How moving to a developing nation improved our financial situation

This guest post from Craig Ford is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. Craig writes two blogs: Money Help for Christians and Help Me Travel Cheap.

On 16 May 2006, I boarded a Folker 100 aircraft with my wife and ten-month-old daughter. We made the short flight from Port Moresby to our new home — Alotau, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea.

To be honest, the move had nothing to do with money. We moved there to do missionary work in Alotau. However, more than four years later, I've found that our decision to move to this third-world country located in the South Pacific actually had a very positive impact on our finances. (For some context, I have an interview with some PNG citizens so you can learn a little about their standard of living.)

Over the last few years I've read several posts at Free Money Finance where the author has introduced the cost-saving benefits of moving or retiring overseas. In this post, I want to highlight several ways how living overseas has improved our financial situation.

Story time at Craig's house

Challenging our Consumerist Mindset

People spend a lot more money when their neighbors spend a lot more money. If the neighbor's kid has an iPod, laptop, backpack, new running shoes, and a shiny bike, then we want our children to have enough stuff to “fit in”. Maybe you don't feel a temptation to keep up with the Joneses, but you probably don't want to be so far behind that everyone notices.

Living in a third world country has dramatically diminished my desire to own Stuff. It's diminished because our neighbors don't have Stuff. There isn't a pressure to keep up with the Joneses, but instead the pressure is towards lifestyle de-flation. To live with less. To live more simply. To be more generous.

It's not unusual to see kids with worn-down sandals, wearing only one sandal, or no footwear at all. The first thing we feel tempted to do when we get a new pair of shoes is get them dirty so they don't look so new.

In our hometown, Alotau, you couldn't even find much worth buying if you tried. T-shirts at the stores are about as thick as a piece of Kleenex, and second-hand clothing stores tend to buy bulk used clothing at the cheapest price possible. This often means all the clothes are between XL and XXXL. Which, by the way, is very unfortunate because most of the local residents are very short and thin.

Cost of Living Reduction

In general, the cost of living in a third world country is much less than the cost of living on U.S. soil. It might be the cost of goods, or it might just be because of the mental changes listed above.

Essentially, anything related to labor is very cheap. The current minimum wage here is about $1 USD per hour. (I'll put all references to price in U.S. Dollars). Over the last couple of years, that has tripled — it used to be 33¢!

As such, you can be obscenely generous in the eyes of the local citizens and still pay very cheap labor costs. I recently had some work done on my truck. The guy who did the work typically gets paid $1.80/hour at this day job. I had him do some work on my truck and paid him just over $7 per hour. While some people might rant and rave that that salary is a sign of the injustice in the world (which it is), he was able to make in one day more than he makes in a week. Let's just say that he didn't do any complaining.

In Alotau, anything associated with electronics and technology is very expensive. You'll pay $200-$300 for a basic digital camera. In a recent study that Adam Baker did on the cost of living overseas, I learned that we have the most expensive internet worldwide (at least amongst those who participated by sharing data). It's not unusual for us to pay over $150 per month just for a basic high-speed internet package.

Still, overall the cost to live here is actually much less than the cost of living in the US.

Sometimes You Simply Can't Buy Anything

Here's the absolute best way living overseas can improve your financial situation: Sometimes there's nothing to buy! I've spent several weeks in the area villages, and there's no store. Cash is useless. How much money could you save if you had no way to spend money in a week?

Then there are the several hours a day when water is unavailable. The days when there is no meat in the stores. The days when no one shows up for work so the store doesn't open.

When you can't spend money, it's easy to save money.

Women cooking in the kitchen

Credit Cards Aren't Accepted

Before moving here, I bought everything using a credit card. I've never paid a dime in late fees or interest, but I've always cycled all our purchases through a credit card. However, plastic is almost useless here. There are two hotel/restaurants and one airline that accept credit cards. Otherwise, it's just plastic junk.

I've often wondered how much faster people trying to get out of credit card debt would be debt-free if they lived in a place like this — a place where the temptation to use plastic is removed. And a place where there's nothing tempting to buy anyway.

I think it would make a huge difference.

Cheap Medical Coverage

While our family still pays an exorbitant amount for international health insurance, you can't beat the prices when you need to make a trip to the local hospital. A visit to the hospital costs about seventy cents. Interestingly, it cost me $2 to buy a stamp to mail my claim to our insurance company. Isn't that crazy? A doctor's visit costs less than a stamp! There are no local private doctors, but if you want to get to see a doctor immediately, you can pay around $7 USD and get to see a doctor right away instead of waiting in line for a couple of hours.

