I was going to put this on dividendmantra.com but it ended up being too long to post! I have not written much about my experiences in Thailand or even much about investing as I do not really want to be tied to a blog and do not need to make any money from it at this time. I just don’t really feel the need to blog all the time as I find so much stuff out there that I would have could have written and or that I benefit from that I would rather let those guys who do it so well (like dividendmantra.com one of the best in my opinion if not THE best!) do it. At any rate this comment is on the post here: http://www.dividendmantra.com/2013/09/the-chasing-financial-freedom-podcast.html
I love the Ramen noodle story! I have been in Thailand for a little over 2 years and with my girlfriend who does not understand finance or investing at all, or so I thought! I actually opened a brokerage account in Thailand and made 10 purchases of some of the best stocks I could find, though they behave quite differently from US stocks they do produce dividends. Well my girlfriend did not appreciate or understand much and was afraid I would lose that money (the total account has the equivalent of about 1.5 positions in my overall holdings which is around 1% at this time, so not much of a problem if I lost it all or 30% or…or…or). I assured her if I lost it all it would not hurt too much and that there will be dividends of around average 3.5% and I gave her a little calculation of what that would be in terms of income, which didn’t move her much whereas at the same time she would not be able to conceive of anything that would pay almost 300Baht per month steadily no matter what. Quite a foreign concept! But Asians love to save and those that do not understand and appreciate the concept of saving. Unfortunately in Thailand necessity usually outweighs any average savings plan and most of the normal people are in debt, just like in the USA! At one point I told her I was going to sell all my Thai stocks and she was glad. Then she asked when and I said in 2 or 3 years after I see how they fare and she was what?! 2 or 3 years?! I said yes, you do not understand investing, you must do like that, not shift every short time span!
So I really thought she was not getting it until she made a comment a few weeks ago. She said she was watching this psychic show she likes and she had a realization that my dividend investing would really start to pan out next year, something like that. We don’t speak any English together so everything in is Thai and sometimes things get lost in the translation and/or the way we think just doesn’t work in that language, which is actually fun for me! So she said that and I thought wow!, it must be sinking in a bit though I really have not pushed the issue of her knowing about what my financial goals are as they are lofty.
As for my girlfriend being a negative influence on my finances. That just cannot happen at this point. I am very committed and we basically have a pretty set spending pattern which is quite lower than if I lived alone in complete isolation back in Los Angeles! But girlfriend is not a spend thrift. One thing I noticed about her when we first met was that she would go shopping and spend a lot of time and buy nothing! Then she would talk about what she wanted and also not buy it, for about 3+ months! And there were usually a few things she was thinking about and talking about at any given time. And then some time after 3 months she might pull the trigger and buy one of those things, or not. I thought that was a remarkable trait and decided to watch it and not try to push on it or her shopping and desires and all that. Once I went out and bought one of the things she was thinking about and gave it to her (a medium price cell phone, under 5000baht or around $145usd). Well she complained that it was not the one she wanted and ended up giving it away to someone! So from then on I never butt into her business when it comes to those purchases or shopping items, but I do interact with her about them when, especially now, she asks my opinion or this or that as she is going through her mental shopping list! The truth of the matter and the bottom line in the whole situation is if she decided to pull the trigger on every single item, all at once, at any given time, it would not affect our finances by much and definitely would not cause any pain or worry so things are just fine in that area. That is not the usual pattern of those trying to cope with Thai culture and spending habits though, so be careful if you want to tread there!
By the way I always have some vegan Ramen noodles on hand and most of the time some vegan sausages or fake meat that can be added to the noodles for a bit of a meaty taste. They are very cheap here and the fake meat is also relatively inexpensive (around $3 us per package which lasts me around a week).
Also, and going back to the issue of the other people we live with, my girlfriend has made some interesting comments along the way. I have not pressed too hard to do any local business in Thailand because a) I make enough online actually too much to be interested in most of the local options, income wise and b) I see a lot of foreigners waste a lot of money on these local businesses just on a whim and I do not want to contribute to that sort of activity. And so I said from the beginning, to my girlfriend, if she wanted to do any type of business and had a good plan I was willing to look into it and potentially fund it. She has not discussed much but every once in a while has a notion to do something. Recently we saw some new 2 story building additions going on on the outskirts of town and/or a few KM (kilometers) out and she commented that she was thinking about grabbing one and starting a business there. So I gave her some encouraging words and let her know when she had a good plan we would look into it. That thought may come up again in a few weeks to a month if she is really interested, or it might just not come up for three or four months and/or might turn into something else. I give her that space and don’t mess around there and if anything real comes up we can deal with it. No need to be too critical or negative at all just ready for action if the time is right!
I have a lot more to say but will refrain, too much already, best regards!