Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How I've been able to afford my Life of Travel.

A lot friends back home say they wish they could do what I do, or that they wish they had enough time or money to travel and live the life that I live.  Well, they can, and I've made it easier by doing it first and making all of the mistakes, and paving the way.

Here is my journey, not necessarily the best but it's what I did and it worked for me and it can work for you as well if you want to follow along.


July 2007 - Moved into a $3,000 a month house near all of the bars in Hollywood, put $85 in gas in my black Lexus Sedan so I could drive to Melrose to shop for more clothes that I didn't need.  When clubbing, drove fast cars, and partied up in the hills thinking it was what would make me happy.

October 2008 - Went to Thailand on a 3 week vacation with my cousins Larry and Jacob.  Quickly realized how amazing day to day life is in Thailand.  Thinking I only had 3 weeks before going back to my stressful life and job back in Los Angeles, I spent $1,000 a week on expensive hotels, 3 massages a day and eating at the hotel restaurant.

I also did every tour imaginable, including a Discover Scuba Dive which instantly made me fall in love with being underwater.  I did my Open Water Certification straight away.

Starting bank balance: $8,300
Round Trip Flight: $1,300
Expenses: $3,000
Remaining bank balance $4,000


November 2008 - Decided to move to Thailand.  Back in LA I sold/gave away everything I owned including my furniture, car and clothes yet stupidly kept my now worthless DVD collection.  I booked a one way flight back to Thailand, got a triple entry tourist visa and sold my car.

Bank balance after buying my flight to Thailand: $3,300
Total bank balance after selling my stuff and my car: $10,000

December 2008 - The start of my 5 and a half year life living in Thailand and traveling abroad.  I figured $10k would last me 5 months or so, and then I would have to either figure something out or go home and start working again.  Turns out it would last, much, much longer.  I originally budgeted $800 a month for an apartment on Koh Tao, Thailand aka Turtle Island.  Quickly realized that 25,000 baht for a place wasn't necessary and I ended up moving into a bamboo bungalow in a coconut field just minutes from the beach for 5,500 baht a month. ($180US)



January 2009 - Stated my Dive Master Training Course.  Paid $1,000US.  Did the course with a small shop, Scuba-Junction.

March 2009 - Went back to the U.S. for a month to show my family I was still alive, and to do a pick of work at my old job that was having a busy month.  Saved up $2,000 working.

May 2009 - Did the longest DMT (Dive Master Trainee) course ever as I took my time, took a few months off in between and didn't sign off my paperwork until I was offered a job.



June 2009 - Worked as a Divemaster for 150 baht ($5) per tank and most divers use two tanks, giving me 300 baht per diver, with an average of 3 or 4 divers per day.   The average rate was Loved working on Koh Tao as a DM and looking back it was a fantastic experience.  The pay wasn't great but it was more than enough to live and even save a bit if you were smart on your budget.



November 2009 - Moved to Koh Lanta to start the diving season there.  Heard how amazing the scuba diving was compared to Koh Tao from a German couple, and they were right.  Saw my first turtle, whale shark, manta ray, it was beautiful.  It wasn't easy to find a job as I was an english only speaking divemaster without that much experience but I stuck in there and kept asking around and meeting people until I found some work.  The pay here was 1,000 baht a day flat ($33US) and included breakfast and lunch on the boat.

Best diving in Thailand but a really really quite island to live on.  Great for couples but even then it's still easy to get bored here.



March 2010 - Decided to move to Ultila, Honduras to become a Scuba Diving Instructor.  Read a bunch of reviews of Utila Dive Centre and though it was the best place in the world to do the Instructor Development Course (IDC).  Spent the rest of my savings flying out there only to find out there are no jobs on the island as they train more far more instructors than the island can support.

Lesson learned: The grass isn't greener on the other side of the world.
Ending bank balance: $1,500




July 2010 - Moved back to Koh Tao, hoping to find work as a dive instructor.  Had a really difficult time finding a job as a new instructor with no experience but after hanging around for a month I found a job since I happened to speak Mandarin, Chinese.  If it wasn't for that, I would have been devastated.

Lesson learned: Do your IDC course somewhere in the world that doesn't teach 10+ new instructors every month.  Do it somewhere that you don't have to pay to intern at afterwards as you'll need the experience.

