Millennial Rite of Passage – Moving Back Home

NeighborhoodThis year we have heard a lot about how a high percentage of millennials still live with their parents.  Much of this is attributed to people getting married and having children later.  It is easier to live with your parents if you are not bringing your spouse or kids.  When I graduated college without a job the first thing I did was move back home for nearly two years.  It sure saved me a bunch of money and allowed me to eliminate my student loans in a few years.  Well guess what, we are back from China and living with my parents.  It is a transition period so that is OK right?  I’m curious what you guys think is the appropriate amount of time to live with your parents.

How long is it OK to live with your parents after college?

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Friends All Around the World

New FriendsOne super cool thing about studying Chinese in Taiwan was that I was in class with people from all around the world.  I have been friendly enough to befriend some of them and now have a list of places I can go visit.  In Utrecht, Vienna, Cape Town, Moscow, Seoul, or Kyoto I can visit a friend.

You may not think this is a money saving idea, but you’d be wrong.  First, having friends is valuable and you can’t put a price on friendship.  But why this could save you money is on travelling.  I have travelled to Sao Paulo and was able to stay at a friend’s apartment.  This saved money and time as I was located closer to my other friends who were kind enough to take me around the city.

I think my next stop will be Vienna, maybe as soon as December if my new friends are available.  Having our airline miles crest a half-million I think I can figure out a way to fly there for free and hopefully get an affordable hotel.

Local insight

Why you should make friends all over the world is because you will get to learn more about other’s cultures.  Taking a vacation is great but you will not get to learn as much as speaking with a local.  I know more about Russia and Austria than I did before and if I were to visit I could get a more local perspective rather than leaving thinking the food was OK and the museums expensive.


One day I’d like to have children and I hope they want to learn other languages otherwise I’ll have to force it on them.  If they are learning French then it would be excellent to send them to France to visit someone I already know, or even have a penpal, or whatever freaky future equivalent exists then, to communicate with.  Thinking way ahead here, but this would be cool.


It is nice to see your friends especially when you can host them or visit them in a foreign land  It is not easy to make international friends, but going to a language program sure was helpful.  Getting to know people from all over broadens your ideas so go find some new friends.

China, Giving Tainan a Run for the Money

Yanji Mountain ConstructionChina is massive and like America, there are many parts, cultures, and costs of living.  We are living in Yanji, a third-tier city which is small with a population of 400,000 but still big enough to have almost everything you could buy and be served with an airport and high-speed rail.  It is north of Beijing which means it will get a really cold winter, but right now the weather is very enjoyable.


Just like Taiwan, if you can search locally you can get a much better deal on housing than booking beforehand.  We booked beforehand so it cost us about $100 a week to stay.  However, now that I can read Chinese I looked on the internet and found some places for $120 a month.  I believe most rents are paid on a yearly basis.  As for purchasing an apartment, I found they start from $50,000.


CharThere is street food, but it is not as ubiquitous as in Taiwan, so cooking is more common.  Things are still cheap enough that we haven’t been persuaded to cook yet.  You can get a bowl of noodles for $2 and we shared a Korean BBQ meal for $10-$15 total.  Char is a famous food around here which is meat on skewers and lots of dishes contain lamb.

Chinese food was harder to come by in this area, but we were about to get in when we took a weekend trip to Shenyang.

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America as Portrayed in On Paradise Drive

On Paradise DriveI just completed reading On Paradise Drive by David Brooks which describes American culture and how we live.  I found it a great read and wanted to share some of the things I learned from reading it.  I’ll quote the book and then share my thoughts.

On consuming

  • American’s spend $40 billion on lawn care each year, more than the total tax revenues of the federal government in India.

This is ludicrous.  Americans are quite the consumer and this statistic really shows how wealthy the typical American is, not just the 1%.

  • They have become too concerned with small and vulgar pleasures, pointless one-upsmanship, and easy values.  They have become at once too permissive and too narrow, too self-indulgent and too timid.  Their lives are distracted by a buzz of trivial images by relentless hurry instead of genuine contemplation, information rather than wisdom, and a profusion of superficial choices.

Life doesn’t have to be a game show where we are quizzed on reality shows and how expensive our car was.  Take time to form your own opinion, develop a personality, and be content.

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Tainan NightMy wife is on Obamacare, but we didn’t get her dental insurance because we’ll be able to get it through my employer shortly.  I’m so nice I still let her eat sweets.  I often hear how good and affordable healthcare is in Taiwan so a lack of dental insurance seemed like a good reason to send her to the dentist.

Cleaning and inspection

The cleaning was very quick and consisted of spraying teeth with water and looking for cavities.  And what do you know, one cavity was spotted.  This cost $20 you could pay more for a deep cleaning, but not sure what that would entail.


They were going to fill it on the spot, but we rescheduled for another day.  They filled it for another $20.  In Taiwan, they don’t use numbing so my wife had to deal with the pain, but after five minutes it was over and all good.


Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to save money.  To fill my wife’s cavity is not a reason to book a flight to Taiwan, but reading another person’s blog I learned that some dental procedures can cost over $10,000.  With such a large amount it may be worth looking outside the country.  Believe it or not, there are plenty of places with quality service at prices much less than America’s.  Like I regularly say, keep up your health because that is what is important and will provide you with a better quality of life than anything you could purchase.


I’m Calling the Top

Market DownI think I have been reading way too much Zero Hedge lately because I have bought into the idea that the market is overvalued and a decline is imminent.  I have moved to mostly cash and even bought some Bear ETFs which rise on a stock market decline.  If you look at people trying to beat the market then you will see in almost every case they lose.  This will probably happen to me, so writing this article will be a good record of poor decision making.  But let’s see the evidence before reaching a verdict.


The market’s PE Ratio is current over 25 meaning that the stock market is priced at 25 times its annual earnings.  This is much higher than its historical average of 15.6.

China’s growth is slowing.  This has hurt countries that are close partners, but China deals with just about everyone, so the ripples will expand.  In my area buyers from China also buy half the new homes so as it becomes harder to move money out of China that will hurt property prices.


The world is entering a new period where growth will be slower, this provides fewer good investments and therefore the price quality investments goes up.

Unemployment is at the lowest level ever and the Fed thinks the economy is good enough to consider raising interest rates.

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This entry was posted in Save.

Rent or Buy

Old HomeThis is a classic question, but now you can hear my take on it.  As you probably have read, I am in Taiwan for the summer which means living in a different manner.  Here rent is not very expensive, but purchasing a place is.  In fact, the price to rent ratio is 768 which means it would take 64 years worth of rent to buy the place.  In the condo I lived in in Irvine, the ratio was 18 years.

The basics

There are some simple rules to keep in mind when deciding between renting or buying.  First, if your situation is short-term or uncertain you should rent.  I’m in Taiwan for two months, it would be ridiculous to try to buy a place.  Next, if you can’t afford it, or if buying will put you on the financial brink then stick with renting.  In this case, buying can be dangerous because an unfortunate event could cause you to miss payments and could result in your home being taken away from you.

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Learning to be Content, a Secret of Life

BeachIf you are reading this then you very likely own a phone and computer, have somewhere to live, and are in the top 10% of global income and more likely top 1%, details on income here.  Despite all our good fortune, we still find plenty to complain about and we get stressed.

So let me share a parable I read years ago that provides lots to think about.

Once there was an American investment banker on a much-needed vacation.  He was standing on the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.” The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

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This entry was posted in Earn.