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But How Does It Make You Feel?

saving money doesn't have to feel like a sacrifice

Saving money is important. Duh! Right? Everyone likes to save money. Unless you’re one of those lucky souls who won the lottery and ride your Ferrari off into the sunset. For the rest of us, we like saving money.

At least I think people do. Most people would give a quick yes when asked if they wanted to save more money. If you read any of those “x tips to save more” articles on the interwebs, then you know the routine.

Cut your cable subscription, brown bag your lunch, and make water your friend rather than your carbonated pal, Coca Cola.

These are all often repeated tips. Why? Well, because they work. Lots of people do or have them and they can gain from cutting them out. The obvious gain being the saving money part. I mean, do you really need to buy a $10-15 takeout lunch every day of work? I don’t think so.

After doing the cutting back, you’re left with a nice little pile of newly available funds. You usually have a few options: put the money in your emergency fund, invest it, or use it to pay down debt. All solid options.

Making yourself be good with money usually starts with cutting back. The art of really understanding your wants vs. needs. The benefit is clear: you save more money! *fist pump*

Are there any other benefits? This is where people usually draw a blank. They’ve saved their money. There doesn’t appear to be any other advantages.

Well, pull up a chair because your impromptu saving money therapy session is about to start. Put your phone away, don’t check social media, and grab a piece of paper for notes. Let’s begin with a story.

For a long time, I struggled to give up my excessive TV viewing habit. There are just so many good shows! I used to be super into TV. I watched it, rewatched it and loved going over the different plotlines and stories. I even had an old blog where I used to write reviews of movies and television.

I was hooked.

While I’ve never had a cable subscription (#millennialstatus) I did use my parents and friends subscriptions to keep up with shows. When I finally decided to cut down on my TV viewing habits, it was difficult.

It was difficult because there was nothing tangible for me to see from cutting down on my TV viewing. I didn’t have a cable subscription, so it’s not like I was saving money by cutting a bill. Sure, I did have more time in my day, but the added time hit me like it hits most people: I didn’t know what to do with the time.

I sat around, did some extra writing, read some websites. Nothing substantial. However, through a slow progression, I started to see positive results. Without spending so much of my time watching TV, I was able to start studying Spanish again, I picked up a hobby in photography, and I started freelancing again.

Check out some of the photos below that I’ve gotten of Australia so far!

Australia work holiday visa
The South Australian Dingo Fence. Longest fence in the world!
Australia working holiday visa
Squinting while at The Breakaways in Coober Pedy, South Australia

 

Cutting down my TV viewing helped me feel better.

Every day I had something to look forward to. Instead of being huddled by my laptop watching the latest episode of Casual, I spent my time on Duolingo doing Spanish lessons. I watched YouTube tutorials to improve my photos. I sent out more pitches for freelance gigs.

To be honest, all of those new activities still involved me sitting in front of my computer, haha. However, I’m building my identity capital. Doing stuff that fuels me and really makes me feel good (rather than just that ~shook~ feeling I got after binging the latest season of Orange Is The New Black).

The same feeling came over me when I started cooking more rather than eating out all the time. Back when I was living in Thailand, it was easy for me to eat out. I didn’t have a kitchen (yes, really 🙁 ) and eating out in Thailand was inexpensive. I could usually get a meal for 50 or 100 baht ($1.50-3.00 USD). Imagine my shock when I got to Sydney, Australia (a.k.a one hella expensive place) and I realized eating out would break my budget…a lot.

Side note: visit Thailand rather than Australia if you wanna stretch your dollar further!

Once I started actually learning how to cook, my food expenses went down. It would have been easy for me to look at the savings at the ultimate be-all benefit, but it wasn’t. The biggest benefit was I started to feel better. Turns out, processed snacks and soda all the time really isn’t good for you :).

Ask yourself how your expenses and cutting back on some of them will make you feel. Sometimes you may have to cut back in order to gain more (ex. Cutting back on TV to make more time for freelancing). Maybe it will prompt you to pick up something else like a new hobby or activity. Whatever it is, don’t just see the cutting back as a way to save money. It’s always more than that.


Saving money is about more than just saving money. How does it make you feel? Click though to read about how to approach cutting back in a positive way.

The Uneven Nature of Life: An Update

bourke nsw new south wales

Hello there blog reading people, I’ve been away for too long, although I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it as much as I have. Life has been coasting on uneven territory lately, so I wanted to write an update post. Here goes!

First off, I’ve been feeling down about this website since I haven’t made a solid focused effort to work on it for the past two months. Wow. Even writing that out hurts. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been on the move a lot. Going here, going there, and having to live out of a suitcase. Contrary to what some fancy travel blogger says, it isn’t fun to have to stuff everything into a backpack and duffel bag.

That is exactly what I’ve had to do. At the start of April, I went to Italy with my mom to visit one of her friends. I didn’t get to go to Rome or Venice or any of the main attractions. The week long trip consisted of staying inside my mom’s friends house in the small town of La Maddalena on a small island.

Being a small island, there wasn’t much to do. The trip consisted of sitting in a house all day for over a week. It was still good though. I got to have dinner with an Italian family and see a talent show.

After leaving Italy, I had returned to America for two days then boarded a plane to Australia. This.freaked.my.body.out. I had gone from America to Italy to Australia in a time span of two weeks and my body didn’t know when to sleep. It felt like I had some weird kind of extended jet lag. My first week in Australia consisted of falling asleep at random times, then feeling perpetually tired the rest of the time.

bourke nsw australia working holiday visa

I got Australia in mid-April. The past two months here have been interesting, to say the least. I came here like most working holiday backpackers do: no job and ready to hit the ground running. Not too long after I arrived, I started a work for accommodation job at the hostel I was staying at in Sydney.

