Take back your life while you still can


I have on previous occasions tried to go into this with a soft touch so as not to offend anyone or come across as preaching / holier than thou. But I have since come to a few realizations.

A. I don’t really care if someone wants to misconstrue my statements, it is generally a sign of ignorance and the message means too much to me to apologize for it.

B. When you whisper nobody can hear you.

So here goes…


Of course the things I am about to say do not apply to everyone because different people want different things out of life, however I believe that what I am about to say applies to about 90% of the worlds population, with about 70% having the option to do something about it (I made those stats up but I am pretty sure they would hold up under scrutiny, minus a few percent here and there).

You have the option to change your life for the better, you have the option not to spend five or more days a week, eight or more hours a day doing something which does not make you happy, which does not fulfill you and which does nothing but allow you to exist until you exist no more.

live your life

It frustrates me sometimes when I see how rushed or stressed people are, when I see them spending day after day and year after year doing the same things with slight variations and never actually getting out from under the modern day enslavement that is work and debt.

It frustrates me when I know that with just a few years of sacrifice, you could take back the thirty or forty years usually lost attempting to ensure your final decade on this planet is relatively comfortable.

It frustrates me when I see mothers and fathers who don’t have enough time to enjoy being with their kids and/or friends because they are too busy striving for imaginary goals, goals which have no possible outcome other than dissatisfaction and the desire to reach for the next level of imaginary goals, hoping that achieving those might provide a longer feeling of satiation than the achievement of all those that came before. Your kids don’t need things, not if you can give them your time.

It saddens me when I see people floating through life, always questioning what they want, too unsure to just go out and get it, not realizing that if they don’t, one day it will be too late. There is always an excuse which seems to make sense at the time. Yet all it would take is making the decision and going for it with everything they have, for just three years.

You have around eighty years of this life, the first eighteen or so are not really your own, the next ten or so are spent finding who you are. That leaves about fifty years for you to truly live the life you want. Year by year as we procrastinate and fall into unhealthy patterns of spending and working, working and spending, that number dwindles.

There is always a reason and always an excuse not to make a change. There is an innate belief that “this is just the way it is”, and that really the most you can hope for is to make more money so that you can buy more things and retire with enough to survive those last ten or so years until you die.

WHAT, that is an insane way to live! To spend around seventy percent of your waking life working, for what purpose? What is the goal at the end of the road? Retirement? What about all the opportunities life has in between? It perplexes and disturbs me that so many people blind themselves to the opportunities life presents, and/or sabotage themselves from having those opportunities. I don’t know where this belief came from that we need to constantly be earning to be secure. Or that having a job, a mortgage and payments on things somehow means you are living your life and that you are somehow secure.

No job is secure, and it is only made less secure by the things you own, or more accurately by the things that own you. If you lost your job today, where would that leave you? And now that you have considered that, how secure do you feel? The truth is, you can always find another job, just maybe not one which affords you the things you buy which don’t really give you that feeling of contentment you hoped they would anyway.

live your life

Don’t you want to have more free time? How about ninety percent of your life actually belonging to you? Don’t you want to spend more time with your kids? With friends and relatives? Don’t you want to unburden yourself from all the stress that comes from a job which does not fulfill you and the stolen moments in between feeling all too brief?

The answer is simple, it is so easy to make the change from following a mostly un-fulfilling life to a life which is actually lived for you, for a life which truly mirrors the things you might want back from it. Before I declare the ultimate answer to everyone who might read this. Understand that I know some people are truly happy with the lifestyle they live, but I also know that there are a lot more people who are not, and a few who try desperately to make themselves believe that they are.

The answer is not magical, it does not require one path to reach its end, but it is also something which is available to almost anyone. The answer is short term sacrifice.

I am not talking about any major sacrifice here, I am actually talking about the lesser sacrifice of a shorter time than the one you are currently making.

How much sacrifice? Well as a fairly un-standardized conclusion, I would say about three years. I base that number off my own experience and also to give people an extra year to get into the swing of things.

So are you willing to sacrifice three years of your life in order to gain almost every single day you have left after that? Let me put it another way…

Why the hell would you not sacrifice three years of your life instead of fifty? Or fourty, or thirty, or ten?! Why when you have the option to live the way you want would you not give up just three years of the excesses in your life, which if you have hung in this long with this post, very likely do not satisfy you anyway?

