Journey to Freedom: Ep. 4 – The Frugal Expat shares his geoarbitrage adventure

Today’s episode is a conversation with Steve Cummings of The Frugal Expat blog.

Steve is an American and an adventurer who has traveled most of the U.S. and 19 other countries, and his wife Sarah is an Australian who has logged adventures in about 60 different countries. The couple have a travel blog called “Cummings and Goings” and another site, called “The Frugal Expat.”

I discovered Steve via his brand The Frugal Expat and saw that he was currently living in Taipai, Taiwan, and was intrigued to hear about his journey to financial freedom and how he jumped into the the expat life–something I’m very much looking forward to doing myself. Steve, The Frugal Expat, has not always been frugal and he’s obviously not always been an expat. So we’ll hop into this conversation to find out about how his life of travel and wealth building began.

Follow Steve and Sarah at: thefrugalexpat.com, @thefrugalexpat1 on Twitter, Facebook, @thefrugalexpat on Instagram or @cummingsandgoings1 on Instagram

Listen now:

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Show Notes:

Path to FIRE info: Travel blogs led to travel hacking which led to Finance blogs and eventually FIRE

To travel: “I (knew I needed) to be able to sustain my income further so I had to figure out how to create more wealth.”

His mindset switch from one of only spending money to one focuses on investing money.

Taiwan in the pandemic, Antartica trip during pandemic, stranded off the coast of Argentina

Job: English language teacher, 3 days a week

How he left US and headed to Taiwan

Strategically traingin to become a foreign language teacher

TEFL Academy in Chicago

Quit June 1st 2017, left a few days later, took classes for a month, 2 weeks in FL, then left for Taiwan with a $5.60 ticket.

Explains how the United credit card achieved this

Saved/invested for 6 months and had 3-4 months savings

Landed a great job within a month

Love story with Mrs. Frugal Expat (Sarah). Met 3 months after moving to Taipei

She’s now visited around 60 countries

4 or 5 months before married had the FIRE conversation

Agreement not to have any debt before marriage/became debt-free

She was a saver, but hesitant about investing. It all eventually clicked

Strategy: Primarily total stock marketing index funds, VTSAX/VTI 90%; VXUS 8%; 1% bonds; 1% Apple and other stocks

JL Collins, “The Simple Path to Wealth

Updates their network on The Frugal Expat blog each month

Discusses what that’s been like, sharing financials transparently with the world.

J. Money “Budgets Are Sexy” spreadsheet. He copies this on Google Spreadsheets to share with wife.

Personal Capital

Investments have grown $97K in just 5 months

Spends about $15K a year, more or less.

What geoarbitrage looks like for them in Taipei:

$2 a meal; $10 for 2 months of phone service; $15/month for internet; $650/month for rent

GoCurryCracker – Jeremy Jacobson and Winnie. Recommended blog

Future plans are to move to Australia once family begins growing

Has a 55% Savings Rate

“If you can save and make saving (& investing) an important part of your financial journey, you’re able to do so much more with your life. You’re able to save more time and not have to work the rest of your life.”

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