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How To Carve Out Time For Personal Development

Making a point to carve out time for personal development can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. Consistently setting aside time to work on yourself can be rewarding both in the present moment and in the long run.

Making a point to carve out time for personal development can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself. Consistently setting aside time to work on yourself can be rewarding both in the present moment and in the long run. Click through to read!

I’ve been making a point over the past year to invest time into bettering myself and doing stuff I enjoy. I do enjoy binge watching episodes of Parks and Recreation and Superstore, but I try to find ways to be more active in growing myself. TV isn’t bad but gotta keep that stuff in check. This blog post is about ways to actively help yourself out and do more rewarding things.

I’ve most likely spent lots of money of the past few years on personal development. Some of it was good and some it not so much. Sometimes I buy things…and then never really get around to using them. Either I’m too busy with work or “life gets in the way” as I would like to tell myself. 

Whenever I found myself not intentionally setting aside time every week to work on my personal development, I would start to feel empty. My days feel more meaningful and full when I have personal projects outside of work I get to do.

What I’ve learned is many people want to work on themselves but never feel they are able to carve out time for personal development. They may work long hours, have a long commute, or have lots of life responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be impossible or take a huge chunk of time every day to work on your personal development. You can do it through small simple recurring habits. Practice intentionally setting aside time.

Here are some different ways to carve out time for personal development.

Start small

I’ve found I do best at building habits when I start small. I make a point to do 15 minutes of something that helps me grow every day. Something that “helps me grow” is a pretty broad definition. For me, it usually means watching one or two Skillshare videos.

Skillshare is an online learning platform. They have classes in a lot of different subjects but the most popular ones are calligraphy, business, photography, and creative classes. The site’s goal is to offer bite-sized classes on demand for people. There are lots of great 30 minute to 1.5 hour classes with individual lessons that are only 5-10 minutes each.

Practice the Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro technique is a time management method where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. The intervals are called “pomodoros” which is the Italian word for tomato (which is why the timers are tomato-shaped/themed). Test it out and see if it works for you.

Stay accountable

If you’re really committed to doing something for your personal development, whether it be writing a novel, making videos, building a website, or whatever, it’s important to tell others so they can hold you accountable.

Don’t go blasting your announcement to your entire Facebook. There is a better way. Find people who you really trust or who are already doing what you want to do. They’re often better at keeping you accountable and providing insights. Niche Facebook groups are good for this. 

Reward yourself

It’s always fun to reward yourself after some consistent hard work. But, make sure you do yourself in a way that is relatable to your goal. For example, if your goal is to eat a paleo diet consistently for three months, don’t reward yourself by buying a new Macbook. Buy some cookbooks or exercise equipment instead. Make it something that is in line with your goal.


As with many things, you just have to make an effort to intentionally set aside time and focus, even if for only 10 or 15 minutes a day. Start small and work from there. How do you carve out time for personal development?

How To Pay Off Student Loans While Traveling

A lot of people wonder how to pay off student loans while traveling. They usually think it’s something that can’t be done without an inheritance or deferring on your loans. Not so! You can travel while paying off your student loans. Read on to learn how.

A lot of people wonder how to pay off student loans while traveling. They usually think it’s something that can’t be done without an inheritance or deferring on your loans. Not so! You can travel while paying off your student loans.

The way you can do it? Working abroad.

This isn’t the first thought that pops into most people’s heads. Whenever people think about travel, they usually picture sitting on a beach, drinking a cold one, and basking in the rays of the sun. In the distance sits a 4-star swanky hotel where there are a hundred different settings for the bath tub.

That’s more of a relaxed vacation. Travel can mean lots of things. Many people would describe it as being an experience of seeing new places and being immersed in new cultures. It’s not all about sitting on a beach all day long sipping a margarita.

A lot of twenty-somethings with student loans dream of being able to travel and see new places. But they think their student loans prevent them from doing so. They look at travel as something expensive and not possible while paying off student loans.

That’s what I used to think. Before I moved abroad, the idea of traveling and visiting several places never crossed my mind. I had graduated university with $21,000 in student loans and was intent on paying them off as fast as possible. Travel was something that would happen years down the line.