I base this three years on my own experience. For me it took two years, but I got a little bit lucky. I managed to find a second and third job on top of my already hectic first job, which took my yearly income from about $40 000 after tax up to about $75 000 after tax. And I did that for two years. I also took my spending down to a minimum. Going out, buying toys, and just spending in general all went down. We still ate out and I still managed to buy some toys (like a $4000 computer), but because I was frugal in almost every other way we managed to save most of our money.

During this time I also learned a few skills which would mean I could net a small income online. I learned web design and started this blog, both of which bring in less in a month than most of the people reading this would earn in a week. Yet it is enough, and I feel richer than I ever have in my life. You don’t have to do web design, but I am sure if you looked around there are a number of things you could teach yourself in the next three years to make a small income online.

My car in Perth cost $4000, so no payments. I don’t drink which saved me a shitload of money, and I was a bit of a tight ass. But because of that I now live how I want to live and work less than people without jobs.

I also looked into how to make the money we had saved work for us, and found some high interest accounts which now pay for more than half our expenses each month. Oh and add to that I now live in the Caribbean where my rent and monthly costs are about half those of most Western countries, and in case you missed that, I live in the Caribbean! I also need less now, fewer things, less possessions, less space, because I am not seeking my happiness in those things, and I am happier than I ever was.

Three years of your life will mean that you can give up your job. Even if it is not that bad, is it really what you want to be doing for the rest of your life? Three years will mean that you can live in one or dozens of countries around the world, cheaply and hardly having to work at all. Three years means you can have back the rest of your life to live the way you want. Three years will add another thirty plus years of freedom to what awaits you otherwise.

live your life

You may be thinking that you don’t want to travel, that you have friends or family, that you want to live in a culture that you understand and that understands you. But is that lifestyle really making you happy? How often do you actually see those friends and family? When you see them how much time do you actually have with them and how much of that time is spent talking about how busy you are and how little time you have? Besides, nearly everywhere has somewhere cheap to live close by if that is your concern.

If you are in Australia you could live in Thailand, a $150 flight away from friends and family, and where would they rather visit you do you think?

If you are in the USA you have Mexico on your doorstep, a couple hundred dollars and you can go and say hello, but more than likely your friends and family will be wanting to come visit you.

If you live anywhere you could live in Hawaii for $1500 a month! Because who cares how far away from home you are!

The point is that you have to really ask yourself how legitimate your reasons for not changing your lifestyle really are and where they come from. Is it really as hard or as scary as you tell yourself in the back of your mind? Have you ever truly considered changing your life as a viable option? Or is something stopping you from even considering it as a serious possibility?

Three years of your life to get back decades. Three years of your life to find real happiness. Three years of your life to walk out of the office, out of the shop, away from your desk, and enjoy this amazing existence in all its glory, every day. And if one day it no longer makes you happy then the marvelous thing about it is you can always go back to your desk.

But I have a feeling that won’t happen…

live your life

If any of what I have said makes you angry or makes you feel the need to defend your lifestyle, perhaps you should ask yourself why? Please, stop throwing your life away and go out and live. The world is a pretty amazing place when you have the time to appreciate it. Peace…

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0 thoughts on “Take back your life while you still can”

  1. Amen, brother. We recently took the leap and so glad we did. We’re living in a small town in Baja Sur, MX but would like to end up in South America eventually. I will never ever regret leaving cubicle land. One question- do you have recommendations for high interest savings? I have Ally and am happy with it but always looking for more interest if possible. Gracias!

    1. Hi Casey, nice to hear from a fellow “get ‘er dunner”. It is something I actually want to lok into more for people who are not from Australia. Different countries obviously have different interest rates for their savings accounts, and also different amounts of risk.

      For example I believe I could get around 8-9% on my savings in an Indian bank, but I don’t live in India so for me it is at the moment a risk (only because I don’t know the full story with Indian banks, but I am going to check on it).

      In Australia a number of banks offer high interest accounts that let you take your money whenever you please. The average interest rate sits around 4-5% at the moment but had been up as high as 6.1%. Which if you take $100 000 for example is about $500 per month. Pretty good money for nothing. Also in Australia if you as an individual earn less than $18 000 per year you don’t pay tax! Jackpot!

