Invest for free!

M1 Finance
When it comes to pain-free, expense free investing, it’s important to find ways to diversify your portfolio using mutual funds and index funds with low expense ratios. But it’s also important to find an investment site that gives you all the tools you need to invest like a pro for 100% less the cost – Free! When it comes to maintaining a properly balanced portfolio with a great user interface, I go with M1 Finance. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it has all the tools you need to keep track of all your investments. It also allows for fractional investing, so you can maintain a balanced portfolio, owning the right proportions of all the companies you know and love.

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Where to Invest?

I love travel. But travel is really hard without money. That’s why you will start to see more on this blog related to finances, work, and funding travel. Of course, I’m still going to share epic experiences, but hopefully you will also get some great tips, hacks, and advice!

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Retire Early, and Travel the World

Want to retire in 10 years and travel the world? Here’s how:

1) Learn to live off of 34% of your net income. This is your annual budget going forward. (This is the hardest step, of course!)

2) Save 66% of you income. (This is easy, if you’ve done step # 1)

3) Invest your savings (Vanguard index funds and sites like Betterment are the best for novice investors.)

4) When you’ve saved up 25 times your annual expenditures, you’re ready to retire! (Assuming you’ve invested in the stock market, and aren’t just sitting on a lump of cash.)

5) Travel the world by living 3-12 months in a different location, making sure that the average annual cost of living is under your annual budget. (So, if you’re monthly budget is $2k, and you spend 6 months in a place with a $4k monthly cost of living, you’ll need to spend the next 6 months in a $1k monthly cost of living.)

Read these links below to see the details. I just pieced them together.

1. The master theory:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/

2. Retirement calculator:
https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement?income=50000&initialBalance=0&expenses=17000&annualPct=5&withdrawalRate=4

3. Travel Destinations, with cost of living:
https://www.theearthawaits.com/

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Back in the Swing of Things

So, I feel like I’m pretty much back in the swing of things here in the States. Life here seems so much more complicated than in China in some ways, but that’s probably just because I had a plan set up for my time in China and all I had to do was execute and refine it. Now, back in the States, I have to create a plan, while at the same time stay on top of 16 credits worth of classes. Being out of school and in the real world was really good for sure; being back in school and in the bubble has made me realize how much I look forward to the (hectic and even more stressful?) life after graduation.

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Homeless and Happy

I am one of the many homeless, unemployed Americans wandering the streets of Minneapolis, looking for a handout and a place to lay my head. I may not look it, and it may come as a surprise to some. I do own a car. I am going to a private college with a tuition that would blow some out of the water, and submerge others. But it is true. I have no home and have no job. I am a genuine bum. But I can be somebody if you need me. I can be a plumber, a banker, or a house cat sitter. I can design your church’s next work-day logo. I can fix the creaky hinge on your next door neighbor’s fence. Or I can write a blog post. Oh, and remember when Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of these you do for Him? Yeah I think that applies to me. Thanks Dave and Kelsey!

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Back (Home?)

Oh America! Land of fattening foods and convenient drivethroughs. Land of lots of land and, well, not that many people. Driving around in a private little car some 50 miles just for random errands. Can’t see my neighbor’s house because my family owns enough land to fit several xiao qu‘s, a night market, five different noodle shops, and a public park. Well, I guess that’s just part of country life. I’ve found that my family eats very little fruits and vegatables. And we eat tons of sugary substances. But I have enjoyed interacting with the locals here. I think I have a new appreciation for the local man. I always took interest in people in China, complete strangers who came from such interesting and different backgrounds and cultures than I. But I am finding fascinating to come back and realize that America has a myriad of interesting people as well. Like, I walk into my local bank, and the teller is having a full length converstaion with the drive through lady, telling her whole life story. And I’m an insider, that is, as long as I can pull off the accent. And the accents sometimes about make me laugh. I mean, I can pull it off, cause I grew up hearing it (speaking it?), but being gone for a year and then coming back, the southern accent is hitting me so strong I sometimes think people are messing around for fun, but then I realize they aint! Them just talk that way! I love the good ol’ South, but of course will be happy to return to Minnesota. Wonder if I’ll have a southern accent by then?

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Hot and Muggy (and “on fire”)

I’m making my way back to the States, so Saturday I took the train from west to east China. I went to bed (on the train) to a beautiful sunset, clear skies spotted with clouds, and no haze, and woke up to endless smog, mugginess, and not even a sunrise. It’s about 95 degrees here, 95% humidity, and 95% pollution. Fortunately I’ll only be here a few days, and then back to (even hotter?) North Carolina.

In other news, I got my first facial yesterday, but in all fairness, I didn’t know what I getting myself into. A good Chinese friend invited me and a Swiss guy to go to some place he wouldn’t say. So we get there, and it turns out to be a fancy beauty parlor of sort, with massages and facials. Because he hadn’t called ahead of time, they didn’t want to do any massages, so we just got facials. This included a basic shoulder and back massage, a neck massage, a face massage, and some creams on the face, and concluded with a face plaster made of green sea weed mud. It was actually quite nice, especially after more than 24 hours of traveling.

I also found out from the therapist that I am 上火了 (shang huo le), which literal means “on fire,” but in Chinese medicine has something to do with an internal yin-yang imbalance (I think). The funny thing is, I woke up with a slight sore throat this morning, so I think she was actually on to something, probably my body is having a hard time adjusting to the very different climate here (humidity, altitude, temperature, and pollution differences.)

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