What is Nomadic FIRE?

Few people wake up one day and just become wealthy. It’s is a choice that you make and a way that you live your life. Most adults know more about reality shows than managing their money. Lucky for you I am a personal finance nerd looking to show you the ropes. I made a career in corporate finance and owning several businesses, until I left it all and retired at 41.
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The Failure of The Traditional Career Path

Average Savings For People in Their 20s = $16,000

Starting In Your 20's 

Go to university and get a degree. Start the working phase of your life. Hopefully with a reasonable salary, to help the crushing student loan debt. Not everybody is going to find their dream job right away. In fact, most of you will likely switch jobs several times before settling on something more meaningful. while working and paying off your debt. 

Average Savings For People in Their 20s= $16,000

Average Savings in your 20s = $16,000

Average Savings For People in Their 30s = $45,000

Living up Your 30's  

By now, you are supposed to have a “good job”. You’ve likely moved up the ranks at your company or you went to grad school, so you are out of the McJob entry-level pay scale. Income is up, but life is also more complicated now. Maybe you are married and want to stay at home with 2.5 kids. While dealing with everything from a car payment to a home mortgage, savings may be an afterthought. Whatever the case may be, by the time you are 31, experts suggest you need to have at least one years worth of living expenses in savings. Regrettably, that just isn't the case for most.

Average Savings For People in Their 30s = $45,000

Average Savings For People in Their 40s = $64,000

Here are Your 40's 

You're now hitting your stride. This is considered your Prime Earning Years. You’ve paid your dues and now, hopefully, you have a salary that reflects that. But you’re beginning to tire of the grind. 60 hours a day. 52 weeks a year. You can't quit. You are starting to sweat about your retirement savings. But wait, you’ve got serious responsibilities and dependents counting on you to bring home the bacon! Your retirement has to wait, you have football cleats and private school to worry about. 

Average Savings For People in Their 40s = $64,000

Average Savings For People in Their 50s = $117,000

Now You're in Your 50s

If you're in your 50s, you're nearing retirement age but still have time to save. You also might be paying your children's college tuition, helping with car payments, gasoline and any number of other expenses. The house may be getting older and need fixing up, and your medical bills are almost certainly rising.

Average Savings For People in Their 50s = $117,000

Average Savings For People in Their 60s = $172,000

Hello 60's 

This is typically the decade when you begin to reap the rewards of decades of saving. Hopefully you avoided the mid-life crisis Porsche purchase and you are in serious savings mode. Most financial advisers suggest by the time you reach 60, you should have eight times your annual salary saved. Unfortunately 30% of retirees have ZERO saved. 39% of Retirees say "just getting by to cover basic living expenses” is their #1 priority. 

Average Savings For People in Their 60s = $172,000

Wells Fargo Estimated Needs for Retirement  = $750,000

WooHoo! You made it to 65

Retire Rich and Travel the World was the dream. But the average cost of retirement now up to $738,400— more than the COMBINED cost of a university education, raising a child from birth to age 18, and buying a home. Retirement is the single most important financial decision we make. Unfortunately, two out of three workers (67 percent) say they don’t know much about retirement investing.

Wells Fargo Estimated Needs for Retirement  = $750,000

Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates retirees need $45,756 per year

Well, 15 years to go until you're 80

Average Life Expectancy in the US is less than 80 years old. At 80, your retirement savings needs to last at least 15 years. Recent surveys estimate retirement savings required to be roughly $750,000. The bad news, most retirees only have $172,000 saved up. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates retirees need $45,756 per year

The majority of retirees are missing over $575,000 in their savings to retire successfully.

How Much You Should Save By What Age

1X Your Salary By Age 30
2X Your Salary By Age 35
3X Your Salary By Age 40
4X Your Salary By Age 45
6X Your Salary By Age 50
7X Your Salary By Age 55
8X Your Salary By Age 60
10X Your Salary By Age 65

What is Nomadic FIRE?

First, tell me if this story of a Traditional “Good" Career Path sounds familiar to you:

  • 1
    Study really hard. 
  • 2
    Go to university and get a degree.
  • 3
    Get a “good job”.
  • 4
    Work really hard.
  • 5
    Buy a nice house. Drive a nice Car. 
  • 6
    Work till you are 65
  • 7
    Retire rich. Travel the world.