      I don’t think you have great interest rates in the states but I will still be looking into the feasibility of foreigners opening international savings accounts soon. Thanks for reading 🙂

      1. Thanks for the reply, I appreciate it. You’re right, we get shit for interest in the States. I’d definitely be interested in a post about this, especially curious about the Indian savings accounts angle. We’ve looked into moving to Ecuador and one of their residency options is an investor visa where you place 25K in a CD. CDs there get 10% interest so it’s like getting paid to become a resident. 🙂

  2. Beatriz Herrera

    I agree completely with you but, where do we underpaid third world country resident’s stand into this philosophy of life… Do we have any scape? Or are we condemn into slavery for all eternity? How can we life in amazing paradises traveling around the world earning under $9000.00 per year? Please don´t get me wrong, I love my country, my culture and everything about it, but yes I also would like to escape from the rat-race to a paradise but how could I raise $40000.00 or so, to do it? You are lucky very lucky…

    1. Hi Beatriz, I have had lucky moments in my life, but I don’t think anyone who knows my past would say I have been lucky. I had to work very hard to escape a very poor upbringing in what is arguably as difficult a country as any in Latin America (I think that is the right term). I grew up in South Africa, dropped out of school when I was 16 to get a crappy job, and taught myself everything I now know in life.

      of course you have an escape, it is just that it is likely to be a lot harder for you as it was for me when I was younger. I truly believe that in most situations if you want something enough, you can get it. For me one day an avenue for escape presented itself ( I could get to the UK, and after working illegally in North Scotland for 6 months I got a 4 year work visa) and I took it. It then took another decade for me to get my shit together but when I eventually did, it made everything worthwhile.

      I taught myself how to use computers, how to do web design, how to manage my money, everything. And despite when I was young wasting my money like an idiot, I quickly learned that if I wanted a better life, I had to be smarter, and here I am.

      Where you come from has definitely made things harder for you, and likely added on a few years to your ability to do what I have done, but it is not impossible. In fact I actually know someone from Mexico who has traveled all over the world and currently works online and lives in Playa del Carmen.

      Just be smart, learn what you can, find the loopholes in what you think is your destiny, and exploit them. And if you need any advice form someone who probably shouldn’t be giving advice (me) please ask away. Good luck 🙂

      1. Hi Tyrhone, thank you for your response, it is clear that neither of us have had a very easy up bring. I’ve struggled in life as well. Trust me it hasn´t been easy for me to be where I am now, and I am not in a privilege position or anything like that. I grew up inside a middle class family in Lima-Peru until my father lost everything due to bad investments, so I had to start working at 18 and with that money I put myself in university, I studied, worked and payed the house bills for years until I couldn´t resist it anymore also the situation in Peru became unbearable due to terrorism so I escape to USA, where the other half of my family live. There I worked and travel a bit around USA (they were good times, learnt a lot and discovered myself) I was doing just fine until 9/11 when situation for immigrants became very difficult and applying for a residency wasn´t an option anymore, so I came back to Peru became an Spanish and English teacher and put myself back to university to finish that journalist degree I left unfinished when I left. So now after all those years of hard work and study, and some travel and some fun, here I am working my ass off again for what? I wonder everyday… There has to be something else, like you say life is not this everyday repetition of events. So you are right maybe it is going to be incredible difficult more than for others but I am sure I can make it is just going to take some time. I can´t expect my life to continue like this, I ‘ve traveled around South America and it has been incredible but I want to have that all the time I don´t want it to be a once in a year trip I want that to be a permanent felling something that I can enjoy just like you are experiencing now and I will make it happened and when I do I am going to tell you about it.

        1. That is an interesting story Beatriz, and more than that you obviously have a great attitude. I can promise you that the biggest hurdle anyone faces in reaching their goals is themselves. Once you make that decision and tell yourself you are going to do it, you are already half way there. I can’t wait to get an email from you saying you have done it. Keep your eye on the goal, don’t lose sight of it and you will get there I have no doubt. Go for it!

    1. I researched it a couple years ago, and that is if you want to live comfortably, you could easily do it for less. The trick is to look beneath what Google first offers you and think outside of the tourist box. That is one thing I have learned these past 2 years or so, travel and life in general doesn’t have to cost a lot. So when you gonna do it? 🙂

  3. Best quote EVER!? – “You have around eighty years of this life, the first eighteen or so are not really your own, the next ten or so are spent finding who you are. That leaves about fifty years for you to truly live the life you want.”

    Love it Tyrhone. Great post. I’ve been following along with your adventures for a bit now. Looking forward to reading more from you. We’re planning on making our way to Playa in Dec and renting for a few months. I’m guessing you guys will be gone by then?

