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Posted on Nov 20, 2011

The Ying Yang of Living Without

The Ying Yang of Living Without

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Life is all about ‘living with’ and ‘living without’. Have kids or don’t; eat healthy food or don’t; travel the world or don’t. Live with, live without. Each path has its definite perks and downfalls. So, we’ve chosen to travel the world, we’ve chosen to stack our cards and organize our lives in a way that has enabled  long-term nomadic family travel. It’s the cosmic ying-yang of our life choices.

Has it been easy? No. Have we had our doubts? Often. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

How It All Began

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When we started toying with the idea of becoming a nomadic family, we knew we had to change the way we lived. Every drawer, shelf, countertop, closet, nook and cranny were overflowing with more junk than we could ever have use for. We were consumers, and not just to the material stuff. We enjoyed taking our kids to shows; we had our weekly date out; and loved family vacations. We were happily living our “American Dream” in Israel, until we realized we could choose to live another way of life.

What We Did

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We did simple mathematics: Make more, spend less. We took on extra jobs. For two summers I ran an all-day summer camp out of my home in killer heat, while teaching parenting groups at night and taking clients in the evening hours. I almost died (I actually did have a physical break down), but I did it for the goal in sight.  Kobi stayed in a J-O-B he hated well passed what he could endure because hi-tech jobs in Israel make really good money. And when he was (painfully at first, but thankfully) fired, he worked like a maddog as a professional dog trainer to bring money home, and for our goals.

And, we spent less by living without We lived in voluntary frugality. We lived without new clothing, babysitters, family vacations, shows, restaurants, attending weddings and celebrations (in Israel the acceptable gift is a check), too many car drives to Kobi’s parents in Jerusalem (the gas), and luxury food items. In the ‘living without’ came a delightful way to fill the void. Share and pass on clothing between friends, second-hand stores, dates at home, extended family get-togethers during off-season and tons of camping out, in-house entertainment and time in nature, and enjoying ‘special foods’ when they were on sale or for a special occasion.

We got so good at saving that a few amazing things happened. In four short (but really focused) years, we paid off the rest of our house mortgage, paid off our student loans, and saved $50,000 for our world travels. We found creative and powerful ways to save money that still allowed us to live joyful lives. Our Saving For The Dream e-book is a great start to figuring out how to re-organize your life to financially make your travel dreams come true.

The Harsher Hue of Our Ying Yang

We found that we could live perfectly joyful, rich lives while spending a third of what we used to. And while watching our credit card bills go down to half was awesome; other parts of it were not. It was not easy explaining to well-meaning friends (again) that we could not join them for that cool event this weekend or that our kids won’t come to bowling and pizza (again). It was in those moments that we were depriving our kids of normal, everyday cool kid-stuff that all of their friends were enjoying that we felt guilty and confused. Is this trip worth this? Can I look my friend in the eyes (again) and explain why we can’t afford full private-school tuition on three children and really need a discount? Do I really want to have another “we choose to spend our money on this” talk with my child? And when my son’s best friends’ mom paid for him to participate in some event, trust me, I wasn’t feeling mother of the year. I was embarrassed that I acted like a pauper while I was hording all of our money for round the world travels.

The Payoff

So, “living without” has truly become a ying yang for us. While we sacrificed on many of the conveniences and temptations in our everyday life; we enabled our family to taste a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The same friends who judged what we put our family through to make this trip a reality, now tell us with envy how they could never afford such an amazing journey. And I agree. So long as we don’t “live without” in one category, we won’t be able to “live with” in another.

When we worked so hard to make our dreams come true; so often, we’d wonder where were the bells and whistles that pay off all of our hard work. Had we indulged in the unripe fruits of our labors rather than save it away for this world-travel dream, our family would have never become the nomadic family. And so, for us all there is a payoff, a turning point where there’s just no going back, a ying yang that we calculate on a very personal basis and decide ‘do I live with or without?”  

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What are you willing to ‘live without’ to make your dreams come true? Is the long-road toward world family travel worth the daily cuts and sacrifices for you?  Have you ever felt uneasy or alone in the presence of those who live and spend their lives fully now, while you’re saving for your dream?

We’ve decided to go for it- to live this one life to the max, to do some ying in order to taste the yang.  Many other inspirational families have made the leap too. Our most popular blog entry to date 10 Nomadic Families, 7 Continents: How They Afford It reflect how much people are fascinated with affording their travel dreams. 

And as we relish every color, taste, and sound of exotic Colombia; we know we’ve chosen the right path for this family of five.Please, share with us what your road to ‘live without’ has entailed, and what color it has added to your life palette.

