Before the pandemic started, people have actively been seeking a way to break the traditional mold of how we work. From strategizing how to retire early or remote working, there has been a series of movements that have been popularized. Some of these movements had a slow start in the beginning. Some of them also sound a bit too tough to go through for most people. There is also a sense of these movements just being a fad of the moment.
However, the pandemic has reshaped those thoughts. Nowadays, remote working has become a part of the working set-up. Digital nomadism and the F.I.R.E movement ideas have slowly become mainstream because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to retire early and live life on their own terms?
A massive number of people lost their jobs when the pandemic hit globally. Since everyone was locked down inside their homes, the internet paved a way to rekindle lost businesses through digitalization. Others created new ones which were online which led to a trend of online jobs and work from home opportunities. The pandemic has certainly accelerated the “new normal” way to work and do business.
In this article, let’s dive deeper into these two movements as two major alternatives in a new era of working and see what’s the best choice to take. Are they stable enough to achieve financial freedom? Is It possible to integrate these two movements for best results?
The F.I.R.E. Movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early)
The concept of the F.I.R.E. movement began in 2010 from a 1992 book written by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, “Your Money or Your Life”. But its popularity often got linked with the Mr. Money Mustache Blog. It generally promotes economical living and the utmost ways of saving money. The main goal is to save and invest zealously, around 50-75% of your income, and retire at around 30-40 years old.
People on F.I.R.E. focus on 2 things: looking for ways to raise their income and keep their expenditures very low. The essence of this idea is the higher the income and the lesser your expenses are, you can rapidly achieve financial independence at the target age that you want. The word financial independence doesn’t mean living extravagantly but being able to attain the ability to stop working if you don’t like to.
Below are the pointers to take note of and acquire from the F.I.R.E movement:
- Keep your expenditures very low. Followers of the movement carefully check how they spend their money. They characterize wants from their needs and leave off unnecessary spending. They fix a certain budget and strictly follow it. Being able to save from time to time can go a long way to reach your goal the soonest.
- Find ways to earn extra income. It can be a side hustle work at night or on weekends aside from your day job. You can also sell in-demand products online or provide services you can offer like a carwash. Whatever it is, additional income resources will play a huge part in making it easier to save money.
- Live economically and work from sunrise to sunset to achieve the savings rate of 50-75% and collect enough assets that can sustain all your needs when you retire early. To some, saving 50% may sound too much. You can adjust it accordingly depending on what you are comfortable setting aside. The main point is that you have to start somewhere. You can also try investing 15% of your income after paying off all the monthly living expenses or debts on your plate. The ideal is to save 3-6 months’ worth of expenditures to build an emergency fund.
- The F.I.R.E. movement has a so-called safe withdrawal rate (SWR) or the “4% rule”. It is explained by investments with average gains of 7% per year: 3% is for inflation loss and the remaining 4% income is the allowed withdrawal that you can live on. For example, if you have $600,000 worth of assets, you have $24,000 to live off for a year for a family of 3, which is 4% of your total income.
So now you have some ideas about the culture of early retirement, let’s go through the other financial independence movement.
The Digital Nomadism
When authors Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners released their book Digital Nomads in 1997, they did foresee a world with continuous innovations in technologies. They also discussed a new form of work that has now manifested into a reality. In this digital era, we are in, a lot of workers have transitioned into Digital Nomads which is practically doable for most industries.
The beauty of this is that this work can be done anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection. Digital nomadism has created a work culture of working remotely and traveling from one location to another. It gives Digital Nomads the freedom to explore places and cultures in ways a traditional employee cannot do. However, they are heavily reliant on devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops and strong wifi to perform their work.
In the “new normal”, digitalization accelerated further. Remote working started to be very common and with that comes the adoption of new technologies for virtual collaborations, meetings, and distance working. Most companies all over the world prolonged their remote working policies due to pandemic restrictions and are even considering a remote workforce to cut costs on overhead expenses.
Thus, the myth of becoming a digital nomad suddenly started to become a viable option for workers. The lifestyle of a digital nomad is definitely an exciting opportunity than the usual 9-5 work life.
Below are the benefits and the realities of the life of a digital nomad:
- According to an article by Digital Marketing Institute,1 out of 5 digital nomads makes between US $50,000-$99,000 yearly. An average rate of $10-$30 per hour is the expected pay for remote workers in general. We should keep in mind that 49% of digital nomads earn a much higher income than compared to the typical 9-5 jobs. 81% of them are very contented with their current job situation. This confirms essentially that how much you can make as a digital nomad is correlated and will depend on how happy and motivated you are. Productivity happens because you simply love what you do.
- Traveling to new places gets you out of your comfort zone. You get to adapt to new environments every day and experience engaging with locals and their cultures. Traveling is a sure-fire way to learn new things. Another benefit of traveling is it makes you kinder and more considerate as you meet variety of people and get a first-hand experience of their way of life.
- While working is great and we do that to live, we have to make sure we also enjoy life. Usually in digital nomadism, you have the option to re-arrange your schedule around the lifestyle that you have. What it does is it provides you more time to spend with the people you love, do the things you love to do, and explore new things around you.
- Being a digital nomad also gives you the capability to make passive income. This means extra income aside from the usual pay you are getting. It can either be investing your money with stocks, affiliate marketing, or creating a course online if you are an expert in that area.
The F.I.R.E. movement is an ambitious and courageous task by working as hard as you can. It may also mean you have to sacrifice the best years of your life just to achieve early retirement. It’s saving up a big chunk of your salary so you can have enough when you want to stop working. The icing on the cake would be that once you retire at an age that you personally choose, you can finally do anything you want without working at all. With digital nomadism, you earn income by doing the things you love, whether it is a business or a freelance remote job. When you love the “work” that you do, you won’t even want to retire. The convenience of digital nomadism is the freedom to create both financial wellness and location independence. Digital nomads have time to enjoy their entire lives and travel to different places with their loved ones, doing all of these while working and earning money.
Both of these movements have credibility to it. Both are great alternatives to the traditional working-till-retirement at 65. I have also seen people who have done both and are now living the best times of their lives. Whether you choose to mix them both, ultimately it is up to you to go for a strategy that is aligned to your own values and goals. Whatever you may decide on, just commit to it and enjoy the process.
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