How We Survive and Thrive in Summer

Summer looks and feels a little different for most of us, but for those of us with kids, there are some big logistical challenges to overcome. My friend who has works full time starts planning her kids’ camp schedule in February. Another friend who works part time has her husband work remotely on days she goes into the office. I’m home with my kids all summer since I’m a teacher, but I definitely need a plan for fun and sanity.

Read on for how I’ve finally figured out, after many summers, how to include both, without spending a fortune.

Survive and Thrive in Summer--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Two years ago, after seven and a half years as a stay-at-home mom, then two years as a part-time marketing manager, I did an abrupt career change and became a part-time ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher at my kids’ elementary school. It’s been such a wonderful way to make a difference, earn money, and see my kids every day.

And the best part of it is that when summer finally arrives, the boys and I are off! We are free to enjoy the summer, go to the beach, and have playdates.

Even though we look forward to summer all year, I’ve learned over the years that ten weeks of expansive free time makes mama and boys less-than-happy. Continue reading “How We Survive and Thrive in Summer”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Ruby from A Journey We Love

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel (check out previous stories here, here, and here!). They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Ruby from A Journey We Love. Ruby and her husband are thirty-somethings who travel a lot, even though they have full time jobs and are working towards FI before 45, thirteen years from now. Once they reach financial independence, they plan to become location independent and travel full time. Ruby says, “We want to have more of our time back to do what we want and focus on our passions instead of trading our time for money at a traditional office.” I’m with you there, Ruby, and I look forward to sharing your story with our readers! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in the Philippines, and only immigrated to the US four years ago because of a job opportunity. I met my husband in the US, and we’ve been married for a year but together for nearly four years. We don’t have kids yet but we plan to!

A Journey We Love--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Peter and Ruby from A Journey We Love

I was from a middle class background. I lived in the Philippines most of my life – I studied there from grade school until uni and also started my career there. Well, until that day when my employer in the Philippines (a multinational bank) sent me to the UK (this was in 2008). I met a lot of people who loved to travel and that inspired the travel bug in me. I got another opportunity to go back to the UK in 2011 (also through said employer), and I realized I didn’t want to go back home but wanted to live full time abroad. In 2013, the opportunity to move to a new office in Florida came through. It was an expansion and it was relatively new and I jumped at the chance. This contract was only supposed to be for three years, but they took me on as a full-time worker here in the US after I got married to Peter.

It was always my goal to leave the Philippines. Back when I was thirteen, I knew I wanted to go, but always thought I’d end up in Singapore, which was a first world country that’s close to the Philippines. I decided that if I looked for work, it would have to be at a multinational company to gain more exposure (and boost my resume if I wanted to look for jobs abroad).

Peter’s story is a bit different than mine. He was born in Bratislava, Slovakia and lived there until he was eleven. Then in 1997, his family moved to the US when they won the green card diversity lottery and has lived in the US ever since. I met him through work – we were working for the same multinational company that sent me to the US!

Not only did said company make my dream of moving abroad come true, it also gave me the opportunity to meet my husband!

How did you and your family make the decision to become location independent/move internationally?

My husband moved to the US when he was twelve from Eastern Europe, so he is fine with moving to different countries just to feel what it’s like to live there and be one with the locals. We also love to travel, so why not become location independent where we can earn a bit of money to sustain most of our travels? Well, that is the goal, but we’re not there yet!

Moving internationally is also a big plus for us, especially since we don’t have children yet. It goes to show potential employers that we are open to change and we are okay being uprooted and being thrown into a brand new destination to get used to other cultures and integrate with other people. It’s not as bad as you think either! You may also get to be exposed to multiple opportunities.

Where do you travel? (within the country, internationally, etc). Favorite place? Least favorite?

We travel anywhere and everywhere: it could be a state park in the city where we live in, it could be to visit family in the Philippines or in Slovakia. We also go wherever the sales are: we booked trips to Asheville, Memphis, Richmond, and St. Louis, just because the ultra budget carrier had deals for less than $100 roundtrip per person. We don’t have a least favorite place because every single destination we’ve been had something to offer: be it culinary treats or sightseeing. My favorite place would have to be London – I personally had a chance to live there for a few months. It was expensive but it was subsidized by the company I worked for at the time so it wasn’t so bad.

If you have kids, how have they adapted to the moves? Best part of traveling for them? Worst part?

We don’t have any kids yet but if we do have them, we’ll want to make sure that travel is part of their life. Expose them to the world that’s out there instead of isolating them inside the house or a community where they get too comfortable. If you are uncomfortable, it actually helps you grow and learn your real self. It also helps them to see the real world instead of just watching a manufactured world on TV.

How has becoming location independent positively (or negatively) impacted your finances (since this is a personal finance blog)?

