Buy Your Way to Happiness - My favorite, Can't Live Without Things

My life is a strange mixture of having as few things possible, traveling light, while buying things that I know will make my life easier and more productive. I wanted to share this list of things that really do make my life better.

Before you buy anything, first throw things away, sell, give them away, or donate to make room. Once you get rid of all of the clutter in your life, you'll instantly feel free and more importantly, it'll help you think twice about buying useless things in the future. I used to be the king of finding deals and buying stuff on sale that I didn't really need, but now I try to live my life simply and only buy what will truly add benefit to it.

Today's Coffee Shop Office - Antigua Coffee in San Francisco

My iPhone with No Contract:

A lot of my friends are surprised that I've kept my phone number for so many years even when i'm out of the country. People are even more surprised that I call them from the airport immediately after I land back in the U.S. After being away for 8 months or more. But the real surprise to them is that I pay $0 monthly to keep my phone active.

And when I'm back I pay a flat $60 for Unlimited Nation Wide Calling, Text Messaging, and 2GB of Data which is more than I ever use. That's less than what most friends pay monthly with a normal contract. So how do I do it? Simple. With AT&T's GoPhone they have an option where you pay $2 a day, but only on the days you use it. If I top up my balance $100 at time, it is good for an entire year. All I do is switch to the $60 unlimited plan when I land.

As for the iPhone, I never buy the newest model. People trick themselves into thinking it's a good deal because they are only paying $199 for a brand new iPhone 5S but in reality by paying over a $100 a month in service over a 2 year contract they are paying well over $1,000 for that phone.  You can do the math yourself if you choose.  This is why I always have a second hand iPhone. You could buy a iPhone 4 for around $200 on craigslist or through a friend who just bought the new model.

If you really want an iPhone 5S and have you have the disposable income, then buy it straight out in cash.  If you can't afford $800 to buy it in cash, then you shouldn't be buying it.  Don't trick yourself into signing a 2 year contract thinking you are saving money, you aren't.

Freedom is priceless.  Having a no-contract phone with the ability to pause it for months at a time without paying a single penny allows me to travel wherever I want in the world for however long I please.  If I had a phone on contract, I would be paying $80-$120 a month for my phone even if I was out of the country.

ATM Cards that Refund all ATM Fees Worldwide, and Credit Cards with no Foreign Transaction Fees

I personally hate wasting money on ATM fees and foreign traction fees which are often up to 3% and are billed a month after you get your statement just for using your credit card outside of your home country. Now I use Charles Schwab for my ATM, and they are fantastic. They don't charge for using other ATMs and they refund you any and all fees from other other bank. So even if you used an ATM at a strip club in Australia that charged an $8 fee, that gets refunded to you.  Or more realistically if you're taking out cash a few times a month while traveling in Thailand you get the 150 baht ($5US) fee refunded to your account.

*Make sure you use your debit or ATM within the U.S. at least every 5 months so they don't flag your account for being a waste of their resources.  I use it for ATM whenever I'm back in the U.S. and use it to buy kindle books off of Amazon US when i'm traveling.

For my credit card, I use the Capital One Venture Card which has no foreign transaction fees. I
used to use the free version called the Venture one with no annual fee, but recently upgraded to the $99 a year version which gives me double miles, as I have been charging a lot of product to it with my E-Commerce business and getting tons of points for it.  Last month I charged $25.7K to my credit card (after having closer to $30k deposited to my bank account of course)   Along with the sign up bonus miles I've already gotten enough points to cover a round trip flight out to anywhere in the U.S. and back.

My new stress feel, super light weight, instant all, all day battery laptop.

I refused to switch to Mac for the longest time. But now that I have, I am extremely happy that I did. I never realized how frustration free a computer could be until now. I never carry around a mouse or even a charger anymore as they aren't even necessary, plus the air itself weights so much less than my previous laptop, which was only 1.5 years old and already felt like a dinosaur.

With 12 hours of battery life, which I actually get, I never carry my charger. It's brilliant. I haven't charged my laptop in three days now and am using it on a plane right now with 70% battery left, and it says I have 10 hours and 43 minutes left, which is actually accurate. I never shut it down, I just close the lid and throw it in my bag. When I want to use it, it turns on instantly just as fast as an iPad, but with a full keyboard and enough power to edit videos! I absolutely love my new Macbook Air and highly recommend it for any traveling entrepreneur.  It's one of those things expensive things that is absolutely worth paying for.

Renting Freedom, Renting a Car.

Each summer when I go home to California to visit friends, I'm at the mercy of their sleep schedule. I often have to wait around until noon for them to wake up to begin my day or have to skip working out or doing things I want to do because I have no way to get around. I even though about buying a second hand car, and even test drove an old V8 Mustang the last time I was in town. I'm really glad I didn't buy it through as it would have been a pain in the butt fixing it, keeping it maintained and parking it when I traveled. It would have destroyed my freedom and independence of traveling having it as a liability.
This trip however, I decided to rent a car whenever I was in town. Going through and booking for a week at a time through Budget I got to drive around in brand new cars and was able to go to my CrossFit workouts, rock climbing with friends, to the Supermarket to buy groceries, and to visit my friend staying near the beach whenever I felt like it. Best of all, I never had to worry about maintenance, fixing anything, or even washing the car. Rental cars used to be pieces of crap but in the past few years, even entry level cars come with iPhone integration, bluetooth, fantastic gas mileage and everything you would want. I've had a Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and a Chrysler 200 all which I really enjoyed driving and all 2013 models.

