Pharmacist going travel developer to explore the world and to live a fearless life.
Current Location: Medellin, Colombia
The first thing that must be done is to change my mindset. I changed my lifestyle to become similar to that of a digital nomad. Luckily, one of my favorite activities is backpacking in the mountains so I am accustomed to traveling light.
When I returned from Europe in September 2015, I wanted to set a one-year goal to become debt free and get on the road to work and travel. It wasn’t until December that I figured out what this lifestyle really was about and how to go about it to execute it. I figured out a reasonable plan was to start my nomadic journey in 2017. This seems like a reasonable and achievable goal to plan and start building some kind of online income. Over 2016, I had many plans and ideas to start making the big changes in my life that I’ve listed below.
Getting Rid Of Possessions
I started selling some of my possessions and consolidating all the extraneous stuff that I never use and brought it home to my parent’s home. As I got rid of each item, I felt better and better. It was an intangible burden on my mind that has now been lifted without me realizing that before. I lost attachment to the items I had and found more happiness in the few things I carried. Not only do I not have to worry about upkeep anymore of those items but I made a good amount of money to fund my travels too!
In my now REI Trail 40 backpack, I’m quite content with my laptop, toiletries, Bluetooth speaker (for podcasts/music!), and little gadgets. Inevitably, I will have to pack it with more items in the future before I travel but you can find the in my travel gear section.
Dealing With Student Loans
My student debt is another significant influence on my nomadic lifestyle. I knew I had a certain amount of debt and wanted desperately wanted to eliminate all forms of it in my life. That means not accumulating any more debt like a mortgage, a new car, or buying more expensive toys. It’s tough I know but I felt like I could absolutely achieve this in the year.
Decide how long it will take you to mobilize. I set my timeline initially for about 1 year and 9 months as dictated by my student loan schedule. I divided down the timeline into months. I can set attainable goals each month and watch how much closer I am.
How did I pay off my loans?
Figure out 3 pieces of information: debt, income, and savings.
I have $93,869.85 in debt, $6,000-$7,000 in income, $27,883.84 in savings.
I figure I would need maybe $1,500 a month to live in my current situation in the states. If I want to be frugal, I can get by with $1,000. That leaves me with $4,500 left. I will put about $500 dollars or more into my savings since my pay is variable due to the demand of on-call work. That leaves me roughly with about $4,000 a month to use to pay my loans.
I figured that if I get paid every 2 weeks, that’s every 2 weeks that I can throw in $2,000 for my student loans. The benefit of paying twice a month is that interest amount would accrue more slowly than if I were to make a payment of $4,000 only once a month. So then I come up with my escape timeline to figure about how much time it will take to pay down my loans.
The other side of things is that I have to stick to my budget or at least put in $4,000 every month to make this plan work. That would mean that I won’t be buying things all the time that I would like. I plan to sell more of my stuff, cook more food at home, eliminate fees with organizations I’m a part of, repeat similar activities like backpacking and kayaking, and download books and borrow from the library.
The advantages of paying loans off early are no more interest accumulation and improved debt-to-income ratio. The disadvantage is that I will lose the tax deduction limits on the interest of my student loans (as of 2015, it’s $2,500) and money is no longer available for use once it’s been paid.
Starting An Online Business
The next best action to take is to start investing oneself to learning an online business. The myriad of jobs and opportunities out there are endless. There are the traditional digital jobs like graphic design, web design, content writing, etc. Then there are other ways to traveling right away too such as teaching English, WWOOFin, cruise ships, etc. After I’ve mastered a service skill, I will likely transition to a product based model and a membership/community. It won’t hurt to dabble in e-commerce or joining other existing ventures as well. For now, I’m working on SEO writing and learning web development.
The last thing is to simply get started. Starting a blog is a wonderful way to learn all the online skills that are really useful even if you might decide to pursue other avenues. Start writing blog posts about your journey as they keep you accountable and focused. It also serves as an online business card for others to easily find you. Along the way, I will learn more about WordPress, SEO, digital marketing, content writing, email marketing, and a plethora of other powerful online techniques to help you promote your blog and future businesses.
If you need some help starting a blog, head over to my quick guide to blog creation.