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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? 

Goodbye Thailand

This past Monday I closed the door to my little 350 sq ft Bangyai neighborhood apartment. With two bulging suitcases, I made my way to the airport and left Thailand.

On the plane ride, I kept flicking back through my passport, looking at the numerous visa, stamps, and notes pertaining to Thailand. My time in the country was…I’m not really sure how to describe it. If you looked at my Instagram, you would probably think it was non-stop fun and constant beautiful scenery. If you’ve read any of popular teaching English abroad blog posts, you would think it was this fun, carefree thing where I got to coast by and mysteriously travel all the time.

It wasn’t either of those things. To sum it up best, my time spent in Thailand was a beautiful mess. Kinda like “regular” life is back in the states, but different, ya know?

teaching english in Thailand

In early 2016, I quit a job I dreaded and finally had the opportunity to travel. This was a different kind of travel. I got to experience life in a different setting. Different societal ways were around me. Good stuff happened. Sucky stuff happened. And then it all came together and worked out to be a big learning experience for me.

I moved to Thailand on March 31, 2016, and left the country on March 20, 2017. So I spent about one year living in the country. When it comes to living in Thailand, there are two ways to go about it. Rural (usually northern Thailand) living or urban (usually Bangkok) living. I experienced the urban living, getting to live in a neighborhood about 15 minutes outside of Bangkok.

I loved getting to live in the Bangkok area. It’s a very interesting city. The place is chaotic, the air is thick and humid, and the city has a very fast paced and slow nature to it at the same time. Now I know it as more than just the city that was in the movie The Hangover 2! Haha.

In the typical Hollywood way, that movie wayyyy played up the craziness of Thailand. Alas, though, there is a seed of inspiration that comes from truth with the movie. Bangkok really was a crazy (in a good way) place.

As for my actual work, teaching English, it was an experience that surprisingly taught me the biggest lesson of professionalism: show up and care.

Working at the school, alongside over 30 other foreign teachers, I saw the not so good way people conduct themselves when it comes to a job. Like you might expect, a lot of people didn’t take the job super seriously, instead treating it as a placeholder thing used to fund their travels.

People would repeatedly be late to work because they overslept or had stayed up till 4am partying. Taking a “mental health” day off work to go to the mall or sit at home and watch movies was an acceptable thing. There would be foreign teachers who would go out to bars and drink on weeknights. They would slog into work, hungover, and proceed to teach for the day.

Everyone was shocked when the school announced they were cracking down on teacher attendance policies and introducing a new attendance policy for the semester. Basically, under the new rules, you were only allowed to take Tuesdays and Thursdays off. Taking off a Monday, Wednesday or Friday would almost certainly result in a pay deduction.

Seeing how other people viewed their job with such low commitment made me realize the importance of professionalism, no matter what the job.

teaching english in Thailand

As for the living aspect of Thailand, there are a lot of things I will miss. I will miss the one dollar smoothies I could get, the seven dollar messages I could get, and the most of all the 58 cent sliced fruit. I would get sliced fruit almost every day. There would be little street stalls I would go to where I could get pineapple, cantaloupe, guava, papaya, watermelon, or dragonfruit for only 20 baht! (0.58 cents USD).

I will remember the slow, relaxed vibe of Thailand. It was something that never fully grew on me but I did appreciate it in some ways. In Thailand, there is a less urgent attitude toward things. It will happen when it happens. Obviously, you soon realize how bad this can be. People would almost never be on time, immigration officials would take a slower pace when processing your work visa, and when things would break like a leaky A/C unit, it would take a while to get it fixed.

A slower pace is not so lovely when it comes to many things, but it does help you appreciate and learn more about a calmer, more peaceful approach to processing the day to day.

And the scenery! Ah, I’ll miss all of the beautiful beaches and all of the green I got to see while in Thailand. I haven’t been to a ton of beaches but Thailand’s southern island beaches have been the best I’ve been to so far.

All the places I’ve been to in Thailand will live on in the hundreds of photos I took while there. I still wonder why Thailand isn’t on more people’s vacation lists. The place really gives a full scope of things to do. Aside from the beaches, there is the fun loving hippyish town of Pai to the digital nomad haven of Chiang Mai. Thailand’s got it all.

Somewhere along the way, through my Thai travels and living, I got to teach and adore 305 little Thai children. Their brightness and enthusiasm has stayed with me.

teaching english in Thailand

It’s goodbye to Thailand for now. I did go to Malaysia for a short holiday following it and right now I’m back home in Texas. I’ll be sharing a Thailand and Malaysia photo journal post in the next week or so. In mid-April, I will leave to my next destination to start working. Can’t wait to share where!


Where is a place you remember fondly? Let me know in the comments!

8 Side Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

Getting started on a side hustle doesn’t have to be consuming. There are several side hustles you can start this weekend.