When I first moved from the Philippines to the UK, and the US, it definitely impacted my finances! I am now earning much more than I was back at home, and so I’m saving more too. There are many more financial products I can invest in here in the US, and I can get to “travel hack.” There’s definitely plenty of other opportunities to earn and save more if you move from a third world country to a first world country! Plus, all those signup bonuses by opening bank accounts + credit cards. Oh my!

We’re not normal FI folk who cut a lot of “fat” out of their budget. If you look at our blog, we have a LOT of travel posts… and even though we want to be FI, we’re not cutting back on our travel… far from it! We actually travel more and more even as we try to achieve FI.

First off, we do travel hacking to offset our travel costs. Other specific things? We save 50% of our income by contributing the max for our HSA, 401(k) and our Roth IRA.

We also try to earn more by Airbnbing a spare room in our house. Yes, we don’t have as much privacy but who cares? The money that’s coming in from our BnB helps to pay off some of our mortgage, utilities & HOA bills. We also have a rental property which we rent out to help pay off the mortgage + a bit extra that we put towards principal pay down.

If we have a cash surplus, we save it and invest it in Vanguard funds or as a downpayment for another rental property (we’re still looking for our third property).

What are your future plans for your family?

Be able to travel more, and have more time for us to enjoy our lives without thinking much about money :slight_smile:.

Ruby and Peter have some very cool travel plans for their lives. Check out their adventures on their blog, A Journey We Love, where they record all of their travel adventures, or on Instagram (what a beautiful feed!!!) or Twitter.  Comments or questions? Ruby will be responding directly in the comments section so fire away! (No pun intended! Ok, maybe!). 

Mid-year Goals Update

July is here, which means we’ve officially finished six months of 2017. (Happy Fourth of July week to all you US readers out there!).

How’s your year going so far? Our family is currently on an extended road trip/family visit in the Southeastern United States, so I’m logging in “from the road.”

Mid-Year Goals Update--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Earlier this year, I shared our 2017 goals for this year. We’re on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, so we have some pretty specific goals for this year to make that happen. Continue reading “Mid-year Goals Update”

Breaking “the Rules”

Last weekend both of my boys celebrated birthdays. This year, those celebrations looked a little different than this time last year. Last year, I decided to do a homemade birthday party extravaganza. Unlike Mrs. BITA’s homemade party, which seemed to be lovely and fairly easy to put together, or Mrs. Frugalwood’s family gathering, the ThreeYears’ homemade Minecraft party was a lesson in what not to do when creating a homemade birthday party.

Breaking the Rules--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Don’t get me wrong. The party was a straight-out hit. I had no less than four small people tell me “this is the best party ever!” with zero trace of sarcasm in their tiny voices. They were having major fun, which may have had something to do with the Brewing Station, with six bottles of sugared soda that they got to “mix” into different potions.

But the party planner almost did herself in. In my efforts to do it myself, and reproduce Pinterest, I drove myself nuts. I made a homemade Minecraft piñata, for the love of all things holy. I created the aforementioned Brewing Station, and affixed handmade labels to each of the two-liter bottles of soda in six phosphorescent artificial colors. I made recipes for the potions they could create, and had my boys weigh in on how realistic the colors were for each potion (“No, Mom, that’s a Potion of Healing, which is red, not green”). Continue reading “Breaking “the Rules””

Location Independent, International Jobs: Adriana of Money Journey

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Adriana, who blogs at Money Journey. Adriana and her boyfriend have lived in Italy for the past nine years. When Adriana first arrived in Italy, she had no job, spoke very little Italian, and hadn’t even finished college! Now, nine years later, she has a freelance career, has traveled all over the continent, and even occasionally gets mistaken for an Italian! I think you’ll find her story very interesting, especially if you’ve ever considered living abroad. 

Background

My name is Adriana and I’ve been living in Italy with my boyfriend for the past nine years.

Adriaa--www.thethreeyeareexperiment.com
Adriana of Money Journey, with Switzerland behind her

We’re not married yet, nor do we have any kids or pets.
Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Adriana of Money Journey”

Our Summer Road Trip

Summer’s here! At least it is for the Junior ThreeYears and me. All three of us are out of school for the next nine weeks. So, what better time to whet our appetites for location independence than a summer road trip?

Last year, the three of us hopped in the trusty Prius and drove all the way from Northern New England more than 14 hours to North Carolina, to stay with my sister and her family, and then South Carolina, to stay with my parents. We spent four glorious weeks with no agenda and no plans except to spend time with our family and enjoy the summer.

Summer Road Trip--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

This year, we’re going to repeat the experience. We’re currently busy preparing for our departure. How did we decide to spend a month “down South” and how did we make it happen? Continue reading “Our Summer Road Trip”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire

Hi folks! Welcome to the second post in my Wednesday series. These are real stories from people who have become location independent, work internationally, and/or continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances and how they got to the life they’re living now. 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Steve, from the blog Think, Save, Retire.  Steve very kindly agreed to share his story when I reached out to bloggers on the Rockstar Finance Forums (check them out! Tons of financial nerd types like myself discussing all aspects of financial independence!).  

