CNBC make it 2024-07-09 01:23:39


This is the most affordable country for expats in 2024, according to a new report

Moving to a foreign country may seem like a pipe dream, but it doesn’t have to break the bank.

When deciding whether to move overseas for life or work, one of the biggest factors to consider is personal finances.

For the fourth consecutive year, Vietnam is the most affordable country in the world for expats, ranking first out of 53 destinations when it comes to personal finances, according to a 2024 InterNations study.

To be clear, out of 53 places, it came in 40 for quality of life, 29 for expat essentials such as digital life, housing and language, and ranked 14 for working abroad — with considerations like career prospects, salary and job security factored in.

More than 12,000 expats across 174 territories worldwide participated in the broader Expat Insider 2024 survey which provided insights including the best and worst places to live, quality of life, working abroad and personal finance.

For the Personal Finance Index, InterNations asked survey respondents to rank their personal satisfaction levels in three areas: general cost of living, satisfaction with financial situation, and whether disposable household income was enough to lead a comfortable life.

This data was used to compile the report which remains largely unchanged from last year, with the exception of a new entrant to the list — Brazil (9th) — replacing Malaysia, which dropped from 5th in 2023 to 11th this year.

Here are the top 10 destinations expats say are best for their personal finances:

  1. Vietnam
  2. Colombia
  3. Indonesia
  4. Panama
  5. Philippines
  6. India
  7. Mexico
  8. Thailand
  9. Brazil
  10. China

Asian countries dominated this year’s list, nabbing six out of the top 10 positions. Southeast Asia, in particular, stood out with Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand all ranking in the top 10.

“Housing is a big plus in all four countries: Thailand ranks 1st, Vietnam 2nd, Philippines 5th, and Indonesia 8th,” Kathrin Chudoba, chief marketing officer for InterNations, told CNBC Make It. “Most expats agree that it’s easy to find housing, and they are happy with how affordable it is.”

Out of surveyed expats living in Vietnam, 86% rate its cost of living favorably — that’s more than twice the global average of 40%, and 65% of respondents in the country say they are satisfied with their financial situation compared to 54% globally, according to the report.

In addition, 68% of respondents say their disposable household income is more than enough to lead a comfortable life, compared to 41% globally, the survey showed.

Life here is stress-free for me, it’s a wonderful change from my work life, which was very consuming and hectic.
British expat living in Vietnam

Not only are costs of living low, expats tend to be paid more in Vietnam.

“Close to double the global average report a gross yearly income of 150k USD or more (19% vs. 10% globally),” according to InterNations.

In addition, general job satisfaction is also very high among expats in the country. Vietnam jumped from 24th rank last year to 3rd in 2024 for this factor, which is part of the “Work Culture & Satisfaction” subcategory, said Chudoba.

Generally, “work-life balance trumps career advancement” in Vietnam, according to the report. Notably, less than half (46%) of the country’s expat population works full time, compared to the global average of 57%. About one in five expats (21%) works part-time, and about 18% of expats are retired.

“Life here is stress-free for me, it’s a wonderful change from my work life, which was very consuming and hectic,” said a British expat in the report.

Along with measuring expats’ satisfaction with their personal finances, the InterNations Expat Insider study also gathered data on what the overall best destinations are for expats globally.

This broader list explores how expats feel across other aspects of life abroad, based on 5 indices: general happiness, quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad and their “expat essentials” index, which is based on administration, housing, digital life and language.

Out of 53 destinations globally, four Asian countries made it into the overall top 10 list this year: Indonesia (3rd overall), Thailand (6th overall), Vietnam (8th overall) and the Philippines (9th overall).

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28-year-old left the U.S., relocated to Thailand, and pays $544/month for his 1-bedroom apartment

In April 2021, Paul Lee took a vacation to Thailand. Five months later, he decided to leave the United States behind and make a permanent move to the Asian country.

Lee, originally from Georgia, had been living in New York City and grossing around $1 million a year thanks to his e-commerce business. Despite doing well enough to pay for his parent’s retirement, the 28-year-old tells CNBC Make It he found himself without purpose, feeling depressed, and needing to make a change.

“When I first arrived to Thailand, I just felt rejuvenated. Everything was completely new to me, and I felt like it was a fresh new start,” Lee says. “The more and more I live here, the more and more I fall in love with the city.”

