Hey Teachers of the world, I am talking to you. It is time to think differently. Time to change your habits and get thinking smarter. It is that time to make all of your hard work worth it. It is time to become an Expat Millionaire Teacher.
Expat Millionaire Teachers?
I am an Expat English Teacher living and working in Taiwan. I am not the highest paid English teacher because I know several teachers that make a lot more than I do, but I also live a pretty minimalist lifestyle with my wife, living on the cheap, traveling, and investing our money so it can grow into a nice nest egg for us.
Us expat teachers are not millionaires. We are not all working at the prestigious American or International schools that pay big bucks. Lots of us do not live in the Middle East where they will be paid $80,000 a year tax free. That sounds like some good money, but due to so many restrictions people are just not into all of that.
Most of us are working as English teachers in Cram Schools in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam trying to save lots of money and eventually move back to our home countries debt free with some good life experience.
Every time I go home or talk with friends. They often ask, “Steve, how can you afford to travel so much.” “How much are you saving?” Their mouths drop when I explain the low-cost of living, frugality, on top of other tools I use to save and enjoy life.
Low Cost of living equals lots of saving.
I can hear you say it now, “Steve, what is this thought about about Expat Millionaire Teachers?” Great question indeed.
So most of us are living below our means, and living at a great low cost of living. My wife and I live in Taipei, Taiwan. We rent a moderately sized home with a kitchen, and we are taking home around $4000 USD per month.
Our monthly bills may equate to close to $1500 USD per month so we are saving close to $2500 USD every single month.
Wow, that is not that much money compared to our American and Australian counterparts that make way more money than us, but we are saving that amount of money. The taxes are quite low, like 5%, and we do not pay any taxes in the US or Australia.
If we wanted to we could spend all of this money on luxurious travel and big nice homes, but we have two main goals in life, traveling and investing.
We have not started a family yet, that too will be a goal, but keep in mind we are still ultra frugal.
Investing those Savings
Here is the amazing thing you can do with your savings. You can invest it. Invest it in the US market. As a US citizen I can invest in the US market.
Unlike my US friends, I cannot put the money in tax advantaged accounts. The money has to grow in my taxable account.
As long as I live outside the US for 330 days I do not have to pay taxes on at least $105,000 USD by using the FEIE Credit. (These numbers represent tax year of 2020). Why not let it grow in my taxable account?
What I like to do is to invest most of my money into VTI, which is a ETF of the Index Fund VTSAX. I am huge believer in Vanguard.
John Bogle had created Vanguard to help give people low cost funds in the form of Index Funds to give people a better chance of matching the market and paying low prices.
VTI is a total stock market ETF that tracks more than 3500 companies. It matches the whole market. If the market goes up the fund goes up and vice versa.
Where are the Millions?
Here is where the millions come in. So If my wife and I were just to save half of what we make, invest it into VTI at a modest 8% rate of return, our money will grow to hit $1 million in 18 years.
Obviously, if we invest more or the rate of return goes up it will be less time to hit $1 million. Since we have an average wage for English Teachers in Taiwan we could totally hit this number and live like kings in Taiwan for the rest of our life.
Here is the thing, I know several teachers that have been in Taiwan for more than 2-3 years. They are making $2000-3000 or even more. If they spend conservatively they could grow a nest egg faster than my wife and I could. Compounding interest is a great thing for growing money.
There are even teachers in other countries who make way more money. Schools in other countries may provide housing, food, moving costs, and a flight home and back. This can all add up to create more wealth.
Live Frugally, Save, and Invest
We have the tools to achieve great things. You just need to learn how to use them in order to achieve those great things. I had the tools of investing in my head. Once I got my wife on board the journey to Financial Independence was created.
My wife and I are extremely frugal as well. We have indolences in traveling and eating some great food. Adventures in far off countries is something we quite enjoy.
Here is my secret, I use credit card points and miles to travel for cheap and free. It is a guilty pleasure of mine that I love sharing with people.
I hope that many more people could travel more, but you just need to learn the secret systems that are around. Travel Hacking is one of my favorites.
Tell Me More
If this article has you wondering how you can jump on board, well, I am working on trying to write more to create paths for people to achieve the goals that I have set forth for my family.
Everyone should have a chance to reach their goal, and I hope financial education to help people just like it has helped me.
” Spend less than you make, stay out of debt, and invest the rest”
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.