How Becoming Self-Employed Helped Ease My Travel Bug

“There is freedom in frugality after all.”

Goodbye corporate America

“Are you really going to quit your engineering job?” Three years ago I decided corporate America wasn’t for me. At the time, I was living in Seattle and working as a civil engineer, but the desk life and limited vacation time wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to see the world. I realized that in order to have more of that freedom I would have to be self-employed.

So, I became a Realtor. I moved to a brand new city and started my career from scratch. What I thought would be a 3 month ramp up period stretched into 6 months, then 9, until I finally got the hang of things and tripled my business the following year. That first year, things were tough. I had to live off of savings and pure ambition. 

Work is still work

I had pictured this glorious life where I would have the freedom to travel on a whim, but in reality I had to lay the foundation of my real estate business for that whole first year. It was grueling and required a long-term vision. Every time people would urge me to quit, I knew I had to keep fighting. I surrounded myself with successful agents and stayed on track.

My first year I lived frugally and focused on domestic travel to locations where I could stay at friends’ places. I also actively invited my friends to visit me in Florida and together we explored my new city. It wasn’t easy to feel “behind” in my goals. I would see my friends traveling and I couldn’t keep up with them financially. I knew there would come a day when I would get there but I was growing impatient. 

Hard work paying off

Fast forward to my second year and I started to grow my business more steadily. I was able to afford to live more luxuriously but I kept to my strict budget. With time, I realized that I could live on a lot less and didn’t need the same luxuries that those around me craved. I decided to funnel most of my “spare” money towards future trips and this allowed me to spend more mindfully.

Hiking the Swiss Alps or bathing in the blue lagoons of Iceland was more valuable to me than eating at the new hottest restaurant or wearing a trendy Gucci belt. I find more joy in the experience of traveling than the short-lived high of material goods. This newly found focus inspired me to keep working hard to reach my goals.

READ How A Solo Trip To The Everglades Changed My Life

There is freedom in frugality after all

A few years into real estate, I am now lucky enough to be able to support myself financially with my real estate business which in turn allows me to have freedom in my choices. Traveling is a priority for me so I strive to contribute heavily to my travel budget. Since growing my business, I have been able to buy my first home and travel to numerous cities around the world. This year I had planned to travel to Australia, but due to the coronavirus pandemic I know I need to readjust my vision to domestic travel. Traveling doesn’t have to be immediate, in fact you can satisfy your travel bug (slightly at least) by traveling virtually. I will use the remainder of this year to save more money and plan for bigger trips in 2021!

Over the next few years I will continue to live frugally so I can travel more freely. There is freedom in frugality after all.

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