The Wild West Day’s of New Zealand Property

For those of you who read the blog way waaaay back in the day, and have a robotically good memory, you may recall that in 2014 I bought a house in New Zealand and in 2015 I bought a second one.

I’m not rich by any stretch, I’ve never been given anything and I’m not even a particularly good saver; but there is a story, and this is how it went down.

For an 8 month stretch in 2013 between working for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line I was working as a salesman for an insurance company.

During this time I lived in a hooker den apartment (no real hookers, but the paint was peeling, tiles were all coming loose and the bathroom lightbulb was pink….)

It’s since been demolished, but while I lived there the rent was super cheap and I was making bank commissions because even though I hate being a salesman, I’m really good at it.

Anyway, I was making lots of money and was depressed because I wasn’t performing; my only happiness was knowing that I was saving as the previous few years I’d been in university and America was dirt poor from both experiences.

So I relished in refreshing my bank account that was healthy for the very first time in my life.

On really sad days I’d open my bank app and just sit there clicking the total sum figure on the app home page and refresh the balance and see it confirmed that yep, I’d saved more than $12.

Anyway, 8 months into the year I was cast by Disney Cruise Line and was back in America but not depressed anymore, so I figured (and rightly) that I would blow any money I earned there.

Cruise ship employees that work Disney Cruise Line hours lose their minds and blow their money like crazy.

So before I could do anything with it I used all of it as a deposit in a house in Wairoa, a small town in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

I’m an Australian citizen born and raised, so why did I buy in New Zealand?

In those days, New Zealand was sizzling hot for investors. Back in what I like to call the “Wild West” days, New Zealand had curiously lax investment laws which had fostered a free for all bananza.

Unlike Australia, New Zealand had no stamp duty (an enormous tax) and at the time had no capital gains tax.

It was tax heaven, and even without a New Zealand tax number (an IRD number) someone like me could swoop in and pick up one of the extremely reasonably priced properties that were ripe for the plucking.

Those were the days..

So even though I was a cast member on a cruise ship in Canada, buying a property in a country I’d only holidayed in felt like a smart idea and something that wouldn’t be hard.

Well I was wrong about the hard part, but it was possible.

Without so much as a New Zealand bank account, tax number, nothing; I put an offer on and bought a falling down 2 bedroom house in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful countryside.

The process was very long.

I included a 12 week settlement as a condition of the sale because I was on a ship and in Canada, and thank God I did. In those days most forms needed to be physically signed, so I was back and forth to the post office physically mailing forms I had printed off my ship computer, signed and put into a first class envelope.

Several forms had to be witnessed by someone from a very short list of trusted officials, only one of which lived in Canada.

Originally I had printed the list of trusted people which mentioned ‘lawyers’ as people who were trusted by the New Zealand Government. So I had my law trained friend on the ship sign my form and sent it in.

It was after sending that form that I was informed that a lawyer could only be trusted if they were certified by the New Zealand Government and living in New Zealand.

So it was back to the list.

The only person on the list I could conceivably get was the Consulate General in Vancouver.

So out of necessity I was also back and forth between the ship and the New Zealand Consulate in Vancouver where I’d visit the Consulate General who’d sign and stamp all my forms.

She did all of them for $20 which at the time felt fair, only years later did I learn while applying for my Chinese visa that this price is insanely low and she was probably just being a super nice person.

I only just made my 12 week settlement and within 16 or 20 weeks it was all over.

I was now broke but owned my first property; a property quite far away from anywhere I’d ever been in New Zealand.

I had emails that confirmed that I owned it, the woman who sold me the property had signed on to manage it, and I had a fresh, never been touched bank account that was hitched up to my sparkly new mortgage.

I had about a week of bliss before the shit met the kiwi flavoured fan..

Making It as a Travelling Freelancer

Once you’ve moved to your dream city and have fled far away from the sticky confines of where you were born, sometimes it’s easy to get the feeling of entrapment in the full time job you took on to make the move possible in the first place.

