I think the shock really hit me about halfway through the flight.
Although the strong smells of drying fish, the weird food, and the jet lag made the previous few days in Hong Kong unique, it wasnt until we boarded the regional Chinese plane to Wenzhou that a bit of panic started to set in.
At first, it was a normal flight and we were excited to get to the place that would become our new home for the next three months.
As we sat on the flight though, the Chinese man next to us began hacking up a lung and depositing the lung onto the floor of the aircraft.
He wasnt inconspicuous about it either. Flight attendants would walk by in the middle of these extremely gross episodes, or just afterwards when he would use his shoes to spread his gift into the carpet of the aircraft, and nobody even batted an eyelid.
It was then that I knew China was going to be an experience I would never forget.
The next 24 hours intensified my culture shock and left me wondering why I couldnt just be a normal American who was content with working during the week and having a few beers with friends over the weekend.
From thinking we were going to die during the drive from the airport, to worrying that all the people staring at us were out to get us and that everything that we ate would poison us, it was quite a stressful first few days to say the least.
Once we settled in though, we realized that the driving, although very crazy and scary at first, actually worked and made sense. The people staring at us were friendly and just curious (its not often that people in less-touristy parts of China see a 6-foot-tall, blue-eyed American and a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Scottish girl). And the food, although not being 100% agreeable with our Western stomachs, wasnt going to kill us.
Our three months in China in 2009 ended up being a life-changing experience and weve been hoping to go back to Asia ever since.
Luckily, we dont have to wait much longer
On January 6th, Jill and I fly from Prague, Czech Republic to Bangkok, Thailand.
We will spend some time in Bangkok, Cambodia, and Malaysia before settling down in Chiang Mai, Thailand for at least a month. During our time in Chiang Mai, we plan to make a few trips to the border regions to volunteer (Jill will be using her optometry skills to provide eye care and Ill hopefully be able to tag along as well). Finally, well head to one of the Thai islands for a bit before flying back to Scotland in March.
As I mentioned in thePower of Quittingarticle, I have continued working for my American employer since moving to Scotland. Its actually been working out great and I plan to continue after returning from Thailand but I will be taking unpaid leave while were in Asia.
I look forward to testing the early-retirement waters without actually quitting my job so Ill treat my time in Asia as a trial run to see how it goes.
I plan to track all of my expenses in each of the countries we visit so that I can determine how much of an impact geographic arbitrage could have on someones journey to FI.
The idea behind geographic arbitrage is that you earn money in a strong currency (like the US Dollar) and then spend money in a weaker currency (like the Thai Baht).
For those of us who can work from anywhere (or who have investments and/or side businesses that earn money regardless of where we are), moving somewhere with a weaker currency could drastically reduce the time it takes you to achieve financial independence.
After thinking about my time in China and also the last few months transitioning back to Scotland, I realized that moving abroad could be a huge boost to someones FI journey for multiple reasons:
Geographic Arbitrage Maintain the same standard of living while spending significantly less
Prioritization of Belongings When packing for a trip, you figure out what you actually need and realize how much stuff you dont
Reduction of Belongings If you move abroad permanently, like we did, it forces you to get rid of pretty much everything you dont use
Minimalism When you go through the process of reducing your belongings to just a few checked bags, youll never want to buy anything ever again (trust me)
Appreciation If you feel like the worlds unfair because you cant get the latest iPhone, go live in a third-world country for a bit and that will never happen again
Responsibility Once you realize how hard others have to work just to survive, youll feel a greater responsibility to use your money wisely and not squander it away
Motivation Experiencing the world will motivate you even more to escape the cubical as quickly as possible
I plan to post pictures and prices of things we buy/eat/drink during our travels so if youre interested in seeing how far a dollar goes in Southeast Asia, follow me onFacebookandTwitter!
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Excited for you and Jill that the big trip is here! Looking forward to the updates 🙂
If all goes well, maybe well be able to meet up with you in Scotland this coming summer will keep you updated.