Here's the budget breakdown:
$140 a week going through Costco Travel. (My dad has a Costco membership so I get it for free as long as I use his membership number)

Full Coverage Insurance is automatic and free when renting it with your credit card. Most Visa Cards give you 14 days for free and Master Cards give you 30 days. Check with your credit card company.

Non-Owner Policy – If you are worried about liability or medical you can get a Non-Name policy through AAA or most insurance companies which covers you no matter what car you drive. It's really cheap as well, I paid $300 for a 6 month period.

Free Pick up and Drop Off:
Most airports have a branch inside, so instead of needing to get a ride to and from the airport, just rent a car. I also sometimes use their free car service where as long as you let them know the day before, they will pick you up and/or drop you off at your house for free when renting/returning a car.

For me, renting a car is like renting freedom, and it's definitely worth it. With your online business, you can even write it off since you are technically traveling for work and renting a car. Try doing that with owning.

The Euro style large backpack verses your Louis Vuitton rolling luggage.

As cool as I look with my all black duffle bag walking through the streets of NYC, I kept wishing I had brought my camping backpack instead. Especially when traveling through Asia, S. America or Europe, invest in a 65+ Liter backpack and ditch the rolling luggage. It doesn’t look as cool but it's a lot  more functional.

For my first trip out to Thailand, I bought way too much with me and instantly regretted it on the long walk across a broken wooden pier. Now I travel with this, and only bring as much stuff that can comfortably fit in there and nothing more. You can also do what my friend Kurt does and travel with nothing but what he's wearing and his laptop. He just sets aside a hundred dollars or so to buy a new set of clothes, toiletries and whatever else he might need when he lands and gives it away when he leaves the country.

I recently bought a Jansport Big Bear 78 liter backpack off of Amazon for around $70.  It'd be great  to have a nice Mammut, Northface or something from REI, but I'm not really backpacking and don't need to carry things across streams and up cliffs so I figure this will be better than the fake Lowe Alpine pack I bought at the night market a few years ago.  

I'll let you know how it works out. But I have a feeling it'll be just fine.

Books that can teach you something.

I personally use a basic, non white kindle because I like reading on the matte paper like screen. I do like holding a book in my hand, but I love being able to instantly download a new kindle book on demand wherever I am in the world and not having to carry around a bunch of books.

Reading blogs like this is cool for inspiration and fun, but if you really want to learn something, find a credible book and just devour that instead of trying to gather the information yourself all across the internet. If you want to learn about the Paleo diet, just buy the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolff. Don't try to research it yourself on forums, listen to podcasts, and google your way to knowledge. Just read the book. Here's the secret to why books exist when blogs often contain just as much information for free.

 For my book 12 Weeks in Thailand as an example, you can get most of the information found in the book by reading through my blog here and on, you'll just have to sort through the information, look up the other websites I reference and piece it all together.

Or you can just buy the book and have all of the information for you in once easy to follow, fun read. The problem with all blogs is that we leave a lot of information out of each post because it's either already written somewhere else, or we assume you already know it. Books are written assuming this is the only thing you are going to read so authors really go through it step by step.

My rule when it comes to books is that if a person I trust recommends it, I look into it, but as soon as a second or third person recommends it as well, I go on Amazon and buy it.

Shoes that actually fit my caveman feet.

My entire life I have accepted the fact that I have extra wide, flat feet with no arches. I would buy a size larger than I wear to accommodate. Then I discovered that you can buy EE width sizes online at and instantly my health and happiness has improved. Combined with being in overall better shape, I can now walk for hours and not be tired or have sore feet, knees, back or legs. Yesterday I walked for 3 hours around Brooklyn with a French girl I had met in my hostel helping her apartment hunt, but mainly because I just enjoyed walking around local neighborhoods and seeing how locals live. She stopped a few times to put band aids on her toes, but I was absolutely fine.

I have donated all of my shoes and now exclusively wear flat, double wide minimal shoes such as the Minimus by New Balance. Just like a lot of consumer products we have learned to think we need, having cushy heels isn't actually good for us. I started by walking a lot in barefoot type five finger shoes and still sometimes use them to sprint or hike but for day to day wear I prefer these.

Grass-Fed Butter, Beef, Organic Vegetables and Extra Avocado

I always knew these things were good for me, but I never wanted to spend the extra money on them. Ever since I started saving money through living a simpler life, and making more money using Anton'sdrop shipping system, I can now afford to put the best in my body and not settle for cheaper crap just because it's cheaper.

You will never catch me eating 99 cent burgers or Cup O' Noodles.  You wouldn't put fake 89 octane gasoline in your Ferrari, why would you put high fructose corn syrup, refined wheat flour, and canola oil into your body?

To be continued...

Is there anything else that's "expensive" but worth it?  Leave a comment and share.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD - Follow me

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  1. great post! Ever since your bootcamp I've been getting in the world of the 4 hour work week and will do anything I can to achieve the lifestyle. Despite being poorer than ever, I'm happier than ever to reach towards my goals. Don't ever stop posting Johnny as thanks to you I have seen the light!

    1. Keep pushing towards your goals, update your to-do lists daily and you will make it. I'm glad I was able to inspire you.

  2. This is an absolutely informative post! Thank you for sharing. I've been lowering my expenses per month, but need to lower my cell phone bill and I'll be ecstatic! When it comes to your $2 a day plan, do you have Internet? I plan on switching to AT&T once my contract is up and get that $2 a day, but I do use Internet for shopify, email, gps, etc. -Dex

    1. When I',m in the U.S. I use the $60 a month unlimited plan which includes internet. I only use the $2 a day plan when I'm traveling and want to keep the number.


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