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Often the jobs we take on aren’t dream jobs, but are gateway jobs to a new life. So when that job starts to eat away all your time and strips chunks off your soul, you need to start finding new ways to feel fulfilled.
The job I have in Shanghai is great, so my soul isn’t exactly in pieces, but I feel drained doing absolutely anything in a full time capacity. Plus as a former performer I don’t exactly relish the feeling of being off the stage and at the desk.

So to get the feeling back that I’m creative, useful and independent I turn to online sources of revenue to get that zest in life and fight off the cobwebs of monotony.

The most important thing in life for me is to perform, so the platform I’ve just started using recently is Fiverr.
Fiverr is a website I’ve used for years to source all my design needs, editing needs, lots of my needs. Basically anytime I’ve needed a professional for something that wasn’t in my physical world (like fixing my sink) I jump on Fiverr and find the right one.
Luckily for me, the performance discipline I’ve been craving to do more of (and has no physical toll on my body, praise the Lord) is voice acting. And wouldn’t you know it; voice acting is one of the professions you can find on Fiverr.
So once the New Year ticked around and a deep craving for something new emerged I busted out the old microphone equipment, recorded a few demos and threw my gig up on the site.

Its early days still so not a whole lot of action yet at this present moment, but I’m putting myself out there and trying to be vocal about it. From talking with the friends I’ve made on the site over the years of being a Fiverr customer, I’ve learned that it’s really slow in the beginning for everyone.
No one knows who you are, you don’t have any reviews yet and nobody wants to be the one to take a chance on someone who might be a complete dud. But over time once the gigs start slowly dripping their way into your lap the snowball begins rolling. I had my first gig yesterday (wooo!) and following that this morning I was in talks with three more people who may never have messaged me without the golden review I was given by the first gig.
I’m really hoping this turns into something real because something like this can follow you around the world and you can fulfill orders online from wherever you are. I have a copy editor friend who travels a lot and funds it by spending a few hours a day editing other peoples writing, she’s living the dream!

This really seems to be the trend, freelance workers unshackling themselves from desks and employers and making it for themselves, oh to be on that bandwagon.

My Fiverr Gig that I’m most proud of is the one where I’ll record your book, textbook or script so that you can listen to it and learn it faster. For example when your driving, walking or sleeping you can listen to your book and learn it quickly, good idea right??

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For design professionals there’s another site called Red Bubble. Red Bubble is fantastic because you can take your design, alter it to fit nicely on a t-shirt or any other number of merchy products and list it on your Red Bubble store.

I am not a designer by any means, but I love quotes. So I just type up the quotes that jump out at me from my favorite shows into a design program, use a funky font and a couple of related pictures and wham, I have a shirt design.
I’ve been hocking shirts, hats, stickers and other swag on Red Bubble for years. People order whatever they want, Red Bubble makes it, boxes and ships it to the customer and you the designer get a cut. I’ll be honest, I’ve made literally only enough money to fund my coffee machine and a couple video games off of this, but it’s not a bad trade off for a few hours working out how to use a free design program and formatting words onto a t-shirt template.

The third and final avenue I use is e-books. As you can see from the Books tab on my site, I make a sell short and cheap e-books.

Basically whenever I’m in the mood I sit down and write out a book that details a predetermined period of my life, and what results could basically be read as an extremely long blog post.
The difference between these and my blog though are that I send these off to be edited professionally (thanks Fiverr) have a cover made (Fiverr) and smack them on Kindles Direct Publishing Platform (KDP).

Amazon has changed the game when it comes to self publishing, they’ve made it super easy and are just about solely responsible for transforming e-books from clunky, worthless digital files onto your computer into a respectable and mainstream method of writing and reading books.
There are lots of self publishers who’ve made a respectable career for themselves; I’m not one of them. I absolutely do not have the stick-to-edness to write a long enough book, or the gusto to market it properly and really give it a chance to shine among the masses.

But like with most things I enjoy giving it a go, making a few dollars and spending those dollars on fun things I may not have bought otherwise.

