Your story is very inspirational.
My husband and I have traveled to many parts of the world. I am 62 and he just turned 65. We are real estate brokers but lost all of our assets in the real estate crash. From reading your stories it seems like you have always had some good assets to fall back on if necessary. Have you addressed situations like ours in any of your books, i.e., how to retire/live/travel, etc. with only social security and say $50,000 in savings?
Thank you for taking the time to write, we appreciate it.
Sorry to learn of your misfortune, but don’t give up hope for a satisfying retirement. We know many people who live only on their Social Security. You could do well living in Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, Ecuador, or the Dominican Republic, for starters.
It might require some mental or emotional flexibility on your part to adjust to cultural differences, but if you have already traveled to other countries, then you are probably familiar with what cultural challenges you might face.
I would recommend a couple of things from our website. Take a look at our video, Adventures in Financial Independence. We share some personal financial information and it might be useful to you in terms of modeling your retirement.
You might also be interested in our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Destination Choices. In this book we compare these destinations and it could give you some insight into these locations for retirement.
Our book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible gives an interactive spending spreadsheet which we utilize ourselves to track and monitor spending on a daily basis. If you are watching your money, this spreadsheet is invaluable.
Our Retirement Relocation Page might be useful to you also. You will find lots of links to Expat forums there along with cost of living sites.
Another page that might be helpful is our Retirement Jobs Page.
Take heart, and we wish you the best. Please feel free to write to us any time with your questions.
Christopher Amoroso has been traveling and living abroad for fifteen years. He has lived in El Salvador, South Korea, and Guatemala (where he currently resides), and has visited many other countries with countless adventures and experiences to write about. His present hobbies include boxing, learning Korean, and finding the path to complete peace, joy and happiness, if it exists.
I met Billy in Panajachel, Guatemala, sitting on the patio at the Kitsch Bakery wearing his trademark “RetireEarlyLifestyle.com” T-shirt. Maybe not the prettiest item in his wardrobe, but it definitely caught my attention. I asked him about it because, quite frankly, financially speaking, I’m screwed! (and I’m trying to get myself un-screwed!)
The situation? I’ve got myself stuck in a third-world country with no money!
Billy’s site is all about preparing your finances AHEAD OF TIME so that early retirement and travel is PAINLESS. Ignore his advice at your own peril! Or, failing that, visit my future blog to figure out how to dig yourself out!
“So Billy,” I asked, “I’d like to ask you a few questions about that t-shirt of yours.”
“Of course,” he said. He was very open to the idea. Why else would he be wearing it?
The gist of the conversation that followed was that I, a very new digital nomad, was looking for a mentor to guide me in improving my financial situation. More on that, later.
A digital nomad is, briefly, a person who makes his (or her) living online and uses that freedom to travel the world. In my case, I’ll call it “Digital Madness.”
My current situation
I recently became a digital nomad, and having done so, refuse to look back. I have freedom to move anywhere in Guatemala I choose, not being tied down to one location to earn money. Only problem is, I’m not earning enough. I need more – not as in “Keeping up with the Joneses,” but, “If I can’t pay my visa late fees, I’ll never be able to leave this country!” Of course, I could always sneak across the border late at night, but the risk of ending up in a Mexican prison like Andrew Tahmooressi keeps me on the straight and narrow.
Here’s my story
I’ve been living in Guatemala for some time, but recently my cash started running out. Bank accounts empty; credit cards full, and an enormous visa fee I must pay if I try to leave the country, I had to do something, and fast! I don’t know about bar tending and wouldn’t make a good waiter, which left me with Teaching English. With flyers in hand, I promoted my services and soon began earning some cash!
I also found a job working at a local English Academy. I made enough to get by and even starting saving up a little for my Big Escape! Things were looking up!
Several months later, however, it all came crashing down!
First I lost my rent-free room. They needed it for storage. Storage??!! Of all the things!
Then, I lost my job at the Academy. The Director’s new boyfriend needed work, so he got all my classes and I got the boot.
So the prospects of having to pay for rent and meals with no cash flow brought me near to panic.
My online work rescue
Fortunately, I had begun teaching a few English courses online, and there was my salvation. Moving quickly, I contacted a friend in Korea who helped to promote my services, and soon I was teaching 16-20 hours a week to eager Korean kids who, in the words of one young student, “Didn’t want to be poor” for lack of English skills. Soon I was earning more than enough for my basic needs, and the crisis was averted!