    1. Hi Ryan, thanks mate that is mightily appreciated, I do enjoy a good ego stroking once in awhile (that sounds weird but I’m gonna let it be).

      We will still be in Playa in December, probably until around February which is when we take off for the drive across Central America and beyond (unless we get lazy). Let us know when you’re here and we can take you for the best prawn Tacos in the known universe.

      P.S. I remember watching people paraglide at Oludinez, I was a bit of woos back then and way to scared to do it. Now though…

      1. Hey Tyrhone, thanks for the quick reply. We are flying into Mexico City 12/17 and eventually making our way down to the Yucatan. We’re looking for somewhere to settle down til May-June-ish. Would you have any apartment recommendations or places we should look/inquire about prior to getting there or is it better to just show up and figure things out?

        As for the prawn tacos, I wish I could tell you that I enjoy seafood. Unfortunately, it’s not my thing. In saying that, I do enjoy a good taco. Haha!

        Anyway, let’s connect through email one of these days. Chat soon.

        1. For sure bud, I’ll email you on the morrow (it’s dinner time and I think Friends is on the telly… I know right) and let you know some people and places I know about here for accommodation. I am by no means a well of knowledge but I can give you some tips on the who, what and why. Cheers

  4. Funny that you picked 3 years since that’s exactly how long it took us to pay off (my) debt and save for our trip.

    I think the best thing I have learned from this whole process is how satisfied I am with my life living on less. I reminded myself on a regular basis the things that made me happy and how to get them without spending a lot of money. I liked to eat out, but it didn’t mean going out to fancy restaurants anymore (or often, as the case may have been). I liked working out, but I hated my gym, so I gave that up and opted for 1-2 $5 yoga classes a week and running outside. I hated commuting, so I gave up my car (and got $3500 for it), and bus and run-commuted instead.

    I felt really good about the money we saved and the way we lived. Our travel feels that much more exciting because we worked so hard for it and it’s ours. It really made me love the process and taught me a lesson that I hope to carry forward about staying true to my goals and living with enough.

    1. Hey Carmel, it is funny how short sighted we can be as human beings, despite what we occasionally tell ourselves we need to do, we often just cannot hold onto it. It is easy to say if I saved for three years I will have my dreams, yet it is strange how hard it can be to actually make that change in reality. Yet when we do, life can be sooooo good. And now you are a world traveler because of it! 🙂

  5. Great post! Love the idea behind it.

    I’m sort of halfway in the middle. We quit our jobs and lives in the UK and moved to Thailand.

    I’m now working freelance but sometimes it feels like I’ve just swapped one job for another.

    We don’t have the savings to invest and live off the interest though. That would make a big difference.

    Having kids also makes things a bit more trickier!

    Peer to Peer lending might be worth looking into for some of you. Its a bit more riskier but has a better interest rate than normal savings. I think Lending Club is one such option.

    Good luck!

    1. Hey Joe, maybe your still on the road to that final destination, but at least you are on the road mate :). With the peer to peer thing, I am not really a risk taker which is why I have my money in a savings account instead of invested. The problem with risks is that they are risky, which means stress, which goes against everything I am trying to achieve, stress free living.

  6. Really interesting post Tyrhone. I’m on the side of the fence that I sacrificed and worked incredibly hard for my dream but I don’t want to live it forever. I’ll be one of the people going back to my desk but I genuinely wouldn’t want to live like this forever despite being convinced before we left that I would. Travel has given me a new perspective on work and I will never let a job grind me down or become my whole life again but I still want to have a home base in my own country and settle down. There are a ton of people who are absolutely miserable doing this but an awful lot that can have the balance between work and play and find happiness that way, I hope to be one of those people.

    1. Hi Maddie, I suppose the main thing is happiness. If you can work a full time job and actually get something from it, if it is what you want to be doing with those 9 hours a day, 5 days a week then it is equally relevant to your/my/anyone’s happiness!

      Really I couldn’t live life as a “traveler” forever either, but the life Sarah and I live is not the conventional way of traveling. After about 6 months of moving about we stopped for a year here in Mexico to relax, and it has been the revitalizer we needed.

      Have you ever thought about doing something similar rather than going home? Settling in another country I mean?

      The main issue is that very few people enjoy their jobs and the time it takes from them. I have only met one or two in my 32 years who did! It is a very rare thing I think.

      As long as it makes you happy, then it is what you should be doing. Good luck and I truly hope it works out for you.