I have given two things a half attempt, and am giving a third thing my proper attention. I hope this inspires you to go out and do a much better job and make it properly, don’t be like me who is so uncommitted I can barely even finish a

Coffee is liquid gold in China

When everything I eat in China is so inexpensive, why does my coffee cost so much?

Shown above is a screenshot of my payment app AliPay after paying for my Starbucks coffee.

What I bought was a venti caramel macchiato and it works out in my homeworld currency (Australian dollars) to be just shy of $8.

At first I questioned my memory of what things cost back in my home world of Australia, but I’m in New Zealand right now and I’m paying half that!
If I’m going out for a meal in Australia and I pay $20 for lunch, I’m not feeling too vexed when my hot, caffeinated delicious venti sized and flavored beverage costs under 50% of what I paid for the meal.

But when I go out for lunch in Shanghai and pay 32RMB for a meal (what I pay usually) or 28RMB (what I pay on weekends) it feels strange to always pay more than 100% of what it cost to eat to become re-caffeinated.

If nothing else it’s complete proof that I’m horribly caffeine addicted, what lunatic pays more for a coffee than a meal?
Without doing research or finding a related podcast I’m left to speculate wildly about the cause.

I personally feel myself concluding that the reason is because so few people drink coffee here when compared to the amount of people that drink coffee back home in the West.

When I worked in Australia the majority of our office drank coffee, easily more than half. Some of the others drank tea –
black tea with a splash of milk for Becky who’s watching her figure but sneaks a naughty biscuit anyway. Herbal tea for Margery who’s hip has been acting up but is excited for a good weekend because her son always calls on Saturday’s.
Finally there’s Trenton, the super fit gay part time spinning instructor who drinks fruit blended teas and has always had a rough night the night before.

The remaining portion of the office drinks water and talks constantly about burying the rest of us.
When I worked in the US nearly 100% of us drank coffee, enormous ones with up to 6 shots in cups the length of your arm. (Occasionally I exaggerate).

Whereas here in China I’m the only coffee drinker in my office, two of my friends drink it and literally everyone else drinks tea.
A Korean friend of mine drank cold tea from the fridge exclusively for the first 10 years of her life, she thought it was water until she was a tween.

Therefore I conclude that due to the fact that the only other people I see in Starbucks are well adorned rich people and super fly entrepreneurs making it big and business-typing on their notebooks I have to make my non-informed conclusion.

That coffee here is for foreigners, the wealthy and the fabulous young.
Oh God literally everyone in the queue is ordering tea. Bless my dehydrated soul.

How to Send Money Out of China in 2018

The internet is crowded with lots of information for expats living in China on every topic, including vital information about how to transfer our hard earned money out of China and back home to pay our bills and fund our vacations.
If only there was somewhere I could see all the best tips in one place!

The ability to relocate to China and work is still a relatively new luxury and policies are still constantly changing. You can tell that the Chinese Government airs on the side of caution and suspects fraud on every side, so getting precious RMB (Chinese currency) out of China is difficult.
Because the policies keep changing, information online is very quickly made wrong. There’s also lots of information written based on speculation or using examples from other communist countries or recommending companies that have been shut down.

So here below is my honest to God, written from within China, personal account of how to transfer money out of China in January of 2018.

Once you’ve got your bank account opened with a reputable bank (I’m with China Construction Bank) and your brand new job has paid RMB into this account, you might want to send some of that money home.
The only way I know of sending money is via telephonic transfer and that’s done in person at an approved branch of an approved bank.
Not all branches are authorised by the Government to do to currency conversion, but you can go to your local bank and check. If they aren’t authorised they’ll direct you to a branch that is.
As an Australian with accounts in Australia and New Zealand the closest currency I can buy is US dollars. You aren’t allowed to send RMB out of China, you must buy a currency that the bank is able to sell to you and send that money out. It’s this money exchange that’s the difficult part.

To convince your authorised branch to sell you an approved currency (US dollars in my case) you must present the following.

