finance newspapge

Stock Market “experts” are full of it

Any time there are big market moves in the stock market, the talking heads come out and always confidently proclaim things as if they have a crystal ball. The recent stock market dip that happened on December 24th, 2018 brought them out as usual. “This isn’t the bottom. There’s another 10 to 15 percent left to fall.”

Exactly, what the hell is this special knowledge predicated on? Exactly how precisely, are you claiming to know the bottom of a recent down market within 5%. I’ve been investing for 23 years and I can confidently say a few things about the market and investing.

  1. There are many, many variables that go into the valuation of any particular companies stock at any one moment in time. Let’s take a look at just a few. The company has recent earnings, as well as expected earnings. There may be rumors that a vice president has failing health. (That VP may or may not have health issues. Or maybe he overcomes them) A competing company might have made some advances on a better technology. Or the competing company might make missteps. An individual companies stock is always competing with other investments in the market. Are treasury rates attractive? A particular stock can also often goes with “the flow” of the market. When the market is crashing, there’s downword pressure on this particular company regardless of if things are going well. Did we mention that one factor affecting price is the price of the stock relative to the expected future earnings of the company ie P/E ratio? It’s impossible to properly calculate with accuracy how these thousands of variables (many variables are info that is unavailable to you) are going to affect the dynamic valuation of a company.
  2. All these variables go into the valuation. But the most difficult are the things that happen in the future. You have no way of knowing the outcome of trade wars. You have no way of knowing what the president is going to tweet tomorrow that might tank markets or cause a rebound.

These market gurus usually phrase things in a way that leaves wiggle room for their prediction to be entirely wrong but for them to not sound like idiots.

On December 27th, the stock market rebounded with considerable gains. The S&P 500 climbed nearly 5% in one day. Great. But what will happen tomorrow? The only honest answer is I don’t know. People that have been nervous about big losses may sell in droves since the market went up a bit and perhaps the learned that they don’t have the stomach for a volatile market. Or the recent rebound could inspire confidence and people will buy in droves. Anything can happen and we don’t have a crystal ball so honestly it’s anyone’s best guess. If anyone can prove me wrong, I welcome them to give it a shot and just predict what the market will do for just three days in a row.

All you need to know is that when you buy stocks, you’re buying ownership of the rights of companies that are generally doing all they can to make money every day. Owning these companies is a good thing. It’s not easy to consistency pick a winner, but the wisdom of owning a lot of these companies through an index fund gives you the best shot at success through diversification.

If you’re interested in buying a diverse mix of stocks without paying any fees, I’ve become a huge fan of robo-investing to do so and I’m an affiliate of M1 Finance that lets you use this type of technology without any fees. If you open an account through a link on this page, you’ll get a $10 credit. I will too.

Healthcare in America is Simply Extortion

Many people know that the number one cause of US-based bankruptcy is medical expenses. But when talk of fixing this arises, debate typically is focused on who should shoulder the cost of insurance. Is it the individual? Is it the government? Should we have universal coverage? Single payer?

I think the conversation needs to change. It’s the medical prices dummy. They are fraudulent and a trip to the doctor or hospital is nothing short of extortion.

Medical Care Cost in the US is Fraudulent

You only need to travel the world a bit and see how it works in other countries to see the US system is simply fraudulent. I just don’t buy any of the BS explanations for why an MRI might cost someone $5,000. Or why a box of tissues cost $60. Or why band-aids are $25. This should be criminal.

Who is the Benefactor of US Medical Billing Extortion?

Sometimes there are kickbacks. Whenever there is that much money transacting from helpless patients, it’s like honey that attracts flies to try to get their piece of the pie. Why is it I can go to a hospital in other countries, and settle my bill on the spot for less than a month’s rent. But in America, you leave the hospital and then it starts. The bills come. They come from anyone and everyone. The extravaganza begins and the billing departments of hospitals, doctors, and labs from other zip codes all are primed to get their cash.

And the charges are just coming straight out of make believe land. They don’t correlate to anything in the real world.

“Come on Trolley. We can probably get a couple hundred bucks for giving some aspirin.”

Let’s Do Some Math. What Does an MRI Machine Cost?