I think the word experiment(s) needs to be included in the tagline, especially with your logo. Maybe something as simple as:
Thanks a lot, Brad! Thatd be great if you and the family are able to make it over to Scotland. Well be back by then so definitely keep me posted.
Excellent tagline suggestion, by the way! Ive been banging my head against this thing for days and you come out and beat all my previous attempts on your first shot!
My one shot of creativity for the year!! haha 🙂 Glad you like it I think it pretty succinctly captures whats going on at the MF site. Im sure youll have another 50+ suggestions from your readers and Im excited to see what they come up with.
I for sure will keep you updated; if not 2015, then 2016 for certain if you guys are still there. Laura has always wanted to visit Scotland, so it would be perfect.
If we do a summer Europe trip I think wed ideally want to travel some and then actually live somewhere for 3-4 weeks. I think our girls would really benefit from that as compared to just being a nonstop tourist.
Im really excited to see what everyone comes up with as well, especially after such a promising start.
I imagine well be here in 2015 and 2016 so hopefully you can make it out at some point. Maybe well even have a place of our own by then so you guys can stay with us!
Living somewhere for a month is definitely the way to go. Where in Europe do you think youd settle down?
I like Brads Experiments in Financial Independence!
but how about Financial Independence You Can Too!
I like this tagline because it works for both before and after achieving financial independence.
I was just scrolling down to start leaving some tagline ideas and of course saw this one. I am pretty sure the work here is done awesome tagline, Brad. It captures a definition of FI, it relates to your pun and logo and it also is indicative of the style of posts you write here everything from the Guinea Pig experiments to the little hacking experiments with HSA, Tax Loss Harvesting, etc.
Suggesting a slight tweak on this theme to go along with your guinea pig series: A Guinea Pigs Experiments in Optimizing Financial Independence
I was going to suggest An Experimental Approach To Financial Independence but it looks like Brad beat me to it, so Ill vote for him.
I totally agree, the use of the word Experiments is brilliant.
I was thinking Experimental Financial Independence, but yours is better.
Creating wealth faster and financial independence sooner, one experiment at a time.
I like the idea of reaching FI sooner because thats what I hope to accomplish with my research and writing.
I certainly support this tagline. Definitely piques my interest!
Thanks for the post! Im a regular reader, but Ive never commented. 🙂 I was thinking The Science of Financial Independence, but I already like Brads suggestion better!
Thanks for finally commenting, Lisa, and great suggestion!
Slow travel experiments across the globe through Financial Independence (and early retirement?)
I tried to use globetrotters but sounded a bit hokey to me. The early retirement is optional.
First, thanks. Your blog has taught me so much, and I love the FI Laboratory.
Dont overthink the tagline. Could simply be, The Science of Financial Independence or The Wacky Science of Financial Independence.
I was going to suggest The Science Behind Financial Independence. Then I read some of the suggestions and saw Marvin had a very similar idea, so Im feeling less original now. Regardless, thanks and hope you enjoy your trip!
I like the science of financial independence. It seems to explain the name well. My only tweek would be the mad science of financial independence thanks for the good work. Happy Xmas and new year.
Tinkering with the science of money in the pursuit of financial independence.
One mad scientists study of how savings and time equals financial independence.
Can I suggest two? Really its just two wordings of the same one. Here it goes:
The science of Financial Independence
A scientific approach to Financial Independence
The Science of Financial Independence Exactly!
Or a variation on the themeThe Mad, Mad Science to Financial Independence
I vote for the science of financial independencethat was what I was about to post. Brett, nice job beating me to it haha
Small variation, the science behind financial independence
Optimizing the path to financial independence, one experiment at a time
(I really like the one experiment at a time that Even-Steven suggested above so swiped it 🙂 )
I like this one a lot. Especially the use of optimizing. Great word.
Love reading your blog posts and look forward to the travel updates!
I really like the first tag line suggestionexperiments in financial independence. You could add something to the effect of applied or successful experiments in financial independence to it to clarify that your trials are working for you. I mean, It lives!!!!, right? (from Frankenstein). Maybe theres a better scientific term for an experiment that provides positive results. Good luck in the new year!
