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.
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.
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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