Google says that an MRI machine can cost from $150,000 to $3,000,000. Funny how there is so much variance.

But how many MRI’s would need to be done to cover the cost of these machines? Let me do some back of the napkin math. I’m going to make an assumption that the machine might be used 3 to 5 times a day, so we’ll say 4 as an average.

MRI
Price
Scans to cover costDays in service
before revenue generated equas machine cost
$150,000307.5
$500,000
10025
$3,000,000
(The Diamond encrusted limited edition
Gucci MRI machine with heated seat)
600150

Yes. I know these are very rough estimates. And yes, I know there are other costs associated with an MRI like servicing and maintenance and you need to pay the lab tech. I know there is medical malpractice insurance. But give me a break. There’s no way the industry is this inefficient. And these other costs ought to be well mitigated with the $60 boxes of Kleenex. And how long does an MRI machine last? Surely at least five to ten years. Even the most expensive machine’s cost could be recouped in a year.

We’re not just overpaying for medical care. We’re overpaying by orders of magnitude. Please god let’s scrap the whole system and start over. Perhaps insurance is the culprit. There is a corrupted relationship with the health care providers and the insurance companies and it’s the patients who suffer. “Adam Ruin’s Everything” get’s into it a bit more about the “chargemaster”.

Ah It’s the Chargemaster You Say?

What Can We Do?

Probably not much. But at the very least could the people force the topic with the next presidential election? Storm Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook with demands that we fix the cost of healthcare.

It’s conceivable that if we had realistic prices for medical care maybe we wouldn’t need health insurance or we could truly have catastrophic insurance at a low cost only to be needed when the worst happens. You know..rather than paying the cost of rent each month as insurance which is little more than extortion that you won’t lose your life savings with a major illness.

So many other countries can do this. Why can’t we?

Can't Get Lost if you don't care where you are

Did a Mini-Retirement and Traveled the World. So Now What?

In November of 2018, I decided to sell all my things and travel the world doing what’s commonly referred to in the financial independence community as a “mini-retirement.” Well, I did it and now I’m back in the US going on my second day.

I sold my car, and all possessions till everything I owned fit in a couple of bags. I got a round trip ticket for Asia leaving in early December and returning to Chicago in mid-March. Towards the end of the trip, I decided to extend the trip for and additional month. One of my main goals was to beat Chicago winter which I almost did, except today on my second day back, it snowed. Sigh.

What was I thinking. The weather today in the midwest.
Just days ago it was 90 degrees in Phuket.

Cities Visited

I spent the great majority of time in my home away from home, Taipei, Taiwan. I visited Taiwan’s premier second city, none other than Taoyuan, Taiwan. (Shout out to my Taoyuan brothers. You can take the man out of Taoyuan but never take Taoyuan out of the man). I also hit up Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket in Thailand. I hit up Singapore and saw the luxury side of Asia and found time to grab a quick lunch with FIRE blogger at Splurging On Freedom. I spent a few days enjoying pho and nice coffee houses in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Orange Cocoa Milk Espresso drink at Graph gourmet coffee in Chiang Mai, Thailand. These were insanely delicious.


Ristr8to iced mocha in the skull cup in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Singapore has peach Coke. Crazy!
Famous Singapore hotels from a different angle.
The view from An Phu Plaza in Ho Chi Minh. This was an Airbnb find for under $20 a night or so.

Shanghai Surprise

The final leg of my trip home was a 1:00 AM arrival in Shanghai, China followed by a flight at 11:45 AM which is about a 10 hour layover. I wouldn’t mind checking out Shanghai for a day but considering check in time, my free hours were about 2:00 AM to 8:00AM…and I needed to sleep so exploring China made no sense this time around.

So what to do with these 10 hours in Shanghai? I didn’t even want to bother to leave the airport. I did a bit of research and confirmed Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport has a hotel in the airport, as well as places you can rest up and shower which charge by the hour. Sounds good to me.

But, in my planning, I failed to book a hotel for this layover and upon visiting the in-airport hotel, at 2:00 AM I discovered it was booked. Uh oh. So now what?

I went back down to the arrivals areas and a friendly Chinese lady approached saying her tourism company can book a hotel and provide transportation. I was a bit skeptical but my options were looking pretty limited in a country where there can be challenges using internet without a VPN. I decided to go with her recommendation and paid for a hotel by credit card.

