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!
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 .
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!).