1. Your Passport
2. Your working permit
3. A filled out application
4. Your work contract with your company
5. A statement from your company providing your salary information
6. A statement from your company proving how much tax you’ve paid up until this point to the Chinese government. (Very important).

This is the part you don’t hear much about and is very aggravating when your new to China.
The amount of money that you are allowed to convert and send overseas is dependent on how much tax you’ve paid China up until this point.
If your new to China and have been paid very little your tax contribution will be too small to send much.

Proving everything can be difficult, and it can take your company a long time to provide you with all the proof that you need.
To make this worse what they’ve given you often doesn’t satisfy the bank and they send you away, especially if your company is new at dealing with these issues.

There is a work-around, a way to send money out using just your passport and a lot of patience.

Currently there is a maximum amount you can convert without authorising your account for currency conversion and it’s $500USD per day.
So while my company took its time working out what information to give me, I went back to the bank day after day converting the maximum amount with my passport and a lot of patience.
The fees for actually sending the money are too high for it to be worth it just to send $500, but you can store the dollars in your account each day and once you’ve built up enough send them all at once.

Sending the money is easy, once you’ve gone to the bank several days and have built up a decent amount of dollars in your account it’s simple to send them.
Turn up at any branch with the necessary information from your home bank such as account number, regional numbers (BSB for Australians and Kiwis, routing numbers elsewhere) swift code and bank name and address.

*Check your home banks website for their own specific instructions for receiving your transfer and their fee’s.*

With that and a good deal of waiting the bank will send your stored dollars overseas.
This most recent experience is my only successful experience sending money out of China, and I know no other way that I’ve tried that’s worked.
If you know any other way that works in January 2018 please leave it in the comments and I’ll try it out and report back here.

Fingers crossed I’ll return in the near future with an update of how easy it’s become… I doubt it though

Click here to keep reading more and better tips!

Say Goodbye to money, and Nihow to China!

Ok I definitely have a plan now.
I know my track record indicates that whenever I have a new ‘definite’ plan it usually lasts only a week or so, but this time I’m sure!
It’s actually similar to an older plan where I wanted to go to China for 2 weeks and take an intensive course in Mandarin. But this one is better!
Once I finish working for Disney and before i return to a more normal life, I’m going to escape to China for 16 weeks and take a full semester of Mandarin in Kunming China. 🙂
I’m gonna study at the Keats School in Kunming which looks bloody fantastic, and offers other courses in areas of study besides Mandarin. I can take Chinese cooking class, Tai Chi and other stuff.
Those of you who were reading closer to the start of this year will know that I’m a bit in love with China and have tried several times to learn Mandarin, I’ve also travelled to China recreationally this year.
I see the country as a perfect escape for me, a place I can go with beautiful music and stunning scenery that makes me feel like I’m drinking in everything that makes me happy every moment.
I know Studio Ghibli films are set in Japan, but when I’m in China I see the stunning beauty that makes me melt when I watch Ghibli films and I realise I’m where I want to be.
So the idea of spending 4 months in a place like this, not working but learning will be amazing.

This kind of ambition however flies in the face of the strong part of me that cares about smart financial choices, careful investments, and utilising time as effectively as I can to increase my net worth and propel myself further towards a stronger future.
How will learning Mandarin and tai chi help me towards my future? Not only will I learn 4 months worth of tuition fees, accommodation, food and recreational costs, but I’ll also lose 4 months worth of time that could have been spent earning an entire 4 month cruise contracts worth of money. So I stand to lose not only the cost of the adventure, but the potential earnings lost with the time.
This is where one has to decide the worth of a life experience, the ‘Eat, Pray Love’ concept if you will.
Someone like me loves to travel, but I travel using a percentage of disposable income that will be supplemented soon after the travel, with money still remaining in the bank during the trip that I can be smarter with. A trip like this would use all my available funds and afterwards would be met with unemployment. Unemployment wouldn’t even be the hardest part, but it would be met with the financial blow of resettling in my country of origin which I have not properly lived in since the end of 2011. I’ll have to pick a city (thinking Sydney?) find a place and the worst part, a job.
It’s all quite morbid but at the end of the day I’ll do it, why? Because I’m in my mid 20’s and I believe anything you lose in your 20’s is a loss that means little and can be gotten back without much trouble.
Think about it, when your in your 50’s you’ve spent years earning what you have in finances, and buying all your stuff. Losing everything would cripple your life possibly irreparably, however lose everything in your early mid 20’s? Omg who the hell cares, move in with your folks again, lye around and cry and about it, then get up, work 60 hours a week and in 2 years you’ll have more than you did before you lost everything.
So do awesome stuff while your young! And if your not young, insure all your things and invest in rock solid investments, then do awesome stuff!
I think the only real disadvantage of risking everything when your older is having trouble getting it back, and by that point I’ll have dependants and maybe pets.
So caution be damned, I wanna go to China!

