Dem Goals, Tho: How the Frugal Fuyanger Plans to Slay in 2019.

A few weeks in to this journey, I’ve shared a sob story about the past, a lot about daily life in Fuyang in the present, and a bit about travel in general… to what extent, though?

I mean, yay, life in China is great, but there are lots of expat/travel/teacher blogs out there. If I’m tryna connect to a world of people with money goals and a different future in mind than the rat race, WHAT ARE MY FINANCIAL GOALS, exactly?!

Good question! (Memphis, TN, 2014–before China, the first time.)

They’re pretty simple, but we’ll start small–within the breadth of a year–and then expand from there. Therefore, without further ado, may I introduce…


FIRST and foremost, I want to pay off my $30,000 of credit card and personal loan debt.


And also, hey, what the heck even IS a personal loan?

Weeelllll…. a series I plan to start soon is on what, exactly, my debt obtained for me. Some of those things were valuable, since I’m a travel fiend, and some were not.

But the bottom line is, I had an expensive case of travel #YOLO, augmented by a foolish clothing habit in my mid-twenties and some other bad decisions.

Who DOES such things? Also, who SITS IN THEIR CAR AND TAKES A SELFIE? Yeah, me. So can we AGREE that I have a history of bad choices?! And stylin’ hair?

One choice that was not worthless, but still unwise, was a personal loan with a company in Florida. On the one hand, they charge 30% interest and they’re an awful financial idea.

Let me repeat: YOU SHOULD PAY CASH FOR ANY VACATIONS. Even fun ones abroad or in D.C. that further your career.

On the other hand–and let me get controversial here–the loan I took out with them enabled me to spend two grant-paid-afterward weeks in Israel.

Me, laughing at the fish eating my feet in the Jordan River, and also at the thought of the debt I was putting myself in to pay for this trip…

This wasn’t right, and it was an immature, dumb move financially… but it happened, and it was mostly reimbursed. (Ahhh… if only “mostly” meant “100%.” Life is wasted in margin of “mostly”ies…) And then, when I decided to move to Kuwait and found myself STILL short money as I was headed abroad, I refinanced and took out ANOTHER $1,000 16 months ago.

The good: the company let me skip two payments once when things were tight over the summer.

The bad: this was due to my inability to face the reality of my debt.

The ugly: I will never know what I could have purchased with the (minimum!) extra $1,000 in interest I may pay this lender by the time I am done with this paydown. #tear 😥.

But damn, that Mediterranean Sea, right? (Tel Aviv, 2016.)

It’s okay, though, because I am ON THE MEND. The rest of the debts are good ol’ fashioned credit cards, and while I may ALSO do a post in the future on the abysmal reality that was my life in the payday-loan lane…

That life is behind me now, thanks to the choice to move where I am.


Because Uncle Sam = <3. And also I am NOT a law-breaker.

At one point, I thought I might just lightly gloss over this part, because you can talk about credit cards until the cows come home, but mention that you owe taxes, and people FLIP. OUT.

And RIGHTFULLY SO!! I’ll (again! So many gruesome details to share) one day speak about how this indebtedness happened, but point being: I owe at LEAST a few thousand dollars to the good ol’ US of A, and will be repaying it this coming year, mostly in installments. Working this out RIGHT. NOW. I promise.

Which leads me to…

GOAL 3: Save up at at least $2,000.

This is a funny one, because I can survive in China on (if I had to) 600 yuan, or about 80 dollars, a month… at least, I could do this, now that I have secured the necessary kitchen utensils, appliances and accoutrements (#fancy) to cook for myself for the foreseeable future, and medical emergencies cost close to nothing, as well.

Yet should a family emergency occur, tickets could cost well over $1,000, and my healthy SkyMiles account won’t last forever… so my goal is $1,000 in the next six months, and another grand by this time in 2019.

Me, at an AirBnB in New Orleans last summer, enjoying the thought of #futureme with more $$ and less problems. 💁🏻‍♀️

That’s it. It’s not pretty, it’s not glamorous, and it is even depressing. But when I realized that, with a LITTLE side hustle, and a bit of luck in terms of what I owe in back taxes (currently figuring that stuff out), I could be free of the debt that has stalked me my whole adult life?!

Well… I’m down, let’s just say that. And eager.


First of all, I am able to save over 95% of my income. I will be foregoing the fancy vacations of my peers over the Spring Festival–a five-week break during which I will spend a couple of days in Shanghai, and then sleep and write to my heart’s content in Fuyang–and avoiding other trips throughout the spring.

Pretty much the plan January-June 2019.

When the beloved summer break finally hits around the same time that New York state schools let out (end of June), I’ll forfeit some miles to hang out with family and friends in the U.S. for July.

Jacksonville Beach, I’m comin’ for ya.

Then, it will be back to the grind in August, including a side hustle tutoring in Hangzhou.

I currently teach a drama club at another school on the side, and hope to tutor for a friend’s company sometime soon. That’s it for now!

My ultimate goals in life are to help others, travel freely, and keep my expenses low so that I will never again be on a trip, desperately hoping that my last $200 don’t run out while I’m somewhere abroad.

Because, as someone who’s been there: all the pretty skylines in the world don’t make that moment fun.

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