It was amusing watching this Chinese tourism company operate like clockwork. The woman proceeded to grab the handle of one my bags and hustled forward across the airport telling me to follow her. After a few hundred feet we met a Chinese guy who she handed the bag to and told me to go with him.

This guy grabbed my bag and charged forward with a pace that had me almost having to jog to keep up with him. We skirted off to the arrivals area where there was a white mini bus with a two other couples inside. He loaded my bags and I hopped in the front seat.

So there we were barreling down the highway leading from Shanghai Pudont International airport at about 80 mph at 2:00 am, the driver fumbling with his phone and following up on something in Chinese. I was relatively sure I was safe and that this wasn’t a kidnapping. At least 90% sure.

But I Made it Back Alive

So now, I’m back in the US, just in time to do my taxes and experience the final blast of winter, so what is my takeaway?

A quick note on doing your taxes. Oh man it’s painful. But it occurred to me while calculating taxes on my freelance efforts that it might be a good idea to invest more into my business. The benefit would be less tax due and ..you know…growth.

Non Tax Pro advice from Rob

I worked hard and saved and invested, I set some goals and did what was something of my dream. I escaped winter in the midwest and traveled the world. So what is the takeaway?

Lessons Learned

  • Damn your money goes a lot further in some parts of Asia. Some of the notable purchases were:
    1. Getting a 5 Gig SIM card in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for about $4.30 USD
    2. Delicious meals in Chiang Mai, Thailand that could be had for around $1.50
    3. Riding around for about $2 for most rides in a Grab Taxi. (Highly recommended if you visit Asia.) Most countries in Asia don’t have Uber but they have Grab which is pretty much the same. Sign up with my link for a bonus.
    4. You can sometimes get much better places with an Airbnb place in Asia. I mean your money goes further and gets you a great apartment for cheap. But it can also be hit or miss.
  • Having a lot of freedom to do what you want every day does leave you without much structure. I hate the confines of traditional employment and the cubicle as much as anyone. But there is some value in having a routine which sort of forces some level of productivity. Left entirely to my own devices, I had productive days but then I also had a lot of days that I found other things to do.
  • I hit a lot of spots over the last few months. A lot of Airbnb’s a lot of hotels. After a while, it kind of starts to feel the same. One of my last destinations was Singapore and I got a glimpse in about three days there but at the same time, I was getting too worn out to want to fully explore the area. Some of that is probably due to the 90 degrees plus weather as well as the top tier city pricing of Singapore. I thought Singapore seemed awesome but I felt like …I’ll explore it more fully on a future trip. I was more interested in getting back into my air-conditioned room to watch Billions on Netflix. Yeah, I should be ashamed probably.
  • It’s kind of true what they say the grass is greener. We often focus on the benefits of what we are dreaming of without considering the big picture. My trip was great, but some days were unbearably hot. Traveling a lot is fun but after a while, it does get a bit tiring. I missed Chipotle. Now that I’m back I have yet to visit Chipotle but will likely miss Taiwanese hot pot tomorrow.

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The Streets of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I expected to see more pho than I did.

Why Did You Come Back?

A good question. My initial plan was to at minimum escape Chicago winter and travel. The side work I’ve been doing and blogging and investments have made this life sustainable. I considered staying longer.

So why did I come back? Well, a few reasons I suppose. I had a return ticket. I wanted to see my family. A lot of Asia gets pretty hot around summer time so the Chicago area has a bit more appeal around this time of year.

I don’t usually get into too much detail about income like some finance bloggers do but I’m generally pretty happy with what I’ve been making consulting, blogging and with investments. That being said, I can most likely make more with a W2 job at this point. So perhaps greed to make a little more motivated my return.

What’s Next?

So next I think for me will be further developing various contract consulting work and seeing if I can jump back into the job market as a data analyst. For the next six to nine month’s, I’d like to use income from a W2 job to further finance side hustle growth. I’m delving more into Facebook and Google Ad’s to promote the blog and I’d like to start a multi-language site in the near future.