Instructor's Salary:  As a full time dive instructor on Koh Tao I earned a percentage of all the courses I taught.  I can't remember what the actual amount was but it was something around 15% of what the customer spent on the course.  All I remember is that I was making around $2,000 US per month when I was teaching full time, which is a really good wage in SE Asia as my monthly expeneses were between $600-$800 at the time.

My room and motorbike on Koh Tao
 I had saved up a bunch of money from teaching diving on Koh Tao and spending next to nothing.  My room was 4,000 baht a month ($135US) and I bought and sold my motorbike for 10,000 baht ($333US) making it free.

Money Earned: $4,000

November 2010 - I moved back to Phuket to train Muay Thai full time at Tiger Muay Thai and MMA. I lived at the gym in an extremely basic room with a shared bathroom and dedicated my time to training full time.

I started the blog, www.MyFightCamp.com where I documented was it was like living at a Muay Thai gym and training for a fight.



January 2011 - Went back to Koh Tao to teach more scuba diving and save up a bit of money.  All while my heart was focused on doing Muay Thai and getting back to training.

Saved up a few thousand dollars.

July 2011

Phuket Top Team had just opened up so even though I had a great time at Tiger Muay Thai, I decided to try out the all new gym.  I lived at the gym in one of their cheap budget rooms with a shared bathroom, and eventually tried living in the $100 a month bamboo hut.  I really enjoyed my time there but I was torn between my two passions, Muay Thai which I loved and Scuba Diving which I enjoyed doing and actually paid.  




January 2012 - After a few months of doing MMA and Muay Thai, I got offered a great job at a fantastic dive shop in Borneo.  My savings were running low from doing Muay Thai full time so I decided to sign a six month contract with Scuba Junkie and work on their resort in Mabul, Malaysia.

I lived in the staff house at the resort which was an extremely basic, run down room that I had to share with a 50 year old man, but it was free so I didn't complain.  Everything was included including three meals a day, my room and water, so I had no bills.  The pay wasn't very good but since I had no expenses and didn't drink much alcohol, I still managed to save up $600US a month while being there.

I also got to dive at some of the best dive sites in the world.  The fish life there was incredible.  The only downside was the sheer amount of garbage in the ocean from the locals.  But even with that and often working up to 14 days in a row and being a bit burnt out, it was the best dive company and the best diving I've experienced.

Money Earned: $4,000US


July 2012 - I traveled a bit to the Philippines and back to the U.S. for a few months to see friends and family.  I ended up living in San Diego for a few months and was tempted to stay and get a job there.  I started doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu properly and even bought a Gi.  I got myself a second hand beach cruiser and a membership to Car2Go which is a shared electric car membership.  Life was great in Pacific Beach but I realized that I would be settling for being comfortable if I stayed. 

So I booked a one way ticket back to Thailand.



November 2012 - As much as I enjoyed scuba diving and was glad I got to see a bit of the world and get paid to dive in some of the best places on the planet, I realized that becoming a Scuba Instructor made me slowly start to hate diving.  Teaching new students who often come totally unprepared and sometimes unable to even swim was a very frustrating and stressful job.

Lesson learned: I would highly recommend to people that love diving to become a divemaster and work at that level but not become an instructor.  Even though I got paid a lot more, it wasn't worth it in the long run, and if I had never went to Utila to do my IDC, I would have saved $5,000 in the course fees, books, random other fees, and flying across the world.

I also realized I was getting older and that if I were to give Muay Thai a fair shot, it would have to be this year as I was already 31 at the time.  I moved to Chiang Mai and decided to train full time until my money ran out.

My latest fight in Chiang Mai

January 2013 - Life as a Muay Thai fighter wasn't paying the bills.  I had officially ran out of money. I only had a few hundred dollars in my bank, didn't have any source of income, didn't want to go back to teaching scuba diving and didn't even have a return flight back to America.

My options were to borrow money from my family for a flight back to the U.S., move back in with my parents and get a regular 9-5 job again, or to figure out a way to make money from Thailand that didn't involve scuba diving.

Bank Balance: $200

February 2013 - I figured it out, well, at least it was the best I could think of at the time.  I published a book going into detail about the previous 4 years of my life that you all just read the cliff notes on.  The book originally sold for $37 and was aimed towards guys that wanted to quit their jobs back home and move to Thailand to train Muay Thai and MMA full time.