So I’m getting ready for my 6:00 am class, bleary-eyed and in need of some strong coffee in a town that I had grown bored of, and it occurs to me that, now that I’m working completely online, I could be doing this from anywhere!
And that’s how I became a digital nomad!
My first stop as a digital nomad was the famous black-sand beaches of Monterrico. Three weeks of sun, sand and surf was a nice treat after a brush with poverty and homelessness. A 30 minute walk separated my beach bungalow from the nearest wi-fi zone, and that early-morning walk on the breezy, ocean-sprayed beach refreshed my soul each day.
But three weeks in that hot, humid Guatemalan paradise was enough for me, so I decided to relocate to Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
Learning about financial independence
That’s where I met Billy.
Wanting to help a poor fellow out, Billy suggested I start a blog – people would want to read about my experiences, he said. Then, eventually I could turn my writing into a money-maker and that I should check out how on his website (See Retirement Jobs ).
I just might start that blog. I’ve already written my first posting. You’re reading it right now! And there’s plenty more adventures to share!
So stay tuned to see how I get myself out of this jam that I’ve created for myself. I’ve got some ideas cooking, and it shouldn’t be long before I have some results that will give me the true financial freedom that I desire to continue my life as a digital nomad.
Ann Hoffman-Ruffner founded Wayfinding Women, LLC after a 30 year career as a therapist and administrator for inpatient psychiatry. A lifelong advocate for women & girls, Ann is a certified Martha Beck coach and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate.
I don’t’ know about you, but lately I find myself peacefully browsing through Facebook, replaying those videos of precious puppies falling over themselves in a plump pile of puppy exhaustion. They are so darn cute.
Then, with no warning, the next post bolts me out of my happy place like lightning through my core with some traumatic picture or tragic news. You know the kind. Today it was a picture from China’s Yulin dog meat festival where 10,000 dogs are being slaughtered marking the summer solstice. The picture of a man holding a puppy by the neck breaks my heart and makes me sick inside. I know it’s a different culture but that doesn’t ease my anguish. I look at my loving and sweet Marvin Hamlisch (my fur-child, the basset hound…not the Broadway composer) sleeping next to me and tears well in my eyes.
And it’s not just Facebook…you know, you get that call about a friend who has just learned they have Stage 4 Cancer. Or you get an email that your friend’s spouse died suddenly. Oftentimes it’s the evening news where we learn about a group of people on the other side of the world that are hurting, scared and in need.
Today I learned of the death of a friend in Pakistan due to power cuts and extreme heat. More than 700 have died from the heat so far. If I could, I’d bring every one into my house that has air conditioning; I’d take them fans, I’d bring them ice water. But I can’t. I feel helpless.
These are times when we need to have a way to not feel helpless. We need a way of DOING, of making it better, even when we can’t change the outcome.
When we feel helpless, we are not without power. We have incredible power…energy within each of us, toward love and compassion. We see it when we are with someone we care for and our loving energy provides calm and comfort. What’s best is that we don’t have to be in the same location for the other being to feel this. You KNOW what I’m talking about. That’s why there are prayer chains and peace vigils. Our energy makes a difference. We may not be able to stop bad things from happening, but we can change the energy for those involved.
The practice is called LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION. There are many excellent articles describing the practice and the science behind it, but this is the meditation that I used today for those animals in China and all people who are suffering in this world right now.
While you may not be able to stop what is happening, you can change the experience for those involved and yourself, allowing yourself to be freed from helplessness in order to use your energy for the higher good.
Ready? Let’s do it….
Find a moment of quiet in yourself and be still. Focus first on the loving kindness for yourself (remember, airplane oxygen masks-put it on yourself first) And quietly and slowly say:
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be safe.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
While you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. If feelings of warmth, or love arise in your body or mind, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. To aid the meditation, you might hold an image of yourself in your mind’s eye. This helps reinforce the intentions expressed in the phrases.
Then when you are ready, connect to the visual of those in need of peace and freedom from suffering. Focusing on the peace instead of the pain, say the following-
I care about this pain;
I care about the pain in the world.
May all beings be free of suffering and all the causes of suffering.
