I’m really excited to publish this article! This is a guest post by Brandy from Art of Living on the Road – together with her husband Paolo, they have been travelling and living a nomadic life on the road after selling all their possessions. They now work for themselves and seem to be loving life, based on their travels!
As I was browsing through their blog and their beautiful pictures, I noticed that they had visited Barcelona, which made me super excited! The personal finance blogger community is heavily US-based, so finding someone who has visited my hometown doesn’t happen every day. In this article, they talk about one of our local traditions – Castellers. It’s basically a group of people forming a multi-storey tower – with kids that climb all the way to the top. I know, it sounds weird but it’s spectacular to watch. 🙂
Without further ado, here’s Brandy:
At the height of my career, I walked away from making nearly $200,000 a year. Crazy? Maybe. The stress of corporate America was literally killing me. I’d begun having chest pains before turning 40. There were things I was passionate about, writing, travel, my Husband and I was missing them all. It was time to make changes.
Now, nearly three years later, my Husband and I both work for ourselves and have the freedom to travel as we please. We work for our passions, not paychecks. Together as writer and photographer, we run Art of Living on the Road and ALOR Consulting. In 2016 we traveled extensively in Italy, Spain and Portugal. Spent time in France, Switzerland. Tackled two cross country journeys through America. Spent time with family and two months in Portland, Oregon.
There are many variations, but most of the questions we receive are centered around, how. How we afford to travel so much, to do this, to be nomadic? While answers to these questions are interesting, we believe sharing our steps is empowering.
Our path to a nomadic life is certainly not the only one. Yet by sharing it, we hope to take down barriers for others and show life change is possible, even at 40.
One thing to clarify right away: being a nomad is about freedom. Being in debt is the opposite. I would not recommend this lifestyle for anyone who has debt. Just remember this phrase:
“The things you own, own you.”
There is no secret to getting out of debt. I know because I did it as a single woman before I met my Husband and wrote about it on our blog. The short of it for the sake of this article, you either make more or spend less. Doing both at the same time is better.
Now, debt aside, here are the steps my Husband and I underwent as a couple, to begin our nomadic life together.
Do this immediately. Start with small things like making coffee instead of buying it. Cook, eat and drink at home. Small changes are often the easiest. Since the next step, planning, takes time, waiting until you have a plan to start saving more money just delays progress. Do what you can to start saving money today.
Shifting into a nomadic lifestyle comes with big changes. Make sure you’re ready by researching what to expect.
Just a few of the things we sacrificed? Comfortable habits, a sense of place and community. Creature comforts of owning a car, home, material items and perhaps the most difficult adjustment, giving up acknowledged symbols of success, personal space and privacy.
The pain points are real but the freedom is life changing. Research nomadic life. Create your travel bucket list. Read nomadic blogs, start a blog yourself about your process. Get to know other nomads on Twitter. Being inspired will help in two ways:
- It will replace old habits that trigger spending.
- The discomfort that comes from big life changes will be lessened because there’s a goal and purpose in front of you.
Make a plan
Determine your financial threshold. Ask the hard questions. How much money do you need to get by per month? How much money do you need in reserve to feel comfortable without earning? What’s the minimum amount of money you have to make a month and what are you willing to do to earn that money? Once you have those answers, you can set your own financial target and work towards hitting it.
In my experience, all nomads have a different set of questions and answers. So there is no hard and fast rule. The only real rule is to create a plan and to start working towards it. Personally, my Husband and I set the following guidelines:
- Retirement savings were off limits to remain on the road.
- $20,000 reserve at all times. If as a couple we dipped below that number, it was time to come off the road and focus on earning.
Beyond that, as long as we are saving and earning enough to cover our expenses, we can use our time and income as we see fit. True freedom.
Reduce Your Cost of Living
In order to get unhooked from full-time jobs and get on the road faster, we made some drastic changes as a couple. Moving from New York City to neighboring Jersey City, saved $20,000 in one year.
We didn’t stop there, we changed our phone plans saving over $1,000. We gave ourselves only one meal out a week and dropped our expenses by another $10,000. Drastically reducing the cost of living is the quickest way to build a cash reserve. For us, it took two years of reduced living to gain our freedom.
As part of your planning phase, start looking into every possible revenue stream you can create. Can you start consulting on the side now? Can you write? Are you comfortable as a waiter or bar tender? Would you babysit? Tutor? Teach a language? Would you be willing to house sit anywhere in the world to get free housing? Consider all the options in your imagination and your Google skills will uncover.
Guys, I’d love to hear what you think about the nomad lifestyle. Have you ever considered it? Would you be able to give up everything that Brandy and Paolo gave up in order to gain freedom?