 

It is my honor to be a part of a community of nomadic family travelers. Be sure to check out their inspirational reflections on “Live Without”.

The Great Family Escape- What Can We Live Without?

Family on Bikes- Living with Less: What can you ditch?

Tripping Mom – Less stuff, more life

Living Outside of the Box – Living without

A King’s Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves

Globetrotting Mama – Living without the stuff

With 2 Kids in Tow – After 10 Months of Living With Less

A Minor Diversion – What we’ve learnt to live without

New Life on the Road – Living the simple lifestyle but would still love one thing

Carried on the Wind –  Living Without

 

23 Comments

  1. That is amazing that you took four years to pay off your mortage and to also pay off your credit cards and say $50,000 towards travelling.
    That goes to show that with a dream anything is possible!
    Cheers
    Lisa

  2. Funny, i just just just now was on your site and left a comment and just just just now find this comment of yours that deserved a nice comment back. yes, anything is possible. it’s amazing.

    gabi

  3. That should have said “Save $50,000” 🙂

  4. WOW – you guys really worked your butts off to make your dreams come true.

    • yes! 🙂 thank you jessie!

  5. Yep, it’s all about striking a balance. When we embarked on our RTW people back home thought we were “incredibly wealthy”. No, just frugal, and spending money on what was important to us. . . saving on what was not.

    We’ve been living “location independently” for almost 2 years now, and are quite happy with less “stuff”. We are rich with experiences! 🙂

    • larissa,

      thank you for that. yes, people do assume you are rich, as they do us, because we travel. it is a very simple concept once you can see passed the glitter and glare of ‘deserving’all that commercial stuff. sometimes i would love really nice clothing and to look at kept as some other women but that may just be instead of my lifestyle. so…no. thank you for taking the time to comment. hugs to you fellow traveler. gabi

  6. I already started thinking of what not to live with:-)

    Arpitha

  7. Same Same. Yes, that 12 months was hard, really hard. I’ve just rehashed that post this morning, coincidentally. But it was worth it, we got out of the rut and we’re doing something so totally different.
    The dog training thing…I didn’t know that!
    Cheers
    Alyson

    • well put the link love. i want to read and i’m sure others will too. and yes, it is super hard but beyond worth it. 🙂 dog training! yes! yes! cheers love, gabi

  8. Gabi we live with just what we brought to Spain in our suitcase and carry on. Other than that it is a rented furnished place and we live a simple life. We had it all and I mean ALL in the US, the nearly 5000 sq ft home and 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 4 TV’s, every game unit that existed. Let me just tell you, life is fuller and richer now without all of that stuff. We live off of about 2/3 less than we did in US too. Life is great.

    • it’s it funny dear heidi how so much of what we thought we needed in life, we live quite grandly without? life is good. i love you. gabi

  9. it’s hard to make choices like this, especially when you feel like you’re doing without SO MUCH to reach your dreams! but look! YOU DID IT!!

    • thank you jessie. we did! and it is hard, but you know about that too- overcoming your issues (psychical and otherwise) to do that which you are passionate about. thank you friend.

  10. I think it’s all got to do with examining your end goal and deciding how to get there. I learned to live more frugally when I moved to Spain because Europe was at my doorstep. My friends have fancy cars and can afford steak dinners once a week, but I’m glad to have decided for me. Well done to you and Kobi and the kids!

  11. It is fortunate that both myself and my partner are naturally very frugal people. We are very compatible in this respect which has helped us travel well together. It is easier for us because we don’t have children (yet) so we are only depriving ourselves which is little or no hardship.
    My problem is the opposite in that I find it very hard to spend money on anything! This can be a real problem as it sometimes impairs my enjoyment of the places we visit because I stint myself. This rather defeats the whole point of travelling!

  12. I totally agree; we too went through those years of saving and sacrifice to achieve our goal of long-term travel. Like you, many of the friends and family who thought we were a bit crazy to deny ourselves the staples of life (such as nights out down the pub or new clothes and gadgets) now envy our life on the road. I can say with pride though that we totally earned this.

  13. Wow! You all did amazing! We too have saved and are on our journey as well! It’s so rewarding!

  14. I look forward to the day when we can travel more and work less. We’ve down-sized tremendously, but still have a long way to go.

  15. What a smart, well-thought-out approach to your goal. Hope you can keep road tripping as long as you like!

    • hi terry dear. thank you. we worked out this one very slowly and it serves us well, as your serves you well. 🙂 happy new year. gabi

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