Let me know what you think 🙂 Got any contrasting opinions,or just some ideas? I’m happy to hear you out. Until next time, have fun and have lunch somewhere you’ve never been!
Xie Xie!

For the Investors

I’ve said it before but I still feel the same way, travelers who truly traverse the world are investors and know what to do with their money.
Being this way ensures your money is working for you and is ready for you when you want to see the world.
Ideally your money is spread across multiple investments compounding over time and growing, and a portion of it should be shares. If you believe the way I do, all of those shares paid you a dividend recently because in my mind shares that aren’t paying you are shares that aren’t accountable to you.
As an Australian that was too lazy to fill out the forms to trade internationally, I trade solely on the ASX and all of those investments paid me a dividend last month. So what do I do with it now?
I’m currently staying in a hotel in Melbourne and even though I’m an Australian, I’m very far away from where I currently live and work and am traveling to be here. Therefore I am paying a lot of daily expenses in hotel, food, leisure and gaming costs and am making nothing in wages.
With this dividend I could potentially transfer it into my expenditures account and take the pressure off my credit card for the duration of the trip. However the money I earned from having my money invested in Australian companies all year will be gone and Uncle Kevin (Kevin O’Leary my investment godfather) would be quite mad.
I dunno if anyone else does it but whenever I make a choice with my money I imagine what reaction an investment guru would have if I told them what I did. As someone who spends thousands of dollars a year traveling, I’m guessing most of the time my investment guru would be annoyed. But as I considered spending this money the face in my head was more annoyed than ever.
Obviously I don’t know Mr O’Leary personally, but the version of him that lives in my head I know very well. My impression of him lectures me from what I learned from his book and his ABC investment reality show ‘Shark Tank’. This man in my head gives me praise sometimes, like when I signed the final papers buying my New Zealand investment property.
But this imaginary man slaps my wrist a lot more when I blew money such as when I spent thousands of dollars that could have been put into my brand new mortgage on a New York/Los Angeles vacation. In our discussion I argued my age (early 20’s) and my young need to explore and live as a young person, and though he somewhat saw my point, he lectured me on how much I now must pay that mortgage over the next 12 months to make up for it.
Sure, he’s probably stricter on me than the real Me O’Leary would be (or maybe he isn’t!) But whether my inner investment advisor is right or wrong, it’s more helpful than just listening to the part of me that spends money on impulse. If I just listened to that part of my head, I’d eat 15 extremely high quality meals a day and invest nothing.
Although I do get a genuine joy out of investment and love doing it. I have been known to spend rare days off pouring through finance magazines and giggling reading investment forecasts and company valuation estimations.
Speak of the devil, how many of the Australian/New Zealanders reading took advantage of the Medibank Private share offer?
The offer still has 2 days left, but it was probably the most advertised public share offering I’ve ever seen so the hype almost put me off.
Stock broker demand and public hype pushed the company valuation up millions of dollars above what the company is worth. When I read that $12 million worth of shares may be distributed when the company becomes public? Ludicrous!!! The company is worth maximum half that.
Although the company has grown over the last 10 years, it hasn’t been spectacular enough for this kind of paycheck the government can expect once they give the company over to us.
Nevertheless do you think I invested anyway? Of course I did. I applied today so if I’m accepted I’ll have a piece of this company I once worked for as a salesman.
It’s a good business and health insurance is becoming more and more fashionable. If you know how to use it even young people can save a lot of money with it.
I particularly like that they’ve given a maximum price per share as $2 a piece, which means if it comes out at $2.10 or $2.60 then we’ve immediately made money which is always good.
Lastly it passes my final test and will pay a dividend in September next year so they’ll work to deliver that between now and then. Time will tell whether they outperform my skepticism about their value, or whether without the government manipulating legislation to help them out and line their pockets, whether they’ll crumble and a portion of my portfolio with it.

