Today we have a guest post for you from the couple behind the blog Screw the Average. They share their story with us and give us their take on the whole FI thing.
What’s your story?
We’re a married couple, one of us works in IT and the other in project management and corporate training.
Like you (and everyone in the FI/RE community) we’re taking a different approach in life. However, what we think is unique about our path is that instead of traveling after we FI/RE we decided we’d do it concurrently. Yes, it will slow us down a bit, but after careful consideration we decided the adventure and journey are more important than the destination and a specific dollar amount.
So, we set off and have been traveling long-term for nearly three years (out of one 36L backpack each!). In that time, we’ve been fortunate to visit 4 continents, 26 countries, and ~80 cities, all while having the pleasure of doing 47 house sits (and counting).
Are you on the way to financial freedom and would you like to share your challenges/achievements so far?
We’re on our way to financial independence and believe the most significant part of our journey is in fact the journey.
We consider ourselves to be incredibly fortunate to have found each other. We both shared similar ideas about lifestyle and finances when we met. So, when one of us had a goal of financial independence and full-time travel, the other was quickly on-board!
We’d like to think that our biggest challenges have become our biggest achievements.
- We’ve advanced our education and career to a point where we can work remotely.
- We’ve life hacked our monthly living expenses by foregoing paying rent or a mortgage, and instead house sitting full-time.
- We’ve leveraged credit card miles and points, travel hacking our way around four continents.
- We’re minimalists, valuing experiences over material items and have each lived out of a 36L backpack for nearly three years.
- We traveled Europe for a year and spent less than $25 a day per person and we did every tour, museum, and experience we wanted, while never staying in a hostel. In North America while traveling slower, our monthly budget averages under $700 a month. Yet, we rarely feel that we’re ‘missing out’.
Do you have an FI blog that you want to tell us about?
We sure do! It’s Screw The Average, be an outlier.
Summarize your blog in 25 words.
Our blog is meant to document our journey of continual long-term travel, house sitting, becoming digital nomads, travel hacking, pursuing financially independent, retire early (FI/RE), minimalism, etc.
What are your favourite posts and why?
On the travel side, some of our favorite posts are:
- The Ultimate Mattress Run | Hacking Hotel Rewards for Free Rooms with Hilton! We like this post because it shows what a little bit of creativity in the world of travel hacking can earn you.
- Our Extensive Travel List to Prepare for Long-Term Travel Internationally and Domestically We like this post because it takes out the complexity of knowing what to pack and what to prepare before embarking on long-term travel.
- On the FI/RE front we really enjoy Why We Made It and You Haven’t Yet*, and Financially Independent, Retire Early (FI/RE) for the Rest of Us, because they give a much better understanding of our background and our outlook in life.
- If we were to combine both FI/RE and travel, our favorite post would have to be our Ultimate Guide to House Sitting Jobs, a six part series. We drew on years of experience and nearly 50 completed house sits to create a resource that’s perfect for house sitting beginners and seasoned vets.
Tell us briefly about you and your story.
We’re husband and wife and lucky enough to be best friends. Somehow, we found each other in this chaotic, yet beautiful world. We aren’t the type to believe in fate, luck, or dreams. We believe in making things happen, hard work, and goals. Yet we recognize that we’re fortunate to have been born in a first-world country and neither of us have a chronic, debilitating illness.
We see merit in improving our faults and support each other in the effort. We both strive for continual improvement and live a life full of small actions, small choices, and small decisions that have big impacts on our lives. We believe in education by books and by life.
Because we strive to live with purpose and continuously learn and improve ourselves, we’ve created the life we want as digital nomads traveling the world and pursuing financially independent, retire early (FI/RE).
What brought you to the path to FI? Why did you not become consumerist idiots?
Before financial independence was a trend, one of us was already living life on a path that would take us there. And, because of a shared financial and lifestyle mindset, it was simple for the other to see merit in living the same way.
As children and young adults, we both dreamt of living a life with fancy material things, and as we began to make money, we made many purchases we wouldn’t make today. It’s not necessarily that making purchases or spending money are bad. It’s that we now choose to spend our money on things that enhance our life or bring us joy. In other words, we don’t equate success with being a consumer of material goods.
