Last year, Stephanie Lee saved nearly $US10,000 in housing expenses when she decided to forgo an apartment in Los Angeles to Airbnb-hop around the world.
A freelance writer and the blogger behind FY!S, Lee lived in a series of Airbnb rentals for 11 months in Paris, Tokyo, London, Barcelona, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Honolulu. It cost her just $US10,584.
She’s currently spending time back home in Los Angeles with friends and family, but plans to return to the road at the end of the month, kicking off her next adventure in Canada.
“This work and travelling ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle is just a different way of life for me and can be sustainable, so I think long term about it,” Lee told Business Insider. But that hasn’t always been her philosophy. At one point, she says, penny-pinching got the best of her.
“There was a time that I used to have a fierce scarcity mindset, but all it took was a broken electric kettle that turned my perspective around,” Lee said.
Here’s what happened:
“When I first moved back to Los Angeles, I had an electric kettle that had busted during my move. It still worked, but the lid wouldn’t close and you had to stand there and hold it down to let it finish its boil.
“I left it with my parents who insisted that they could still use it. I rolled my eyes and left to vagabond around the planet. However, I returned over a year later to find that they were still using the kettle.
“I tried to boil water for some coffee one day and I stood there like a coffee-deprived idiot, using a wooden spatula to hold down the lid, and waited for it to click and finish its boil.
“Suddenly, I thought about how many times my parents had stood like this and put up with this lid, day after day, multiple times each day; all that wasted time and energy. Just to save $US20.”
Since then, Lee says she’s learned to “spend money on things that add value and happiness, or remove a ‘negative,'” from her life, like paying a CPA to avoid the headache of doing her taxes, or spending $US100 on a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience.
That also means Lee avoids debt and puts away money for the future by saving for retirement in an IRA and investing in index funds, all while earning a modest income.
“This all ties back into my ‘F— Yes!’ philosophy — inspired by Mark Manson and Derek Sivers — which I repurposed for my spending, healthy habits, and some other decisions in life. In other words, that ‘something’ better make me say ‘F— Yes!’ now, 15 minutes from now, or even 15 days from now,” she said.
“It’s my buffer to curb those in-the-moment temptations, but also doubles as a personal mantra to challenge me to do the things that might otherwise scare me.”