Well this concludes my somewhat cynical look into medibank, and psychotic way of managing money. If you have better tactics I haven’t thought of to ensure your personal empire grows as you travel the world spending then let me know, and of course enjoy your week. Talk again soon 🙂

Travelers are Investors. Simple.

If there’s something that gets me more excited than anything else, it’s seeing young people who are good with their money.
Now I say “young people” like I’m a thousand years old (I’m 24) but when your my age and younger, not only is it ok to be bad with your money, it’s expected and even celebrated!
How are we suppose to achieve everything we want in life if we’re clouded by never ending debt? Or a constantly empty bank account?
My favorite show in the world is Shark Tank, an investment reality show on ABC, mostly because of the advice and zingers that come out of the mouths of the investment sharks.
They talk about doing without until you can afford to buy what you want. To only have a credit card to build credit rating, and only buy something if you can pay it off the credit card that same day.
I’m reading a book written by one of the sharks (Kevin O’leary) and he talks about thinking while about to buy something “will I want this a year from now.”
Everything we buy is an investment, and some are going to hurt us a lot more than help us.
A friend of mine has a boyfriend who just bought a $25,000 car on a loan. I nearly passed out. With interest he’s going to pay probably $40,000 for that car, which is actually a conservative guess because hes paying back minimum payments, so it could be much more. But the second he drove it out of the car lot, his investment lost a third of its value. By the time he’s payed it off in no less than 6 years, he may have payed over $40,000 for an object that may be worth $8,000. This is why banks are the best businesses in the world.
How are we suppose to travel in our 20’s while we’re unmarried and free, when we’re burdened by being unable to pay for it.
I have been trading shares for years, and though haven’t made much more than $500 doing it, I have built up a love for investment.
Through action I’ve taught myself how to trade, what to look for, and that I don’t invest in anything that doesn’t want to pay me a dividend. As time goes by and my portfolio grows, that dividend twice a year will only grow and as I reinvest it, the growth will only go faster.
As I get older I’m looking out for other markets to invest in, but I wouldn’t have ever done it without experiment and action.
A lot of my close friends won’t do it, it does seem scary and the media does release stories every day of some guy that invested it all in a risky startup and now begs for quarters in the street.
But what I think is far more scary is seeing my money in a savings account, depreciating faster than it makes interest, and sitting merely a few clicks of the mouse away if I feel like spending some of it.
With volatile market times, settlement periods, and just plain hassle, I don’t spend the money I have in shares. So it saves.
I just want to pass on to young people with more than $500 sitting around. Invest a small amount and stay comfortable at first, invest in a dividend paying company that will work to make that payment happen. If they don’t have to pay a dividend then your relying on that less transparent company increasing in value faster than your money is depreciating.
And buy into a company that’s not going anywhere. Being from a country like Australia with limited population there are some companies our country relies on, invest in them. And only invest what your ok with losing at first, just so you can sleep at night. Build a habit and learn to enjoy it! Your part of something now! You are part of the greater world! It’ll do you good in the long run, and may just pay for your trip to China. 😉
I’m not a financial advisor by any means, any financial rant on my blog is just my own opinion. If you wanna talk more about it feel free to comment and subscribe. 🙂 Talk soon!