I'm so fortunate to be part of a generation of millennials who have shifted their desires away from physical belongings and white picket fences toward a life of experiences, connection, and travel.
We are not guaranteed another week, month, or year to start pursuing our dreams. Lucky for us, it's becoming more and more mainstream to work from anywhere in the world, with nothing more than a laptop and an idea.
I don't have any special secret, travel hack, or trust fund that allows me to live in my dream locale of Maui, travel heaps, and pay my bills on time, all without a 9-to-5 job. I simply prioritize the things I value—last-minute excursions, quality time with family, and the ability to leave my alarm unset some mornings—more than everything else.
This lifestyle isn't just for Instagram celebrities or people who got "lucky." All it takes is a few simple shifts:
1. Go tiny.
For my husband and me, moving into a 124-square-foot tiny house cut back on our cost of living by nearly a third. A smaller space means smaller electric, rent, and water bills and way less room to accumulate junk we don't need. Sometimes it means working from my "office" (aka my car) when I need a quiet space, but this is a small price to pay to avoid sitting in a cubicle for 40 hours a week.
2. Be a minimalist.
Living in a tiny space means that I physically only have space for a few different outfits. I make sure that I actually wear every piece of clothing that I own, and often. I rarely spend money on new clothes, unless something becomes ripped or worn out. We don't own a TV, which means less money spent on cable TV and Netflix. I never buy frivolous items that I don't need, and I save on daily expenses by cooking most of my own meals and preparing my own coffee.
This doesn't mean that I'm depriving myself, though. On special occasions, I'll treat myself to massages and specialty organic food items. Remember, it's all about your priorities.
3. Find free fun without compromising your health.
Prioritizing our cash means we don't spend a lot of money going out to eat, going to the movies, shopping, or doing other costly activities. We seek out free fun in the form of surfing, swimming, hiking, and playing at the beach instead, saving our money for more exciting things like great airfare.
4. Pay for everything in cash (except travel).
Safe to say that most of us (myself included) have felt "trapped" financially at some point. We feel tied to our house payment, car payments, or debt. I get it. However, once I began buying only things that I could actually afford and pay for with cash, it became significantly easier to not only save money but pay off the existing debt that I still owed. Paying for my used car in cash also means no monthly car payment and a significantly cheaper insurance bill each month. Travel is the only thing I'll charge on a card because...travel points. Enough said.
5. Create a location-independent business.
Gone are the days of a single linear path to success. There are now countless ways to make an income online by harnessing your unique passions, skills, and talents. Create a YouTube channel, blog, course, or podcast showcasing what you know. Start an Etsy store, web design business, or write freelance articles for online publications. The options are endless, and if you decide that your dream life depends on a location-independent business, you'll find a way to start one.