The English School Owners
I'm really happy to be able to bring you another Reader Profile today. Dave and Amy run a number of English-teaching related businesses and are active in the teaching community. I finally met Amy last year at the Tokyo RetireJapan seminar and she's been an enthusiastic member of our gang ever since.
Take it away, Amy!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m American. Dave's English. We met in Japan in 1996. We have 2 boys, born and raised in Japan. We own 4 English schools. We also make texts, games and flashcards for the EFL market and our own students.
2. How did you get started with personal finance?
I’ve always worked. In elementary school, I would paint houses in the summer, sell the cakes I made and clean houses on a Saturday (honestly can’t believe I did all of that). In high school, I babysat and waitressed. In university, I waitressed and did work study. I wanted to work and earn, but hadn’t thought about the saving side yet.
I had massive loans from my University (despite scholarships and work study) when I came to Japan. I paid them off in 2 years. At the time, I didn’t think of that as personal finance, I just didn’t want to be in debt.
And then I got suckered by financial advisers. One of my first jobs in Japan was with ECC. They set up a conference with Banner. Wanting to do the right thing and save for retirement, I got roped into various ‘plans’. Most of these were terrible and I quickly lost any money invested. I pulled out of all except 1 ‘plan’ which is difficult to pull out of because I am roped in until 2030. It was / is a big mistake.
When we thought about retirement, we thought our schools would be our pension. The thinking was we would continue to run the schools, providing us with an income.
In 2016 - 17, I started reading the Retire Japan site. Then I went to Ben’s seminar in Tokyo in 2017. That changed our lives.
I started reading MORE books, re-read ALL previous posts on the retire Japan site and took action.
Now I want to save and invest money so that we don’t have to rely on our schools.
3. What are you doing at the moment?
Everything Ben recommended!
We joined the pension service (backpaying 3 years). This enabled both of us to join iDeCo and small business, cutting our tax bill significantly.
My husband contributes to his NISA (the maximum amount) and THEO. I contribute to Interactive Brokers.
We have set up Junior NISA for both kids and contribute the maximum amount.
We also talk to our kids regularly about finances. Each month, we show them how much money is coming in and how much is going out and on what.
We ask their opinions on how we can increase our income and reduce our expenses.
We encourage them to earn their own money, save and invest (they’ve been hosting special classes for students). We show them the compound interest calculator and how saving from an early age can ‘magically’ grow their money.
We don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes we've made. We want them to have a goal for financial independence. Not so they don’t have to work—so that they can decide themselves what they want to do.
4. What books/websites/companies do you recommend?
The Retire Japan site of course. Millionaire Teacher/Your Money or Your Life/The Millionaire Next Door.
5. What's your plan going forward?
My husband will join the UK pension, back paying to get the full benefit.
We will get rid of 1 smart phone (at least) when the contract comes up in 2019 and further lower our monthly fees further by getting rid of SoftBank.
I’m looking into setting up Vanguard accounts for my kids (already tried for myself but couldn’t do it).
Downsize our house to pay less rent.
Keep growing our schools. Make more games and flashcards to go with our textbooks (a win win). Text books with materials are much easier to use in the classroom.
6. Any other thoughts?
Start now. Live by simple rules:
1. Earn as much as you can.
2. Save and invest as much as you can.
3. Be frugal: think—do I REALLY need this? or can I do without. Dave stopped his daily can of coffee, saving his health and around 400 US$ a year.
4. Diversify: try to have as many income streams as you can.
5. Keep your health— if you don’t have your health….
6. Track your spending. It’s hard to reduce spending if you don’t know what you’re spending money on.
Educate yourself, your kids and your employees (if you have them).
Start now (already said, but worth repeating).
Our financial situation has changed COMPLETELY since I went to Ben’s seminar in March 2017. It’s only been a year.
Do it yourself: stay away from financial advisors.
Wow, thank you so much Amy! Completely agree with your rules and advice :)
It's so encouraging to hear back from people who took something they learned from the site and actually implemented it. That is why RetireJapan exists and the best thing people can do is to pay it forward by telling other people about personal finance. We can really change lives and communities for the better just by sharing a few basic concepts.
I'd also love to work with anyone with a Reader Profile or Guest Post to share. Get in touch via the site or by email.
How about you? Have you made any changes to your finances recently?