this blog, I’ve learned a lot about how to manage my time and unexpectedly learned more about digital marketing topics.

It’s safe to say this little blog has been the best unpaid internship I’ve ever had. No coffee runs required. 🙂 


What do you think of blogs? How can they help people? 

Investing 101 For Millennials

When I first started learning about investing for millennials, it was overwhelming. All these different terms were thrown around like risk tolerance, bull market, mutual fund, and it was a lot to take in.

After reading through several blog posts, I headed to the nearest bookstore to learn more. There are a lot of beginner-friendly books on getting started with money management, investing for millennials, and getting yourself in good financial shape. The ones I read were great. They talked about budgeting, paying yourself first, automating your savings, and eliminating debt.

Reading up on the topics was great but it felt like something was missing. The books would usually devote a chapter or two talking about investing and the importance of it. Once I had gotten through several of the books and blog posts, the advice all centered on the same key things to remember when investing: pick low-fee index funds, consistently contribute to your brokerage accounts, and have a passive, hands-off approach to your investments (a.k.a don’t pull your money out when the media tells you the sky is falling).

The advice was good. Although I was never sure exactly who the advice was aimed at. It was for money management newbies for sure, but what age group? Millennials? Gen X-er’s who need to catch up on retirement contributions? I was never fully certain.

There are articles on the interwebz about investing for millennials, but the articles were short and would usually talk about one part of the investing equation: what to invest in, where to invest, setting up a brokerage account, and what the heck a “brokerage account” even was.

I didn’t find many resources putting all of the information together. A resource showing how investing doesn’t have to be scary and how to get started and set yourself up with a passive investment portfolio filled with low-fee index funds. The kind of portfolio many investors recommend, including billionaire Warren Buffet.

Talking with friends, acquaintances, and strangers, I noticed a common theme emerge. Millennials had a vague idea of the importance of investing but they were still reluctant and confused.

I know investing is important but I’m afraid of losing money and I don’t have a gigantic sum of money to get started. 

Well, I created a resource to help fellow millennials out.

The Investing 101 For Millennials course is a free 7-day email course that walks people through all the investing basics.

  • investing myths
  • compound interest
  • developing a mindset to not be worried when the stock market has a downfall
  • and more

The course even has videos to talk more about investing topics. If you’ve been wanting to learn more about investing but have been stuck in confusing lingo or scared to get started, click the image below to learn more about the course.

See you on the inside!

Investing 101 for Millennials


Investing For Millennials FREE 7-day email course. Pin for later.

Are you confused about the world of investing and want to learn more? Enroll in my free 7-day Investing 101 For Millennials email course.

Do You Have Your Best Interest In Mind?

Is it really you, though? I’ve found whenever you don’t have a set of values and plan in place, it can be really freaking easy to let others dictate what’s best for you. Lesson learned? People love to spend your money for you. Especially when you don’t have any sort of plan for it.

Many moons ago, I was very stressed for a very dumb reason. Okay, maybe not so dumb. Looking at it now, it feels dumb but back then I didn’t think so.

When I was a teenager, age 18, new to college, I had this idea of how I wanted my life to look. A swift move caused me to declare my major as public relations-mass communication. The move came after I had my initial sit down with an academic advisor. 

“You need to choose a major right away. You already have enough credits that you’re technically almost a college junior. Not a freshman” 

I don’t remember what I said. I might have just mumbled an ‘Oh’ and preceded to point to a major I vaguely had in mind. Public relations appealed to me because I liked finding ways to get the message out about something. Being able to improve my speaking skills (since I was super introverted) was also a plus.

My advisors in my program assured it was the best thing for me. They talked about how everyone improved their professional development so much through it. I went along with it because I thought they had my best interest in mind.

The media program at my university was a typical media one. It was a competitive fast-paced environment where people loved to be defined by their work. Getting an internship or job at a well-known company was how they defined success.

So, naturally, the best interest in mind appeared to be getting a job at a prestigious media company.

Unpaid internships were very common in the field. Following the best interest of the masses involved depleting your bank account and hastily working a low-wage job in addition to an unpaid internship. It was all about getting ahead. And this seemed like the only way.

Thrust into life after graduation, a whole lot of spendy things presented themselves. Everyone knows houses and weddings can be expensive but what about everything else? Buying furniture, getting actual kitchen supplies (rather than just eating Ramen), and the cost of attending other people’s weddings.

Since these expenses rarely get talked about, the money can have a tendency to part from your bank account without much notice.

 

A few years ago, on a sunny day, I made my way to a Mercedes Benz dealership. I was looking to get an extra key for my smart car. (Mercedes-Benz distributes the Smart Fortwo in the U.S.)