I think I’ll likely head back to Asia next winter to escape winter and continue my freelancing efforts. Perhaps I’ll say goodbye to W2 work forever. Or perhaps I’ll rinse and repeat.

This post has affiliate links and I may receive a commission for purchases resulting from link clicks at no additional cost to you.

Contents of a World Traveler’s Bag

If you’re going to sell all your stuff and travel the world, bouncing from country to country, it’s important that you’re prepared with the right stuff. In my opinion, what you don’t need is perhaps more important than what you do.

After hitting over 10 countries and traveling fairly extensively, my best travel tip is to bring as little as you need. Bringing anymore than you need is forcing you to lug around extra weight, risking additional loss, and limiting what you can pick up along the way. After all my travel, the below inventory has rarely found me being unprepared. So read on to see what to bring when traveling the world.

About The Bags

What has worked best for me is to have two main bags. (I started with three and trimmed down to two.) My main bags are a large checked luggage bag and my go-to sturdy backpack.

Checked Luggage Bag

I think you can actually go fairly cheap on your checked luggage bag. In my opinion, checked luggage should be sturdy enough not to break and fairly secure and those are the main features needed. I sort of operate with the assumption that checked luggage could be lost or stolen at any time since it’s not in your sight. Don’t put precious heirlooms in checkked luggage.

I picked up my travel luggage from a discount place like TJ Max. No need to impress here. I think I paid around $40. Your checked bag should:

  • contain primarily clothes and things that aren’t irreplaceable
  • should never include valuables, tech, money, or things that might tempt a thief. One exception to this is that it might make sense to hide an emergency debit card in your checked luggage bag just in case. It never hurts to have a backup.

If you’re traveling right, you hopefully shouldn’t have to see this checked luggage all the time. I recently stored my big luggage bag at the airport for about a month, while I hopped around from Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Something like this should work

The Backpack

Your backpack isn’t the place to skimp. This is where you’ll want to do your research and choose what meets your needs. You’ll want something that is strong and sturdy, comfortable and lightweight. After a ton of research, I landed on an Osprey 40 for my backpack that almost always goes where I go.

I throw this bag around fully packed and I’m impressed nothing has broken yet after a couple years.

This bad boy has served me well for a couple years now through several different countries with heavy use and abuse

The Contents

I think it’s best to only put clothes in your main luggage piece. Simple enough. So what goes in my backpack?

Enough clothes

Enough clothes to have something clean to wear. I’m not too concerned about being fashionable. If you know me, you know this. This means maybe

  • 4 pairs of underwear/socks.
  • 3 or 4 shirts
  • 3 pairs of shorts and 1 pair of jeans

Tech

Can’t survive without tech. So tech generally goes where I go.

  • encrypted laptop and charger plus a USB stick
  • an encrypted external hard drive
  • A cell phone & charger that accepts international SIMs. I recommend a One Plus. These are great phones. Keep a SIM tool with you for switching SIM cards.
  • Some Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones can be nice on noisy planes.

Passport Wallet

You want your passport to last a long time and stay in good shape. It’s worth it to get a good passport holder. No need to spend too much. Just get something like this to keep it from bending and also to store some emergency credit and debit cards.

It’s a good idea to keep a few passport-sized photos in here in case you need one for a landing visa at immigration.

Also consider getting some business cards. When you travel the world, you’ll often meet like minded people to connect with. (Recently while in Singapore, I had the good fortune to meet with Personal Finance blogger Liz from Splurging on Freedom and grab a quick lunch. Keep up the good work on a fantastic blog Liz!) Maybe start a business or blog first so you have something to put on the cards heh heh.

Breathing Mask

Some spots have significant air pollution. Be prepared with an air breaking mask that meets 2.5 standards.

Mask on.

Toiletries Bag

A lot of hotels in Asia will give you most of the toiletries you need. I’ve seen toothpaste and toothbrush, shave kit, shampoo and body soap in hotels. Nevertheless you want to be prepared.

I’ve got a toiletry bag very similar to this but a darker color.

