This report describes How I would retire in 10 years starting with nothing.
First I will share 4 things I learned since leaving the United States 16 years ago that would allow me to retire in 10 years starting with nothing. Then, how these 4 would help me retire in 10 years. Finally, how my reframed beliefs no longer delay my early retirement.
I will show you a video of us traveling the world as I explain.
Four things I learned since leaving the United States 16 years ago.
One. I know about geoarbitrage now.
That means I know how to earn or collect dollars from a high-income earning country but pay for my living expenses in a low-income earning country overseas. That is the most important thing I learned that would allow me to retire in 10 years starting with nothing.
Two. I know about wealth balloons now.
I grew up in a culture where success was judged by the appearance of wealth instead of true wealth. All you had to do to appear successful and attract a beautiful life to yourself was to learn how to float a wealth balloon high in the air where everyone could see it.
Creating wealth ballons is easy. People just use credit to buy expensive automobiles, designer clothes and accessories, and pompous short international trips. Then just pay for your wealth balloon with monthly payments.
But in 10 years, they are just 10 years older when the economy crashes again, and they can no longer keep blowing hot air into their wealth balloon when they lose their jobs. I am not judging anyone. That was me. My first wealth balloon popped in the 1981 recession.
I learned that wealth balloons are the road to hell. Instead of saving and investing, all of my monthly income was blowing up a balloon that made me appear wealthy to naive people around me. But it was just full of hot air. It was feeding my ego but not my freedom.
Now I know the truth. The guy I was judging back then, that guy driving the 10-year-old car; he was probably way smarter than me. He didn’t have car payments. He was probably investing his money instead of blowing up a wealth balloon.
Three. I know about Madison Avenue Mind Control now.
That means that my generation grew up in a culture of conformance. We are drawn to making decisions based on what the cool kids are doing. Through movies, TV, fashion, art, and now social media, we have embedded images of an ideal life that we are trying to create for ourselves in order to fill some emptiness we have inside of us.
We see the advertisement for a beautiful car with beautiful people standing next to the car, and we think, “If I had that car, I would finally get that life.” The Madison Avenue Mind Control distracts us from the reality that the very people in all those images often have the same emptiness inside of them.
I understand now that there is no prepackaged set of actions or decisions I can blindly adopt by following others. We are each individual and we need to look inside of ourselves for a life that reflects our own values and joy.
Emptiness is never permanently filled with conspicuous consumption or images created by others in the absence of self-reflection.
I have learned to think for myself now. I read books now, like The Richest Man From Babylon, Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Now, and Unlimited Power. I even write books like How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 16+ Years, and I am (Happy)–An Owner’s Manual for the Human Mind.
Now I mostly just create images in my own head rather than blindly adopt images created by someone that will make money if I buy their image of life. And I freely change my images when it turns out there is not as much cheese down any given road. Yes, that means you don’t follow me blindly either. You just make a nice soup of all the ideas you learn in life and you only keep those ingredients that make your own custom soup taste right for you.
We are all individuals. Just because I find cheese down any road does not mean you will.
Four. I know that bigger is not better.
I grew up in a world that taught bigger is better. More expensive is better. Go big or go home.
Bigger is not better. Bigger is often just stupid. You see, bigger describes a comparison between two or more things. That means you are not thinking about what is perfect for you, you just want to be bigger than someone else.
External metrics are for empty people.
You see, if you were designing a perfect house for your life, the square footage of the house would come naturally from what you value most about life and from your budget. If you are more interested in external metrics such as just being bigger, instead of internal metrics such as a perfect design for you, then you are unlikely to be happy with your bigger life.
Do you know what else bigger delays in life? Your personal freedom. It is kind of like the wealth balloons. When everything in your life just needs to be bigger, then you may never win your freedom. You will be a slave to your wealth balloons.
Do you know what is better than bigger? It gives you more choices and freedom earlier in life. It gives you more choices about your future. It gives you the right to retire early also. Do you know what is better than bigger? That is for you to decide.
But for me, simple is better than bigger. Perfect is better than bigger. Efficient is better than bigger. Cheaper is better than bigger. Do you know why? Because I will not be a slave to the money until I die. Money will work for me instead of me working for money.
External metrics will just lead you to a miserable old age. And sadly, you will never get to be bigger because there will always be someone bigger than you. Bigger is for fools. You can never win at bigger.
But you can win with simple. You can win with perfect. You can win with efficiency.
How these 4 would help me retire in 10 years
How I would use geoarbitrage to retire in 10 years starting with nothing.
I would get a remote job paying $3000 USD per month and I would live on $1500 USD per month overseas and invest the other $1500 per month in Berkshire Hathaway shares.
