Portland, Oregon, United States
Breaking away from the daily grind has been a gradual, lifelong process, but I would say that it took three years to be in a situation where I could consider it and one year to make it happen after deciding to do it. At any time during those four years, I could have broken away. However, I had personal barriers emotionally, mentally, and physically that I needed to work through before feeling good about my final decision to leave my old life behind. Here are some bits of wisdom I learned over the years about preparing for the perfect exit.
Pay off your debt: After nursing school, my focus was to pay off my loan debt. I grew up with a father who ingrained in me that any kind of debt was unacceptable debt. If you owed money, you did not just pay the minimum, you paid the maximum you could. So while several of my friends were thinking about expensive weddings and buying new cars and houses after university, I focused on paying off college loan debt. I rarely paid the minimum and usually payed quadruple my designated monthly payment. Credit cards were not something I would even consider using unless I had an emergency, and then I would pay them off in full each month. I spent the money I had, and that was it. I never had much saved in my bank, but I also had less accrued interest and overall debt than several of my peers. Now, I have zero debt, and nothing will make you feel more free than that.
Donate all your stuff and claim it on your taxes: My friend told me, “You only need to keep one thing to remember each person.” This insight helped me to move past the staring at things phase and into the saying good-by to things phase. Letting go of personal items is like loosing parts of your self. Each item represents a memory in your life. The beautiful thing is that once you get rid of everything you can finally see your true identity, separate from the past, the butterfly you have become. You can sell things to fund your new life or you can donate them and deduct them from your taxes. Storing them is also an option, but I personally am a strong supporter of the clean getaway. I made thousands of dollars in refunds on my taxes by donating everything I owned and then deducting those items. I felt this was a lot easier than taking pictures of all the items and trying to sell them on a site like Craigslist. Give your stuff to someone who needs it more than you and reap the benefits as well. Satisfaction will replace any remorse you have at loosing your material items. You will not only have less stuff dragging you down, but you will receive a nice fat refund check at tax time while seeing that your things are more appreciated by people who really need them.
Save money: Having lots of money saved is not necessary to travel and start a new career working remotely, but it certainly makes everything easier. Tell yourself you will save a certain amount each month and stick to the plan. If you choose to cut out some expensive fun activities, you can always replace them with cheap fun activities. I like spending money on fun experiences and probably could have left earlier if I did not, but I don’t regret my decision. However, if you want to get out fast, change your financial priorities and get creative with your social time. Maybe you will sacrifice some adventures, but you might just surprise yourself with the ones that pop up instead that are totally free. Think outside the box. Instead of going out to a restaurant, have a picnic in the park or instead of going swimming at the pool, spend a day at the river or a nearby lake.
Written by: Beth Ann Nyssen