A Kennth Cole Toiletry Bag..mine is like this but a darker color

contents:

  • Asthma inhaler
  • Allergy meds
  • Sunscreen. (This stuff is great and lasts a long time.)
  • cortisone if you get a rash
  • mosquito spray
  • toothpaste, toothbrush & mouthwash
  • double edge safetfy razor & brush
  • small lotion bottle (it gets dry on planes!)
  • Earplugs for noisy nights
  • band-aids and Neosporin
  • Orange Burps for digestion and because I kinda like the taste

A Second Bag to use as a “Day Bag”

Once you’ve reached your destination for the moment, there are times you don’t want to lug anything heavy around. A lot of hotels have safes inside. It’s great to lock up the laptop and passport and anything valuable, put your clothes away and then take a super light cheap day bag around just to carry the needs of the day. A cheap day bag can sort of act like a purse.

I use a Hopsooken bag I got that folds up into a little pouch and is easy to store in your main backpack. I can’t find them anymore but here is something similar.

I’ll use to store stuff like sunscreen, asthma inhaler, water, wallet, cell phone, for when I’m out and exploring.

Nothing More

As I mentioned earlier, I think it’s key to not overpack. This is about all I need to survive for months at a time. So did I forget anything? Feel free to contribute if you think I left off global travel “must-bring” item.

This post contains Amazon and Orange Burps affiliate links and I may receive a commission for purchases resulting from link clicks at no additional cost to you.

CAMP AIS coworking Space

Digital Nomad Life for Non-Programmers

Oh, you’re a location independent software engineer that travels the world living the digital nomad life with a six-figure salary, living on 15K a year? Good for you, but what about the rest of us? Why should programmers and software engineers have all the fun while the rest of us are stuck in cubicles?

I get it. Learning to code and develop isn’t exactly easy and it’s a high demand skillset. But surely programming isn’t the only skillset that lends itself to location independence. How can nonprogrammers live the digital nomad life? And why would we want to?

Why Asia for Digital Nomad Life

After spending the winter in Taiwan, I was close to the end of the 90 day limit of my visa exempt stay, so it was time to head out. Next, I posted up in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chiang Mai is one of the most popular spots for low-cost living and digital nomad life. It’s easy to see why. Why did I decide to spend a few weeks here?

Delicious Thai food

Chiang Mai has delicious food at wildly low cost. Pad Thai, Pad Se Ewe, Tom Yum, Curried chicken and Pork and Papaya salad a just a few popular Thai dishes you’ll find. Chiang Mai has their very own signature dish Khoi Soi.

Khao Soi and drink
Khao Soi is a dish with egg noodles and curry plus pork or chicken
Lay's Cooling Chips
Feel hot? Eat some mentholated chips to cool off.

And there’s a surprising selection of Western style food in Chiang Mai, still at a reasonable price.

Cheap Internet. Fast Internet.

You can get 6 gigs of data and voice for about $16 for the month. (But I just beat that in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam with a 5 gig SIM for about $4.50 US.) And I’ve seen some blazing fast internet speeds in Chiang Mai. Here’s a speedtest I saw using the Wi-Fi at a place called “The Funky Dog Cafe”

Cheap Housing

Should you stay at least a month, you can find very nice apartments for around $300 to $450 USD a month. Some of these hotels are rented out on Airbnb. (Click the link to get $40 off a home booking of $75 or more and $15 off an experience of $50 or more.) The one I picked was about $18 a night. I booked it on Air BNB. Unfortunately, there were more mosquitoes than I could handle, but the host was nice enough to allow me to change my reservation and not get charged for the full time.

I switched to a nicer hotel in Nimman area, the trendy upscale area in Chiang Mai. My room was about $30 for a moderatley luxurious mosquito free place.

S17 Nimman hotel in Chiang Mai.

Warm Weather Year Round

If you’re looking to avoid a midwest freezing winter or a cold winter anywhere, digital nomad life will let you go where you want. Plenty of cheap warm destinations to hide away from December to April.

Cheap Transportation

If you go to Thailand, understand Uber is not available. However, you can sign up for the SE Asia equivalent of Uber which is called “Grab. Sign up for discounts when you take Grab. My girlfriend and I were able to taxis around most spots throughout the city for around $1.60 to $3.00 USD.

Cool Cheap Coworking Spaces

Camp Coworking Space
Fast Internet, snacks, and open 24 hours. Digital Nomad central at the top of Maya Mall.