      1. Happiness is the key but it’s very different for each individual. I’m ashamed to say that I used to constantly judge people who had never travelled or experienced new cultures but I won’t ever be so arrogant to presume to know what makes others happy again. I know an awful lot of people who are miserable at their jobs and long for something more but some of the happiest people I know conform to the norm and are perfectly content with their lot.

        As much as we’ve loved visiting so many countries the only one we’d consider moving to is the U.S and they won’t have us! As lovely as some of the tropical/cheap places we’ve visited are I wouldn’t want to live there and if we lived in another country we’d still need to earn money somehow. I spent my 20s struggling to make ends meet and I just won’t go back there, I’d rather work a 9-5 and take satisfaction that I’m providing for my family.

        I’m probably viewed as unenlightened by a lot of people but the experience we’ve had has made me appreciate what I had in the first place and I suppose that’s what’s finally made me happy!

        Having said all of that… the majority of unhappy people we probably both know all have the means to do something about their life if they want to. You and Sarah have both demonstrated that with a bit of hard work and dedication the it is possible to completely reboot your life and live your personal dreams. If you’re miserable just DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, it’s that simple.

  7. Awesome post, and I completely agree. Live your life for you. If something makes you unhappy, frustrated or stressed, then change it.

    I used to have a very aspirational lifestyle focus, I wanted a bigger better car, house, job. But I had the wake up and smell the coffee moment in my early 30s, downsized, became debt free. I now have more choices. A modest mortgage free home, a debt free lifestyle, an adequate amount of savings in the bank and a modest job, which isn’t stressful and a life I enjoy living. I got married, and we had the choice to take some time off, so we quit our jobs, and took off a for a year, living in mainland Europe, Turkey and Thailand, we had a blast.

    We both took the decision to return to the UK, we sold the city loft apartment I owned and bought a lovely forever home in a leafy part of the city surrounded by likeminded creatives, and we love it. We may go travelling again, perhaps for a few weeks, a few months or a few years. But we have choice, and that makes me happy. Choice to say ‘f**k it, lets do something else’ – neither of us lives in a wage slave existence, and that is my key to happiness.

    As I said before this post resonated powerfully with me.

    1. Hey Jonathan,

      That is it exactly! Maybe I don’t express strongly enough how you don’t necessarily have to travel to be happy, you just need to be free. Freedom comes in many different forms but the most obvious is not being tied to a job that you hate and the bills which keep you there.

      It sounds like you have managed to work the system to suite you and your needs perfectly and for that, I congratulate you! Thanks for reading and the insights into another way of bucking the system. The more the merrier, literally.

  8. Awesome post Tyrhone and I totally agree, whatever you want from life, if you need to sacrifice a bit of it to achieve the greater goal then you must focus as nothing comes for free. There are some (like us) with commitments that can’t be ignored and (like us) the holding position has/is a bit longer than three years, but at the end we will be able to leave and not look back. Like Maddie, we don’t expect to travel forever, and I do expect one day to come home, but when that time comes I know that our sacrifices now, will allow us the choices to do and be whatever we want to be for the rest of our lives, which equals happiness.
    ps. sorry I’ve been away so long, life just got a bit on top of me!

    1. Hi Lesley! No worries life comes first right. Just good to hear from you again, I hope all is well with you and yours.

      You guys are definitely on the right path, like you have said certain commitments can make things take longer, but as long as you’re heading in the right direction…

  9. This is great – super inspiring to me. I’m a student at university in the U.S. right now and have an outrageous amount of student loans (unavoidable, sadly) and will have more once I finish my graduate degree. It’s for a career I have wanted since I was a teenager so I don’t regret it. But I do plan to live very frugally after I graduate with my masters, so I can pay off my loans as quickly as possible and be free of them. It is worth it to me. And as I would LOVE to have more freedom to travel… the best idea I can think of to free up money quickly. Hopefully I can live frugally enough too so that I can start paying it down now.

    1. Oh and this is from someone who has already been frugal enough to travel to 13 countries in the past 6 years. 🙂 I definitely don’t have as much as some of my friends do, but I am proud and excited about the travel I’ve done and have a list as long as my arm of places to go next. 🙂

      1. Good on you Laurie and thanks for reading. I think we all forget sometimes that our happiness (whatever it may be) is almost always achievable, we just need to remember that we want it and then have enough faith in ourselves to go out and get it. Now go get rid of those loans 🙂

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