The Life of a World Traveling English Teacher

Recently, I was asked to write about teaching English as a means to make money while traveling the world and how someone can do that.  I can share my experience of how teaching was an opportunity that was my last resort after losing my job in the 2008 financial crisis.   After around two years of not working, I faced a choice.  I could continue collecting unemployment and applying for jobs, or I could take any work available to me even if it meant leaving the country.   I chose the latter.

Night Market Taiwan
Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. A sugar cane drink available.

I first became aware of teaching abroad after having a random chat with a stranger who was freshly back to Chicago after having spent a year in Southeast Asia as an ESL teacher.  It seemed like one of those adventurous things that other people do, but that somehow wouldn’t be possible for me.   The guy said he had a blast and that it wasn’t difficult to become a teacher as long as you have a college degree.  I pressed him further to see what it takes to become an English teacher and travel the world.  I was sure I would hear an explanation for why I could never do this.

His response was the contrary.  The barriers to teaching English abroad aren’t that high.  Every country is, of course, going to have unique requirements, but I can say that many places will hire you to teach English as long as you meet some reasonable standards. Here’s a generalized overview of what’s typically required:

  • Most countries prefer you to have a college degree, but it often doesn’t need to be related to teaching.  Any college degree will do.
  • Your chances of finding work as an English teacher are much higher if from a native English speaking country.  Most teachers I met were Canadian, US citizens, or from S. Africa.
  • Many countries now require a criminal background check from your home country

This overview isn’t a comprehensive list of requirements as each government has their specific rules and regulations for teachers.  Some may require you to have TEFL or TESOL certification.   For an excellent comprehensive list of requirements broken out by destination,  you can check out the school where I picked up a TEFL certificate and download the guide here.

Dan Bing, Luo Bo Gao, and Gyoza.
Dan Bing, Luo Bo Gao, and Gyoza.

So let’s say you’ve decided you’d like to travel the world and teach English abroad.   What happens next?  Well, you’ll want to do your research and choose a country.  Wikivoyage and Wikitravel are good sites to research destinations.   Once you determine the country, do a targeted search for ESL jobs in the destination of your choice.  Then you’ll want to secure your teaching gig.

One reliable place to look for teaching jobs is a website called Dave’s ESL Cafe.  One thing I loved about searching for gigs as a teacher is you don’t have to deal with our US recruiting system that has you fill out 400 fields on Brassring or Taleo and type out all the stuff that’s already on your resume.   You only need to send an email with your resume attached.

A quick note about international culture.   Outside of the USA, a resume is often referred to as a CV, and it’s not uncommon to include a profile picture of yourself in your CV.  Keep this in mind when appying to jobs overseas.

The Actual Teaching Part

So there I was in the middle of Asia, an unemployed payroll software implementation consultant, about to lead a class teaching English to Taiwanese kids.  Let me be the first to tell you I had no idea what I was doing.  I’d never taught English before, or any subject for that matter.   Sure, I’d led a few employee benefits presentations and taught groups how to go through the online employee benefits enrollment process, but I wasn’t sure what to expect when teaching ESL (English as a second language).   As it turns out, it’s not too bad.

McDonald's in Taiwan
Look, it’s McDonald’s but the menu is in Chinese.

Every school that you teach at is, of course, going to have their own culture and way of doing things.   But given that I worked or subbed at several schools over my years abroad, I can say that I got a fair sense of what it was like for English cram schools in Taiwan.   First and foremost it’s important to keep in mind that you are not likely to be teaching at a proper public “school” as we know it, but rather at a cram school or in Chinese “buxiban.”

The buxibans are more business than school, and the students (or their parents) are customers.   Part of what this means is that there is an aspect of teaching whereby you need to be a bit entertaining, and the kids need to like you.   A previous American teacher once described teaching ESL as being a bit like being a “dancing monkeys” for the children’s amusement.  I don’t know if I would go that far, but there is an entertaining aspect of being an English teacher in most schools.  You need to bring the charisma. You will likely be playing a fair amount of whiteboard and classroom games.

I remember most of my classes either typically ended up being fun and engaging for the students and me. Or they ended up being pretty dull if the students were exhausted from a long day at school and didn’t have the energy to learn English.