Every person is entitled to make their own lifestyle decisions and place value accordingly. Our hope is simply that every person can see that they have the ability to be under less financial strain by applying some of the principals of FI/RE to their everyday life. Furthermore, it would be wonderful to live in a world where everyone values the limited resources of our planet and helps their community by being kind, giving back, and appreciating differences.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
We travel full time as digital nomads and consider ourselves ‘home’ when we’re with each other. Whether we’re working, exploring a new place, having a new experience, or sitting on the couch watching a movie or playing a videogame, we’re content!
What are your goals in life? What’s on your bucket list?
Our goals in life are to be happy and create ‘options’ for ourselves. This means we push ourselves to be better and do better. Knowing the difference between being content and being complacent in life is a big part of being happy, in our humble opinions.
We want to help others. We want to be adventurous. We want to keep learning and keep teaching.
We want to travel the world and see everything it has to offer. We’ve been very fortunate in life so far and have had the pleasure of visiting the Pyramids of Giza and the ancient ruins of Athens, yet there’s still so much we want to see and do!
Japanese culture intrigues us and we can’t wait to visit Japan long-term.
We want to visit the ancient ruins of the Mayans and the Aztecs in the Americas.
We want to go to outer space.
We want to take one of our mothers on a vacation across the Atlantic.
We want to go on an Alaskan Cruise.
We want to hike the Grand Canyon.
We want to live a long and healthy life together.
What do you do to stay healthy?
We’re constantly on our feet and love to walk everywhere and nowhere. When we’re sightseeing, we prefer to walk because we see so much more than if we were driving from location to location. Our record is 23 miles in a day while visiting Madrid. We also walk to spend time together, to connect, and enjoy each other’s company.
We meditate, stretch, and exercise regularly (honestly, one of us is more consistent than the other!).
We try to eat a healthy diet, prioritizing our health not just for today but for longevity.
What is your FI strategy?
There seem to be two overarching strategies when it comes to FI. We approach it from a hybrid of both combining the ideas of making more with those of spending less.
We achieve this by pushing ourselves professionally, continuing to learn, and being able to make more and work less. And the money we do earn (depending on the year, we save ~75%+ of our income) goes into investments, like ETFs at Vanguard.
On the flip side, we’re getting more for less money by capitalizing on deals, travel hacking, and house sitting. We’ve always been minimalists, but traveling for years out of a 36L backpack has taught us what we truly need and what’s important to us. We value quality and functionality and don’t need much to live and be happy.
What are your favourite money/personal finance/investment tools?
We’re pretty straightforward in this regard. Vanguard for investing, a spreadsheet for tracking expenses, and a lot of dialogue between the two of us. Naturally, we also enjoy other blogs, podcasts, and forums in the FI/RE space since we’re happy to learn from the experience and knowledge of others!
WHAT WE REALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT YOU
If you were prime minister what law would you change?
As Americans we believe that health care and a good education are fundamental rights. However, we also believe that anything given freely will eventually be taken for granted. It might take a week, a year, ten years, or more, but if all sides don’t have ‘skin in the game’, eventually those on the receiving end won’t value the resource. After all, nothing is truly ‘free’.
If you could change anything about the education system of your country, what would it be?
The way K-12 education is in our country (USA) is obviously not working well. As a country, we should be willing to admit our mistakes (we can’t help but think of the book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me)) and take heed of what elements are working in other countries. We personally may not have the answers, but continuing a call of action for ‘more money’ in the educational system doesn’t seem to be getting the results we want.
If you could wake up in someone else’s body whose would it be?
If we can maintain our full mind and presence, then it seems obvious to wake up in the body of a 20-something-year-old who eats healthily, has a high caliber of fitness, and is rather attractive.
What three people would you like to go on an all-day drinking session with?
We both choose not to drink alcohol, however if we had the chance to spend a day with three people, we’d choose Aristotle, Isaac Newton, and Benjamin Franklin.
Barring the deceased, you’d be surprised what you can learn from those around you, especially family members. We’d also recommend people download the StoryCorps app to make the best of the advice, stories, and lessons you’d learn that day!
What is your definition of happiness?
Continuous moments of contentment and fulfillment.
What is your advice to people just starting out on their path to FI?
Start as soon as possible and don’t give up if you started late! While the wise advice of ‘spend less and make more’ holds true, you should still educate yourself on finances, hang out with people who are already achieving what you want, and learn from them. Steel sharpens steel; success tends to breed success!
If you’d like to share your story with us and our readers, you can find all the details here.