Can I Become Wealthy Teaching Abroad?
Teaching Abroad will not make you rich. Teaching overseas will provide, however, some unique opportunities to save money. With a safe, easy, and proper investing strategy, even teachers with modest salaries can grow wealthy. If you hate talking about money and investing, Andy and I can completely relate. That’s why we believe it’s essential for all international teachers or individuals earning a modest income to read Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. He’s an international teacher in Singapore who became a millionaire by the time he was 40. I hate any talk about money as it reminds of my father, but I devoured this book within a week during my subway ride to work and it changed my life.
Prospering in Life while Prospering Financially
We fear that which we do not understand. This is why, for many years, I feared the idea of becoming wealthy. I was attracted to the concept, naturally, but my lack of understanding was crippling when it came to taking action. As an expat of modest means and a person with virtually no experience with the markets, the jargon-heavy world of investing seemed inaccessible, too big-money for a small fry such as myself. There were wealthy people – business-minded folks, entrepreneurs, trust funders, techies, day trading gurus, CEOs, what have you- and then there were people like me- the wanderers, adventure seekers, teachers, expats, etc. People in my category, I reasoned, would become rich with life experience, but at the cost of never achieving financial prosperity. Having read Andrew Hallam’s Millionaire Teacher, I am inspired to know that I was dead wrong.
Hallam’s genius rests with his ability to bring the idea of investing down from the mountain and present it to the uninitiated with unparalleled clarity and simplicity. He doesn’t bother with comprehensiveness, because he doesn’t need to. The surest way to building wealth, he contends, is through a balanced portfolio of index funds held over a period of 3-4 decades. Now, before you go running for the door at the first mention of investment terminology, realize just how simple this is.
An index fund is merely a large collection of stocks designed to mirror the returns of the overall market. In other words, if the DOW gains 8% in a year, you can rightly expect your index fund to do the same. If the market plummets one year, so too will your index fund, but here’s the thing- the market always bounces back. When you allow yourself the luxury of time, you free yourself from worry over “devastating” market crashes, such as that of 2008. If the next 90 years are anything like the last 90 (which included a depression, a number of wars, and a handful of recessions), the market, and any index fund that tracks it, can be expected to gain, on average, about 10% per year.
But isn’t this a little boring? I mean, how wealthy can we really become if we’re only getting 10% returns? Very. Introducing the magic of compounding interest. Watch how $10,000 grows over time at a rate of 10%. Invest $10,000 at the age of 20, take it out when you’re 65, and you have netted well over half a million dollars.
Year 0- $10,000 Year 5-$16,105 Year 10-$25,937 Year 15-$41,772 Year 20-$67,275 Year 25-$108,347 Year 30-$174,494 Year 35-$281,024 Year 40-$452,592 Year 45-$728,904
Now, for a scenario more realistic to ESL teachers- say we invest $4,000 at the age of 25 and manage to add another $4,000 per year until we retire. What kind of returns can we expect at a !0% interest rate?
Year 0- $4,000 Year 5-$33,304 Year 10-$80,499 Year 15-$156,507 Year 20-$278,920 Year 25-$476,065 Year 30-$793,571 Year 35-$1.3 million Year 40-$2.1 million Year 45-$3.5 million
Did you notice what started happening around year 25? The money starts to explode. The keys are to start young and be diligent about making deposits into your investment account. Wealth accumulation is never guaranteed, but this is about the safest path to growing rich that you are likely to find.
Take it from Brent and I, Andrew Hallam’s Millionaire Teacher is an essential read for anyone, especially those who do not expect to make six-figure salaries in their lifetime. With a little wisdom, a little money, and a lot of patience, we can all retire wealthy. Andrew Hallam wants to show you the nuts and bolts of how to get there, and we highly recommend you take him up on the offer.
The Heart and Finances of being an Expat
Andy Bax and I both work on Kimchibytes and we are very different. He’s tall and I’m not. I believe in God and he doesn’t. He’s liberal and I’m fairly conservative. He reads books, and I spend my time watching WWE videos on YouTube.
Yet, we have many similarities. We like to travel, we are photography enthusiasts, we adhere to the church of the gym, and we have turned our backs on a traditional American lifestyle. We judge wealth based on unique experiences, friendships and knowledge instead of money, ample-living space, fast cars or hot chicks. Living abroad fits our worldviews and enriches our lives.
We both, however, are realists. While our lives are enriched through unique experiences, we are not earning a pension. We know following our hearts does not provide us with a great amount of income. We both realized a day is coming when we have to retire and the quality of our lives and our possible families depend on the decisions we make today. We all know someone who didn’t save for their retirement – the consequences of their actions and the pressure they place on their families are tragic.
Most us know we need to save money. Most of us know we need to invest. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t know how. This is why I was so intrigued when Andy introduced me to Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam. Andrew Hallam is a teacher in Singapore who became a millionaire before he was 40. He doesn’t teach anything drastic, he simply instructs those of us with modest incomes to invest and allocate our savings intelligently in bonds and index funds.
Why use the stock market? The stock market is the greatest wealth builder that exists. Suppose you invested a dollar into gold and a dollar into the stock market around the start of the United States. Which investment would come out ahead? If you invested in gold that dollar would be worth around 75 dollars today. However, the dollar invested in stocks would be worth over 10 million dollars!
The question then becomes how do you safely and successfully invest in the market? Don’t people lose money all the time? Andrew provides an elegant and easy explanation for conservative wealth building.
For example, he recommends a 30 year old like myself to invest in 30% bonds and 70% index funds. Bonds are money that you loan to businesses and government. They pay you interest while they borrow your money. Bonds tend to be very safe investments. Index funds simply reflect the entire stock market. It’s like spreading your money across every stock available. If the overall market grows, your index fund grows. While it’s risky to invest in individual stocks, the good news is overall market continues to grow over time and rebounds from bad years.
If the market has a good year, the percentage of your index fund will increase beyond 70%. When this happens, Andrew recommends selling off the surplus index funds and buying more bonds to rebalance your account. If the market performs poorly, you’ll have a greater percentage of bonds. He recommends selling the surplus bonds and buying more index funds. This strategy means you typically sell stocks when they are high and buy them when they are low. Combine this with the lower costs of owning index funds, good saving habits, compound interest, and the average growth of the market and you have an excellent vehicle for growing wealthy over time.
While none of us will become millionaires overnight, there is no reason we can’t become millionaires by the time we retire. All it takes is a modest income (teaching abroad), time, proper stewardship of our money, and learning how to invest while minimizing risks. The latter is much simpler than you think or were led to believe.
I feel blessed to have read this book. I don’t just recommend it; I believe it’s essential to read for anyone who teaches abroad. Forget the notion that you need to make a six-figure income to be rich; you just need to learn how to work with what you got.
Andew Hallam’s personal and financial website.
Vanguard – A great investment organization that provides low fee bonds and index funds.
Fidelity – If you live in Korea and can’t invest with Vanguard, we recommend checking out the Spartan Funds provided by Fidelity.