The Hacker @ Dagobert, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, taken on the 22nd of June 2006 with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P93 5.1 MP camera.
Reflecting on the last few months, I have to agree with my wife that being a teacher in Taiwan was one of the best things in my life. I have been a financial planner for the last four years. I have worked for myself and different companies. In this post, I will compare the two professions. Naturally, I have only been a financial planner in Canada and a full-time teacher in Taiwan, but my wife, who is a certified high-school teacher, assures me that the job that we are doing in our bilingual school is equivalent to any teaching job in Canada.
One thing is for sure; if you don’t like kids, don’t become a teacher. I always used to say that I would hate teaching. My wife has long suspected that I would make a good teacher, but I have always dismissed the idea because it would involve getting another degree. I like kids. I have a bossy way of being sometimes that works well with children. I used to be a manager before, so I am adept at handling adults. The same principles work pretty well with kids.
I am also a dog owner and I raised and trained my own dog. One of the reasons I bought my dog was to train me and my wife to be responsible for something else than ourselves. It worked out pretty well, because my dog is well trained and obeys me quite well.
I am not saying that kids are like dogs, but similar attitudes are used. Kids are a lot more complex. It is always a problem if the kids know that they can do whatever they want without consequences. That doesn’t work in my classrooms.
Perks of being a teacher
- Permanent job, meaning that you do not have to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from. You work full-time and earn full-time salary.
- Always changing. Since you are teaching kids, and kids always change, your job is everchanging. If you like this sort of thing, this is a good way of dealing with that.
- Making a difference. Not all kids will remember you but you do help them out in their lives and schooling. Kids will remember a good teacher. I do.
- Time to yourself. During the day, when you are not teaching, you have time to relax and prepare. You can do whatever you want. Maybe you have to do marking, but making time for yourself isn’t hard when you are a teacher. Teachers need that because students can be very demanding. A nice cup of coffee or tea and sitting and thinking about things is always nice.
- Benefits. Well, that doesn’t really mean much in Taiwan. But in Canada, most teachers have great benefits.
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Being a financial planner is hard work. Most of the time, you will be self-employed. Just like a doctor or a lawyer, you need to develop your own practice. There are ways to shortciruit this by buying clients from older retiring planners, but this normally necessitates capital, from 20000 to 100000 CAD. But once this money is invested, you are almost assured to have a return on your investment within a few years.
If you work for a company like Industrial Alliance, Primamerica, Clarica, you are bound by aggreements with them. You can not always broker and offer the best deals to your clients. Also, you pay is lower than if you are an independent broker. However, in brokerage, payment of commissions will take some time. It could as long as a few months. I have spent as a broker almost 4 to 5 months without pay, while still making sales. If you work for such a company, your pay will be coming a lot faster. It is not unheard of to receive pay the week after making a sale.
The really bad thing about such jobs is that you do not cost anything for the company. Your pay is generated by the sales that your have. So if you don’t have any sales, you don’t have any pay. Such a job might work well for people who are motivated, but as I know, even if you are motivated, you will have ups and downs. My best year, I had over 100000$ in annualized life premiums. If I would have been a broker, I would have made more than 100000$. But when you work for a company, your paycheck is significantly reduced.
Another one of the really bad things of these types of sales jobs is that they change you. I learned how to manipulate people, how to find softpoints in their psychological make-up and find entry points for my products. Once you start doing this, you will have a hard time not doing it at home and in all of your interactions with the people you know. As much as the people who you work for insist on you trying to sell things to your acquantainces and friends, do not do so. Business and friendship rarely mix well. There is always conflict or problems that will arise of this. I have lost friendships because of my job. Not that these friendships couldn’t be repaired, but once your friend looses trust in you because he talked with another financial planner or your ex-coworkers, is the frienship really worth salvaging?
Naturally, these friends are nothing more than acquaintences. Very close friends are always hard to loose. Especially if you have known them for a number of years. As I write about this, I can give one piece of advice. Do not invest in the stock market. My best advice as a financial planner is for anybody wanting to save money, to buy a house and put all their savings into their mortgage, because every dollar you put into your mortgage, is a dollar on which you do not have to pay any interest. And try taking out a mortgage credit line instead of a traditional mortgage. That way, if you have any spare money, just dump it into the mortgage.
This works well for expats as well. We plan on buying a home in Vancouver in few years, taking a mortgage credit line out instead of a normal mortgage (like Manulife One) and putting all of our savings of each month into it. Things get even better if you have a rental property. In Canada, you do not pay any capital gains tax on your main home. If it is sold, it is tax free. It is a great way to plan your retirement and your future.
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I still believe that Taiwan is the land of opportunity. So many jobs, so many things to check out. Life is good here and the fruits are so delicious. Do I miss what I had in Canada? Nope. I had debts, a mortgage, a job I didn’t like, a car that was too expensive and other stuff that I do not have to think about anymore. Since foreigners can not get credit, we live with our paychecks and pay everything in cash. I love that. Once our debts are paid off, which will be in a few months, we will be free to save and to enjoy our money. I have heard some foreigners say that after a while, you can not spend all of your money, you just have money left over, even if you try to spend it all. I kind of like hearing that.
Finding the right school can take a few weeks. I suggest that if you want to teach in Taiwan, you just come over with a few thousand USD. 2000 USD would be enough to help you out until you find a job. Do not try to use agencies. Agencies are bad news. Even though it seems easier, finding a teaching position in Taiwan is quite easy. Set up interviews from your home country, try setting up phone interviews, some employers will hire from afar if they receive your credentials and a photograph.
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