Sounds like a great trip. Im looking forward to your Geo-Arbitrage posts.
Heres another tagline for you: Accelerating Financial Independence.
or Accelerating Financial Independence One Experiment At A Time.
Financial Independence through calculated optimization of every dollar
Experimenting with the catalysts for Financial Independence
Sounds exciting congrats on starting this new chapter!
I already like some of the other suggestions better, but this is how I think of your site:
The research and development center for financial independence.
Damn it. This is much better than what I suggested.
Yup. I agree. Your site is a R & D illuminating innovative process to fundamental financial freedom.
Thank you for all your great content this year. Hopefully there will be even more in 2015.
How about An alternative, scientific approach to expediting financial independence for your tagline.
Love reading your blog. Though I am not US-based (UK), I find your posts insightful and informative.
Concocting amazing new experiments to help accelerate the path to Financial Independence
Second law of frugality where d$ is always positive (aka d$+)
Tagline suggestion The mad math behind reaching Financial Independence. I cant think of a great overall message, but I like mad math or including math in the tagline somehow since, to me, the difference between your blog and most other FI-related blogs is that you dive more deeply into the actual math behind optimizing your finances.
How about concocting a life of financial independence?
Testing the Financial Independence Hypothesis
Financial independence through experiments in income optimization
Financial independence through the Scientific Method
Hi, I am a newbie. I hope that by following your blog I can find early retirement soon, this cubicle is just too small for my wings.
Dr. Frankensteins approach to Financial Independence
Ive been toying with the idea of complete retirement overseas, but Im unsure where I would feel most comfortable. I may just need to take a page from your book (blog) and take a few months to travel to the ~15 places that Im considering. I should probably whittle it down to 4 or 5 before doing that, though.
Financial Independence Method and Madness
Love Nehas tag line. Concise yet playful.
Financial Independence: What happens when you stop caring about what others think.
Very excited! What about Tax Strategy + Optimization = Accelerated Financial Independence could switch out strategy for Simulation?
Im just going to mash all the good ideas in with something new.
THE fiNANCIAL SCIentist: achieving financial independence, one experiment at a time
Thanks for all your great work and ideas. Enjoy your slow travel. Happy holidays and new year!
or The Thoughtful Science of Fiscal Self- Reliance
The compound effect to Financial Independence
thought of some ideas relating science and currency that may fit well with the theme of the blog. I am not sure how to upload an image to the comment box however, a picture with the compound ATP the molecular unit of currency that is converted to ADP with an arrow showing the energy product compound interest in the form of money or coins.
Hacks and Research to Speed the Journey to Financial Independence
Models and Experiments for Faster Financial Independence
I like Experiments in Financial Independence. Looks like someone else above already suggested it. Or Lifestyle experiments in financial independence.
madFIentist: A Mad Dash to (Strategically Achieving) Financial Independence
I just want to thank you so much for all of your efforts on this site. Listening to your podcast interviews on my runs earlier this year has opened my eyes & inspired me to ramp up my savings. (What was I waiting for!?) Im a long-time Roth IRA fan, but have since adjusted my strategy to focus on traditional retirement contributions instead. Its allowing me to save a greater percentage of my income. After all, I can always figure out smart withdrawal strategies in the years to come. Ive also maxed out my HSA contribution for next year.
Annnnd, although I dont have the income right now to complete a Mega Backdoor Roth, I called my companys 401k Plan to ask if I can complete in-service withdrawals to immediately rollover money from after-tax contributions to IRAs. Turns out I can! Its an even greater incentive to save more & start taking advantage! (Ironically enough, when I called the rep at Fidelity, she started rattling off loan opportunities. I had to politely explain I didnt need the money; I was just asking about future strategizing :-D). Congratulations on your journey so far. I cant wait to hear about what happens next.
Safe travels and joy for your upcoming travels
Experiments in financial independence-Making the unknown known through observation and action
Experimenting with math to shorten the path to financial independence.