Several years ago, some co-workers had a baby here in town. The total hospital bill came to $7 USD. If you've had a baby in the U.S., you know you're talking a four-digit bill — not a single-digit bill.

When we had our second and third children, we were able to travel to Canada to have our children. Our international health insurance had a $250 deductible if we had medical services outside of the United States. Inside the U.S., we would also have to pay 20% of the total bill. Since the average cost of delivering a baby is several thousand dollars, we felt blessed that we only paid that $250 deductible.

Group transportation

Transforming Our Stance on Social Justice

This is one of the biggest ways our financial situation has improved. Not in terms of having more money, but in terms of making wiser financial decisions. I'd like to think that we are more compassionate now than when we moved here.

Seth Godin claims poverty is an issue of “proximity and attention”. When you live in a third world country, you're in constant close contact with poverty, and it certainly has your attention.

Over the last four years, my view of money has changed. My desire to find a viable way to reach out to the poor has strengthened. My simple solutions regarding third-world poverty have been transformed into a much less concrete and more complex list of possible solutions. Poverty is complex, but we're willing to make an effort to help make real changes.

Now, more than four years after our Air Niugini flight landed here in Alotau, I can honestly say our financial situation has dramatically improved. That wasn't our goal, and it wasn't our intent. But, at the end of the day, we've changed in how we handle money and how we think about money — and we're better off for it.

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Raj
Raj
9 years ago

I agree that living in a third world country helps you experience much in life without the exorbitant expenses they are usually associated with.

>>I’ve spent several weeks in the area villages, and there’s no store.

That’s a really bad situation isn’t it?

Also..”Third world” by the way is not synonymous with a good exchange rate or underdeveloped countries. Third world = unaligned with either the US/NATO or the Soviet Union during cold war.
DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
9 years ago

Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing Craig. America is definitely a land of exorbitant abundance, where Customer Service Reps in California purchase homes for $500K, where the middle class is expected to amass a mini fortune to retire, where parents are expected to send their kids to private and elite universities for $50K a year, and where basic services like daycare, long-term care and healthcare can run hundreds of dollars a month and at best cripple a familiy’s net worth and at worst bankrupt them. It’s a tremendous amount of pressure. All of these expectations are fueled by advertising and even… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

Great story! Thanks for sharing your experiences living in a developing country.

MissPinkKate
MissPinkKate
9 years ago

One thing that’s very important to me is family, and I don’t think I could ever move to another country because I’d hate to be so far away from them. I’m impressed with anyone who is willing to make that sacrifice to do charity work!

Rob Robideau
Rob Robideau
9 years ago

Craig,

I really enjoyed the article! I moved my family to Nepal earlier this month and in the short time we have been here, I have seen what you describe.

I have also noticed that sometimes even when items you want are available, you may not be able to find them in the chaos.

Vanessa
Vanessa
9 years ago

When you said your financial situation improved, I thought you meant you put $X in savings or paid off $X in debt. So it’s just your views about money/stuff that have changed? Your interview with the residents was interesting. I would like to have known if they were happy, and if so, what is about their lives that makes them happy? Do they think they’d be just as happy with more money?

I also thought “third world” was an outdated term?

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth
9 years ago

Interesting. I never knew the origins of the term “Third World”, and I’ve always wondered about them. Digging around the web, though, I see that the term’s meaning does go back to the Cold War, even though modern usage has changed to mean “undeveloped”.

It also appears that some consider the term ethnocentric, and sometimes even offensive. I didn’t know this either. I’ll remember that going forward.

Finally, I’ve already trashed one nasty comment. I’ll trash others, too, if needed. If you have criticisms, feel free to offer them, but don’t be a jerk when doing so.

