Throughout my many years as a financial advisor, I’ve seen some lifestyles with outrageous monthly costs. There have been business owners that are barely breaking even. I’ve seen retirees with large amounts of debt and mortgage payments. These folks lived month to month and carried the stress that comes with that. On the flip side, I’ve also worked with couples who make a good living, live on a budget, and still have everything they need and want. They lived financially stress free.
A fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle does not need to cost a lot. It’s all in a person’s mindset. As I’ve written about before, be conscious of the difference between want and need. You want a fun and free lifestyle; it doesn’t need to cost a lot. All the lifestyles that I describe below will come with some upfront costs and I my assumption is that you’ll be debt free. These lifestyles can be enjoyed on a budget of $2500 a month or less.
For the average person, these four lifestyles can be lived well within a $2500 a month budget once you’re debt free and have the upfront costs out of the way.
1) Mobile Lifestyle:
You want to travel the country, perhaps heading off to Alaska this summer. Or better yet, you want to see the world from your windshield – there are hundreds and thousands of people doing it each year. Whether from your RV, truck camper, converted bus or boat seeing the continent can be very affordable when you plan ahead.
There are plenty of YouTube videos and blogs that you can find online that give the details of what individuals and couples are spending on a monthly basis on their full-time mobile journey. You’ll find that most are spending less than $2500 a month. Fuel and food costs tend to be the most expensive bills as well as where you park your vehicle each night. Staying at expensive RV parks can add up quickly and shoot your budget to hell so researching BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) and free camping is a must. Living on a boat full-time you’ll run into similar costs with fuel and food generally being your most expensive costs. Also, docking fees can start adding up.
Note: with a mobile lifestyle, it’s very important to have an emergency fund because you will have mechanical problems from time-to-time so having a financial cushion is extremely important.
2) Moving to a foreign country:
What if I told you that you could save 10 to 15 years off of your working life? By moving to a foreign country where the cost of living is substantially lower than the United States you can do that. Some of you might say “I’m all for it” and others would say “Oh hell no”. From my experience, when I tell people that I’m looking at moving to a foreign country, they look at me like I’ve lost my mind. “Why would you want to do something like that?” I say “why not?”
There are millions of Americans living in foreign countries right now and soaking in the culture, the lower prices and the sunshine. They are living the life they’ve always wanted to but couldn’t afford in the United States. The fact of the matter is that you can live in most Central and South American countries for less than $2500 a month and in a lot of areas, much less than that. Southeast Asia is another popular destination. Spain and Portugal are two countries in Europe you can do it in as well.
Don’t just let your mind go to a default of “no” without doing some research. Join some Facebook expat groups and ask questions to the Americans living in these countries. It might open your mind to some new possibilities and a quicker retirement.
3) Off-Grid Living:
Going off-grid doesn’t mean that you’re all of the sudden going Amish and living without electricity and internet. Simply put, you live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle on a piece of land where you use the natural resources to supply most of your needs. Energy can be captured from the sun or running water. Having a small farm with a garden and small livestock can supply you with food and nourishment. A rainwater catchment system can be source of water. Off-grid living is about self-sufficiency. You can still have your internet and pretty much all the luxuries of a normal home.
For the average person, off-grid living might conjure up thoughts of some doomsday prepper or someone that’s a little off in the head, but I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of people moving off-grid. It is a lot of work but is also a simple and healthy lifestyle.
Going off-grid can involve some high upfront costs but once those are out of the way, living off of $2500 a month is highly doable.
4) A Frugal Lifestyle:
The previous three lifestyles will require some move or change whereas a frugal lifestyle can happen where you sit now. A fugal lifestyle does not mean to go without. It involves getting your debts and mortgage paid off and living a life based on needs versus wants. It is about living within your means. Yes, the dreaded budget. I’ve talked about finding the black hole in your monthly spending. Cut back on unnecessary expenses, i.e. the coffee shop, and you are on the way to a $2500 a month lifestyle. You might choose to downsize your home. By downsizing you can save on home expenses and taxes. If you have equity in your home, downsizing can supply you with added funds. However, if your home is paid off, then perhaps you stay where you are. However, people living in high tax states such as the Northeast, living off of $2500 a month might be more difficult. For the rest of us, $2500 a month is very achievable as long as you budget and track your spending.
Living a certain lifestyle is a personal choice. Some people want more, and some people want less. We all need about the same. There are options and the four that I described above are growing each year in popularity. You might find one of these appealing to you or you might craft your own and go a different direction. It’s your life. It’s your money. Go live a lifestyle that makes YOU happy.
Live free my friends,