May all beings feel comforted, supported, and cared for,
May all beings be surrounded with peace,
May all feel only peace.
May we all feel only peace.
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Maree’s specific advice to Peter about Getting Out of the Rat Race really hit me.
Billy and Akaisha, I’ve written you before about my retirement thoughts being similar to yours (although my “early” retirement was at 55). But Maree’s comments were spot on — if you can retire, just do it.
Ten years after I retired, the unexpected hit — the heart attack. But first I had ten great years of retirement (low budget, tracking expenses, and so on…) The amazing thing is that I lived — triple bypass. The widow-maker artery and another major artery were totally (100%) blocked. There was also more blockage.
Two years later, I’ve recovered, I’m fine. I have more years and will continue to enjoy my retirement. As my cardiologist recently told me, “just keep doing whatever you’re doing”.
If I had not retired, I fully expect the attack would have been much earlier and that I would probably not have lived. But I got out of the Rat Race.
If you can retire but just can’t make the decision, you might want to consider my story.
Thanks for sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your good health and for enjoying your retirement!
Steve and Lynn Miller built a software company and retired 10 years later at 50 years old. They travel extensively and chronicle those travels on their blog. Steve also develops mobile apps in his spare time.
It’s been 3 years since I said goodbye to the corporate life and a twice monthly paycheck. My wife and I had a dream. We wanted to retire by the time our kids went off to college so that we could travel and enjoy life while we were still young and energized.
So how did we do it?
We built a software business with personal savings of $10,000 and sold it 10 years later. It wasn’t easy. It had its ups and downs. Months when we didn’t know how we would make payroll and flying high after landing a large account that could sustain us for months in the future.
In the end, we exceeded our own expectations. 3 years prior to our kids graduating high school, we got the call from a larger company that saw value in acquiring our product line. Shortly after, I said sayonara to the daily grind.
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After 3 years of retirement, it’s time to reflect and share with you lessons I’ve learned.
Literally the month after we retired, we saw our boys off to college and began traveling. Starting in Canada, we visited the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edwards Island.
We then made our way to the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu and the Bahamas. We saw extraordinary things. We watched a tortoise painstakingly dig a hole for her eggs.
We saw the handiwork of the Incas, appreciating the architecture and incredible surroundings of a civilization that’s now long gone.
And we watched professional divers ascend into Dean’s Blue Hole not to come up again for 5 minutes.
After returning from this incredible 3 month trip, something weird happened. We started settling into our retired life and I began to feel sad. Before I retired, my employees and peers needed me. They were constantly asking for advice, calling and texting for help and now the phone was silent.
I began to mope around and waste my days fretting about what was next in life. Had I made a huge mistake by retiring early?
After a few weeks of licking my wounds, I read about this phenomenon known as “retirement depression”. It is common for new retirees to go through this because they are left with lots of time to reminisce about the days when their schedules were full and others depended on them.
After a bit of self-reflection, I came to realize that these feelings were driven by boredom. After working really hard all those years to retire early, I needed to get out and enjoy hobbies that I never had time for before.
I found all kinds of new hobbies. I began golfing, working on photography, cycling, hiking, boating, fishing, and blogging. A few weeks later, I couldn’t figure out how I ever worked because my days were so full with things I enjoyed. Depression was fleeting, I was now enjoying life more than ever.
Since retiring, we’ve enjoyed some incredible travels. After our first 3 month trip, we spent an entire summer traveling the western United States. We started in the Grand Tetons and went on to visit California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. We capped that summer trip off with an Alaskan cruise.
Last summer, we took our youngest (college aged) son to Europe. We built our itinerary around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain and capped off the trip in the Italian Riviera. We also visited Paris and Portugal.
Even though I retired early, I truly loved building my last company. It never really felt like work — it was fun, intellectually stimulating and invigorating. You don’t have to give up that feeling when you retire. You can choose to challenge yourself by starting a new business, a blog or working on pet projects.
I’ve recently done just that. I wanted to learn more about mobile app development so I started a project to develop an iPhone app. Since I love to travel, I built an app to provide peace of mind when traveling. It tracks things that are easy to forget (passwords, passport numbers, banking information, software licenses, etc.). I called the app aMemoryJog because it does just that – it securely tracks things that are easy to forget.
