top of page
Post: Blog2_Post

1 Year Abroad: Life, Money, and Financial Freedom

5 things I'm grateful for after 1 year abroad

After a 9-day drive from Texas through Mexico and Guatemala with a trailer and our 3 dogs in tow, our feet hit El Salvador soil and it’s been an adventure ever since.

Moving abroad has always been one of my dreams. Experiencing a new culture, a different way of life, a new way of viewing the world… I always found the idea of that exhilarating. I imagined myself waking up to a landscape that wasn’t familiar to me, learning a language that was foreign to me, and simply experiencing life differently so I could ultimately learn what I liked best and how I wanted to do life moving forward.

And now, having done it, it’s been nothing short of magical. The amount of growth, self-discovery, and fun I’ve experienced this past year is hard to put into words… and, although it hasn’t come without hardship, great things rarely do.

All in all, this journey has been extraordinary and, today, we’re talking about 5 things I’m grateful for this year as we build out the life we imagined for ourselves, the #1 thing that made it possible, and how you can do the same.


From new friends and trying new native foods and attending local festivals where the music is always entirely too loud but everyone is PUMPED to be there to eating directly from the earth (and I mean DIRECTLY as in pulling fruit from the trees) and raw milk each week from our neighbor’s cow and cold showers which I initially hated but grew to love.

Also, learning about enough and deep belly laughter (especially with anyone who happens to have one or more gold teeth) and the street dogs who bring everyone so much joy and riding my dirt bike in the most beautiful mountains, which is something I never dreamed I’d like doing but feels like the embodiment of freedom.

I’m grateful for all of this and more. It’s an exceptional country full of kind people with deep wrinkles around their eyes from smiling so much and the kind of beauty you have to experience firsthand to truly understand.

And I’m thankful to be here.


The second thing I’m grateful for is not having a full-time job that’s demanding my time and energy, especially during this season of life because it enabled me to fully experience all of the things I just mentioned.

There is something about being present to truly EXPERIENCE something and, having worked full time from the age of 21 to 30, I know that working full time and being physically and mentally present in other areas of life can be difficult… especially in today’s world where we are ALWAYS connected.

Being able to drop what I’m doing to go to the beach to catch a dazzling sunset or to take an entire day off in the middle of the week to go ride dirt bikes in the mountains without having to tell or ask anyone is insanely liberating.

Even going to a street festival starting at 9 pm on a weeknight and not worrying about what time I need to work in the morning… things like that have made my experience here that much better.


The third thing I’m grateful for is ongoing communication in my marriage, even when it’s difficult - in fact, especially when it’s difficult. This is something we learned in counseling and, even when it sucks, I’m grateful to see communication as an ongoing theme in my relationship.

Despite all the amazing things we’ve experienced, this year didn’t come without hardship. If you’ve ever moved anywhere brand new, then you know what I’m talking about.

Moving to a new place with a new culture and a language we didn’t know well came with emotional and financial hurdles we weren’t expecting, and there was no way to get past the roadblocks other than going directly through them.

And that meant and still means, communicating clearly and often, even if you’re not good at it, even if you don’t feel like it, and even if it doesn’t always work. You still have to try.


I mentioned financial hurdles, and this is where item #4 comes in. If you’ve been following our story, you know that not long after we moved here we realized the short-term rental we have in Texas, which we were relying on for our living expenses here, was going to fail.

Pivoting from that was difficult and we ended up losing $20-$30K on that investment which was hard to stomach. But while that was happening I learned a valuable lesson: which is the value of having a house that’s completely paid off.

For most of us, our rent or mortgage is our biggest monthly expense, so there’s something incredibly freeing about knowing you have a place that’s entirely yours and you don’t have to worry about making payments or missing payments or what will happen if you miss payments.

The peace of mind this brings is hard to describe. So I’m grateful we were able to buy this house in cash.


The last thing I’m grateful for is simply being able to pick up our lives and move to a new place simply because we were curious about it. And although there was a lot that went into it, it comes down to financial freedom. Without financial freedom, this would not have been possible. Period. 

And it’s financial freedom that gave us access to the other 4 things, too. Without financial freedom, we would not have been able to move abroad, we would not have been able to quit our full-time jobs, it would have been much harder to afford years of therapy to learn communication tools, and we would not have been able to pay off a house in full.

Financial freedom makes EVERYTHING easier and I’m grateful that we prioritized it in our lives as early as possible.


I cannot stress this enough: getting invested as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance because the most powerful thing about investing is compound interest and compound interest needs TIME to work (a.k.a. grow your money).

That’s what we did… we started investing in 2012. We began with the stock market and, once our investments grew, we used some of that money to buy our first house.

While we were living in our first house, we continued investing every single month into the stock market. We eventually expanded into other asset classes, too, like commodities, and crypto, and our businesses.

Our investments kept growing and we used money from those investments to put a down payment on a second house that we moved into and turned the first house into a rental so we could continue to gain equity and also cash flow from our tenant’s rent payments.

As our investments continued to grow, we eventually quit our full-time jobs, sold the first house, and used the profits to pay off a house in El Salvador and to buy other investments.


Do you see the theme here? It’s investing. And then using profits from investments to do what? Buy more investments.

I’m going to say this again: I cannot stress this enough - getting invested as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance because the most powerful thing about investing is compound interest and compound interest needs TIME to work (a.k.a. grow your money).

You might be thinking, “Okay, I get it, I need to invest ASAP… but how do I actually do that? And isn’t it risky? What if I lose all my money?” or “I’m not sure I have enough time or money to invest?”

To which I’d reply:

2) The stock market has returned at an average of 10%* since its inception so, in my opinion, it’s not that risky especially if you have an emergency fund and you’re diversified

3) If you’re well diversified, meaning you have your money spread across a variety of stocks, and you lose all your money that would mean that many of the biggest companies in the country/world are failing at the same time… which, although not impossible, is unlikely and in that case, we would all have much bigger problems

4) And regarding concern over time or money needed… you can set up automated investing so that, once it's set up, it takes none of your time, except if you want to update your preferences a couple of times a year. And, as for money, $1 invested is better than $0… that simple truth is worth remembering.


Here’s the big picture: investing is THE KEY, it’s more risky to NOT invest (because you know with 100% certainty you’re losing money every day to inflation), and once you start, you’ll realize it’s not that big of a deal.

I’ve learned investing is something we build up in our minds. It’s kind of like the dishes… if you avoid them, they build up in the sink… they build and build and it feels like this overwhelming chore when you finally decide to get around to them. But, when you’re done, you’re like: “Hey, that wasn’t so bad.”

So far this year, our investments have brought in over $79K on auto-pilot. 

What could that look like in your life?


If you are even remotely interested in investing (which I really freaking hope you are or else I haven't done a good job explaining how CRITICAL it is!), I encourage you to check out my one-page 14-point checklist for relaxed investors

This is the most simplified guide I’ve created that boils down how to get started with automated investing from start to finish.

Even if you’re not ready to invest right this second, this checklist provides a nice roadmap to show you the 14 actions you need to take, from start to finish, to go from where you’re at right now, to getting invested.

Instead of asking what you’ve got to lose, I’d like to ask: what do you stand to gain?

More freedom? More time to travel? To be with your loved ones? Maybe to watch your kids grow? Or even just more time to run out the door to catch an epic sunset. Whatever your desired life looks like, whatever your desired destination… I imagine financial freedom is your fast pass to getting there.

And your fast pass to financial freedom? It’s Investing.

Get started today with your Relaxed Investor’s Checklist to see your roadmap for starting with automated investing from start to finish.




bottom of page