Somewhat similar to some of the others above but I decided to work on mine before reading everyone elses. There are some great ones up there!
I love the detailed way you cover your stuff. Lots of excellent suggestions above. I thought the uses of the words mad and Experiment were awesome. Two that came to mind for me:
Mad Financial Experiments for the Independence obsessed
or a slight variation of Brads popular tagline from the top
Mad Experiments in Financial Independence
I keep wanting to swap the in for a for, but it just doesnt seem to come out quite right. Either way, good luck in finding what youre looking for and keep writing!
There are so many GREAT tagline ideas here already, but heres one more in the hat:
Financial Independence is Elemental
Control your destiny by achieving financial independence!
What about The Alchemy for Financial Independence?
This will match well with the sites logo where your are brewing $. Also, it fits well with FI Laboratory and Lab Rat posts.
I vote for Brads. Concise and direct, while also being a tad punny.
Also did you ever make it to FL this fall? Disappointed we didnt get a chance to buy you that beer!
We did make it down to Florida but sadly not for as long as we had planned to. The sale of our house in Vermont fell through (luckily, we found other buyers and closed right before Christmas) so we ended up spending more time in Vermont and less time in Florida.
Were planning to go back there to visit this fall so hopefully we can get together then! Are you going to be going to FinCon this year?
Love your site, lots of great tag line suggestions above but here is mine!
Discovering the shocking simply truth behind financial independence
Mad FIentist: Using Statistics to Accelerate Early Financial Independence
I really enjoy your blog, site its inspirational and informative.
Methods, Analysis and life Designs (MAD) all focused on one goal : Financial Independence
Great idea on the contestheres my submission!
It seems like you are more about optimization..also known as Engineering. So how about:
Engineering Your Escape to Financial Independence
Happy Holidays, MF! Looking forward to more posts next year.
As for taglines, Brads is good. He gets my vote.
If you decide on a lab rat theme . . . A systematic approach to escaping the rat race
The Financial independence incubater
The Mad Fientist: Where Financial Independence Meets Science
The Mad Fientist: He came from earth with a strange idea called financial independence. He mixed in one part science and he became The Mad Fientist.
The Mad Fientist: adventures in financial independence, travel hacking and geoarbitrage
Apologies to others if you thought of any of these first.. I brainstorm best without looking at other results.
I cant wait for you to get back to Scotland and start writing articles from a UK perspective (selfish I know ;-))
Using science to attain Financial Independence
Much more then just a scientific approach to Financial Independence.
Experiments in Reaching Financial Independence Sooner, w/props to Brad & Steve.
Madfientist concocting a financially independent life.
Thanks for all your help in 2014, and enjoy your travels! Asia can be a wonderful place.
Exploring the frontiers of financial independence
Scientific exploration of financial independence
No need to repeat mad but maybe good to have a reference to science.
I too like Brads Experiments in Financial Independence! It says a lot quickly and clearly. I also really liked the suggestions of Financial Independence Method and Madness and The Science of Financial Independence.
Here are a few more I thought of that you may want to consider:
An Independent Study of Financial Independence
Proving the Theory of Financial Independence One Experiment at a Time
Field Guide to Financial Independence or Lab Guide to Financial Independence
Extreme Experiments to Rapid Financial Independence
The Lab of Financial Independence
Best of luck with the tagline and thanks for everything you do!
Hey Brandon, nothing like some educational incentives to get me to comment! Ive been following your blog since I first heard you on The Radical Personal Finance podcast. I skimmed through all the comments to make sure I wouldnt repeat anyone elses tagline suggestion.
Heres mine: The Mad Fientist In the financial independence lab, testing hypotheses, and showing you the results!
Im sure you have a good one up in the comments but I thought Id enter the contest before it ended!
How about, Financial Independence Through Science Bitch! Like a Jesse Pinkman angle haha.
Keep up the great work and enjoy your mini retirement!
I think what sets you apart is all the tax info you provide and optimizing it.
So I wanted or thought your name should include that.
The scientific approach to successful tax optimization and early FI
I also think you should pass on wacky as your site abd writing doesnt strike me as silly at all.