Work for accommodation jobs are a popular thing backpackers do to save money on accommodation costs. The way they usually work is you do around 10-20 hours per week doing housekeeping, cleaning or light maintenance duties. The job I had involved doing housekeeping: making beds and cleaning rooms. You guys…I’m shocked at some of the stuff I see in rooms, haha.

I stayed at the hostel for seven weeks, doing the work for accommodation and job searching and working additional jobs. The job scene for backpackers here in Australia is strange. There are some odd hiring practices like requiring a photo on a resume for “identification purposes”.  I mean…what?!

A lot of the employers in hospitality/restaurant work seem to want a certain type of person for their waitstaff. I was talking with an Indian/Malaysian friend of mine. She talked about the difficulty she had finding a job in her industry and she has 8+ years of experience in the finance industry! It’s crazy and I plan on talking about it when I write up a guide on the Australian Work Holiday Visa.

australia working holiday visa guide

As of right now, I’m in a little town called Bourke, NSW. It’s dubbed the “gateway to the outback”. With a population of just 2,000 people, the town is very small. There is just a grocery store, a gas station on the edge of town, and a desolate town center half-filled with vacant buildings. The town entertainment is a bowling alley. There are a few mom and pop restaurants, no big franchise places.

It’s small and without a lot but I think I kind of like it. I started my job at a supermarket a few days ago. The guesthouse I live at is located just across the street. Since there are very little restaurant options to be tempted by, I think my cooking skills will improve!

A cool thing I like about Australia is their superannuation fund. A superannuation fund is similar to an American 401(k) or Canadian RRSP. Get this, lots of people get them! Office jobs, retail jobs, waitstaff jobs, admin jobs, and so on. Many employers in many industries offer to contribute to your superannuation (similar to an American employer 401(k) match). The typical amount an employer contributes is 9% of your pay.

It’s so crazy to me that even people like waiters and waitresses have access to an employer-matching retirement account! Wow.

So far, Australian life is going good. I plan to be here for four more months or so, give or take. Hopefully I can master an Australian accent while I’m here 🙂


What have you been up to? 

The Quarter-Life Crisis

millennial quarter life crisis

Is this it? Is this what they were talking about over and over?

You sit up from your bed, hair coming out in all directions of your head. Nausea pulls you over. It lingers on a strange limbo between morning grogginess and sickness.

The plain white walls of your room stare back at you. Waiting. It’s time to get up. An inch of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Brushed hair. And? You look around for your shirt. The nice one. The one you got on the clearance rack at H&M. The one you bought with money you didn’t have once you got your real job. Your big person, adult job, as people liked to joke about.

It’s nowhere to be found.

Crap. You only have 10 minutes before you need to be out the door. A piece of white fabric makes an appearance in the corner. That’s it. The shirt.

You grab it and dash out the door. The next nine hours are spent staring at a computer screen. Emails, meetings, the usual. Home awaits you after your hour-long commute home.

The evening awaits. A few hours of pure and clear free time. Everything comes to a standstill. A low burning ache reaches from your legs and works it way up to your back. Thoughts should in and out. Your brain lately has felt like a churning pile of slush, moving gradually from one day to the next with no real progress. You feel stuck.

Is this it? Is this the millennial quarter life crisis?

No words come out. Your lips are dried, cracked, and unable to articulate. Things are not the way they were supposed to be. The thought of your job sends elicits pangs of unsettlement. You want more. You want different. Spending an hour getting ready, an hour driving, nine hours working at a place you dislike confuses you.

You’re supposed to like it. You spent years getting a degree, studying, testing, but it doesn’t feel right anymore. The direction is wrong and a solution appears deserted.

You don’t like your job. The words swirl around in circles in your head. They get written down on paper but never said. Transitions are confusing.

Wanting something different feels taboo. Vague. Nights are filled with 10 pm couch contemplations over a tub of ice cream.

Bolts of inspiration make you come alive. Options feel endless. Traveling the world, pursuing a different career, moving through a transition, it all feels possible until it doesn’t. Student loans, car insurance, and rent. Your entry-level pay can only handle so much, savings being dropped to the bottom

So your legs stay planted on the couch. Moving doesn’t feel like an option. Minutes drift by and you sink further and further down into the fabric.

It’s a turbulent period you’re in, full of shoulds and wants that just won’t away. You don’t want to be alone with them. It hurts to listen to them too much. A smartphone is the seemingly the perfect escape. Your hands reach for it faster than you imagine. A dim blue fills the room. Then the scrolling starts. People with new cars, perfect jobs, a great life. Concentrated eyes don’t notice the lingering thoughts. The thoughts that grow bigger with each scroll. The feeling of inadequacy.

Keeping up the mindset becomes commonplace. It greets you every day and you slip into it. Doubt starts to feel like an old friend, greeting you at every turn. If feeds you the ‘shoulds’ that you contemplate. It tells you it’s okay to feel down. Initiative isn’t part of its agenda.

Doubt feels strong but it isn’t as strong as you think. Ever so often your inner voice tells you to go. Get up. Take the small step of starting. Show up to that downtown gathering. Register that domain name. Take that class. Most of all, that little inner voice tells you that you are capable. It gives you examples of it.

With every step, doubt treads backward. It grows smaller. Maybe it never vanishes, but tenacity takes over and becomes your new friend. It shows you that with every step you take action, you feel more committed. More hungry. Bolder.

Your quarter-life crisis is real, but it’s neither final nor fatal. Take the first small step.


A little different kind of post since my 23rd birthday is right around the corner (#junebirthdaysrock). I think this is the age I realize I’m just getting older, haha :). Next week I’ll be posting a post on steps to take to get through a quarter-life crisis. I wiped up a nice little workbook to go along with it. Stay tuned for that!

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? 

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