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Refocusing for 2016: Living in Vietnam’s Low-Cost Economy

By Dave Fox
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

[This article looks back at the work I did in 2015 and how I’m changing things up for 2016, with a stronger focus on teaching and coaching writers. I’m offering my best deal ever for one-on-one coaching sessions. If you want to cut to the chase and find out about these packages before they’re all sold out, you can jump to the details here.]

Every December, I look back on the year that is ending, and figure out what has gone well and what I want to change. I have some exciting things coming in 2016, including a big sale on my writing coach services.

Ho Chi Minh City: Rumbling toward new adventures in 2016.

Ho Chi Minh City: Rumbling toward new adventures in 2016.

For me, 2015 has been an exciting and challenging transition. Moving from Singapore to Saigon was a huge lifestyle change. Transplanting myself from a wealthy powerhouse nation to a less affluent country – with a rapidly growing economy but a more laid-back personality – has given me new perspectives on what’s important to me and how I want to live my life.

One of the things I love about living in Vietnam is the prices. Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world. In Saigon, on the other hand, my monthly mobile phone bill, including high-speed data, is six dollars. Plumbers and electricians charge five dollars an hour. A 75-minute massage in a professional spa costs 16 dollars. A tasty meal at a local restaurant runs me two to three bucks.

Of course, you should never live somewhere just because it’s cheap. I love Saigon for its energy and friendly chaos. And yes I still have some first-world expenses: flights home to see family and friends, retirement savings, high-speed fiber Internet to keep my business running smoothly, and occasional splurges on Western products at Western prices. But overall, I live happily on a lot less money here, and I’m passing some of what I’m saving onto my writing students. 

What Really Matters

Living in Singapore was a financial scramble. Last year, I took on two mammoth freelance assignments that weren’t in line with what I most love doing. That’s something freelancers must do from time to time, but these particular projects went haywire.

They consumed far more time than I anticipated and made me miserable. Finishing them was a struggle and a learning experience. As I clawed my way out, I found myself thinking, “I don’t want to do this again. What is it I really love doing?”

There are many answers to that. Whittling my “Stuff I Want to Do” list down to a rational size required weighing passions versus business realities. Several people whose business advice I trust were urging me to relaunch my podcast. I got excited about that idea. Then I realized, making a podcast profitable takes time, and for now, it needs to be in my “hobby” column.

The other thing that kept bouncing to the top of my list was teaching and writer coaching. I love teaching writing as much as I love writing. It’s both thrilling and rewarding to see my students achieve breakthroughs and become more confident, powerful writers.

So in 2016, I have decided to focus heavily on teaching – with new online writing courses on the way and a nice, end-of the-year surprise for anyone interested in individualized coaching.

Special Offer: Discounted Coaching Sessions

For many years, my rate for one-on-one coaching has been US $85 per hour. My students will tell you it’s a worthwhile investment if you want to quickly improve your writing abilities, and unravel style issues and mental obstacles that are getting in your way.

Now that I’m living in Vietnam, I’m in a position where I can charge less, help more writers, and still squirrel away enough money for retirement and a trip or two each year to see friends and family on other continents. So for the next few months, I’m lowering my rates. In addition, I have a huge offer this month for the first ten people who sign up. (I do coaching via Skype and other online services, so you can be anywhere in the world with an Internet connection!)

  • This month (December, 2015), the first ten people who sign up can get an introductory session for $50, and I’m throwing in a free membership in the new course I launched last month, “Write-Brained 1: Overcome Writer’s Block and Write Confidently.” (If you’ve already joined that workshop, you can instead receive my next course when it’s available. It will focus on distractions, procrastination, motivation, and how to be a more productive writer.) There are only ten slots available! I might open up a few more slots in early 2016, but I expect them to fill quickly, so if you want to do this, jump fast!
  • For the first three months of 2016, I’m also lowering my general coaching fees. A three-session package will cost $195 ($65 per hour). Once you’ve completed three sessions, you can then purchase additional single sessions through June for $65 each.

Get the details and sign up here.

(For more info on the things I can help you with, please check out my general Writing Coach page, and feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about whether I can help with your specific goals. I am sincerely committed to giving you great value and don’t want to take money from people I can’t help!)

We’ve still got a few weeks left in 2015. I hope this year has been an adventure for you and that 2016 will be even bigger! Whether your goals for the new year involve writing or anything else, I’d love to hear what they are. I love hearing from my readers around the world, so don’t be shy! Drop me an e-mail and let me know your goals for the coming year!

Want to get in on the $50 deal? Here’s how to sign up!

Published on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

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