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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
That quote, from Mark Twain, is one of my favourite quotes of all time. It also happens to be the intro to the last e-mail I ever sent at work.
Poetic-ness aside, I was actually pretty scared shitless at the time, cringing as my cold, clammy hand hit the “send” button.
But now, after travelling to 18 countries, and easily staying within the safe withdrawal rate of $40,000/year, I can’t help but look back on that day and laugh.
What the hell was I so afraid of?
It seems hilarious now, but back then, no matter how many other FI blogs I read, and even when none other than Mr. Money Mustache himself emailed me telling me my math was sound and that everything was going to be okay, it didn’t matter. I was still terrified.
Because that’s the thing about fear. Fear traps us. Fear holds us prisoner.
Just like that scene from Shawshank Redemption (if you’ve never seen the movie, what the Heck’s the matter with you?). You know, where Brooks, who’d been in prison for 50 years for killing his wife and daughter, is finally paroled and set free?
As his friend Red puts it “They trained him to like it inside the shit house and they threw him out.”
Once let out of the “shit house”, Brooks can’t take it anymore and hangs himself. Apparently, he’d gotten so used to jail, being free made him afraid.
For a brief moment on my last workday, when I hugged my friends good-bye, and walked away from the corporate prison that had swallowed most of my life for past 9 years, I couldn’t help but wonder.
Is this what Brooks felt like?
Am I going to survive outside these prison bars? Or would I get scared and scamper back into another prison soon afterwards?
Fear is a powerful thing. It can swallow you whole if you let it.
But luckily, as I soon found out, there is something much more powerful than fear.
A diversified portfolio.
As it turns out, if we had continued sitting in our little cubical prisons in North America, we would’ve never seen the rest of the world.
We would’ve never met the bike mechanic, who despite not having a college degree, makes 6-figures doing what he loves in Amsterdam.
We would’ve never met the expat from England, with an open-heart-surgery scar across his chest, who now calls Vietnam home. Instead of continuing to work a stressful job which nearly killed him, he now runs an award winning spa, hires locals, and gives back to the community by running an orphanage with his wife.
We would’ve never met the couple, traveling the world with their adorable baby boy, who are living proof that kids don’t stop you from living your dreams.
And we would’ve never seen the sunset, stopped to smell the roses, and fallen head-over-heels in love with this awesome planet we call home.
Instead, we got to do all that and more.
And because of the 60/40 portfolio, which throws off 4% each year to cover our living expenses, we also got to discover one of the biggest benefits of quitting a job:
How much your costs drop when you no longer need to work
No more commuting to work everyday. No more expensive work clothes or dry cleaning. No more eating out all the time or paying annoying “decompression” costs like retail therapy or boozing it up in bars to make up for stressful days.
No more being tied down to an overpriced city. We could move anywhere we wanted to.
As a result, we went to South East Asia, and found out we could live like royalty for less than $25,000 a year. In fact, the hotel we’re currently staying in costs only $27CAD/night ($20USD), has a pool, a rainfall shower, maid service, AND includes breakfast!
By including Southeast Asia, we were able to travel to 18 different countries for only $40,000/year. And that includes expensive countries like Switzerland, Denmark, UK, and Japan. The trick is to travel-hack, use AirBnB, cook from time to time, and mix up the countries.
And you know what else? During this time, since we were able to mostly live off the dividends and let the capital value appreciate, our portfolio actually GREW. In the year since we’ve officially left home, our net-worth went up $27,000.
So somehow we MADE money! While travelling the world!
What was I so afraid of again?
So if you’re afraid of making a positive change in your life, remember that while fear is a useful reminder to be careful and cautious, if you properly manage your risks you have nothing to be afraid of.
Fear will hold you prisoner. A diversified portfolio will set you free.
Oh yeah and hope. Throw hope somewhere in there too…
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