Is This an Appropriate Place to Talk About Making Money, Money Matters?

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Ivyman

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Hi Everyone,

I know, in modern society, it is crass to talk about making money, and money matters.

But, if we read recent studies by Kahneman, Marty Seligman, Nature Social Science, etc. going from zero income to about $75K a year predictably increases happiness.

In my opinion, no harm done talking about making money, as long as people earn honestly and share. That is at least what I do.

1. Can anyone speak about salaries and making money as English teachers in China?

I once helped research data and write with TopTutorJobs, https://www.toptutorjob.com/city-and-salary

It was turned into a 30 page industry report.

2. As a ballpark figure, $50K USD a year in income is quite a realistic, ballpark figure for a teacher that:

a. Is from a Native-7 country
b. Has a college diploma from a decent school, rather than those for-profit disgraced schools
c. Has a CELTA
d. If they have a US state teachers license or PGCE, all the better
e. If they have a master's degree, all the better
f. Salary increases based on experience, capping off after ten years of full-time professional teaching experience

3. It is funny, as in the US, UK, etc. there are teachers with these aforementioned qualities everywhere you look, just not enough jobs.

In China, it seems almost the opposite. If you have these qualities, teach well, dress well, and really care about being a professional teacher, someone will not be out of work for long.

4. It seems like $50K-$75K a year is the target goal for such professional teachers.

While training centers, private tutoring, etc. gets gutted, being the equivalent to a teacher in the US, UK, Australia is very possible.

5. In my opinion, the real thing is how much someone saves. A teacher that can save $3000-5000 USD a month, month after month, does as well as someone in our home countries who makes $10K a month with higher living costs.

6. I don't know that many teachers in the US, UK, Australia who make over $100K a year. So, it is fair to say China remains a good deal, for those who really value it, and can take all the downsides.

7. Any other opinions on making and saving money?

Initially, I only thought ESL would help tide me over until the Great Recession of 2007-2013 ended. Likewise, I only tried China out for a year, but wanted better paying jobs in tax-free oil countries, or a different career altogether.

Yet, after nearly ten years, this place has grown on me and may be my home for life.

8. For my whole life, I wanted to find more info about personal finance and self-made people, rather than that technical corporate finance they taught in school.

The best site I found was: https://www.financialsamurai.com/

Pay down debt, Vanguard 500 Index funds, some US bonds and real estate seem the best option, even at our modest income levels.

9. Opinions?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2023, 10:27:15 AM by Ivyman »

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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Is This an Appropriate Place to Talk About Making Money, Money Matters?
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2023, 04:40:36 PM »
One thing to remeber - it's easier to find people to poll about salaries in Tier one cities.  Also, those who chose to answer polls about salaries tend to be reasonably happy about how much they make.  This means the numbers, while not fictional, tend to be skewed towards the high end of the range.

But, as you mentioned, lower costs of living can let someone on a lower salary save as much (or more) than someone with a much higher salary and high living expenses.  My initial salary in China was nothing to brag about, but I was easily saving a very large percentage of it.  Total salary is not the best measure of how well off someone is.  Total disposable income is where you get money for your savings.

Of course, paying down any debts, starting with the highest interest rate debts, is a fast way to free up more money.  There's little point in buying $5000 worth of bonds that pay 5% if you owe $5000 or more on a debt with an interest rate above 5%.

Even if you are paying down debts, don't forget to start at least a small emergency fund.  Anyone living paycheck-to-paycheck with no spare money at the end of the is in a hard place if they lose their job or hit some unexpected expense.

If you want some US Treasury bonds, right now (December 2023 for anyone who reads this later) is probably a good time to buy (unless you have high interest rate debts to pay down first).  Unless something weird happens, the US Federal Reserve Board has been strongly hinting that interest rates are likely to be cut during the coming year.  That means new bonds will have a lower rate and older ones (with the higher rates) will sell at a premium.

Depending on how long you plan to stay in China, the Chinese stockmarket offers some interesting possibilities.  It's taken a beating from Covid, from rocky relations with the US, and from the current overall global decline in imports and exports.  On the other hand, this leaves a number of stocks of companies that are doing an excellent job weathering these storms sitting at pretty nice prices.  If you don't want to go for individual stocks, there are all sorts of index funds available.  Don't buy stocks or funds based on potential profit tomorrow or next month.  Buy stocks or funds that have potential for profit over a span of years.  2024 is a wild card for China.  A lot of indicators show strong grown potential.  If consumer spending and global product demand go up as expected, it could be a stellar year.  If both are relatively flat, then some investors will move money to more profitable (in the short term) investments and the market may end up offering some better deals.  If the company (or the sector for a fund) is still making money steadily, I think of it as stocks being on sale.

Yes, there are many very risky elements in stocks.  Cutting edge firms offer chances at crazy profits, but cutting edge firms also have a much high failure rate than less exciting companies.  You need to have a significant amount of your portfolio in stable companies (or funds invested in stable companies), but if you want to take the risk, set aside a small percent (that you can afford to lose) for some higher risk companies.  Always carefully consider the risk before thinking too much about the reward potential.  For every share of Tesla today, there were shares of a number of other startups that ended up losing most or all of their value.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2023, 09:37:38 PM by Escaped Lunatic »
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Ivyman

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Re: Is This an Appropriate Place to Talk About Making Money, Money Matters?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2023, 07:34:34 AM »
Excellent answer.

1. I hope everyone else can chime in with their opinions.

2. Although we may never become rich teaching English, I hope our above average pay combined with low cost of living can mean a decent lifestyle for all of us.

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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: Is This an Appropriate Place to Talk About Making Money, Money Matters?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2023, 02:26:25 PM »
If you were waiting to by US treasury bonds, I just saw a chart showing the 10 year ones have their effective interest rates dropping fast, most likely in anticipation of rate cuts and better investment alternatives to move money into.  Looks like the "buy higher interest US treasury bonds" boat may have already sailed, unless the Fed suddently changes its mind and decides to bump up rates again.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2023, 05:57:04 PM by Escaped Lunatic »
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Ivyman

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Re: Is This an Appropriate Place to Talk About Making Money, Money Matters?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2024, 09:35:26 PM »
Sorry, I had no spare cash for US treasury bonds.

Your advice seemed quite sound, especially for an English teacher.