Meghan
Meghan
9 years ago

I’m curious, does missionary work pay? It sounds like you are making money while you are there, but I thought that missionary work was usually a non-paid / volunteer position. One thing I am really uncomfortable with is your decision to have your children in Canada, which you stated was for financial reasons (so that you would only have to pay the $250 deductible as opposed to possibly a couple thousand if you were in the States). I’m assuming that you are American, and so you decision to have your kids in Canada automatically makes them Canadian citizens. But yet… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
9 years ago

JD– I would go so far as to change the title to this (switch “third world” with “developing”), even if the term remains in the rest of the story. I don’t work on development, but many of my colleagues do and the term “third world” is very off-putting in our professional context… the technical term they usually use is “LDC” for “less developed country.” I’m not sure it’s important how the term came about. It means something different now than it did then. The term definitely detracts from the point of the story, that of perspective, which is something I’ve… Read more »

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago

I find it interesting how you can avoid spending money simply because of a different cultural milieu. We tend to think we have a lot of control over our decisions and yet much of our life is really dictated by societal pressures.

p
p
9 years ago

I wholeheartedly agree with the author. We had the good fortune to live in Egypt for most of one year. Even though I hear that the situation has changed and Cairo is one of the most populated cities in the world, shopping was surprising limited. Stores were usually open, but had very limited stock. You bought your vegetables from one vendor and your bread from another. Meat stores were only open a few days a week, right after slaughter. The country is known for it’s cotton, so you’d think they’d have great linens and clothing, but most of their high-quality… Read more »

Kate
Kate
9 years ago

JD, 20 years ago the Wall had just come down, so the answer is probably yes 🙂

Joy
Joy
9 years ago

One of my best friends moved to Papua New Guinea to do missionary work there. To comment on one of the questions above, usually missionaries raise their own financial support from churches or friends in their home country, and often work under the umbrella of a supporting organization (such as Wycliffe). One might give to a missionary by giving at a church that supports the missionary, or maybe agreeing to give a certain amount on a monthly basis and sending it to the supporting organization. Then the missionary receives a consistent “salary” based on the support he or she raised.… Read more »

Jake@ NotRichYet
[email protected] NotRichYet
9 years ago

I think this story would be very different for a “rapidly developing economy” vs. “slowly developing economy”. In the former your savings could be quite substantial but you would end up spending a lot of money on housing etc (think Dubai). PNG together with most of Africa falls into the latter group. Having spent time as an expatriate myself, here some thoughts on the financial aspects of living abroad: a.) Taxes Tax rates vary widely depending on where you go – compare Sweden to Dubai. This will have a huge impact on your ability to save. As a US citizen… Read more »

Jan
Jan
9 years ago

I didn’t get the impression he is an US citizen- but maybe he is? Thank you VERY much for reminding me of my needs vs wants. We have lived in three developing countries and two developed countries- not in mission work. The only country who delivered whatever I wanted when I wanted it is the US. When we retired we chose to live in the countyside. It takes us 20 minutes to get to a store. This has broken our terrible habits of expecting everything at the minute we want it- had caused our pocketbooks to decrease and our impatience… Read more »

Brandon
Brandon
9 years ago

This is a reply to Meghan, Being born in Canada doesn’t automatically confer Canadian citizenship: “In general, you are a Canadian citizen if you were born in Canada. You are not a Canadian citizen if you were born in Canada and at the time of your birth, your parents were neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents, and at least one parent had diplomatic status in Canada.” http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/publications/citizenship.asp As I understand it, The United States is one of the only countries that automatically grants citizenship to anyone that is born within its borders. Most countries require at least residency and often… Read more »

Maureen
Maureen
9 years ago

It’s amazing how normal it has become to spend money on credit cards and even spend money at all. It really surprised me that sometimes there was no way that Craig could spend money. It’s almost liberating because money can bring so much pressure with it if not utilised properly.

Brenda
Brenda
9 years ago

We lived 20 years in third world countries and raised our children abroad, sending them to local (private) schools. All of our lives were enriched by the experience and I too feel strongly about social justice and have a different stance towards the poor and disadvantaged. Like you, I also want less than I did 20 years ago. I always loved NOT having anything to spend my money on. Its very freeing. But the healthcare issue is a bit different. Cheap healthcare comes at a price, and that price might be a permanent disability. We returned to the US because… Read more »

Bld
Bld
5 years ago
Reply to  Brenda

Hello,
I am looking for resources and job information about working overseas. I am not a missionary, but would love to support ones efforts if possible. My situation is unique. I am a single mom of a 15 year old who will be traveling with me. I am looking for a 9-12 month opportunity. Can anyone you let me know if there are resources for person like me? I find a lot for younger single college students…not much for a family.

Thank you!