Also you got so many ideas. Thats going to be work sorting out. Good luck
Im a newby but love the site- thank you! Cant wait to read more about your trip-have fun!
Rat race + scientific experiments =Financial Independence
The Mad FIentist cooking up Financial Independence, one experiment at a time.
Lots of great suggestions above! Its after the deadline, but thought I would comment anyway:
Devising (or testing) uncommon approaches to Financial Independence
Using the Scientific Method to achieve Financial Independence
Im a newby and couldnt tear myself away from site love the contest for educational party favors too. Thank you. Cant wait to learn more.
Ill cast a vote for Even+Steven tag line (simple, understandable and would make me want to read more)
I just want to thank everyone for making such incredible suggestions! Its too hard to pick a winner right now so Ill need to let all of your suggestions marinate in my mind for the day and then Ill come back tonight and will try to pick my favorite.
Sorry guys little late. Heres some more ideas!
Mad Fientist- Your Labratory For A Financial Independence Experiment
Mad Fientist- Your Lab For A Financial Independence Experiment
Mad Fientist- Your Lab For Conducting A Financial Independence Experiment
Even after thinking about it more, I still couldnt settle on a favorite tagline so I decided to just pick all my favorites and then use to pick a winner from those randomly. I then used random.org again to pick a second winner out of all the comments and here are the results
Im happy to announce that BrooklynGuy and Marvin are the two winners so check your emails and let me know which of the prizes you would like!
Thank all of you again for your great suggestions. Im still not sure what the exact tagline for the site will be but now I have a bunch of great ideas to draw from so I imagine it will end up being an amalgamation of a lot of the suggestions here.
Welcome to the other hemisphere! Sounds like 2015 is off to a great start! Feel free to pass through Taipei
Sad to say I missed the deadline, but here are a few tagline ideas:
Your Solution to Financial Success
Congratulations on the big move. Were contemplating some geographic arbitrage in Buenos Aires, but I wonder how much of the current currency situation is a long term thing, or just a short term advantage for those with dollars.
Looks like an epic trip youve got lined up! Im down in London (from Edinburgh) in the new year; would be great to meet up for a pint. I lived there for a few years, so I could give a few recommendations of things to do if youre interested.
Funnily enough Im leaving Scotland in March/April to move to the States. Seems were swapping places!
Hey Alex, sorry Im only replying to this comment now. With the holidays and all the traveling, I fell way behind on emails and comments so Im sorry we missed you while we were in London.
Let me know if you want to grab a pint or two in Scotland though before you head over to the States. Well be back around the 9th of March so hopefully well get there before you head out!
I like Experiments in Financial Independence as previously suggested by Brad
A Mad Scientist Experiments his way to Financial Independence
or Changing the paradigm: taking a Mad Scientist approach to Financial Independence
How about Exploring the boundries of Financial Independence
I am far too late for this, but how about Using the Scientific Method to Unlock the Financial Independence Formula or Unlocking the Formula to Financial Independence.
I know Im late, but how about Mad about Financial Independence, if this wins I think I deserve something right? Second choice is Mad Fientist solves Financial Independence Either way let me know if it stinks or it rocks. Looking to reach Europe one day to tour a few countries.
Having just returned from Thailand, I know youre going to have a great time. Feel free to reach out if you need any suggestions for things to do while in Chiangmai or if you return to Bangkok.
I too am late to the party but my entry wouldve been Grok the Elements of Financial Independence.
I do not have any tagline suggestions to add to the mix (and, like Patty, I am late to the party). But I love reading about your adventures in FI.
I agree completely with your section entitled : Why You Should Move Abroad. I am from USA and I spent the better part of 2014 in The Philippines and some of 2013 as well. I think everyone should experience these things. I learned so much from my trips. Thanks for sharing !
But how does it work with living, e.g Thailand or Prague, or other cheap countries, and having your income from a job in USA/Europe?
Im mainly thinking on taxes. Will you be paying Thailand Income Tax or ?
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