This simple narrative is drilled into us our whole lives. Our parents preached it. Our friends lived it. We hear about it in the media. The financial industry makes our goals around it. This path must be the best way, right?
I was following this path and it can work. But here is the dark side the world doesn’t explain to you.

A university degree and a “good job” is meant to mean a high paying job; Doctor, lawyer, software engineer and a $100,000 a year job. Let me guess. You are not making that? That is because most people are not making that either.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2016 that real median personal income was $31,099. 

“Work really hard” usually means long commutes in a car, sitting in a grey cubicle, and working 70+ hours a week. More than 40% of adults don’t take a SINGLE vacation day. NOT ONE DAY. No days off to visit your family, see your kids football game, or relax on a beach. It means missing out on life.

Number of Vacation Days Taken Annually (n=2000)

To live this version of success, people work an average of 59 hours per week. Many work 70 to 80 hours according to Barron's Financial and Investment News. These hours are not even the extreme. Extremes are Elon Musk (who I think is genius BTW), working 120 hours a week. Or as the entrepreneur and New Your Times best-selling author Grant Cardone states "Most people work 9-to-5. I work 95 hours [per week]. If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9-to-5 and start doing 95." That comes out to about 14 hours of work a day.

So, this traditional path to a “Good Life” we are being pushed towards means we work 70 hours a week, with no vacation days and no life, until we are 65. Sounds great. Sign me up!

Thumbs Down

Nomadic FIRE is a growing movement that shows us there is a better way.

1)  The thought that 65 is the earliest we can really travel and enjoy life is a terrible notion. I guarantee you that traveling when you are 65 is much less enjoyable than traveling in your 30s or 40s. Who says we need to wait another 30-40 years, just to have some fun? 

2)  Are only STEM graduates and doctors allowed to enjoy life? If the majority of the US makes less than $31,000 a year, does that mean most of the US is screwed? FIRE says no. There is a big difference between being “High Income” and being “Rich.” It’s not how much you make, but how much you keep. Just because someone makes $100,000+ a year, doesn’t make them rich.

Consequently, just because you make less than $40,000 a year also doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of poverty. There are a lot of "rich" Doctors and Software Engineers who are cash poor and there are lots of working class people who are Millionaires-Next-Door.

How Does Nomadic FIRE Help With Becoming Financially Independent and Retiring Early?

Nomadic FIRE is two parts. The “Nomadic” part is a LIFESTYLE that allows you the luxury of traveling somewhere that offers better weather and food, a more appealing lifestyle, and a better standard of living at a lower cost.

“FIRE” is a FINANCIAL SYSTEM that prioritizes retiring wayyyy before 65. Many advocates aim for 45. Some even try to hit their mark before 40. If you think that’s impossible, know that I am part of that movement. I retired from a corporate job at 41 and have spent the last four years traveling the world and living on sun-kissed beaches, electric cities, and tranquil countrysides in 40 different countries [Read More About Marco Here].

FIRE is a system to prioritize your spending and maximize your savings to allow you to reach Financial Independence and reach a Retirement Optional life. While Early Retirement is inherent in the FIRE name; FIRE is short for Financial Independence /Retire Early; Retiring Early doesn’t necessary mean “Not Working.” It means that you have reached a level of freedom, where working is up to you. A job becomes optional, not a requirement to living. 

Having ​a Retirement Optional life means living for things you want to do, rather than working for a living.

Nomadic Fire Marco Sison Everest e1553720314159

How Does Nomadic FIRE Differ From Normal FIRE?

Nomadic FIRE leverages geo-arbitrage to make it easier for you to save money. Simply put, If your income is $2000 per month and we can reduce your rent, food, and other living expenses by 50%, you can save more money and reach your Retirement Optional life faster. Nomadic FIRE uses overseas travel to countries with a lower cost of living than the US, or other Western countries, to maximize your FIRE savings. This concept is called “Geographic Arbitrage" or geo-arbitrage. 