Getting started on a side hustle doesn’t always have to be consuming. Before I started making extra money outside of my day job, I always thought starting a side hustle was something that either took a lot of time. It doesn’t always have to be. There are several side hustles you can start this weekend.

First off, though, let’s talk about why having a side hustle of any sort is important. In the early dark ages of my personal finance journey, I focused way too much on cutting back as much as possible. It seemed like the more optimal thing to do since nearly every personal finance site listed it as step one of getting control of your money.

However, I reached that point a lot of people make when cutting back expenses. You’ve reached a line where you’ve cut back all you can and you’re just sitting there like “Uhhh, what now? I need to save more”.

That’s where a side hustle comes in. There are a number of side hustles you can start this weekend to be able to start making money relatively fast. Not get rich quick scheme by any means but the ability to make extra money nonetheless.

8 side hustles you can start this weekend
Sell a service on Fiverr

Fiverr is an online marketplace where people can look for and advertise freelance services. Prices usually start around $5 (hence the name Fiverr). It’s the place where lean and bootstrap entrepreneurs usually go to get services done by a freelancer.

Fiverr’s service categories include graphic design, writing and editing, digital marketing, video and animation, music and audio, programming and tech, advertising, business, and fun and lifestyle.

Since Fiverr is known for being the place of the $5 gig, usually people have more success selling a product or review of rather than their direct time. It can be a good way to get started with offering freelance services. One guy was able to make $7,490 in 14 months from doing part-time work on Fiverr. Read through some beginner tips before getting started.

Teach a course on Udemy or Skillshare

Udemy and Skillshare are online learning platforms where you can take on-demand classes at your own pace. Developing and selling a course on Udemy or Skillshare can be a great way to not only make money but also let you deep dive into full understanding something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy card reading, knitting, or bookbinding, why not teach others how to do it and be able to make some extra money?

I’m a little biased toward going with Skillshare because I LOVE Skillshare so much. I’ve had a membership there for several years and taken many courses. Teachers teach courses in design, marketing, writing, business, lifestyle and more.

Some of the unique classes I’ve found include: Designing a Modern Logo in 15 Minutes, Writing for Online Engagement: Fiction in a Digital World, Photoshop For Lunch, and Creating a Perfect Morning Routine.

Be a Brand Ambassador

Do you remember those people you see passing out t-shirts, stickers, and products at events. Those are brand ambassadors and it’s a fun way to make extra money.

I did some brand ambassador work back when I was in university. I worked booths for apartment complexes and drink companies passing out free t-shirts, cups, pens, and any other branded stuff. It was a fun way to make extra money. Usually I found these gigs from Facebook or a posters advertising it.

To find Brand Ambassador work, search Facebook (ex. “Brand Ambassadors of ___”)  for groups in your city. Searching Craigslist gigs for event work is another option, although you should make sure to apply quickly within a few hours of the gig posting.

Task Rabbit

TaskRabbit is a service that connects people who need help with jobs like house cleaning, deliveries, running errands, and minor repair work. Crafting a good profile and honing in on what type of work you and don’t want to do can help you get started on a good foot. Making extra money via TaskRabbit is relatively simple since you can do do gigs whenever you have free time.

Taking Online Surveys

Taking online surveys is a good easy side hustle you can start this weekend. Companies like to know what people think and they will pay you for it. Taking online surveys isn’t a big money maker but it is a way to make some extra cash. People can make around $50-100 a month from taking online surveys, depending on the survey site and amount.

For online survey sites, it’s there are legit ones and there are spammy ones. Stay away from any that ask for upfront fees or just look shady. Some of the best online survey sites include: Ebates, Harris Poll, Opinion Outpost, and Pinecone research.

Make Money using your car

Everyone knows driving for Uber or Lyft is a good way to make money with your car, but there are other ways. You can make money delivering food with services like Postmates and Door Dash.

Babysitting

You don’t have to just post fliers around town to babysit. Sign up for Care and make a profile to start looking for babysitting jobs. My brother actually did this during a summer while he was in university.

Take Photos

Photography can be a fun thing to learn. There are always people looking to get photos taken. It doesn’t have to involve a wedding photographer like many think. You can take senior portrait, headshot, and lifestyle photos for people.

Beginner photography classes on Skillshare and Adobe Lightroom presets can help you get started and better yourself.


Most of all, when you’re trying to figure out a side hustle to start this weekend, think about people’s pain point. What type of service can you offer to make their lives easier and better? There’s a reason people hire house cleaners, dog walkers, and such a lot. Figure out what people really need.

10 Ways To Live A Good Life

To live a good life means you make time for reflecting and improving yourself. It’s important to make time for it and it doesn’t have to involve mystery green smoothies or putting yourself in an upside down yoga pose. 