Steve retired at age 35 and he and his wife Courtney currently travel the United States in their Airstream (a.k.a. my dad’s dream mode of transportation). Steve has given up traditional employment and now blogs about how he and his wife created a life that freed them up to do more of what they really value the most–namely, travel. 

Without further ado, take it away, Steve!!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where you’re from, how long married, degrees, pets, etc.

I’m 35 and recently retired from full-time work. I worked in the information technology industry for my entire career doing things from computer programming and database administration to being the Director of Information Technology at a not-for-profit organization. I was born on the East Coast, but I’m definitely more of a West Coast kind of person, so I moved out here in 2007 after starting my first real job in Virginia. I’ve been married for almost three years, and my wife and I live in our 30′ Airstream Classic with our two rescued dogs, Patti and Penny.

Steve of Think, Save, Retire--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Steve and Courtney enjoying the good life!

I don’t consider myself to be a “smart cookie.” No prestigious degree (I have a degree in Information Technology from a no-name school in Colorado). I’m not published in journals. My ideas haven’t been studied by industry experts. I’m a normal person just like anyone else. The main difference is I chose a very different life for myself. Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Steve of Think, Save, Retire”

How to Create Beautiful, Frugal Flower Gardens

Do you love to garden? Is Spring your favorite time of year, when the flowers start blooming and there’s color bursting out of every bed?

I absolutely love to create flower gardens. I also know I could spend a small fortune buying plants and shrubs to create the perfect landscape around our house.

Flowers--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Since our family is on a three year journey to double our net worth and become location independent, it’s not a priority to spend a lot of money on landscaping when we’ll be selling our home soon. But I love to constantly improve our gardens and so, have learned to save lots of money but still create beautiful flower beds.

Continue reading “How to Create Beautiful, Frugal Flower Gardens”

Location Independent, International Jobs: Mavis

Hi folks! Today I am absolutely delighted to share a new series with you. I’ll be featuring people who are either location independent, have gotten international jobs, and/or who continuously travel. They’ll be sharing how they became location independent or how they got jobs abroad, but most importantly, they’ll share how their lifestyle has positively or negatively affected their finances. 

The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved the life, so we can learn more.  

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the first person featured in this new series. Mavis is a reader who reached out to me because, as she said, “You guys are on the same path that we are, but opposite! I’m an international teacher, and have worked in Bolivia, Honduras and now Saudi Arabia with my husband and two boys. We have taught overseas for several years and are hoping to achieve FI in the near future so that we can have location permanence for a while.” Mavis and her husband are both teachers, and have taught at international schools all over the world. She’s already been a great resources to me, pointing me in the right direction of the best recruiters and asking any questions I have about teaching internationally. 

I asked if she would share her fascinating story, and I know you’ll be as inspired as I was. So, without further ado, Mavis’s story! 

How International Teaching Has Provided My Family a Strong Foundation for FI

My husband and I turned to international teaching when we were fresh out of graduate school.  We were young, certified teachers, underemployed, adventurous, and ready to travel and experience the world.  We were introduced to the idea through a passing conversation with a colleague who had taught at a school in Taiwan.  Instantly, the scheming and planning began.

Location Independent, International Jobs Interview 1--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Mavis, her husband, and their two boys on a recent trip to Ireland.

After attending the AASSA Recruiting Fair, we found jobs at the American International School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Our original plan was to teach in Honduras for two years, travel, and come home to Canada to settle into our lives.  After these two years finished, there were still no teaching jobs available in Ontario near our family and friends, and we were not thrilled about the idea of moving back in with our parents as a married 28 year old couple.  We decided to do two more years abroad, this time in Saudi Arabia, in order to save money, gain more experience and see a different part of the world.  Two years soon became three, and now, after a few great job opportunities and adding two new little boys to our family, we have now been in Saudi Arabia for six years.  In total, we have been teaching overseas for eight years, and have stopped making future promises of returning home to our families 😉 Continue reading “Location Independent, International Jobs: Mavis”

Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don’t Want to Travel

Lots of people, including our family, talk about location independence. What does it mean, exactly?

In the broadest definition of the phrase, location independence means being able to live wherever you’d like in the world. People achieve this in different ways.

Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don't Want to Travel--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

If you’re financially independent, and have enough assets or investments to live off indefinitely, you can probably become location independent without too much trouble. If you keep your cost of living the same, you can probably pull from your investments from anywhere around the globe. Yes, you might have some hoops to jump through to get there, like health insurance, but if you’re no longer working to pay your bills, chances are you have the freedom to move from place to place. Continue reading “Why Location Independence Might Make Sense Even if You Don’t Want to Travel”