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
9 years ago

I’ve never been real convinced by this “cheap overseas healthcare” thing that occasionally comes up. Just thinking of a couple things that have actually happened to people I know, both of whom were treated in the US and are still alive: If you crashed a motorcycle and had multiple compound fractures, would you rather be airlifted to a US hospital with its associated price tag, or one in Papua New Guinea? (could you even be airlifted to the one in Papua New Guinea? Do they have a helicopter?) If you had a pulmonary embolism, which hospital would you rather be… Read more »

Blackstar
Blackstar
9 years ago

Thank you for this insightful post. In 2007, my parents were able to sell their modest home after only 3 weeks on the market in southern California, and the net gain brought them enough to pay off unsecured debts and have some real retirement savings. Before the sale, my father was already retired (but was forced to because of health problems) and my 54-year-old stepmother dutifully worked at a pharmacy since they had at least 10 years left on their mortgage. There was no way she was going to retire with a mortgage, credit debt, and my father’s need for… Read more »

Looby
Looby
9 years ago

@ Brandon #16, I believe his children would be Canadian citizens based on the “and at least one parent had diplomatic status” the “and” is bolded in the CIC link.
I know of several families who had children in Canada while they were temporary residents and their children have automatic citizenship.
Not that that is really the point of the article although I share a similar opinion with Meghan @ #8.

Steven@hundredgoals.com
9 years ago

My one question is this: With wages at $1 an hour, do expenses match wages? I guess what I’m saying is, if someone in the United States earned $1 an hour, obviously that would be an injustice but if someone overseas earned the equivalent of $1 USD an hour but the cost of living MATCHED that wage, is it an injustice? Of course, if corporations exploited this cheap labor, then that’d be an entirely different discussion. I think that the comparison between the USD and US hourly wages may not tell the whole story. The standard of living in these… Read more »

Karl
Karl
9 years ago

“Basic high-speed Internet” sounds like an oxymoron

Anton Roder
Anton Roder
9 years ago

I’m originally from South Africa. I live in Canada now. We always used to refer to South Africa as a third world country and so did everyone I knew (about 2 years ago). It irks me immensely that people always have to be so politically correct. “Less developed” or “underdeveloped” in terms of third world countries is vague to the point of absurdity. South Africa on a good day, in one of our capitals could pass for first world – most of our northern neighbours would not. The same people who insist that we use only politically correct terms are… Read more »

AMANDA
AMANDA
9 years ago

http://www.jw.org/index.html?option=QrYQZRQVNlBBX Thought Craig might be interested in this link to stories about missionaries in PNG. It’s a link to audio files.

I think if all of us were more aware of need v. want we can live a simple, happy, productive live in whatever country we come from.

Karina
Karina
9 years ago

I also want to respond to Meghan, #8’s, charge of the author being irresponsible about citizenship. As Brandon, #16 clarifies, being born in Canada doesn’t automatically qualify you for Canadian citizenship. ALSO, U.S. citizenship is established primarily through two ways: blood, or location. If both parents are American, it does not matter if the child is born in Canada, Germany, South Africa, wherever….that child is an American citizen by BLOOD. However, they may ALSO have the right to pursue secondary citizenship through LOCATION based on where they were born. I was born in Germany to two American parents. I’m sure… Read more »

Karen
Karen
9 years ago

Geography does make a huge difference. Ten years ago I lived in SoCal and often had nothing better to do on the weekends than go to the malls with my friends. Now I’m in a small town with few shops, and I’ve found better things to do with my time and money.

Kate
Kate
9 years ago

@Brandon: They key part in that quote is “at least one parent had diplomatic status”. It’s put in to ensure that the children of diplomats posted to Canada can’t claim Canadian citizenship. That’s common practice in most countries. We do give citizenship to those born within our borders. Addendum: There’s actually an interesting case here in Canada right now. The child was born in Canada to Indian parents, one of whom worked as the Ambassador’s gardener. The family stayed in Canada when the Ambassador left, and now Canada wants to deport the child (now an adult) to India. Does his… Read more »

Loama
Loama
9 years ago

My take away from this story is that living/visiting third world countries helps put things in perspective in our own lives. Annually, I visit a different undeveloped country. I always learn so much on these journeys. I am able to put needs vs. wants in perspective and understand materials things do not equal a fulfilled life. Family and community appear to be of very high value and priority. Clearly life can be difficult, however it appears there is alot appreciation for what little they have. Regarding healthcare, I think it depends on the country. There are many minor ailments I… Read more »

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

I wonder what kind of medical care you can get for such a low price? Is it like the stores – only sporadically available? Also, does this cover all the cost or are there government agencies or charities in place paying the difference? I do agree that we think we need more than we really do in more developed countries though. Even in the US, spending time helping the poor changes your perspective on how you spend your own money. Many times I work at my local food bank then go buy my family groceries after I leave. I shop… Read more »

brokeprofessionals.com
brokeprofessionals.com
9 years ago

A speaker I was listening to the other day mentioned that his wife and he spent (in the sixties) $7.00 for the birth of his daughter, at a navy hospital when he was in the navy. I thought reading this article that the speaker’s story was a good counterpoint to this post.