To live a good life means you make time for reflecting and improving yourself. It’s important to make time for it and it doesn’t have to involve mystery green smoothies or putting yourself in an upside down yoga pose. Click through on ways to live a good life

 

Everyone wants to improve something about their lives. Maybe they want to declutter their possessions, eat healthier, be more outgoing, or learning a new skill. Whatever it is, working on your mindset and small habits helps tremendously.

I used to think doing things like journaling or meditating wasn’t worth my time. I mean, meditating seemed hard at first glance. Sitting, being silent, and focusing on your thoughts for 5 or 10 minutes? My attention span couldn’t handle that at first.

Once I started putting these small daily habits into my routine, things took off. The most notable thing being that I was able to pay off my $21,000 of student loans in 18 months. While making more money was one way I paid off the debt, the greatest thing that helped me become debt-free was shifting my mindset and believing that I could (and would) do it.

So if you want to live a good life, try practicing some of the things below.

Do a no-spend challenge

No spend challenge are one of the best things you can do to shift your mindset about your spending habits. You can do a no-spend challenge for many things including: shopping, grocery shopping, eating out, or entertainment budget. The challenge can last for one weekend, one month, or even one year.

The benefits of a no-spend challenge go beyond just saving money. They’re a good way to build discipline and help you discover a new outlook on your spending.

Alas, I guess I could’ve put something like eat an avocado every morning, but this is a personal finance and development blog, so I know how awesome no-spend challenges can be (although avocados are amazing as well! Eat avocados!) Okay, moving on…

Drink water when you wake up in the morning

There is that recommended daily water amount you see a lot. It’s advised to drink 6-8 (8 oz.) glasses of water daily. I used to laugh at this amount thinking I could never do that. But now I actually do!

After several hours of sleep, your body is dehydrated when you wake up. Drinking water first thing in the morning helps you become more alert and energized.

Be more productive about how you watch TV

I don’t think television is evil. It’s okay when done in moderation. I mean, come on, it’s not like I’m going to tell you to give up watching Game of Thrones or Bates Motel, those shows are literary masterpieces. 

However, you can approach TV viewing in a better way. Take stock of how many shows you watch at any given time. Write down the total amount of time you watch each week. Then try to shift your TV-watching to one or two days per week.

I’ve been doing this for a while. I put all of my TV watching on one day. When I first started doing it, I was shocked at how much time I was spending watching TV. From there I made adjustments and decreased the amount of TV I watched. 

Practice gratitude

Write down three things you’re grateful for every day. These could be simple things like how you got to eat your favorite food or something big like getting a promotion or new job.

Put your fears in writing

We all have fears that can sometimes keep us from being able to live a good life. Combat them by putting them in writing. After writing down your fears, write down two or three pieces of evidence about why they are not true.

A person has approximately 60,000 thoughts per day and 90% of those are repetitive. Many of them being negative thoughts. Write down these recurring thoughts and counteract them with positive messages and evidence about why they can be defeated.

Morning pages

Every morning, open up your journal or grab some pieces of paper and write one or two pages of pure stream of consciousness writing. Don’t stop and try to over analyze each part or edit things. Just write and let it flow.

Understand that obstacles are part of life

Life throws everyone curve balls. It’s bound to happen but you shouldn’t let it ruin your motivation and self-confidence. In The Obstacle Is The Way, author Ryan Holiday talks about the ways to move forward in spite of obstacles and how to avoid a “why me” mindset when things happen.

The book is a good read on persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Understand the Baador-Meinhof Phenomenon

Let’s say you want to buy a new car. A shiny new BMW in particular. You’ve never put much attention to new cars before because you’ve been driving your old car for a while. Now that you’re on the market for a new BMW, you start seeing them everywhere. You see a BMW at the grocery store, in the parking lot of the dentist office, at the gas station. You may even start dreaming about it.

Enter the Baador-Meinhof Phenomenon.

This phenomenon occurs when you something you begin thinking about, starts to pop up everywhere. It doesn’t have to be about a car, it doesn’t even have to be about a physical object, it can be about anything including your fears and negative thoughts.

If you’re constantly feeling tempted about buying things and negative thoughts, try some of the tips mentioned above like doing stream-of-consciousness pages every morning or writing down your fears and ways you’ve overcome them in the past.

Meditate

Meditation is a great exercise for your brain. Doing it can help you clear your thoughts and focus in on things. All it takes is learning the basics of it and getting started. Spend 5-10 minutes a day meditating.

Headspace is a great free app for learning the art of meditation and the app’s level one course has simple, 10-minute session for each day so you can build a meditation habit.

Try new hobbies and classes

Expand your knowledge by taking online classes in things you’re interested in. Skillshare offers lots of bite-sized classes with short lessons to help learn more.

Click here to learn more about bullet journaling

Take this class to learn more about hand-lettering

Understand Microsoft Excel better with this resource


 

Obviously, this isn’t a complete list of ways to live a good life, but they are some starter or additional things you can do.

What things do you do to live a good life?

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