Since moving to Bangkok, Lee has been making around US $150,000 a year as a content creator and real estate agent, according to documents reviewed.

Working in real estate helped Lee find several living arrangements in Bangkok, including luxury condos. The apartment he’s in now is a one-bedroom in the Thonglor neighborhood which Lee says is “the Soho of Bangkok.”

It’s a 650-square-feet unit that costs 20,000 baht — around USD $544 — in monthly rent. Lee also pays $20 for Wi-Fi, $80 for electricity, and $3 for water each month. The apartment came furnished, and Lee has access to amenities, including a pool and a gym.

To move in, Lee had to pay a security deposit of two months’ rent or about $1,088.

Despite lower grocery costs in Bangkok, Lee eats out for every meal and spends $500 a month on food. “I’m not gonna lie, the food in New York City was very good as well, but I think in Thailand, it’s just a lot more homey, a lot more local, and a lot spicier,” Lee says.

His other expenses include a $93 monthly gym membership which is a bit of a splurge considering Lee has free access to a gym in his building. But the cost is worth it for Lee, because he can take advantage of the co-working space, coffee, and numerous networking opportunities in the space.

Also his current gym’s price is nothing compared to luxury gyms in New York, like Equinox, where memberships can start at $240 a month.

Lee has only returned to the U.S. one time since his big move to Thailand — for his sister’s wedding. He tells CNBC Make It he chose to leave New York City because he found himself being too materialistic and living in an “environment that was just very individualistic, very doggish, and very hyper-aggressive.”

“Bangkok stood out to me because it seemed very metropolis. It seemed very fun. It seemed very affordable and it just had a very good culture and didn’t really have any major compromises to me,” Lee says.

Lee has made a new life for himself in Thailand, he says, and returning to the U.S. doesn’t feel likely.

“I had to go through this journey of being poor and becoming quite wealthy to realize all this wealth that I had accumulated didn’t really give me what I wanted and didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for,” Lee says.

His parents were initially shocked he’d moved so far but ended up following in his footsteps when they moved to South Korea. They visit him in Bangkok from time to time, and Lee travels to see them, too. He says it’s one of the best perks of his new life in Thailand.

“At the end of the day, even though I don’t make nearly as much money as I made in New York City, I am far… wealthier in terms of my happiness, in terms of my well-being, my peace,” he added. “These are things I never was able to achieve back home in the States.”

Conversions from Thai baht to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 baht to 0.02 USD on July 1, 2024. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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Here’s how much money Americans in their 30s have in their 401(k)s—and how much they want to retire with

People in their 30s may be a long way off from their retirement savings goals, but they have plenty of time to get on track.

On average, Americans say they’ll need around $1.46 million saved up to retire comfortably, according to Northwestern Mutual’s “2024 Planning and Progress” study. And for millennials, the majority of whom are in their 30s, that number is a little over $1.6 million.

However, many in their 30s have much less than that saved.

The median 401(k) balance for people in their 30s is around $22,100 as of the first quarter of 2024, per the latest data from Fidelity Investments, one of the country’s largest 401(k) providers.

Here’s how much Americans have in their 401(k)s by age, according to Fidelity.

To be fair, many Americans are stretching their funds to cover a number of expenses which may impact their ability to save more for retirement.

Over a third of people cite the rising cost of living as an obstacle to reaching their retirement goals, per Fidelity Investments’ “2024 State of Retirement Planning.” And nearly 30% say that paying off credit card debt and unexpected expenses are barriers.

How to get your retirement savings on track in your 30s

If you’re in your 30s and worried about your retirement savings, the good news is that you have time to get on track.

First off, rather than solely focusing on your account balance, which can be impacted by factors such as market volatility — and which will ostensibly grow at a compounding rate over time — take a look at your savings rate. That’s the percentage of your pre-tax annual income that you set aside for retirement each year.

Fidelity recommends a savings rate of 15% which includes your employer’s match, if offered. However, you may need to increase that savings rate if you’re just starting in your late 30s, compared to your earlier years, says Anne Lester, a retirement expert and author of “Your Best Financial Life: Save Smart Now for the Future You Want.”

“If you’re starting at 39, you’ll need to save a bit more aggressively than if you were starting at 32 or earlier,” she tells CNBC Make It.

To that point, if you’ve got nothing saved for retirement, Fidelity recommends a savings rate of 18% if you’re starting at age 30 and 23% if you’re beginning at age 35.

