I came upon an interesting post today – one that made me think.
Okay, I get how full-time travellers support themselves. They get sponsorships, volunteer in exchange for accommodation, they teach English, work odd jobs, travel slowly, they sell photography and ebooks, make a bit of money freelancing or from their blog… but for those that have been doing it for years – I’m talking about at least 2 or 3 years, I’m wondering… how are they saving for the future?
And that is a good question. There is a part of me saying, “What difference does it make?” Or “Why should I bother telling you?” I mean – you wouldn’t ask your hair dresser or bank teller or the woman who issues your drivers license that question, right? So why travel bloggers?
And yet, on the other hand, I do get that it’s a question a lot of people have. The financial aspect of long-term travel is the one that leaves many potential travelers scratching their head. Even if they could figure out a way to meet their day-to-day expenses, what about later? What about when they are old and gray and sitting in their rocker? Will they even have a rocker?
There are many different angles that people take toward saving for “retirement” – both in travel blogging and in other professions as well. Some people choose not to think about it and figure they’ll cross that bridge when they get there. Others save diligently, oftentimes at the expense of enjoying today.
The important thing to remember here is that travel blogging is no different from running any other small business. The accountant running his own practice can choose to put part of his income aside or he can spend it all now. That woman running the boutique clothing shop down the road? She won’t have a pension to rely on, and makes the same choice. Each and every small business owner in America (and presumably elsewhere) is in the same boat.
So you’re wondering how we approach our retirement? Here’s what we do.
Both my husband and I were schoolteachers. I taught 21 years; he taught 20 years. Although we didn’t get paid the big bucks many people do, we lived beneath our means and squirreled away whatever we could. After many years of teaching, it added up. We started blogging in our late 40’s/early 50’s.
Now, our efforts are going to establish a passive income – money that comes in without us doing much at all. Most of our income is in the form of rental income – we invested the money we saved from teaching in real estate and now rent those houses. We hire a property manager to take care of the houses, so we don’t have to do anything.
We’ve also written some books. (I’ve got a new one coming out next month! Click here for a preview.) With any luck, those books will continue to sell for years to come – and bring in an income.
The key to passive income is that it’s an ENORMOUS amount of work up front. Writing a book is no small feat. Saving enough money to buy our rentals wasn’t easy. Whatever your passive income will be, plan on putting in many hours before you make even one single penny.
But really – isn’t that how any small business operates? Your local hairdresser bought all her equipment, stayed open long hours cutting hair, worked tirelessly on PR so people knew about her shop, and barely eked by.
She did all that with the hope that, when it came time for her to retire, she would either a) have enough money saved up to live on or b) be able to sell the shop for enough money to live on.
That’s exactly how travel bloggers do it. Travel bloggers, however, have the added knowledge that we don’t have to live in the USA, UK, or Australia. If our passive income isn’t enough to maintain a comfortable life in those expensive countries, we can move to Thailand or Argentina or Mexico. It’s great to have options.
Here are some posts I’ve written about our specific finances while traveling full time: