Hello, my name is Steve Cummings. As an American Expat living in Taiwan, I have learned many things about the financial world. I have learned about saving, investing, and I have started my journey to financial independence. Here is a bit of my story into finances.
The Discovery of Finances
In this journey through life, I have not always been a financially savvy individual. Savings and frugality have been big to me, but not knowing what to do with my money has always been an issue. I have strived to work hard to have more fun, but had no important goals to speak of.
My life changed in 2016. I had taken a job that left me in a state of sitting for hours at a time not being able to do much. So I decided to read blogs on the internet and realized I wanted to do more traveling.
I was approaching 30 years old and had been to two other countries outside of the US. It was a revelation that I wanted to see more of the world and experience the adventure of eating new food, seeing new sites, and capturing new experiences.
Then I realized, I needed money. I had not put out goals for my money. There were no life goals that I had, and I just aimlessly went from job to job finding something that may make me happy. Then I wanted to travel. There needed to be a plan to figure out how to save money.
Through my research, I came across a blog called, Mr. Money Mustache. This guy retired at the age of 30 and is living life to his fullest. That magic was something I wanted in my life. How could I achieve this so-called Financial Independence that Mr. Money Mustache talked about?
I set out some goals to invest money. Quite honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. Index Funds looked expensive to get into, at the least the Vanguard ones. ($3,000) There were thoughts of how to invest without being ripped off by Financial Advisors. Then I discovered Robo Advisors.
My First Investments
My first investments were with Robo Advisors. Thinking about it, it is better to start than sit on the sidelines not knowing what to do with my money.
I found a company called Betterment. They had these things called ETFs from Vanguard. I had heard Vanguard was pretty good. So I decided to start investing. I began with a Roth IRA and a taxable brokerage account.
During this whole time, I was thinking of my dreams of traveling the world. I ended up getting a 401k from my job and grabbed the company match. Free money!! My reading of finance started to increase. From that time on, I start to dive in deep and learn more about these ETFs with Vanguard.
By August of 2017, I set off from America to Taipei Taiwan. I would live there teaching English and living as an expat.
Through my experience of living as an expat for the first year, I learned about how to pay less taxes using exclusions such as the FEIE. Investments were still in my head, but I still needed to pay off debt. So I knocked off $14,000 of student loan debt in that first year as living as an expat.
Getting Married and Starting a Financial Journey
At age 32, I got married to my wife, Sarah, and convinced her about this thing called Investing. Before we got married, investing was in the back of my head, and I was putting in bits and pieces. Slowly building a tiny bit of wealth, but still with the Robo Advisor
After we got married I started reading books about investing. The Richest Man in Babylon got me thinking more about learning about what I am investing in.
Then I read The Simple Path to Wealth, and my mind was finally open. I can make things simple.
After reading that book I took all my money out of the roboadvisors and put it into Vanguard Index Funds like VTSAX or invested in the ETF VTI. It has made my life easier, and wealth was getting built for my financial independence.
Learning, living, and teaching others.
Since then, I have read many more books, listened to podcasts, and even had coffee with one blogger. Living in Taipei, I realized I lived near Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker. So we sat and had some coffee, and he got me fired up and excited.
With this knowledge, I started to teach a class on basic finance. My two sessions were in my living room with two students the first time, and nine students the second time.
A friend of mine at a coffee shop was gracious enough to lend me some space to teach a 4 part class, and it has given me motivation to reach out to more people through this website.
I hope I can help out my friends, family, and other people to be able to learn how to navigate the financial world.
Being the Frugal Expat
This blog is here to help. I plan to give out tips, tricks, and ideas on how to save. Give people the knowledge to create an easy portfolio to create wealth and diversification.
I am an expat and therefore I do not live in the U.S, but I have learned many things from living outside of the U.S., and I have learned many things to help with retirement plans for those living in the U.S. So check out some articles.
Lost? Start Here.
If you are having a hard time finding some things check out my Archives Page.
At age 34, my wife and I are working on financial independence. We are keeping track of our Net Worth, and doing our best to have some fun in Taiwan. You can check that out here.
” Spend less than you make, stay out of debt, and invest the rest”
*afflitate disclaimer: this website contains endorsements or advertisements for products and services, when means when you click on a link that I recommend, I may receive a commission.
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.