Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

M is for Money

Day 12 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

“Money buys freedom,” one of Mark’s friends claimed when I first met him and was boasting about how I managed to travel the world on a very tight budget. Of course, I did not agree with him. After all, I felt free and able to do what I wanted, with less than $400 a month to spend. What I failed to mention was that, in order to achieve this goal, I restricted myself to buying the bare minimum to survive, never spoiled myself, moved around countries on the cheap (which usually correlates with the least comfortable way) and missed out on sights that would set me back too much. But, I still kind of did what I wanted to do, and I was proud of that.

Yes, I am frugal. Initially out of necessity, then more as a habit and recently it is a combination of the two. There is a great verb for being a nomad on the cheap: frugaling. Mark and I are frugaling the world. I love it. “You know, we are not poor,” Mark used to say, when I told people we didn’t have any money (meaning I didn’t have any money, which was and is still the truth). He is right in regards to the “we” factor; we are married after all. We could have spent more money while cruising the Caribbean and the South Pacific, but that would have cut our trip short. And, we could splurge a bit more while house and pet sitting, but that means less money for excursions or camping trips over the summer. Or, for the next adventure whenever that presents itself. Based on these statements, you could say that only spending our money on bare necessities and healthy food is a choice. Since we sold our boat in August, we do have a cushion in the bank. For now…

So, where does the money come from? It is a burning question on the lips of all those who ever wondered how we managed to pull it off to explore the world extensively on our own dime and schedule, not being retired like most cruisers and RVers. Initially there were some savings and a stipend for me from my government. The first two of our sailing years on Irie, Mark did consulting work and I wrote a couple of lesson plans. We didn’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year. In 2009, Mark and I started our long range WiFi business, which has been running stronger and stronger. Being land-based helps. For some years now, I have been writing articles that have been published in all the major sailing magazines of the US, Europe and the Caribbean. In between I took a few random jobs – manual labor on shore and translating online. While we both have been pretty successful with these “careers”, it is more a mental satisfaction than a financial one, since we still have never  made enough money to pay taxes (other than self-employment taxes, which are – unfortunately – pretty steep). We like our basic lifestyle and the fact that we don’t need much to (mostly) do what we want. And, we hate having to pay more taxes!

I sometimes wonder whether I would change my spending habits if I were rich. Money can buy a lot of things, but not the important concepts in life, like health or love. I don’t think I would change my behavior, being a millionaire. Not much anyway, other than enjoying giving a lot of my money away. Although… it sure would be nice to just hop on a plane to a destination of my choice and explore those new horizons in depth and in comfort. For that reason, I think our friend is partly right: money does not buy freedom, it buys more freedom!

(Speaking of money and finances, with the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, there has not been any time – or “space” – to share our expense report of March 2016. I plan on writing and releasing that this weekend.)

Is money important to you? Does it buy freedom? What do you like to spend money on?

We are halfway in the A-Z Challenge! Feel free to check out previous blogs, leave a comment or like us on Facebook. Tomorrow, it is time to show you why N stands for Nature in my life as a nomad.



  1. There’s a trade off to everything. You are living a very fulfilling life, and you’re making it work financially. Admirable.
    Mary at Play off the Page

    • You are so right about the trade off, Mary! It’s all about choices. You can’t have everything, as my mother always said. I do keep trying, though! 🙂

  2. Love the post, looks like you guys got this nomad life down pat. Good for you. I travel in a motorhome fulltime. After a year and a half, I’m getting it figured out.

    • What a great lifestyle, Juliet! I love traveling by camper and having a house on wheels. I wrote a blog about that earlier in the challenge, with the title “C is for Camper”. My favorite lifestyle. It does take a while to figure it all out and I am glad you are succeeding at it! 🙂

  3. Frugaling – I love that! I’m going to add it to my vocabulary. I think you’re right, money does buy more freedom, but sometimes at a cost, like working in a job you don’t like or trying to keep up with the Jonses.

    Cheers – Ellen

  4. I like money! I am very frugal though, and spend a lot of time researching pros and cons and thinking how my money could be better used before spending it. I like to spend money on salt and vinegar chips, and chocolate. Worth every penny!

    • So much time is spent by us as well on researching the cheapest options for bigger purchases, especially while on our boat. Glad to read that your favorites are quite affordable, Lucy! 🙂 I never understood the salt and vinegar combination (are you British :-)), but, as a Belgian, I do appreciate your love of chocolate!

  5. Money used to be something I craved. I never felt like I had enough stuff, and money bought stuff. In the end, things are things and while they bring some fleeting happy moments, they don’t last long enough to matter.

    My wife makes the money, and it is good money, but we are not wealthy. We are smart. Smart goes a long way when it comes to money. We own our vehicles and rarely use credit (the house being the only exception, and even that frustrates my wife to no end). We save for our vacations, save for our toys and instruments, save for our kids. We spend when we want to, but only within reason.

    I will say that having money has been better than not having it. I’m not sure it is freedom, but it is opportunity, and that is a good thing at times.

    • Maybe the better word is opportunity and not freedom. There are certain kinds of smartness and being money smart sure is a trait that’s worth a lot. Pun intended! 🙂

  6. Money is very handy for the necessities in life. Discovering what is really ‘necessary’ is where a lot of folk veer off course. We’ve been paring down for the last few years and are actually quite happy saying ‘no’ to things we just don’t need in order to stay debt-free. I think our biggest splurges are actually for better health insurance and the occasional dinner out, but we never feel cheated or broke. It’s nice!

    • You are so right. And, necessary for some people might be a splurge (or useless) for others. It is a nice feeling to spend money and not regret it afterwards. Saying “no” can be liberating, especially if it means that the money is saved for something else, more worthy of buying, and therefore, the enjoyment will be greater.

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