A swift leap of faith involved me moving abroad to Thailand to teach English. In the past year of being here, I’ve gotten to explore lots of Thailand and visit places like Myanmar and China. During this time, progress on my knocking student loans never even had to slow down. I’ve worked like mad for the past several months to make more money but I’ve also gotten to travel quite a bit.

It does take some patience and persistence to stay focused on paying them off your loans while traveling. When I was paying off my student loans, there were times when I wanted to use the extra money I had for a weekend getaway or to go off to another country like Vietnam or Cambodia, but through commitment and utilizing and allocating for fun money, everything worked out.

Here’s how to pay off student loans while traveling

Find a job teaching English abroad

Teaching English is one of the top ways people fund their travels and work abroad. It’s for good reason. Teaching English abroad allows you to really immerse yourself in another culture and see how day to day life is.

Teaching positions are typical 40-hour per week jobs where you spend 20-25 hours each week teaching. The rest of the time outside of teaching is either for lesson planning, making materials, or free time!

Googling “teaching English abroad” will yield thousands of results. The top places to teach English are China, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Asia is the most common place people go to teach English. There are English-teaching jobs all over the world but Asia is where the best-paying jobs are. When you’re focused on balancing student loan payments and traveling, having a good salary makes all the difference. The two best countries pay wise are China and South Korea.

South Korea is very popular because it’s a relatively easy place to transition into. Starting salaries for foreign English teachers range from 1.9-2.3 million won. Many jobs provide free housing, free school lunches, and reimbursed airfare cost for your travel to the country. South Korea positions have a lot of benefits!

A salary of 2.1 million won is around $1,850 USD. Many teachers are able to save around $700-1,000 per month. This can put toward extra student loan payments if you desire.

According to Forbes, the average class of 2016 student graduated with $37,172 in student loan debt. If you’re on the standard 10-year repayment plan, paying back loans with a 5.7% interest rate, your monthly payment would come out to $407. Saving $700-1,000 would allow you to pay extra towards your student loans every month.

The blog Great Big Scary World has tips and resources on teaching English in South Korea.

Private tutoring

In an effort to make more money for travel, many English teachers do private tutoring on the side of their full-time teaching job. They usually get private tutoring sessions through inquiries with parents or putting up fliers.

I taught several tutoring classes at a Thailand language center. It was fun and good way to make extra money.

Working Holiday Visa

Australia and New Zealand are two countries that offer one-year working holiday visas to people from several different countries. The visas allow you to work in the country for up to six months with one employer. 12 months in total.

From the countless articles I’ve read, the general gist is that Australia is the best for doing a working holiday. Australia and New Zealand have the same high cost of living, but backpacker/working holiday jobs are more plentiful and higher-paying in Australia.

Kate From The States saved 10,000 AUD in six months from her working holiday.


Now, when you’re wondering how to pay off student loans while traveling, the above options are good ways since they make you money. However saving money when you do travel is also important.

Below are some tips on cutting costs.



WWOOFing & Workaway

WWOOF stands for world wide opportunities on organic farms. Through the website, you can find volunteer positions where you get free room and board in exchange for work. Many long-term travelers do this. It’s a great way to reduce expenses while still being able to experience new things and places. You don’t even have to know anything about farming. Usually the jobs involve fruit picking, cleaning, and general landscape work.

Workaway is also another great option.

Couchsurfing

I used to think of couchsurfing as this weird thing to avoid…until I actually tried it. It’s great. I used it for the first time when I made a trip to San Diego for a conference. My host was fun to talk to and gave me great information on things to do in the city.

A few tips would be to make sure to go with someone who has lots of positive reviews and has a verified badge. Trust your gut. Always make sure you have the funds to book accommodation in case your host cancels or it doesn’t work out.


Basically, when you’re wanting to know how to pay off student loans while traveling, it comes down to working abroad and choosing budget-friendly options when you travel. Teaching English in good-earning places like China and South Korea where you are able to save up to $1,000 every month really helps.

Thailand (the place I’ve taught in) isn’t as great when it comes to making a good salary. However, I’ve made it work through getting a job at a school that offered higher pay and also doing tutoring sessions during the nights and weekends.

I paid off $21,000 in student loans in 18 months. 11 months of that was spent while abroad teaching English.

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How did you go about paying off your student loan debt? Do you like the idea of long term travel and working abroad? 

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? 

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!

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