Things happen in life that change you in a really, really big way. Sometimes, you see the asteroid coming, and you know the impact is gonna be huge. Other times, it's just a small, average snowball... from that, you would never anticipate the avalanche. While I’ve talked about some of the various big moments I’ve experienced on my website, I’m going to try something different — chronological order! — in a new 4-part blog series called "How Did I Get Here?" This is Chapter 1.
In the year-plus since I semi-retired, I’ve noticed something unexpected: just how polarizing and controversial the word “retire” is. (Especially among the generation older than I.) And it’s really no wonder that some people straight up scoff at retiring early, in a nation where busy-ness and overwork is a badge of honor... and when the first question we are asked when we meet someone new is, “So what do you do?" But many of those reactions confuse me. Here's why.
Last year, I shared that I socked away $30K in cash to fund my sabbatical, and I just revealed how I lived on $27K in 2022. So... $30K minus $27K = $3K left to work with in 2023, right? Not exactly. I have a few tricks up my sleeve... dominos I put in place in years past. It turns out the moves I've made allowed me to "earn" ~$13K in 2022 without a job, real estate, or lifting a finger (except for a few clicks of my mouse!).
I’m coming upon the end of my first year of mini-retirement, and as usual, I’m sharing yet another spending recap with you (as I’ve done all year long as I’ve traveled across Mexico and Europe)! You’ll recall, at the end of 2021, at age 36, I participated in the great resignation/financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement. After quitting my job, my goal for my semi-retirement was to take back my time, energy, and creativity for MYSELF, vs. my employer… and to get the most out of my travels sans the demands of a job. Now that my first year “on sabbatical” is coming to a close, here’s my total spending for the year (as an unemployed person spending five-sixths of the year traveling across 14 countries): $27,014.26, or $74 a day. This is how I lived. P.S. Want to join me for a free webinar and Q&A where I dig in deep to my budget and spending? Enter to receive the details by email.
December 10, 2021 was my last day of full-time employment, and if I were to sum up my first year of semi-retirement in one statement, it’s this: I am prioritizing myself like I’ve never done before. And while this could be a side effect of the fact that no employer owns my workday, this is also me making a conscious choice… I’ve chosen this. I’ve re-prioritized. I’ve identified what matters to me, decided how I’m going to live my life, and I’m doing it. And ever since then, this choice has shown up in my life in several ways.
After I quit my job, transitioning from an earner to a spender was not emotionally easy for me… but this is how I adjusted, and now, I'm at peace with it.
I may WANT to work again, should my choices dictate. But probably, definitely, not in the way that a lot of people work — because they have to, because they're trapped in a debt cycle, because the lifestyle they've chosen comes with a never-ending financial responsibility, because they care about status and appearances and bigger and better and more. Not me.
In May 2022, this little retired nomad went to Mexico City… staying in CDMX’s Condesa neighborhood (May 1-23) and Oaxaca (May 23-31 and ongoing)! Mexico City reminds of New York City, and according to this cost-of-living index, it’s 60% less expensive than NYC. And in general, Mexico is 47.21% lower than the United States. That math seems to check out with my experience!
Success isn’t linear. (Nor is financial gain an absolute indicator of success — or happiness.) Case in point: I won a National Emmy Award at age 20 and a Regional Emmy Award at age 21. (Best college newscast while I was news director, and best advanced media for content my team and I produced.) Then I was laid off from my newsroom job in Minneapolis at age 22 and had to move back in with my parents. There's more...
Boy, does time fly. I’ve now been in Mexico for four months, and I have a number of new cities under my belt! After leaving Puerto Vallarta in early April, I went to La Mazanilla, Melaque, Mazamitla, Morelia, and Patzcuaro. I spent the long Easter weekend in San Miguel de Allende, a night in Querétaro, and the rest of the month in Mexico City. I have now traveled over 4,200 kilometers in Mexico!
Before you say, "I’m one of those people who will never get ahead, who will never be able to save, who will never be able to not work"... in 2017, I had no job, a car I owed on, a $1,350 house payment on a house full of stuff I never used, peanuts in my 401K, and only $1,500 in cash. That was my situation, and I made changes. You can too.
I’ve never believed in living a life of restriction and deferred enjoyment, of saving up your money for a luxurious retirement that may never come. It’s just not me, nor is it what this blog is about. I’m ok without designer purses, new cars, and brand name clothes. I don’t stay or eat at the [...]
The average person works super hard for ~45 years and hopes all his efforts have paid off; that he will still have physical health and presence of mind (and financial security) to enjoy the time he has left. It doesn’t always work out that way. Case in point: my father. I’m young (36). I’m healthy. I’m single, un-obligated and uninhibited, with only a pup to care for. So to my employer: it's over. It’s not you, it’s me. Call it a sabbatical or a mini retirement or a temporary early retirement, I need to put my priorities, passions, and purpose first. I’m going where the creativity takes me, while I have the blessing of mental prowess, physical health, and minimal obligations.