A Thousand Year-Old Village, and Some Links Concerning Financial Independence.

Please forgive any oddities in my tone here; the 70-year old owner of this little hotel/homestay in the 1000-year old village where I’m currently resting my aching body got me loaded on homebrewed barley booze and stuffed me full of homegrown veggies and even home-made organic bacon. Bacon. What is happening to me? He and his friends are also playing Daoist tunes for me while I sit around and check facebook for the first time in a week. But that’s not what this post is about.

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Home sweet home, at five bucks a night, for the next few days.

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Dinner: rice, sauteed kidney beans, giant radish soup, cured pork, and some vegetable my dictionary calls “cultuce.”

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Random dude A, who ate dinner with us and then busted out his flute. Until the bossman brought out the little Chinese violin.

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The Bossman.

So, getting to my point:

I’ve now been on the road a solid 260 days. Nearly nine months. Three quarters of a year. And, not to brag, but I’m not particularly worried about my finances. Nothing is running low. I’m free to spend as much as I want, on whatever I want, every day, for the foreseeable future. Indeed, if the interest on my investments continues to accrue as it has the past few months (big if) and if my spending habits don’t change much (small if if lifestyle remains unchanged, big if if I ever want a kid and a house), I might never need to work again. This is a situation that never crossed my mind, not even as a dream, when I graduated from WashU in 2006. Nor when I started raking in the relatively small bucks in Korea shortly after. Now I take it for granted and can’t imagine my life being otherwise. How is this possible?

Indeed, that’s a question that Chinese people often ask me, pretty brazenly: Where do you get the money to do this? I usually just answer that wages are high in Korea and prices are low here in China, which is true, but it’s not the whole truth. The rest of the truth has been running through my mind in the form of a possible blog entry for quite a long time now. That said, because of the aforementioned barley brew, I’m not quite up to the task. Fortunately, there are others who have already done it better than I will whenever I get around to it. So, I’d like to introduce you all to:

Mr. Money Mustache. He retired at 30ish, with much much much much more money than I will have by then, and who has loads of simple, straightforward, no-nonsense advice about saving, spending, and living the good life. Pretty soon I will write a fan latter to him, in the (stated) hopes that he posts it and makes my blog (and thereby my way of living) famous.

And, another cool guy, Raptitude. I haven’t been reading him very long, but he’s pretty awesome; knowingly or not, he makes concrete a lot of the heady Buddhist concepts I’ve been reading and thinking about lately, and does a nice job of relating them to life in general in the Suburban West. This post, “How Much of Your Life Are You Selling Off” which mentions MMM, is a good example. And a good encapsulation of some things I’ve believed, if never made explicit, for quite a while.

Sneak peak at my top secret method, which you all probably know by now, for traveling at length: My total spending bill for April will come out to about $250. I’ve camped in the most remote regions, crossed over the highest mountains, seen some of the most breath-taking scenery, made tons of new friends, been to a wedding or two, had a kickass birthday party, and still spent less than in any other month! I’d call this the best month yet, except that every month is excellent and I don’t feel the need to compare. Anyhow, I say “about” because I haven’t yet paid for my room ($5 a night) nor did I bother to ask the boss how much he was going to charge me per homecooked meal. If it’s expensive, it’ll probably be about another $5 a day. If it’s cheap, which it may well be since we get along well and I’ve already promised to help him with English signage and internet recommendations, it may be free. Who knows? Who cares?

Sorry for the rambling, I’ve already given you my excuse! I wish you all a happy May, a happy spring, some happy reading, and imminent financial independence! Come join me whenever you’re ready.

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3 Responses to A Thousand Year-Old Village, and Some Links Concerning Financial Independence.

  1. 썌키 says:

    I really like this comment from that Raptitude post:

    (Commenter is writing with regards to the ethicality of investing to speed one’s retirement)

    ““So, you have a chunk of money that someone is willing to take and generate more money with so they can take a cut and increase your chunk – and that’s “unethical”?”
    Before I say anything, I have to state that I don’t believe investing is wrong at all, but you should be perfectly honest about what it actually happening.
    It is nice to phrase things that way, but remove the abstraction of money and see what is really going on. You receive goods and services, which other people must work to produce, for which you do nothing in return. You have the privilege of receiving money because you had it in the first place.
    Only an economy with a great deal of surplus can tolerate an indolent, non-productive rentier class. This is why so many societies in the past banned the practice of lending at interest. If the best way to make money is to have money, it necessarily lends itself to further and further concentration.
    Now, onto the actual personal ethics of investment, rather than ethics of an economic system. I think it is perfectly acceptable to live off investment income. The economy we live in is built around the principle, so to participate in our society you can’t really avoid interest. Also, if you are using the time freed by your investments to enrich your family and community, it is obviously a net positive.
    Realize, however, that if everybody truly lived the “mustachian” lifestyle of frugality and rational expenditure, our entire economy would have to be restructured. It wouldn’t be possible to live off investment, and we would have to transition to a zero-growth model (in other word, lending interest would also disappear as the means to create new money). To me that sounds fantastic.
    When viewed from this angle, investing in a poisonous economy in order to bring beauty and fun into the world is using the tools of a toxic system against itself. The ultimate subterfuge.
    Still, be honest with yourself about when investing actually means. You ARE living off the labor of others, because in the concrete world, away from abstractions like money, concrete work must be done to get you the goods and services you consume.”

    I mean if you think about it, even if you just leave your money in your savings account, Bank of America is just going to invest it for themselves, or use it to help them foreclose on someone’s home, so you might as well make it work for you. And if everyone else jumps on the bandwagon and starts investing heavily/living frugally, our consumer capitalist model will probably have to collapse and be replaced with something else, as mentioned above. How cool would that be, if riding around the world on your bicycle while investing in Haliburton helped bring capitalism to its knees!

  2. 썌키 says:

    Hey there’s this website too:

    http://downtheroad.org/

  3. Jeff says:

    Congrats, man. Journey of a lifetime, I’m glad I get to follow it!