Shopping Experiences

Wild Shopping deals on multiple levels at the Chinatown market in Chiang Mai.

How to Do It

Well if you want to join what Tim Ferris has referred to as “The New Rich” that work location independent and keep cost low with geo arbitrage you need to generate location independent income.

Generate Location Independent Income

You can generate location independent income in many ways. Here’s a few.

Fiver Gigs

Sign up to do gigs on Fiverr. Fiverr is a website where people from all over the world post “gigs” that they will do for prices starting at, as you may have guessed, five dollars. A gig can be almost anything. It could be something as common as a logo or website design, to something more obscure like dance in a monkey suit and sing a song and provide a video of this performance.

So you can choose to do any type of work on Fiverr. You could proofread resumes. Perhaps you could sing jingles. Or maybe you could be a hand model. But the bottom line is you don’t need to be a programmer.

The secret to getting work on Fiverr is having good reviews. It’s not easy to get business initially until you’ve built trust. Here’s how you do it. Start off charging bargain basement prices and increase your gig price as you get good reviews. You have to pay your dues.

Use Fiverr as just one channel to advertise your business. If business comes in through Fiverr, sure you’ll need to pay them 20% but it’s risk-free. Think of their fee as an upfront advertising cost that you only pay if you get business. That’s something you won’t get from Facebook ads or any other advertising.

You can use Fiverr as your place to vet business ideas with zero advertising cost. Once your business proof of concept has shown an idea is viable consider developing your own website to try marketing your service on your own terms. Once your site is built advertise it with a marketing avenue that works. Facebook is popular to do very targeted marketing.

Fiver isn’t just a place to earn online. As you build your business, you’ll eventually want help and expertise of others. Other freelancers can help you build your business. Need a logo or a whole WordPress site? Get 20% off Fiverr gig purchases when you sign up for Fiverr here.

Upwork

Upwork is similar to Fiverr in that it’s a community of workers willing to help you with projects or a network you can join to do work yourself. You could say Upwork might be viewed as the somewhat more “grown-up” version of Fiverr. Sign up to do larger projects on Upwork.

The same as Fiverr, the secret to success on Upwork is offeirng top tier service at ultra low prices until you have some good reviews under your belt to inspire trust from new potential customers.

If you sign up for customer service related work before April 15th, 2019 you will receive 1 month free of Freelancer Plus at Upwork.

After Chiang Mai, I took off for Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, another popular low-cost living spot in Asia. More on that later. But here’s a preview of a serviced apartment you can get for around $30 a night. Another Airbnb find.

Once you are earning some location income you can dramatically lower your cost of living and get by on around $1,500 a month if you’re interested in living the digital nomad life. Come back to this site and consider subscribing if you’d like to know more about ditching the office.

This post contains affilate links for Grab, Agoda, Airbnbn, Upwork and Fiverr. I may be paid a commission for sales generated from clicking these links at no cost to you. I only establish affilate partnerships with companies that offer brands or services I use and believe are a good value.

The Strange World of American Fast Food in Taiwan

A major motivator for traveling the world is to expand your perspective and become more cultured by sampling various cuisines from far away lands. But sometimes screw it, you just want a Big Mac.

Never fear. Some top American fast food chains have established a presence in Asia. I’ll take a look at the typical suspects that are prominent in Taiwan and many other places in Taiwan.

McDonald’s

When it comes to global empires, it’s hard to beat McDonald’s. They are all over the place in Taiwan. Ray Kroc would be proud. The “Golden Arches” gets some points for remaining consistent to the taste of an original American McDonald’s. A Big Mac in Taiwan pretty much tastes exactly like a Big Mac in Chicago.

Mickey D’s in Taipei, Taiwan
Is #13 a shrimp burger? Hmmm.

McDonald’s in Taiwan still has the classic fried apple pie which has mostly disappeared in the US. I remember a comedian that had a bit about the old saying “as American as apple pie” but the McDonalds’s apple pie looks more like an egg roll than an apple pie. Healthy or not they are still pretty good.

McDonalds apple pie fried
As American as apple pie hah? Old school fried eggroll I mean apple pie.


