In weeks past, I have gotten emails from a few readers asking me how I manage to travel all the time yet live in the Greater Los Angeles area (summed up) and if I’m in debt, broke, I spend too much, etc… etc…Basically, how am I making this work? Coincidentally, my friend Rosy asked me a somewhat similar question this week about retirement accounts/traveling and we had a nice, engaging conversation about.

I haven’t had time to fully answer that question and make time to do it…until now. I am not going to post photos in this blog like I do with my others because I want you to read and get a full understanding.

Here’s the thing guys: right now in my life, I have 2 top personal priorities: retirement and traveling. Those are the 2 things I am passionate about.

So let’s back up to how I grew up: I grew up with a father who was ultra conservative. He instilled in me as a toddler to save my money and even got me one of those game where you would punch out the cents/dollars on the game board and learn how to count the money. He set me up with financial advisors when I was a child. I was always taught to put away so much of my paycheck so that one day, I could retire. I wouldn’t be where he is today because of him teaching me hard work and how to save. I’m thankful he paid for my college tuition so that I wouldn’t be paying off student loans. I’m thankful he allowed me to live at his house rent-free after college so that I could save and be prepared to move out of the house when I was ready, which for me was age 30, as you all know.

The difference between my father and I is that as our fun, spending “splurges” if you want to call it, is that he liked his Corvettes. He loved either owning, restoring and/or judging them in competitions. We went on family vacations mainly to Florida and one time to Mexico. He made sure my mom and I had a nice time and that we could enjoy the warm weather away from Minnesota when it got bitterly cold in the winter.

My splurge is traveling. I love spending money on experiences and not material things. When I was in my 20s, all I wanted was the latest, trendy look. Today I am a lot more casual/affordable in my look. I never traveled at all because I was trying to grow into my career profession as a journalist. When I took that Coursera course everyone online was talking about called “The Science of Well-Being” from a Yale University professor on how to become happy, she even said the same exact thing: experiences make you more happy than material things! It was freaky, because I am already doing most of the things she mentioned to keep my mind, body and spirit happy.

A couple months ago, I wrote an article for the Freelancers Union about “How to Balance Freelancing with a Full-Time Job.” In it I discussed how although I give props people who can do the gig economy, I don’t see how it can be financially accomplished in a smart way in terms of saving living in greater metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or New York City. In order for me to still have a comfortable lifestyle within my means and save for retirement, I need to have a full time job with freelancing on the side. I am happy that with all my hard work out here that I secured myself a very good, well paying full-time job with benefits. Anyone should be proud of that!

I go on to say that my full time job goes towards my HSA, 401K and all bills/expenses, which includes traveling. Not a dime of it is from my freelance money. My freelance money goes in my IRAs, CDs if I open them and savings accounts. I then say that people wonder if I am tired when I tell them I am juggling it all and sometimes I am, but I power through and am grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that have happened to me out here in LA. I am the only one running this ship out here and sometimes I get a bit emotional on some days, but that’s the way it is. As long as I get 9 hours of sleep, eat right and go to the gym every week, I am mostly good and have a ton of energy to get me through the day. If someone has a better way of doing it, I would love to hear from you!

I also have to remind myself that I made my choice to live here, this is the life I wanted for myself. At the same time, I refuse to go broke or in debt living in Greater Los Angeles. When I travel, I make sure I book my trips a month ahead of time with deals, what’s realistically within my budget and pay it all off before the trip so that all I am left over with is food and entertainment expenses.

I travel also because I have heard so many stories of people retiring in their 60s/70s that saved up money to travel everywhere and suddenly their health goes bad or something else bad happens. Then they say they wish they could’ve done this or done that when they had the chance when they were younger. I don’t want to ever have to say that at that age and miss out.

You have to understand that I fight for this life where I have chosen to live Every. Single. Day. Sometimes I get a bit intense and passionate about it, but I can say in the future that I lived my life with no regrets. Life’s an adventure and you’re on a spiritual journey. I am mostly content and I am good, man. Hard work pays off eventually. Eight years later, it’s still going well for the most part. 🙂

Photo Credit: American Federal Bank