This week I was able to congratulate two close friends on becoming debt free! This is the most important step towards financial independence. Being debt free opens up a huge world of opportunities to live your life to the fullest and gives you a sense of control over your life. No longer are you an indentured servant! You are free to do whatever you want!
To me being debt free means I can peace the F out (PTFO) whenever I want. I am in control. I work to make money because I want to work to make money. If life starts going to hell I need to hit the emergency eject button, I’m free to smash that button with my fist and take off whenever I want! I can always find another job and fall back into the rat race later on. It is very empowering to know that you are in control of your own destiny.
You don’t need to have millions of the dollars in the bank to quit your job and go try something new. I first learned this lesson when I graduated from university debt free and was able to travel the world for two years. I left with $500 in my pocket and a one-way ticket out of the country. I believe anyone can travel for $10k a year and live like a king, but what if you don’t have money or life throws you a curve ball and you lose all of your savings? Do you have to go back to working a 9 to 5 job you hate? I don’t think so! On my web browser I have a bookmark folder called “Escape Plans.” This folder is where I store web links to applications for awesome things I would do if my life went to hell and I needed a reboot. Below are my top 5 escape plans.
#1 Set Sail
Every day there are boat captains looking for good shipmates to help them sail around the world. Findacrew.net connects boat captains and willing seamen for epic sailing adventures! Some of these are paid gigs to transport boats and others are leisure sailing adventures that are non-paid but all food is covered. There are currently 14 boat captains near me looking for crew members! This is my number one option because I love the ocean and I love pretending to be a pirate! Arrrghh matey!
#2 Get an Australian Holiday Work Visa
Australia is a backpacker’s paradise. It is one of my favorite countries to visit. The people are friendly and it is common for strangers to shout you a free beer or offer you a place to stay. The country has an amazing Holiday Work Visa program for anyone 18 to 31 years old. The one-year visa allows the holder to work while traveling the country. The visa costs $440 when you apply online. In 2008, I worked for three weeks at a carnival in Nelson Bay and banked between $300 and $350 a day in cash! I also met a clown who was banking $1,200 to $1,500 a day in cash donations for giving away free balloon animals to children, but that’s a story for another day.
#3 Australian Culinary School
Australia has a pretty cool school system for culinary students. Most of their culinary schools set the students up with paid gigs in restaurants that pay well enough to help the students repay all tuition costs and sometimes more. I have met several folks through my travels that have gone through these types of programs which allowed them to live in Australia, learn to cook professionally and walk away with no debt!
#4 Join the Peace Corp
The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. It was started by John F. Kennedy with the purpose of providing helping developing countries through American volunteers. Volunteers with are trained for three months and are then given two-year assignments abroad in the region of their choice. All expenses are paid for the two-year stint. Volunteers work with local governments, schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and agricultural groups depending on the college education and skill sets of the volunteer. I was just browing their current openings for this post and I am so tempted to apply to this Community Developer position in Albania to grow their tourism industry! Unfortunately for them, I ‘m loving my current job and not looking to PTFO just yet.
#5 Join the World Teach Organization
You can become a volunteer teacher in another country through WorldTeach, a teach abroad non-profit organization sends volunteer teachers to low and middle-income countries. Similar to the Peace Corps, World Teach will provide 3 weeks of training, curriculums and mentoring, along with health insurance, visa sponsorship, travel costs, housing, and a monthly stipend for cost of living. It is a great organization that supports the education of over 60,000 children world wide. Below is a map of all the countries that you can work in through World Teach. When I worked in Micronesia we had several WorldTeach and Peace Corps volunteers at the elementary and high schools, and hospital helping to teach math, English, economics, vocational classes, and educate the locals about healthy eating.
There you have it, my top 5 PTFO escapes. If you needed to escape for a few years and reset your life, what would you do?
Update: #6 Study Martial Arts on Wudang Mountain
In 2006, while I was in Micronesia, my buddy went to Wudang Mountain in China, where Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was filmed. He ended up studying Kung Fu there for 9 years. The cost for the school was around $1,800 per year with all food and accommodations included. I just checked the school’s website, and the current cost is now $2,628 per year. http://www.ziranmenkungfu.com/