This might sound a little boastful, but in the last few years I have visited over 25 countries. Each of them has taught me something about life, money and people. I have meticulously stored this knowledge away in the back of my mind and when there is a need, I reach for it. Feel free to reach for it too now.
Here are the things I have learnt during my various trips, in order of the biggest to the smallest country:
Frugality is important, but the balance in life is more important. Yes, it is great to be sleeping on a pile of money, but it’s even better to be dancing and laughing and sharing good memories with friends, on a pile of money.
People often fail to differentiate between the lack of education and stupidity. The two are not the same, because we don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it in some way or another. Just because somebody doesn’t get a reference in your joke doesn’t immediately mean that they are stupid – it just means that their knowledge base is different to yours.
Consumerism, just as many other behaviours, is infections. If people in your circle enjoy ‘having’ things, this makes you more likely to want certain things too.
Hard work doesn’t always pay well, so if you are already choosing to work hard, do something that’s really rewarding, not just financially. During my visit in Peru I trekked through Cordillera Huayhuash – it’s a beautiful, gruelling 11 day and 210km circumnavigation trek at high altitude. If I ever thought something might kill me, that was that. The crew manning my trek were making good money by local standards, but at the same time when asked why they were up for this dangerous job every single one of them had just one thing to say: I love these mountains.
Money doesn’t buy happiness. But it really does make being unhappy more comfortable.
People in Paris are the most sceptical, judgemental and miserable humans in Europe and yet they seem to have excellent lifestyles. Also, they think they’re being realistic while they moan, but really no, they are terribly pessimistic. The flip side of their attitude is their standards – high standards for food, lifestyle, clothing…most things really.
You don’t need your aircon on all the time. Cut it out when it’s not scorching outside and enjoy the pleasant heat sometimes. Not only it will save you money, but it’s also good for your joints and overall wellbeing.
Delicious food does not have to cost a fortune, so instead of the level of fanciness focus on the level of freshness. Also you’d have to be crazy to use a top dollar wine for Sangria.
Asking for a discount is ok, make a habit of it.
Make a habit of taking good care of yourself and staying active in order to enjoy long-term wellness and good health into your golden years. Bathing in a freezing cold fjord naked is optional.
Germans love beer and drink it by the stein – that’s 950ml. But they also love the outdoors and pretzels, as much as they hate petty debt. Don’t put your beer on the credit card – there is no point going into the red for things which you will forget about 2 minutes later.
Good things take time. Poland adopted a free market policy only after Solidarnosc movement in 1989 directly resulting in toppling over the Soviet occupation of Baltic and Central European countries. Poland has gone a very long way since and all of it took creativity, planning and hard work. Building wealth is just that – thinking about your money as a tool and using it as such, planning for failure and for success and putting the work in.
Do the right thing. Being fishy with money does not end well.
Also, Italian food is an amazingly budget friendly option if made at home.
The world is a much better place if you add some sarcastic humour into it. Also, british
citizens are much better with money than the British government, currently under the deficit equating to somewhere around 85.4% of GDP. Average debt level of a Brit is somewhere along the lines of £15,400 compared to average full time salary of £29,009, a mere 53% of said average individual’s income.
Taxes are a bizarre concept. The whole point of them, according to my conspirationalist mind, is to drain the money out of the economy to keep it stable and allow the government some control over how the money moves. We all pay them and therefore contribute to keeping a gigantic wheel turning for the sake of ourselves and those around us. If we were to stop paying them and ‘bankrupt’ governments, there would be nobody left to print money and the whole concept of economy would need rethinking.
Nature has a huge impact on our lives. From weather to the type of plants around us, we are impacted by our environment and need a way to work with it, not against it. Working against the elements does nothing other than damage us and the world around us – fixing the damage is extremely costly and sometimes impossible.
Locally sourced produce is usually tastier than imported produce. Tawny port in a portugese port house tastes better than a tawny port in a pub in London. It is also cheaper, assuming you are living in a free market economy.
Getting a soak in a natural hot spring should be considered a part of everyday life, not a luxury.
Diversification of assets is of an utmost importance for building wealth. The population of Ireland, which happens to be an island, almost starved during the potato famine. Could they have gone fishing?
As a side note, Dublin looks a little grim and grey but is actually a very friendly city.
There are countries in the world which are entirely pinterest-worthy. Such countries usually also feature a slightly down on its heels economy and excellent food.
The world is not out to get you. People on the whole are not against you, they’re actually indifferent until you interact with them. And once you do, they’re usually all for you.
You can speak more than one language. You can run a country in more than one language. You can have a successful economy in more than one language. And yet there are still so many places in the world where a strange fear of ‘other’ prevails. Is it because stepping outside of our comfort zone can be so difficult?
Just because weed is freely available it doesn’t mean that everybody is a drug addict. It just means that people have a choice of what to numb themselves with when they need a break.
‘Chasing the money’ does not equate to compromising your values, ridding yourself of moral principles or doing something shady. It does however mean changing your priorities and devoting yourself primarily to working at a cost of personal life, rest, and often health.
If somebody steals from you once, they are likely to do it again. It’s your job to safeguard your goods, and it’s your job to kick this person out of your house if they are not trustworthy.
Buying stocks is not too different to straight up gambing. It doesn’t matter if you are knowledgeable on the topic or not, ultimately what you are doing is betting on an organisation to do well, or to fail.
What have you learnt during your travels?