Location independence, or being able to travel or live anywhere independent of a job, is something that has always appealed to me. Part of the reason is that Mr. ThreeYear’s family lives on one continent, and mine on another. So we always feel caught in-between. But even before I met Mr. ThreeYear, I dreamed about dividing my time between two places, or traveling the world.
Along the way, I’ve been inspired by people who have lived a similar life.
The flight attendant from my TESOL program
In August of 2001, I traveled to Montreal to complete a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) training program before I moved to Chile. I met a Colombian flight attendant while I was there, and asked her where she lived. Her answer astounded me. “I divide my time between North and South America,” she told me. She lived in Montreal for the summer and fall and Colombia in the winter and spring. Her children were older, I remember, already in college, and she and her husband split their time between two places they loved. Continue reading “My Inspirations for Location Independence”
Our family is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, so part of our strategy is earning more over the next three years. One of the ways we’re doing so is through my teaching position. But how do you earn big bucks in education?
I admit that the title of this post is meant to reel you in. Because, as we all know, if you want to earn a big salary, then education is generally not the field to pursue. And, truth is, if you’re in education, you’re probably not going to ever make the big bucks that lawyers or doctors make (but kudos to you guys!).
However, if you’re already in the education field, or you’re interested in pursuing a career that gives you summers off, may I recommend a way to make more money in education than the average salary schedule of a classroom teacher?
Here’s the big secret: become a contracted service provider for a school district. I am a contractor for two school districts, and while I’m a part-time worker, my hourly rate is high enough that I’d be a six-figure income earner if I worked full-time, year-round.
Surprised? So was I when I first started teaching this way. Read on for more details.
First of all, what is a contracted service provider? It’s a person who provides some type of service to a school or district, but not on a full-time basis. Usually, specialists like ESOL teachers (that’s what I do), Reading Specialists, Special Education teachers, Curriculum Developers, psychologists, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech and Language Pathologists can work with a school as a contractor. Usually, these professionals work on a part-time basis with the district, and may provide services for multiple districts.
I am a contracted service provider for two school districts about fifteen minutes apart. I provide English to Speakers of Other Languages services for both districts. What this means, practically speaking, is that I am a 1099 contractor who owns my own business and provides ESL teaching services to both districts. In one district, I have two students with whom I work, and in the other, I have four. I work a total of about 30-35 hours per week at both districts.
Many school districts have just a few English Language Learners in their populations, so it’s hard to attract an ESOL teacher to work for just a few hours a week. If an ESOL teacher is able to find several districts with the same small population of students close to one another, then he or she can work part-time at several schools. This is not just true for ESOL teachers, but for Occupational or Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, School Counselors, psychologists, and many other professionals.
Mr. ThreeYear, apart from increasing the height and attractiveness genes of my children (thanks, honey!), is one-half of the brains behind our location independence plan. He also has an incredible story of growing up in difficult circumstances and working very hard to make a better life for himself.
Since normally, I write the blog and Mr. ThreeYear just reads it, I thought I’d turn the reins over to him and allow him to share his thoughts on location independence, overcoming obstacles, and reaching financial independence.
Can you tell everyone a little about your background?
I was born in Santiago, Chile, in the mid-seventies. I grew up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Our family was not really political; however, it was clear to see that it was not a smart idea to publicly oppose the government because of the consequences it would bring to your family.
I was the youngest of four siblings. I have two much older sisters who married and left the house early. My brother was also older, by eleven years. We lived right next to my grandmother. The country was very economically depressed. It was hard to get jobs. Unfortunately, my dad was unemployed for a long time, which made my mom the main breadwinner, working three jobs at a time (she was a special education teacher). We never starved, but it was clear to me that we were at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Continue reading “Interview with Mr. ThreeYear”
As educators, wrote an article I recently read, we must teach our students the relationship between effort and achievement. That is to say, there is a direct correlation between the effort we expend on a particular endeavor and the likelihood that we’ll have success in said endeavor.
This may sound like a basic concept, but, like so many basic concepts, once you take a minute to unpack it, it has profound implications.
The more effort I put into something, the more likely I am to have good results.