The Life of an English Teacher

So I talked a little bit about the actual teaching. But what about the life of an English teacher?  How is it? Well, it was mostly fun. I’ll take you through a fairly typical day for an English teacher.  The schedules tend to be lax, and you have a lot of free time.

9:00 AM.    Wake up.  As long as you’re up before 10:00 or so you could head over to the local breakfast place and get some dan bing. Dan Bing is like a delicious Chinese egg crepe. There’s not much reason to get up much earlier than this. Many of the teachers I worked with sometimes slept in until noon if they had a late night.

10:00 AM.   Perhaps go to the gym and workout followed by lunch. You might want to meet up with friends and go for a scooter ride or head to the mountain and go hiking. Or perhaps some shopping followed by a hot pot lunch. The big city in Taipei was about a 40-minute bus ride away, and depending on your schedule you could head to the big city and be back in time for teaching if you head out before noon.

12:00 PM.  Might as well grab lunch with a friend or a native. Plenty of places to get a nice meal usually for less than $5.

1:00 PM   If you want to take a nap no one is going to stop you.

5:00 PM   I might be misremembering but, typically class didn’t start before 5:00 PM.   Classes usually ran from 1.5 to 2 hours. You typically had one to three classes per day. Two was the most common schedule for a day. For most schools, your day will be finished by 9:00 PM.

9:00 PM   You taught two classes and worked for a total of four hours today.  A busy day to be sure.   Time to meet up with your friends and grab a nice dinner for probably $5.   Maybe hotpot, maybe an Asianized version of spaghetti, teppanyaki was always a favorite.  Westernized restaurants were available as well. There was a TGI Friday near us as well as a Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald’s and Subway.

10:30 and on.   Well, a lot of the people that go to teach English overseas are in their mid to late 20’s so this meant there was a fair share of drinking and partying.   My first year I spent living in a dorm.  I was about 33 and had a little partying left in me but also was starting to wind down.   Some teachers would drink and go all night.  I usually wanted to bow out by 1:30 or so but now and then a late night wasn’t a bad idea.  After all, there was nothing to wake up for the next day besides breakfast.

Acacia Nut is otherwise known as “betel nut” is chewed for caffeine-like energy.  A  bit like chewing tobacco.
Betel Nut
The packages were sometimes provocative with half-naked ladies

Life in East Asia

The country where I ended up spending around three years, was Taiwan.   I spent my first year in a medium sized city called Taoyuan that was about a 40-minute bus ride from the big international city of Taipei.   I had no idea what to expect as this was my first time setting foot in Asia.

The first thing you’ll notice upon setting foot on the island of Taiwan is that the primary method of transportation is the scooter.   Taiwan’s roads are vibrant and alive with scooters darting in and out of traffic.

The streets of Taipei have plenty of neat little restaurants and coffee shops.  Here’s an example of a charming, quaint coffee shop where I wrote some of my first blog posts.

One of the cornerstones of Taiwan’s culture is their night markets. Most cities have a few night markets in different neighborhoods. Night markets have a vibe that is about like a county fair.  Many people come together and set up shops that are a bit like flea markets, and many vendors are selling all kinds of foods.  Quickly prepared and sometimes fried foods are a favorite.  A favorite and somewhat notorious food in Taiwan is “stinky tofu” which is fried fermented tofu which has a powerful odor that many would consider a bit harsh or stinky.”  But the taste is pretty good.

Teaching English as Part of The FIRE Plan

To anyone that is pursuing Financial Independence, I would strongly advise them to consider teaching English as part of their plan. I’ve often heard of the idea of “barista FIRE” which is the idea that once you reach a certain savings goal, you sort of “coast” and work a job that is low paying but less stressful. I think Teaching English is a great coast plan for the following reasons:

  • Teaching English often has a relatively relaxed schedule where you might work around 20 to 25 hours a week. This type of program frees up your time to pursue other activities and freelance or develop a side business
  • Going abroad allows you to use geo-arbitrate to leverage your dollars somewhere where they might go farther.
  • If you’re an American, you can potentially save a lot of money getting away from our broken health care system which is costing many over a thousand dollar a month for health insurance that is little more than blackmail payments to avoid getting stuck with a $100,000 medical bill in the event of a health catastrophe.
Teaching English was a memorable part of my life and will likely play a role in my plan for the future. I should mention that you can teach at a school and also online. I have friends still living abroad teaching, and one did a guest post talking about teaching online while traveling. Consider teaching English abroad as a part of your FIRE plan.