Geo-arbitrage doesn’t just mean retiring on a beach in Thailand once you quit working. You can still use Nomadic FIRE while working to allow you to save more to retire sooner. Geo-arbitrage is a key tenant around another movement called being a “Digital Nomad.” We will get into the pros and cons of the Digital Nomad movement (and why I HATE IT) in later articles. But the concept of Nomadic FIRE and geo-arbitgrage is valid and can be extremely powerful.

The idea behind Geo-Arbitrage is that you can earn money in a strong, usually Western currency (US dollar, British Pound, or Euro) and then spend money in a weaker currency country (like Thailand, Vietnam, Romania, Bulgaria, etc.).

Geo-Arbitrage is the strongest engine and benefit of the Nomadic FIRE lifestyle. In some countries, the cost of living can be 75% less compared to developed countries. With freelancing, the gig economy, and remote working on the rise, it’s now easier than ever to live and work overseas and take advantage of geo-arbitrage.

You could be earning a decent salary in a Western country – but living in a much cheaper country. Low cost of living countries, such as Thailand, offers you so much more spending power. Instead of dealing with ridiculously high rent and food costs in cities like San Francisco or London, you could spend a fraction of that for a nice apartment on an SE Asian beach in Bali or Thailand or an exciting European city like Bucharest or Prague. Nomadic FIRE has detailed overseas cost of living guides in our article archive.

I know friends able to pay off $40,000 in student loan debt in less than three years working in Asia. After paying off their student loans, they funneled the savings from their monthly payments to investment accounts. We will talk about the different levels and ways to utilize living overseas in the Nomadic Life and Travel articles.

  • Here are examples of LCOL countries where new university graduates can save extra money after expenses, with only a job teaching English:
  • Taiwan: Can save $ 500-600 per month
  • Vietnam: Can save $ 500-600 per month
  • Japan: Can save $ 600-800 per month
  • China: Can save $ 600-1,200 per month
  • South Korea: Can save $ 800-1,000 per month
  • You can save over $14,000 per year utilizing Cost Advantage Travel, even on a teaching salary.

Cost of Living in Beautiful European Cities like Budapest are 67.59% lower Than Cities in The US

Budapest Hungary

Asia can be even cheaper, with fantastic cities in like Chiang Mai, Thailand costing over 70% less than the US.

Chiang Mai Thailand

Not interested or not able to live in a foreign country? Geo-arbitrage also exists within countries themselves, as popular High Cost of Living (HCOL) cities in desirable areas (California or New York as an example) tend to be much more expensive than other cities in less popular Low Cost Of Living (LCOL) areas (Indiana or pretty much anywhere in the Midwest). 

By living a Nomadic FIRE life, even staying in the US, you can save an additional $2700 (over 40%) a MONTH, just by taking advantage of geo-arbitrage. That is why Nomadic FIRE pertains to people working as well as getting ready to retire early.

Comparing Average Monthly Cost of Living: HCOL Cities vs LCOL Cities (USD)

You can use being Nomadic (the LIFESTYLE) and FIRE (the SYSTEM) independently. If you don’t make any changes to your income or expenses, but become Nomadic and move to Thailand, you will be financially better off. Your money in Thailand will allow you a better lifestyle with a nicer apartment, maids, and a more extravagant social life. If you don’t want to move, but follow the FIRE system, you will still be financially better off, as your savings and investments increase, even if you stay in the same location.

BUT, if you leverage the LIFESTYLE with the SYSTEM, you can exponentially change your path to a Retirement Optional life and Financial Independence. 

Savings just $500 per Month Generates over $1.2 Million Dollars for Your Retirement

What Can I Learn From Nomadic FIRE?

