Oh my goodness. I’ve done the unthinkable. I’ve written a blog post, after a many-month absence.
I realize this comes as a shock. If you need a moment to process, take your time.
Okay. Here we go.
I’ve been quiet around here, so first I want to let you know I’m still alive. (Mostly.)
I don’t publish often, because I pressure myself to create articles that are perfect. Since that’s impossible, I stay silent and publish nothing.
To remedy this, I’m now committed to publishing the most imperfect posts you’ll ever read. This one, like everything I write, will be full of jokes that fall flat, terrible grammar, and incomplete sentenc–
(Hehe. #jokesthatfallflat )
Today’s post is a literal status update for the sake of my longtime readers who want to know what’s happening. Here’s the latest in my world of travel, investing and ideas …
– I’ve been scoping out rental properties in Birmingham, Alabama, where investment cap rates are excellent. After a three-day scouting trip, I found my favorite neighborhood; I’m still searching for an exact property. Details to come.
– I remodeled a bathroom in one of my Atlanta rental properties. Check it out:
I oversaw this remodel 100 percent by text message from Las Vegas. Don’t worry, I was mostly sober at the time. 🙂 I’ll tell the full story in my next rental income YouTube video.
– I’ve created a handful of real estate investing podcast episodes that are actually pretty decent, if I say so myself. Check out this one, which is one of my recent favorites.
I blame my ridiculous traveling schedule for the fact that I haven’t been writing as much. (Well, that, and I’m lazy.)
You’ve heard that quote about how “the only real success in life is living on your own terms?” To me, this means filling my life with travel.
I hope this doesn’t come off as pretentious. In my life, “budget travel” is an understatement. I stay with friends or at campsites; I consider Airbnb a splurge. I eat grocery store food or visit a no-frills taco shop. I use frequent-flyer miles to get free airfare.
I’m not traveling for the frills, and I don’t care about the mass-market conveyor belt of consumption. When I travel, it’s because I want to step outside of my zone of familiarity; to expose myself to new environments.
Well, that, and I’m restless.
This year, I’ve found myself exploring these places:
January: The only month I’ve spent at home in 2017.
Why: Um, the short answer is “a TV shoot related to Darth Vader.” I’m not allowed to reveal the details until it airs. 🙂
March: Austin and Houston
Why: Three of my BFF’s live there, so I devoted a full week to celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with them. When you’re voluntarily unemployed, you can do that. 🙂
April: Arizona and Utah
Why: Because Flagstaff and Zion are gorgeous camping spots in the springtime. Who needs any other reason? 🙂
May: San Francisco, Hawaii
Why: I flew to San Fran to deliver a 10-minute speech to 100 bloggers, then spent a week in Hawaii wearing a rash guard and working on my farmer’s tan.
June: Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama
Why: Excellent price-to-rent ratios + stable economy = awesome investment choices here!
My friend Emma and I spent three days meeting with local investors and examining house after house. If you’re thinking, “every house in my city is expensive!” — hop on a plane and go somewhere where the houses are cheaper.
July: Portland, Los Angeles, and mega-cross-country road trip
Why: To kickoff the month, I drove 4,000 miles in 5 days, from Nevada to West Virginia and back. Yes, I’m insane.
I won an eBay bid for this 15-foot camper trailer. I’ve named her The Spicemobile. Ain’t she a beauty?
I drove to West Virginia to meet her, singing John Denver’s “Country Roads” at the top of my lungs. #whatrichpeopledo
Then I learned how to re-wire her brake lights. They’re … um … functional.
Now I have a new life skill. Kinda. #masterelectrician
So that’s how I kicked off July.
One week later, I flew to Portland to lead a three-hour workshop at the World Domination Summit — and, let’s face it, also to eat donuts. Lots and lots of donuts.
I rounded out the month in L.A. for a friend’s wedding, and since it’s hotter than $%@*#! in Las Vegas, I stayed for awhile. Yes to beaches; no to paying California state income tax.
August: Arizona, Seattle, Portland, Burning Man
Why: Well, why not?
I kicked off this month by driving to Arizona to pick up a used Nissan Pathfinder; I’ll be sleeping in the back of this vehicle when I’m road-tripping without my camper. I guess I can kiss my Motel 6 frequent-guest status goodbye. 🙂
Next, I flew to Seattle and Portland to watch the eclipse. I camped and ate food from grocery stores the entire time, bringing the trip cost down to next-to-nothing.
Finally, I’m rounding out the month at Burning Man, an arts festival that’s served as a cornerstone of my life since 2005. As I’ve mentioned on Facebook, Will and I celebrate our anniversary at Burning Man; this year marks our 10th.
September: Colorado, several TBD camping trips
Why: I’ll drive to the Rockies for a friend’s wedding, then I’ll take my camper to the desert/forest/beach for a solo writing retreat. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to finish the course (??) or at least write a few good blog posts, Thoreau-style.
October: Ecuador, San Diego, Dallas
Why: I’ll kick off the month with two weeks in Ecuador — one week at a financial independence retreat, and another week to find the ‘swing of death.’
Next, I’m camping at a 4-day festival outside of San Diego, then zooming to Dallas for a blogger conference. To be honest, I’m tired just thinking about it. 🙂
November: I’m spending 30 days at home! #homebody
Why: My 76-year-old parents are visiting for a full month. Let’s see if Vegas is ready for them. 😉
December: California, Arizona, Florida
Why: My adorable Australian nieces, ages 8 and 10, are visiting the U.S. for the first time. I’m taking them to Disneyland and DisneyWorld, plus the Grand Canyon. #coolestauntever #yesthatISconsumerconveryorbelt #butwhatevs
So … that’s my year, encapsulated in a few hundred words. When someone asks, “what would you do if you didn’t have to work?,” you can always reply, “I’d drive to West Virginia while singing John Denver off-key, then find a giant swingset in the southern hemisphere.”
That answer may sound flippant, random or superfluous. Am I implying that the purpose of my life is to wander aimlessly? Not at all. Nor am I interested in pursuit of hedonism, which I think is obvious from my lack of frills.
Instead, in my job-free existence, I carve out delirious quantities of time for learning, conversation and reflection. We live in a society in which we are encouraged to follow a strict script — college, work, death — the structure of which provides zero time for meaningful exploration.
When I’m driving along a backcountry road, I’m listening to an audiobook or I’m deep in thought, grappling with an idea. When I’m wandering through a foreign country, I’m absorbing the subtleties and nuances of a culture different from mine, and I’m challenging every assumption I once held. And when I produce any creative work — whether that’s writing a blog post, creating a podcast episode, or building a business — my output is the physical manifestation of untold hours of learning, thought and conversation. To the outside world, I may look like I’m vagabonding, sleeping in the back of my car somewhere in the Rockies. But the autonomy to do so is reason that my creativity and originality can flourish.
The muse is demanding.
On Having Enough
Here’s my bottom line:
“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something that he will never have … enough.”
Enough. It’s all you need.
This is a quote from the first chapter of the book Enough by John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard and inventor of index funds.
I’ve re-read this single paragraph countless times; ironically, I can’t get enough of it.
I’m often asked why I’m not more aggressive with my investments:
- “How many more properties are you buying? Like, today?”
- “Why aren’t you scaling into commercial buildings?”
- “Why don’t you use more leverage?”
The reason is simple:
I have enough. I don’t need to further complicate my life.
I see money as a tool that allows me to live a flexible, independent life. Investing allows me to explore the world.
I see the world as a giant playground, and life as an epic field trip. It’s filled with learning, teaching, games, books, jokes, friendships, laughter, swingsets and donuts. Lots and lots of donuts.
Just wanted to share that idea.