Many times, I water that advice down in my head. I pretend there’s not a direct correlation between my level of effort and my achievements: “I’ll just run three times this week instead of four. I’ll skip the mid-range run.” Every time I skip a mid-range 6-mile run, my longer 10-12 mile run is super painful and I’m slower. Over an entire training period, that means I’ll run (even) slower on race day.
“I’m tired, so I’ll wake up at 6am instead of 5am. I can still write a blog post.” That’s when I publish 2 posts per week, not three. Over time, I notice my page views slipping and readership going down.
“I’ll just wing it in class, instead of preparing a lesson plan for the week. I can prep before class each day.” My classes are not as good, I’m scrambling for activities to fill the time, and over time, my students don’t make as much progress learning English.
The truth is, consistent, daily effort pays off. It pays off in life, and it pays off (literally) when you’re working towards financial independence.
Making More Money
In the past two and a half years, I have expended a great deal of effort towards my new career–ESOL Teacher. When I started teaching in September of 2015, I knew very little about teaching English. I worked very hard to network with other teachers, observe their lessons, ask questions, and take copious notes. I started a Master’s Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and many nights and weekends were spent reading, on our online classroom, or in class, an hour and a half away. Continue reading “Effort, Achievement, and FI”
I started this blog almost a year ago to document our family’s journey toward location independence over three years. We picked a three-year time frame because it coincided with several significant events in our family’s life: our oldest son finishing sixth grade, my husband turning forty-five, and me turning forty.
We love to travel, and we also have family who live in two different continents, so becoming location independent would allow us to spend a few years, before our boys start high school, living in an international location, or traveling between our respective families for a few years.
In order to make our plan work, we decided we would need to double our net worth and find jobs that would support us during our travel time. While doubling our net worth could allow us to live on 4% of our investments at a certain spending level, we know that with our current spending plus the need to fund two college accounts, we would prefer to have employment during our travel years, preferably employment that provides health benefits.
While we’ve talked about other aspects of our plan, we haven’t delved into how, exactly, we plan to double our net worth. So I thought I’d walk through our plan in this post.
Year 1 (roughly 33% increase):
We have almost completed Year 1 of our Three Year Experiment. This year’s focus was on paying off the last of our debts and funding some major home repair projects, all while saving and investing to grow our investments and decrease our debts.
We have officially completed the first quarter of the year! We’re calling this year, which is Year One of our family’s plan to reach location independence, the Year of Good Habits. Each month, I focus on improving or developing one new habit. Sometimes the habits are directly related to personal finance and sometimes they’re related to general self-improvement. At the end of each month, I have been continuing the last month’s habit (or trying to) and adding a new habit in. (But, just for totally transparency, I would not recommend starting so many new habits in one year for the average person. This is more an experiment for the blog. In real life, I try to add in one or two new habits a year).
In his book Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar talks about creating rituals. He takes an idea from The Power of Full Engagement and recommends that “instead of focusing on self-discipline as a key to change,” we should instead develop rituals. Developing rituals involves “defining very precise behaviors and performing them at very specific times, motivated by deeply held values.” For example, brushing your teeth is a ritual and doesn’t take any special self-discipline to complete. Hygiene is a deeply held value for many of us, so brushing our teeth is something we do each day. Making an activity part of your daily life and making it value based, rather than discipline based, is an excellent way to create a lifelong habit. Continue reading “A Year of Good Habits: Quarter Three Update”
After an unusually warm spell, we’re finally getting the insanely gorgeous leaves New England is known for. As I drive to and from work, I’m privy to the most amazing shows of reds on the trees.
We’re well into the school year. The Junior ThreeYears are adapting to their new classes and homework. I keep adding more students that I need to work with to my schedule, so I’m less and less part-time. I’ve literally used up all my hours in the school day and will now be eating lunch while working with a student. At least I’m paid hourly!
One of the highlights of the month was my first solo girls’ trip in something like ten years. I met my best college friend at my sister’s house in Charlotte and we spent the weekend perusing a local farmers’ market, checking out local dining and brunch options, and catching up. I had such a great time that I vowed to take more of these trips. The best part was, Mr. ThreeYear and the boys had a wonderful time together at home. They went to the movies, went out to lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant, and had a great time bonding while I was away.