Nomadic FIRE Anapurna Basecamp
  • 1
    Change Your Mindset to Change Your Lifestyle
    Every day, people like you can decide to live very different lives than the majority. The key to happily living a Retirement Optional Life is to understand what is most important to you. It all starts with understanding that life is a mind game. Start thinking differently and figuring out your priorities are how best to achieve the life you want.
  • 2
    Admit That You Suck At Budgeting
    If you were great with money, you wouldn't be reading this. It's okay. Acknowledge the suck. We live in a world where adults graduate from high school with ZERO education on how to manage their money. Most of the world lacks the knowledge of how to budget, save, and invest to get reach Financial Independence. It's okay. Nomadic FIRE is where you can learn.
  • 3
    Grow Your  Passive Income To Generate Real Wealth
    The act of saving money won’t by itself make you rich. It's the crappy truth that bringing a cold sandwich from home for lunch, instead of eating out with friends might save you a few hundred dollars over the course of a year. But is a few hundred bucks life-changing money? Early retirement is enabled by growing income generating assets. How much wealth you have is not just driven by how much you save.
  • 4
    How To Invest Your Excess Cash Successfully
    You ABSOLUTELY need to learn how to invest your money. You cannot afford to be ignorant, scared, or naive about investing. Cash IS NOT KING. Instead, I will show you why you should only store cash for a short period of time until you can invest it. Investing is the easiest and most effective way to grow the money you've already saved.
  • 5
    How Living Overseas Allows You To Retire Earlier
    I'll show you how traveling HELPS you reach your financial goals. Living overseas is actually the strongest engine and the biggest benefit of Nomadic FIRE. "Geo-Arbitrage" is the most unused secret tool to achieving Financial Independence and Early Retirement. In simple terms, I will show you the costs and detail the shockingly lavish lifestyle you can live on beautiful beaches, amazing cities, and tranquil countrysides around the world.

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For many years I spent my life worrying about money, but now I spend my time enjoying it. I have been traveling around the world for the last 5 years, visiting 40 countries and living in ??????????????????. But the journey to achieve this lifestyle wasn't overnight. Very few people wake up one day and just become wealthy. It’s is a choice that you make and a way that you live your life.

Like most of you, I was stuck behind a corporate desk, with grey cubicle walls. Driving 3 hours a day to work 70 hours a week. Was I successful? Maybe, but I was not happy. No. I knew I wanted, NEEDED a different life. It took me time and a ton of hard work, but I finally learned how to reach Financial Independence realistically. I’m certainly not super-rich, but my lifestyle has changed dramatically.

Most of us don’t get rich quick; it’s a process. So, how did I do it? I tell you everything I know. This isn't a way to get rich quick. But it is actually much easier than you think.

Nomadic FIRE Machu Picchu Jump

Nomadic FIRE is NOT ABOUT PINCHING PENNIES. It's balancing spending and savings, while not losing track that life needs to be lived. Don't let money suck the fun out of life.

What People Are Saying About Marco On LinkedIn

Kevon

“…One of a select few individuals that has mastery in many disciplines. These skills allow him to be an amazing manager; but more importantly, Marco's skill set influence decisions, impact change, and has brought significant value to his business partners.”

Kevon

Vice President, Corporate Development & Innovation

David Valer

“…great ability to cut through a great deal of information and get to the bottom line. His financial background was very helpful in insuring profit margins were maintained. He handled complex contract negotiations and insured that the essence of what the company's needs were met…”

David

Sr. Vice President Global Sales and Marketing

Pat Pilolla2

“…outstanding leadership qualities, managing with facts and data and decision making with truth and wisdom...xcels at contract negotiating and bringing both parties together to secure the deal. He is a strategic planner, an out of the box thinker...exceptional mentor...“

Patrick

Vice President Business Development

Subscribe To Nomadic FIRE And Get The Tools and Information You Need To Achieve Financial Independence

Personal Finance Courses- Online courses where you learn how to budget and invest from the ground up. I show my REAL expenses, savings, and investments, using REAL money, REAL life scenarios, in the REAL stock market to show you exactly how to save and invest like me. I will be there, every step of the way, to help and answer your questions.

Explainer Videos and Video Lessons- Easy to understand interactive video lessons cover step by step basics; from simple budgeting lessons to complex investing strategies.

Financial Calculators- Determine how much you need per month to Retire Early. Find out what age you can retire successfully. Analyze and test your investment decisions to ensure a high return on investment.

International Living Guides- Understand the costs and benefits of living in another country. Get detailed breakdowns of monthly costs including rent, meals, entertainment, and utilities. Determine what kind of lifestyle you can can afford. Learn the best places to live and what kind of life you can expect.

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