5 Ways to Earn Money Writing

One of the ways I’ve continued to explore earning income beyond the confines of a traditional office job is through freelance writing. Have you ever seen that person hanging out at a Starbucks during a weekday hammering away at their laptop while sipping on a latte? It’s possible they are a writer of some sort and the coffee shop is the closest they are going to come to setting foot in an office. It seems like an enviable position to be able to work where you want and when you want. But how are they getting paid?

Well, when you step outside the traditional means of office W2 income you may find that there isn’t just one standard way of getting paid as a freelance writer. So what the ways some people are doing it? Here are some examples below.

1. Start a Blog

There’s an extremely low barrier to entry for starting your own blog or website.  In fact, the only thing you really need to do to have a blog is basically

  1. Find an available domain name, and buy it,
  2. Then get hosting for your blog which typically runs between $50 to $100 a year.
  3. Choose a theme and start posting.

So while this is a bit of a gross oversimplification of the process, this is basically all you need to do to self-publish your writing on a blog.  But you’re published; so now what?

You’re published. So now what? Could these be bloggers checking their phones to see if they’ve made any money? Maybe.

2. Earn Affiliate Marketing Income

Well if your content is good enough and you start to gain some traction, you start to gain readers and eventually you find yourself with an audience.   An audience has the potential to be a customer and as a blogger your in the position to direct a message to your audience.   That could be to try a product or service you recommend as an affiliate.  It’s not hard to do if you have their attention.  Do I have your attention?  If so and you want to start a blog you could do so just by clicking here.    See what I did?  I just recommended Siteground as a host because I’m an affiliate.  They’re good and I use them.  So imagine you, dear reader, signed up.  I’d make some money.   Just like that.

If one of your readers signs up for one of your affiliate products or services, you earn a commission.   If you have a large audience you may start to receive several commissions a month, a week or even daily.

3. Write for Others

So writing is entertainment and it educates or informs but first and foremost, it should captivate the attention of the reader.   And if it’s doing so, that writing has value in a way that is similar to the way that TV, Netflix, movies, or the news captivates.   So just as studio’s pay directors and writers and actors to produce content that has value, there are website owners, news organizations, and publishers that are willing to pay for others to write content.   If you want to be a writer, you’re going to want to do two things:

  1. Find the people willing to pay for your writing.  (or let them find you)
  2. Demonstrate that you can write by showing them a bit of proof.

Now if you are reading this, you may be detecting a bit of irony in that this writing is probably a bit on the mediocre side.   Well, what can I say, it’s like I said, there’s a low barrier to entry to blogging.  So while my writing might not be Shakespear, I’m confident my ideas are good.  Hopefully, I’ll continue to improve and look back on this in a few years as a shining example of how far I’ve come.  If nothing else we can at least say I used the word “ironic” correctly which is more than I can say for an angsty 90’s singer.

4. Find the People That Will Pay You

If you’re looking to do #1 and find the clients that could use you as a writer you’ve got to recognize that to some extent, like so many things in life, it’s a numbers game.  So do your best, but also put yourself in front of as many people as possible.

  1. Getting your writing out through your blog is one method.
  2. Reaching out to others that might be interested in your writing is another method
  3. Marketing your writing services on various sites like Upwork and Fiverr is another method. Sign up for Fiverr with this link and you’ll get up to $100 credit.

5. Show Them You Can Write

If you’re looking to do #2 and demonstrate you can write by showing some proof, you’re going to want to be published.   Early on, it’s not going to be easy.  But creating a blog has almost no barrier to entry.  The next step will be reaching out to others and seeing if they will allow you to guest post for them.   It’s a bit of a quid pro quo.   They get some free content which is hopefully your best writing, and for your efforts, you get a bit of exposure.  Exposure means reaching a new audience which means the potential to reach new customers or clients.

