Interview with Jenny of Ex-Consumer

May 24, 2011 |

Each person’s unique vision of Nomadtopia is a reminder that there is no one way to create the travel-centric life you want, no right or wrong approach. Many people just like you—or in even more complicated circumstances—have made it happen, or are working to get there. Hearing others’ stories keeps us all inspired, and reminds us to dream big!

Jenny McCutcheon writes about getting out of debt, becoming more frugal, living lighter, personal success, exploring the world of minimalism and all the life that falls in between on her blog, Ex-Consumer.

Nomadtopia: You recently posted your bucket list, and #15 on the list is “Be able to work digitally, from anywhere within the next five years.” When and how did this goal come about?

Jenny: Over the past two and a half years I’ve had an almost completely digital work arrangement where I work from home four days each week. I’ve enjoyed the flexibility so much that I really would like to be working 100% digitally within the next five years.

Nomadtopia: Why do you want to become location independent?

Jenny: I actually feel a bit fraudulent using the term “location independent.” I guess I feel this way because I do want to be independent from having to work in a specific location, as my goals are to travel part-time, but I still want to have a home in the states to come back to.

Ideally, I would like to spend my kids’ summer breaks and other school holidays traveling to new places. Over the summers, I would like to have the option to explore new areas for several months without worrying about trying to get time off of work.

Traveling makes me feel the most alive. When I’m able to break loose from the monotony and explore somewhere new, I feel the most free. It’s my goal to arrange my life in a way that I get to feel free and alive for longer than just two weeks each year.

Nomadtopia: How do you envision a typical day/month/year in your location-independent life?

Jenny: In a typical day I would like to be able to work from wherever I choose. Currently I work from home mostly because of my 20-month old, but once he’s in preschool I plan to work from a coffee shop, deli or park some days. The weeks would look pretty much the same, I suppose.

In a year, however, is where the big changes could be seen! I envision my family relishing extended periods of travel as we discover new places together. Currently, my husband and I have two weeks per year in vacation time that we can use as we choose. It’s our goal to set up our working lives so that we will have 1/3 of the year or more to travel.

We plan to do this by creating circumstances that allow us to work digitally all or most of the year, and reducing our income needs.

Nomadtopia: What challenges are you currently facing in trying to reach this goal?

Jenny: The biggest challenge I’m attacking currently is our consumer debt. We owe approximately $8900.00 as of the beginning of May that will be paid off by November of this year. From there, we have our mortgage debt, which will likely take an additional five-seven years to pay off. It’s important to me that these debts are paid off so that our monthly expenditures are as low as possible.

Obviously, not having any debts owed would drastically free up both the amount of money we need each month, and the amount we could use to finance our traveling adventures!

We also have two sons, an almost seven year old and a 20-month old. Traveling with a toddler isn’t ideal — the five-year plan makes it easier for us to imagine extensive traveling with the kids.

And of course, it’s been a challenge trying to plan out how we’ll earn income if we’re both working digitally. It’s not too much of a stretch since we’re both currently working in the digital space (Web design (me) and Web Development (husband)).

Nomadtopia: What do your family and friends think of your plan?

Jenny: Most of them think it sounds like a nice dream, but they aren’t sure how we’ll make it a reality. Hopefully we’ll be able to show them that it is possible!

Nomadtopia: What inspires you to keep working toward location independence?

Jenny: Just the thought of being free to come and go as I please is enough motivation to keep me going. Also, the thought of exposing my kids to different cultures and customs to help them become more open-minded is a huge motivation as well.

But, what motivates me most of all is that I don’t want to look back on my life and feel regret for all of the things I didn’t do and the places I never went. Of course, I don’t want to completely uproot my family and take my oldest son out of school either. Gaining independence from a work location would provide the flexibility I desire in order to experience the best of both worlds. My children will have a “stable” home to grow up in where they can make and keep friends, and we’ll also be able to have magnificent adventures as a family that will enrich all of our lives!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my location independence goals with you Amy! It’s been great getting to know you better over the past several months.

Nomadtopia: Thank you, Jenny! I’m excited to share your story with others in similar situations. I think your plan is a great model for young families who don’t want to travel full-time, and it will give you the best of both worlds. Congratulations on closing in on the day you’ll eliminate your consumer debt! That’s a huge accomplishment.


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