New Income: $600 a month from book sales.

www.12WeeksinThailand.com

April 2013 - I messed it all up.  I decided that the book was more of a "how I lived the 4-hour workweek book/a Guide to Thailand" than a book about Muay Thai, so I rebranded the book and put it on Amazon which forced me to lower the price from $37 to $9.99.  I thought it would be a wise move as it would reach more people, but I still made the same 16 sales a month, but instead of making $585 from those sales, I started making $112 a month.  I made another $50 or so a month from monetizing my blogs with advertising including google adsense and amazon and product affiliate links to things like supplements and whey protein.

I was living on a strict budget in Chiang Mai at the time and was paying 3,500 baht ($116US) a month for my room in an old Thai building.

Total income per month:  $200


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June 2013 - I was broke once again.  I had around 10,000 thai baht ($300US) in cash left after paying my apartment for the month and around bit over $170 in my bank account.  I knew this was it, I had to make something happen or I would have to crawl home and go back to a life that I didn't love, working for a boss that I didn't like, just to get by.

Luckily around that same time, I had started learning about dropshipping and eCommerce.  I had signed up for Anton's Method training course and I wanted to live the drop ship lifestyle.  I had met Anton in Chiang Mai a few months prior to that and saw how successful he was with his online stores.  I spent the next two months working on building up my own online store and becoming an authorized dealer for some name brands.

I started making enough sales in August which was about 2 months after I started to replace my normal 9-5 income and give me between $1,500 to $5,000 in profit per month for every successful store I opened.

Total income per month: A lot more than $200.

My sales from July to December 2013

February 2014 - I decided that I really enjoyed living in Chiang Mai and that it was a fantastic place to meet other entrepreneurs and location dependent business owners.  My eCommerce stores were now optimized and didn't require more than an hour a day of my time as I hired a full time gal to answer my customer service calls for me.

With my newfound free time and financial freedom, I started exploring other hobbies, interests and business ideas.  I started the Travel Like a Boss Podcast as a fun way to sit down with other entrepreneurs and talk about how they manage their online businesses while traveling.  Anton overheard me teaching another one of his students how I optimized my store for sales and conversions and encouraged me to create the info product, Optimize Like a Boss  which teaches eCommerce store owners how to get more sales.

I also started traveling more and took up scuba diving again, but this time as a guest at the resorts instead of as an employee.

New Bank Balance: $30,000

Read the Thai Millionaire Article here:
http://www.johnnyfd.com/2014/02/goldwatch.html

March 2014 - I'm currently on vacation in Koh Lanta after spending a week rock climbing in Krabi with my girlfriend.  I'm still working 1-2 hours a day while i'm out here, but I usually do it before breakfast or late at night instead of watching TV.  I actually really enjoy my "job" as I don't have boss, and whatever sales I make from my eCommerce stores, my book, advertising from my podcast, or sales of my Optimize info product goes straight to me.

Taking that first initial leap of faith and moving to Thailand with little more than what cash I got from selling my car has allowed me to create the ideal life that I previously thought was impossible.  If you aren't 100% happy with your job and don't want to wait until you're 65 to retire and hopefully move to somewhere like Thailand, do something about it now.  Life really is short, and we really can have it all.



Recommended Resources:

Read my 1st book: 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap, if you enjoyed this blog post you'll really love all of the details of how I quit my job, breakdowns of the cost of living and what it was like living in Thailand for four years which includes some wild adventures.


Read my 2nd book: Life Changes Quick: 7 Steps to Get Everything You've Ever Wanted. This is the follow up on how I went from a "good life" to a "great life." It includes a peek into the underground world of location independent entrepreneurs, six figure online businesses and how to set and achieve your goals.


Listen to the Podcast: Travel Like a Boss Podcast for inspiration and ideas from successful entrepreneurs that I've met while traveling.



Sign up for: Anton's Dropshipping training course if you want to learn how to set up your own online store, choose the right niche and get approved by suppliers to become an authorized dealer for your own eCommerce store. Even today I still I make the majority of my income from the profits of my dropshipping stores. It works!



Keep in touch on facebook or twitter and feel free to ask me any questions, I'm happy to help you get started in your own journey.






Warm Regards and best wishes,

Johnny
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