10 Steps to Freedom

sailing luna sea cruising travel blog live aboard freedom

One of the top questions we get asked is “What can I do to be free?”  Freedom to travel, freedom from a 9 to 5 job, freedom from a cubicle, freedom from debt.  Well, here you have my basic advice in all of these cases:

Ten steps to walking out!

1. Separate wants and needs. If you are reading this, you have leisure time therefore all your NEEDS are met and everything else is a WANT. DEEP BREATH AND ABSORB THIS NOW OR YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME, the rest can be fun and easy. That new car, bigger home, new shoes, new bike etc , NOT A NEED!!!!! The “American Dream” is a fabricated scheme to keep you enslaved. REPEAT AFTER ME, I HAVE NO REAL NEEDS!

2. Declutter, downsize, and sell or donate all/most contents in your extra closets and garage, If you haven’t used it in 6 months you likely don’t need it. Congrats, you no longer need that bigger house. Please forward us 10% of what that upgrade would have cost (that’s a bargain).

3. Once you’ve downsized, control your footprint. This became quite a fun game for us. Once we downsized we wouldn’t buy anything without getting rid of a similar item. Ie buy a new shirt, donate an old one. We did this with everything!!  This is easy at first, but eventually you’ll realize you have paired it down to meaningful items and that “new” shirt isn’t worth your favorite vacation/concert tee.

4. Open a separate bank account. Initially you may not have enough/any money to do this. Do it anyway. Set up one account to pay your standard bills (rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance etc). Set up the other for non retirement savings/dreams/play. Aka… Your escape plan. Play a game with your Bill Account. How many days/hours of the work week does it take to pay your weekly expenses? You may start at 100% or more. Focus on the number, make it a game and get it as low as possible. Cancel cable, shop insurance, shop cellular for better rates. We eventually were able to get it to less than a day’s pay to cover our weekly bills. That put over 75% of our income towards our goals.

5. Get control of you fucking debt. Interest is evil, is banned in the Quran, illegal in some cultures and is simply usury/legalized slavery. Consolidate and pay it down. That being said, we have some debt. Sometimes money is cheap and it makes sense to keep the cash, but be smart about it. Initially, shoot for zero credit card carry over balances (Discover Card will hate you). Then work on cars, mortgage, etc.

6. Never take a raise! Of course you take it, but not into your bill account. Divert all your raises, rebates, money from selling items, into your escape plan fund.

7. If your company has 401K, only contribute what they will match; after all, that’s free money. This is where it gets dicey. If you have no discipline, doing this could burn you in retirement. You will be building a separate income stream with your savings (eventually). This plan will not work if you can’t keep your hands out of the savings cookie jar. If you can’t commit, max out your 401K and work until you are nearly dead, then retire comfortably, only to have your snot nosed kids ship you off to a nursing home.

8. Eventually you may need to buy a car/boat/rv etc. NEVER BUY NEW. Buying a demo, program or vehicle that is relatively new and in good shape can save you serious $$$$$$.

9. Congrats, If you have done all of the above, your savings is now growing, you are gaining control and it feels good. Reward yourself sensibly (DO NOT go to Vegas). Bonus points if you reward yourself without spending money.

10. Start buying passive income. Residential or Commercial real estate, coin-op laundry, coin-op car wash, vending route to name just a few. Just google passive income, loads of options out there. These will take a few years to establish, but will eventually be ready to turn over to a management company.

EVERY STEP OF THE WAY THE CHAINS AND SHACKELS WILL GET LIGHTER AND LIGHTER. Freedom comes from having options and no debt; and tons of liquidity give you that. I can tell you first hand, once you no longer NEED that job you are in…… It gets sooooo much easier.
This process took us 6 years (and we were already frugal). Some of you with massive student debt, major credit card debt etc , might take longer. This is a marathon, not a sprint, don’t try to do everything at once. Take one step a day, a week, a month, one a quarter, whatever works, just do it and be free.

  • Andy


    Good read Mark. Thk you for posting and safe travels. I’m off to sort out my closet!

    • Jennifer

      I expect to see all four of you living in an RV by the time we get back!

  • Mark and Cindy - sv Cream Puff


    Nice job in getting this out there. We did all of the above. I would add one more thing. We lived well within our means. We both worked but only used one paycheck. The second paycheck we straight into savings. Always! This put our savings rate at a little over 50% of our net income. If you have two incomes, bank one of them. Also, I was in sales and often received bonus income. These went into a boat buying fund. Once a year we allowed ourselves to take one of the larger bonus checks and use it for a nice vacation. We never had debt and paid off our house within 10 years of signing our mortgage.

    We are two people with high school educations that worked hard, saved well and retired early. If we can do it anyone can.

    A word of warning to anyone thinking about doing this: We saved and lived a comfortable but thrifty lifestyle. It becomes a habit. Because it is a habit we still have a difficult time spending money. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to splurge a little bit.

    Funny story: I played on a neighborhood tennis team. Our neighborhood team played other neighborhoods as part of a league. It was a lot of fun. One evening during practice a group of us were standing around. The conversation went to getting tennis rackets restrung. One person said they got theirs restrung at a local shop for $65. Another person said they took theirs to the local country club for $60. Then someone turned to me, the team captain, and asked where I had my racket restrung. I told them I didn’t ever get my rackets restrung, I just bought new ones. They all went quiet. I told them I purchased my tennis rackets new at wal-mart for $29.95 each. They thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. I am now retired and sailing a boat to glorious islands around the world. My friends are still working

    • Jennifer

      Thanks Cream Puff!
      Actually, he does mention that we got to the point of living on one day of his pay/per week. It was crazy how much we could do with that “extra” money! Of course it took us a while to get to that point, but as soon as we did? It was like Free Money. I love the Walmart tennis racket story!

  • Candy McCranie Hicks


    very interesting………..;)

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