I can’t imagine living in a “third world” country, but I do too many people (myself included, more than I would like) waste money on “stuff.” Depreciating, unnecessary “stuff.” It takes up space and keeps up from financial freedom.

Thanks for the reminder.

evelyn
evelyn
9 years ago

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Thank you for publishing this story, J.D. I think it brings attention to the importance of being a world citizen, not just a citizen of any specific country. It seems like the goal of a missionary would embrace that definition, too, so I think it makes sense that this author would have his child in Canada, for whatever reason. Why not?

Wayne
Wayne
9 years ago

Working in the underdeveloped areas of the world is an interesting experience. Not just missionaries, but aid workers in general live that experience. Those who come from the richer countries of this world find themselves caught between the material riches of their home culture and the poverty of their host country. It is for many a life changing event that changes the way that they look at material possessions. There are significant differences as more than likely the majority of the people that he knows Papua New Guinea have never been more than 20 miles from their place of birth.… Read more »

Craig Ford
Craig Ford
9 years ago

From the author: Hey all thanks for the comments. Since I live in PNG everyone has been commenting while I’ve been sleeping. I’ll try to keep up from now on. Let me address a couple of common themes first: Re: The term Third World I recently wrote an article for a professional journal and I was required to use the term “majority world”. However, no one I knew had ever heard of the term before (nor had I). I was aware that the ‘professional’ trend has moved away from the term, but since I thought most people would have no… Read more »

Val
Val
9 years ago

You say you went to Canada to have your babies, and paid the $250 deductible. But you could have stayed there and only paid $7 and saved so much money! You say that the medical care is so cheap, 70 cents, $7 dollars, and yes, you would pay 100 times that in the US – but, what is the quality of care? Nevermind the four digit bill, without insurance, delivering a baby can be a five or six digit bill – because there could be NICU or other complications. I wish the author had mentioned more about the quality of… Read more »

Dave Starr
Dave Starr
9 years ago

Excellent story. I’m an American who lives (by choice) in the Philippines. been there for some years now and have even written articles on this same subject. We live in Metro Manila, so life is much more cosmopolitan than Craig’s life in PNG, but the principles still apply. A few of us retired expats here use the term “economy-birding” to describe our lifestyle. We could spend as much or more as when living in the US, but we normally never even come close to what we spent while living very modestly ‘back home’. In short I feel we have a… Read more »

henrytrocino
henrytrocino
9 years ago

Hello Craig, What you have discovered in recent years, most Third World folks have already known since the day the first missionaries came to them. We see your lifestyle, your spending habits, and your economic baggage. If you missionaries get converted from First World abundance to Third World simplicity, then your missioary message will be believable. But if you Americans keep living like rich people (because with the dollars you receive from home, you already live like rich people in Third World countries), then Third World people will see a disjunction and discontinuity with the simple Jesus you preach and… Read more »

Becca
Becca
7 years ago
Reply to  henrytrocino

Yes, excellent comment.

Jessica
Jessica
9 years ago

Some of the lessons from this reader story can be also be seen in rural areas in America. I often see people talk about moving to cities to save money by reducing or eliminating car use but a close friend of mine moved to a rural area to cut expenses. Now, even if they wanted to do so, they couldn’t spend the money I can easily in one weekend without traveling several hours. Extensive leisure shopping is not possible (unless you buy from television or the internet) and there are limited restaurant options where they live. Teenagers where my friend… Read more »

Greg C
Greg C
9 years ago

I like reading stories like this, but I guess I disagree with the idea as a “solution”- not that I necessarily think the author is presenting this as a solution to debt. It’s more like a “side effect” and just fact of life/reality. Yeah, it’s hard to spend money when there is nothing to buy, but it’s good to have choices in life. Running away from that is just avoidant behavior. I feel a lot better about myself when I choose to do or not do something in the face of so many options. I wouldn’t move to a developing… Read more »

Thrifty Gal
Thrifty Gal
9 years ago

I think your comment that childbirth in the U.S. would cost “4 figures” is quite outdated. Try 5 figures. When a friend of mine had her first baby (in the U.S.), the cost was $10K. True, this was for a Caesarian, but it was also 19 years ago.