But what if your writing isn’t that good?  Well, you could stick to the office job.  Or you could remain unemployed.  Or you could push yourself to practice and get better.  There are tools out there like Grammarly which aims to help improve your writing.  It’s definitely helping me.

10 Reasons Getting Fired Actually Isn’t so Bad.

When most people think of the experience of getting fired from a job, they imagine it to be traumatic and painful; the type of trauma that can send some former employees away in tears.  After all, getting fired is a rejection of sorts.  Not just a single person, but an entire actual organization is saying, “We think we’d be better off without you.”

There’s plenty to be concerned with after your termination happens. Your income is getting shut off.  You’re likely to lose your health insurance in the very near future.  You near future also is going to consist of a fair amount of time sending resumes on sites like Monster.com, Indeed.com, and Careerbuilder.com.  Who among us hasn’t felt the frustrations of having to log into Taleo and enter all the information that is already laid out clearly in our resume?

Please type out all the information that is already in your resume and every detail about all the jobs you’ve ever had.

But all these things considered, getting canned is not that bad. Why? Well, let’s see.

1. Do I need to state the obvious?

You can look forward to a tomorrow where you can sleep in late. That’s right. Cancel your 6:00 am alarm.  It’s time to catch up on your Netflix.

2. Your morning commute doesn’t require starting your car.

After you’ve been fired, you new morning commute may only be as far as a trip from the bed to the refrigerator.  Consider the money you’ll save not having to fill up and sit in traffic every day now.  Your car might last a bit longer as well.

3. You Can Do Your Job Search Right.

It’s possible you’ve had a passive job search going for a while but have been too busy to dedicate the time that is required to do it right.  Now that your schedule is freed up, you’re going to have the time to interview and talk with those chatty recruiters and find the right employer for you.

Please choose a complex password to safeguard your resume data which you’re trying to distribute to everyone that will take a look.

4.  If you were let go from your job, it’s safe to say it wasn’t a good fit for you.

Maybe your style clashed with the company culture.  Perhaps your boss didn’t like the cut of your jib.   You might not have shown enough enthusiasm because you were unhappy about your salary or career path.  Your post-termination world is a chance to correct these things.

5. It’s about TIME.

If you’ve been diligent about money and have sufficient savings, it may be the right time to take a vacation.  Aren’t you overdue for some “me time”?  If you’ve secured your next job that’s even more reason to take a vacation.  This rare time of having a job offer in hand and not currently tied down to a job is the ideal time to take a vacation.  Why not go see the world?

6. Maybe You Don’t Really Belong in an Office.

If you find yourself receiving the pink slip more often than you’d like to, you might want to consider if your career is right?   Maybe office life isn’t for you.  You could do like Peter from Office Space and take up a career in construction.  Or you can test the waters with freelancing and try to earn location-independent income.

7. Losing your job helps you be woke.

Cringey slang aside, doing the same grind, day after day, year after year, can cause us to go on auto-pilot with each day being a carbon copy of the last.   We start to go through life like zombies sleepwalking.  Ever arrive at work and barely realize how you got there or remember the drive?   Once your income is cut off, you’re going to need to wake up and evaluate your situation.   I’m a big believer that a lot of the happiness your experience in life comes from solving problems.   Well, losing your job created a problem and fixing it will almost definitely bring some joy to your life.

8. You’re most likely going to be meeting new people soon.

Phyllis from Accounting may be a lovely lady, and her stories about her cat were captivating and inspirational.  But there may be room in your life for new people with new stories.   If you’ve lost your job, most likely you’re going to be meeting new people.   It opens the door for all the linked in recruiters, new coworkers, new management teams.   And while you’re executing the job search, it’s a great chance to get out there and network.

9. It’s going to make you stronger.

Losing a job forces you to adapt to your situation.  Moving on to a new environment makes you a more rounded worker with greater perspective.  I’ve met people that have worked at the same company for 20 years.  And that’s an admirable level of dedication.  But I always feel a bit of sympathy that they’ve only seen one company’s way of skinning a cat.  Different companies have different cultures and different ways of accomplishing tasks.  Typically no one company does everything the best way.  If you work at several companies over time, you can cherry-pick best practices and have a unique perspective that others might not be able to provide.