One way to reach that suggested savings rate is through auto-escalation, which allows you to set your retirement contributions to automatically increase by a certain percentage each year. For instance, you could automatically increase your savings rate by 2 or 3 percentage points each year until you reach your target rate.

Another way you can give your retirement savings a boost is by mentally preparing yourself to set aside a portion of any financial windfalls you may receive in the future such as raises or tax refunds, Lester says.

“Those raises and refunds are one way you can relatively painlessly start saving for retirement because you’re not giving anything up you already have,” she says.

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Preregister today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

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If you always use 12 phrases, you’re more emotionally intelligent than most

Do you think and speak in ways that mark you as being emotionally intelligent

After spending more than 25 years researching and writing books about emotional intelligence, I know that you should hope the answer is yes.

As I discuss in my most recent book “Optimal,” being emotionally intelligent means you’re more likely to be a high performer, be engaged in what you do, feel satisfied with your work, and be in a good mood on the job. 

What this looks and sounds like in practice breaks down along four domains of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Within these domains, there are a dozen specific abilities, or “competencies,” that distinguish star performers at work, both on teams and as leaders. Those include emotional self awareness, emotional self control, adaptability, achievement orientation, positive outlook, empathy, organizational awareness, influence, conflict management, inspirational leadership, coaching and mentoring, and teamwork.

Here are 12 phrases that emotionally intelligent people tend to think or say on a regular basis — each reflects a strength in one of the 12 competencies. 

1. ‘I can handle this’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Self management (self control)

No matter how stressful or upsetting your life, excellence in self-management — and in emotional self-control in particular — means you can keep disruptive emotions like anger or anxiety from getting in the way of what you have to do in the moment. And if you do get upset, you recover quickly.

2. ‘I can get better and so can you’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Self management (positive outlook)

Rather than assuming you or someone else is only as good at a particular skill or task as they seem at the moment, you realize everyone — you included — can get better with guidance and practice. 

This positive outlook lets you roll with the punches in life and lets you see the opportunities even in setbacks.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to becoming a master communicator and public speaker

3. ‘I’m excited about this change’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Self management (adaptability)

You’re able to navigate uncertainty and adapt to changes instead of being rigid in how you respond. You’re eager to learn new ways of doing and being.

4. ‘This is what really matters’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Self management (achievement orientation)

Keeping your eye on your big-picture goal, despite the distractions of the day, helps you achieve it.

5. ‘I have these thoughts because … ’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Self awareness

Having self-awareness means you understand what triggers your moods and how they make you think, feel, and want to act. You can recognize, for example, when your thoughts stem from feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness.  

Self-awareness is a prerequisite for better emotional self-control and self-management more broadly. 

6. ‘I get it—and I care about you’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Social awareness (empathy)

There are three kinds of empathy: 

  • Knowing how someone thinks about what’s going on
  • Sensing their feelings
  • Having concern for that person

Together, these three aspects of empathy build closeness and trust in any relationship.

7. ‘So that’s how things work around here’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Social awareness (organizational awareness)

Knowing who makes the decisions you care about offers you a key to the crucial dynamics of your organization. If you understand who’s involved and how things work, you’re often able to have influence. 

8. ‘What if you tried doing it this way?’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Relationship management (influence)

You know how to convince someone to see things your way. You don’t command, but rather suggest, how a person might do something better. 

9. ‘That means so much because … ’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Relationship management (inspirational leadership)

Outstanding leaders get the best efforts out of others by speaking about a shared purpose from the heart to the heart, in a way that resonates.

10. ‘We can work this out’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Relationship management (conflict management)

Talent at handling conflict means you don’t ignore it, can listen to all perspectives, and come up with win-win solutions.

11. ‘We have each other’s backs’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Relationship management (teamwork)

Feeling like we belong and having a sense of psychological safety on our team means we can give our best efforts and take risks to be innovative without fear of being ostracized or put down.

No matter what your role on the team, you know how to pitch in and collaborate, sharing both responsibilities and rewards. 

12. ‘This could help you’ 

Emotional intelligence competency: Relationship management (coaching and mentoring)

Coaching or mentoring is a key part of helping develop leaders for the future, strengthening your team and organization in the long run. You do it by giving feedback, offering support, and motivating people to learn and grow. 

