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Not an accountant, not a financial advisor. Simply sharing my experience and takeaways with finances after almost two years of world travel, growing a biz and doing life in and out of the states.
A huge thing for us when we want to do ANYTHING in life is the HOW. How do we travel the world? And how do we save for a house? Or how do we budget for x and y? How do you pay taxes when you live for more than six months outside of the states? Or how do you plan finances when you have inconsistent income? How do you start investing? And retire as an entrepreneur?
Right!? It’s always the HOW? We just want answers, AND we want to know we’re not alone. That’s someone else has done it before. I say “we” as in everyone. Which might be a lot to assume of me. But I find in most areas of life, that people are generally searching for the “how.”
That’s kind of what I hope to provide today. To pull back the curtain on questions you probably have around our finances, and biz life + travel.
I know I wish people would talk about this stuff, so here I am, talking about it. These aren’t finite, my way or the highway suggestions. They aren’t even necessarily suggestions. Simply our experiences and how we do biz, life and travel from a financial standpoint.
You already know I am going to tell you to follow and listen to Chloe at deeper.than.money, and read Profit First if you’re an entrepreneur. Profit First completely changed the way I do biz from a financial standpoint. Before we left in for world travels in 2018 I was desperately searching for a way to track finances and keep my shit straight while spending a lot of money in foreign countries and running a business.
We did a nauseating amount of research on which cards didn’t get flagged for overseas purchases and which ones reimbursed foreign ATM and transaction fees. For us the best option was Charles Schwab. We have absolutely loved them so for. It was easy to set up multiple accounts – which you’ll learn about in Profit First if you read it.
And then we have accounts at an entirely separate bank for taxes. That way, we transfer the money every two weeks to the tax account and it’s out of sight, out of mind. Again, you’ll learn about this tactic in Profit First.
Also – Nate is not an owner or partner in my business. I just keep saying “we” because we both view the money I make as our money. Which is a whole other conversation and I think Chloe from Deeper.Than.Money has done a podcast episode on finances as a couple. But the mindset you and your partner have around finances is more important than I can express. Being on the same page can literally keep relationships from falling apart.
What is it, like sex, finances, religion and kids are the four highest reasons marriages fail? I could be pulling that out of my ass, but I swear that’s a thing.
So, check out Chloe, and know that I think it’s super duper important for partners to be on the same page – whatever that looks like with finances.
For us, the money I generate is just as much Nate’s as it is mine. Know that this is where we’re functioning from in biz, life and travel with finances.
You can come up with an equation – which is basically what Profit First has you do. Equation meaning a % that goes to taxes, biz expenses, and whatever else you need it to go. This can be very individual in your biz.
Then you can do the same thing in your life based on what your biz pays you. I don’t know how many times I’ll say this – but we follow the Profit First equation. No surprise I am sure.
Everyone’s equation will be different. But I really like using % instead of a dollar amount every month because I have a biz with inconsistent income. So no matter what, the % are the same every two weeks when I transfer money to different accounts.
That’s another point. We “do finances” every two weeks. Ideally this is the 10th and 25th but when traveling it happens from 9th-11th and 24th-26th typically. This works for us. It will ultimately depend on when money comes in, and when bills go out.
Main point for finance and biz – I keep costs as low as I can. I said I’d never hire someone but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and so incredibly worth the cost.
Straight up on a monthly basis for my biz I pay for:
That all adds up just over $1,000 per month + whatever I pay my assistant for the month, which varies on the month.
Some people have biz expenses that take up 50% of their revenue and that is simply not the business model I want to have.
But know that at some point you will be pay people or platforms to run parts of your biz so that you can do your thing and stay in your zone of genius. You will not do EVERYTHING in your biz forever.
I am for minimizing expenses and maximizing profits. However you can make that happen, make it happen.
Moving on to…
This is so individualized I can’t even tell you. People ask Nate and I all the time what our budget is for food and accommodation when traveling.
To be honest – we like to live beneath our means. BUT we also like nice things. I believe you can have both.
It’s all just picking and choosing where your money goes or doesn’t go.
I am lumping life and travel into one because for Nate and I these are the one in the same.
Straight up – we don’t have a food budget. This is an area we spend freely because it’s an area we are very passionate about and were restricted in for YEARS of our time together.
Two fun stories on the topic.
When Nate and I got married – we were poor by first world standards. I say that because we had a roof over our heads, and two cars made in the 2000’s. Barely, but still. And we had opportunity to build more for ourselves. I just think that’s important to note.
Anyway – we often overspent on food and had a very restricted budget for food. One night all we had was soup..and not a dime in the bank account to buy anything else. Nate lost it. Not towards me or at me. But he was so frustrated, like into the depths of his soul, that he didn’t have the funds to even drive to Burgerville and get a freaking burger. It was a moment for sure. We didn’t have enough money for anything other than soup, yet were both working full time. If you’ve been there, it’s not a fun place to be.
