Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Exile Lifestyle, a short review


Today I'm going to write a book review of Colin Wright's book entitled, My Exile Lifestyle.

For those of you who do not know who Colin Wright is, check out his About page here. But if you're lazy to click that link then here's a short introduction.

Colin Wright is a designer/writer/full time traveler. What makes him different from the usual digital nomad is the fact that he lets his readers choose (or vote) where his next destination would be.

Anyway, that's about it for an introduction.

My Exile Lifestyle is a book that chronicles Colin's adventures, well, not entirely as there are some essays/musings that are really fun to read...and were not actually related to his travels.

What really got me into buying this book was its book cover.

See what I mean?

I don't want to spoil you guys of a great reading experience, so this review will be short and concise. (Okay, maybe not really concise...sorry. I'm not really good with writing book reviews. And it doesn't help that I've read this one last month.)

Throughout the book, Colin gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to be a traveler. A minimalist traveler to be exact. (Speaking of Minimalism, please do check out The Minimalist by Joshua Millburn)

I've always labeled myself as a minimalist, but after reading My Exile Lifestyle, I realized that I'm not even close at being one. Actually, I thought that minimalism only applies to art. I never imagined that it could become a lifestyle.

Quick trivia: Colin only owns about 51 (I have to check if this is still the exact number.) items in the whole world.

Anyway, this book is filled with guides and some tips on travelling, life lessons, and Colin's adventure from different countries like South America, New Zealand and Thailand. I personally enjoyed his Thailand adventures, especially the fish ball incident. (To Colin, if you're reading this, I couldn't stop laughing when I read that entry.)
I have learned a handful of things with this book, not to mention the urge of packing up my stuff and go on a backpack travel. But then I realized that 1. I don't own a backpack, and 2. I'm not financially ready.

I'm not really a fan of travelogues, but I honestly enjoyed reading My Exile Lifestyle. With that, I'm going to end this post by saying that I'm giving it 5 stars and that you should check it out.

That's for now.



PS. AFAWFAY WEEK 16 is out!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Decreased tax withholding rate on royalties for Non-US


I received a letter in my mailbox today from IRS regarding my EIN application. I actually got my EIN the day I called up the IRS Philadelphia office (which was a month ago,) but I still got excited when I read the letter.

Anyway, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I will be sharing how I got my EIN number, and why you should get one if you’re earning some royalties from the US. I’m not good with writing tutorials, so please bear with me. (I’m more of a creative writer, in fact, my YA novel, PLEASE STAY is now available in digital formats at AMAZON and SMASHWORDS!)

If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you soon.

So to start…

I’ve been receiving some income from the US since 2008, and those income came from different streams like POD (print on demand business like Zazzle) and recently with self-publishing, (Smashwords and AMAZON KDP)

Since I’m not a US citizen, I am subjected to a 30% withholding rate. You’ve probably heard of this since you’re reading this post. So moving on, I’ve learned that I needed to submit a completed W-8BEN form indicating that I’m not a US citizen (I’m from the Philippines) and that an existing tax treaty between the US and my country states that I’m eligible to apply for a tax deduction. (in my case, my withholding rate decreased down from 30% to 15%, it depends on your country.)

Getting a W-8BEN form is easy, and you can download it from the IRS website here. But the tricky part is obtaining the ITIN that goes with your W-8BEN application. It’s a long process, and there are a bunch of requirements needed. Luckily, I learned that there’s a much easier way to do it. And this is how…


No, it’s different from ITIN since ITIN is a tax identification number, while an EIN is an employer identification number, but it will still get the job done.


1.       Download  an SS4 form from IRS here and fill it up.

SS4 form sample
(you don't have to print this)

2.       When you’re done, call the IRS office in Philadelphia. YES!! LONG DISTANCE!! It’s worth it, I SWEAR!

Internal Revenue Service
Attn:  EIN International Operation
Philadelphia, PA  19255

Tel # +1 267 941 1099 (I used my mobile phone and it took me about 15 min.)
Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F

You will then be asked some questions which are found in the SS4 form you just accomplished. And since this is a telephone exchange, you’ll have to spell out your name and address letter by letter.

You will then be asked for a reason why you’re applying for an EIN, in which case you’ll answer that it’s for online royalties. As for my own experience, I was asked for the kind of royalties I’m receiving and I said it was for e-books. (Though it can also apply for others such as selling shirts, apps etc.)

She then put me on hold for about a minute and she came back with my EIN number! Yes, that’s how fast it was!

After receiving your EIN, you will then proceed with filling up your W-8BEN Form.

W-8BEN form sample
(you have to print it)

Don’t forget to write “SELF” in the blank that says Capacity in which acting below beside the SIGN HERE portion and you’re done.

I haven’t yet submitted my form to Zazzle, but I already did with my Smashwords and Amazon KDP, and they already changed my withholding from 30% to 15%.

Again, the rate of your withholding depends on the tax treaty between your country and the US.


So that’s it! I primarily wrote this post for people looking for a solution for the 30% withholding tax rate, and since there are a few of them, I thought that sharing my own experience would help a lot of people.

Again, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. :D

Thank you and good day!


P.S Don’t forget to checkout my novel PLEASE STAY.

P.P.S I’m on twitter too! @denisewy

Saturday, September 1, 2012

AFAWFAY 13 And Some Musings

I know that I've announced on an earlier post that I wouldn't post updates regarding AFAWFAY in this blog. But I just want to share this week's challenge. :)

Having read some interesting blogs and books these past few days had made me realize something. I WRITE CRAPPY POST along with my weekly design challenge. I know that it’s not an unobvious thing, but I couldn’t help but be ashamed of myself. So that’s why, I’ve decided to write something that would somehow share things that happened to me this week. (Which is something I should’ve done with my earlier posts!)
My week started okay, I finished a project (at work) and went on starting a new one. For some strange reason, there was something about the project that felt uncomfortable to me. I don’t know what it was, but anyway, I was able to pull it off. Then yesterday (Friday) the design came back with A LOT of revisions. Apparently, I wasn’t paying attention to the details that were important to the project. AND I FELT FREAKING BAD.
I wasn’t reprimanded, but that didn’t stop me from feeling bad about myself (as stated above,) and I began asking myself, “What the hell was I thinking?” Which eventually had me thinking if I’m really right for the job I’m currently in. (I do tend to over think stuff.)
My friends think highly of me, and they always think that I’m likely to succeed in whatever endeavors I take. But at that moment, on my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking that I’m nothing but a dreamer, who does nothing to make that dream come true. And I felt like a big fraud.
As for my job, I’m happy with it. I mean, sure I’m not designing products that will change the world, but I’ve learned a lot things both related to design and well… marketing? But I feel that there’s something missing, or perhaps, the problem is just me. I know I can do great things, but somehow, I’m not giving my all. And with that, I think it’s time that I start changing the way how I look at myself, at the world.
Maybe I should start becoming an optimist for a change.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move along with this week’s design.
It’s a bench. Well, I kind of envisioned it as a public bench found on a city, but I guess I would have to make some adjustment for the material if that’s the case.


Weaved Rattan
Noticed something? No bamboo. :D
I planned on designing something inspired from a salmon. (My mom made a killer salmon sandwich the other day.) I started playing around with an organic shape until I decided to change the material then SHAZAM!
It’s actually nice, right? Okay, this is my work so I’m biased, but I like how simple it looks and I love designing furniture that feels just like this.
Anyhow… That’s for now, I got a lot of reading and writing stuff waiting for me. See you next week!
PS I’m on twitter too! @denisewy