10.   You deserve a break.

Getting canned usually gets you away from a bad situation.   Many people that lose their job feel a sense of relief to no longer have to return to a workplace that isn’t appreciating them and may have become toxic.  Go where you’re valued.

Green tea kit kat is really yummy.

If you’ve never had a green tea Kit Kat, you gotta try them. (A “break” get it? Ok, I’ll show myself out.)  Available on Amazon.   And I’ll get an affiliate commission if you buy from Amazon.

pennies and coins

The Jobless Budget

The other day I was talking to a friend who is strategizing tackling some student debt.   My friend is a gainfully employed professional who makes a good salary.   Over the years I get the impression she hasn’t widdled away at her debt as much as she would prefer.   It’s not my place to judge her spending but I have noticed she lives fairly well.  I asked her a question to try to put spending habits under a different lens.  “How would your spending habits change if you were to lose your job and your income was cut off?”

Suddenly there were cuts that could be made.   “Well I’d probably stop spending my whole paycheck at expensive organic grocers” she joked.  And she’d probably spend a bit less on fancy hipster dining.  Anyone that has lost their job and had their income shut off has been put in a place to reprioritize what is a want vs a need.   Interestingly enough my friend did not say she would give up her apartment and sleep on the street.  She also didn’t say she would give up food.  Just expensive food.

So Just What Is Necessary?

Well from a no income perspective, it makes sense to only spend on what you truly need to stay alive right?   Rent, food, utilities, (we’re not gonna last too long without electricity and internet these days.  Cell phones too.)  So what might a jobless budget look like?   Well if you lose a job saved up some credit card points prior to it and take a little trip we won’t judge too much.

The Reasonable Jobless Budget

Evil Health Insurance$300.00
Cell Phone$45.00

This is only an approximate budget but it would probably apply to many people’s livings if you consider living expenses, not including debt payments.   The idea is that a living expense somewhere under $2,000 a month is doable if you give up some luxuries.

If you’re more determined you could even get it closer to $1,000 a month.

The Extra Lean Budget

Category Amount
Get a Roommate or Roomshare$500.00
Still Evil Health Insurance$300.00
Beans & Rice$150.00
Keep the lights off$40.00
Budget Prepaid Cell$35.00
Go to the library$0.00

These numbers are only rough estimates and of course, everyone’s situation is different but they can serve as a useful starting point.   There’s no gas budget in here because if you’re not working you probably shouldn’t be driving too much.  You’ve got time to walk right?

This isn’t THAT bad

While this type of life might not be the most luxurious and exciting, you’re still eating and have a roof over your head.   So the question arises, could savers and investors looking to gain financial independence live a life like this for some time in order to get ahead?  If you’ve got debt looming over your head and your stuck paying interest on loans it’s in your best interest (no pun intended) to get out of these shackles and take charge of your life.    If you’ve lost your job, in a sense you’ve been given the gift of focus and perspective to see what really matters.   Six dollar coffees and ten dollar burritos are a want and not a need.

Hipster Food
Just Say “No” to Overpriced Dining

My point is that we ought to live a bit more like our income isn’t a guaranteed thing because it’s not.  That’s a lesson well learned by anyone who’s been out of work for a period of time.   It’s a lesson with roots in a good understanding of wants versus needs.

So consider spending a month or two living as though you’ve lost your income.  It may bring things into focus.  It may make you feel empowered to realize you need less than you thought.  And you never know..it may prepare you for if you really do lose your income.

Trying to budget and track your wealth? Consider using the free tool Empower (formerly Personal Capital). Sign up with my affiliate link to get a free $20 Amazon gift certificate and I’ll get one as well.

bad interview

5 Common Job Interview Mistakes

5 Job Interview Mistakes

When an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, the answer should ALWAYS be “YES”. If you don’t ask any questions they will think you aren’t interested in the job or didn’t prepare for the interview. Some great sample questions to ask are “Can you tell me what the work culture is within my team?”, “What would a typical day be like for me in this position?”, “What are the short-term goals of the department right now?” and “What types of challenges are you facing?”