Craig Ford
Craig Ford
9 years ago

@Val The medical facilities here (we live in a small rural town) provide less care than one would find in an average hospital in North America. The facilities here do cater for the delivery of children (of course), but if there were any complications we wanted to be in a more modern facility. Many other missionary organizations require expatriates to leave the country for delivering children. We didn’t want to be plagued by the ‘what-if’ question if something went wrong. If you look at the comments above I address both your final questions. @Dave @ Accidental FIRE I hear you… Read more »

Jessica
Jessica
9 years ago

Craig- I am actually a fan of (to use the term I like) geographic arbitrage and was not criticizing you at all. I moved to the south from NYC to save money when I was able to negotiate it with my employer and now earn a Manhattan wage in a big southern city so I am able to save more. I also don’t believe that people who choose to live a life of service have an obligation to be poor or to give up future financial security for their families. Just wanted to clarify for you that my earlier comment… Read more »

Jean
Jean
9 years ago

Just as with the term ‘third-world country,’ the terms ‘developing country’ and ‘developed country’ can also be perceived as pejorative — I suppose because ‘development’ is such a loose term, even if it’s meant to have a precise definition when used to categorize countries. The World Bank categorizes countries by economy and has a list of what they call LAMI countries (low- and middle-income). More here: http://data.worldbank.org/about/country-classifications ‘LAMI’ has the advantage of being an internationally recognized term (versus developing/developed, which is not) and is thought to be less likely to be interpreted pejoratively. I’m not suggesting that any changes be… Read more »

Emily
Emily
9 years ago

Dear Craig, Thanks so much for your thoughts. I understand that the expat-centric view of this article is to keep it more in line with what a) is most immediately useful to GRS readers and b) is more in line with the type of advice typically presented on this blog (which has little to do with international development in general). However, I gotta say that I really loved the insights provided in the article you linked about your conversation with your PNG friends from church and personally enjoyed reading that article 100% more than this one. I was wondering if… Read more »

bon
bon
9 years ago

I really struggle with this story.

I agree so much with Craig’s point – reminds me of my reader story about the Peace Corps

That same experience gave me a healthy suspicion of missionary work after seeing its practices and effects first hand. Many missionaries were quite good – but henrytrocino is right, they were not those who even contemplated the idea of a mortgage back home.

That said, I don’t know Craig, his message or practices – I do know at least that he’s a kindred spirit in being a PF nerd.

martin woodhead
martin woodhead
9 years ago

live in the UK I thank god for the National health service free at the point of delivery ok its basically 10% of everyones salary but still cheaper than private insurance and not being made bankrupt if coverage slips.

s
s
9 years ago

“I earn a salary in line with the average US salary.” $46,000? Wow – I didn’t know missionary work paid so well.

Mom of five
Mom of five
9 years ago

I’m just wondering when you talk about nobody accepting credit cards – do you think you spend less now because you’re less apt to spend cash? For many years, we’ve been paying our balances in full each month and of course have heard many times over that we would use less if we used cash but with the allure of points, we’ve never let ourselves be convinced. I’d love to hear a little more of your experience in this area.

partgypsy
partgypsy
9 years ago

It is really true that travel broadens the mind. I haven’t traveled much, but the few times I was in a different country, different culture, it really makes crystal clear the wants versus needs question. Some places tp is a want!
In the same way when I travel to West Virginia with my husband, it is the same experience to a lesser extent, of a lack or limitation of places to spend money, because very few people have money to spend, so the focus is elsewhere. I find that lack of pressure refreshing.

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen
John Bardos - JetSetCitizen
9 years ago

You don’t need to move to a developing country to save money, living as digital nomad or location independent virtually anywhere is likely to improve your financial situation.

Moving to a foreign country immediately cuts the social pressure to consume. Plus, if you travel regularly, you can’t buy many things because you can’t take them with you anyway.

My first experience moving abroad was to Japan. It completely reset my expectations on what I ‘needed’ to live. Suddenly I started consuming much less and didn’t miss it at all.

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