We spent gobs of money in September. Our biggest purchase was our tickets to Chile. Our plan was to buy them with airline miles, but in the end, we decided against that. Mr. ThreeYear wanted to go during Christmas and New Year’s, so it would have taken an insane number of miles for each ticket (something like 120,000 each). We didn’t have enough for four tickets and we thought it made sense to save them. Our second biggest purchase was my master’s course. I have three more to go after this. And I had to pay quarterly taxes as well, although those numbers don’t show up in our spending report. Since I’m working so much this year, I’m setting aside 20% of my paychecks for taxes. I may start setting aside 25%, just to be safe. It’s hard to know exactly what I’ll owe since the amount of money I make varies so much, so it’s better to play it safe.
The stock market is still bullish, and we’ve seen our net worth rise again, despite our massive spend this month. It is nice to be earning a paycheck again, so we can reach our end-of-the-year-goals faster. I’m also so ready to be done paying off our apartment in Chile and our car that I’m wishing December was already here. Wait, didn’t I just write a post about staying in the present?
Goals are great, right? They help us focus, give us purpose, and give us something to work for. But, there can be a dark underbelly of too much goal setting.
When you set a goal in your life, especially a goal for financial independence, it’s easy to let it take over your life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what’s next that we forget about what’s now. We’re so focused on our future happiness (because why else are we setting the goal, after all?) that we forget about our present happiness. So what’s the magic balance?
I read a book this weekend that brought the idea of getting too caught up in the future into clear focus.
The author, Tal Ben-Shahar, who wrote the book Happier, has come up with a quadrant of four archetypes for how people approach happiness.
Some people enjoy the present, to their future detriment. They live for the moment, indulging in rich food and drink that will later cause weight gain and fatigue. They engage in behaviors that bring them pleasure now, like watching TV, with little regard to future costs, like not having their work done. These people he calls Hedonists.
The second archetype subordinates the present for the future. She goes through life thinking, “I’ll work hard and get good grades now, so I can go to a good college.” Then in college, she does the same thing, in order to get a good job. She secures a job she doesn’t like, just to make a lot of money and buy fancy cars and houses. She subjugates her present happiness, year after year, for some mythical future happiness that never arrives. This type of person he calls a Rat Racer. Continue reading “Goal Setting, Rat Racers, and Happiness: What’s the Magic Balance?”
Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. I’ve interviewed all kinds of people who all have slightly different takes on location independence or living internationally. Recent posts include Joney Talks, Ruby from a Journey We Love, Pete of Do You Even Blog?, and Heather.
Guest posters will be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now.
The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Today I’d like to introduce Jalpan, a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night.
He blogs at Passive Income Engineering. Jalpan’s post tells us how he moved abroad, first for college, then for a one-year international assignment in Houston, Texas.
Let’s here the engineer’s perspective on international jobs! Take it away, Jalpan!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born in India and moved to Jakarta, Indonesia with my parents when I was 6. I later moved to Singapore for college when I turned 17. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I’m 27 today and am single. I need to step up when it comes to putting myself out there and going on dates.
Currently, I am a mechanical engineer by day and personal finance/investing blogger by night:)
My blog is Passive Income Engineering and its main focus is on building scalable and sustainable streams of income that can run with little or no time on your part. I am an engineer and write with an engineer’s perspective. I want to know how things work and make them work for me. That’s how I came up with the name.
How did you make the decision to move internationally?
My first move from India to Indonesia was entirely due to my parents.
For college, Singapore seemed to be the best option for me since their universities are recognized internationally and place well in international rankings.
I have always been interested in entrepreneurship and when I found out that my university had a work+study program specifically geared towards entrepreneurship, I was dying to go. It involved interning in a tech start-up and taking lessons in entrepreneurship at a partner university in Stockholm, Sweden.
Lastly, my one year in Houston was a training assignment from my current employer. It was crucial to my professional development and since I was single and loved to travel and experience new cultures, it was a total no-brainer for me.