  1. Not Knowing Enough about the Company

One question you’ll almost always get at every interview is “Why do you want to work at THIS company”. Your answer should show that you know about this company. Talk about how you would be proud to work for a company that has 75 years history and is the top retailer for the industry for example

Of course, you need to speak about yourself and answer the questions but an interview is also for LISTENING. Be sure to pay attention to what the interviewer is saying. An interview is not just a chance for a company to check you out. It’s also your chance to check out the company.

2. Not Asking Questions

When an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, the answer should ALWAYS be “YES”. If you don’t ask any questions they will think you aren’t interested in the job or didn’t prepare for the interview. Some great sample questions to ask are “Can you tell me what the work culture is within my team?”, “What would a typical day be like for me in this position?”, “What are the short-term goals of the department right now?” and “What types of challenges are you facing?”

“My teacher did it the best way! He asked difficult questions and gave feedback.”Alex, IT engineering candidate at a software company talking about working with Language Shine

3. Speaking Too Much

Of course, you need to speak about yourself and answer the questions but an interview is also for LISTENING. Be sure to pay attention to what the interviewer is saying. An interview is not just a chance for a company to check you out. It’s also your chance to check out the company.

4. Not Speaking Enough

When the interviewer asks a question, you should NOT be answering with a one word answer or in very short sentences. Usually, you’ll want to answer the question and then discuss some supporting evidence for why you gave your answer. Prepare a few stories to discuss in advance of the interview.

5. Not Knowing the Language of the Industry

When you are interviewing for a position, you should have some knowledge of the business words and phrases used for that industry. It would be a mistake to go to a sales job interview if you don’t know the business meaning of words like: “leads”, “cold calling”, and “closing. Don’t go to an technical interview without understanding “requirements”, “production”and “QA” as well.

Sign up for a mock interview consultation with Language Shine

Just click here

How Much I Earned From Four Months of Blogging

Tell anyone you’ve started a blog and you’ll inevitably get the question about how much money you’re making blogging. It’s pretty straightforward to answer how much money I made THIS MONTH.  But it’s not at all easy to answer how much money you CAN make from blogging or how much you’re likely to earn in the future. It’s largely dependent on how much effort you put into being successful.  But what could a person expect?

Different Way Bloggers Make Money

Well, there are many things to consider about making money from a website.   There’s a great variety of ways to earn money.   Here’s some that come to mind for me:

  • You can sell your own product
  • You can promote your own service (I do a bit of tutoring on the side)
  • You can promote a product of another company which is typically called affiliate marketing ( I promote a few services I have used and recommend)
  • You can run ads on your site and get paid for your views. ( I believe you need a lot of traffic for this to be profitable..probably not ideal for early on)

These are some of the fundamental ways to make cash from your website or blog.    This blog “Getting Canned” seeks to provide entertainment and information about the experience of losing your job and I do hope to generate a bit of revenue from affiliate marketing to help keep the site running.

That means that on some of my pages, I refer to products or services like web hosting or scheduling software that I use and recommend.    If someone clicks the links and signs up for a service, I can earn a commission.   So how much have I earned from doing this so far?

Earnings From My Two Sites

Well I started this site in April 2018.  So I’m about 3 months in and I’m just now starting to ring up a few commissions.  I’ve helped refer others to sign up for web hosting and domain services and earned a few commissions that will pay out this month.   The sales commissions were earned from either clicking my site links or me sending the customer the link directly.    Here are screenshots of sales I’ll be paid for this month.

From Bluehost.   I referred two signups and should earn $130.

Bluehost Affiliate earnings
Bluehost Affiliate earnings for the quarter

And I’ve had one signup for the host I am currently using to host this site, which is Siteground.   This resulted in $50 of commissions.

Here’s earnings from Siteground affiliate program .

This felt pretty good to see earning commissions like this with minimal effort.   Full disclosure:  For web hosting signups, I typically have worked with the person to help them set up the site so it wasn’t totally passive income.

Earning my First Passive Income

I did earn my first passive income commission this month.   Someone saw the value in the M1 Finance signup which paid out a commission of $100 to me.   This resulted from them viewing my site and clicking the link.   I wasn’t involved.  To be honest, I didn’t even realize I earned this commission a few weeks ago because I’m a bit behind on my email.   But how’s that for passive income?   Thanks, fellow investor out there.

