The best laid plans…

Sometimes the best laid plans can be useless. 

This has proven very pertinent to me in the last few weeks. We had such a good plan to open our English school in another city. We were so prepared, so ready to start making money off our own sweat and tears for our own profit ( not like now which is divided between six investors.) It was meant to be perfect.

Are you noticing the past tense?

We had planned to open a school in my husbands hometown, but the local government wouldn’t give us the permit. Technically, we could have still opened the school but that would mean that we wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on if anything went wrong. It was too great a risk for us to take so we have put that idea on the indefinite back burner. Among other things it was too much of a risk for a limited award.

Sometimes, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Well now I have six months of  FREE time. I am not sure what it is I am going to do, I have already had five months of maternity leave for baby and I feel claustrophobic being in the house. In our original plans I was supposed to be doing marketing and promo work for our new school. Now I have nothing to occupy my time. In another way, I had plans for three months of blog posts based around setting up our school and ESL and now half of those blog posts are useless.

Waiting for July.

My current school has a foreign teacher whose contract finishes in July, after that, she will go her own way and I will take over her classes. but until then I am practically useless.

I want to improve myself, Improve my ability to find a job when I finally return to Australia. I have an opportunity now to improve myself, and I should take it.

China is such a big place and i have only seen a fraction of it.

I want to travel, want to see what I should see before its too late. Me like many others, am always putting travel, life and experiences in the “one day” basket. I have been in China 7 years and the things in the “one day” basket keep getting more and more.

All I know is that when I leave China in a few years time I want my own business, something where I can work  from home or in a studio (I craft occasionally) I want to be able to bring in enough every month to warrant me to be able to stay at home and work for myself.

I know  that this is just a good chance for me to be doing something else. So even though that school never eventuated, perhaps it was for the best. perhaps I can use this time to improve myself and my future outlook.

My advice to myself right now is to buy a new journal, make some new plans because 2017 can’t be wasted on ‘what ifs’ and time wasting thinking about what could have been.

I am sure you have your own plans and ideas too. Have you ever had a door close only to have a new one open? What did you decide to do after a major let down?

How I SAVED 20k in 18 months.

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If you have been following along with my story you know I live and work in China. I have been working here for six years and I can safely say i enjoy it.

However, if there is one thing that most people know about working in China is that in fact you don’t earn much more than what you do back home. However there is something that most people overlook when talking about working in China and I will break these points down into parts to show you how I SAVED over 20k in the space of 18 months, and continue to do so now.

1. The biggest false turn off is Salary.

In China an average Foreign English speaking teacher will earn between 8 and 15 thousand RMB a month (1,194-2,238 USD.) This would be considered a normal or low income back home ( even though i am Australian so its roughly the same.) Alternately  in China that salary is considered to be in the top 1% of high income earners! An average Chinese workers salary in my city is 2000 RMB ($298USD) per month!

2. Housing in China is usually provided.

When you sign a contract with a school or company, you are usually provided with a fully furnished, usually very nice, apartment close to your work place. coupled with your salary, having no rent to pay makes the savings much easier. If its not provided you may be given a housing allowance on top of your base salary.

3. Free time is in abundance if you want to do side projects.

In China if you work for a training school, usually your contract is between 20 and 30 hours a week with most of the work on weekends ( like me) which means I usually have between 3 and 4 DAYS off! I use this time to play with my babies, craft and go sit in coffee shops to blog.

4. The biggest saving factor is the cost of living.

After my initial set up of a slow cooker, toaster oven, rice cooker, internet provider and television service I had no other big purchases to make. I  shop like a local at the fruit and vegie market to save a bit more and get my specialty items, aka cheese, from the supermarket in town.

Overall, My expenditures don’t exceed 2000 a month and that’s with me spending money on entertainment and my coffees weekly. Every week i spend 3-500 yuan worth of groceries and don’t pinch my pennies, I still save money.

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5. With private tutoring I could potentially earn an extra 10k on the side.

I don’t personally do private tutoring anymore since I changed from a weekday job to a weekend one, but when I was working at the university I would take 8 private students spread out over Saturday and Sunday. I would charge them 200 yuan an hour for a saving increase of 6,400RMB a month which equals an extra 1000 USD saved.

6. How much did I spend to get to China in the first place?

To get started I had to find a job that looked attractive. I researched potential schools long before I contacted them. I knew I fulfilled the requirements for a teacher and could basically pick and choose which schools I wanted to work for, however I had heard some horror stories about Chinese bosses I wanted to avoid. I chose a middle ground Salary with a big name training chain school, Aston English. My choice was down to the fact they are more likely to stick to contracts conditions and have a great networking base with other foreigners.

From beginning of communication to when I arrived in China I spent about 1000 Australian dollars. Most of that money was spent on getting the medical certificate filled, the airplane ticket to China ( which is reimbursed) and travel costs between home and Melbourne to get the visa.

All of this was spread out over 4 months as I fulfilled all the painstaking steps to get my visa. After arrival I spent a small amount of cash on setting up my home and to tide me over until first pay.

So If you put this all together you can see how over the space of 18 months I managed to save over 20k, which I used to put a deposit on a house, get it fully furnished, traveled back home once a year and bought my own training school! Just imagine if you had two people working! Your savings would be through the roof!

Are you interested in working in China, or if you want more detailed and clear descriptions of life in China don’t be afraid to leave me a comment!

Love Christi

 

 

 

My Background

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As I mentioned in my previous post I am in the process of opening my own English school here in China. Although I already am a part owner in a school I bought a few years ago, this will be mine from the ground up.

What about the old school?

A few years ago I was a lowly English teacher in China earning a decent wage and with a dream in my heart that one day i would be doing business for myself. I was freshly married to a local Chinese and was in that “knuckle down and hustle” stage. I had a new house, a husband and a three month old baby, and no plan to continue to be a teacher let alone a boss in the near future.

What changed?

My then boss, a young guy from England and his business partner from Canada wanted out of the English school business. They had been through a rough time with the school at that time due to government policy change and weren’t living the dream they wanted to be living.

A few months before the Chinese government declared middle school entrance English exam scores didn’t have to be as high as they once were. That meant children didn’t need tutoring or outside training anymore to get ahead of their peers.

Because of this policy change their school of 500 enrolled kids dropped almost overnight to 250! They lost half of their income in a matter of weeks and I think, some of their spirit too.

So what did they do?

At that time my bosses pulled me aside and asked me if i wanted to take over. They had other plans they wanted to do in Beijing and I was in limbo myself. I wasn’t sure what i wanted to do long term so i agreed to their plan. In 2014 I took over that school as co-manager/ owner with the Chinese manager for a very low price.

So why now a new school?

From that time until now I have used my time , money and energy to get the school back to a better position. My partner and I streamlined our teaching style, added new social media interactions for parents and trained and implemented new teaching practices. We built a brand new school from the rubble of the old school and now its slowly beginning to show profits and development with the ability of soon being able to take care of itself.

So whats the new plan?

well now I have two babies both under 3 and a lot of time on my hands. I want to make something that’s completely my own. Something I can say is mine and not something given to me by others. So I am currently going to do two things, one is this blog and by extension, my crafts which I will sell on Etsy and the other is my new English school in another city.

Though I never personally wanted to open an English school  ( I was thinking more like doing import and export) Teaching English turned out to be something I am pretty good at. So while my husband takes care of managing the school during the week I can have my blog and my crafts too, then on the weekends teach. Sounds like a dream life to me!

Now that I have a new goal within my grasp I feel invigorated!

What about you, do you have something you have been looking forward to for a long time about to come true?