Before I could make my way to the parts desk for the new key, a snazzy car salesman started talking to me. He made a reasoning why I needed to ditch the Smart Car and opt for something more roomy and nicer. He went on and on about how I deserved it and could afford it.

Me? A person who was working an entry-level paying job affording a Mercedes Benz? LOL.

But for a moment, I thought he had my best interest in mind. He was very convincing in the way he talked and reasoned. My monthly car payment would provide me peace of mind and reliability, he said.

Remembering Chevy’s very convincing millennial-targeted car ads didn’t help. 

My dad even told me I should get a new car. They were new and reliable! He said. This was my dad. Surely he had my best interest in mind!

Luckily I never did listen to my dad about getting a new car. I kept my old one and continued to drive it. Since then, I’ve learned a car payment isn’t a common, necessary thing. I’ve also been slowly learning that my work doesn’t define my purpose or constitute the image of success. That has to come from me. No prestigious media company required.

So, who has your best interest in mind?

I wonder about this a lot. Not just for me, but for others. When you see something so much, it starts to seem normal. People finance new cars they can’t afford and way more house than they need. When you see people spending a lot of money on professional development and self-care (ugh) you start to feel like you’re doing something wrong if you’re not spending a lot on it.

I guess it’s easy to say ‘me’ when asked who has your best interest in mind. Is it really you, though? I’ve found whenever you don’t have a set of values and plan in place, it can be really easy to let others dictate what’s best for you.

People love to spend your money for you. Especially when you don’t have any sort of plan for it.


Who has your best interest in mind? 

Malaysia Photo Journal

Malaysia often gets overlooked when it comes to Southeast Asia. Places like Bangkok, Bali, and Hanoi usually get most of the coverage. However, with visually stunning buildings like the Petronas Towers and the vibrant street art of Georgetown, Malaysia is a real gem.

I took a short holiday to Malaysia after finishing up teaching English in Thailand. It was a last minute decision and I didn’t plan as much as I should have but the trip still turned out great. Unlike many of its Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia doesn’t require a visa when entering, which makes the planning process a bit easier.

Since I only had 4.5 days in the country, I didn’t get to see all the sights. I stayed in Kuala Lumpur the whole time. So I didn’t get to see the cool street art of Georgetown, Penang, or visit the tea fields and forests of Cameron Highlands. If you’re planning a trip to Malaysia and have the time, definitely visit these places!


kuala lumpur tower

The Kuala Lumpur tower is such a sight to watch at night. It lights up at night and periodically does a light show throughout the night where it flashes a bunch of different colors. I found myself just standing on the street watching it for a good minute.

petrona towers kuala lumpur

The Petronas Towers are the famous skyscrapers that Kuala Lumpur is most known for. There are tickets you can buy to visit the sky bridge and observation deck but in my opinion, it’s best to be outside of the towers.

Seeing them at night is not to be missed. Through some interweb research, I was able to find the best place for a view of them: Traders Hotel, Sky bar, level 33. I sat in the bar for two hours sipping on my drink before it got dark enough for me to get this view.

Batu Caves

 

You see all those stairs? Yeah, it was as strenuous as you would expect. Luckily there were monkeys playing on the stairs along the way that I was able to stop and look at. I took the sky train to get to the Batu Caves. Getting into it was free.

batu caves monkey kuala lumpur

Tired monkey on the steps leading to the Batu Caves. Her baby monkeys were jumping around on the steps with her.

batu caves writing

Writing on the walls of the Batu Caves.

batu caves

Woman sitting outside the Batu Caves selling necklaces and stuff.

kuala lumpur travel

This is one of my favorite shots from Kuala Lumpur! I was walking from my hostel to the Perdana Botanical Gardens and along the way, I spotted this little walkway on the side of the road.

The photo looks like it’s in some lush park or something, but it was really on the side of a busy road. I always love finding unexpected things like this.

chinatown petaling street

Stuffed teddy bears in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown.

chinatown kuala lumpur

Family eating lunch in Chinatown.

Chinatown kuala lumpur

I was about to leave Chinatown when I spotted this family walking down the street. I had to get a picture of it.

flower shop in Chinatown

Flower shop in Chinatown.

putrajaya

I took the KLIA Transit to Putrajaya, which is the administrative capital of Malaysia. I got to see and walk inside the Putrajaya Mosque. The tour guides were friendly and talked to me more about it and Islam. It was free to get in and people got long red robes to put on to get inside the mosque.

putrajaya mosque

Inside the mosque.

Putrajaya mosque

Ladies outside the Putrajaya Mosque. They were gossiping about people, haha.


What has been your favorite place to visit? Have you ever wanted to visit Malaysia? 

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