M1 Finance Affiliate commissions
My first signup from M1 Finance

Dare to dream but perhaps someday I can earn the types of commissions that some of the top people do.  It’s crazy to think some folks out there are making 10’s of thousands of dollars a month.   Take for example Michelle Schroeder who made $136,000 last month from blogging.

So the question is could you generate income from blogging?  This is capitalism so there are no guarantees.   It will take a little luck and a good deal of hard work.  Generally the harder you work, the luckier you’ll be.  In my opinion, it’s certainly worth a shot.   If you’ve been terminated and can spare around $90 that’s enough to get started.   Ping me if you need help.

How To Get Started Making Money From Running a Web Site

The first step is signing up for web hosting. If you don’t feel like spending money and are tech-savvy, why not try Digital Ocean?  Sign up here for a free $100 credit just for trying Digital Ocean.

Click here for a $100 Credit good towards hosting with Digital Ocean.

And What am I Doing With the Profit?

Some money gets reinvested back into the business and the rest gets invested into my new favorite no fee robo-advisor M1 Finance.

M1 Finance

Disclosure:  I have an affiliate partnership with M1 Finance, Digital Ocean and Siteground and may earn a commission on new signups over a certain threshold.

Recently Fired? Why not Escape to Vietnam?

Vietnam is a great place to visit in Southeast Asia. If you’ve recently lost your job and are watching your budget, you’ll find Vietnam a very affordable place to stay for a good while and soak up asian culture.

Delicious and healthy pho is plentiful from a variety of street vendors at prices that are a steal. Vietnam is also known for a special type of “egg coffee”. I ate most meals in Hanoi for a price of around $1 to $2. Good luck finding meals for that price in the US! Vietnam is a destination that promises fun, affordability, and culture.

Pho for lunch in Hanoi, Vietnam
Coffee in Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnamese Egg Coffee at a charming little cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you’re an American that has traveled abroad to several countries you’ll know that there’s a good list of countries Americans can visit with no visa. They will typically allow you to arrive and simply fill out visa on arrival paperwork and you’ll be on your way through the immigration gates to explore a new world. 

Getting a Vietnam VISA

The Vietnam visa process is a bit more complicated. If you’ve done a bit of research online, you may be asking yourself “How do I get a Vietnam Visa on arrival?”

My initial research seemed to provide some conflicting answers so I’ll break out your options clearly. Here’s an overview based on my experience and a fair amount of research to combat the confusion.

Hanoi Streets
The Streets of Hanoi are lively and busy

From my research, I discovered you have two main recommended choices on how to go about getting your Vietnam Visa.

One Country. Two recommended Visa Options

Visa Options for Vietnam

  1. Get an E-Visa

    For many, the best option is to first get an E-Visa. You need to go to the official Vietnam embassy website to get an e-visa. This can take a few days. 

    It’s relatively simple and will cost you just $25 for the e-visa. (It’s worth noting that there are several companies (some reputable some not) that have websites that seem to misrepresent themselves as representing Vietnam.)

    The above site is the true Vietnam embassy site and the only one qualified to issue an e-visa directly. It seems like a great option as long as you have time. If you’re in a hurry, then you may want to consider the “visa on arrival” option below.

  2. Visa on Arrival

    The alternative option is the Visa on Arrival option. If you aren’t a planner and your trip is in a day or two, you’ll probably need to do this option.
    To get a visa on arrival, you’ll need a letter of approval from a travel company and pick up your visa at the airport. You’ll want to work with a company that can get you a letter of approval very quickly, often within one day depending on the company. There are several sites and companies that provide this service. See below for my experience using one.

    Disclaimer: It’s also possible to go to the Vietnam embassy in your home country but I’ve been advised that this method can actually be quite costly. E-Visa is my method of choice.

Getting a Letter of Approval Notes

For option two,”visa on arrival”, there are a variety of sites that can assist with option three. With this option, you’ll pay a fee that varies for your approval letter. And then you’ll also need to pay for your visa on arrival.

This is the best option if you don’t have much time. This means after disembarking from the plane you’ll go to the visa area and you’ll probably need to wait a bit for them to review your letter of approval then process and issue the visa. 

