Location Independent, International Jobs: Jaime from Keep Thrifty

Family on a Hawaii beach www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

Hello! Welcome to “Location Independent, International Jobs,” the Wednesday series where I showcase stories from people who have become location independent or work internationally.

Today you’ll hear from Jaime from Keep Thrifty. Jaime and her husband Chris write about exploring the location independent lifestyle over the last year . I’m amazed at how brave and out-of-the-box they are in the decisions they make for their family. They refuse to take the road that they’re “supposed to,” and instead make the decisions that are right for their family.
This interview will cover:
  • How to take a mini-retirement
  • Financing a traveling lifestyle
  • The downside of location independence
For the complete story of how Jaime and Chris have made a mini-retirement (and trial location independence) work for their family, read on.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
My husband and I met while in college at UW-Madison. Before Chris graduated, he was offered a full time job at GE where he had his co-op. This allowed him to stay in Madison since I had two more years before I graduated. After I finished school, I worked as a personal trainer, we bought a house, got married, Chris got his MBA, and we had our first baby, N.

We were settled and content, but under it all we longed for more. Then I found out I was pregnant with twin girls, had a tough pregnancy, prayed for my babies, and at 37 weeks welcomed A & B into the world. A had surgery right away and spent a month in the NICU. Our life was at once overwhelming, but it was the push we needed to move past contentment and start working on our dreams.

Jaime in the hospital with twins location independence www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
After the birth of their twins

How did you make the decision to become location independent for a few years (ie, take a mini-retirement)? How do you make that work financially? With your job?

Chris had dreamed of working from home, running his own business. I had dreamed of more travel, moving to a warmer climate, and living in a little white shack (though I had forgotten about that dream for many years). Our life was full, but we wanted more time together.  We longed to enjoy summer weekdays, walking together to pick the girls up from school, and have more time to travel.

We had been talking for years about downsizing, but couldn’t find the right house. We talked about Chris leaving his job, but we still needed an income. For a long time the steps to change weren’t coming. So Chris worked and I remodeled and decluttered our home.

We finally got to a breaking point. Chris was progressively wanting a change in his career and I was wanting to take the step in downsizing. In Spring of 2017, things seemed to click. We could wrap up our current home remodeling projects and put our house up for sale (in a sellers market). We could rent a small apartment and live off the equity we had built up, allowing Chris to step away from his job and take a mini-retirement.

By July 1, 2017 we were moved into our apartment and Chris was home full time. We had enough money to cover us for two years. Chris started working on his blog, Keep Thrifty, full time and then I joined him a few months later.

We are a year in and we love what we do. We are still working on the income part though. We’ve experimented with Patreon, Chris’s money tracking tool Thrifty, and some freelance writing. We are now considering taking on sponsors, a few specific ads, and Chris has teamed up with Grant from Millenial Money to bring people an awesome new App. We are hoping that in our second year, we can create a part-time or full-time income with these ventures, allowing us to keep working remotely.

Favorite part of travel? Least favorite?

During the first year of mini-retirement we got to do something I had always dreamed of – traveling to Hawaii! That was a bucket list item for sure. If Chris had still been at his job we wouldn’t have had the vacation time to take this two week trip, nor would we have set the money aside to do it. It was a life changing trip – one that made me realize how much more I thrive in warm weather (we traveled in January).

family in Hawaii location independence www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Enjoying Hawaii this January

My favorite part of travel is experiencing new places and cultures. When you experience something new with your spouse and kids, it builds an awesome bond.

My least favorite part of travel is the week before we leave. I have some anxiety about safety and my mind tries to talk me out of the trip. This anxiety kept us from traveling early in our marriage, but I’m so glad I’m overcoming that fear now. The experience we had in Hawaii was unforgettable and worth every minute we were flying over the ocean.

Do you have any funny culture shock moments?

Not really. Or at least, not yet.

Why would you recommend this for others? Why would you not recommend this to others?

Leaving a stable income and pursuing a dream is exciting and incredibly nerve racking. It’s broken us down, caused panic attacks, made us question our decisions, and put stress on our marriage. It has pushed us, grown us, and made us face a lot of fears. It’s also reminded us to give up our concerns to God because we don’t have to do this on our own. I believe we have a great life ahead of us, but it doesn’t mean it will be easy to get there.

If you decide to take the leap and leave your job in order to have location independence, know that it won’t be easy. You will be challenged, but you can also get to the other side. Don’t give up. And if you have a spouse or partner you are doing this with – lean on each other, support each other, lift each other up, remind each other why you took this crazy leap, and have a little faith that you will make it through!

And don’t forget to have fun along the way!

Related Reading:

Any tips for how others could make extended travel possible?

Definitely budget! The biggest thing for us was setting our travel budget. We planned $10,000 for Hawaii. Our AirBnB, flights, car rental, and hotel stay the night before our flight totaled to $7,100.22. The rest of our budget was spent on food, gas, entrance fees for parks, souvenirs, and printing our tickets and itinerary at the library. This was about another $1,771.86 We ended up under budget by keeping our days simple, grocery shopping, and limiting souvenirs.

How has taking time off work and/or traveling internationally for long stretches positively (or negatively) impacted your finances (since this is a personal finance blog)?

Taking the mini-retirement has technically negatively impacted our finances. We aren’t making much money right now, so our bank account is getting smaller each month. You could say the same thing for our travels as well, but we financially planned for both. We refuse to take on debt, so we made sure we had the cash in order to do each of these. If we wouldn’t have been able to financially afford these ventures, we wouldn’t have done them.

As we look into the future, we will be further behind in our net worth goals, but you have to balance living the life you want now with what you want in the future.

What are your future plans for future trips?

As we near year two of the mini-retirement, we’ve had a lot of different ideas. At first, we were going to take a nine month trip to Costa Rica with our girls. That would have been epically awesome, but we’ve postponed that plan for now. We also thought we would move south now that we are location independent, but we decided not to rush into the unknown too quickly.

We are taking this next year to explore different states and get a taste of Costa Rica. When we pick up our girls from their last day of school, we will head down to Florida, visit family, check out a town we may want to move to, and take a day trip to Disney World. Then in July, Chris and I are setting out to Costa Rica for 5 nights to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

The rest of the year is unplanned, but may include another trip to Costa Rica with our girls and trips to other states.

Make sure to reach out to Jaime at jaime@keepthrifty.com or leave her a comment. I’m excited to hear about the decisions her family will be making in the next year as they decide where to live and what to do. 

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

2 thoughts on “Location Independent, International Jobs: Jaime from Keep Thrifty”

  1. Great interview!

    Totally agree that doing something you love and taking a risk needs to have some fun along the way!

    Recently we saw one of our coworkers leave the office to pursue a dream of video game streaming on Twitch. He gave himself a timeline but his income too will definitely change while starting out!

    1. I read that you should take your big risks when you’re young because when you’re older there can be too much at stake financially. 🙂 I love that these guys are doing just that!

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