Living Above My Means

Lemur Madagascar
Brown Lemur - Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
It's been a while since I last wrote.... Well, to be fair I wrote a few posts but never really flushed them out to post them. I also started realizing that I was writing just for the sake of writing and running a personal finance blog, it wasn't because I really cared or was, for lack of a better word, invested in those topics. Over the past year or so I've decided that in order for me to stay invested in this site I need to write on my terms, not just because I'm trying to meet some specific schedule.

Anyways, the last time I wrote I was basically about to move to India for 4 months for work. I thought while I was there I would have plenty of time to write since I would be far removed from friends, family and a lot of life's other distractions. I ended up being busier than ever. Work took longer for me to do the same things for a few reasons. The first being that I was training more people so my time was more scattered. The second main thing was that the internet connection was simply slower, and needing to be on the companies US network simply made things slower.

India wasn't what I was expecting, some things were more modern than I was expecting, other things simply were not. Uber happened to be a lifesaver for me while I was there. Not having to haggle over how much a taxi to and from work everyday was invaluable, especially being a foreigner, the locals simply expected to price gouge me and that I wouldn't know better.

While I was there I managed to live like how I imagine most Americans live their lives, by not saving any money towards their futures. For 4 months I lived above my means, and it was nice but I don't think I could sustain it long term. My situation is probably still different than most Americans though, while all my extra income goes towards saving for early retirement, for most people it would go towards paying down debt or kids college funds or something else. But for the point of this post, I spent every last dollar I earned and then some while I was there.

A few things to note about this. 1) I typically save about 60% of my income. 2) I was living in India, a place where day to day expenses are much cheaper than the US.
Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe

So how did I spend so much? Easy, travel. While I was in India for just over 4 months, I was only in the city that my company sent me to for 3 weekends. Every other weekend I traveled somewhere since it was really a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to fly to Mumbai for a weekend, or go to Dubai for a weekend without having to feel the effects of jet lag. While I had many trips that started on Friday going straight from work to the airport, and flying back Sunday night or sometimes a red eye that arrived Monday morning. I also had a few longer trips where I took vacation time to see other countries too. Here is where I went: Mumbai, Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Seychelles, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Madagascar.

I got to see a lot of amazing things while I was abroad, offering wild lemurs water from shells (see above), the worlds tallest building, the worlds largest waterfall, and I still have a stack of billions of dollars from Zimbabwe. Which as of September of 2015 their currency is officially no longer in circulation, it's mostly just sold to tourists for much more than it is actually worth, for reference 1 trillion dollars might not even get you on a public bus there, which I assume was very cheap. Also, bus fares were not posted on busses because the cost of the bus in the morning might change by later that night because of how bad inflation was there. They have officially switched to U.S. Dollars now.

A room with a view - Singapore
Also while I was travelling I did a lot of nerdy finance things. I saw the stock market in India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Zambia. Most of those I had to go out of my way to try to see. Zambia was strange since it was a small office that wasn't open mid day on a weekday. But I'm also not surprised since there are days where no stocks are traded on the exchange. From looking at their website they announced that there were 8 trades made yesterday, talk about illiquid investments. This now means I have visited a total of 8 different stock exchanges. None of them in the U.S. (Japan was the other). I'm also not saying I got to go inside each of these exchanges, some were closed, others simply didn't let people go in, but I was outside the building and most likely took a picture, or was yelled at by security for trying to take a picture.

Anyways, living above my means was a lot of fun. For a while.... But I was incredibly tired of travel by the time I returned home. I did not want to travel for a while after that. I've never traveled that many places that quickly before, or taken that many red eye flights. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I think I am meant to travel more slowly, not on a plane twice a week, living out of different hotels every day. Sometimes I stayed at really fancy places (see photo above of the view from my room in Singapore), but that wasn't always the case. I stayed in dorm room youth hostels a few times too, I actually had the most fun at those places because I got to meet other travelers who obviously also loved to travel as well.

The lesson I learned, yet think I already knew. Travel slower, enjoy it, savor it. One day I will be back to revisit some of these places, it's just a matter of time.

Allée des Baobabs - Madagascar
The Avenue of the Baobabs (The Roots of the Sky) - Madagascar


  1. Looks like you were livin' it up over there! It probably was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and now you can at least say that you've got that out of your system. Your baller days, for sure. ;)

  2. I agree with Steve. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you'll always have those memories. Now that you got it out of your system sounds like you're ready to jump back on the financial train. Good luck :)

  3. It's fun to live above your means when it means having important experiences that you'll cherish forever. Thanks for this post.

  4. I can definitely appreciate the urge to travel an spending more than you normally would to make it happen. How often will you have the chance in the future?

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