Corn soup is a popular item for Taiwanese at McDonald’s and most fast food spots.

Strange inspired creations at the McDonald’s in Taiwan.

When you travel in Asia you may find yourself out and about and with the need to use the toilet. Sometimes this means one of the squatter toilets which I’m not a huge fan of. I could always rely on McDonald’s to have a modern toilet. Not to be confused with the Taiwan restaurant “The Modern Toilet”.

The squatter toilet. An unfortunate reality in Asia. I can always count on McDonald’s to have a regular toilet. Thank you Ronald.
Double Cheeseburger Taiwan McDonald's
I didn’t see the single cheeseburger but they have the double.

Sadly there is no Chipotle in Taiwan or anywhere else in Asia. This is probably the most popular food I hear Westerner’s missing. Please come to Asia Chipotle.

Hungry Rob

KFC

KFC is probably the second most common American fast food establishment you’ll find in Taiwan. Taiwanese have an affinity for fried chicken so it seems KFC found a nice home in Taiwan. I think the KFC menu in Taiwan deviates pretty far from what most Americans are used to in the US and taste just isn’t the same in my opinion.

  • Conspicuously absent are standard KFC favorites like mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, and even biscuits. (I mean come on WTF!) But as is relatively standard fare in Taiwan, corn soup is available.
  • I suspect the colonel’s original secret blend of 11 herbs and spices remains a secret from the people making KFC in Taiwan. The chicken is somehow prepared differently here, and it often ends up with a lot more fried batter than actual chicken.
The colonel is happy to deliver his fried stuff to your door by scooter.
It’s fried everything and egg tart pie at the KFC.
The restaurant seems clean enough

The price is definitely cheap here but the ingredients and menu items are virtually unrecognizable to the American version of KFC. I generally am gonna give this chain a hard pass. Also they seem to usually have the squatter toilets.

Burger King

Burger King is repped here in Taiwan. The Whopper remains pretty true to the original. It seems they have a few variations I have seen elsewhere.

Pizza Hut

Not exactly fast food but Pizza Hutt gets an honorable mention. Honestly, though..it doesn’t really deserve to be called Pizza Hutt in my humble opinion. Lot of takes on pizza that seem odd to typical western tasts. Various types of seafood and other meats of vegetables on their pizza. Domino’s has shops also.

Seafood pizza anyone?
Maybe just stick to some traditional Taiwanese food.

Honorable Mentions

A couple other mentions are Subway which has a few locations in Taiwan. Also, there is a Taiwanese knockoff called “Suber”. And of course, Starbucks is prominent all over Taiwan and much of Asia.

It’s not exactly fast food but the 7-11 is a staple of Asia and there’s one on virtually every corner of Taiwan. You can also get snacks there if you don’t feel like ordering in Chinese.

A 7-11 in Bangkok, Thailand.

How to Become A Freelancer

Today, I’m pleased to present another guest post from Candace Fykes.-Rob

Freelancer. A job description that once held a single definition with two distinct connotations—unemployed. In the olden days, it was thought that freelancers were either so highly in demand that they had a high level of agency over when and where they chose to work. Or, that they under the constant threat of poverty, desperately seeking employment when and where they could.

But then came the internet and with it, the ability to find work any and everywhere. And with this newfound freedom, instead of purchasing houses, millennials bought tickets and took off in search of cheaper rents and fulfilling life experiences.

And thus, the digital nomad was born. A profession that barely existed five years ago has now become the favored choice among Generation Z—a group of adults so young that they have never lived in a world where the internet did not exist.

Far from being viewed as unemployed or unemployable, freelancers are now viewed as those lucky devils who figured out how to properly prioritize their lives.

If you are reading this article, it means that you are now considering a life where you would rather trade-in stability of peace of mind. So how can you get in on this? Let’s explore that below!

Find A Niche

The key to finding success as a freelancer is to cast as narrow of a net as possible. This may seem counterintuitive at first. When you are just starting out, you may feel so desperate to find work that you will apply to almost anything. This seems like a good idea initially but getting hired for a job that you do not have the professed skill set for is a recipe for disaster.

The reality is that specificity leads to expertise. The more you do something, they better you will get at it. So, pick a particular style of writing, photography, consulting or whatever your preferred skillset is and master it.