Developing this app was not about making money. It was about doing something that stimulates me intellectually and provides an outlet for my entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m working on my next app. It will be called Count Us Down and will allow you to count down the days to your next big event (like a vacation or even retirement).
My wife motivated me to begin volunteering. She has volunteered for many years and genuinely enjoys helping others. Based on her example, I started volunteering last year with Habitat for Humanity (HFH). HFH builds homes for low income families and each family must contribute a significant number of hours helping to build their home or help build one for another family.
I belong to the Walton County Florida chapter and last year we renovated 1 home for a family and built 2 homes from scratch. Not only is volunteering incredibly satisfying, you get to know the family you are building for and you understand the how important it is for them.
Retirement is just another phase of life. Don’t over analyze it. Embrace new hobbies, travel to new places, experience other cultures, stimulate your intellect and enjoy life — you’ve earned it!
Guest post by John Ohe, IRS Enrolled Agent and chartered Financial Analyst.
You got kids. They may be small now, but before you know it, they’re off to college. Unfortunately, the cost of a university degree in the United States has become incredibly daunting. Therefore, planning for college expenses is imperative, and getting an early start provides an absolute advantage.
According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for a private university in the United States is slightly over $30,000 per year (excluding room and board). Public schools are more affordable, but still clock in at over $22,000 per year (out-of-state tuition). Furthermore, every year the cost of tuition increases at a rate much higher than inflation.
In this article, we discuss 529 plans for U.S. expats. A 529 plan is basically a savings account established for the purpose of funding a college education. There are two types of 529 plans; however, the main ones are sponsored by individual States.
Why are 529 plans great? From a tax advantage, there are clear advantages. Account balances grow tax deferred. And when the proceeds are used to pay for qualified college expenses, there are no tax consequences. So if you can afford to save for college, a 529 plan is a fantastic vehicle for doing so.
529 Plan – Basics You Should Know
• To fund a child’s college education
• If the child beneficiary does not attend college, then the funds can be used to pay for another family member’s college expenses (e.g., a sibling)
• Up to $14K per child (without triggering gift tax)
• No tax deductions on federal return; however, possible on State return
• Earnings grow tax deferred
• No tax on distribution (for qualified college expenses)
For U.S. citizens living abroad, setting up a 529 plan can be slightly tricky. That is because many expats do not have residency in a particular state. In these cases, we recommend establishing a 529 plan with Vanguard (one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world). Vanguard 529 College Savings Plans are sponsored by the State of Nevada, but is open to any investor. Vanguard is renowned for its low fee structure, so more of your money goes toward covering college expenses. For more information, go to: https://investor.vanguard.com/what-we-offer/college/overview .
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This article was written by John Ohe (IRS Enrolled Agent and Chartered Financial Analyst). John is a partner at Hola Expat, which specializes in preparing tax returns for U.S. expats. If you would like to submit a tax-related question, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The answers provided in this article are for general information, and should not be construed as personal tax advice. Tax laws and regulations change frequently, and their application can vary widely based on the specific facts and circumstances involved.
Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. He penned more than 6,500 columns in a career that began in 1972. Mathews lives in Carmel, Ind., and happily babysits his new grandson four days a week.
News item: At some corporations, young urban professionals too busy with careers and stock portfolios to follow sports have hired consultants to brief them on the subject so they can make good impressions on clients who follow bats and balls.
Look no more. I’m your guy.
I know crackback blocks, the low block and how to put on a jock without tripping over the straps.
I know blitz packages, bloop singles and which layer of the outer atmosphere an ammonia capsule will send your head into.
I know resin bags, tight ends, high-sticking, fair catch, double-headers, pass interference, possible concussion – must I go on?
It’s a perfect fit.
You’ve spent your lives wearing trendy clothes, and being seen at all the right places with the dream of earning enough money to buy a gold-encrusted crown to put on your iPod.
I’ve spent mine wearing dirty sweatsuits, and watching sports on television with the dream of earning enough money someday to afford a six-pack of the beer advertised at halftime.
For a one-time fee of $5,000, I’ll provide all the information you need to fool sports fans into thinking you’re one of them.
It starts with slang.
I’ll be your teacher as you learn “beanball,” “shooting the rock,” “throwing aspirin tablets,” “foot in the bucket,” and my favorite hockey expression for a player who suffered a blow to the face that caused him to lose teeth – “spitting Chiclets.”