And it wasn’t our complete norm, okay? But I share the story to express the importance and value that food has for us – and specifically for Nathanael.
Story #2 goes along the same lines. In June 2018 we had started our world travels and were at a winery in Chile. Times were looking up, clearly. I was not rollin’ in the dough at this point yet, but we had saved about $15k for world travels and I was working to grow my biz.
Anyway, we’re at this winery – a meal I would say we decided to splurge on. And it was more than worth it. We had a private wine sommelier who was pairing different wines to our dishes. This was a big deal for us. And we thoroughly enjoyed it.
I asked Nate at this meal something along the lines of “what does having more money look like for you?” Or “why would you want me to make more money?” – something like that. And he said to me “I just want to be able to have meals like this whenever I want. I don’t want our food to be restricted. I hate that.”
For me as the breadwinner – I put that shit in the front filing cabinet of my brain. Make enough so Nate can eat what he wants to. That his freedom right?
It’s why I refer to financial freedom as buying the good bacon without looking at the price.
I used to walk the grocery aisles and add up my total on my phone calculator to make sure I wasn’t going over budget. So the fact that we grocery shop without looking at *most* prices is a HUGE DEAL to us. And it’s an area we don’t restrict. BECAUSE it’s an area we desire near complete freedom within our lives. That’s us. Some financial advisor might tell us we’re ignorant or that this is reckless. We wouldn’t care AT ALL. As long as we’re living beneath our means and freely enjoying food and the experiences we get to have around food, then the Millers are more than happy.
Which brings me back to life and travel – we buy good food, we buy it for other people and we tip well. That’s where we like our money to go. And of course we travel. I don’t buy Gucci shoes and Louis Vuitton bags. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll do both. But for now, I choose food and travel.
You get to decide where yours goes. Remember I am simply pulling back OUR curtain.
In 2018/2019 we paid $25k for all plane tickets and accommodations.
We don’t own a home so consider that as well.
We sold our car that we had a payment on.
Now we have my car at home, and we pay monthly on Nate’s motorcycle.
Other than that, our only expenses are my biz expenses + Nate’s phone. As far as bills go.
We book ahead of time for cars, flights and accommodations. So there is this natural flow that kind of happens. For instance in Patagonia almost nothing could be paid ahead of time but it was all booked several months out, so I had a spreadsheet and knew that during those 26 days, we’d have just over $6k in expenses we’d need to pay for on site. Therefore we made sure to be prepared for that. And then we pre-paid everything for New Zealand and Japan, so once we got to those, all we’d be paying for is food, gas and whatever else we wanted to do.
Both in 2018 and 2019 leading into 2020 we spent $15k + on actual travel and travel needs BEFORE we left. That includes cars, flights, visas, accommodations, bags, clothing and so on.
As far as budgeting for or deciding how much to spend on accommodations – our options definitely improved as I made more but we don’t ball out on all locations by any means. We pick and choose which places we’re willing to splurge and which ones we can settle for.
We might like nice things, but we’re not paying for something that isn’t worth the price – and that definitely goes for accommodations.
What we look for is value – meaning location, safety, reviews, quiet and clean. And we will 100% leave a location if it was not properly represented online. In fact we left our airbnb in Medellin and got a hotel. No refund offered, asked for or provided. It was so loud we couldn’t sleep with earplugs and noise cancelling headphones. Colombia is super cheap so we booked a four star hotel for $35 a night I think it was. We still had a whole week left at our airbnb. But again, willing to pay for value and count the loss on the previous place.
Okay this is getting slightly longer than planned. But there you have it.
You can see where there is not really a blueprint for all of this. Life, Travel and Biz.
I just think it’s important to LOOK at your numbers often, and live beneath your means if you can help it.
For instance we are discussing what to do when we return to the states and what life might look like. We have all the options – we could rent, buy a house, buy land an build a house, we might buy a car. But what’s important for us is being on the same page and being well informed.
We know how to travel the world. We’ve never owned a home, let alone built one. And we know we never want to feel restricted. Which mind you, can happen even when you’re making 20, 30, or 50k per month. So I am not talking restricted via a certain income. Yes income matters, but the expenses, spending habits and mindset are what I believe cause restriction for a lot of people.
Find your system whether in biz or life. That means trial and error. But not looking at numbers, or not managing them will def not get you where you’re wanting to go.
As stated at the beginning – not an accountant, money human or financial advisor. Just sharing a bit of the Millers and how we do life, biz, and traveling the world.
I am sure when we return or buy a house, I’ll share that experience as well. Because numbers will change for sure.
There you have it. Finances in biz life and travel.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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