If you’ve ever wondered how to survive without a job, while living better than all of your friends combined, this post is for you.
Almost 3 years ago, I gave up a comfortable life in San Francisco in order to travel the world and see just how far I could stretch my pitiful savings into a life adventure.
The answer? A lot farther than you might think.
In this post I’m going to step back from my usual musings on how to be a successful affiliate marketer, and instead share my personal outlook and why I’m able to live the lifestyle I do.
The Right Mindset
To me, the entire key to success isn’t about wealth. It’s about life.
Money is a mechanism, a tool. It’s not the end aim. Accepting that one simple statement – and a stubborn persistence not to ever need a job again – is what drove me to create the passive income streams I currently enjoy, and has allowed me the freedom to travel as I please and live the life I want.
If I were to break it down, I think this mindset rests on 2 main pillars:
Time Over Money
The first is time over money. For most people, this is a major mind-shift.
If you’re like me, you were taught that if you study hard you can get a good job, and then if you work hard for 40 years you can eventually retire and live out your senior citizenship in modest wealth.
The only problem is: by the time you can retire, you’ve worked your life away, including your prime years when you should be out enjoying the world.
Not only that, but by taking this mindset, you inevitably find you’ll create a “magic number” to chase. That number is what you “need” in order to live the life you need without working. But, in order to get to that number, you need to work. And if you decide you want to bump up your quality of life, that number grows exponentially, and you only have to work more…and more…and more.
The philosophy of time over money is that it’s ok to take the time you want to enjoy the things you want to do. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a trip to Europe or cello lessons. If you don’t do it now, you never will.
So, instead of focusing on accruing a certain number in savings or investments, I focus on earning the amount I need to do the activities that I want to do. If you begin to break down the real costs of things, you may find that this step alone is easier than you think.
Freedom Over Money
The second core mind-shift is about freedom.
By ‘freedom’ I don’t just mean the extra time of not having to hold down a “normal” job, but the ability to work when I want, where I want, and as much or as little as I want.
As I write this, I’m actually sitting in the airport in Bogota, Colombia, waiting for a flight to Quito. How’s that for squeezing in a little work during downtime?
Just how free you can be depends upon how you decide to make your money. For me, I started with a normal job. That obviously didn’t cut it, so I made the leap to entrepreneurship and ran my own company for a few years. That was better, but I found that there’s a huge difference between 80% freedom and 100% freedom. I still had to put in face time to grab coffee with clients or something along those lines, and that prohibited me from taking that backcountry trek through Peru.
My third step towards freedom was to ditch “formal entrepreneurship” in favor of consulting and side projects. That was better, since I could be anywhere in the world taking calls, but I still felt restricted: I didn’t go kayaking down the Amazon because I was worried my client would have a crisis while I was offline.
So, finally, I found the solution. The key is to create an online business where you are in complete control of your time. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to work. It just means that no one else can tell you when or how much you work.
Trust me, it’s an amazing feeling.
That Whole Money Thing
Of course, a philosophy of how you want to work is only half the battle. The second half is actually turning it into a reality.
Money certainly isn’t endless, and being financially free is really about managing how you spend your money, along with how you earn it.
The first point I want to make is that you can achieve an incredible lifestyle by applying what I call “frugal wealth.”
This includes everything from choosing what country to live in, to deciding carefully what luxuries are the most important to you.
For starters, you can live a modern, wealthy lifestyle in South America, Africa, or Asia, for a fraction of the cost of what it takes to live in the US or Europe. Living well for less automatically means you can earn less without sacrificing. Earning less means fewer taxes, which means you have to earn even less. It’s a wonderful cycle.
For example, I once spent 5 months living on a beach in Mexico for less than the cost of 1 month’s rent in San Francisco. That savings allowed me to enjoy luxuries I never could have afforded otherwise: from side trips and excursions to 4 star restaurants.
Choose wisely, and you can live like a king.
The second (and perhaps most important) ingredient to survive without a job is to develop a consistent passive income. I write more about the details of how to do that here, but the basics are quite simple.
Rather than exchange your time for money, as most people do, use your time to work for revenue-producing assets.
If you’re just starting out, one of the best ways to begin generating passive income is to build an affiliate business. You can learn more about how to do that in this post.
Or, check out a list of other top online businesses you can start from scratch.
Pay It Forward
Finally, the last element of this philosophy is to pay it forward.
I’m a firm believer in supporting causes you believe in and using your time for good…however you might define that.
One thing most people don’t know, however, is that you can actually use your charitable endeavors as a way to help support your lifestyle.
I’ve participated in numerous volunteer programs that have not only helped me keep my living expenses low, but have included added bonuses (in terms of activities involved, extra excursions, and overall amazing life experiences) that I never could have afford on my own.
Whatever your passions are, and whatever your favorite cause is, there’s probably a way to volunteer your time and efforts to help it, while helping yourself in the meantime.
Conclusions and Where To Learn More
Now that I’ve gone through the high level view of how I think about life, wealth, and freedom, you might be wondering how to start this process for yourself.
My point in writing this post isn’t to brag about anything I’ve done, but simply to illustrate that it is possible to do anything you want to do, as long as you structure your life to allow you to do it.