Be reasonable, however. It may take you some time to find exactly where you fit and that is okay. But once you find it, stick to it. As I am sure someone’s grandmother once said, if you try to do everything, you will never excel at anything. Heed her advice.

Create A Schedule

 At this point, I am convinced that FOMO (fear of missing out) was coined by digital freelancers.

Online or paper. Scheduling helps.

The reason being is that as a freelancer, weekends no longer exist. Therefore, if you don’t create boundaries for yourself, you will often run the risk of constantly feeling as though you should be doing something. For all you overachievers out there, this may seem reasonable. Or worse, normal. But hear me when I say this is dangerous. Working as a freelancer often means having uneven work schedules. So, if you spend every waking hour trying to find work, there is a possibility that you can go to no work one week to 30 projects in the next. This can lead to you being overworked and overbooked.

The reality is that you will lose out on jobs. But that is normal. When you were working your normal 9 to 5, you weren’t thinking about all the other jobs were could be doing (at least, I hope you weren’t.) So why would you do it now? And, here’s some realism for you: you can’t possibly do it all anyway. If you spend all your time looking for work, you won’t have time to actually complete any projects you do find.

So, instead of driving yourself crazy, choose a few days a week to dedicate to searching for jobs in between projects. This will also mean that you will also schedule a few days off.

Maybe this will be a traditional weekend. Or maybe it will be Wednesdays and Thursdays. In any case, now that you are in total control of your new schedule, be sure to actually make one—so that you don’t end up driving yourself crazy.

Build and Maintain Relationships

When you open yourself to the opportunity, you’ll find partners as well as friends.

After you have found your niche, made your schedule and booked a few jobs, you will realize something revolutionary. But nobody has time to wait for that, so let’s hear it now: you don’t need to work all the time, but you do need to work consistently. And you will soon find that there is a difference.

To work steadily, you don’t need to find new jobs. Instead, you need to focus on maintaining relationships with the contractors you already have. This can lead to the best kind of recommendations—word of mouth. So, not only will you continue working with the same employer, you will be in the position to receive contracts with some of their colleagues. This more personal/intimate way of forming relationships will lead to consistent high-quality and high paying work.

Never Stop Learning

 Another important aspect of staying competitive in the job market is to stay informed. There is always something to learn. So, take a few minutes every day to improve your craft. If you are a photographer, look for information about new styles or techniques. If you are a writer, maybe you could look up copywriting or another style of writing to keep in your repertoire.

If you don’t have much money, don’t worry. The internet is full of free resources. You can start small with Youtube videos or blogs. And then possibly work your way up to an online course or workshop. Whatever you do, do not stay stagnant. Stagnancy is a kiss of death to a freelancer as it is a surefire way to keep your bank account empty.

Multiple Streams of Income

 Luckily for you, the internet is full of places where people can search for work. And as a freelancer, you need to know about as many as possible. Along this journey, you will find that some sites will dry up for your particular niche for a while. And if that site is your main source of work, you could be in huge trouble. But if you have a few going at the same time, you are sure to always find something—even in the leanest of times.


So, keep your options open and your favorite sites set to job boards. You never know when one of the wells will run dry.

Build your Portfolio

This will by far seem like the most daunting yet most necessary task. And it is. Frankly, there is simply no way to find work then by displaying the work you’ve already done. But how can you do this if you are just getting started?

Firstly, before you quit your day job, you may want to pick up a few free jobs just to fill out your page. While this certainly isn’t ideal, it is an easy and surefire way to find some work fast. Use these experiences to create your portfolio. Although it may not seem that way at first, it truly is a win-win situation.

And as you grow, begin to use sharp editing skills and a preference for quality over quantity. Instead of showing all of your work, chose your very best. Even if it is only five items, make them the highest quality to ensure that you can demand higher and higher pay.

So, take the leap into the freelance waters. And if you follow these steps, you will soon find that soon all the people you knew in the cubicle will show up in your Instagram feed. And you can rest assured that they’re thinking…what a lucky devil.

About the Author:

Candace Fykes is an American expat and writer currently making her way across Europe. Follow her adventures on her blog https://www.travelingstrange.com/.