Berkshire shares have averaged about 20% returns since 1965. But it is unrealistic to think it would continue at that rate of return over the next 20 years, so I will assume I would only get 10% returns going forward. There is no way of knowing now what will actually happen to Berkshire, but that is what I will assume for now.
The Nerd Waller Calculator shows that if I started investing with my first $1500, and continued at $1500 per month for 10 years with a 10% return compounded annually, I would have about $303,686 by the end of the 10 years.
That is when I would retire. I would leave the $303,686 principal in Berkshire and live off the increased market value each year from then on. Since it would presumably increase in value by 10% each year, that would give me about $30k per year to live off without touching the principal.
That would throw about $30k per year in retirement income without touching the principal balance. So earning dollars and living overseas would allow me to retire in about 10 years if everything went as planned.
How knowing about Madison Avenue Mind Control now would help me retire in 10 years starting with nothing.
I would not need to spend any of my growing retirement savings to make any ego purchases. I would know that every year there would be some new toy that everyone was getting that made them feel better for a week or a month and that it would not ultimately fill any emptiness they feel inside themselves.
I would continue to create my own images in my own head that were more in alignment with what I really enjoy in life which is experiences rather than things. And I would freely change my images when it turns out there is not as much cheese down any given road as I thought.
I would continue to get excited about new experiences and about learning about the people and the world I live in, the arts, architecture, literature, and history.
I would enjoy the personal power that comes from not buying a bunch of new stuff all the time that doesn’t really provide any more true function but only clutters my life. When my 10-year-old scooter no longer is repairable, I would buy a used 5-year-old scooter for 75% off what it sold for new.
I would take pride in what I did not need to spend in order to prop up my self-image. I would instead understand that I was on a 10-year plan to freedom and that that freedom was more valuable to me personally than any pile of aging stuff I could have collected over that decade.
How knowing that bigger is not better would help me retire in 10 years starting with nothing.
By knowing that simple is better, efficiency is better, and minimalism is better, I would be provided the ultimate freedom in 10 years. Freedom of my time to live as I wanted to live for the rest of my life.
By knowing that bigger is not better, I would not be delaying a life of total freedom. Freedom to live every day according to my images, my design, and my dreams. I would be living according to my internal metrics instead of adopting external metrics that that I mistakenly thought would fill some emptiness in me.
How my reframed beliefs no longer delay my early retirement
When I was young, when I saw someone driving an expensive car, I thought they were beating me at something. I thought they were the winner and I was the loser. Now I know the truth. That monthly car payment alone would likely pay for half of my early retirement when compounded annually.
So now when I see them, I think, … I am sure glad I don’t have that car payment. I would have to delay my retirement by a decade or more. So I reframed what I think when I see people around me blowing hot air into wealth balloons. I kind of feel sorry for them.
And it is not just the money. Heck, maybe they already have enough money to retire and the car is just an extra thing they do for fun. But it would be delaying my retirement, so it wouldn’t be right for me.
But if they have some sort of emptiness in them that they think they can fill with bright shiny things around them, then I hope they are okay when they finally realize that external metrics never truly provide any permanent happiness.
But there before the grace of god go I. I remember when I got my first bright shiny fancy car. I thought it would lead me to true happiness. But only a few months later, the wheels and the stereo were stolen. And those payments were okay for a few months, but I had to start running faster to stay afloat.
It wasn’t until the market crashed a few years later in 1981, that I knew how good it felt to not have all that stuff. My business crashed and I couldn’t afford to keep blowing hot air into my wealth balloon. So that beautiful car got repossessed.
I remember the day I felt the power of not having any more monthly debt. It was about midnight and a friend of mine and I were playing a pinball machine in a 7-11 store. I was totally broke, I had no income, and no savings.
On that day, I realized that I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. The freedom of not having that monkey on my back felt 10 times better than driving around in a fancy car.
There is a feeling of real power that comes from living below your means that I have come to learn since that day. There is a feeling of security that comes from spending less than you earn and having money set aside that can help you maintain some freedom in hard times.
The power that comes from making the right decisions about money and sticking to your guns greatly exceeds any temporary power you might think comes from blowing hot air into a wealth balloon.
Thanks for listening to my rant about How to retire in 10 years starting with nothing. If you would like to learn more about retiring overseas click the video appearing in the upper right-hand of your screen right now.
There is no guarantee that any of this will work for you and the past performance of Berkshire is no guarantee for any future performance. Plus, I have no knowledge, ability, or experience in helping others achieve their retirement goals so you must discuss your individual retirement plans with someone licensed and qualified to give advice on this subject.
I am just a guy sharing how I think about this stuff now.
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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?