Keep honing your emotional intelligence 

The more these phrases come up in your mind, the more emotionally intelligent you already are and the better your performance is likely to be. 

Each of us has strengths and limits across these 12 must-have EI competencies. To find out yours I recommend a “360” assessment — where people you know and trust rate you anonymously. It’s the best way to see your own EI profile. You can try the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory.

You might not be a natural in every competency that makes up emotional intelligence. But understanding EI as a broad set of skills and abilities and getting a snapshot of where you stand on each one will help you see what you can build on and where you have room to grow.

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist who shares his insights into the strengths of outstanding performers in the online learning program he designed to strengthen your emotional and social competencies. Daniel received his PhD in psychology and personality development from Harvard University. He is also the author of several books, including “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” and most recently ”Optimal: How to Sustain Personal and Organizational Excellence Every Day.”

Want to be a successful, confident communicator? Take CNBC’s new online course Become an Effective Communicator: Master Public Speaking. We’ll teach you how to speak clearly and confidently, calm your nerves, what to say and not say, and body language techniques to make a great first impression. Sign up today and use code EARLYBIRD for an introductory discount of 30% off through July 10, 2024.

Millionaire says parents should stop giving young people ‘terrible life advice’—here are the worst 5

It’s graduation season, which means many parents will observe a sacred rite of passage: dispensing terrible life advice to their kids.

Mom and Dad mean well. But the class of 2023 will enter a job market during one of the worst periods of uncertainty since the 2008 financial crisis.

I’ve endured similar crises, from growing up in poverty, to dropping out of high school to providing care for my disabled mother, to holding down two jobs while earning my college and law degrees.

Throughout my trials and my journey to becoming a self-made millionaire, bestselling author, CEO and investor, the one key to thriving was to not play it safe.

Here’s the worst and most outdated advice young people should ignore, and what to do instead:

1. “You need a fallback plan.”

A Wharton study found that just thinking about a backup plan can significantly reduce the likelihood of Plan A from happening, along with the motivation to even try.

There are only a handful of things you can break in your 20s that you can’t fix in your 30s. The only way you’ll have a shot at being the next Taylor Swift is to believe that you will be, and to not worry about what happens if you fall short.

Trust your capacity and agency to figure things out if Plan A doesn’t work.

2. “Cut down your screen time.”

Screens are the future of work. Playing video games for 10 hours straight might not help, but you can learn all sorts of lucrative new skills online.

If you want to start a side hustle, write a business plan, launch a website or market a product or service, the right resources are out there, and often at low or no cost at all.

3. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Partially untrue. While crippling anxiety should be addressed, not all anxiety is problematic. In fact, studies show that the most successful entrepreneurs harness anxiety and make it work for them.

They maintain what’s called a state of “optimal anxiety:” the balance between having enough anxiety to catalyze focus and improve performance but not so much as to inhibit excellence.  

4. “Go work at a big, stable company.”

It used to be sage advice to start your career at giants like Facebook, Google, Lyft, Netflix and Disney. But even companies that once promised 30-year careers are now facing massive layoffs.

Instead of going with a big name, go for the right role. Ensure that your interests and skills line up with the position you want, even if it’s at a small startup or midsize company.

Even better, use your skills and passion to start a business. It may sound crazy, but with a week of intense focus, you could use artificial intelligence to launch a business earning $10,000 a month. And then you won’t have to worry about layoffs.

5. “Buy a house and settle down.”

Lastly, the most important piece of advice every young person should know: Cash is king.

Save cash and preserve as much liquidity as possible. If it means renting or living at home, that’s fine. The housing market is due for a big correction that may take years to unwind.

And in a high inflationary environment, saving cash is more important than piling on debt. Credit card debt among people between 18 and 25 years old is also at the highest rate compared to any other age demographic, so be more cautious with excessive spending.

Matt Higgins is an investor and CEO of RSE Ventures. He began his career as the youngest press secretary in New York City history, where he helped manage the global press response during 9/11. Matt’s book, “Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your Full Potential,” is out now. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t miss:

  • A CEO shares the 5 toxic personality types he sees ‘over and over’ again—’I stay far away’
  • If you use these 13 phrases every day, you have higher emotional intelligence ‘than most people’: Psychology experts
  • I was VP at Google for 10 years. Here’s the No. 1 skill I looked for at job interviews—very few people had it

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