I know you yuppies. You’ll want to talk about debenture, convertible bonds and hedge funds.
Not in my class.
I require total concentration. You give me mortgage-backed securities and I’ll high-stick your cranium.
Guys who are into sports like to throw out names. Koufax. Drysdale. Ozzie. Stan the Man. Elway. Unitas. Ditka.
I’ll give you some names of your own.
Wally Moon. Jerry Lumpe. Marty Keough. Spider Lockhart. Del Shofner. Babe Parelli.
Your fellow money-grubbers will be amazed that you know some of the lesser lights who haven’t had car dealerships named for them.
At the very least, they’ll worship you. With any luck, they’ll share insider information that will make you even richer.
Important note: If this happens, I’ll require a special bonus of lifetime free sports cable.
Finally, you’ll learn strategy.
I’ll impart the following: When to ice the shooter. When to blitz. How a wide receiver pretends to be unconscious so the referee will stop the clock. The proper antidote to administer when an ammonia capsule is mistakenly put into your Seven and Seven.
Other sports consultants are mere pretenders.
For no extra charge, I’ll take you into a real locker room for bonus instruction.
You’ll get personal insight into how to snap a towel at another man’s private parts. How to apply a pink belly. How to undress slowly after a game so you get to shower alone.
Don’t delay, yuppies. Call today before a bloop single costs you a commission.
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Ann Hoffman-Ruffner founded Wayfinding Women, LLC after a 30 year career as a therapist and administrator for inpatient psychiatry. A lifelong advocate for women & girls, Ann is a certified Martha Beck coach and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator-Candidate.
To distract myself from the discomfort of not having a clue where to begin, I played with “Blog Post Headline Analyzer,” an online tool that grades your blog headline. I rationalized this was a better use of my time than watching YouTube videos of dogs who were crazed because a cat stole their bed. Ten Analyzer spins later, with a solid B+ in headlining, I still hadn’t written a single word. What is it about doing something new that paralyzes us?
And what is retirement and the next chapter of our lives if not the continual learning and adjusting to something new? Whether it’s an unwanted move, a divorce, the death of someone we love, new health issues or empty-nesting, the changes that often accompany midlife can be overwhelming and leave us not knowing which way to turn. In fact, with all we need to redefine and adjust to in midlife, I’m shocked that more of us aren’t sitting transfixed at red lights, unable to move while impatient twenty-somethings honk their horns all around us.
When you top off the whole midlife mix with retirement, the real hum-dinger of adjustments for career women, you have the perfect recipe for a midlife meltdown.
For the first time in history, millions of career women are facing retirement and the questions that come with it. What do we do after spending the past 30-40 years defining ourselves by our work and roles in life? Who will we be now? How will we stay relevant? And of course the biggie, is it really ok to read a book at 3pm in the afternoon and watch Ellen every day?
As working women, we achieved—we showed up, were seen and were as brave as anyone required to wear pantyhose could be. We held positions of authority and influence, delegating and multi-tasking like we were on fire. We took care of homes, spouses, children, other people’s children, aging parents and some unfortunate houseplants. We rocked our world. And now, our dues paid and duties done, we reach for the reward of retirement only to realize it doesn’t quite live up to the grand hype. By week three, the allure of sleeping in has worn off for most of us and we may find ourselves staring down day after day of having no obligation that would actually require us to get dressed or leave the house.
And so we don’t.
Others of us go the opposite route and seek refuge in “keeping busy” with volunteering, babysitting the grandkids and speed-walking the mall. But simply having a busy calendar isn’t necessarily gratifying for women used to living in the fast lane.
Is this the way the rest of our life has to be? Can the promise of a rich and rewarding retirement be redeemed?
Transitions and change don’t have to be incapacitating, and as women we have a very powerful coping tool on our side; our ability to communicate.
Women are more likely to talk about their concerns and questions more openly and honestly than men. This ability to share thoughts and feelings about the complexities and contradictions of this time of life with like-minded women who make us feel safe and not judged can help us tremendously in navigating these uncharted waters. As highly educated, successful and resourceful women, we can be there for each other through this yet unwritten chapter.
We can choose to write that next chapter consciously with intention, so that we remain open to the endless possibilities of life and continue to grow.
And who knows—we may even start blogging!