You’ll need to pay $25US or $520,000 Dong to get your actual visa. In my experience, we needed to wait about 30 minutes to get the visa processed and then we were free to head out and explore the exciting things to do in Hanoi

My experience with getting a letter of approval

We chose Vietnam Visa Pro to get our letter of approval. The approval letter really just acts as a sort of required first step to getting your visa on arrival. I’m not being compensated for this review so it’s unbiased. 

The price was good. I got expedited service to get the letter of approval in a day for around $11. It came the next day in an email by PDF.

It should be noted there are several companies that run websites that do this. These sites aren’t government organizations but rather they are companies that are qualified to create your approval letter to make you eligible to get your Visa on arrival. You can’t get a visa on arrival without an approval letter so it’s a necessary step for the third option

Getting Around in Vietnam

It’s worth noting that as of December 2018, Uber is no longer available in South East Asia, including Vietnam. A nice alternative we discovered is Grab which is an Uber-like service. Sign up for Grab here, and get discounted rides. Or you can simply type in referral code: grabqnjfwbw4

Experiencing Vietnam Culture at Home

If you’re currently not up for the challenge of the long flight to get to Vietnam but still would like to try their amazing coffee, you can purchase it on Amazon here:

Once you have this you can easily make some Vietnamese style egg coffee by following instructions on youtube. Here’s a good tutorial. 

If you speak Chinese, here’s a great page to get info on the Vietnam Visa process.

Southern Taiwan

Taking a Vacation After Getting Fired

Modern life often has us on a treadmill that can make enjoying life a challenge. Our time typically falls into two categories throughout our careers. Gross oversimplification, but I’m talking about time employed and time unemployed. But there is a third category that arises once every few years for many people.


“Time employed” is the default state of most adult lives with respect to where their time goes.  You may have the money to live and enjoy life, but you don’t have the time. Even if you secure the time with an approved vacation, the time is often limited. Many office workers these days are uncomfortable taking more than 5 consecutive days off at a time. 

Digital Colouring Exercise (Woman Computer with Microscope and Calculator)
Time to update our work culture.

This is at least partially for fear of losing their job. “If the company can get by without me for two weeks, maybe they’ll realize they don’t really need me” the thinking goes. The other rationale seems to be with keeping up the image and playing the game so to speak.

Even if you are brave and make your happiness and health a priority securing an extended two-week vacation,  there is unintended baggage coming with you on your travels.   Whether you check your luggage or do carry-on you’ll likely be bringing an unintended co-passenger; Workplace stress.

Even on a vacation, it takes some time to let go, unwind and truly relax. Even if you can relax and let it go, in the back of your mind is the knowledge that when you return, you’ll have 500 emails to catch up with and the dreaded return to the daily grind awaits.

Time off is great but it often creates a backlog of work that needs to be done when you return. A vacation is great but is there a better way? I think so. But first, let’s discuss the other time period.


You’re unemployed. At last, you finally have some free time to come and go as you please. You can truly let go of all your work stresses and enjoy life. Travel and exploration is a possibility. Right?

Well, that would be the case except for one thing. You’ve likely occupied with finding your next job. You spend your days sending resumes, scheduling interviews, re-writing the resume. Good times for sure.

And while the free time being unemployed provides is great, it’s just not the time most of us feel comfortable spending any money since our next pay date is likey unknown.


Except for when we do know. This is what we might refer to as a golden time in life.  The time when you’ve secured a new job but have not yet started.  You’re not tied down to employment but you almost certainly have a paycheck in your near future.   This time period can vary significantly but it’s usually between one week and a month by my estimates.

If there was ever a time to celebrate it’s in these two to four week period of employment limbo.

Here’s what I’m saying: Savor this time. It’s doesn’t typically happen so frequently in life for most of us. The time where you’re unencumbered by the constraints of current employment, yet secure in your career and financial future with a signed offer letter. Do all you can to stretch this time out as much as possible.  If there was ever a time to celebrate it’s in this two to four weeks employment limbo.

Good fortune has shined on me as I have a free weeks before my next work project so travel will follow. I’ll post my findings with pics.


A night in Vancouver.

Some time in Taiwan

Some time in Hanoi, Vietnam

photo credit: pni Digital Colouring Exercise (Woman Computer with Microscope and Calculator) via photopin(license)